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Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 219
Likes: 10
Apprentice level 3
G’day Folks

I’ve decided to fix up a couple of mowers from the “skilled user” range of the early 70’s.

It’s going to be a matter of making one good one out of two in each case. My hope is to rebuild them so they last another 30 years.

1974 Super 24

I have one that is almost complete but flogged out with all wheels pointing in the wrong direction. The other stopped working 15 years ago and repairs were started but never finished. There’s a few bits missing, owing to a box of parts being misplaced. The original high output full crank motor is now sitting on my bench for an autopsy. It’ll need rebuilding as there’s no compression.

The flogged out machine is a bit of an unknown quantity as it’s been sitting in the back of an old shed for donkey’s ages, while the one that the rebuild was started on we can’t remember why it was pulled apart. It obviously has no compression now but I’m unsure if that was the original fault.

One thing for certain is that I need a good set of front wheels. Seems like there’s not much around. I was thinking I’d order a pair from the current B&S iteration.


“1974 160 Special”

I also have two of these (well one might be a very slightly different year) however, one is missing it’s motor. I suspect it was purloined for a go-cart a few years back. The chassis on both of them is in good nick. The complete one hasn’t been run for a few years so there’s likely to be gremlins lurking.

On initial inspection it appears I have enough bits to make one complete mower without any smashed bits. I’ll be rebuilding most things though as they’ve both done a fair bit of work and I can do it in a job lot with the super 24s.

Again, the 160 Special will need wheels.



My concern, aside from finding good wheels, is that I’ll not find two good big ends among the three motors I have. When I’ve pulled full crank motors apart the crank case bearings are frequently r/s and they might also need reboring and an oversized piston but the big ends seem to be more durable. That might just be my specific experience though.

With the wheels I’d really like to find something better but the axel sizes are uncommon, 9/16 I think? My somewhat disappointing conclusion is that I’ll have to order wheels from the current B&S iterations of my mowers. Any better ideas?

Cheers

Ironbark

Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 7,466
Likes: 143
SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Hi Ironbark,
now you are talking my favourite mowers the 24's I love them they are fantastic. I still have 3 here waiting to be rebuilt. As for the motors just keep an eye out for any full crank that turns up your way. At worst I usually only have to put a set of rings in them and they will tackle anything you throw at them. Front wheels I usually remove the stub axles ( those 9/16th axles are a pain on ALL Victa mowers) and put a decent set of wheels on them. Usually the front axle has chewed the housing out and that can be a big problem. I have a length of 40mm Delrin that I make new bushes from and hold them in place with "U" bolts. That fixes up the front, sometimes the back axle needs a bit of repair work but that is fairly easy. Do not throw any of those parts out, they are all important so we can keep these machines going. As long as these 24's suit the F/C motors that is fine, with the ones with PT's fitted, now that is another kettle of fish that I think I solved the problem with those a couple of years ago.

Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 219
Likes: 10
Apprentice level 3
G’day Norm

Good to hear that my experience of these full cranks isn’t isolated. Fingers crossed I just need rings.

I like the super 24. Great for rough ground and higher grass, I really like the ability to get under trees and shrubs and it’s inherently light weight.

Couple of things I’d change if it was redesigned. The front wheel arrangement leaves a bit to be desired, it really should have had swivel type wheels with locking. A wheelbase that long guarantees issues with turning and the forces damage the fixed hubs and axels. This would have added to the price though and lightweight but durable front swivel wheel mechanisms in this application would not be inexpensive.

Mine have issues with the height adjustment mechanism too. it’s not sufficiently robust for the duty of these machines. It needs to be made of either thicker steel or, preferably, a more appropriate alloy of spring steel. It also needs screw in replaceable pins because they wear out.

I’ve often thought the axel sizes were under spec. Perhaps, they should have been 5/8” on domestic mowers and 3/4” on the commercial models.

Ironbark

Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 7,466
Likes: 143
SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Hi Irobark,
I had never given the front wheels much thought, most of the time when I use them the front wheels are up in the air. I have a couple of Ariens here with swivel front wheels I can have a bit of a look and see what would be involved in fitting swivels. I have never had an issue with the height adjuster and I have repaired a lot of these machines, but like everything on them it can be made stronger. Are the blade carriers ok?

Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 219
Likes: 10
Apprentice level 3
I hear you on the back wheels being the most used, that’s how I do it too.
The machine with the worst front was originally bought by a friend’s father who is a bit shorter than me and would have used it more flat, not having the leverage. I should have done something about them before but, it’s only now at that I’m looking at this more from the point of view of the machine being as right as I can make it. They’ll be fine if I can find some solid replacements.

One blade carrier is ok as far as I can tell, I’ll pull it off and clean it back to make sure there are no cracks lurking. I’ll get my act together and take some photos. I haven’t checked the other one yet.

Do you happen to know how the air filters originally worked? There’s a pair of the older blue Victa ones fitted but it looks a bit heath robinson. Were there originally caps held in place by a flange plate?

I only seem to have the flange plate now and I can’t remember how it used to work.

Joined: Jul 2018
Posts: 2,086
Likes: 80
SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Hi Ironbark

Some of the earlier ones had that twin element filter that has long been unattainable. I believe most people just change them for a standard set up now.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/71/Victa_Super_24_right.JPG

Norm, have you seen the RHS of the rear axle rusted halfway through? I picked up a 24 rear axle with wheels years ago and immediately thought there must be a deck design flaw that packs wet grass around the axle - about 2-3 inches in from the height adjuster.

Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 7,466
Likes: 143
SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Hi Ironbark,
well here we go again, another can of worms, I throw those airfilters out because I only use LM carbs and snorkel on them not the G3's. This involves modifying a LM manifold to fit on the inlet barrel spigot. I have done quite a few of them, fairly easy if you have a lathe. As for wheels the wheels with the 1/2 inch axle are ok you just need to find a good set of wheels off something like an MTD because these sort of wheels have bearings unlike the Victa which only had bushes. Plenty of wheels like that out there. Done plenty like that, pretty simple. If the front where the axle goes through the deck has badly worn as I said I just make up big Delrin bushes and that fixes that problem. I make the bush up to fit the worn out alloy area, then cut the bush in half so I can fit it over the axle and then make up a "U" bolt to hold it all together. Sounds complicated but fairly simple.
Hi Tyler, never seen one worn out in that area, must have been something that caused it. All I do if I have an axle worn like that I just run beads of weld aling the area and then grind it reasonably round again. I have to do this quite often with the Victa front axles where they get chewed out wene the bushes have worn out and the axle is just flopping around

Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 219
Likes: 10
Apprentice level 3
Ok, I can see why you go about it that way, no doubt the G4/LM is a better design. Because we lived in a more isolated spot there wasn’t a good supply of used bits and we would get charged like a wounded bull for new stuff. Hence we tended to adapt what we had with whatever we had lying around to make it work.

I have a cobbled together but functional setup there now, might see if I can find some old images of how they were originally and make something that looks similar.

All my mowers have been used on biggish places over the years and what we did, starting back a long way, was to mostly buy mowers that had bearings in the wheels or, if not, modify the mower or wheels to take them. It helped that we had access to good sized discounts on reliable bearings back then. Probably a different proposition now. I’ll ask my mate at the engineering supplies when I next go in.

Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 7,466
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SENIOR TECHNICIAN
On of the reasons for ditching the G3 carbs on these is you can't get parts for them anymore and the G4/LM is a far superior setup

Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 4,675
Likes: 164
SENIOR TECHNICIAN
I notice with the 125 it has more grunt with the plastic carburettor. I think it feeds more fuel and air. Much like the old cars specified with optional four barrel carburetors over single or two for extra HP.


Ahh, if only victa had kept producing the thumblatch catcher series, they would be in better shape today!
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 219
Likes: 10
Apprentice level 3
There’s no doubt the G4/LM is superior. I’m not stuck on using the G3 but I’d like to try to even though it’s the less logical path. There’s some links with the past for me with these mowers and I’d like to retain as much of that experience as I can without making a rod for my own back.

I’m hoping that I have enough G3 bits to make two working carbs. I have three complete carbs and some spare bits in boxes that I will need to unearth. I can make gaskets and fabricate some parts. I did think new bits were going to be thin on the ground.

It’s been a while since I had to do anything major with a G3 so I’ll have to refresh my memory of where they go wrong.

Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 4,675
Likes: 164
SENIOR TECHNICIAN
The motors sound sweeter with the G3 as they are a much more precise instrument.
They are made of a lot more parts than the G4 and are very finnicky. The G4 is basic to tear down and is hard to go wrong, although fiddly when refitting the cable to the cam -that's the worst part.
A guy I know who used to make go carts and motorised bikes with Vicata 160s didn't particularly care for the plastic carburetor and always used the G3 but when he fixed a neighbour's Powertorque mower be had a partial about face and thought they were a clever design for what they are.


Ahh, if only victa had kept producing the thumblatch catcher series, they would be in better shape today!
Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 7,466
Likes: 143
SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Hi Ironbark, I can make up a couple of manifold adapters to go on the spigots so you can use the LM carb if you want.

Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 219
Likes: 10
Apprentice level 3
Thanks Norm, much appreciated. I’ll let you know if (when?) I can’t get the g3s working.

I didn’t do anything mower-related today, few issues well outside my usual skillset took all my time.

I’ll take some photos tomorrow to spur me on.

Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 219
Likes: 10
Apprentice level 3
Change of plan, I got one running instead.

This 160 Special has had one or two things done to it over the years: the starter is off a rotomo and the blade carrier is a late model lozenge-shaped one.

It hadn’t run for goodness knows how long so I did some basic checks first.
- no insects or obstruction in the intake
- no insects or obstruction in exhaust
- nothing wrapped around the blades or blade carrier, no cracks, not loose
- pulled dried grass from around muffler and flywheel, evicted a few spiders.
- looked in fuel tank: bone dry but no rubbish either. Must have drained it before storage.

Took out the spark plug, black as night. Gave it a good clean with a brass brush, bit of wet and dry paper, good squirt off with compressed air. Looked good.

Squirted a bit of two stroke oil into the cylinder and turned it over without spark, compression seemed ok.

Put a bit of fuel in the tank and checked for leaks; nothing!

Turned on the fuel tap and fuel started leaking out the front of the tap - damn. Just as well it’s on my gravel drive. I give if a wiggle, on off, on off, stops leaking. Excellent.

Tickle the g3 carb til see fuel coming out the hole.

Wrap cord around spindle - pull - fires up first go!

I cut grass til it runs out of fuel.

I’m pretty pleased, not bad for a 48 year old mower.

There’s a few things need fixing.

Vibration
There’s much more vibration than I remember. I had a pair of leather riggers gloves in my back pocket so I put them on and that helped a bit but I’m wondering if that asymmetrical blade carrier is at fault? The vibration is pretty unpleasant, I certainly wouldn’t hand it to someone else to mow with. It could also be that one or more engine bearings is flogged out, hope not.

Governor?
It isn’t maintaining revs in thick grass. It might be that the governor housing is filthy and the governor blade can’t move or the spring is gunked up. I’ll take the cowl off tomorrow and give it a proper clean.

Air filter housing
This one is cracked longitudinally down the front. The one I have on my spare mower is also cactus, badly sun crazed and cracked. I see they are no longer available in most spares places. Does anyone know of a source? I could do with two.

Wonky wheels and axels
I guess it goes without saying, it needs a full going over. Bushes, spring clips wheel bearings. All of it needs replacing. I am going to see what fits. These look similar to mowers in the domestic range so I hope the standard bits work.

Blades
These are not as bad as I thought they were but they should be replaced. One great thing about these machines was that they would really eject the clippings in spring cutting. Then, for other times, you could swap the blades and they’d mulch with the filler piece in. The problem is I’ve forgotten which blades to use. Does anyone have any hints?

All up I’m very pleased it ran, wasn’t expecting it to.

Here’s a photo


Ironbark

Attached Images
Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 7,466
Likes: 143
SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Hi Ironbark,
cracking mower aren't they, just so versatile will go through anything and nice and light. If it is vibrating that badly then there is a balance problem with the blades or blade carrier. Any blades will do usually the flat blades were fitted but I find the fluted blades work just as well

Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 219
Likes: 10
Apprentice level 3
G’day Norm

I took the combination cowling and tank assembly off to give the Special 160 a good clean. It was pretty well caked up with oily residue combined with dust which had then set solid. The engine fins were blocked and the carby was covered in a solid casing of congealed muck up to 1/4” thick.

I started with a bit of brushing which just made more mess; so I abandoned that and went to the SCA spray-on degreaser. This was slower than I’d like but is more gentle than the other more caustic stuff we have. I sprayed it on and then gave it a good scrub with a stiff nylon brush before hosing off. Half a dozen cycles of this did a semi-decent job.

There were still quite a few deposits that refused to budge so I grabbed a couple of pieces of hardwood split from my firewood and turned them into scrapers by splitting them down a to about 3/8” thickness and forming a few different shaped ends. I’ve found, when working on older mechanical things, that these “hand made” scrapers are much less likely to damage parts and surfaces than metal or plastic scrapers. Combining my scraping and prodding with the degreaser I removed most of the gunk.

Returning the cleaned machine to the shed I dried it down with old rags before blowing a bit of heat into it with the heat gun to minimise lurking moisture. I was expecting it to be a bit grumpy after it’s first bath in 40 years but it started second pull.

Mowing the top lawn was a good test for the governor mechanism, which now seems to be working significantly better. However, a slow leak has showed itself somewhere on the carby. Not sure where from. The “tickler” is a prime suspect but it could also be the float bowl gasket. I’m going to need to strip it down and take a look, probably have a bit of a job finding “o” rings to fit that tickler mechanism.

On the blades, I took them off and one was missing a chunk and they were a different shape, when lined up. They’re the fluted type. I took them to the anvil and persuaded them to the same profile and then reground them to the same shape. When bolted back up there was less vibration.

I looked in my boxes of bits for new blades but there were none suitable. However, it did remind me one reason why I’m cautious about mower blades. Some time back we had a bulk box from somewhere and they weren’t properly hardened. They’d lose their edge after a day of mowing, real time wasters.

Anyway, now to find g3 gaskets and “o” rings. At least it’s working properly aside from the leak!

Ironbark

Last edited by Ironbark; 17/03/22 02:46 PM. Reason: Typo
Joined: Jan 2016
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Likes: 143
SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Yes Ironbark,
It is amazing how these 2 strokes can still perform when they are so gunked up that they can't possibly get any airflow over the motor

Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 219
Likes: 10
Apprentice level 3
G’day Norm (and anyone else who might be reading!)

In bits of time I’ve been able to grab I’ve been sourcing parts for my mower recommissionings.

It’s very hit and miss with something of this era. I’ve learned way more than I ever thought I’d need to know about the various components but now feel I know absolutely nothing!

I have had a look at a wheel that is a reproduction marketed by “GA Spares” it looks ok. If it lasts 10 years then I think that’d be reasonable. I’m going to use these mowers so I don’t want stuff that disintegrates. The bearings aren’t what I’d use but I suspect if they were built to my spec they’d likely cost twice as much. I’m thinking of buying a couple of sets. The same mob sell some blades I’ve had a good experience with in the past so I’m hopeful.

It seems that the white air filter housings to take the short Victa filters are completely unavailable anywhere. It’s a part that I’d really like to have to make the mower look complete. I’ve got to keep searching because there’s bound to be some hidden in a dark corner somewhere around.

Front axel clips are also unavailable. I’m hoping I can make some though as they’re simple. Bit of appropriate gauge spring steel heated, bent, normalised, drilled, reheated, oil quenched and then tempered back. There’s going to be some guess work on how much tempering back. Too much and they’re going to be soft and bend, too little and they’ll be too hard and brittle. Bit of a palaver for what’s really a $1 part.

One conundrum is the blade height. It’s way too low on the Special for a utility mower. I’m thinking that the carrier was probably updated by Victa for the high arch and the part used on all models. I’ll pull the whole assembly apart and see if I can engineer a solution.

My parts list is getting long! Over 80 items.

Ironbark

Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 7,466
Likes: 143
SENIOR TECHNICIAN
Hi Ironbark,
I think you are overthinking things too much unless you are planning on a restoration back to something like original. If it is good wheels you are after (hard to get anything Victa these days) I just cut the back of the stub axle off and punch the stub out and fit 1/2 inch axles from another mower with good wheels and the you have a big choice of wheels because most use the 12mm or 1/2 inch axles. There is nothing in the 7/16th range that Victa use. Always plenty of Sanlis around and they have reasonable wheels with decent bearings. Not sure what axle clips you are talking about but a couple of days ago I was putting wheels on a little project sidethrow, bit earlier that yours and I just used the standard Victa axle clips and a couple I gave a bit of a hit with a hammer to tighten them up, nothing unusual about that. The plastic cap then prevents the clips from coming up.
Not sure what you mean about the cutting height, are the blades too low compared to the skirt, if so just lift the motor up by screwing on another nut under where the motor bolts onto the base. There were so many variances in the way the motor fitted on different bases and if the motor was taken off an alloy base then it would need the spacers under the motor.
As for the air filter I would just use a snorkel from a G4 type or a Rover, (think I threw a couple of Rover ones in the bin last week) and the just use a standard throttle control from any other mower. I find the Rover throttle is probably the easiest to fit. Plenty of ways to solve these problems and give the mower a new lease of life. I hope the 80 items you are chasing are not all for the little sidethrow.
Here is a pic of the one I was playing with a few days ago, needs a set of rings and will be good for another 20 years
The second one is a little 125 that I got from the side of the road and it is a cracker and I use it quite often, such a beautiful machine, so light and easy to throw around

Attached Images
100_1857.JPG (240.24 KB, 48 downloads)
100_1858.JPG (311.64 KB, 44 downloads)
Last edited by NormK; 19/03/22 10:09 AM.
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