the ultimate in green lawn care: vintage reel push mowers

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Last year, when spring rolled around, we had to get a lawn mower. Our grass was out of control and we were borrowing our friend’s mower way too often. So, when we spotted the super-sweet, vintage orange Scott’s Silent Mower out front of our favorite neighborhood hardware store, we had to get it. The orange hubcaps emblazoned with that “S” had me at hello, I admit it! However, what really sold us was the clerk at the store, who assured us we wouldn’t regret the purchase: “It’s a simple mechanism. Easy to sharpen, cheap to repair.” I liked having something that wasn’t disposable and that would give me some bonus exercise with my yard work. And a year later, I’m still happy. There are a few pointers, though. You must make sure there aren’t too many rocks or twigs in your path, or you may have a few bruises. And make sure your grass isn’t too high, or else you’ll just flatten it, not cut it. You can find your own vintage mower at flea markets, garage sales, and craigslist, or you can buy a new version of the old thing. –Megan B.

From our partners

If I ever have a lawn this is what I want to use. Not only is it better for the environment, but it is a great workout! The boyfriend laughs at me and tells me that I will regret it. I think not!

laila

How about a maintenance guide? I have one of these and it’s not really so easy to sharpen and maintain if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Marissa, Dave had one when we met and it worked great; the only downside was, like Megan said, if it encountered a stick the whole thing would stop dead, which was a little jarring.

Laila, I think your local independent hardware store would have people on hand who could help you out. Otherwise, I’ve found old maintenance guides on eBay and places like that — that’s not super helpful, perhaps!

Sarah L.

Tedious, but you can sharpen the edges with a Dremel tool.

Cool mower!

We actually get a lot of emails asking about the Silent Scotts mower, because we sell the Scotts Classic reel mower.

The Silent Scotts was discontinued decades ago, but it’s evidently a very good mower since there are a lot of them still around!

I’ve always wondered exactly what they look like, so I appreciate the photos.

I have been told that the Silent Scotts was the same mower as the Agri Fab, which is now called the Mascot: http://www.cleanairgardening.com/mascot-reel-mower.html That Mascot is the mower I use on my own lawn, because it does so well with St. Augustine grass.

Marissa, I agree that you won’t regret using a reel mower. My wife is able to use ours with no problem whatsoever. I find it no harder to push than a power mower. It just takes a bit longer if you have a large yard.

Despite needing to sharpen the blades and watch for rocks, reel mowers are very good. They can save you time and money! Also, compared to gas mowers, they are less harmful if they run over something.

We are getting ready to close on a house and I think we have settled on buying a push reel mower. It just makes more sense!

Gary Flinn

I have two vintage reel mowers. One is a Sears Craftsman of 1960s vintage I think and the other is an older Silent Yard-Man with a wooden handle of which I don’t know its age. I just got the Craftsman back from the repair shop and the Yard-Man is at the same repair shop now getting sharpened, lubed and adjusted. Those mowers can last forever!

Bob

I have one of these Scott mowers and previously owned a Sears Mower which I preferred. The handle on the Scotts drops too low. It is hard to explain why unless you have mowed with the older mowers including the ones with solid iron wheels.
I used to sharpen mowers for our hardware store customers. This involved tightening the bed plate so there was good interference with the blades. Then using a paint brush, coat the bed plate with a slurry of grinding compound and cutting oil. Then turn the mower over and drag it and recoat until it would cut test paper satisfactorily. Good sense says the reel is rotating in the wrong direction to be effective, but it seemed to work.
My first experience with a Silent Yardman was in the mid 1940′s. I had only mowed with iron wheel mowers and I was delighted with this new experience.