As we are all in lock down and I cannot attend my usual Scott Owners Club Meeting tomorrow night I thought I would start a thread about the old 1929 Flying Squirrel Tourer which I am restoring. I read some ware that before the days of the Yowl enthusiasts sent a chain letter, adding information until a mass of information arrived back at the original sender. Well I can honestly say I could do with any help or advice as although I have had lots of fun with 2stroke bike Scotts are in some respects quite unknown to me.
I purchased it almost a year ago from a guy who lived up in Marple, Stockport. I live in Northamptonshire and so I had a great drive in the van up through the Peak District to collect the bike which I am sorry to say was not in the best of conditions. From the very start I had wanted a challenge something which needed lots of work and would allow me to get to know these wonderful bikes. I suppose I could have purchased a concourse TT rep but I have a feeling I would have lost interest and moved onto a more challenging project in due time. My first impression of the bike was that it was Red or to be more actuate maroon. It wasn’t a recent paint job it had some age to it but which ever way I chose to look at the bike it was maroon (photo attached). I purchased the bike on ebay and from the start you can see its a bitza.
The previous owner had obtained a new age related reg number BF8746 and kindly provided me with a transcript of the works records from the VMCC: Frame number 2389M, Gear Number 1381W, Engine Number FZ 1592 A, Lycett Saddle, Amal Carb, BTH Magneto. It also told me that it was invoiced to Denham & Bottomley in Bradford on the 17th January 1929 and that it was designated as a 498cc Tourer. Well you can see from the pictures that the engine had gone and been replaced with a mid 30’s DPY5411 which now made the bike a 598cc, along with it had gone the mag replaced for a later Lucas MN type magdyno, the tank replaced for a later type, the front hub as a later version with a speedo and the rear hub was a Royal Enfield Cush type rather than the prescribed Scott rear hub on the tourer. The gear box had been converted to a foot change type, the rear brake had been switched to the other side and the bike now had the wrong exhaust also. So as you can see there wasn’t much of the original bike left, just the frame, gearbox, undertray, forks etc.
Now I am sure there are a lot of you out there who would say walk away, it would be cheaper and a lot easier to just buy a restored tourer in more original condition but that just isn’t me and it wouldn’t have been a challenge. So after a coffee and a quick chat I handed over a very reasonable amount of money and took my chances on this maroon flyer!
I will post the next instalment as soon as I am able and you can see what I have been up to.
Best wishes and please keep safe
Following with interest Edward.
On the plus side Edward you seem to have the correct front forks and a decent-looking radiator. Both of these items are a pain/expense to source. Also an Enfield rear hub is preferable to the Webb used on Tourers. What is your plan – back to original spec ?
Your right Lewis, I did have the right forks and they were in good nick but the radiator was not, gold paint it later transpired!
Well I suppose before I get to unloading the bike and making a start the first thing I needed to do was come up with a plan. Should I stick with the idea of a modern and upgraded Scott, try to modernize it further. Should I leave it as it is just get it running and ride it for a bit or should I go the whole hog and restore it to its original state. I think it was Ernest Shackleton who said something like “achieving something is usually quite easy its deciding what to achieve that is hard”. I am note sure that applies to Scotts but I felt at the time like it applied to me.
I should also say I am not a stranger to bikes or at least 2stroke bikes, I have restored my share, I have tuned some two strokes and I have raced a few as well. I don’t / didn’t have a lot of experience with machine tools, at the time I didn’t have a lathe but I had a good workshop with the normal tools and a drill press, that sort of thing. (if it gets to hard or complex I would prefer to find a friendly expert)
It was a face book and another Scott enthusiast whos post guided me in the right direction, someone suggested that I obtained a copy of the original brochure for the 1929 Scott and that I got an idea of what the bike should have looked like. You can buy these from the National motorcycle museum or order them from Bruce Main-Smith & Company and I am sure before long we will have them on this website. Anyhow I opened the pages and suddenly there it was my bike or at least my bike as it had been (photo attached). Although at the time I hadn’t a lot of appreciation for what was involved in putting it back to original condition I made up my mind then and there that’s what needed to be done. The maroon was going to have to go!
Take care and keep safe everyone
The 1929 catalogue is available in full from the Document Archive in the members’ area to this site. I am hoping to add a contemporary road test to the archive soon and Titch Allen carried out a “long term road test” on his own 1929 Tourer ( MY 1117) in the Vintage Road Test Journal issue 6. All might be of help.
Your Scott look like a good starting point for just tidying up/repainting everything and of course doing what’s needs to be done to make it run well. Restoring to original would be a mammoth task, when so many major components has been exchanged in the past. It will look very nice if you give it a real “makeover”.
I was in about the same situation when I bought my 28 TT Rep, this without really knowing how it looked from the beginning. I decided to rebuild the bike to appear somewhat like it looked like, when I bought it, but to a much higher standard. This because I really liked the general look. Even without lengthy search for the missing original components, it has taken long time and it have cost me a bundle!
And yes, I wanted a challenge too. After many years with one cylinder, air cooled, four strokes, a two cylinder, water cooled, two stroke seemed to fit the bill!
I hope you enjoy your challenge!
Firstly yes Lewis your absolutely right we have a copy of the sales catalogue on this website. It is a fantastic archive and the time which has been spent scanning is hugely appreciated.
Leif your right the route to an original restoration is a long and difficult path and I have to say I had no idea what I was / am letting myself in for.
So having decided that I wanted to restore BF8746 to its original condition my next task was to see what I had and then work out what I needed. This is the point it got scary, honestly I don’t think I have ever considered giving up on Scotts but I did consider on more than one occasion giving up on this bike. There have been times when i shut the shed door and gave up on the job for a week or two but every time I did I found myself reading this or that copy of Yowl and heading back out to tackle the next bit.
Every bike I have ever restored has had a manual, two in fact a parts book and a workshop manual but not the Scott. Yes there are parts books and yes there is the book of the Scott all of which are essential if you want to carry out a restoration but nothing like a step by step manual. I discovered the Technicalities, downloaded a copy, searched the web from top to bottom and pulled together every scrap of information I could find. The videos on you tube by Richard at Scott Parts are very helpful and a good watch. Then I had a break I went to my local Scott meet in London Colney and I found a wealth of information in the members that’s better than any manual.
I stripped the bike down and put aside all of the original parts, frame, forks, under tray, gear box, seat, the hubs and engine although these last two weren’t original I figured I would keep them as a start and finally the tank. I assume that my chances of getting an original tourer type tank were next to none. All this went off to a local vapour blasters “Boris Blasting in Wellingborough who did a great job and was then painted up. I painted the frame and the forks etc myself with several coats of normal automotive black paint but the tank needed to look really good so I took it to a friend of mine who runs a business called Illusion race paint near the village of Roade in Northamptonshire. He used to do all of my race fairings and he really is an expert.
Photo of the tank attached
Be safe everyone, take care please
Next instalment tomorrow
Your tank looks smashing! You often have to compromise and use a component that’s not strictly original, but as long as it finished properly I would be the last to complain.
Seems that, at a time when Scott’s could be bought cheaply, some had very bad taste in choosing colours, when repainting. Yours was in ghastly maroon, and mine was, at one stage, in metallic light blue!
I’m very pleased that you have started your renovation series. It certainly brings new life to the forum. Looking forward to the coming issues!
Your absolutely right Leif sometimes you have to compromise and the tank was the first.
I should add that if anyone has a tank for a 1929 tourer and wants to exchange it for a wonderfully painted tank for 30’s flyer or anything else for that matter I would be very grateful to hear from you.
The first thing that blew me away was the amount of detail you miss when things are painted. All of the wonderful Webb dampers are carefully stamped with patent numbers the frame had stamps and number on bits I hadn’t seen before. It was interesting to see what care and attention to detail these men and I am sure women of old put into building these wonderful machines. I must add that I didn’t have the wheels vapour blasted they where never painted maroon and although they are tatty and rusty in places I felt I could always go back to them later if needs be. So next job, on with the paint and before I new it my bike was black. Somehow I felt that if all else fails I have left one Scott a bit better condition than I found it.
The forks where complete and when back together very well, the bushes where in good condition and apart from having to buy some knurled washers and a few new dampening pads there where no problems. What was hard was finding information about the Webb Forks used on Scotts. I do not know how many times I used the internet to try and work out if all Webbs are the same, if medium Webbs are right for a Scott. It would appear that every manufacturer under the sun copied Webb and you are never sure what your buying. Finally salvation came from the velocette owners club who pointed me in the right direction. There I one or two things I learned, there are a few people making new parts for Webb hubs, you can get hold of most parts now and there is a contact in the Velocette club and who advertises in their magazine making new parts. I also learned of Jake Robins or Robinson who has a business on the south coast and can make complete new forks in the Webb style. Finally I learned that knurled washers are really expensive and that I needed a lathe !
The next problem was the steering head, one of the original tapered bearings was shot and it wasn’t the standard inch bearing it was an old Timlin bearing 1764X which was obsolete. I remember demolishing a Timlin factory in Daventry and there being bearings all over the place if only I had picked a few up I might not be in this situation. Of course the problem was easily fixed by suggestions on face book and making contact with a few bearing factors. Bob your uncle stealing head went into frame, forks on and I had something which was starting to look like a bike.
I assume that you have a copy of the Webb Forks catalogue, Edward, as they are readily available on the net but if you don’t let me know. I often wondered what became of H C Webb & Company which made the forks (not to mention the hubs and brake drums) for so many different motorcycles at press-works in Witton Lane, Aston, Birmingham. I guess that the demise of the girder fork must have knocked a big hole in its business although it seems to have been making motorcycle spring forks in the 1960’s. A bit of research discloses that the company’s origins go back as far as the middle of the 19th century and apart from cycle components for both motorcycles and push bikes, it also manufactured lawn mowers.
I have a recollection that when I rebuilt my 1929 Flyer in about 1981 or 82 I used Percival Brothers and Webb in Birmingham to re-bush the Webb forks. I believe that Chris Williams who bought Alpha Bearings then bought the business.
Although I always thought otherwise, I’m now not sure that Percival Brothers & Webb Limited had any association with H C Webb & Company Limited. They were in similar businesses but the former was operating out of Summer Row, Birmingham producing and repairing gears before the war. Summer Row is in central Birmingham near to the College of Food and Technology and some way from Witton. I haven’t been able to find any connection at all, save that Percival Brothers & Webb, now operated by Autocycle Engineering out of Netherton (deepest Black Country and another place entirely from Birmingham) are known for being very capable of carrying out girder fork repairs.
To avoid going off on a complete tangent this will be my last post on the subject of Webb forks ! I had the opportunity to refer the issue to the most knowledgeable historian of Birmingham industrial heritage I know – Andrew Marfell. Andrew confirmed that there was no connection between the two companies and (perhaps unsurprisingly) was able to relate stories about both.
In 1973 he took a Scott frame and forks to Percival Brothers & Webb who were then operating from Cattell Sreet, near to the Birmingham City FC ground. The proprietor was a Ray Wale who operated the business in a very small way with maybe just one “boy” employee. Andrew recalls that the boy dealt with all customer enquires and Mr Wale never met customers but did all the work, for which he had a very good reputation. This was except for his paintwork which was terrible and the returned parts always needed stripping and re-painting.
Andrew was also acquainted with a director of the Wolseley-Hughes Group of which H C Webb & Company was a subsidiary. he acknowledged to Andrew that Webbs “had thrown the industry away” after the war when the motorcycle manufactures converted over to sprung forks or Dowty, like Scott did almost over night. The transition must have really surprised the company when you consider the many thousands of sets of girder forks that Webb produced for the War department Norton and Matchless bikes during the war.
No more. I really need to get out more !
Yes, they really could make stamps and put them to good use in days gone by. Just look at a B&L hand oil pump. They even managed to stamp the B&L “mascot” on round surfaces. How on earth did they manage to do that properly?!
Webb forks, original or not, are a minefield for the hunter of a complete forks or parts. Sometimes the difference between forks fitted to different makes and model were very subtle. I guess that they were made to specification from the motorcycle maker. Even small differences in link length can make a great difference to the forks geometry, I have found our by experimenting with a wood mock-up. In my case trying to adopt WD Triumph forks to a Velocette. I was very surprised by the results myself! So if a Webb type forks, in otherwise good order, don’t perform as expected, try to compare all measures against another that’s known to be right for your model.
A lathe is a thing that you later think about; how did I manage without it before I got it?!