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post #1 of 14 Old 11-02-2010, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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Whatever Happened to ... Twin-Blade Electric Mowers?

Whatever happened to those twin-blade electric lawn mowers? The first well-known examples were made by Sunbeam's Outdoor Division circa 1955.

Here is one from 1956:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk_YbYMdjcs
(video courtesy of msmp90)

At some point in the 1970s, Sunbeam sold its Outdoor division to Aircap Industries (owner of the Mastercut brand). I have a 1983 Sears Craftsman 91412 18" deluxe twin-blader (mfg. date: 1-17-83, model 663.914126). Then MTD bought out Aircap in 1986. The twin-blade electric mower faded into obscurity by 1995.

Black & Decker's first twin-blade electrics appeared in 1967 and were double-insulated (no need for grounding) from the beginning. Those were models U-173 (standard, later 8015) and the U-273 (later 8020 and 8021). B&D also made a 22" twin-blade electric under model 8040 (8041 in 1972) but I don't know its 1967-69 model number. The economy-priced mowers had orange decks and motors, while the deluxe models had white decks and orange motors.

Their motors ran higher than single-bladed electrics mainly because of the description (two blades instead of one). A typical 18" twin-blade deck would have two 9" blades. The motors on these would spin roughly 6000-8000 RPM (compared to 3000-4000 RPM on single-blade decks) on these examples, taking into account the 2:1 gearing ratio which brings down the speed of the motor from about 15000 RPM.

~Ben
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post #2 of 14 Old 11-03-2010, 12:36 AM
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Re: Whatever Happened to ... Twin-Blade Electric Mowers?

with the smaller blades you can spin'em faster yet keep the blade tip speeds at a reasonable number.

Ya, as a young lad in the early/mid 70's I used to cut my Grandma's lawn with one of those things. Not a fan of Corded electric mowers

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post #3 of 14 Old 11-04-2010, 10:46 PM
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Re: Whatever Happened to ... Twin-Blade Electric Mowers?

I used to have one of these, I found it in the trash one day it was in ok shape but the plastic cover was rough and it was missing a belt and had a bad bearing in one of the blades so it ended up getting junked, and interesting design though, very dangerous and top heavy.
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post #4 of 14 Old 11-04-2010, 11:27 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Whatever Happened to ... Twin-Blade Electric Mowers?

Yeah, belts were indeed another issue that killed the twin-blade mower. The B&Ds used fiberglass-reinforced belts to avoid overheating during use while the Sunbeams were designed differently as the blades were staggered, and as a result used synchronized timing belts.

~Ben
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post #5 of 14 Old 01-23-2011, 08:39 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Whatever Happened to ... Twin-Blade Electric Mowers?

http://www.surpluscenter.com/item.as...tname=electric

Here's a link to an NOS Aircap/Mastercut electric mower motor assembly. Its specifications claim 9 amps, 4000 rpm and a 5.5:1 gear reduction ratio (22,000 rpm before gear reduction).
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post #6 of 14 Old 03-10-2011, 01:28 AM
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Re: Whatever Happened to ... Twin-Blade Electric Mowers?

I cut a lot of grass with a two-blade Sunbeam when I was a kid. Scary thing is, it looked safer than the gas machines of the time.
The handle is what made it great. It would "flip" over so that (if you knew how to coil the cord) you could work your way away from the plug and never have to deal with running the cord over or tangling it. I think some of the B+D mowers feature this now too.
It had twin blades that had a pivot on each side of the spindle so that if you hit something you might not bend the shaft. Very important in CT where we grow rocks like some states grow potato's.
It was such a great little machine that a SOB of a neighbor stole it right out of my mothers garage when it was well over ten years old.

"Sharpen the what? They still spin don't they? Are they cuttin grass boy? Then you just leave 'em alone and go cut that grass, ain't gonna cut it's self"

Just realized, now I'm using a 48" deck on a lawn that's half the size of my parents. No wonder I had a tan like mahogany.

Thanks for reminding me
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post #7 of 14 Old 10-18-2012, 01:20 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Whatever Happened to ... Twin-Blade Electric Mowers?

Here's a scan from my 1978 Black & Decker catalog:


If you look at both the 8035 corded twin blade rear bagger and the cordless equivalent that is model 8055, you can see they have different motor switches: model 8035 still has the rocker switch that had been in use on all Black & Decker electric mowers since the very first ones that were introduced in late 1966 (as 1967 models), but the 8055 has the kind of switch which foreshadows the kind of switch CPSC mandated for all electric mowers made after 6/30/82: the spring lever switch, which you must hold down in order for the machine to remain running; let go of it and the motor shuts off.

Like today's B&D cordless electric mowers, the 8055 also had been riddled with CPSC-mandated fixes related to the battery.

~Ben

Last edited by OldLawnMowerMan81; 10-18-2012 at 01:26 AM.
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post #8 of 14 Old 10-18-2012, 06:42 AM
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Re: Whatever Happened to ... Twin-Blade Electric Mowers?

Check the old one out I seen at the auction this year...
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post #9 of 14 Old 11-02-2014, 03:21 PM
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Re: Whatever Happened to ... Twin-Blade Electric Mowers?

OldLawnmowerMan81,
Would you have any idea where somebody could find a bagging attachment for one of the 8035 BD's you show?
I was given one by the neighbor, when we bought our house in '99, if I'd take care of his 84yo mother's lawn. He didn't have the bag assembly. Needless to say, I'm still using it (without fail) and am getting tired of raking leaves. I've looked casually over the years, to no avail.
Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I realize these were only made for 3-4 years, ceasing in '79, I believe.
Thank you ...
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post #10 of 14 Old 12-10-2014, 01:25 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Whatever Happened to ... Twin-Blade Electric Mowers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by canochilimac View Post
OldLawnmowerMan81,
Would you have any idea where somebody could find a bagging attachment for one of the 8035 BD's you show?
I was given one by the neighbor, when we bought our house in '99, if I'd take care of his 84yo mother's lawn. He didn't have the bag assembly. Needless to say, I'm still using it (without fail) and am getting tired of raking leaves. I've looked casually over the years, to no avail.
Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I realize these were only made for 3-4 years, ceasing in '79, I believe.
Thank you ...
I too wish I could help you on this. . . good luck!

~Ben
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post #11 of 14 Old 12-10-2014, 09:19 AM
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Re: Whatever Happened to ... Twin-Blade Electric Mowers?

Electrics are kind of interesting and can be found. I paid $25 for this 18 inch Toro from the late 1980s and it is a good mower if you don't mind messing with the cords. Roger
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post #12 of 14 Old 12-10-2014, 05:28 PM
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Re: Whatever Happened to ... Twin-Blade Electric Mowers?

Speaking of electric mowers... I love retelling this story...

Years ago when dad couldn't get the IH/LB running for the first spring cutting, he borrowed our neighbor's electric mower. She offered th extension cord but he said "nah, I have ours still out from my last project." Plugged in the mower and couldn't find out why it would run for 2 seconds, then shut off, run for another 2 seconds, then shut off...

Turns out he was using the extension cord from the christmas lights on the house he had just taken down and there was a little flasher gizmo (sort of like a turn signal flasher) between the extension cords and was, welll... you figured it out by now.

I was pretty young but old enough to realize it was pretty dern funny!
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post #13 of 14 Old 12-10-2014, 06:09 PM
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Re: Whatever Happened to ... Twin-Blade Electric Mowers?

I just gave an old sunbeam to my buddy! He thought it was so cute. Ended up oiling it up and cuts his grass with it weekly! It was a light blue colour, i don't have a picture though.

It was a neat little guy, just had no need for it



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post #14 of 14 Old 04-23-2019, 04:04 PM
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Re: Whatever Happened to ... Twin-Blade Electric Mowers?

I have a 1967-1969 U173 that works. Wondering if anybody wants it??? PM me for my phone number! 4-23-2019

Last edited by PA318Guy; 04-24-2019 at 06:49 PM. Reason: Email in open forum
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