Locke Machine

Locke Machines

Clutching the tubular steel frame with my left hand, I prepared to break loose the component frozen to the corroded assembly. With calculated movements, my right hand first swung back the 48 oz. maul and then let loose with a full swing toward the recalcitrant part. What went wrong, I do not know. The full force of the hammer blow landed squarely in the center of my left hand.

Locke Machine

Locke Machine

Recounting this incident reminds me of a long ago time much different than our plastic throw-away world. In 1929, a time of cast iron and steel, a perfectly engineered machine was created. The Locke Triplex Reel Mower was produced in the early days of power lawn mowers. The first generation production included a myriad of novel features never to be improved upon in fifty years of production.

At sixteen, my first summer job consisted of disassembling retired Locke Machines from the fifties and sixties to salvage replacement parts as spares for machines in current service. These machines consisted of components that were all serviceable, replaceable and interchangeable. These were machines that could last forever. Apparently those engineers of eighty years ago didn’t understand the need for planned obsolescence.

I’m totally at a loss as how to describe many of the unique features of this six hundred-pound cast iron and steel wonder. As such, you will have to ask me personally. For now, just visualize a golf course quality mower with a six-foot wide cut capable of mowing almost two acres per hour and built to last forever.

Back to 1979, a 1957 vintage lawn mower and my damaged left hand. Staring at the puffy purple flesh of my swelling hand, I knew I must have broken every bone in the vicinity. As both my hands were coated in black greasy grime, I went to the sink to wash before going to the hospital. Due to shock or self-control, I blocked out the pain and scrubbed with GO-JO until all was clean. Before proceeding to the emergency room I performed a self examination. All my phalanges seemed to work correctly. Still blocking the pain, I noticed that the purple and swelling had disappeared. I ceased to block the pain and realized that there was none. This was odd, so I just called it a day and went home.

Almost thirty years later, I still have no explanation but I am pleased with the outcome.



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