by alan

Ford garden machines in the UK

May 11, 2019 in Articles, Machinery

Advert for the Ford LGT 14D diesel ride on mower. Available in the UK 1987-1991

Ford is a global manufacturer and has a wide range of products under its belt with a vast array of associated advertising, one would be inclined to think that it’d be easy then, a doddle even, to find out about their mowers, tillers, chainsaws and garden and lawn tractors in the UK? This, I have found, is not the case, probably because I now know there isn’t much to find over here! For comparison I’ve spent months researching International Harvester garden tractors in the UK, their information proving sketchy, but that was surprisingly easier than Ford!

I have been looking for the Ford models actually sold in the UK rather than cataloguing the vast range they made, this has meant looking through UK specific brochures and data. However, this article may still have rather a lot of loose ends and more questions than answers but it’s a start and will perhaps inspire others to add to the knowledge base.

Having delved about with research I find that some of the first engine-powered Ford ride-on mowers seem to be of the home-made variety and date from the early 1900’s. This will come as no surprise when we learn that they were Model T Fords pulling along originally horse-powered gang mowers. Not exactly a ‘ride-on’ but the thought was there.

Ford 80 garden tractor as seen at Newark Tractor Show in 2015

The earliest purpose built Ford garden tractors that we are aware of in the UK is the model 80, manufactured for a few years from 1966. A couple have come to light in recent years, the image, right, is an example shown at Newark Tractor Show in 2015. The model 80 and 100 were manufactured by Jacobsen of Racine, Wisconsin and were essentially rebadged and Ford liveried Jacobsen Chief 100 tractors (see image for comparison). A little later the 80 and 100 were joined by the Ford 120 hydrostatic (based on the Jacobsen Chief 1200). However, of the first Ford garden tractors produced in the late 1960’s only the model 80 with the 8hp engine has appeared in the UK as far as we are aware.

Ford R8 rider mower in the US. From 1973 in the UK this could be bought as the original Ransomes-Hahn 500 in yellow paintwork.

It’s always interesting seeing which manufacturer makes what for whom, Ransomes-Hahn for instance manufactured for Ford in the US, as in the image of the rider on the right, but it appears none of these Ford badged machines made it over here. In the UK  from 1973 this machine is the yellow painted Ransomes-Hahn 500 rider model (see image for comparison) and available with 5hp or 7hp Briggs and Stratton engine. In the US these same machines were badged as the Ford R8 and R11 as in the image, right, did either of these Ford badged machines make it to the UK?

In 1973 to compliment the yellow Ransomes-Hahn 500 rider model in the UK there is mention of the larger and more tractor-like Ransomes-Hahn GT700 (see UK image) with 8 or 12hp Tecumseh engine and hydrostatic drive – since the Ransomes-Hahn 500 was painted blue and badged Ford in the US (as in the image above) I’m surprised the larger GT700 never appeared in any country as a Ford. Note: I have seen a blue Ford-esque GT700 but I think it was something that’d been bodged up from a yellow Hahn as a lookalike Ford.

Slight deviation from Ford: Whilst mentioning Hahn and the things that came off their production line in many colours, there was the 12hp Kohler powered Ransomes-Hahn Tournament Triplex mower available in yellow paintwork and with same machine being available later in the standard Ransomes green and badged as the Triplex 171 – both machines were available in the UK and were aimed at the golf course and fine lawn market. Amazing how manufacturers make, market and sell their machines under or for different brands – something which Ford was no stranger to, but for research it can be a real tangled web when one starts looking!

Ford YT16, available in a geared or hydrostatic version in the UK

Back to Ford and onto another manufacturer, this time Gilson of Wisconsin, USA. Gilson (and others) manufactured the most common small Ford machine we see in the UK that is the YT16 as in the image on the right, complimented by the hydrostatic YT16H model. This yard tractor (hence the YT prefix) with 42” mower deck was available with a 16hp Briggs and Stratton engine to start with and later a 16hp Kohler engine. It was manufactured by Gilson from approx. 1983 to 1988 followed by being manufactured by Lawnboy until 1993.  Lawnboy purchased Gilson in 1988 before all being bought by Toro in 1989 – so several hands in manufacturing the YT16 range. During 1985-91 Gilson/Lawnboy also made the bigger brother Ford LGT-18H which was available to us. Powered by a petrol 18hp Kohler engine with hydrostatic drive and optional rear PTO, this was available with a 48” mid-mounted mower deck with hydraulic lift for those that didn’t want to wrestle with a mechanical lever and spill their coffee – unlike Husqvarnas that have a cup holder to mitigate such scenarios. 

Hooray! for the frugal diesel for there is one small Ford diesel garden tractor that features in the UK, it is shown in the advert at the top of this article. In production from approximately 1987-1991 this is the LGT-14D and had 40% higher fuel efficiency than the equivalent petrol. Specification from the brochure states it has a Shibaura, 14hp, 3 cylinder diesel engine; hydrostatic drive and a 48” mid-mounted mower deck. Rear PTO was optional.  This tractor is the diesel version of the LGT-14 which was powered by a 14hp Kohler, 512cc petrol engine which no doubt gobbled petrol. Manufacture of the petrol LGT-14 was by Gilson between 1986 and 1987, and unlike the diesel Shibaura version, appears not to have been introduced to the UK – we just got the diesel one, unless you know otherwise?

Ford lawnmower. Did any make it over to the UK?

The next step up is to the larger, but still compact, Ford 1100 (2 wheel drive) and 1200 (4 wheel drive) machines. Data suggests that these were manufactured from around 1979 for about three or four years by Shibaura and featured 2-cylinder diesel engines coupled to a 12-speed gearbox. Prices were about £2500 for the 1100, and £3000 for the 1200 (see image). In the VHGMC gallery there is an image of a Ford 1220 (see image), this is from the Twenty Compact Series from the 80s/90s which comprised of the 1220, 1520, 1720,1920 and 2120 models. There was also the Ten series tractors (1983-1986) consisting of the 1120, 1210, 1310, 1510, 1710 and 1910. I know the 1120 and 1210 existed in the UK but not of the others. 

What else did Ford manufacture? My brochures say they made push lawnmowers as in the image, right. Also snow blowers, tillers and chainsaws including the super lightweight saws from the 1970’s. Do any of these Ford garden items exist in the UK? And as importantly who made them for Ford, were they also re-badged machines?

by alan

Canal & Towpath Tractors

December 5, 2018 in Machinery

Recently there’s been an interesting forum discussion about light tractors which were used on the canal towpaths in the 1950’s and 60’s. There were various tractors including the Wickham tractor, David brown 2D towpath tractor and the Garner tractor. 

The whole thread can be found here and if anyone has any more information then please contribute. 


Garner tractor on a canal towpath

A modified Fordson as a canal towpath tractor

by alan

Homemade or Serious Idea?

April 1, 2017 in Articles

Home Made Exhibit C

Home Made Exhibit C

Occasionally weird and wonderful machines turn up. But are they serious ideas, homemade affairs or ideas destined to be recycled for decades? Read on to find out about one.

Whether they work or not one definitely homemade machine which everyone seems to be aware of is the bicycle lawnmower. The image on the right is one that we found in the photo galleries archive.

Having seen a brochure image here we’ve worked out that the mower is probably a 1960/70s Qualcast E.1 with a 12″ cut, we don’t know what the bike is.  

However, to usurp the 1970’s bicycle mower by the best part of a century, we found (image below) in the pages of an 1888 newspaper a reference to ‘A Bicycle Lawn Mower‘ exhibited at the New York State Fair. Although of a more precarious nature it came from the ‘suggestion of a young man who attached an ordinary hand-mower to the hind wheel and frame of an ordinary bicycle‘. 

It would seem that some ideas neither go out of fashion nor become successful.


An 1888 bicycle lawn mower.

by alan

David Brown & Bolens

January 31, 2017 in Articles, Machinery

Did Bolens inspire the David Brown colour scheme?

Did Bolens inspire the David Brown colour scheme?

Collecting and preserving a machine is often much more than just having the physical machine itself, although one machine is never enough and the collecting bug bites hard. Also accumulating brochures, leaflets and memorabilia about a certain manufacturer can add to the interest, sometimes it’s also vital to have the extra information when rebuilding or desperately trying to reconstruct a machine from a heap of parts and some rusty tinwork. It’s all about research and a worthwhile investment, or so we convince ourselves as we buy another vital brochure on the internet. 

There are some members who have an interest in David Brown (photos in the gallery) . Searching online there’s a terrific amount of David Brown related information including not only the typical brochures and literature but also factory photographs, films, and machine history. There’s even have a David Brown museum (I’ve visited) with tractor exhibits and there’s a museum visit video on Youtube. 
David Brown Colour Chart

David Brown Colour Chart – Orchid White, Metallic Chocolate Brown, Poppy Red. Inspired by Bolens?

However even some items escape being in a museum and a few years ago I acquired a 1960’s David Brown factory issued colour chart, shown on the right, it’s something no one seems to have seen before, it’s small and fragile and that may account for few surviving.

What’s more interesting, and more detailed information can be found on the internet about it, is that the David Brown orchid white colour scheme from around the mid 1960’s onwards was apparently inspired by the livery of Bolens garden tractors – namely the white and brown scheme similar to that of the photograph of the Bolens at the top of the page . This colour scheme is shown in the David Brown tractor photo above it.  A fascinating piece of history.

See more Bolens and their various colour schemes in the Bolens gallery

You never know what small pieces of history or documentation may turn up either on the internet, on a stall at a show or from another VHGMC member or a member of the public. If you haven’t already seen Charlie’s Rototiller on the forum then have a look to see what can turn up. 

A 1964 Bolens Husky Advert. £225.00. Mini Tractors, Chew Magna, Bristol.

A 1964 Bolens Husky Advert. £225.00. Mini Tractors, Chew Magna, Bristol.

by alan

Nash Roller Tractor – 1950 report and adverts

November 29, 2016 in Articles

Nash Roller Tractor

Nash Roller Tractor

We have probably all done some research online or through archives looking for information about our respective machines and it’s usually easy to find at least an advert or a brochure image about the items that we collect. Admittedly some machines and manufacturers may have out-foxed us, perhaps the machine is one of those rebadged affairs or produced in small quantities as a trial run, or even an established company invented a new brand name, stuck it on a few machines then gave it up as a bad job and went back to the drawing board leaving the name to dissolve into history. 

However, sometimes a small amount of research can surprisingly bring up a wealth of information with ease and one such machine is the Nash Roller Tractor. 

Research and general prodding about of the newspapers brought up not only an advert with a price but also another detailing the tractors vast ability. Also an advert for the display of the Nash Tractor at the Dairy Show in Olympia in 1950 and more interestingly (and very rare) a contemporary newspaper report about the tractor and how it functions. 

Although we are aware that some of these advertorials (advert + editorial) for any machine can be a tad on the biased side at times as they may well have been paid to have been written or printed they still make for fascinating reading.

Nash Truck

Approx.1952 (we think) petrol Nash machine

Nash are mentioned in some detail in the book ‘70 Years of Garden Machinery‘ (if you haven’t read this worthwhile encyclopaedic book detailing garden machinery then it’s here on Amazon for more info), 70Yogm says that the Nash tractor was launched in 1950 and this ties in with the adverts below that we have found, all the adverts then are right from the start of the Nash Roller Tractor production and marketing.

Click on any of the adverts for larger, easier to read images.

The above advert advises that regarding the 1950 launched tractor The Nash is a general purpose small 3 wheeled tractor, at reasonable cost, designed to cover all types of businesses and to cover all heavy manual work; it’s range is unlimited”. This is echoed by the 1950 editorial (below right)  that “this little machine is designed for use by poultry, dairy and fruit farmers, nurserymen, surveyors and builders and bids fair to lighten the work of many in this category.

nash-tractor-not-just-a-toy-advert-1950The editorial is titledNot Just  A Toy, Mr H R Nash’s Roller Tractor is a Useful Vehicle continues: Powered by a 3 1/2 hp Coventry-Victor engine, this remarkable little vehicle has a speed varying from 3 to 25mph and is capable of carrying a considerable weight. With an overall width of only three feet, it is capable of manoeuvring along garden paths and around corners at the most incredible angles. It’s turning circle, 6′ 6″ and only 6″ more than it’s overall length renders it capable of carrying it’s load with driver where otherwise there would be no option but to carry the load by hand

The roller is brought into operation simply by removing the rear wheels which can be done by one man without the aid of a jack or anything more than a wheel brace. Our representative who was present at a demonstration and had the opportunity of driving it, was greatly impressed by it’s performance over rough land and by it’s disinclination to tip. Despite this, should the roller-tractor ever get stuck in mud it is sufficiently light for the driver himself to pull it out without summoning aid

The simplicity of the controls and of the mechanism generally is another point in it’s favour. Complicated and expensive machines requiring the attention of a skilled engineer when servicing is out of vogue. Efficiency with low running costs and easily obtainable, inexpensive parts, are the points that everyone watches these days.

Having adverts and glowing reports is all very well but actually having a machine on display at an event is an even better way to catch the attention of the public and hopefully take a deposit and fill the order books. The Nash Roller Tractor was on display at the Dairy Show, Olympia on the 24th to the 27th October 1950.


As with many machines there would have been distributors dotted around the country. The following advert is for Thomas Sinclair, Reston, Berwickshire in 1951.

As well as Nash, as far as we can tell, Thomas Sinclair also sold Cletrac, Avery, David Brown and Oliver Tractors too. 

Finally from the VHGMC archives an advert for a diesel Nash. The Nash Roller Tractor developed through the years and in 1953 the four-wheel Roller Tractor Dumper was introduced. The Nash 12 shown below, had a 12 cu ft tipper, a choice of diesel engines, and a demonstration on site. 

We have had a look online but cannot find many Nash Roller Tractors, whatever happened to them all? 


by alan

Equipment on sale in…..1964

November 6, 2016 in Articles

machinery-for-sale-1964To set the scene and waken some memories 1964 was a notable year as it was when BBC2 started broadcasting, Daihatsu began importing cars into the UK (the first Japanese manufacturer to do so), Donald Campbell was setting world speed records in Australia and the Mini Moke a fun vehicle for the era and built by BMC in Longbridge hit UK roads. 

We’ve also chosen 1964 as there’s a vast range of adverts from that time when horticultural machinery was progressing and developing. From the ever-popular Merry Tiller, the Auto Culto, Bolens Husky and Spraygen to more unusual machines like the Remington ‘Speed Till’ and the Pulvo lawn aerator. 

The 1964 image, above right corner, shows an array of machinery with an unsure customer potentially dithering over buying a lawnmower, the pros, the cons, a wise and worthwhile investment in choosing the right machine and a million miles away from some of the short-lived (nay disposable) machinery of today.

Incidentally, can anyone identify the mower the salesman is trying to sell? 

These following adverts are all from 1964 and shows a small selection of equipment available from secateurs to ride on mowers and each of them vying for the customers attention.

Click on the adverts for larger images.

Bolens Husky 600, 800, Estate Keeper advert. Mini Tractors, Chew Magna, Bristol.

Bolens Husky 600, 800, Estate Keeper advert. Mini Tractors, Chew Magna, Bristol.

Secateurs and Shears from Greensleeves, E.P.Barrus LTD and C.K in 1964 with prices.

Secateurs and Shears from Greensleeves, E.P.Barrus LTD and C.K in 1964 with prices.

Mayfield Tractor 1964. Mayfield Engineering (Croydon) Ltd, Littlehampton,. Sussex.

Mayfield Tractor 1964. Mayfield Engineering (Croydon) Ltd, Littlehampton,. Sussex.

Gardenmaster Limited, Planet JR Drills and Tarpen Hoe in 1964

Gardenmaster Limited, Planet JR Drills and Tarpen Hoe in 1964

Pulvo Lawn Aerator by Lloyd & Partners London. Spraygen No 210 Sprayer, R. Harris LTD Birmingham in 1964

Pulvo Lawn Aerator by Lloyd & Partners London. Spraygen No 210 Sprayer, R. Harris LTD Birmingham in 1964

Qualcast Rotacut MKV and Suffolk Corporation mower. Sunnyhill Avenue, Derby. 1964

Qualcast Rotacut MKV and Suffolk Corporation mower. Sunnyhill Avenue, Derby. 1964

Quillot Fertilizer Spreader, from Quillot Limited, Telworth, Surbiton, Surrey. and Sisis lawn equipment from W.Hargreaves & Co. LTD, Macclesfield Cheshire.

Quillot Fertilizer Spreader, from Quillot Limited, Telworth, Surbiton, Surrey. and Sisis lawn equipment from W.Hargreaves & Co. LTD, Macclesfield Cheshire.

Remington Speed Till 1964 UK Advert

Remington Speed Till 1964 UK Advert

Nash Boadicea Rotary Mower £25, and Ladybird Appliances LTD electric mowers 1964

Nash Boadicea Rotary Mower £25, and Ladybird Appliances LTD electric mowers 1964

Allen Scyhte advert and the Bqromox 'Nippy' from York Forge & Welding, Birmingham 1964

Allen Scythe advert and the Baromox ‘Nippy’ from York Forge & Welding, Birmingham 1964

Auto-Culto , De Montfort Road, Reading, Berkshire. And Wolseley Merry Tiller cultivator, £58-4-0 in 1964

Auto-Culto, De Montfort Road, Reading, Berkshire. And Wolseley Merry Tiller cultivator, £58-4-0 in 1964


by alan

Newark Vintage Tractor Show Entries 2016 & Video from 2015

August 22, 2016 in Club News

VHGMC STand Newark Tractor Show 2015
Newark Vintage Tractor Show on the 12th and 13th November is fast approaching and the closing date for entries is the 16th September. 

Entry forms can be found at:

The VHGMC also has a video of images from the 2015 show to see what was there:

by alan

Norlett’s changing logo

May 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

Norlett 8hp Tractor

Norlett 8hp Tractor

I’m sure that most machinery enthusiasts are familiar with Norlett the well known brand of machinery sold in the UK. Perhaps mostly associated with the gold painted, re-badged Wheel Horse garden tractors of the 1970’s, the Norlett name is also connected to a range of tillers, lawnmowers, snowblowers and potentially other machines which are yet to surface. Do you have any other Norlett badged machinery in the shed? 

Norlett was a busy company being associated with various importers for a range of petrol and electric powered garden machines. They either had a very good marketing division, or the logo changed as the company moved premises (there’s two or more different addresses for them) or they altered the logo for a new machine or new business deal (Flymo etc) or there was more than one part to Norlett is unknown. Let us know if you can enlighten us any further!

However at least someone was kept very busy in a back room developing a Norlett logo which appears in many different forms over a few short years – more than any other manufacturer I have come across. This isn’t a difinitive guide more of an observation really on a well known name that we all associate with one company and as for the date order perhaps someone may have an answer! It’s surprising how many manufacturers have altered or tweaked their logos through the decades and we, the consumers, never noticed. 

So out of curiosity here are the Norlett logos on file displayed all in one place.

There does seem to be quite a few old Norlett badged lawnmowers lurking about, working, rusty or otherwise and the logo seems to have a blade symbol above the name which is pretty self-explanatory for a lawnmower logo.

Norlett Lawnmower Logo

Norlett Lawnmower Logo

Moving on in production, tillers and other machines sported a similar logo but without the blade symbol. Some of these logos appeared with white text on a blue or black or transparent background. Some having black text on a white background too. 

Norlett Tiller Logo

Norlett Tiller Logo with blue background

Norlett Logo with White text on a black background

Norlett Logo with white text on a black background

However, Norlett’s logo for the professional range of commercial lawnmowers featured the image without the blade symbol. Have a better look at their full professional advert. The triangular Professional Range logo also appears on the machines too so wasn’t just for advert purposes.

Norlett Professional Range Advert

Norlett Professional range advert

Somewhere along the line Norlett decided to have a re-think of the logo, opting for a more modern simple font with a now capital letter N yet still keeping the two letter T’s joined together as in the early logos. These logos are mostly printed on a clear background with white text. 

Norlett's modern logo

Norlett’s modern logo

There’s a slight deviation when the logo-designer treated the logo to a curved effect for the petrol powered Beaver Powaspade.

Norlett Powaspade logo

Norlett Powaspade curved logo

And again with the Electric Beaver Powaspade logo.

Norlett Electric Beaver Powaspade logo

Norlett Electric Beaver Powaspade logo

Some of the Norlett tractors (re-badged Wheel Horses) had the logo in all capital letters. White text on black, red or gold to suit the individual tractor.

Norlett tractor logo

Norlett tractor logo

The tillers also had a more modern logo in the end with all capital letters.

Norlett tiller logo

Norlett tiller logo

Let us know if you can add further to this or can correct anything.