Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Andy Eames - Life in Scott-Land


Here is a true epic story of the life of a motorcyclist and his Scott motorcycle told in his own words - it's a really fascinating human/motorcycle story with pictures too so let's hear it from Andy Eames...

"I was perhaps six years old and my eldest brother who was eighteen was an apprentice boiler-maker for the coal-board. He also had a Royal Enfield Clipper, that is until one morning he tried to insert it into the side of the Co-op milk float. He walked back home, dumped his gear, and asked me if I wanted to come with him to recover the stricken beast. Sitting on the petrol tank, whilst he pushed her home, I remember it bobbing up and down in a strange way, due to its buckled front wheel! Little did I realise, but the seeds of motorcycling had been sown, and to this day there is no known cure! 

Blasting around waste ground


 The 1962 Ariel Arrow, in all its glory
I went through ( for those days ) the normal training for motor bike riding. That is, blasting around waste ground illegally on anything our pocket money could afford. Yep, it was usually a BSA Bantam. Meanwhile, big brother was a ‘real’ motorcyclist, having progressed - if that’s what you could call it - to an Ariel Leader, then a Triumph Tiger Cub. All the time though, pronouncing he was going to have a Scott. 

A what? A Scott!

A what? A Scott, lad, 600cc it is, water-cooled and beautiful ( so he said )! It transpired that the Scott he eventually bought had previously been advertised in ‘The Motorcycle’ weekly bike paper, then it disappeared ( he thought it had been sold ) then re-appeared at a higher price! 
"I’m part ex-ing that little B** of a Cub with Comerfords, and I’m having that Scott," says bro.

Great Scott!
And so it was. Brother and Cub went by train ( yes, you could in those days ) from Burton on Trent to Euston ( he later said that it was the most reliable journey the Cub had ever made ). He came home with what for me at the time, WAS the most beautiful bike ever made.  Memories of riding pillion and having the crap scared out of me are many. Ridiculous these days when you consider the bike would barely make 75mph, but with my brother at the controls, it was 75mph everywhere! 

A land down under

And then just as quickly, it was over ! My mate, my buddy, my guiding light was gone. My brother took his young family, and did what he thought was best for them all, emigrated to Australia. I was eighteen years old by then, and I cried my eyes out. I was not to see the the Scott for another thirty-five years. It was not the most normal emigration though, as he didn't take a stick of furniture or any other domestic paraphernalia, just wife, kids, suitcases, and……… the Scott! 

After a period of settlement ( I understand it was very tough for him in the early days ) letters started to arrive, requesting that I go to see Tom Ward in Derby for spares for the Scott. Tom Ward was at the time THE Scott guru, having worked with Alfred Scott himself. Tom’s apprentice was a young lad called George Silk ( we were to hear more of this young lad later ) I was never allowed to enter the premises in Wilfred Street, being made to wait on the pavement, whilst Tom fetched the necessary parts. Normal practice apparently.

 As time goes by

Over the next few years the usual lapses in communication happened, interspersed with a couple of visits back to the UK by my brother. I had a family ( or two )! One visit was memorable for all the wrong reasons though, my brother had just lost his son in a tragic drowning accident in Oz, and my youngest, Conor, I think subconsciously, became a kind of replacement. He made such a fuss of the “young ‘un” as he called him. 

It's now or never


I had always wanted to visit my brother, but somehow life just got in the way, until in 2004, my current ( and final ) wife and me were planning to up sticks and make a new life in France, so we decided that the visit would be now or never. I was not prepared for what came next. I contacted big brother to tell him we were planning to visit

"Better come sooner rather than later mate".

"Oh yeah, why is that then"? says I

"Cos I’ve got bloody cancer, and they’ve given me less than a year". 
A spin on the Triumph
I’m one of those people who has an answer to anything normally, but I didn’t have a response to that! Plans were made rapidly and when we got there in the April of 2005 he was already in palliative care. We had ten days with him before he went. He told me he had been out on the Triumph ( 955 ) in February and he knew it would be the last time he ever rode a bike. He spent one night at his home in the last ten days of his life and he told us to drag the Ariel Arrow out of the barn and start it up. Conor and me rode up and down his driveway on it and it made him smile. We were not to know it then, but on his last day with us, he said

"Get the young ‘un in here"

It was then he told Conor, who was just ten years old at the time, that he was to take the Ariel back to the UK, 

"and while you're at it, get all those old Scott bits and take them too". 

The bikes arriving - spot the hole!
He was dead within a couple of hours. 

Two normal bikes in a Harley packing case


We had a week to get everything packed and away, but thanks to the sterling efforts of Brendan at Pickfords in Albany W.A. we made it with a day to spare. If anyone is interested, you can fit two normal bikes into a Harley packing case. When we got home we had the usual few weeks waiting, and then the case arrived at Pickfords near Watford. A van was quickly found and we went to get the bikes. The case was damaged with a box-sized gap where the damage was. This was to cause a few problems later as some crucial parts for the front forks were missing, plus a few fittings. 

Thinking outside the box

The Ariel was up and running, so we got her registered, MOT’d and insured and were able to use her more or less straight away, not so the Scott. She had not been used for eight years ( at least ) and whilst some parts had been restored by my brother,  new wheels and the frame painted, the rest was in a pretty poor state. The main problem though, was our move to France was in the offing so it just had to be put on hold. So frustrating! We had no choice but to put the Scott back into storage, and there she would remain for another eighteen months.

Note on the picture below... Notice the very shiny radiator? My brother had this rebuilt by a guy in New Zealand a few years before he died. Scott original 'honeycomb' radiators are a little fragile, so this one is re-done with a more conventional core. It cost the tidy sum of over 1000 NZ dollars back then. Sadly though the chap who reconditioned it put the header tanks on back to front, so the filler cap is on the wrong side and at an angle as are the Scott emblems on the ends !

Couple of bits missing at this stage

Bon voyage

Au revoir Grande Bretagne
March the 12th 2007, found us sitting at the ferry port in Plymouth, waiting to board the 'Pont Aven', for the crossing to Santander in Spain. We were heading for Santander as our new home was quite close to the Spanish border on the French side so Santander was the nearest port. The venerable Nissan Maxima was laden ‘to the gunwales’, and behind, on my little lightweight bike trailer, was the Ariel Arrow. The Scott having been taken to France months earlier, was already over there, stored in a friend's garage. The journey took twenty-four hours across the Bay of Biscay, and thankfully was uneventful. From Santander we drove to a village close to where our nearly completed house was being built. There was still no time for much work on the Scott though, as there was so much finishing to do on the house. No sanitation, no electricity and, horrors, no internet! 

Beam me up Scotty

Looking a bit gutless right now
Scott on the blocks
After a while I took a little time to make a start on the Scott. I wanted to assemble the bike in rough form to find out if anything was missing. It was. I had partially dismantled the motor back in the UK, and this wasn’t an easy task. The cylinder head would not release from its studs, which is a common problem, as it had been stored with some water still in the water jacket. Yes Scotts were 
watercooled, and had
separate oiling not unlike the Yamaha LC350. Except Scotts had it in the 1920s  (and before )! For those of you with a delicate disposition, look away now! I hacksawed the cylinder head off! Scotts, thankfully, have quite a thick head gasket, so with much care and sweat, it was cut off. About a foot from one side to the other. My nephew who works in a machine shop had the worst of the corrosion cut out, then alloy welded and finally skimmed. Time will tell if it was successful. New piston rings were sourced from a specialist in Shrewsbury as the pistons and bores were just about serviceable.

Another problem was that when the crankshaft was rotated by hand, it would do about two turns and then lock up. I stripped out each conrod and big-end in turn and found out that it was the left one that was giving bother. A new conrod and big-end, or even two would be required. No funds for that I’m afraid, so the motor was put on the back burner. It must be said at this point that there are still a few specialists who can supply parts even for these the most obscure of motorcycles. Indeed Roger Moss (the vintage racer) will make you a complete brand new motor in modern materials, which is far better than the original. 

New ignition pickup fitted to the old Lucas distributor (nearly finished)!

A few screws short of a hardware store

On assembling the ‘kit’ it was obvious that a few important front fork parts were missing. I was assured by a well known vintage motorcycle part supplier that he could furnish said missing parts, but after numerous emails and calls, nothing was forthcoming. What to do? I had long had a desire to purchase one of those little Chinese made mini lathes, so there was no choice. I racked my brains to remember the combination lock code of the wife's purse, and soon, I was the owner of a little Chester machine. It was delivered to a UK address and collected by another ex-pat for me whilst over there. Numerous books were bought and together with what I had learnt in metalwork at school, I was on my way. This Scott is the only one on the planet with some titanium fork parts, I reckon. New seal holders in aluminium were also made, as the originals for one side had been lost. Another future job is to make some taper steering head bearing carriers for it as not even Wemoto can supply ones that would be a direct fit  (sadly ).

Nothing is 'normal' on a Scott


It's getting there
I was now getting close to having all the parts required, but what to do about the locking crankshaft? I decided to measure the big-end rollers because if I needed new rods, then I would have to replace the rollers. It should be explained that Scott big-end roller bearings are removed by taking off the crankcase end covers and releasing the bolts in the end of the crank-pin, and fishing the rollers out. Scott cranks are overhung, i.e no outer main bearings. Primary drive is taken from the centre of the crankshaft via an exposed chain. Nothing is ‘normal’ on a Scott! 

What…………. The side that was giving trouble, had three different size rollers in it, only by a couple of thousandths of an inch, but enough to cause problems. Why oh why didn’t I try this before? I quickly fitted the rollers from the ‘good’ side,and hey presto! Result! New big-end rollers supplied by Scott specialist Richard Blackburn, for the princely sum of £9.60p for all twenty-four.

Waiting on the bench

Shows window on end of crank-case, crankshaft and big end
The motor is sitting on the bench, awaiting a few little bits from the UK which will arrive mid December. It will all be assembled by Christmas, and some smoke out of the pipe in the new year. Conor should be here in February, so hopefully he will see the old girl running for the first time in over fifteen years, possibly twenty. The gearbox (three speed ) has not been touched and looks, through the inspection cover, to be in nice condition inside. 

One little problem with older machines like this is that they are not so happy with modern lubricants. I have probably got the last unopened one gallon container of Silkolene Super 2, 40 grade oil on the planet. This is for engine and primary chain lube. I will have a separate container for chain lube filled with chainsaw oil, as I don’t want to waste the precious golden nectar. Old gearboxes don’t like modern oils with EP additives as they may have brass or bronze bushes and the additive corrodes them! Straight 50 in the gearbox as it will not pass by the marginal oil seals so easily. Clutch was stripped and rebuilt with a new release mechanism that my brother had already acquired.

All mod cons

Smooth as Silk
I’ve made a few modifications on the machine to make life in modern traffic conditions more comfortable. An Amal Concentric Mk1 carb has been fitted, if only for availability of parts ( they do run better with them though ) 12 volt electrics with solid state regulator. Contact breaker and condenser replaced by a little ‘hall-effect’ timing sensor supplied by Powerspark, and firing 2 6 volt coils in series, instead of the old single coil and distributor cap. The automatic ignition advance – retard system has been retained for the time being. A George Silk oil pump had been fitted by my brother, to replace the original Pilgrim pump, which was not really a pump at all but a drip feeder. New cables by Tom Johnson, and a pair of lovely Heidenau tyres finish her off. The only big(ish) things to get now are the primary and secondary chains and looking at Wemoto’s listings, I’m spoilt for choice!

Why why why?

Somewhere over the rainbow...Andy and Conor on Delilah
The Scott's friend, the Ariel, is now named Delilah as when it was registered in France its two number plate index letters were YY....in case you need any help with that the clue is...Tom Jones...."

And on that happy note the story ends for now - the chains are happily slinking their way from Wemoto to Andy in France and we at Wemoto eagerly await the last episode of the Scott story when she hits the road once more in la belle France...watch this space...

PS Added 12.12.12


Just to let all the readers know that a happy event took place around 8.30pm last night, the good old Scott, after a lot of hard work - and with some Wemoto chains - actually burst into life and ran again for the first time since its return from Australia! Bit of a tearful moment!  Hopefully it'll be ready to race down those French roads in the Spring.

The Scotts first breaths in French France just before Christmas 2012!

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