In 1979 my father purchased a ’27 3 speed Flyer from a family friend. It remained untouched stored under an old blanket in a corner until 2005. This is ‘Bitsa’s Story.
‘Bitsa’ was first registered on 17/1/27 and still carries its ‘YE ****’ registration number (thought to be London) which may be unique as I have never seen another bike with one on but there are a couple of Rolls Royce cars in the same number series!
Sadly no history prior to 1961 is known and then only to 1963 (continuation logbook). Reading the old logbook shows that it is almost a new book having only 1 tax disc stamp and also shows that it was in West Sussex in ’63, the bike then moving to Oxford at an unknown date as it has not been stamped!
Then there is nothing until the mid ‘70’s when my father first learned of it leading to its eventual purchase.
At some point, probably in the early ‘70s the last owner rode it around a field and came off!
The bike came with a box of odd spares which included a mag-dyno and a headlamp plus other parts unrelated to the bike.
It has not been on the road since 1963 as no further stamps have been made in the book. It is believed to have failed its MOT at that time (the front brake is dire, pull the lever and hope something happens!).
Bitsa looks little different now to when it was purchased all those years ago even the piece of masking tape put on by the last owner has not been removed. The only addition is a lump of foam wedged under the seat as the springs are weak!
Taken in 1991!
The gearbox was the first job to be tackled, on removing the end cover I was greeted with the sight of semi-solidified oil and on cleaning we found that the gearbox selector dogs were all very worn but even worse was that the main lay shaft was damaged beyond repair having been fitted with the wrong ratchet which had chewed up the square. Even worse was one of the gears which had a cracked tooth. No wonder the last owner said it jumped out of gear!
The only way forward: get a new one made. Some of you will ask ‘why not advertise for one?’ Answer: anyone who has parts for close ratio ‘boxes is going to hang on to them! This was made by HPC Gears who made a beautiful job of it.
Old on the left, new on the right
This was then given to a specialist in Sheffield (you know who!) who re-assembled it and, on bench testing it, it jammed. Further examination revealed that at some point it had suffered a bearing seizure wearing the case and rendering it unusable. No option but to replace the casing. At the same time the outrigger was repaired having had part of the rearmost slot broken off.
The (Scott) forks were also pretty worn and there was something decidedly odd about them, there was, on the central slider section, provision for a friction damper but no such fitting on the side frame.
A local club member who has helped us out with the bike identified the forks a being ’29 pattern and at the same time pointed out that the engine was later as it was inset at the rear rather than being straight backed as it should be for the year. On checking the engine number it also turned out to be also of ’29 manufacture which did not seem to have much compression (keep reading you will see why!). Originally it was fitted with engine number FY1**34M.
The engine was set aside as we had acquired a spare engine, made out of bits (in keeping with the bike!) that was ready to use.
The frame and wheels have been left untouched as neither needed any work. One thing that is noticeable is that the wheels are miss-matched i.e. two different rim types, the front being pretty standard but the rear is of the intermediate type made between beaded edge and the ‘standard’ that is still in use now.
The rear tyre had to be replaced as it was riddled with cracks from being stood so long but the front is, at over 40 years old, still pretty good. I don’t know if 300×20 tyres have extra long life but a friend has a little ‘29 350cc BSA and has only recently replaced his it having given nearly 60 years service (fitted in 1949!).
Months later while rooting round in the spares box for an elusive bolt I pulled out the headlamp and, to my surprise, there was a tax disc holder with a 1959 disc (and 3 others behind it) still attached to it also for a Scott, ‘hang on a minute’ I thought ‘that’s not the right registration number’ then the penny dropped, the bike was built from 2! The number on the discs is ‘MY 65**’ which is thought to be a Middlesex series from 1930, the mag-dyno also dating from the same year. If anyone knows who has Middlesex records I would like to know!
In late February after a couple of attempts at the timing Bitsa came to life for the first time in over 30 years and, despite being outside and having the garage door shut, still filled it with smoke and set the smoke alarm off!
The mag-dyno which had been rebuilt 20 years ago now decided to throw a spanner in the works. Whilst watching the bike ticking over whilst on its stand I noticed that the mag platform was moving! It turned out that the armature was banana shaped and pulling on the chain making it move. This was later rebuilt again.
At the end of July two test runs around a local industrial estate resulted in two breakdowns. These ‘test runs’ were caught on film by a friend of mine and has caused much amusement to those that have seen these short clips, the bike almost completely disappearing in a cloud of smoke! This also revealed that the exhaust had even more leaks than we had thought!
The timing was still causing problems so our local club member set it up for us. The carburettor had also been causing us problems as it would not run off choke which had caused one of the breakdowns. New gaskets seem to have cured this-so far!
Whilst reading old club mags I found an article on bikes exhibited at the Olympia shows (Frame dating I think it was called) An engine number leapt off the page at me FY1*13A – this was the engine that was fitted to Bitsa!! This yielded the frame number for the donor bike – 2*23M – a Tourer! (I believe these were fitted with lower compression engines) All we now need to do is find it and swap the parts back!!
Most bikes of this nature normally carry age related numbers as they are made of accumulated parts. Bitsa is, therefore, most unusual in that the identity of both machines are known and that we have sufficient information to enable the donor, if found, to retain its correct identity rather than an inappropriate and ugly ‘modern’ number as far too many bikes have been defaced with which stand out like a whale in a swimming pool!
I have been promising for a couple of years to get this roadworthy again but we still need a front brake rod assembly as it has been ‘bodged’ in the past and the cable now goes all the way to the brake drum! Anyone got a spare??
YE was indeed a registration issued by London C.C. and MY was Middlesex C.C.
In some old SOC machine listings there were two Scotts with the reg. YE, a 2 speeder and a 1927 Flying Squirrel; the latter seems to fit the bill.
There were five MY’s, including an MY 65**, described as a 1930 TT Replica.
Our Machine Registrar is John Underhill; he has comprehensive records of Scotts, with some ownership history, & is most helpful. He will respect confidentiality – send him an SAE with your membership number, stating all your machine/frame/gearbox numbers in full – his address is inside the front cover of Yowl.
See how you get on; for other information, he may direct you to the Scott Works despatch records, held at VMCC headquarters.
I hope he can fill in some of the gaps !
An interesting account that many will be familiar with. I would like to use all, or some, or more if you have it, of this tale in the next Yowl if you have no objection.
Please contact me on the details shown in the mag or post a reply.
Eddie the Ed
Update: Front brake shoes relined and now do not fit the drum! Another project for winter (where did the summer go?). We have had another go at the poor running & overheating, futher adjustment on the pilgrim pump needed and changing the carb jet to 200 from 180 should do the trick.
Bitsa has passed one hurdle, his brakes now work VERY well and he pulls up a treat helped by the fact I’m not using inverted levers!
We are also planning to reinstate the engine that was fitted once it has been inspected.
This leaves only two issues the exhaust which does a good impresion of a collander and front tyre which is riddled with hairline cracks.
Entered Bitsa into the Concourse at Abbotsholme and won…..nothing. I was issued with the number 27…..very appropriate!
Point of the exercise? To hopefully annoy people who think bikes have to be perfect!
Also had a good try at smoking everyone out nearly succeeding too!
The piece of foam under the seat had some people guessing, some thought it was an improvised pillion seat…no, it is a bump stop/shock absorber as I am too heavy for the seat springs! One onlooker wished he’d thought of it as he had the same problem, people must have been lighter in the 20’s……
Cheers for now