VICMOW is a ride on lawn mower racing club with members located all around Victoria
.
Lawn mower racing is a great family sport, many of our mower racing members are from the same family.

You may remember seeing Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup racing around on ride on lawn mowers at Bathurst, those racing lawn mowers actually belong to TJ Racing who are members of VICMOW   The racing lawn mower used in all the promotional footage from the Vodafone Mower challenge can still be seen looking the same today as it did then, competing in C Class, the A Class racing lawn mower of Marty Saunders is the one that was used by Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup.

Looking for something different for your next fundraiser? Why not consider having VICMOW and their super modified racing lawn mowers come and have a race for you, we can help with race track design and set up and be an event on our own or in conjunction with a show n shine or something else.

Don't be fooled by the look of these racing lawn mowers, they are super modified and have motor bike engines in them. We have four classes starting with the Juniors who run 110cc engines, C Class running up to 200cc motors, B Class run up to 250cc and A Class who run up to 450cc motors.

To get involved with the sport of supermodified ride on lawn mower racing in Victoria, contact us and we'll help get you started.

Australia's first mower race was dreamt up in a small, country pub in Harrietville Victoria in 1988. Five men challenged each other to a race around the local hills of the area after an alcohol-related argument. They chugged up the steep slopes belching smoke from their unmodified Briggs and Strattons , rounded a nominated gum tree, then flew down in "Angel Gear" - Australian outback slang for neutral - to the finish line. "Half the town's 100 people, 300 sheep and 150 dogs were there," according to Brian Ross, six-time president of AROLMRA.




VICMOW is a ride on lawn mower racing club with members located all around Victoria
.
Lawn mower racing is a great family sport, many of our mower racing members are from the same family.

You may remember seeing Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup racing around on ride on lawn mowers at Bathurst, those racing lawn mowers actually belong to TJ Racing who are members of VICMOW   The racing lawn mower used in all the promotional footage from the Vodafone Mower challenge can still be seen looking the same today as it did then, competing in C Class, the A Class racing lawn mower of Marty Saunders is the one that was used by Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup.

Looking for something different for your next fundraiser? Why not consider having VICMOW and their super modified racing lawn mowers come and have a race for you, we can help with race track design and set up and be an event on our own or in conjunction with a show n shine or something else.

Don't be fooled by the look of these racing lawn mowers, they are super modified and have motor bike engines in them. We have four classes starting with the Juniors who run 110cc engines, C Class running up to 200cc motors, B Class run up to 250cc and A Class who run up to 450cc motors.

To get involved with the sport of supermodified ride on lawn mower racing in Victoria, contact us and we'll help get you started.

Australia's first mower race was dreamt up in a small, country pub in Harrietville Victoria in 1988. Five men challenged each other to a race around the local hills of the area after an alcohol-related argument. They chugged up the steep slopes belching smoke from their unmodified Briggs and Strattons , rounded a nominated gum tree, then flew down in "Angel Gear" - Australian outback slang for neutral - to the finish line. "Half the town's 100 people, 300 sheep and 150 dogs were there," according to Brian Ross, six-time president of AROLMRA.



Camperdown College Lawn Mower Racing Team
© VICMOW 2015
About the project:

Late last year we were brain storming new projects for our Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) cohort for 2015. The idea for this project has arose around the desire to apply metal fabrication and small engine skills to an exciting project that can count as a Personal Development Project for several VCAL students. We see this project as an excellent way to engage teenage boys and to capture some school spirit along the way.

We plan to involve parents and the P-12 school community with the mower preparation, hosting a race meetings and fund raising the venture.

We see lawn mower racing as a means of achieving some very specific educational outcomes along  with offering some students the chance to compete in motorsport for the lowest cost possible.  Given that the machines are governed by strict rules on performance and aesthetics and must remain very close to a standard lawn mower in appearance and performance, as a school we think this is a safe and exciting opportunity to offer our students.

Some aspects of the project as we see it:
-          Project to be completely student driven.
-          This project will be subject to VCAL paperwork requirements- no documentation means no racing.
-          Each student will have administration rights to our Lawn Mower Racing FaceBook page and will be expected to contribute as a blog/journal.
-          Students will strictly follow all Vic Mow’s safety precautions and guidelines around the machine and personal protective equipment (PPE).
-          Students will compete in Class C (maximum 200cc 4 Stroke engine)
-          Each competing student will be required to take out VicMow membership and race insurance.
-          Students will be responsible for seeking sponsorship (in kind) and a small fund raising event.
-          Students will be required to organise all school paperwork.
-          The whole VCAL team will host a round of the titles!

The students are thrilled that VicMow is a non-profit organisation run by enthusiasts who race for the love of competition and motorsport.

I am very excited about this project and I plan to commit some of my budget as part of the metal fabrication along with purchasing a new TIG welder and plasma cutter.  I think the total cost of the project will be less than $2000 as we are calling in some favours and sourcing lots of parts through donations!

The first picture shows the Rover Rancher we collected as our basis for the machine. Donated by E.E. Day & Sons (Sthil Shop) in Wendouree. We picked this up on September 6, 2014 and the team got to work stripping it down (second pic).

Last week we collected the Ag Bike, pic three, that will be our power plant. The steel for the chassis arrived and we will begin construction tomorrow!
Progress Report 3/3/2015

Over the last two weeks the team has been manufacturing the engine mounts and considering the steering and drive components. Initially we made the mounts too low which made it difficult to connect the mounting bolts and also limited the room for the kick starter to rotate fully. These will be redesigned this week before our machine heads over to an engineer in a neighbouring town for the axle components to be measured and ordered.

Last weekend Brian and Dianne Huggins made a special visit to check on our progress and offer some well needed advice! Brian was able to point us in the right direction from his years of very considered experience! It’s been great talking to Brian about design issues with a focus on reliability, safety and effectiveness.

Brian reminded us of the following considerations:
-          Build all of the driveline components so that none of them extend below the bottom chassis rails.
-          Position the motor so that the brand name is horizontal when the chassis is in its final position.
-          Construct the engine mounts so that the four sites on the engine come down to just two sites on the chassis to allow easy removal of the engine.
-          Use Nyloc nuts EVERYWHERE!
-          Strengthen the panels, particularly where they pivot from.
-          There’s plenty of clearance even if the rear axle is mounted 100mm above the bottom chassis rail.
-          The steering pivots and joints seem to work properly when there are no 90 degree angles between them (this prevents locking up).
-          Strengthen the cross members that hold the brake components to prevent flex.
-          Build the rear axle keyways so that they can’t vibrate out of their slots.
-          To gain clearance for the rear tyres we will have to custom build our mud guards.
-          Source a simple go kart seat for lateral stability.
Progress Report 27/4/2015


We have been plugging along with the planning and purchasing of parts for the build over the last few weeks and in between this we have had school holidays, camps and sports days!

We decided to buy some rear end parts from CQ Racing in Queensland. These included an 1 1/4" rear axle with bearing, pillow blocks, hubs, rotor carrier and rims. We decided to go with these as the keyways were already cut, the parts all matched and CQ Racing utilise these exact parts on their 800cc open class mower! We also thought that the prices were very reasonable and the service from them is excellent.

Brian came down on the weekend to talk to us about mounting the rear end with an emphasis on ground clearance and adjustability for the chain. He helped us with our decision on axle placement and also showed us a bullet proof way to do the keyways. Brian made us consider the types of forces going through the rear end on a machine with no suspension and talked to us about the different ways you can secure your hubs and position the pillow blocks for best effect.

Brian was also very generous in donating us some front end components he made. These parts were a big stumbling block for us as we are yet to purchase a lathe (fingers crossed for 2016!) and we would have had to send this job off site.

This week, we will make the rear end supports and mount them, then we will be taking the chassis with rear end to our local bearing shop to order the plate sprocket and chain. Now that we have almost all of our parts we hope the build will come together over the next month or so. More pics to follow!
Progress Report 22/5/2015


Over the past few weeks we have made quite a few decisions and had to do a fair bit of research. A big issue we have faced is the rear drive chain.
The first option was to buy a plate sprocket and have it machined to fit a custom built hangar. This involved quite a bit liaising with local engineers and also trying to source a plate sprocket that would match the #428 chain or choosing a different chain size and fabricating a new front sprocket also.
In the end the we researched all motorbikes that used #428 chain. Then we searched through those models to find a suitable sprocket with 44 teeth. We have found that a Suzuki DS80 runs a solid sprocket, #428 chain, 44 teeth and costs $35. We have purchased a second disc brake hangar from CQ Racing and will mount it on out axle and turn the inner lip down to accept the DS80 sprocket. This will give us a simple set up that allows easy ordering of different size sprockets and replacements. It will also cost a lot less labour than our first option.

The team wanted to keep the bonnet as low as possible for that "slammed" or "rat rod" look, problem is that the engine sits too high.
We cut a relief in the bonnet and had decided to fabricate a scoop when we build our new rear guards. In the end one of the boys sources a fibreglass scoop which provides the clearance, excellent airflow and the look we wanted. The next hurdle was a seat. As our machine will have different drivers we couldn't run a snug go kart seat. We also had to be mindful of the width to keep it off the guards. The local tractor shop was able to supply us with a lightly padded seat similar to the original. Set up on adjustable slots the seat works well. Lateral support is a major concern but we are adding a rear roll bar and have decided to run some padded bars extending from that along side the seat and down to the chassis. This will mean we can adjust fit by using less or more padding on these lateral supports.

Our donor bike came with an almost new set of Renthal bars, so we have bought some cheap risers off ebay and mounted them to a steel plate. Grasshopper has offered his services to connect the steering and we will be on a field trip to Bendigo in the next few weeks.

The boys are working through clearance issues for the kick starter (we thought our bike WAS electric start!!), fuel tank design and general strengthening of the airings. Foot boards are in progress and running the exhaust has been a point of discussion. This is all part of the fun of building your own machine!!

This week were were fortunate enough to secure five major sponsors who are helping with the last few parts and contributing to the race day. They are Brophy Family and Youth Services- School Focused Youth Services, Camperdown Home Hardware, Camperdown Stihl Shop, Magnum Welders and the Corangamite Shire. All of these sponsors are 100% behind the Camperdown College Mow Down on Sept 12 and will be there on the day. We also had the first (of many I can see) interviews for the local paper who were intrigued with the sport and the perfect fit that it is for senior school projects.

Newspaper article can be found here
3/8/2015

The latest progress report!

The last five or six weeks have been busy with the machine all coming together to now be a fully operational racer!

Early June we took the machine up to Bendigo for a big session with Brian- almost 12 hours non-stop! The objective was to have fully functional steering by the end of the day and Brian did not disappoint us! First port of call was to a bearing shop to purchase all of the rose joints- Brian got us a nice little school discount! Steel for the tie rods, steering assembly and dash mount was next. Then we headed to an industrial supply shop for about $100 worth of various bolts, nuts, lock nuts, grub screws and washers.

Close inspection of our pictures show a neat little steering set up that Brian has perfected over the last few builds. Strong stub axle hangers with 1” bolts for axles. These mount onto steer tubes that have machined bushes top and bottom along with grease ports. The Front cross member is dropped to keep the machine low and this has given a small amount of camber. Brian assures us that the camber is unnecessary but we needed it for looks….

Brian set up the Dom on the lathe to build the tie rods while Brad and I helped with the axle construction and fitting. We moved onto the steering joints below the handlebars and this is where the fun began. The need to have lock to lock steering without the handlebars driving into your ribs means that millimetres make a big difference. The position of the control arms and steering rods need to take into account the chain drive and exhaust. The lower steering links also need to remain free at all angles- this means that there shouldn’t be any links that end up straight or over centre to each other.

Finishing off by attaching the handlebars to the steering shaft and mounting the shaft to the dash surrounds, the steering was then functional. We had a rolling chassis! Bringing the machine home we still had a huge list of jobs to do. Machining the hubs down so the stub axle bolt didn’t protrude past the rim edge, trimming excess bolts in the short steering links, strengthening the steering tube mounts, setting the tracking, a few extra welds here and there, Loctite on everything and finishing the handlebar mounting.

Two weeks after the trip to Bendigo, Brian called in at school to check the progress. We had done most of our extensive ‘to do’ list but we were able to utilise his expertise once again to help finalise our brake design. Brad supplied a calliper of a Chinese quad bike and Brian helped design a holder. We cut this with the plasma cutter and mounted the calliper. Strength was the main focus here with extra gusseting and supports added to the final mounting position. The master cylinder was then mounted up besides the engine and the lever passed through the foot plate.

After the big injection of help and inspiration from Brian the project was really coming along. We had ran the engine and stripped the electrical down to the bare minimum. The steering was finished and the brakes were functional. The lads got to work on the chain guards- we found some ‘unused’ chopping boards up in Science and were able to make some nice guides. Lots of little jobs now, securing the keyway in the axle, circlips on the hubs, connecting the clutch and accelerator, bleeding the brakes, tightening up EVERYTHING, finalising the foot wells and mounting the seat.

Rural Welding, a local fabrication business took great care in adapting some Toro rear guards to our mower. We retained the Rancher centre section and the guys fabricated some strips to join the two together. The also bent us up a centre section cover which we cut reliefs for the steering and brakes and then attached to the main chassis with tek screws. This meant the mower was now safe and ready to try!

We couldn’t wait for Saturday to take it to our track so last session Friday we snuck down to the school oval and did a few hot laps. Thankfully the gardener was down at the junior campus and the grass stood back up over the weekend! The mower ran very well, a bit spluttery but we got to have a spin. The steering, gears and brakes all worked as we expected and we were able to blow the cobwebs out of the engine.

The next day Marty, Jo and Brian came to our race site with their mowers and marked out a really fun track. We rode our mower around until the exhaust pipe broke off at the cylinder. Another hour or so and then the carby fell off due to a perished inlet manifold. A few families from school came out for the test and the atmosphere was amazing. So many smiles and people clapping. Everyone was blown away with Marty, Jo and Brian’s knowledge and enthusiasm. A few of the crowd members even scored a go on their machines! An A Class machine might be my next project….

The past week was a race against time to get the machine ready for Neerim Test and Tune Day. The parts were easy to get but the exhaust proved a little tricky. Curdie Car Care came to the rescue and donated all of the bits and their time to fabricate a new exhaust system for us. They also bled the brakes and had a good look over it.

Arriving at Neerim the machine was drenched from the trip up and we had lots of trouble starting it. All the VicMow guys came to the rescue helping us to strip and dry the electronics, replace two carbys and replace lost bolts from the rear end (these things really do vibrate!). Darren’s loaner carby has given us about a 30% power increase so this week’s task is to purchase our own upgrade. Our sprocket carrier stripped its bolts, so it will be modified to take complete bolts and lock nuts. Besides all this it ran well. Last step is to paint it up and put all our sponsor stickers on- ready for our sponsors day and then the Mow Down!

As the build nears completion I would like to acknowledge that this project and end result would not have been possible without the generous help from Brian and Dianne and the ongoing support from VicMow. The club members have supported our students and implemented policies to promote mower building in schools and have fostered a curiosity in motorsport. If you have read this blog and need any more information, do not hesitate to ask a VicMow member and do not hesitate to contact our school or me directly. If you are a teacher thinking about a similar project please get in touch as we can help with curriculum planning and legal requirements. See you at The Mow Down!

Ben