Introduction: Restoring an Old Lawnmower, From TechShop

About: Part man, part machine -- all awesome!

Purpose: Get a “new” mower for free!*

Tools: pair of crescent wrenches, flathead screwdriver, WD-40, nitrile gloves, TSP, and powder coat paint
Equipment: sandblaster and powder coating assembly

Step 1: Acquire Target

Whether you go through Craig's List, Freecycle (I did this one), grampa's garage, or you just have a project rusting out in the yard, the key is to find something old and make it new.  For me, my yard is slightly larger than a post-it note, I enjoy getting outside and physically doing things... plus I didn't have $200 to drop, so getting an old push mower was just the right fit.

Step 2: Disassembly

Old stuff – how does it work?

Years of wear and tear and neglect have left this wonderful machine in a state of terrible.  In order to get into all the nooks and crannies, I needed to pull everything apart.  The nice thing about having a relatively simple machine is that this was also a fairly simple process.  I love knowing how things work!  I used a pair of crescent wrenches because the hardware was as old as the rest and had a mix of hex nuts and square nuts, so being able to adjust for the oddities was necessary.  Flathead screwdriver for the rest.

Remember: the olden days were erratic, and expect the

Step 3: Sandblast

I tried lobbing the whole lawn mower into the sandblaster at once, and it... didn't achieve the desired results.  Breaking the complexity down to one part at a time is definitely the way to go.  Be patient and work methodically to ensure an even finish.

Step 4: Clean and Prep

After you sandblast, it is best to wash down you part.  Before you powder coat, you need to wash down your part.  Conveniently, you can kill two metaphorical birds with one bathing!  Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) and nitrile gloves  will get the metal clean and keep you greasy hand oil from contaminating the job.

You can either dry your parts in the pre-heating over or use compressed air to blow them dry.  I've found both work well.

Step 5: Powder Coat

Pre-heat the oven!  I chose to do two different colors, so the second batch was powdered while the first was baking in the oven.

Step 6: Go Do Stuff

Oil as needed.  I had WD-40 on hand, but other machine oil or lubricant should be fine.  I mean this mower was out rusting for sixty years, it will just be happy to be loved.

The final results?  Amazing.  The only real cost was the powder, and that was left over from other jobs I've done.  This was a quick and simple job because I had what I needed at my finger-tips, and would have been impossible without TechShop.

You can do it yourself, too.  For more resources, tools, and training, head over to TechShop!