Design Engineering
Showcase 2021

Ransomes Jacobsen (Textron Specialized Vehicles)

Mechanical Design
Traditional Manufacturing

Project Details

Sam Castle
Engineering (Continuous Improvement)
Dr Hamed Haddadi
Design Engineering Intern
Retail and Consumer Goods

Ransomes Jacobsen has been manufacturing lawn mowers since their invention in the 1830s. Now, as part of Textron Specialized Vehicles (TSV) it is a market leader in the commercial lawn mower market serving two major markets: golfing and municipalities. The work has been high tempo, challenging, but rewarding. On my placement I was given responsibility for proposing and designing solutions to mechanical failures, testing them, preparing for production, and delivering the solutions to important clients. I learnt a great deal about traditional manufacture, increased my project management skills and acquired business acumen simply not able to be taught at university.

Ransomes Jacobsen (Textron Specialized Vehicles)

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

During my placement with TSV I worked on two major projects, and countless other smaller ones. In both major projects we were faced with a significant recurring mechanical failure. From problem definition using mechanical principals, to solution ideation, to assembling experimental prototypes, to extensive testing, I was involved in all aspects of the design process.

Leading teams for manufacture and assembly, presenting solutions, both to engineering colleagues and customer facing managers, and delivering products direct to clients, has allowed me to gain project management experience and improve my interpersonal skills greatly.

My main objective as a product designer has always been to create high quality, functional, efficiency-increasing products, which are built to last and reduce waste. I believe my work on both major projects, and all my other work in between, has gone some way to achieving these goals, whilst remaining within the constraints of profitable business.

Budding patent mower

Role and Contributions

As a Design Engineer at Ransomes Jacobsen [TSV] I largely worked in Continuous Improvement, where we addressed various design shortcomings in our product range. These mainly centred around mechanical failures and ease of manufacture issues. I was involved in two major projects:

The first was the low cycle fatigue failure of exhaust pipes caused by thermal expansion. Here I carried out much of the design work for one proposed solution. This involved designing a system, manufacturing the parts in the Prototyping department, fitting it to the machine and then extensively testing (physical/FEA). The testing was then used to inform the next design iteration until the system was fully refined. Having proved that the solution was effective, it was then evaluated against factors such as cost and ease of manufacture before being compared to the other design solutions.

The second was an extensive redesign of the cutting units, used on our 3-gang Articulated Rotary Mowers. In this project, I was entrusted with leading the mechanical design, from concept to initial preproduction Alpha build and testing phase. This project forced me to take on a high level of responsibility in delivering a viable solution directly to a customer within a very tight timeframe. (See below my redesigned machine during service cut testing).

In addition, I supported the transition of the American product line for manufacture in the UK. This huge business move now sets up Textron’s Centre of Excellence for Turf Care in Ipswich. This involved updating parts and drawings for manufacture using the tooling and processes available in Ipswich, checking the viability of replacement hydraulic fittings and filing relevant design changes through ‘Engineering Change Orders’. Of course, this transition was hardly made easy by the global supply chain disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic!

Lawnmower testing 2
Lawnmower testing 2


- Design based role – designing, organising manufacture, and testing structural parts using a range of traditional manufacturing processes.

- Old-school engineering following Design-Build-Test-Learn framework.

- Often ended up underneath vehicles with a spanner in hand.

- High level CAD (modelling/drafting) skills, and sound knowledge of solid body mechanics required.

- Must be prepared to shoulder a great deal of responsibility in delivering commercial products from concept generation to production line in short timeframes.

Ransomes Jacobsen HQ (Credit Textron Inc.)