I messaged him,.......he doesnt have a clue. not original owner. was just curious. I do remember seeing something like this as a kid when they used oil soaked air filters.
These machines would last forever
We used old B&S lawnmowers at the cemetery I worked at. Those machines would work about 8 hours a day in summer in Mass. and I worked there off and on for 16-17 years and they just used the same machines.
Although this example is in the Lawn Boy/ Jacobsen style with the offset wheels, I think this is a home made mower. I looked through a few hundred photos of old lawnmowers, and I didn't see one that had a flat top like this example. Virtually all of them appear to have cast decks of some sort.
I also heard back from the owner, and he doesn't know anything about it.
He offered it to me for $20 to keep it from the scrapper, but I don't have room for it.
There are some crazy lawn mowers out there.
I remember one similar to that when I was a kid... it had that same funky discharge location in front of the tire.
...it also had a fold-out hand crank starter thingy. It was a wind-up spring assembly atop the engine; one would fold out a hand crank, wind it up, fold back the crank handle and then turn a "star" shaped knob release of sorts.
Not sure if I am describing it right but if you had one of these then I think you get the picture.