Lawn Mower Drive Control Lever Assist

Our Craftsman lawn mower has both a deadman grip for the motor (the Operator Presence Control Bar) and a Drive Control Lever that engages the rear wheel drive. The latter requires a death grip to keep the belt engaged, which means you (well, I) spend about two hours clenching the grip.

Lawn mower - compound leverage handle

Lawn mower - compound leverage handle

I’ve long since flipped the control to the left side and added thick foam padding, but there’s no adjustment that reduces the death-grip requirement: you can change the engagement distance, not the spring constant.

Evidently the Sears engineers have much stronger hands than anyone in our family.

The doodad hose-clamped to the upright part of the mower handle is a basically a hinge that applies force to the tip of the red handle. The hinge axis lies far enough from the handle’s pivot so that holding the hinge against the handle requires very little force; at least it’s no longer a death grip.

Lawn mower - compound leverage handle engaged

Lawn mower - compound leverage handle engaged

It’s not an ideal solution, but it engages and (more importantly) disengages easily. I still don’t like mowing the lawn, but at least I don’t return with a crippled-up hand.

The hinge is actually a lock hasp, so it has a slot that slides neatly over the Drive Control Lever’s tab. I beat both sides into a more-or-less cylindrical form over a piece of pipe, while miraculously not bending the hinge pin.

Evidently the Sears engineers never actually used the damn mower for two hours at a time.


  1. #1 by david on 2011-07-05 - 09:50

    Me, I’ve always wanted to duct-tape a Roomba to a lawnmower. Probably for the best I’ve always lived in apartments :)

    • #2 by Ed on 2011-07-05 - 17:16

      A guy I knew made considerable headway on an automated lawnmower quite some years ago. His lot didn’t have any adjoining neighbors, though, which considerably reduced the liability issue…

  2. #3 by Frans on 2011-07-09 - 11:11

    Wow, that is so much less elegant than the John Deere lawnmowers. The engine death switch is pushed down onto the bar from above and the propulsion is engaged by pulling the propulsion bar up against the bar. It works quite elegantly, whereas the picture you posted gives me hand cramps just looking at it.

    • #4 by Ed on 2011-07-09 - 13:08

      gives me hand cramps just looking at it.

      The designer had obviously read the specs for a human being, but never actually met one…