Atco (British mower company)

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Atco Ltd - Company Logo for 1978-1985 Now Discontinued Logo

Atco (Atlas Chain Company) Limited was a British mower company which ran named as "Atco Ltd" from 1981 to 1990, making lawn mowers and garden tools. They sold a range of high quality lawn mowers including lawn and garden tractors.

History[edit]

  • 1921 Charles H Pugh Ltd started making motor mowers under the tradename Atco (short for "Atlas Chain Company"), with 22 inches wide cut. The Atco motor mower was an immediate success. 900 of them were made in 1921, each costing £75. Within five years, annual production had accelerated to tens of thousands. Prices were cut and a range of sizes was available, making the Standard the first truly mass-produced motor mower.
  • 5 November 1981: In the early hours a fire destroyed the old Charles H Pugh site and stock. It closed and moved to Stowmarket in East Anglia, where it reopened as Atco Ltd.
  • 1991 Atco Ltd was renamed as Atco-Qualcast Ltd.
  • 1995: Atco-Qualcast Ltd was acquired by Robert Bosch GmbH and ran as Atco-Qualcast Ltd.
  • 2011: Bosch sold the drawings, plant, equipment and tooling for the entire existing mower range to the Allett Mowers division of Turfmech Machinery Limited. Allett commenced manufacturing the previous range of Atco mowers with Allett branding instead of Atco, and with new model names.
  • 2011: Bosch licensed the Atco brand name to Global Garden Products Italy S.p.A., who launched a new Atco branded range of lawnmowers.

Products (1980-1992)[edit]

All the below products from (1980–1992) are now obsolete, parts are also obsolete for these products.

Lawn & Garden Tractors[edit]

Made In U.S.A (1980-85)[edit]

Atco Motor Mowers first started making lawn and garden tractors in 1980, these lawn tractors were not made in the Britain but were made in the U.S.A by another mower company with Atco's designs then imported to the U.K for sale.

Atco 8/32E Lawn Tractor - 1980

The full model range of American built Atco lawn and garden tractors are: 7/32, 8/32E, 8/36E, 11/36E, 16/42E

  • 7/32 - 3 Speed with Reverse, 7 h.p Engine, 32" Cutter Deck
  • 8/32E - 3 Speed with Reverse, 8 h.p Engine, 32" Cutter Deck
  • 8/36E - 3 Speed with Reverse, 8 h.p Engine, 36" Cutter Deck
  • 11/36E - 3 Speed with Reverse, 11 h.p Engine, 36" Cutter Deck
  • 16/42E - 4 Speed with Reverse, 16 h.p Engine, 42" Cutter Deck

The "E" at the end of model number for American tractors stands for electric start; the 7/32 never had electric start but did have recoil start.

Made In Britain (1986-92)[edit]

In 1986 Atco stopped production for the American built lawn and garden tractors and started producing their own in Stowmarket in the United Kingdom. The first new model introduced in 1986 was the 11/36, the 11/36 was so complex it won the "Best Grass Cutting Machine of The Year" in 1986. Since the introduction in 1986, the stylish range of Atco Lawn Tractors set the new standards of performance, reliability, comfort and ease of handling for ride on mowers.

Atco 11/36 Lawn Tractor - 1986 (First Model Produced)
Atco 8/30 Lawn Tractor - 1988

The full model range of British Atco lawn and garden tractors are: 6/30, 8/30, 8/36, 11/36, 12/36

  • 6/30 - 3 Speed with Reverse, 6 h.p Engine, 30" Cutter Deck
  • 8/30 - 3 Speed with Reverse, 8 h.p Engine, 30" Cutter Deck
  • 8/36 - 5 Speed with Reverse, 8 h.p Engine, 36" Cutter Deck
  • 11/36 - 5 Speed with Reverse, 11 h.p Engine, 36" Cutter Deck
  • 12/36 - 5 Speed with Reverse, 12 h.p Engine, 36" Cutter Deck

The following lawn tractors were sold with an option of a powered grass collector: 8/30, 8/36. The Atco 12/36 lawn tractor was only sold with a powered grass collector. Atco Lawn Tractors where ideal for cutting rough areas of longer grass such as orchards and paddocks as well as large domestic lawns. Indeed, they make short work of all those jobs which take the fun out of gardening.

The Atco 6/30 was a rare economy model with basic pull start and no electric, it had a solid mild steel bonnet front but all other designs remained the same. The 6/30 is very uncommon and is the most rare to find out of all models produced from Atco.

Atco also made a trailer to fit all models and had a tipping feature to empty it. The Atco trailer was robustly constructed from galvanised steel; the paint is powder-coated then baked on for long term durability. The full 10 cu. ft. hopper with a tipping action made it ideal for moving logs compost or any other material from one part of a grounds to another with more speed and less effort.

  • Cutting efficiency

There was a choice of 30" or 36" cutting widths, both decks having the extra cutting power of twin blades. The unique 'V' channelling in the deck ensures that grass cut by one blade is not thrown in the path of the other blade. This reduced the work-load on the blades and their bearings leading to a longer life. Grass is ejected not from the side as with many other tractors but from he rear. This means that the non-collecting models can be hitched to a towed sweeper to collect grass cuttings, leaves and other debris.

  • Performance and power

The Atco Lawn Tractors where powered by either 8 h.p., 11 h.p., or 12 h.p. engines, synchro-balanced to keep vibrations to a minimum. The 7.25 pint fuel tank provides approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes of continuous mowing. Two notable features are sturdy front axles which stand up to the roughest treatment and wide pneumatic tyres to give all round stability without damaging the lawn surface.

Atco also was the first ride-on lawn tractor to have a powered grass sweeper, it had power take off (PTO) which powered a belt driven sweeper at the rear of the machine. The Atco PTO worked independently of the blades, so you can cut the lawn without collecting the clippings or vice-versa. The complete system was easy to operate. The collector unit could be quickly fitted and removed without the need for tools. Furthermore, you could adjust the height of the sweeper brush and empty the grass collection completely without having to leave the tractor seat.

Atco 11/36 Lawn Tractor (1986) Fully Restored
Whole machine.
Whole machine. 
Bonnet of Atco Lawn Tractors.
Bonnet of Atco Lawn Tractors. 
Controls of Atco Lawn Tractors.
Controls of Atco Lawn Tractors. 
Rear of Atco Lawn Tractors.
Rear of Atco Lawn Tractors. 

Atco stopped making lawn tractors in 1992 and when GGP Ltd bought the name Atco in 2011 they started producing new lawn tractors branded Atco.

Lawn Mowers[edit]

Commodore - Domestic Petrol Cylinder Mower (1986-92)[edit]

Available in four different size cuts: 12", 14", 17", 20" so there is a model for every size of domestic lawn.

Models Numbers for the Atco Commodore were:

  • Commodore B12 - Recoil Start
  • Commodore B14 - Recoil Start
  • Commodore B17 - Recoil Start
  • Commodore B20 - Recoil Start
  • Commodore B14 - Electric Start
  • Commodore B17 - Electric Start
  • Commodore B20 - Electric Start

(Electric Start Models Available from April 1988)

Ensign - Domestic Petrol Cylinder Mower (1990-92)[edit]

The Ensign had many of the advanced features demanded for high performance and effortless operation:

A comfortable cushion-grip handlebar that can be easily adjusted to suit your height; an adjustable comb which lifts flattened stems which might not otherwise be cut. Polished beechwood front rollers which allow mowing right up to the lawn edge and which can be replaced quickly with sidewheels for cutting long or wet grass. The Ensign is the ideal choice for the owner of average-sized lawns who is looking for the ease and power of a self-propelled cylinder mower and who also appreciates economy.

The Ensign combined the traditional Atco virtues of precision cutting and reliability while also providing outstanding value. Fitted with the strong and robust Atco 144cc engine, the Ensign was available in a choice of three cutting widths - 12", 14" and 17" - to suit most domestic lawns.

For added convenience key start was available on the 14" and 17" models. Simply turn the key and the high performance Atco 144cc engine purrs quickly and quietly into action.

Imperial - Domestic Petrol Cylinder Mower (1990-92)[edit]

Take the Atco Commodore and improve the specifications still further and you have a top class cylinder mower with all the specialist features of a professional machine. Every inch of the magnificent 17" Imperial displayed its pre-eminence. Its cutting performance was astonishing. The precision-ground cutting cylinder had not six, but 10 blades delivering a remarkable 128 cuts per yard. Both front and rear rollers could be individually levelled to maintain a perfect alignment between the mower and the lawn. This means that every blade of grass is evenly cut across the full width of the mower. As well as a comb for raising flattened grass, the Imperial even had a scraper which prevented the build up of grass on the steel front roller. As a finishing touch, the high performance Mitsubishi key-start engine was fitted as standard.

Royale - Heavy Duty Petrol Cylinder Mower (1964-2011)[edit]

Top of Atco's cylinder mower range, the Royale was designed for large areas of fine lawn and embodied the highest qualities in the design and manufacture of cylinder mowers. The traditional 6-bladed steel cutting cylinder gave 70 cuts per yard while the heavy duty rollers helped to produce a perfect striped finish for lawns of immaculate appearance.

The Atco Royale B30 - 1986

Early models of the Royale featured a Tecumseh–built horizontal shaft engine with recoil start. Engines in later models were from Briggs and Statton, with an electric start option introduced during the 1980s. The Recommended Retail Price of the machine just before it was discontinued in 2011 was over £2000, making it by far the most expensive mower in the Atco range. The Royale has now been mostly replaced with the "Clipper" range of mowers.

Every aspect of the range was precision-engineered. All three models - 20", 24" and 30" - were largely hand-built by a small team of skilled craftsmen.

Rotary[edit]

Atco in more recent years have been producing more Rotary mowers powered by both the original petrol engine and the lighter weight electric mowers in there range. But the Original Cylinder type mower has now been reduced down to only 3 models under the name of "Clipper".

External Sources[edit]