MP054: Lloyds Pennsylvania Motor Mower

1926 Pennsylvania Moto Mower in unrestored condition.

The Lloyds Pennsylvania Moto Mower is an early example of a powered sidewheel mower. It was designed as an all-purpose mower for long or short grass. Sidewheels are especially useful for cutting longer grass because there is no front roller to flatten the grass and prevent it from being caught and cut by the blades. Many Moto Mowers were used by local authorities for managing grass in a variety of terrains.

The machine was originally designed in the USA by the Moto Mower Company of Detroit in about 1924 and imported into the UK by Lloyds of Letchworth. In the early 1930s the company decided to manufacture the mower in the UK to avoid problems associated with changes in import regulations.

1926 advertisement for Lloyds Pennsylvania Moto Mower.

The Moto Mower was originally available in the UK to a single specification of 27" cut width with power provided by a 248cc Blackburn engine. This engine was used in mowers from companies such as Dennis and Ransomes as well as by a number of motor cycle manufacturers.  The machine weighed around 200lbs (100kg) and could cut up to five acres on a gallon of petrol. A 21" version with a JAP engine was introduced in the 1930s.

One of the unusual features of the Moto Mower was the use of a T handle with twist grip controls not unlike a motor cycle's. This was designed to make it easier to operate and control the machine. Each grip controlled the drive wheel on that side of the mower. This allowed the operator to steer the mower by twisting or releasing the relevant grip to engage or drop the drive on that side.

1926 advertisement for Lloyds Pennsylvania Moto Mower.

Lloyds of Letchworth was established in 1878 and for many years was content to import and distribute machines made in the USA. The most notable of these was the Pennsylvania sidewheel mower that, in its various guises, remained in production for the longest time of any mower ever produced.

Lloyds was one of the first companies to concentrate on specialist equipment for fine cutting and eventually. When the company started manufacturing mowers, the first machines were built to other companies' designs under licence but it gradually adopted its own specifications. Today it remains one of the very few independent British mower manufacturers and concentrates on specialist machines for cutting and managing fine turf.

The Moto Mower is an interesting and unusual mower and very few working examples seem to have survived.