For Sale: A Vintage “Mowserati” Lawn Mower. Old style lawn mowers

Is It Time To Ditch Your Old Gas Lawnmower? ( All Your Other Gas Tools)

Many of us live in semi-urban, suburban, or rural areas in the east where a grass lawn is common. I never needed to water my lawn when I worked for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and lived near Annapolis, Maryland. We moved there because I could practice my trick water ski competition sport on the nearby South River, a tributary to the Chesapeake Bay. When I retired we moved to the western desert in Lindon, Utah, only a few miles north of Provo, near our son, daughters, and 10 grandchildren. The house we chose still has a lawn that is watered with “grey water” using an underground sprinkler system.

We spend our summers on Laurel Lake in Three Lakes in northern Wisconsin, where our yard is mostly pine cones, dead leaves, and needles, and we don’t maintain a lawn at all. recently we spend part of our winters in our daughter’s home in the “ultra-desert” in St George in southwest Utah. Her yard is mostly desert landscaping with cactus and gravel, and only postage-sized grass areas which are maintained by the property association. With the US southwest in a 1000 year drought, it is clear that the lawns in the west that have been put in to remind owners of their previous homes in wetter climates need to be replaced with desert landscaping.

I am on my fourth electric car and have been driving electric for almost 8 years now. We have solar panels on the roof of our house in Utah now for 5 years now. My main hobby now is biking. I ride about 20 miles per day on city and off-road trails on a big full suspension electric mountain bike. It makes the old man feel like he is 20. So, I am doing at least some things to move towards a greener world.

My Son Still Mows My Lawn With A Gas Mower

At age 82, I’ve just stopped mowing my own lawn with a gas-powered lawn mower. A few years ago, when my Briggs Stratton-powered lawn mower died, I tried to convince my son that I should buy a battery-electric mower. Since he promised to do all the mowing, I relented and bought the new gas-powered model that he preferred (see top image). See below to see what I would do if I was shopping for a new mower now.

How About You? Are You Ready to Ditch Your Old Gas Lawnmower?

  • First stop, Home Depot: Home Depot had a whole line-up of 6 RYOBI battery-electric lawn mowers. 4 were 40V 21” self-propelled, ranging from 749 to 399 (See Fig. 2) and two were push (yourself) (See Fig. 3). They also carry a couple of other brands. The main difference was the size and number of the batteries. The most expensive comes with two 6 Ah batteries and 70 minutes of runtime. The least expensive comes with two 4 Ah batteries. For comparison, my big mountain e-bike has a 17.5 Ah battery. I think the 70-minute runtime for the most expensive comes from using both batteries. Bottom line: you can mow any size lawn, but you may need buy more batteries or take a break of at least a couple hours or overnight before you finish the job.
  • The push mowers (Fig. 3) ranged from 349 to 299. The least expensive is an 18V 16” model that comes with no batteries but uses the same 6 Ah batteries as RIOBI’s other power tools
  • Second stop, Walmart: It’s August now and Walmart only stocks seasonal products before and during each season. Walmart was out of electric lawnmowers and only had a few gas mowers left in boxes.
  • Third stop, Menards: Menards is a massive home products store like Home Depot and Lowes, but is mainly in the Midwest. Menards had a few electric lawnmowers, but they were all in boxes.

Figure 2: Four RIOBI self-propelled 21” battery-electric mowers from 749 to 399. Home Depot, Rhinelander Wisconsin. Photo by Fritz Hasler

Figure 3: RIOBI 16” 349 and 13” 299 battery-electric push mowers. Home Depot, Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Photo by Fritz Hasler

Figure 4: EGO cordless electric lawnmower (Lowes website)

Let’s look at a battery-electric lawnmower in action in Fig.4. The battery-powered electric lawnmower in Fig. 4 is self-propelled and costs 569. But there are models that cost as little as 149 for a 14” push mower. Since electric motors have great torque, this mower should make quick work of that tall grass like that shown above, which tends to stall a gas mower. With extra batteries that can be easily changed out, an electric lawnmower can handle any size lawn.

Like electric cars, your battery-electric lawnmower is going to cost more up front, but it will last a lifetime, you will save something on fuel, and won’t have to mess with going to the gas station and spilling the stinky gas that doesn’t make it into your mower.

Artificial Intelligence Robot Auto Lawnmowers

Everyone has heard about robot vacuum cleaners that will roam about your house cleaning the floor and carpet without intervention. It turns out that there are also robot lawnmowers that operate on the same principles.

Figure 5: Husqvarna robot lawnmower. Three Lakes Hardware, Three Lakes, Wisconsin. Photo by Fritz Hasler

On most days, you can see a robot lawnmower like this one (See Fig. 5) busy at work on a large level grass field across from Three Lakes Hardware in Northern Wisconsin. You can buy one for your lawn for only 2499 at the hardware store. It uses a random search pattern to cut the lawn, and when it is low on charge it automatically finds the charging station and gets a refill (See Fig 6). There is a buried wire around the perimeter of the field to keep it within bounds, but otherwise it keeps the lawn mowed perfectly without any supervision. You can see another Husqvarna robot mower in action in Fig. 7.

Figure 6: Charging station for Husqvarna robot lawnmower. Three Lakes, Wisconsin. Photo by Fritz Hasler

You probably won’t be surprised to know that the little hardware store and the adjacent field being mowed by the robot mower are owned by the owner of the Three Lakes Winery across the street. In the Winery parking lot are three Tesla 48A destination chargers and one generic 1772 L2 charger. You can charge your electric car there for free. It’s the only electric car charging station in Northern Wisconsin, but a new Tesla Supercharger is under construction in nearby Minocqua. The owner also owns a Model S Ludicrous Performance vehicle that he purchased in 2015.

Figure 7: Husqvarna Automower in action. (Husqvarna website)

All Your Home Garden Tools Should Now be Battery-Electric

Not just your lawnmower, but also your leaf blowers, trimmers, edgers, chain saws, etc., can be battery-electric now, and you can throw away your ear protectors.

All your portable home shop tools like drivers, jig saws, circular saws, Sawzall reciprocating saws, planers, nail guns, etc., can be battery-electric now. No professional home builder would be on the job nowadays without battery-electric power for any of his or her portable tools. If you buy the same brand, you can use the same batteries for all of these, including your lawnmower and chainsaw. You can keep one set of batteries charged and ready to go for any job you have on your schedule.

Beautiful Desert Landscaping

Who says you need grass to do beautiful landscaping in the desert?

Figure 8: Cactus buds and blooms, bikers, and Snow Canyon Parkway Bike Trail in Saint George, Utah. April, 26, 2021. Photos by Fritz Hasler

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Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler, PhD, former leader of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Analysis Laboratory (creator of this iconic image), and avid CleanTechnica reader. Also: Research Meteorologist (Emeritus) at NASA GSFC, Adjunct Professor at Viterbo University On-Line Studies, PSIA L2 Certified Alpine Ski Instructor at Brighton Utah Ski School.

For Sale: A VintageMowseratiLawn Mower

Now of course the Maserati legal department doesn’t know about this mower yet, and lawyers are famously unimpressed with intellectual property defying puns, so there’s a solid chance that this article will get deleted before the Mowserati is sold by Mecum in mid-May.

sale, vintage, mowserati, lawn

The Profound Impact Of The Lawn Mower

The invention of the lawn mower had a far more profound impact on the world than many might realize. The first mechanical lawn mower was developed and patented by Edwin Beard Budding of England in 1830, it used the forward pushing motion of the operator to spin blades on a cylinder which cut the grass.

The Mowserati has an air-cooled, rear-mounted engine powering the mower blades and the rear wheels for forward motion.

Prior to the invention of the mechanical lawn mower, manicured lawns were relatively rare as they required either grazing animals to trim them down or regular cutting by hand with a scythe – labor intensive work that didn’t provide as clean a cut as the mower invented by Budding.

Budding licensed his patent to a number of manufacturers and mass-production was underway in no time at all. Now that people had a way to quickly and easily cut grass to an even length the proliferation of lawns in private gardens took off like a rocket, and the playing fields for many sports were officially codified including cricket, association football (soccer), tennis, lawn bowls, and many others.

Today the lawn and private gardening industry is a multi-billion dollar global juggernaut, and one of the dreams held by many is to buy a house with their own lawn – which of course necessitates their own lawn mower.

The Mowserati Lawn Mower

The Mowserati Lawn Mower is a customized vintage ride-on lawn mower, it appears to be a Sears Craftsman model though we haven’t been able to nail down the specific model.

The mower uses tiller steering and it has a tractor-style seat on a curved spring to offer some semblance of suspension for the driver.

What we do know is that it has a steel frame, a fiberglass body, tiller steering, a tractor-like seat on a curved spring, and it’s powered by a Briggs Stratton-type single-cylinder motor which powers the blades which spin under the mower between the front and rear wheels.

The customization process involved repainting the fiberglass body in bright high-gloss red, adding a white spoiler to the back and a Maserati logo to the front, adding the racing number 19 to each side, and the script “Mowserati” to the rear.

If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here on Mecum. It’s due to be auctioned in mid-May.

Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road Track Magazine, the official blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.

Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.

In Praise of the Push Reel Mower

I recently became a homeowner and along with my first house came another first: my very own little piece of land to tend. And since Kate and I had been living in apartments for all our married life, I needed to buy a mower to take care of our lawn. Like most Americans, I grew up using and being surrounded by gas-powered mowers. The sound of two-stroke engines firing up around the neighborhood was the unofficial soundtrack of my boyhood summers.

But despite my immersion in the cult of Lawn Boy, I’ve always been intrigued by old-fashioned manual/push reel mowers. Maybe my curiosity about them came from flipping through old magazines depicting a happy 1950s suburban dad mowing his small patch of green heaven. Or maybe it was from watching groundskeepers use giant reel mowers to mow the infield at baseball stadiums.

Whatever the reason for my lifelong pull towards the manual reel mower, when I was in the market for my own mower, I decided to look into whether the old-fashioned push reel mower was a viable option for my lawn mowing needs. To my great surprise, I discovered that the reel mower isn’t just a viable option, but is in some instances superior to its gas-powered cousins.

How a Push Reel Mower Works

Your typical power rotary mower has a spinning blade that chops off the top of the grass as it rotates like a helicopter, resulting in torn and shredded turf. Instead of tearing and chopping your grass, a reel mower cuts your grass just like a pair of scissors. It’s easier to understand how this works when you can see the mower, rather than just describing it, so check out the video below for a full explanation:

Oh, and it goes without saying, but unlike a power mower that requires gas or electricity to work, you provide the power to your manual reel mower.

Choosing a Push Reel Mower

The basic construction of a reel mower is pretty much the same across brands. They mainly vary in characteristics like:

  • Weight. How heavy will it be when you’re pushing it?
  • Cutting width. The longer and bigger the mower is, the heavier it will be, but the less passes you’ll have to make back and forth on your lawn, and thus the faster you’ll get the job done.
  • Cutting heights. What’s the range of heights you can adjust the blades up and down?
  • Direction of grass spray. Does the grass spray behind the mower or out in front? Obviously the latter has an advantage in not covering your feet with clippings.

When I was looking for a reel mower, I did a lot of research and finally brought home the Fiskars Staysharp Max Push Reel Lawn Mower. This thing isn’t your grandpa’s heavy old contraption. The folks at Fiskars have taken the old manual reel mower design and updated it for the 21st century: it’s 60% easier to push than other manual mowers, boasts twice the cutting power of competitors, sprays the grass out in front of you, and the blades only need sharpening every 5-10 years (that’s the “StaySharp” bit). It’s fast, powerful, and maneuverable. Not to mention kind of fun to use. After mowing with my Fiskars for nearly two months, I can confidently say that it’s given me the best mowing experience I’ve ever had. Kate and I even fight over who gets to mow the lawn now (the compromise: I mow the front; she mows the back). I can’t sing the mower’s praises highly enough ( and I don’t have any affiliation with the company whatsoever, by the way–just a very happy customer ).

Look at that beautiful cascade of grass.

If your only experience with a push reel mower was using a heavy clunker in your youth, I highly recommend giving the Fiskars a try. It will change your mind about manual mowers.

The Benefits of a Push Reel Mower

Push reel mowers are better for your grass’ health. This was my biggest motivating factor for purchasing a push reel mower as opposed to a power rotary mower. As mentioned above, power rotary mowers cut the grass by chopping and tearing your grass, while reel mowers cut the grass by snipping it cleanly like a pair of scissors. Torn and shredded grass leaves your lawn vulnerable to disease and insect attacks; grass that is cleanly cut with a reel mower heals faster and is less vulnerable to those maladies.

Push reel mowers make your lawn look nicer. Not only are reel mowers better for your grass’ health, they leave your lawn looking professionally manicured. Again, it all goes back to the scissor-like way the reel mower cuts the grass. Clean and even cuts make for a clean and even-looking lawn. The reel mower’s superior cut is the reason why groundskeepers at professional baseball stadiums and golf courses use large reel mowers pulled by tractors. The reel cut makes the grass look purty.

sale, vintage, mowserati, lawn

Push reel mowers are quiet. One of the things I hated the most about the old gas-powered Lawn Boy of my youth was the noise. First, it’s just grating to have to listen to a loud and obnoxious two-stroke engine for extended periods of time. Second, because the thing was so stinking loud, I couldn’t mow the grass too early or too late in the evening, lest I disturb the neighbors. That’s not a problem if you live in, say, Vermont, where summer days are pleasantly warm and idyllic (if it’s not raining). When you live in hot and humid Oklahoma, however, mowing your yard during the day with the sun beating down on you is downright miserable.

The push reel mower solves both of those noise-related problems. The only sound it makes is a satisfyingly quiet “snip-snip-snip” as the mower cuts the grass. I love hearing that sound. It’s actually rather soothing. And because my manual reel mower is so darn quiet, I can mow my lawn early in the morning without waking up the neighbors. Goodbye 107-degrees-with-a-heat-index-of-a-115 lawn mowing sessions!

Push reel mowers don’t emit pollution. Don’t let the smallness of your power lawn mower engine deceive you. That sucker spits out a crap load of air pollution. If you let a typical gas-powered lawn mower run for an hour, it will produce as much air pollution as a sedan running for two hundred miles. Jeez-um!

The amount of pollution a push reel mower produces? Zilch. Unless of course you count the relaxing farts you rip as you cut the grass.

If you’re an environmentally-conscious guy, the choice is clear between power and manual. You gotta go manual.

Push reel mowers are hassle-free. Push reel mowers are simple machines. You push it and blades spin around and cut your grass. That’s it. No pulling starter cords or priming the engine before you can mow. Just start walking and–bam!–you’re cutting the grass. Also, you’ll never have to buy gas, oil, or spark plugs ever again. About the only maintenance you’ll have with your manual reel mower is blade sharpening, and some folks think that’s more of an enjoyable, mind-settling task than a chore. And again, with the Fiskars, you’ll only have to sharpen the blades every half decade or so.

Push reel mowers are cheaper. Even a “top-of-the-line” reel mower like the Fiskars costs less than most power mowers. And if you get one of the smaller, classic models, they can run you less than 100. Plus, there are no maintenance costs. With gas as high as they are, why waste a single drop tooling around your backyard?

Push reel mowers exercise your body. There’s no autodrive on a push reel mower. These bad boys are man-powered. The Fiskars is particularly heavy for a reel mower (52 lbs), but is designed in a way that makes it easier to push, and it gives me a nice bout of exercise; hard enough to work up a satisfying sweat, but not so hard it leaves me feeling exhausted. It’s kind of like pushing a Prowler Sled around your yard, except for that when you’re done, you’re in better shape and your lawn has been mowed.

Push reel mowers are safer than power mowers. In a careless moment a power mower can turn into a rolling death trap, or at least an appendage mauler. than 75,000 Americans, 10,000 of which are children, are injured in lawn mowing accidents annually, and, get this, 75 people die from lawn mowing accidents every year. Mowing over a grass-hidden rock can turn it into a projectile capable of traveling 200 mph and taking out someone’s eye, and the power mower’s fast-whirling blades have eaten up children’s toes and hands. And even if your power mower isn’t running, you’re still at risk for an accident. I burnt my hand on a hot lawn mower engine as a boy and still have the scar to prove it.

While some dangers still exist when using a reel mower, they’re much, much safer than power mowers. Unless I ran the thing right over someone Tom and Jerry-style, there’s little risk of it chewing up a limb. If you run over a rock, instead of shooting it out like a bullet, your mower just jams. Also, no hot engines to burn yourself on.

Ai Luxury Car Brand Lawn Mowers

Push reel mowers make mowing a pleasure. As a young man, I saw lawn mowing as a chore that you had to do every week. I didn’t look forward to it. I just did it because I had to. Since I’ve started mowing with my Fiskars push reel mower, mowing the grass has turned from a chore into a pleasure. I actually look forward to lawn mowing day. Really! I love pushing it in the cool of the early morning as birds chirp at the day’s start. I love listening to the quiet “snip-snip-snip” of grass cutting. I love the physicality of it–how it feels a little like pushing a plow. I love watching tiny blades of cut grass spit out in front of my mower in a green cascade. Most of all, I love the satisfying feeling I get as I look over my cleanly cut lawn.

Is a Push Reel Mower Right For You?

In Gran Torino, Korean War vet Walt Kowalski calms his mind before confronting a violent gang by mowing his yard with a manual reel mower. Manly.

Now before you head to the home improvement store to pick up a push reel mower, you need to know that it’s not for everybody. Sometimes power or riding mowers are actually better, depending on a variety of factors. Below I highlight a few of these factors you should consider before switching to a push reel mower.

Your yard is a half-acre or smaller. Manual reel mowers are suited for small to medium-sized yards. Most experts agree that if you have to mow more than 8,000 square feet, you’re better off using a power push or riding mower. Although I will say that my yard is on the large end of a medium-sized yard, and it only takes me 45 minutes to mow with my manual mower. And if your yard is the size of most yards in suburban developments, there really isn’t any reason you shouldn’t use a push reel mower.

You can’t bag clippings. If you’re one of those folks who prefer to bag your clippings, then a push reel mower probably isn’t for you. While some push reel mowers have a basket that will catch your clippings, they don’t work very well, and many don’t offer any clipping catcher at all.

However, if you’re a devoted-bagger, you might reconsider your stance. Most lawn care experts agree that you shouldn’t bag your clippings and should just leave them in your grass. Grass clippings are fertilizer for your lawn. They provide the same beneficial nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium nutrients that are in commercial fertilizers, except they’re free.

Not great for excessively bumpy and overgrown yards. I’ve noticed that on areas of my lawn that have a lot of bumps, the reel mower doesn’t do a good job of cutting, mainly because the wheels can’t get good traction to move the blade. I’ll usually have to come back and trim that with my weed-wacker. It’s not a problem because there’s only one part in my lawn that gives me trouble.

Also, push reel mowers work best on yards that are already well-maintained. They don’t cut really long grass too well, so if you always let your grass get pretty long before you cut it, you’re better off using a power mower.

What sort of grass do you have? Manual reel mowers work better on some types of grass than others. Most reel mowers have a hard time handling extra thick grasses like Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Bermuda. Never fear. If you have a lawn that’s made completely of one of these grasses, you’re not necessarily relegated to just gas-powered mowers. Heavier, more powerful manual reel mowers like the Fiskars don’t have a problem with these types of grasses. Adjusting the height of the reel mower’s blades can also prevent the mower from getting bogged down in thick grass.

Shave Like Your Grandpa, Mow Like Your Grandpa

After a couple of months of using my push reel mower, I really don’t know why the manual mower isn’t more popular or why most folks get the gas-powered variety. It seems quite analogous to shaving. There are a few things where the classic turns out to do just as good a job (sometimes an even better one), and provides a more enjoyable and satisfying experience to boot. The safety razor is one of those things. And so is the push reel mower. Give it a try!

Why A Manual Push Mower Is Good For You And The Environment

There are over 80 million lawns in the United States, most of which get cut on a fairly regular basis. Today most people cut their lawn with an electric or gas powered mower but years ago the only option was a manual push lawn mower or reel mower which was powered by human labor. Interestingly reel mowers are making a comeback. Why? Read on to learn about reel mower pros and cons.

What is a Reel Mower?

A reel mower is the type of lawn mower your grandparents would have used to cut the grass. It is a man (or woman) powered grass cutting machine that consists of multiple blades that cut grass vertically rather than horizontally as modern gas and electric mowers do.

These vertical blades make a scissor-like motion to cut blades of grass as the machine is pushed manually. For those who eschew the labor involved in pushing a reel mower there would seem to be no benefit, but there are other benefits of a reel mower beyond exercise.

Physical Benefits of a Reel Mower

Obviously your physical labor is what is used to propel a reel or push mower. Manually pushing a mower can help you to burn between 400 and 500 calories per hour.

To get the most out of your lawn mowing workout you should use your legs and hips to drive the movement of the machine. Maintain an erect posture as you are mowing with your elbows slightly bent and shoulders relaxed; avoid hunching your back.

Not only will using a reel mower help you maintain your weight but it will add to your cardiovascular exercise for the day and aid in building muscle.

Reel Mower Pros and Cons

We’ve established that using a push mower can be good for your health but what other benefits or detriments does it have? If you are not in good health a push mower isn’t for you. It does require strength and stamina and may not be suitable for people with a number of ailments.

If you have a large area of lawn to cut, a push mower may not be the answer. A reel mower does take more time than a gas or electric or certainly a riding mower. That said, there are now gas powered reel mowers available that can help you mow those larger areas of turf.

Rotary mowers have a single blade that cuts horizontally while reel mowers have two blades that cut vertically giving the turf a cleaner cut.

Reel mowers are also environmentally friendly requiring no electricity, oil, or gas to propel them. Since there is no gas or oil, there is no danger of fuel spills. They also produce no noise pollution with the exception of some grunts from those pushing them.

Push mowers are also safer than their counterparts. Since the operation of the machine is reliant on pushing, there is no practical way for the user to accidentally harm a limb while the machine is in use. The spinning of the blades also does not encourage projectiles such as rocks or debris the way other mowers can. Lastly, the speed of push mower blades is significantly less than gas or electric machines, making injuries related to the machine practically impossible.

Reel Mower Maintenance

A manual push mower is made of steel, other metals, and plastic. It does not have rubber tubing, copper wiring, or other small component parts which means this type of mower is low maintenance.

Reel mowers require an occasional rinse with water, sharpening of the blades, and occasional application of oil to moving parts. The amount of oil used is much less than that needed to maintain a gas powered lawn mower, and even recycled waste vegetable oil can be used.

As far as sharpening the blades, it couldn’t be easier. Apply an abrasive paste found in a reel mower sharpening kit to the blades and push the mower. The blades will sharpen themselves as they spin.

Last Word on Reel Mowers

New gas powered models have four, five, and seven blades. The lower you want to cut the grass the more blades you need. The type of grass you are trying to cut makes a difference too. Heavier, bent grasses such as St. Augustine or Bermuda require a seven blade mower, while fine, thin grasses like Kentucky bluegrass or fescue cut best with a four or five blade. They also come in various widths. The wider the mower, the faster they will cut.

Lastly, while maintenance is a breeze, if you damage the blades on a rotary mower, it can easily be removed and replaced. Not so with a reel mower. Although this is a rarity, it will be harder and more costly to fix.

sale, vintage, mowserati, lawn

The Difference Between a Lawn Mower and Lawn TRACTOR!