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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all, I got my old Gemco running today... I must ask, why ever do seemingly all older mowers cut extremely low!? I think the Gemco may cut up to 1 1/4" at the blade, otherwise saying I am glad I didn't tear up the whole front yard. Same goes for most old reel mowers. Besides Lawn-Boys, are there any older mowers, that were of a decent build, that actually cut higher then, say, 2"? If I could I would modify the Gemco, slightly, to at least be able to mow with it. I've had thoughts of mounting the Clinton on a newer deck, but then everything would be off, since the Clinton is an under mount exhaust, and a really narrow frame set up. Also, newer decks seem to be much heavier then the Gemco, I think it weighs somewhere around 10-15 pounds!...- Well, enough of my gallivanting, :bag:



Spenser.
 

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I've always wondered that too and don't really know for sure, however, by going back into original advertisement history you may be able to get an idea.

I can't speak so much for vintage rotary mowers, but I think that some of it has to do with the fact that mowers back then were designed to be used on golf courses and other places such as cemeteries where they needed a very low, fine cut.

I have brochures for my Jacobsen mowers that date back to the 1940's and a lot of the descriptions, photos and captions all revolve around them mowing those types of areas. In fact, if you research original ads for antique mowers, say pre 1950, most of them are shown in golf courses and cemeteries. I think these types of mowers were used for these more commercially based uses in the beginning and before the rotary mower was introduced, there weren't many other options or designs out there for the homeowner.

Some manufactures offered a special sub model, attachment or even a totally separate model for cutting taller grass. Take the "highwheel" Lawn King that came equipped with taller wheels and tires which allowed for a taller cutting height over 3". There were other attachments for some reel mowers such as a second reel type looking extension mounted on the front which was intended to cut down taller grass before the main reel hit it. Models such as motor scythes were other options for cutting taller lawn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Not on my mower, it has almost, 'fenders' I guess you could say... How high do the older Brick top Lawn-Boys cut?
 

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They have pretty much the same set up as current ones ... 4 or 5 inches.
 

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Pick up a steel deck Snapper HiVac 21401P with a 4hp Briggs & Stratton. You will not regret it. I have had and worked on so many mowers, and I must say that they are up there in the top 5 best rotary mowers ever made. They have a 21" cut, about 75lbs, and can cut 3.5" high. They have a 5 speed disc type transmission, and are very simple and inexpensive to maintain mowers. They were very expensive new. Most were in the $625-750 range, depending on engine (Briggs 3.5, 4, or 5hp, Tecumseh 4 or 5hp, and or Wisconsin Robin 4 or 5hp in both 2 cycle and 4 cycle models) They came with Snapperizers, Thatcherizers, Mulcherizers, and Pac N Sac options. I own a small landscaping business which utilizes vintage machinery. I primarily use my Whirlwind powered by a Wisconsin AKN, alternate between any of my 8 Snapper 21401P/PS's, 2 Yazoo Big Wheel mowers, 3 International cub cadets and a 25" Eclipse Rolloway gasoline reel mower. Fuel usage is far higher than what it would be with a modern machine, but using the oldies are so much more fun!

Chris
 

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Yeah, what's a bit of gas for a lot more fun!:cool Of course, who knows what'll happen next in the Empire State; we've already got bans on Big Gulps; maybe next everybody'll have to use cordless mowers!:rolleyes::ROFL Stick with what's tough, gets the job done, and gets the job done well; that's what I say.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yes, I've heard good things of those Snappers. But the idea with this mower was to be more of a 'fun' mower then use, otherwise said, not for regular use. Figure I'll keep my eyes out for an older Lawn-Boy at this rate.


Spenser.
 

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Want a fun mower, how about an old Whirlwind GrassKing, Eclipse Rolloway, Locke Triplex, Jaques Power Saw, or a Flymo?
I had a Flymo with a JLO 2 cycle engine years ago, I wish I never sold it. What a machine, it was so much fun to use!

I have been looking for a 1901 Coldwell steam powered mower and a 1915 Ideal Lawn Mower for some time. I found one Ideal for sale, but I cannot shell out $2500 for a 0.75hp hit and miss powered reel mower! I am sure both would be a blast to operate! The older the machine you look for, the wackier they come!

Chris
 

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Ktron, I've always wondered what it would be like to have my own lawn care business and use nothing but vintage machinery. Kudos to you. What's your opinion on the old snappers with the aluminum decks? I've been told they weren't really a "hi-vac". I picked up a 1978 bagger ( model # V212P) that needed a few odds and ends, but haven't had a chance to use it yet. Feels like its built like a tank though
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quite right on the Ideal... We had one, it was a temperamental little mower! Well, not little, considering it weighed a few hundred pounds! Never seen a Coldwell Steamer, though... Must water the lawn and cut at the same time! I had a Coldwell engine though. It was a beast! Water cooled with a radiator and two flywheels. I think they called it a 'Cub'.
 

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I have a Snapper V2I Aluminum Deck mower with a 3.5hp Briggs 92908 on it. It was the mower which started it all for me. I was about 8 years old when I picked it up (now, 16 years ago). A neighbor down the street discarded it. It did not take much to get it working again. After going through the carburetor and just doing basic cleaning, it started right up and has always ran well. It is a fantastic mower, down to the clinkity clanks of the steel rock guard! They are getting harder and harder to find in good shape, and blades for them as well. They use a 19-5/8" blade if my memory serves me correct. They aren't a "HiVac" mower. They were the predecessor to them. I do not believe any of the aluminum deck models came with the air lift blades and wings that the later "HiVac" mowers used. Do they suck up nearly as well as a later HiVac, no, but do they pick up more thatch, leaves, and debris than your big box Craftsman or Honda, ABSOLUTELY. They are so fun, and the fact that they are lightweight, half way decent on fuel, have 0 safety options, and have a fuel jet large enough to suck through a blade of grass, they are pretty darn reliable.

One of these days I am going to start looking for period correct wheels, the bag brackets and a new plastic chute, so I can set the machine back to what it should be.

This picture is about a year and a half old. Only shows half the fleet of Snappers I now have!
I'd love to get a new picture of the Snappers, but the lawn is now home to my 1949 Oliver 88 Rowcrop farm tractor!



You are lucky you do not live on Long Island, I seem to buy every real snapper which comes up on craigslist at a good price!

Chris
 

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Stepney, that is awesome!!!
I never met anyone who actually used one of those Ideal mowers.
Do you by chance have any pictures of your mower?
It looks like they would be a lot of fun to keep up with just as long as you could figure out how to start it!

For those who do not know what an Ideal mower is, it is far from "ideal" by today's standards!!!


Here is an image of a 1901 Coldwell Steam powered lawn mower:


Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I haven't had the mower for years, a friend now has the engine. There's nothing to starting one of them... Prime, ignition on, and flip the flywheels.... And hope... REALLY HOPE!!!
 

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I have a Snapper V2I Aluminum Deck mower with a 3.5hp Briggs 92908 on it. It was the mower which started it all for me. I was about 8 years old when I picked it up (now, 16 years ago). A neighbor down the street discarded it. It did not take much to get it working again. After going through the carburetor and just doing basic cleaning, it started right up and has always ran well. It is a fantastic mower, down to the clinkity clanks of the steel rock guard! They are getting harder and harder to find in good shape, and blades for them as well. They use a 19-5/8" blade if my memory serves me correct. They aren't a "HiVac" mower. They were the predecessor to them. I do not believe any of the aluminum deck models came with the air lift blades and wings that the later "HiVac" mowers used. Do they suck up nearly as well as a later HiVac, no, but do they pick up more thatch, leaves, and debris than your big box Craftsman or Honda, ABSOLUTELY. They are so fun, and the fact that they are lightweight, half way decent on fuel, have 0 safety options, and have a fuel jet large enough to suck through a blade of grass, they are pretty darn reliable.

One of these days I am going to start looking for period correct wheels, the bag brackets and a new plastic chute, so I can set the machine back to what it should be.

This picture is about a year and a half old. Only shows half the fleet of Snappers I now have!
I'd love to get a new picture of the Snappers, but the lawn is now home to my 1949 Oliver 88 Rowcrop farm tractor!



You are lucky you do not live on Long Island, I seem to buy every real snapper which comes up on craigslist at a good price!

Chris
Yes! Mine has the same engine and makes the same clickity clank of the metal stone guard;-) mine could use a new blade, and rod for the drive lever handle( works as is, just tweaked like a pretzel). Needs wheels too, but I figured all that could wait a season or two yet. Maybe I should get a blade then if they are getting hard to find. Do the newer ones with the wings work on these? Or are the blades to big on the newer ones? then again, I guess you need to have an actual hi vac deck to take advantage of one of them. Nice collection though ktron. I hope my wife let's mine reach that point some day:)
 

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The device in front of the mower you are talking about is called a SNAPPERIZER. It mounts to the blade, and when spinning pulverizes everything to an even finer material. Instead of ending up with a 40lb bag of debris, you can easily get 70lbs of dirt in the bag! The only downside to the Snapperizer is that you really need a healthy 4hp engine, or 5hp engine minimum for the task. The second mower in from the left has many thousands of hours on it, and although it is 4hp, it does not have the life in it to power the snapperizer effectively. It really takes a lot of power out of the engine. It does work really well though! The Snapper third in from the left has been bored 0.030" over and is governed to 3400rpm. I would say it makes ~ 4.25hp now and it seems to be okay with the extra load.

The mower on the far right has a Snapperizer and a Thatcherizer on it. The Thatcherizer sticks out front and as the machine moves, the spring loaded arms help clear and pull out loose pine straw and dead grass. All of the HiVac mowers have winged blades on them. The wings do not last very long. I run through about 4 sets every season.

I would think that you could put a HiVac blade on the older cast aluminum deck mowers. You would need to cut the blade down from 21" to 19-5/8" and then balance it before giving it a whirl. I bet it would work! The decks are rather similar, and the tunnel is about the same size, just clocked a little differently. The older aluminum decks use a different chute which is not compatible with the steel deck HiVac's. The only concern that I have is that the aluminum decks may shatter with a HiVac blade. Cast aluminum is inherently brittle, and my cast aluminum deck with the standard blade already has a chunk or two broken off of it!

I have every attachment for these machines, except a Pac N Sac, which is a large capacity bag. They do not seem very popular, and I have only a few parts of one, not a complete set. Hopefully one day, I will find the remaining pieces!

Chris
 
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