I've just picked up my first proper lawn mower, a Ransomes Marquis mk4a 18" with the BSA sloper engine. The gentleman I purchased it from restored it himself and it runs well. Barely any smoke from the engine and it starts very easily first time. It's also quite a beauty! But I must admit I'm having a few issues getting to grip with it so I'm looking for some advice for the experts. Apologies in advance, I'm very new to all this!
Firstly, I'm struggling to actually control the mower. I raise the revs just enough to engage the automatic clutch and get the blades spinning but when I release the roller clutch I find I need to open the throttle a bit more in order to get going. Then once it has pulled away, I find it's going a little too fast so I have to drop the revs. By the time I've done that I'm almost at the end of my lawn (about 10m long) and I have to turn around.
Now I've only used it once so perhaps I just need more practice but I'm not really sure what I'm best doing when it comes to turning around. Should I disengage the roller clutch or just drop the revs so that the automatic clutch disengages? When I disengage the roller clutch, the engine of course revs really high and it's certainly not quiet! I'm quite taken aback by the power this old engine has. Maybe I need to get in to the rhythm of adjusting everything in sequence but let's just say my first experience was a bit stressful. Not too dissimilar to my first driving lesson! Especially as I have taken so much time over this new lawn that I don't want to spoil it now.
Is it possible to adjust the drive speed while maintaining the roller speed at a certain rpm? The only way I can think of doing so would be to increase the size of the cog which drives the roller and that doesn't seem like a realistic possibility. I'm finding that at a comfortable drive speed, the blades aren't spinning that fast and the cuttings don't make it in to the collection box. Would it be fair to say I've bought a mower which is not designed for a lawn as small as mine and prefers to run free (and fast) on acres of open land?
My other issue is that due to my lawn only being sown this year, I've had to raise the cutting height to it's maximum (30mm I believe) so as not to trim too short in it's first year. Although I've brought the height of the grass down gradually with my original rotary lawn mower, the first cut with the Marquis was not great. It seems to have missed a lot and I'm wondering if that's due to the issue I have getting the speed right (i.e. I wasn't going fast enough for the blades to cut properly) or if I need to make other adjustments. I know it's difficult to answer that one without seeing the mower and I can only trust that the seller did indeed set everything else up correctly. But some tips on what and how to check would really be appreciated.
I bought the Marquis partly based on the advice in this thread. The brief of the original poster was very similar to mine and I had the same questions in my head. Hopefully I can get to grips with the mower but if it is a bit too hard for me to tame, can anyone recommend an alternative which is easier to handle on a small lawn? Ideally one where I can control the drive speed independent of the blade speed. I had also considered a more modern Masport 400, ideally with either a Honda or B&S engine, but now I'm wondering if I actually should go smaller still and look at 14" models. All advice welcome!