My First Lawn Mower Restoration

By Staff
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7574 S. 74th Street Franklin, Wisconsin 53132

I am a fifteen year old boy who has many hobbies, one of which
is collecting and restoring antique lawn mowers. Two years ago I
bought a 1954 Crafts man lawn mower from a man in Ripon, Wisconsin.
The mower was made for Sears by Yard-Man. It is powered by a
vertical shaft Power Products two-cycle engine made in Grafton,
Wisconsin.

This was a unique and attractive mower. One thing that made it
attractive was its bright colors. The engine and all metal parts
except the deck were painted a bright silver. The mower deck was
painted a bright, orange-red. The handle bar wasn’t painted at
all, but was varnished. Overall it is one sharp looking lawn
mower.

One of the mower’s features is that the engine crankshaft is
not a direct drive to the blade. It isn’t often that you see a
vertical shaft engine not having the blade directly mounted to the
engine crankshaft. This is a good idea, because the shaft on the
engine will not bend if an obstacle is hit with the blade.

Another odd thing about this mower is how the clutch system is
designed to run the blade. There is a foot pedal on the rear of the
mower deck. When you press this pedal down with your foot, the
engine slides towards you and tightens the belt to the blade shaft.
To stop the blade from turning, one has to lift the pedal, sliding
the engine forward.

This model was the first 21 inch rotary cut mower to use a Power
Products engine. Up until this time, all mowers that used Power
Product engines were only 16 or 17 inch cut mowers.

I started to restore my Craftsman in the summer of 1993. I
disassembled the whole mower and drew pictures of where the pieces
went, so I would not forget how to put it back together. I cleaned,
sanded, primed, and painted the lawn mower deck. After the deck was
fully cleaned, I used fine emery cloth and sanded the deck to even
out the areas where the old paint had chipped off, so the new paint
would be smooth. Several coats of Rustoleum gray colored primer
were used. For the final coat I used Tru-Test, Hi-Gloss, Orange-Red
spray paint, which matched the original color. Five coats of the
orange-red paint were applied.

The wheel hubs were prepared like the deck for painting. I used
a Rustoleum bright silver spray paint. I had to tape the tire with
masking tape, to keep it unpainted. I remember sitting at the
kitchen table before my school bus arrived, taping my lawn mower
wheels, while eating breakfast!

The engine was fun to do because I knew how to repair these
engines quite well. My brother Chad and I collect Power Products
engines. We have many different types of Power Products engines,
including the rare vertical shaft twin cylinder engine. The engine
on the Sears mower was a typical single cylinder engine. The gas
tank was coated with rust. To remove the rust, I plugged the
openings and filled it partially with water and small rocks. Then,
I shook the gas tank until the rust had been scraped off by the
rocks. I dried the inside of the tank with a hair dryer and sprayed
some WD40 in it to prevent more rusting.

My dad sandblasted any rusty parts. The engine was in very good
condition. The condenser and the carburetor gasket needed to be
replaced. This was an easy gasket to make. The engine parts were
painted with Rustoleum, high heat, silver spray paint. I used
plastic wrap and masking tape to protect areas that I didn’t
want to be painted.

The handle and the clutch system were cleaned, wire-brushed and
painted. The wooden handle bar was sanded and varnished.

Putting the lawn mower together was simple. The hardest part was
adjusting the clutch system. You can see my 1954 Craftsman lawn
mower at antique tractor and gas engine shows in the Wiscon sin and
northern Illinois area. I’m now restoring a 1934 Sears 19 inch
reel mower with a Briggs ‘Y’ engine.

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