24" Jacobsen Estate lives to mow another day
Sorry, this ended up being long...
In a previous thread Austen picked up this 1957 24" Jacobsen Estate reel mower with a sulkey that he wanted. Austen was kind enough to give the mower to me to try to get it running again.
As Austen said this mower was "stiff". It was also missing a front gaurd that had broken off. About a week later the original owner found the guard and I went to pick it up. I little bit of tig welding later it was back where it belonged and the mower had all of its parts together again.
First I needed to see if I could get the motor running. The pull start cord is actually a steel cable. The old one had been broken and brazed back together and was very short. I sanded off some of the broken cable ends so they would not stick out. I tried pulling the engine over a few times but had no spark. I dug down and cleaned the points and got spark again.
I pulled the fuel tank and carburetor. Both of the butterflies were gummed up solid and took a while to get moving again. I reassembled the carb and gave the motor a few pulls until the pull start cable broke near the brazed joint. I replaced the entire pull start cable with a stainless steel cable that I had at my work which had the proper ball end on one side. I fabricated a stop for the other end.
A couple more carburetor cleaning and trials to see if it would run resulted in it stumbling for a while but would not continue running reliably.
I threatened the carburetor with replacing it and actually started to modify a Honda gcv160 carb which has a very similar bolt pattern, but is slightly wider.
I also pulled off the reed plate and made a new gasket for both sides of it. The original glass type fuel filter would not stop leaking so it was replaced. I eventually replaced the hard fuelline with a rubber fuel line.
After modifying the Honda carb, I tried one last time to start the engine with the original carb. This time the engine decided to run.
I could get the engine to run and idle fairly decently but the clutch likes to squeal.
When I engage the clutch with the reel disengaged the mower would self propel forward nicely at any engine rpm.
When I engaged the reel, the engine had to be at full rpm to not stall the engine. Something was tight in the reel (as Austen said "this mower is stiff").
I loosened up the bed knife with the same result of the engine dying when the clutch engages at anything but full rpm. I pulled the reel and bed knife from the mower frame. Both of the bearings were packed with old, stiff grease. One bearing was basically frozen. I cleaned both of the bearings as best as I could with lacquer thinner. One of the bearings was still really stiff to rotate. Until I knew the mower would function, cut and I like it, I was hesitant to spend $25 for each bearing. I ended up using lacquer thinner, rust remover and small stainless welding filler metal to loosen and scrape everything out of the bearing to get it moving in a reasonable manner. (I should replace these bearings in the future.)
I sharpened the reel and bed knife. Put everything back together. Back lapped and adjusted the reel.
Here are a couple of pictures of it after my first mowing. It has some dust on it and is missing the covers from the chains and from the clutch.
Everything seemed to work reasonably well.