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Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 6,938
Likes: 275
Forum Historian
Hello ODK history Lovers
I chanced upon a State Library of NSW catalogue that
indicated they held two lawnmower images taken by,
arguably, Australia’s greatest photographer of the 20th
Century, Max Dupain.

I knew the two images subject matter was an Amplion lawnmower(s),
but had no idea what they looked like. The catalogue dated them
to March of 1959.

I commissioned (paid for) the scanning and digitisation of these
images at a very high resolution, and it was a real surprise what
was delivered to me. Here’s a teaser …

[Linked Image]

Yes, the Amplion had a shallow alloy skirted base, and it was
designed to take accessories. It was a ‘multi-mower’.

One image depicts a spray pump and sprayer system;
the other a generator and an electric lawn trimmer!

There’s a lot to discuss here.


Membership information
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 6,938
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Forum Historian
PART TWO – Backstory - Who Was Max Dupain?
Max Dupain is not new to these great forums. Folks might
remember that he photographed Kumale, Merv Richardson’s
[Victa Mowers] icon house: -

[Linked Image]


You might know this famous Dupain photograph …
[Linked Image]



Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 6,938
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Forum Historian
PART THREE – Amplion Mower with Reilax Sprayer
The first studio photograph depicts the Amplion mower
with sprayer accessory taken from the left-hand front.

This is a side discharge alloy base mower with a shallow skirt.
Note that his mower has a primitive 4-point height adjuster.
Each wheel had to be adjusted manually for height and there
appears to be three set height choices.

The engine is an Australian 125cc Hurricane [without shroud cooling],
and the fuel tank is mounted on a folding handle bar.

The wheels are of the new rubber with nylon bush type made
by Walter Barr [see Related Reading].

The accessory – a Reilax sprayer gun – was powered by a
gearbox and compressor located on a platform mounted to
the front chassis. Note the two large ½” Whitworth butterfly
nuts that secure it.

Reilax was the brand name of equipment manufactured by
North Sydney’s JW Earnshaw Pty Ltd. Earnshaw made the
gearbox/compressor unit and the spray gun and these had
been advertised by them since the early 1950s [see gallery].

I include an ad for the Amplion being sold in 1959. Apart from the
folding handle and engine, it bears no similarity to the mower shown
here. Do you think this is a prototype that never entered production?


Attached Images
ON558_00_Box19_608.jpg (134.21 KB, 107 downloads)
ON558_01.jpg (107.11 KB, 107 downloads)
ON558_02.jpg (87.22 KB, 107 downloads)
ON558_03.jpg (106.68 KB, 105 downloads)
ON558_04.jpg (101.57 KB, 106 downloads)
1954_05_land_07may_p16.jpg (59.56 KB, 108 downloads)
1959_11_smh_08november_p101.jpg (238.23 KB, 106 downloads)
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 6,938
Likes: 275
Forum Historian
PART FOUR – Amplion Mower with Manley Roto-Trimmer
The second studio photograph depicts the Amplion mower with
electric trimmer accessory taken from the right-hand front.

This is the first time we see the shallow discharge chute. Again,
it is un-Amplion to have used an alloy base.

The accessory is the Manley Roto-Trimmer that I have discussed
in a History Record [see Related Reading]. The Manley was named
after its inventor, Patrick Joseph Manley, in 1949. It was widely
advertised in the 1950s and its manufacturer was … Amplion!

The trimmer was powered by a base-mounted generator, attached
in a similar fashion to the Reilax compressor unit in the previous
image. That generator looks very similar to the North American
Delco Remy starter generators, and these were used on large
horizontal shaft Briggs & Stratton engines at that time. Amplion was
a Briggs distributor and seller of Briggs and Amplion generating sets
at this time. You get the idea.

So, both accessories were not new products by 1959,
when these studio images were taken.

The Amplion mower, itself, was the intended star.

The gallery below includes studio image clips and Manley trimmer ads
from 1951 and 1962.


Attached Images
01 ON558_Box19_609.jpg (135.75 KB, 91 downloads)
02 ON588_01.jpg (86.03 KB, 91 downloads)
03 ON588_02.jpg (94.69 KB, 90 downloads)
1951_03_sun_11march_p2.jpg (75.5 KB, 90 downloads)
1962_11_smh_17november_p8.jpg (150.29 KB, 89 downloads)
Joined: Nov 2013
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Likes: 275
Forum Historian
PART FIVE – Comment

Amplion has always been an interesting company to explore.
Originally a 1920s British maker of loud speakers, public address
systems and wireless receivers, Amplion would be sold world-wide.

Amplion was a subsidiary of Alfred Graham and Company.
Their company history is complex and I do not profess to understand it.

Amplion certainly had an Australian presence from about 1926.
My best guess is that Amplion (Australasia) was an arrangement for
a totally separate entity. This enabled Amplion in Australia to expand
into diverse areas.

I have no evidence that this mower entered production for sale
within Australia. The design – with 4-point height adjustment, side
discharge, and no catcher – was way out of date for 1960s Australia.

It was a surprise to find that this Amplion appears to have entered
production, but sold overseas to the Pacific Islands. A lucky find of
two ads in Pacific Island Monthly of February and April, 1959,
confirmed this. Note the different top handles in the earlier ad.

Note that Dupain’s beautiful studio images were intended for and put to
good use as print illustrations.

Attached Images
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