Acquired by the museum in June 2021, a unique conversion of a 1930s Qualcast Panther push lawn mower, motorised by the addition of a 1951 25cc Cyclemaster engine.
First, we will look at the mastermind behind the conversion, then the history and origin of the lawn mower and engine.
The mower was owned and converted by Sam Mosely (1911-1990) a flight lieutenant and production test pilot for the Fairey Northern factories at Stockport/Ringway. He also did some testing for Hawker Siddeley and worked as a test pilot for de Havilland, was extensively involved with the development of the Mosquito, which his son remembers him saying was his favourite aircraft.
Same Mosely c1964
These engines were designed to power bicycles, the initial starting up being achieved by pedal power. A colleague of Sam’s, Stan Clarke who was a senior aircraft engineer, cleverly adapted a Villiers piston from a motorcycle engine to become a pull start pulley around which a cord/rope could be used for starting the engine on the mower.
Whilst Sam’s descendants remember the converted mower, they were not able to trace any photographs of it. However, we do have some below of Sam’s illustrious career.
Sam Mosely piloting a Fairey Swordfish plane having been catapulted from the deck of H.M.S.Hood in 1938.
Sam on left with fellow test pilots - unknown, Ian Ryall & Gordon Slade c1950 with a rather nice Bentley.
Qualcast Panther Push Lawn Mower
The Qualcast Panther 12in push lawn mower was introduced in 1931, an extremely popular, reasonably priced mower that continued in production with various upgrades into the 1970s. There were many power adaptations by amateurs and the manufacturers themselves, including, Electric, Battery, and Petrol Engines. Qualcast concentrated on the affordable mass market and by 1951 were stating in their advertising that they had over three million satisfied users.
The Cyclemaster was launched in June 1950 as a powered wheel to propel bicycles, by April 1952, 50,000 had been sold. Whilst initially a 25.7cc engine, this was changed to 32cc in 1951.
By the end of 1952 100,000 units had been sold, and demand dwindled in the late fifties with production ceasing in 1961.
Enthusiasts note we also have two push mowers in our collection with Trojan Mini-Motor conversions.
Images courtesy of https://cyclemaster.wordpress.com/category/the-cyclemaster-museum/