My Lawnmower Forum banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Administrator
Joined
·
7,359 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The past few months or so I've been digging up what I can find on the net that is for what I think I'd like my next acquisition to include in the small reel mower collection that I have. That is the Toro Starlawn.

From the little bit of info that I have been able to dig up that consists mainly from brochures, ad covers and also a few photos that folks have posted, they were introduced in the 1940's and built up to at least 1960. They were offered in a 24", 27" version which seems to be the most common and also a 30" version. I'm guessing there may have been another model as well that I haven't come across yet. It appears as though Briggs was used as the source of powerplant throughout the production and rather than using gears and chains for the drive, they utilized a pulley and belt drive system instead unlike the commercial grade Eclipse and Jacobsen mowers did. They also made a pretty cool looking sulky as well which you'll see in some of the photos.

I think they're pretty unique and would fit right in with the other mowers in my collection. Now just have to find one which hopefully is within a reasonable distance away.















Restored.








30" model.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
6,224 Posts
It will be interesting to see how the belt drive compares to the gear and chain setup. :cool:

My guess would be smoother and quieter operation.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,106 Posts
That would make a fine, addition for sure. I always get a kick out of reading the specifications on these old mowers. That 27" weighed in at a hefty 195 lbs, cut up to 8 acres in a day at almost 4 mph, and did it with a 3 hp engine!
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
7,359 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
It will be interesting to see how the belt drive compares to the gear and chain setup. :cool:

My guess would be smoother and quieter operation.
Yeah, I was thinking the belt drive system must have a slightly different feel overall vs. a gear drive setup. Like you said, it's probably a bit smoother operation especially when engaging the clutches due to more movement that's allowed in the belts vs a snugger chain.

That would make a fine, addition for sure. I always get a kick out of reading the specifications on these old mowers. That 27" weighed in at a hefty 195 lbs, cut up to 8 acres in a day at almost 4 mph, and did it with a 3 hp engine!
I sure get a kick out of reading them too! The manufactures back then seemed to have a thing about having young women model behind lawnmowers in their ads too. Yeah, compared to an equivalent machine of today that weighed 195 lbs, I think it would read: "cut up to 8 acres a day at almost for 4mph with a 20hp engine!"
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,106 Posts
I sure get a kick out of reading them too! The manufactures back then seemed to have a thing about having young women model behind lawnmowers in their ads too. Yeah, compared to an equivalent machine of today that weighed 195 lbs, I think it would read: "cut up to 8 acres a day at almost for 4mph with a 20hp engine!"
And it would be multi-cylindered too! They're darn near doing that with the 21" rotaries of today.

Ya' know, I'd be tickled just to find one of those post cards. :D
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
6,224 Posts
The ironic part is it would use a fraction of the fuel compared to today's average mower that size. Yet back then fuel was cheap and conservation (MPG) outside of wartime was not the issue that it is today.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
7,359 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I'm afraid not. :(

I've put quite a few want ads out there on sites such as Engine Ads, a few related Yahoo groups, Ebay and Craigslist of course. I've also been searching Google every so often as well, but it seems they are hard to come by and there's not much out there in regards to info on them.

To make the search take longer, I think I would like to find the 30" version specifically like the one shown in the last two photos. I've been thinking that I would like to modify this one a bit, in a good way similar to what I've done to my LK. Since the drive system consists of mainly pulleys, it should allow you to change the speed of it by swapping them out for different sizes fairly easily. From what I've read, the top cutting height is extra low on these machines, not even 2". Because of it, I would install taller tires to gain some extra height and would be able to compensate for the increased speed afterwards by swapping the pulleys out for different sizes, in theory.

Just have to keep my eyes peeled, but thanks for asking though! :)
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
7,359 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Hey there,

Thanks posting the link and remembering! :)

Yeah, actually the fellow who's selling that machine contacted me a month or two ago about it. He said that he's had quite a bit of interest in it and that because of it, was probably going to keep it. After we chatted a bit I noticed he took it off of CL for a while and now it looks like he changed his mind.

As bigotry as it may sound, I've decided that since I'm more than likely going to have to ship the machine that I find, I'm going to be picky about what it is and hold firm to finding that 30" model. The way that I see it is, if I'm going to be paying a reasonable amount of money to ship a lawnmower, it better be one that is exactly that I'm looking for. Nothing really against this one and seeing how they appear to be a bit hard to find, if it were near by me it would most likely already be in my collection ;), but, I think I'm going to hold to my guns.

But, it's great to see other people keeping an eye out so thanks for posting the link! :cool :)
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
7,359 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Well, after five months of searching I've come across a 30" Starlawn that is listed on CL.

The current owner of it found it tucked away in his garage of the house he had bought and doesn't know much about it. I was able to share with him what info I have been able to find on these mowers. It appears that it is an earlier style before they transitioned over to the third caster wheel in the back, unless that was simply an option.

It has either a Briggs Model A or Model B engine with the unique torpedo style gas tank on it. I have not ever seen another Briggs engine with this unique gas tank on other than a Starlawn. Research has really not brought anything forth to the table either, but I will probably ask on the ASECC site or Smokstak to see if anyone has any info on this type of tank.

It is coated throughout with a layer of surface rust, yet the gentleman states that its been stored in the garage for 40 years when I asked about that. It must be one humid garage. Also the reel is rusted and won't move.

Anyway, thought I'd post the pictures that he sent me as you don't see these machines are pretty uncommon. I am intrigued by it, but I'm going to have to pass. That layer of surface rust throughout concerns me a bit and also makes it all the more difficult to fix up nice for a restoration one day. I have seen others out there that still have much of their original paint still intact which would be worth the wait. All it takes is a little paitience and research.







 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,136 Posts
Very high on both the unique and cool factor list, Austen!

Hope it works out for ya' 'cause I love reading up on your restorations :cool
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,898 Posts
If the price was right, it would be tempting. I think you would give it a good home though Austen and it would make for some nice reading too!:cool Just think, she would not be sitting in that cold dark MOIST garage anymore....You would actually be saving her life..:dunno:

:bag:What, I'm just saying....
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
6,224 Posts
Interesting mower for sure! Probably have to do some blasting on parts of that though to get some of it back to looking nice painted. One example where if the engine had leaked a little more oil it would be easier to clean up now. :D
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
7,359 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
So I asked over on SmokStak about these tanks because as I mentioned before, I have not ever seen one of them mounted on any other engine or machine for that matter other than on a Starlawn all of which has really sparked my curiousity. "Torpedo" Style Briggs Gas Tank Info On Early Toro Starlawn Reel Mowers - SmokStak

One member in particular, Chuck, among the other helpful members informed me that this tank was actually made by Toro for their own engines. He explained that when toro ceased production of their own engines in the 1940's, they presumably had a supply of them (or continued producing them) and then started installing them on the Briggs engines in place of the OEM tank that came with them. Apparently this tank had a toolbox style as well with a lid that opened. Interesting! This definitely explains why I've not been able to find them mounted on anything else, and he even stated as this as same thing! I'm really happy to have learned this.

The owner of machine above wrote me back again and mentioned that he freed up the reel and also sent me an original ad that he found from 1942, featuring this machine. Obviously it was built in the 1940's, but I'm still waiting to get the #'s off of the engine's ID plate to identify an exact year- or range.

It is also located in Northern California and not across the country like 95% of these machines are from me meaning that the chances of finding a shipper traveling up to WA from down south would probably be fairly promising. I may just throw up an ad on Uship and see if I get any reasonable bids. We'll see.

Having said that, I am still leary about the rust though which is why I'm not jumping at the trigger. I did in my last reply ask him some more specific questions about it such as how the engagement of the drive systems is, throttle linkage etc. I'm hoping that I can get a better assessement of just how much the rust and moisture have taken an effect on it.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
I think you would be O.K. From the pics it doesn't look too bad. As long as there is no pitting it should clean up nicely. Once you're ready to restore you should build an E-tank. It's the easiest way to get the rust off. They work great and not a lot of expense to set one up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Did you end up saving this mower? Seems to restore any mower you would need to bead blast or strip the metal in some fasion and this one looks like a fine candidate. Not being nosey but curious, how much are these mowers going for in that condition?
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
1,329 Posts
Im not at all knowledgeable about reel mowers, except when I was young I powered one that was built with NO motor!
The one you are showing is really interresting, hope you find one to rebuild.
About a year ago a man gave me a 1953 REO, it has its very own parking spot in my shop. I hope to try to restore it . :cool thread , where can I see your collection?
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
7,359 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Did you end up saving this mower? Seems to restore any mower you would need to bead blast or strip the metal in some fasion and this one looks like a fine candidate. Not being nosey but curious, how much are these mowers going for in that condition?
Hi GN1220, thanks for the interest.

I did not end up getting this mower. It may have turned out to be OK after some good sandblasting like you mentioned, but I decided to hold off to find one that hasn't seen quite as much moisture over the years. I took the risk of probably not being able to find one again for a very long time, but I wanted to be certain that I was getting the "right" one as I don't have the ability to own a huge collection. Had it not been a site unseen purchase situation, it very well may have been a different story.

Regarding price for old reel mowers, as I tell everyone, there really is not a collector market for them (yet) to base a price off of like there are for Lawnboys and such. You will see prices all over the ballpark for these ranging from the folks who have a personal attachment to them and thus want $500, or, the ones like this who bought a new home and the old mower came with it and say "The first $50.00 takes it home." Realistically, somewhere around $100-$250 for the bigger reel mowers like this all depending on condition and originality. Typically, most of the smaller type reels around the 20" cut sizes are always listed under $100 and in the $50 range.

Im not at all knowledgeable about reel mowers, except when I was young I powered one that was built with NO motor!
The one you are showing is really interresting, hope you find one to rebuild.
About a year ago a man gave me a 1953 REO, it has its very own parking spot in my shop. I hope to try to restore it . :cool thread , where can I see your collection?
Now those are the type that'll get you in shape quick! :cool:

That's pretty neat that you have a REO, I've always liked the look of those. That would be a great machine for a restoration, you'll have to post the progress here! :)

I have a few "clickable" threads shown in my signature of my collection.

Thanks.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top