by alan

Howard Bantam 1950

February 22, 2018 in Articles, Machinery

Humour can capture the attention of the prospective customer far easier than any serious advertising might.

All from 1950 are the following four adverts for the Howard Rotavator ‘Bantam’. Each is carefully crafted to highlight the difficulties of gardening that the Bantam can overcome: Digging, weeding and labour saving. 

The fourth advert proves that an oily machine can be a great fashion accessory for the owner outside their 16thC Elizabethan mansion. 

There are more Howard images in the VHGMC Howard gallery pages.

Dogged by digging? Howard Bantam 1950



Worried by weeds? Howard Bantam 1950


Gardening? I though I knew it all! Howard Bantam 1950


My Bantam’s a treasure – Howard Bantam 1950


Howard Bantam Brochure

by alan

Before Starting Engine…

March 19, 2017 in Articles

Briggs and Stratton engine with 1976 engine maintenance card

Briggs and Stratton engine with 1976 engine maintenance card

Engine maintenance is of the utmost importance, for without a running engine we are going nowhere apart from the workshop to do some problem solving. 

Illustrated right and shown as a full scan at the bottom of the page is a 1976 dated Briggs and Stratton engine instruction guide supplied with a new B&S engine and usually attached to the engine or pull cord.

These instructions were issued with engines as an important piece of information for the operator and as such contain the message ‘Keep and follow this guide to good engine performance‘ but we wonder how many instruction guides were kept or did they end up oil-stained on the workshop bench to be discarded at a later date?

Before Starting Engine…

The B&S guide details the recommended oil levels and also the oil to be used in summer (over 40F or 4C) and winter (under 40F or 4C) and colder (under 0F use SAE 10W oil diluted 10% with kerosene). These engines would have been supplied worldwide and powered many implements in varying temperatures from mowers in summer to snowblowers in the depths of winter. 

Looking at the offerings of cheap and cheerful mowers at a DIY store over the weekend we noticed they still have labels with instructions, although limited sometimes to just informing the operator that the engine contains no oil and needs purchasing separately. I know of someone who omitted to fill a new mower engine with oil and it had a very short life indeed. 

As we know, dragging the mower out at Easter, chucking in some of last years winter-stored fuel and hoping it starts is not the best idea, sensibly the B&S guide recommends for ‘Off Season Care’ to ‘Empty the fuel tank before storage and run engine until it stops’. For a new season then ‘Fill fuel tank completely (outdoors) with clean, fresh, regular grade automotive gasoline’. 

According to the B&S guide for regular maintenance the engine oil should be checked before starting the engine and after every five hours of operation. Also change the oil after each 25 hours of operation, re-oil the air cleaner at 25 hours, washing the oil-foam element in kerosene or detergent and then dry, saturate with engine oil and squeeze to remove excess oil – I remember that from college years ago. How many domestic lawnmowers get that treatment nowadays? 

Finally ‘Service Notes’ on the guide helpfully advise that if the engine is difficult to start when cold then rotate the carburetor needle 1/8 turn counterclockwise, if it’s hard to start when hot then turn it 1/8 turn clockwise. ‘When working on engine or equipment disconnect spark plug wire…to avoid accidental starting’  – I’m sure we all know stories about someone accidentally starting an engine via turning the mower blade.

Briggs & Stratton Engine Maintenance Card

1976 Briggs & Stratton Engine Maintenance Card – Side 1

Briggs & Stratton Engine Maintenance Card - Side 2

1976 Briggs & Stratton Engine Maintenance Card – Side 2

by alan

Christmas 1910

December 19, 2016 in Articles

A.W. Gamage LTD of Cheapside, London, supplied a lot of garden sundries. 1910.

A.W. Gamage LTD of Cheapside, London, supplied a lot of garden sundries and hand-powered tools. 1910.

Chances are that for many VHGMC members a bit of tinkering about with machinery in the workshop may be on the agenda over the Christmas and winter period. As we all know most of the powered machines we collect, use and tinker with now wouldn’t have been around a  century a go although, to be fair, there was probably some very clever people considering some working ideas.

I’ve got a copy of ‘The Gardener’ magazine dated 1st January 1910 (and the entire year throughout 1910 as well) and it’s interesting looking back at what tools and equipment was or more obviously wasn’t available. Bear a thought then for those gardeners over a hundred years ago who lacked the tools and machinery we have today.

In the early 1900’s gardening magazines were still tilted towards the bigger house and garden where a gardener(s) would be employed yet they were also inspiring the home gardener too. ‘The Gardener’ magazine has an almost excessive list of hands-on manual garden jobs to be done throughout the entire year. 

Amateur gardening at this time was gathering pace and looking for perfection, this can easily be seen by the multitude of gardening adverts tempting gardeners to invest in every conceivable gadget, sprayer and chemical to keep the bugs at bay and achieve spectacular results in the flower and vegetable gardens at the risk of poisoning themselves into the deal. Looking through the many 1910 adverts in the magazines; lawnmowers were mostly of the push-along variety, powered tools were a far-off dream, mechanisation in the average garden was mostly limited to wheeled hoes with various attachments, seed drills and hand-powered equipment and on bigger gardens some horse or pony power. Whatever the job forward planning was of vital importance, there was no popping down to the local tool-hire centre to borrow a rotavator or other machinery on a weekend to speed up the process and make things easier, we are incredibly privileged to have the powered machinery and tools we have today. 

BUCO hand cultivator. The cheapest investment for garden, field and nursery. 1910.

BUCO hand cultivator. The cheapest investment for garden, field and nursery. 1910.

According to the 1910 gardening magazine what could our gardener potentially look forward to in early January? Although the magazine details everything on a day-by-day basis I doubt anyone followed it so strictly and any mechanised tool would have been welcomed but, outdoor work could begin with trenching, digging and manuring vacant ground as a warm-up exercise for Saturday 1st January. Other possible tasks are to scrape moss and lichen from fruit trees, roll lawns and repair walks and drives, plant new hedges, trim wall climbers and prepare beds for roses. Monday 3rd January allows for a spot of easy gardening in the cool greenhouse where tidying Pelargoniums and Primulas is a must, propagate Chrysanthemums, vaporise Cinerarias, and select and order by post flower seeds from the numerous seed catalogues available. Tuesday lets the gardener relocate to the hot greenhouse to repot Dipladenias, Gloxinias and Achimenes – plants which were incredibly fashionable at the time but have since faded into the background. Exhausting as it is, the list of potential daily chores goes on throughout the year, as to what to grow, what’s in vogue and some new-fangled technique to try – whatever the weather there was something that could or simply must be done in the garden now and the gardening magazines of the day knew what was best for both the reader and their garden and kept them on a very strict line.

Abol advert and syringe from 1910. Kills most things!

ABOL advert and syringe from 1910. Kills most things!

I’m sure the gardeners of 1910 would no doubt be mighty impressed to see the vast array of advanced tools, gadgets and mechanisation that developed through the last century, and also the machines and tools that we have kept, maintained and still use from the past decades. To us they are vintage machines, to 1910 gardeners they would have been a fantastic Christmas gift.

We also have more time to enjoy the garden nowadays, entertaining on the patio, powered tools and mowers in every garden, not to mention a vast selection of vegetables and exotic fruit in the shops all year round that we don’t have to struggle to grow in our own gardens. Who would have thought it – certainly not a gardener from 1910 in a cold garden in January.

Click on the adverts above for a larger, easier to read version. 

Leather Horse LAwn Boots by Allen of Reading. 1910.

Leather Horse Lawn Boots by Allen of Reading. 1910.

Dunlop Special Black Garden Hosepipe and Dunlop Patent Rainer 1910

Dunlop Special Black Garden Hosepipe and Dunlop Patent Rainer 1910

Coventry's patent grass edging shears 1910.

Coventry’s patent grass edging shears 1910.

by alan

Nash Roller Tractor – 1950 report and adverts

November 29, 2016 in Articles

Nash Roller Tractor

Nash Roller Tractor

We have probably all done some research online or through archives looking for information about our respective machines and it’s usually easy to find at least an advert or a brochure image about the items that we collect. Admittedly some machines and manufacturers may have out-foxed us, perhaps the machine is one of those rebadged affairs or produced in small quantities as a trial run, or even an established company invented a new brand name, stuck it on a few machines then gave it up as a bad job and went back to the drawing board leaving the name to dissolve into history. 

However, sometimes a small amount of research can surprisingly bring up a wealth of information with ease and one such machine is the Nash Roller Tractor. 

Research and general prodding about of the newspapers brought up not only an advert with a price but also another detailing the tractors vast ability. Also an advert for the display of the Nash Tractor at the Dairy Show in Olympia in 1950 and more interestingly (and very rare) a contemporary newspaper report about the tractor and how it functions. 

Although we are aware that some of these advertorials (advert + editorial) for any machine can be a tad on the biased side at times as they may well have been paid to have been written or printed they still make for fascinating reading.

Nash Truck

Approx.1952 (we think) petrol Nash machine

Nash are mentioned in some detail in the book ‘70 Years of Garden Machinery‘ (if you haven’t read this worthwhile encyclopaedic book detailing garden machinery then it’s here on Amazon for more info), 70Yogm says that the Nash tractor was launched in 1950 and this ties in with the adverts below that we have found, all the adverts then are right from the start of the Nash Roller Tractor production and marketing.

Click on any of the adverts for larger, easier to read images.

The above advert advises that regarding the 1950 launched tractor The Nash is a general purpose small 3 wheeled tractor, at reasonable cost, designed to cover all types of businesses and to cover all heavy manual work; it’s range is unlimited”. This is echoed by the 1950 editorial (below right)  that “this little machine is designed for use by poultry, dairy and fruit farmers, nurserymen, surveyors and builders and bids fair to lighten the work of many in this category.

nash-tractor-not-just-a-toy-advert-1950The editorial is titledNot Just  A Toy, Mr H R Nash’s Roller Tractor is a Useful Vehicle continues: Powered by a 3 1/2 hp Coventry-Victor engine, this remarkable little vehicle has a speed varying from 3 to 25mph and is capable of carrying a considerable weight. With an overall width of only three feet, it is capable of manoeuvring along garden paths and around corners at the most incredible angles. It’s turning circle, 6′ 6″ and only 6″ more than it’s overall length renders it capable of carrying it’s load with driver where otherwise there would be no option but to carry the load by hand

The roller is brought into operation simply by removing the rear wheels which can be done by one man without the aid of a jack or anything more than a wheel brace. Our representative who was present at a demonstration and had the opportunity of driving it, was greatly impressed by it’s performance over rough land and by it’s disinclination to tip. Despite this, should the roller-tractor ever get stuck in mud it is sufficiently light for the driver himself to pull it out without summoning aid

The simplicity of the controls and of the mechanism generally is another point in it’s favour. Complicated and expensive machines requiring the attention of a skilled engineer when servicing is out of vogue. Efficiency with low running costs and easily obtainable, inexpensive parts, are the points that everyone watches these days.

Having adverts and glowing reports is all very well but actually having a machine on display at an event is an even better way to catch the attention of the public and hopefully take a deposit and fill the order books. The Nash Roller Tractor was on display at the Dairy Show, Olympia on the 24th to the 27th October 1950.


As with many machines there would have been distributors dotted around the country. The following advert is for Thomas Sinclair, Reston, Berwickshire in 1951.

As well as Nash, as far as we can tell, Thomas Sinclair also sold Cletrac, Avery, David Brown and Oliver Tractors too. 

Finally from the VHGMC archives an advert for a diesel Nash. The Nash Roller Tractor developed through the years and in 1953 the four-wheel Roller Tractor Dumper was introduced. The Nash 12 shown below, had a 12 cu ft tipper, a choice of diesel engines, and a demonstration on site. 

We have had a look online but cannot find many Nash Roller Tractors, whatever happened to them all? 


by alan

Newark Vintage Tractor Show Entries 2016 & Video from 2015

August 22, 2016 in Club News

VHGMC STand Newark Tractor Show 2015
Newark Vintage Tractor Show on the 12th and 13th November is fast approaching and the closing date for entries is the 16th September. 

Entry forms can be found at: http://newarkvintagetractorshow.com/exhibitors.html

The VHGMC also has a video of images from the 2015 show to see what was there: