PART TWO – The First LawnmasterSteelfort 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
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
he acquired it from the Steelfort website some years’ ago. This image is also held by Palmerston North Libraries and Community Services.SOURCE: https://manawatuheritage.pncc.govt.nz/item/4fffe292-4fa6-4521-b2be-dd6222be3347http://www.steelfort.co.nz/https://manawatuheritage.pncc.govt.nz/