V-8 Riding Mower Still Going Strong

Back in 1990 Don Robinett, Randall, Kansas, built a riding mower powered by an all-aluminum Buick V-8 gas engine (Vol. 18, No. 3). He’s now 88 years old but still uses the machine regularly, and recently had it professionally repainted “Ford tractor blue”.

            The mower is equipped with 2 hydraulic pumps. One pump powers 3 hydraulic motors mounted on the mower’s 6-ft. deck, and the other powers the machine’s 18-in. front drive wheels.

            “I built the entire machine by myself and have used it every year to keep 5 acres mowed. It has a lot of hours on it but still works as good as new,” says Robinett. “Last summer 2 of the motors on the deck started leaking oil. They weren’t real expensive so I replaced all 3 of them at the same time, which is the only major repair it has required. The deck is fitted with linkage similar to what can be found on back of a moldboard plow, so it can be tilted high enough to mow weeds up to 6 ft. tall.”

            According to Robinett, the aluminum Buick engine was made only for 3 years, from 1961 to 1963. “The shop foreman for our local Buick dealer was a friend of mine. When I told him I needed an engine for a riding mower that I wanted to build, he knew about a Buick Special car owned by a local woman who had recently died. I bought the car with about 70,000 miles on it.”

            Robinett used 3/16-in. sheet metal to fashion the deck and sides of the mower, and lighter metal to make a flip-up engine hood. “I use a pair of levers in front of the seat to control the drive wheels. By running one wheel forward and one backward at the same time I can turn on a dime. The mower goes 8 mph on the road,” he notes.

            Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Don Robinett, 651 Hwy. 28, Randall, Kansas 66963 (cell ph 785 534-2282 or 785 739-2468; donrob@nckcn.com).