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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Eclipse Speedway 32" Update Thread​


"The lawnmower that is more like a car than a yard tool"

Thought I'd do a little show and tell of my newest addition, an Eclipse 32" Speedway reel mower.

I had the opportunity a few months back to add another reel mower to the collection and decided that I'd see if I could find an Eclipse Speedway in particular as they had always really caught my eye. There is a neat little website out there dedicated to these mowers in particular that is fun to visit found here: http://www.angelfire.com/planet/eclipsereelmowers/ I was prepared to have whatever I found shipped as finding one of these in the same state was going to most likely be a pretty slim chance. Some research pulled up a group of owners talking about them on a different forum and I basically put name out there and told them to contact me if they ever wished to sell. A month later, somebody from Colorado contacted me back stating they were interested in selling their machine. After some discussion back and forth and viewing the provided photos, it was apparent that it was in great original condition so after agreeing upon a price, I bought it.

I created a shipment on usip.com and found a husband and wife ran shipping buisness that I decided to go with who was based out of right near where I lived. The funny thing was that they were not only based out of Washington State in the same area where live, but were going to be traveling through Colorado the very same week that I had bought the mower! The timing and everything couldn't have worked out better. The shipment took less than two weeks and it came completely undamaged, they did a great job loading and unloading it and treated it with care.

To give you a little background on this specific mower, it is a 1958/59 model and had been in the fellow's family for the past 45 years, pretty much all of it's life. He explained that he used to mow his family's estate with it when he was a kid and that it had not been started in 15 years. After recieving the mower and going over it, the condition was in even better shape than I had anticipated which was a plus, and it did not take much to get it running. The engine, a Briggs 14R6, had a healthy spark and the carb and gas tank where clean, so after a tune-up and going over, it fired right up as you will see in one of the videos below. So far since I've had it, I've cleaned it all up and have been in the process of having a new identification tag made for it as the original is missing. I'm contacted a company that specializes in making trophies & plaques who will be able to create a new one made out of metal to resemble the original from a reproduction paper decal template that I bought off Ebay. This time, unlike the original, will be riveted to the mower.

The mower itself runs and opperates flawlessly almost as if it were new new and is sure a lot fun to use. I've trailered it up to a friends house who owns a Locke Tri-Plex and we mowed his property with each of our antique mowers. It was sure a lot of fun and we both really enjoyed trying out and admiring each other's machines. For now, the mower is going to remain all original and unrestored as I want to enjoy it in it's original work clothes for a while. It in the future it will recieve a full tear down and restore.

Below are pictures including the one's the seller sent me in the beginning as well as a copy of an original ad and some different videos of it too along the way.

Enjoy! :)




These next three were the ones the seller sent me.









This photo was provided to me via the seller after he got all loaded it up. Oh the anticipation after seeing that photo...:D

Below you will see the photos of it getting unloaded. First time seeing it in person too! I couldn't get over it's size and it was quite a beast to see hung in the air like that!







The next set were taken the next day after I got her all cleaned up.

Here is a couple of videos. The first one, 'First Look', is just walk around and explanation. The second video is the first start.

























 

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What I found in the oil bath! Took me by surprise when I pulled the cover off.



The reproduction paper ID tag temporarily placed.







The next set of photos were of the 'mow off' that I did with my friend Eric at his property which is very beautiful by the way! Here is the video :

The most recent video of it:



Loaded up on the trailer on it's way to Eric's house.



















 

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I still get a little nervous every time I see that photo of the Speedway hanging from a winch. :D
 

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Really enjoyed the videos of the mow off. Looks like a good time was had by all. Those old Briggs sound great. Got to say, I'm impressed with both of those old mowers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
good pictures. looks like you also have a hand crank for stsrting.fixer
Yeah, I was definitely a little nervous using it at first, but it really is not that hard at all.

I've been told that you should wrap your thumb under instead of ontop with your fingers when you grab onto the handle and spin it over so that if it were to kickback, your hand would naturally open.

Very nice Eclipse Speedway! The Honda setting in front of it looks a bit intimitated by that beast!:D
Thanks! Haha, you're right, the Honda definitely does look a little intimidated by it!:D It really show's the size difference between the two.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
If you happened to catch the Lawn King thread recently, I mentioned there was a surprise comming for the Eclipse.

So, what is this big big surprise you ask?


A SULKY!!! Yes!! An original Eclipse Sulky. Finally found one that is not totally rusted out or missing parts. Had to pass on two already because of it.

A fellow Eclipse buddy put me in touch with somebody he knew of who had one. When he sent me a photo of it, I didn't recognize it at first as being an Eclipse. From my research, I concluded that there were two model Eclipse sulkys made; the big one with the large Speedway sized wheels and also the 453 series with the smaller wheels. The fellow that had it informed that there was indeed a third type made and he sent me a couple of different original Eclipse ads that I have never seen or come across before that featured this exact sulky. Apparently from what he says, it is quite rare. It is called a "ridged ride" and you can see the Eclipse name on the front of it in one of the ads.

So generously, he broke it down and is shipping it one very large box. It will be coming from New Jersey. I felt this was a pretty good deal as large items like this are hard to ship and finding an original Eclipse sulky that is in decent shape is hard to find in itself.

Anyway, I am really looking forward to this and I can't wait to be able to ride behind the Speedway and put some miles on it! :)

Will keep you guys updated once it arrives with plenty of pictures and some video of course me riding behind it too! ;)
For now, below are two ads that feature the "ridged ride" sulky.



 

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Cool!! :cool:

Now you won't have to worry about the Eclipse running away from you with too much throttle. You'll both fly as one. :D
 

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Cool!! :cool:

Now you won't have to worry about the Eclipse running away from you with too much throttle. You'll both fly as one. :D
Haha, yeah it will definitely be an experience riding behind this thing I'm sure.

I'm kind of questioning how it's going to do going down inclines because there are no brakes whatsoever, so engine braking is going to have to play a big factor here.
 

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It would be kind of like riding the old Springfield rider we had in the 70's on the farm. You pushed the pedal to make it go. It had one forward and one reverse gear with a high/low lever. To stop there was a lever you stepped on that rubbed on one rear tire. We really had no hills there to speak of. Only uneven ground along drainage ditches but it was still a bit freaky. You actually had to force yourself to keep your foot on the go pedal for engine breaking. Let off the pedal and you went into free wheeling mode. There was no such thing as a fast stop with it. One day not paying attention I came within about 10" inches of clothes-lining myself off the seat and getting zapped on the electric fence wire across the lane into the barnyard. :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)


Well, the sulky arrived!! :thThumbsU

I first have to show you the fabulous packaging job the gentleman who I bought it from did to get it here. Props to him because it couldn't have been any better, really. He built a wood crate for all the parts to sit in, put foam protective pads around everything, and then wrapped the crate in a large cardboard box so that it could ship UPS. The shipping ended up turning out to be more than we thought, but oh well. I'm just thankful that I was able to find somebody who was willing to help with shipping and to find a decent, solid sulky.

Anyway, on to the sulky details itself. It is solid and complete aside from being covered with surface rust. One of the rims is not doing too well and has some rot, so it will need to be replaced for a proper restoration someday. It is usable for now however. A sandblasting, repaint or powdercoat will no doubt getting looking new again. The member 'bs23uo', another reel mower enthusiast who knows just about everything there is to know about Eclipse mowers in particular, informed me this specific sulky model was made between 1951-1954 which is definitely a great thing to know.

Here are the packaging pics,






It was sure fun assembling it and attaching to the Speedway for the first time. In fact, I don't believe that the old girl has ever had a sulky behind it before judging by the condition of the hitch where you would normally expect to find the obvious indicator marks. After hopping on it for the first time and getting a feel for the layout, I was immediately glad that I decided to get an original Eclipse made sulky that was built specifically for this application. For example, one from a different manufacture might be a little too tall, or the seat might be too far away from the handle etc making it uncomfortable to operate. Once I sat down on it, it just had that clear feeling that everything is just right like it was meant to be. Once the engine was running and I climbed on, my heart was beating kind of fast wondering what this was going to be like and once I engaged the clutch. Once I did, I immediately began laughing as it reminded me of being on a ride at Disneyland!

What is it like to ride behind the Speedway?

Mr. Toads wild ride anyone? Haha, maybe not that crazy but hilariously fun! :) I was kind of wondering how the mower would do with the extra weight behind it and if I would need to give it more throttle than usual because of it, but it really didn't act as if I was there at all. I could still idle it all the way down to a crawl, even while going up an incline on grass and it ran the same as it always has before when I would walk behind it. Pretty amazing torque. I would say that it is maybe a little bit harder to keep straight while mowing especially while going over bumps as you don't have quite as much steering control versus when you're walking behind it. Turning it from side to side takes a little getting used to but does not require an abdominal amount of force either. It is no problem at all making extremely sharp turns to the point where you're jackknifed, but the faster it goes, the harder it is to turn which is probably a good thing. When you do want to make those really sharp turns, you have to slow down to a crawl. Take a look at my video and you will see what I mean.

I was a little concerned how it would do going down inclines, but it seems to do alright on the mellower ones. I just have to tell myself to not take it out of gear in those situations because once you do, it immediately speeds up and freewheels giving you a stomach drop feeling. Obviously, when you're mowing and you want to stop it is not a problem because of the resistance of the lawn. Basically the trick to slowing down and coming to a "near stop" on smooth incline is to throttle all the way back to the point where you can count the engine strokes, and then take it out of gear and put your feet down. Now, if only it had a parking brake. :rolleyes: All in all when it comes to inclines, I don't think I'd ever take this down something too crazy because you're just asking for trouble.

The next thing that I'm going to do to the mower is raise the handle up a little more. I know this kind of annoys purists but it will not be something that changes the mower in a way that it could not be put back to stock. To be honest, it is just a wee bit cramped when sitting on the sulky and sometimes my knees hit the handle. Also, simply moving the mower around by hand and walking behind it will be MUCH more comfortable by not having to keep my arms stretched all the way down to reach it.


-Video can be watched in better quality if you switch it above the 360p-



^^^, Lol at the name of the company.

These are the wheels that I'm thinking I will use as replacements for the sulky. It requires a 1" splined hub which is a little hard to find, and that's what these are. And, they are split rims so they will be like the originals which I think is pretty important.



I replaced the original u-bolt clamp for the footrest with a new one as it was bent, rusted and just needed to be retired.



























 

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Simple little attachment but boy back in the day the wear and tear to legs mowing a large area that saved would have made it worth it's weight in gold. :cool:

I wondered how traction would be since you don't set over the drive wheels. But looks like that mower must be heavy enough that it's not a problem at least on reasonably level ground. I don't think the engine hardly knew you were back there tagging along. :D
 

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Simple little attachment but boy back in the day the wear and tear to legs mowing a large area that saved would have made it worth it's weight in gold. :cool:

I wondered how traction would be since you don't set over the drive wheels. But looks like that mower must be heavy enough that it's not a problem at least on reasonably level ground. I don't think the engine hardly knew you were back there tagging along. :D
Haha,

Yeah, it's not until you have the sulky attached that you can really take advantage of it's speed, or the 150ft per 15 second swath paths as they claimed. It really does get up an go though when you put the hammer down. You're right, the mower does not really even feel the extra weight behind it.

Regarding traction, due to all the weight being over the wheels, it's not a problem like you said.

When we get some snow, I'll take it out into the driveway and see if it'll still pull me around on the sulky while on a level suface to really test out the traction.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Well I finally got around to doing something that I've wanted to do for a long time on this mower which was raising the handle up a bit as I explained earlier in my last update.

The handle has always been a little on the low side for my tastes and especially now how it nearly rests on my legs when I sit on the sulky, it was time. I pondered a few different ways to go about doing this and my main objective was to NOT make it look like it came out of one of those "There, I fixed it" photos if you know what I mean. ;) I bought a couple of short flat stock brackets and mounted the top of each on the bottom hole of either side of the "yoke". I then raised the handle up and ran a second bolt through the brackets and one of the lower holes in the "fork", but did not raise the yoke part above the fork. If I had, it would have just looked stupid and not right. It's a little hard to explain in words how this looks let alone picture, but in the photos you'll see how it all worked. To me it's an acceptable solution for a slightly higher handle without going crazy and throwing some really long ugly brackets on there. Overall, the handle was raised exactly 3" from how it was before. The beginning measurement from the ground to the top of handle was 33 ¼", now it is exactly 36 ¼". Not bad and makes a definite noticeable improvement, especially when sitting on the sulky as my legs do not hit the handle anymore and my arms can be straighter. It's the right height. Absolutely well worth the mod imo and with everything like this that I do to these machines, nothing was changed indefinitely or harmed to the mower itself so it can easily be put back to stock in a couple of minutes. The next little project for this mower will be to make new rubber flaps that replicate the originals (as best that I can) that prevent the grass clippings from going all over your feet, so that will be kind of fun to do sometime in the near future.

I've decided that I think I'm going to restore the sulky come next spring. It really needs some color! :) I first need to find some new wheels for it though. The ones that I talked about earlier are no longer available anymore and I can't find them anywhere else. The problem is, the hubs on these rims need to be 1" which is a bit of an odd size for rims in this size range as most only come with a ¾" or smaller bore with a bearing. I would have to either shave the axle down (which I don't really want to do) or have the rims bored out somehow, although I'm not sure how that would even work due to the bearing. I have yet to contact Miller Tire, so they may just have something that'll work. Golf cart rims however have a 1" bore, but I really would like it to look as original as possible and not have tires quite that wide. When it comes to paint, I'm thinking that I might use a more faded color shade on it rather than bright so that it would maybe blend in more with the color of the mower and not stand out so much. I don't know. Someday, a long time from now, the mower will get a full restore and at that time the sulky would get repainted too of course, so maybe now just get some color on it that sort of matches the yellow of the mower and wait 'till later on to make her really like shine like new. That's my thinking at least.





 

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This is a great write up on a old machine. My grandfather back in Iowa had a Speedway and us grandkids hated it :rolleyes:. We had to use it and mow his yard and not miss a single blade of grass. But Grandpa also taught me my love of machinery and to this day I still like to mess around on tractors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
This is a great write up on a old machine. My grandfather back in Iowa had a Speedway and us grandkids hated it :rolleyes:. We had to use it and mow his yard and not miss a single blade of grass. But Grandpa also taught me my love of machinery and to this day I still like to mess around on tractors.
That's awesome! Did you ride behind it on a sulky or walk? Does he still have it?

I'm curious as to why you guys hated it, lol, because of the size and weight?

That's great how your Grandpa introduced you into the vintage machinery, it's always neat to reflect back on those kind of memories. :)
 

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Looks good Austen! :cool:

If you find you still could use more leg room you could have a welder arc weld a 2"-4" or so extension on the yoke. Once the welds are ground back down flat it would still look like it was factory. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Looks good Austen! :cool:

If you find you still could use more leg room you could have a welder arc weld a 2"-4" or so extension on the yoke. Once the welds are ground back down flat it would still look like it was factory. :)
Thanks Mark,

I've thought of that too and it would definitely be a great a solution to it and a very clean one at that. If I end up having to get taller wheels for the sulky, I will probably end up doing it.
 
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