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STEELFORT - Lawnmaster - c1946 #89754
13/01/18 06:59 PM
13/01/18 06:59 PM
CyberJack  Offline OP
Forum Historian
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 5,238
Hello ODK History Lovers
Steelfort Engineering remains one of the last New Zealand lawnmower makers.
They have a long and respected history.

This article explores the Lawnmaster reel mower of the 1940 to the 1970s; and it is a personal story.
As a teenager, I owned a 1970’s Lawnmaster, and I loved it!

It was one of the very few domestic reel designs sold in Australia that offered a true dual clutch arrangement.
Working via eccentric cam levers, the reel or landroll could be engaged independently.

It was a great design.

[Linked Image]


Re: STEELFORT - Lawnmaster - c1946 [Re: CyberJack] #89757
14/01/18 11:50 AM
14/01/18 11:50 AM
CyberJack  Offline OP
Forum Historian
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 5,238
PART TWO – The First Lawnmaster
Steelfort Engineering, of 500 Rangitikei Street, Palmerston North, is a large company today,
selling a variety of local and imported products [see External Links].
They have a fascinating history.

Lawnmaster is Steelfort’s own lawnmower brand; made in reel and rotary configurations.
Their website gives a history of the company …

In 1946 the late Mr Frank McOviney, an immigrant who came to New Zealand from Yugoslavia (Croatia),
established the business now known as Steelfort Engineering Company Limited. His associate company
Terrazzo (NZ) Limited had been producing kitchen bench tops for a growing housing market since 1936
and seeing the upsurge in Stainless Steel as the new material of the time, he employed three sheet metal
tradesmen to fabricate sink bowls for his “Terrazzo” bench tops.

The surprising thing is that Steelfort did not design the first ‘Lawnmaster’! In the same year – 1946 –
Steelfort acquired Fuller Engineering, who made the very first Lawnmaster.

In 1946, Mr McOviney acquired the reel mower manufacturing business of Fuller Engineering.
This business would strengthen the existing manufacturing base and would become the forerunner of
the “LawnMaster” brand that today receives global recognition in the Outdoor Power Equipment industry.

Fuller’s lawnmower was similar – but different.
The only confirmed image appears to be this one held by Palmerston North Libraries and Community Services.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

It is not clear whether Steelfort acquired the name ‘Lawnmaster” from Fuller, or rebranded the
machine as their own ‘Lawnmaster’. It does appear, though, that the first Steelfort mowers were
pretty close copies of the Fuller mower.

Note the single clutch lever: the first Lawnmasters were not dual drive machines.
Also note the slim LH chaincase to the reel. This raises the question as to whether the
early machines were self-propelled?

My best guess is YES – but no RH side images have been found that would shown
drive to the roller (either inboard or outboard).

The image of Steelfort Lawnmasters (below) was supplied by Mod Alan M who says
he acquired it from the Steelfort website some years’ ago. This image is also held by
Palmerston North Libraries and Community Services.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Last edited by CyberJack; 12/02/18 01:38 AM.
Re: STEELFORT - Lawnmaster - c1946 [Re: CyberJack] #89760
14/01/18 12:52 PM
14/01/18 12:52 PM
CyberJack  Offline OP
Forum Historian
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 5,238
PART THREE – Lawnmaster Development
Steelfort were serious lawnmower makers; so much so, that they developed their inherited
Lawnmaster design over 21 years, before releasing their first Lawnmaster rotary mower in 1967.

1970s Brochure
By 1967, Steelfort were offering both reel and rotary mowers. The reel mower was developed to
include 16” and 20” models – and 20-inch bowling green and golf green machines.
The Lawnmaster Rotary was 18” and powered by Johnson Ironhorse 2-strokes;
or Briggs & Stratton 4-strokes.

Many thanks to NZ collector Greg Stokes for sending me this brochure.
I date it to the 1970s. I owned a 16” reel Lawnmaster of this vintage.

This mower was advanced: with dual friction-plate clutches – operating independently -
for reel and landroll. A very nice machine, indeed.

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

Attached Files
lawnmaster_brochure_1970s.pdf (41 downloads)
LAWNMASTER - Brochure c1970s
Re: STEELFORT - Lawnmaster - c1946 [Re: CyberJack] #90072
12/02/18 01:35 AM
12/02/18 01:35 AM
CyberJack  Offline OP
Forum Historian
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 5,238
PART FOUR – Steelfort Lawnmaster c1970s
This article covers the Lawnmasters up to c1970s.
The Lawnmaster brand survives to this day, and I understand
Steelfort Engineering to be the last of the great lawnmower
Manufacturers in New Zealand.

A Lawnmaster Dual Drive was my first true lawnmower.
I acquired it as a teenager from a mate. It was the only domestic reel mower I
knew that had independent clutches for reel and roller. It wasn’t a perfect design …

The rear roller was smooth (rather than ribbed), and it had way-too-high centre
of gravity for anything but flat ground. Nonetheless, I loved it and I have fond
memories of it. smile

Below is an image of a NZ Steelfort trade stall display c1970s, again from
Palmerston North Libraries and Community Services.

[Linked Image]

Moderated by  Alan M, CyberJack 

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