Back in the mid 1980s I bought a brand new Victa Mustang GTS lawn mower from David Coulson’s shop in Prudhoe, Northumberland. It had the new, at the time, Vortex V40 engine. Really easy to start and use. I still have it, but at the end of 2020 disaster struck…I started it one day, it ran for a moment or two, then a ‘pop’ and a loud exhaust noise with smoke coming out of the side and top vents in the mower. Needless to say, I stopped it smartish.
It turns out that these mowers are quite rare and collectable…who knew! They actually came in yellow and red too.
I thought that assuming I could repair it, I’d give it a full service after thirty five years. If you dismantle anything, take lots of pictures and make notes…mobile phone pictures are ideal.
Off came the white top and it turned out that the diaphragm in the starting decompressor had failed, leaving almost no compression and a second exit from the engine for exhaust gases. Sometimes the parts are available in Blighty but there is a company in Australia, where these Victa lawn mowers were made, called Push Mower Repair that specialise in the parts. I ordered a complete decompressor, a new head gasket and a carburettor rebuild kit. I got a spare set of blades and an air filter from a seller on eBay.
I spent quite some time cleaning all the old grass cuttings, dirt and oil from the exterior of the mower and from under the white cover. Once the cylinder head was removed, it was clear that the engine was very much in need of decarbonising…and a new head gasket. This was carefully done and the cylinder head refitted, remembering the diagonal method for tightening the head bolts.
The new decompressor was fitted and the carburettor was stripped, cleaned and the new parts fitted. Most old parts were OK but the rubber parts providing the ignition cutoff were split, although working. The new air filter was fitted and I checked my work. If you dismantle the carburettor, make a note of the setting of the internal throttle ring; it sets the maximum revs for your engine.
It took a couple of pulls on the starter to get the mower going but it came to life just like it was when it was new. Petrol on, press the primer twice, move the lever to the ‘start’ position, put your foot against the right hand back wheel and pull the starter steadily. Your mower should start on the first or second pull. The decompressor makes starting easy and you can hear it snap shut with the vacuum from the carburettor, as soon as the engine fires.
I cleaned and lubricated any moving parts and gave the chrome handles a rub over with a rag and some ACF-50 to reduce any future corrosion. The foam covering the handle was coming apart so I removed it and used cyclists’ handlebar tape to replace it. This tape provides grip and durability…but don’t catch it on a wall.
The wheels were removed and the bearings regreased after being cleaned…beware, they are open bearings and the balls will fall out when you take the wheel off. Make sure the wheel is in a tray of some sort so you don’t lose your balls!
My Victa Mustang GTS with its V40 Vortex engine is still a fantastic mower with an eighteen inch cut. It picks up very well and is so easy to use. I reckon it’s good to go for another thirty five years…although it’s doubtful if I am. That assumes of course, that petrol and two stroke oil are still available!