Extreme lawnmower cables

We’re always fascinated to hear where our control cables end up, but few can lay claim to serve their purpose anywhere quite as unique as Steep Holm. 

For those who don’t know it, Steep Holm is a small island that lies in the Bristol Channel, around six miles offshore from the Somerset seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare. 

The occupation of Steep Holm stretches back into antiquity, probably as far back as the Stone Age, before rising sea levels isolated it from the mainland and turned it into an island. It’s played host to a wide range of interesting characters, from Vikings - who used it as a secure base from which to raid the mainland; to Augustinian monks; sailors, smugglers and probably pirates; and soldiers, who manned gun batteries, searchlight posts, and rocket launcher sites there during WWII.

Purchased in 1976 as a living memorial to the late Kenneth Allsop - a broadcaster, author and passionate campaigner for conservation causes - the island is managed by a small group of Trustees, who look after the day-to-day administration and run it as a nature reserve, bird sanctuary, and Site of Special Scientific Interest. 

The warden of Steep Holm contacted Venhill recently, with a request for some rather specialised cabling;

"We have a newish flail mower … used early Spring and Autumn to keep unruly vegetation at bay. At each session it is driven hard for six-seven hours a day for about five days. Being a rocky sort of moonscape covered with jungle the controls are in constant use, the drive clutch cable is put under considerable strain, as part of its remit seems to be to compensate for some stretch in the drive belt. Unfortunately it could not cope under the pressure and fractured at the control lever termination. What I am hoping is that a heavier duty cable would resolve the problem and whether it is possible to get some made, looking at the standard issue I am not impressed by the size or make up of the cable."

With more than 50 years experience making control cables for motorcycles, we understand the need to produce products that can withstand not only heavy mechanical use, but the elements too. Having inspected and measured the factory-fitted cables, we set about producing a new set, using the same high quality materials as our motorcycle cables. In addition, we needed to get a batch of springs manufactured by a specialist supplier, to ensure they offered the same level of performance and durability.

The new cables were posted to the Warden, who fitted them to the mower and sent us these pictures. We’re immensely proud to play even a small part in the preservation of this very special place. 

Find out more about Steep Holm  

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