For some people mowing the lawn is a chore, but for others the smell of freshly cut grass and the hum of an old motor becomes an obsession.
Trent Martin and Adam Humbert are best mates from Wagga Wagga in the NSW Riverina who share a passion for restoring old lawn mowers.
Mr Martin said it all began with an old cylinder mower, the type used to mow bowling greens and cricket pitches, and a discussion about the finer points of a good lawn.
“A normal lawn mower cuts in a rotary fashion, we say it ‘hacks’ a lawn,” he said.
“A cylinder mower has got a cylindrical cutting drum which pulls the lawn against a cutting edge in a scissor-like fashion, and in turn you get a neater cut.”
More than just a hobby
It did not take long for a hobby to take off, and the mates have had about 30 mowers come and go with about a dozen still in the shed.
Trent Martin says a cylindrical mower is top shelf for cutting lawns. (ABC Riverina: Emily Doak)
“We got to the point where we would buy a few and get the pick of the litter, get rid of some others, and then we got a bit more keen and got a machine to sharpen them,” Mr Martin said.
“So now we’re sharpening them and servicing them and selling them.
“The beast has been created, I suppose you could say.”
Their interest has been cultivated by a growing number of chat groups on social media, dedicated to lawn maintenance and mower restoration and sales.
“I’m a builder by trade but I’ve been pulling motors, machines and tractors apart since I was a kid,” Mr Martin said.
“Once you’ve got your head around it, away you go.
“We’ve actually acquired a lot of manuals so that makes it a bit more special.”
Mr Humbert’s favourite is a Model 65, a 145 kilogram beast.
“They’re pretty heavy but are self propelled, so anyone can get on and they’re pretty easy to manoeuvre,” he said.
“It’s good fun finding them and it’s good to see so many people are getting into their lawns.”
Lawn mower enthusiasts Trent Mart and Adam Humbert have restored about 30 old mowers. (ABC Riverina: Emily Doak)
“I’m not mechanically minded but I’m learning a lot and trying to be as hands-on as I can be.”
Mowing as a skill
With small suburban backyards, the pair have more mowers than lawn to mow.
So they volunteer at the local cricket ground, working with Greg Hannigan from the Kooringal Colts cricket club.
“Neither of them are cricketers. They might have been when they were young but not now, and it’s rare to get someone like that to contribute and show their ability and do this kind of service,” he said.
“The first step of a cricket pitch is to be mowed the right height.”
Mowing large cricket grounds by hand, Mr Martin said it was an opportunity to learn how to handle his machines and gave him a new appreciation of the skill in maintaining a playing surface.
“We took one of our mowers down there mowing with Greg, and learning. It’s helping a local club and we’re getting fun out of it too,” he said.
“Basically it’s mow mow mow. We’ve got two very interesting households and two very understanding wives I suppose you could say.”