R & D, what’s that?

The “Dagenham Dustbin” was front wheel drive! by John Lindley

“So?” I hear you say; well I’ll come to that in due course. S

ome twenty-three years ago now we (my wife Wendy and I that is) bought what could only be described as a “shed” (unless you’re an estate

agent!) Anyhow, around the barn was about an acre of rough grass which we (Wendy) decided would become lawn, all very well but at the time of moving there we only had the Fergie, which apart from pulling my car-trailer, had no other attachments. Amongst all the detritus left in the

Yours truly (left) with “Young Roger” working in my Mother’s “living room”

determined; it couldn’t have been better, one lug to grind off leaving two for fixing and let’s face it, if they could hold up a ton of car they would surely hold a mower blade.

barn however there was an ancient 2 stroke Allen scythe and a Mountfield 24” mower perched atop of which was that producer of the sickening Sunday sound, the desecration of weekend peace and quiet the length and breadth of the country, the inescapable, burbling Briggs and Stratton. It did however run as did the Allen (after some persuasion) but as mud turned to grass over an ever increasing area a better solution was needed, maybe a half-decent ride-on, but money was scarce and needed for more important things like walls and a roof so thinking turned to the asset which we already had, the Fergie. A visit to a local farm sale produced two mounted mowers both of which were destined for that great scrap yard in the sky and both sold for ten times what they were worth so I decided on the other alternative, to make one.

How hard could it be; I’d seen a few different machines working and from that I had formed a vague plan of what was needed, it only required a couple of bearings, a few pulleys and a gearbox! Thinking first turned to the bearings, the main ingredient; cheap; scrap yard; cars; most likely make; Ford; front wheel drive; Fiesta; that was it, the “Dagenham Dustbin”!

Whip St. Motors had five; the one on its side allowed for a thorough inspection of the CV joint and its suitability was

4 MAY/JUNE 2020

Basic frame, first fitting, pre-grass

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Both wheel bearings seemed ok (the state of the CV joints was irrelevant as they were going to be re-scrapped anyway) and two cars later a third was sourced; all three for £9. The CV joints were duly stripped out leaving grooved cups; wedge shaped plugs were turned up to fit these cups and bored out to take 1” die shafts for the pulleys; keyways were cut and the shafts then welded into the plugs; for obvious reasons the main bodies, including the bearings and seals, were immersed in water whilst the plugs were welded into the cups.

(F. W. Stennett in Swilland has an absolute treasure-trove of bits agricultural, their filing system may be a bit hap -hazard but if you need a part then it’s probably there... somewhere!)

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