This is a work in progress. I'll be piecing this section together over time as I go through the Yahoo Groups site. For a historical summary see the Sensation Mowers Wikipedia page.

Sensation Lawn Mowers was a commercial lawnmower brand created by Howard Phelps in 1944. The Sensation Lawn Mower Company was located in Ralston, Nebraska, USA

In the late 1940s, mowing small yards was done primarily with Reel (also called "Cylinder") mowers. These originally only manual mowers were generally two wheeled with a push handle and had a horizontal cylinder around which a set of fast spinning blades pushed grass past a cutting bar. Reel mowers, when set up properly cut grass cleanly through a scissor-like action, however they were not effective on uneven terrain and did not work well for tall grass and weeds.

Rotary mowers, which cut by force of a spinning blade under motive power made it possible to do larger areas that weren't big enough to warrant a tractor but too large to be cut by a reel mower as well as knocking down heavily overgrown areas with ease. By 1954 these rotary mowers, like the Sensation brand were becoming very popular in the east and the midwest when this article in a University of California College of Agriculture periodical specifically mentioned testing a Sensation for grasses native to California.

Wade Rodman is great Nephew of Howard Phelps, the Sensation founder. As a member of the Sensation Yahoo Group, he is a great source for information about the early days of the company. On Jul 2, 2012, he wrote: "If you want a rare Sensation, find a wooden deck early model WW2 era that still has its wood wheels. No rubber was available so Howard made wooden disks that he later replaced with steeel wheels and rubber tires after the rubber became available. Now I would love to find one that survived and had the wood wheels."

Talking about another member's 16E (I'll link to the model page when it exists) he says: "That is definitely an early model I remember having one on the farm. Howard Phelps first rotory mowers were all electric. The first ones were wooden decks with wood wheels when rubber became available after WW2 would replace a customer who bought a wooden wheeled model with rubber tires. He later began casting aluminum and built gas powered models. Early gas models had pulleys to reduce the speed of the blades many of his patents can be found on google's patent search (see below for links). I am still looking for one of his designed two cycle engines."

In a more recent post by Wade made on June 20, 2013, 9:43 AM he goes on to say: "I have that same model with a different motor and I have a 1960's model electric. My Grandfather bought the 60's model new when he worked at the factory in Ralston Nebraska for uncle Howard. Howard Phelps' first Sensation was electric and it is on display at Pioneer village in Nebraska. Your model is from the 50's and Sensation had a long line of electric mowers. The Electrics are consumer models while the gas powered became the comercial mowers later. The electrics and early models come up for sale much more often in midwest states surounding Nebraska. Most 40's models have wood decks due to the shortage of aluminum for the war. after the war aluminum was available for producing the decks. Early mowers are Sensation Red and that changed to white and green for a time in the 60's. The 70's is when the decks became safety orange this is also when Sensation quit producing consumer mowers. The rare one to look for is the Copper Queen it is a late 50's gas powered consumer model in a copper aluminum alloy and looks very good when polished up. Still looking for one of those. I wish I had all the prototypes that Howard had my grandfather store out at our farm, lots of early innovations before they went into production."

Howard Phelps patents: