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Project Mustang, Rising From The Dead

I get bored easily, so I’m always looking for something to play with. This is the story of Project Mustang.

For a while now I have wanted something new to play with, and having limited spare cash and space, something with a small motor was ideal.

So no, sorry, this isn’t the story of an awesome V8 Fastback Mustang 😞

I have been following some threads on a couple of forums about lawn mowers for a while now, and I was pretty keen on playing with one, but I wanted to spend as little as possible, and preferably get one that needed work… oh and it had to be a 2 stroke engine.

The other weekend we went for a nosy at the local recycling center that sells old unwanted items. A junkyard of sorts. Whilst there, I happened across a lonely looking Victa mower. It had a cool design and other than having sludge in the fuel tank and rust on the handles it looked in decent shape. I managed to find a catcher that looked somewhat like it might go with the mower near by, but I couldn’t work out how it attached. Unfortunately there was no mobile data reception there, so I couldn’t bring up a photo to confirm. I snapped a quick photo so I could check details on it later, and we left.

Over the next couple of days I did some research and looked into what it was. Turns out it’s a mid-late 70s Victa Mustang VC with a 160cc 2 stroke single cylinder engine. The catcher was designed to work with it, and it has a weird method of attachment.

Today we ventured back, in the hopes the mower was still there. Thankfully it was, and so was the catcher. It had moved, but obviously no one was taking any real interest in it.

I paid the $20 on the sticker and piled it into the car.

Once home, I took some preliminary photos, next to the dinky little electric mower we have been using. The electric mower has its place and gets the job done, but its cutting path is very narrow, it has an annoying cable, and it just doesn’t have the raw manly appeal of a motor mower.

And a couple by itself

Unfortunately it’s not all fun and games; the mower is showing its age in a couple of places. Thankfully it has an awesome alloy body, so no rust there, but the flap where the catcher attaches is pretty rusty

And the blades weren’t looking good. They will need replacing or at the least, sharpening.

The catcher has also had a beating with one handle missing, a couple of good cracks in it and the plastic is so brittle it’ll turn to dust if im not careful. Not sure what to do with this, hopefully I can find another. It’s fairly unique.

Looking in the fuel tank didn’t inspire confidence, there was a lovely coating of sludge on the bottom of the tank. So the first thing I did was to pull the cover off, and remove the tank for cleaning.

And this is some of the crap that comes out of the tank. Slimy, oily sludge with some water mixed in for good measure. (No, I don’t know why the foam looks like monkeys…)

A thorough cleaning got it in a state I was happy with. I also noted that the fuel tap was blocked and I couldn’t get anything flowing either way through it. Blasting it with brake clean cleared it up; maybe the reason the mower was dumped?

I was hoping that cleaning the tank would be the miracle that made the thing start, but I wasnt that lucky. I dumped some 25:1 petrol and 2T oil into the tank and yanked the cord.

Turns over well, has compression, but doesn’t even try to start. Back to the drawing board.

The carb didn’t look great, coated in grime. Interesting to note the carb is back to front to a normal Victa, but this is the factory orientation on this model. The priming bulb is tucked away under the fuel tank. 🙃

I whipped the plug out to check the state of it. It was finger tight at best… and when I removed it? Not good. Soaked in water.  You can see water bridging the gap here.

Turning the engine over with the plug out resulted in streams of water pumping out of the cylinder. Shit. I tipped the mower up and drained what I could out, and poured a little oil into the cylinder. My theory is that because it was pouring down the past couple of days, and the mower sat outside, it entered the throttle, went down the piping and into the carb.

I decided at this point to give it a good check over and see what was going on. First out was the air filter, which lives in the throttle box.

Yeah, it was pretty bad. Completely blocked with grass. I have a new one on the way.

I also removed the carb

Sure enough, once removed a fair amount of water drained out of it. I stripped it down and cleaned thoroughly. It was pretty dirty, inside and out.

The float, priming cover and jet

The O-Ring on the priming cover has previously been pinched, and its very flat. As I’ll find out later, it leaks quite badly. A replacement for that is also on the way.

I pulled the rest of the carb down and cleaned everything in brake clean piece by piece until it was spotless.

Once reassembled and refitted, it looked a little different from before

I had some issues getting the ignition cutout refitted and working. It’s very fiddly, and my rubber grommet is damaged, so that wont be helping. once again, a new grommet and new pins are on their way.

After quite a lot of priming, and quite a lot of pulling, this happened.

ITS ALIVE!

It’s hard to start and smokes a bit when started, but once its running it runs solid and without excess smoke. I suspect part of the hard start problem will be the leaking carb, and the old as hell spark plug. These will be sorted once parts arrive.

Since it was running, and we had conveniently “left the grass down the back of the section to get long so I would have something to mow”…. I gave the Mustang a trial by grass.

The leaking carb wasnt helping

But once I got it started again, it was an absolute beast. The blades are blunt and I was attacking this long grass on a height setting that was FAR too low…. but the mower didn’t flinch once. It just monstered on through.

After that successful first mow, I dumped it into the weeds and took some glamour shots.

So looooooow

So that’s that. My Mustang.

I have some parts on the way to fix various things and just give it some love. It is also in dire need of a full detail, and maybe some paint or polishing. The catcher is a concern, I don’t really know how to fix that and stop it turning to dust.

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