GOV 132 Is Lost.

It’s Gon-e.

 

 

Photo Courtesy Off Road Review  Scanned by "Otterman"

 

This is Mick Clarke on GOV132 just after he bought the machine.

 

In the year 2006 I started a thread on Trials Central about the famous Sammy Miller Ariel HT GOV132.

 

“Where is it?” I said.

Well although it was probably one of the longest running threads on TC.

We still did not come up with a conclusive answer.

We did establish that the bike that now lives in Italy with the 786 GON plate on, had come through a route that started with being sold in February 1965 to Arthur Fowler, a dealer and sidecar competitor, but the bike was left as a solo and ridden by Peter “Jock’ Wilson, who as a salesman worked for Comerfords, the Thames -Ditton motorcycle dealers, who had been entrusted to sell the two Ariel trials bikes for the Rickman Brothers, who had ended up with the bikes, with the deal Sammy had with them to ride the Bultaco, as the Rickman Bros were the sole importers by 1965 of Bultaco into the UK.

At the end of 1965, Arthur Fowler sold 786 GON back to Comerfords in a new deal.

This gave “Jock” Wilson that chance he had been looking for to buy the machine he had been riding competitively for the past twelve months.

Jock went on to ride the Ariel with the registration plate 786 GON in the Scottish Six Day trial for two years 1966 and 1967, and was in with a chance of a win in 1966 until he missed an end card and then dropped to twentieth place.

In 1967 he finished second in the 500cc class.

 

786 GON was then sold on to Harry Rayner for eighteen months, and then again, to John Parry for the same amount of time.

“Jock” Wilson then bought it back, Quote “In a Sorry state”.

He started to rebuild the machine, but then got Deryk Wylde to do the job for him.

Deryk had to remanufacture a lot of parts that were to be quite honest, past it, like the Alloy silencer and the narrow glass-fibre seat mudguard unit, that Deryk even had to make a new mold for. because the ones then available from other sources were well just to wide for this machine.

He also rebuilt the motor fitting a lower compression piston and different camshaft, as the bike was to be started easily, but not be used in anger again. Deryk also did what he did best and rewound the magneto, he is an expert in this field of radio and electronics.

The bike could be started by hand; he had done that good a job.

Jock kept the bike when it was finished sitting pretty and used for a draw into the showroom he had.

Eventually after being constantly asked by Ernie Page to sell the bike to him, “Jock” reluctantly said yes, and Ernie owned the bike for mainly the same purpose has “Jock” had used it for, has an attraction in a showroom. But his son did get the occasional ride out on the bike.

 

After some time, 1980 Scottish trials Champion Roy Kerr managed to purchase GON from Ernie.

And kept it in a bedroom in his house for some time. and just well, got it out now and again to polish it , and a good job he did too.

He eventually when needing money to start a business had to sell the machine to a dealer, and collector in the Southern part of the United Kingdom.

As we now know that “Collector” eventually sold it to Italian trials motorcycle enthusiast Carlo Ramella.

 

Photo Courtesy © Roy Kerr 2006.

So we know where that Ex Sammy Miller trials Ariel Is, and we know it was once for sale in Comerfords showroom for £350 or was it £425?

*******

The story continues.

So what happened to the other Sammy Miller Ariel, with the GOV132 plate fitted?

Well I can remember this machine turning up at a National trial and it could have been in Shropshire. I will have to check. But it would have been before March because of Dan Shorey’s racing commitments.

Anyway a chap named Mick Clarke had bought the machine.

 he lived in the  the West Country.

Mick to be quite honest struggled with the machine from that day on, and when he found that the bike was not for him and bought a Bultaco.

Colin Dommett ended up with the Ariel machine.

And rode it for a while too.

There were strong rumors that the machine bearing the registration plate GOV132, was to be sold out of the country, whereby Ralph Venables jumped in and bought the machine to stop it from leaving the United Kingdom.

He got Sammy to rebuild the machine for him. And then gave it to the National Motor Museum with the stipulation that it should never leave there hands or be sold.

Now there was one strange thing about this machine purported to be GOV132, in that some of the parts fitted on the machine when it was sold from Comerfords was not how the bike had been when it had been photographed outside the BSA works after its last British Experts win in 1964.

For a start the rear Ariel Leader hub fitted had a dished drilled steel sprocket fitted and not the billet turned alloy sprocket carrier that Sammy Miller had spent an awful lot of time turning and then fitting an alloy smaller thickness sprocket to take a smaller chain size.

There were other differences like the tube from the seat to the bottom engine plate on the offside that on one bike was steel and the other aluminum.

Just minor bits and pieces, but if you look carefully at detail on both machines you realize that all is not well.

So with one bike now known to have had a life trolling about the far North of the British Isles until sold on to a new life in Italy.

And the other languishing in one Motor museum.

 

What happens when the rider of said machines wants’ one GOV132 for his Motorcycle Museum and the other Museum is not going to cooperate and sticks to what it should, and refuses to let the machine given to them with stipulations NOT to be removed from their hands.

Well the proprietor of the other Museum, builds an exact replica of the machine he built in the first place, but gets it slightly wrong with a few details of the machines final guise when photographed at the BSA works in 1964.

Fact or Fiction? You decide, and there is more. Later.

 

So Much more.

 

When I started to passenger Dan Shorey on the Ariel HS based outfit.

We did most of the National trials from the end of September each year until the start of March the following year, and this was the period from 1962 until 1967.

So over this time we got to see the Ariel that Sammy Miller was riding most weekends.

And made a point to look at the machine at the start of most events.

Why! I here you say?

Well it was interesting to see what modification to the Ariel Sam had made during the previous week, as Dan and I were both interested in the machines development, and Dan had known Sam from his racing in the same classes.

And usually had a chat with him.

I well remember the time when the rear shock units had been moved up onto the top of the swinging arm to reduce width of the machine and to use the new at the time

Girling gas shocks.

On occasions the machine would appear with the old format, but with a new modification carried out on another part of the machine.

Like the cutting and shutting of the carburetor mount on the aluminum drilled cylinder head,

to give a smoother line for the carburetor and to reduce width in that area.

Other well-publicized modifications were the "riveted on water exclusion flanges" on the Ariel Leader aluminum hubs.

I well remember Sam showing us the modification to the fork yokes and explained to Dan how he had carried them out by cutting the BSA yokes and removing the publicized 3/8” from the bottom one and ½” from the top yoke, and then had the top yoke cast in aluminum.

Sam also had failures with some of the modifications like the aluminum kick-start levers that all snapped after a few kicks.

One of the probably most publicized modifications and I remember seeing it for the first time, was the Hiduminium rear wheel sprocket carrier, and the thinner sprocket fitted so that a chain size that we now call “428” could be fitted instead of the “520”. To reduce weight and chain drag.

The other thing I was most fascinated with was the use of Velocette “LE” folded alloy clutch and brake handlebar levers, fitted with rubber ball ends.

In fact Dan and I thought that this was such a good idea to use these, we robbed all the ones from the bikes in the back showroom at North Bar, and I blobbed on alloy balls so that Dan could use them on his Manx Norton’s.

Photo.

 

You can see clearly in this shot from the 1963 Motor-cycle. Mag the rubber ball ended levers and even the drilled advance/retard lever.

 

So we now get back to the crux of the matter, Which Ariel trials machine ended up with these modifications, and knowing that both machines had Glass-Fibre chain-cases fitted at one time. And some times the frames tended to change.

Which one was actualy the machine that Sam won the 1964 British Experts trial on> and the one deemed GOV132?

 

Photo Courtesy ORR  and Gordon Francis. scanned by "Otterman."

 

Is this the machine, the one that Ralph (Raph) Venables bought? or the one at the Sammy Miller Museum? They both look the same.and have the steel rear sprocket.

Copyright © Otterman.

*******

We Now get to what was inside the engines of the said GOV's.

Well in late Febuary 2010, a Very special camshaft came onto the market through the pages of e-Bay.

And I was determined to buy this camshaft at any price, and just kept bidding on it until I ended up with it, at a price of £250.

 

Here is the actual wording to the sale.

 

Very special 'Works' (Factory Trials team only) Ariel HT5 Cam as used in Sammy Miller's famous Ariel 'GOV 132' etc.

 

The works team riders used two different versions so as to best suite the nature of the British Championship counting Trials, a hot cam for top end power for the predominantly mud trials like the Hoad & Perce Simon etc, or a special bottom end cam to give massive bottom end slogging power so the bikes would virtually climb a house side at near nil revs for the rock trials like The Scottish Six Days.

 

This cam is the latter, and it is also in very good order with very little wear, and will come with a spare cam wheel.

 

This came out of one of the 'GOV' registered works bikes and has been tucked safely away in my shed for something like 40 years since, and now of course I am too old to be able to use it again so it might as well go to a better home. Be warned though - To get the best out of it you might have to experiment with the precise timing rather than rely 100% on the pinion timing mark. Seem to remember I used to advance it by one tooth.

 

Don Morley.

 

Charlie>I said to Don that we were going to build some new Ariel HT engines the lot, and we already had the crankcase patterns made, ( we now have the first batch of these cast, incidentally,)

  • Hi Anthony,(Charlie)
  • Sounds very interesting, have you taken over where Mick Grant and Serco left off? Am long retired as a rider now (am in my mid 70's) but still very interested and would love to know more.
  • Incidentally when Sam sold GOV132 and the sister bike GON to Commerfords we took it apart and copied the soft cam, but did not copy the cam follower (Seem to recall it was a single follower lever rather than two separate -Though its a long time ago).
  • Anyway that's the history of the cam you have just bought, but to be honest I never really got on with it - And nor did Mick Grant who borrowed it of me twenty or more years ago, and this is what makes me realise we should have paid more attention to the follower/s.


  • That said, I did mess about with the timing and found it much better not to rely on the timing mark - but sadly I failed to keep records or make any notes and now cant remember the best settings, but think it was either one tooth advanced or retarded! Don.
  • Charlie> Well I later now know, where that cam they Copied ended up, and more importantly which machine it came out of,
  •  This could quite easily be corroborated, but I prefer to keep it to my self for now.

This is the Camshaft that I photo'd on the computor screen at the time. 

*******

Right this Photo Below is a very important one?

 

And it is thanks to Jim Switzer for putting me onto this site.

 

Photo Courtesy the Ken McClure collection,

from the NI Classic scrambles club.

 

Now this is Sammy Miller riding GOV132 in the 1964 Hurst Cup Trial in Northern Ireland,

Look at this photo and then look at the one above.

I think we can establish that before the pair of Ariel bikes were sent to Comerfords for sale, by the Rickman Brothers.

 Some of the parts had been removed, like the Velocette Levers for instance and was the very special cylinder-head missing?

But reading above it looks like that special camshaft was still in the machine, and Don was right he should have took more notice of the Cam- Followers!

These I am told had quietening ramps on, and were of a different offset radios than normal Ariel followers.

Just going off subject for a moment. Pat Slinn told me that they used to grind the BSA comp shop camshafts there, and he even added brass to the profile of the cams, and finished them with a file, to get them to perform how they wanted, before having them copied and case hardened, And don't forget Sammy's bench was in the middle of this workshop, in 1964.

Back to the plot.

Take a look at the rear of the machine, and you will notice that the bike still has the bolt on alloy seat support strut and the same swinging arm as the GON bike that now lives in Italy.

And you will see that the glass fiber tail of the machine is still a Butler Moulding one.

And not the Mike Pearce made one, that is fitted on the machine that the boys are stood behind.

I actualy bought this mould from Mike on e-Bay but after a mix up on collection, din't ever get it home , shame because I needed that.

You will see that the bike also has the Alloy rear sprocket fitted.

 

Just read the wording on the specification of this "Miller" Ariel HT5 ( Discontinued in the year 2000) And then tell me a replica of the bike at Beaulieu could not be easily replicated?

As it seems was the Camshaft and up-ed compression ratio.

It did note that you had to supply your own swinging arm,as most of these at the time were still being ridden around on fitted to Ariel motorcycles.

 

Sammy Millers Last Victory Trial on an Ariel Machine.

 

 

Just to prove that what I say is correct, we did look at one of the GOV bikes most weekends.

and we were not that bad at riding an Ariel outfit at times.

second column,

"All the same Dan Shorey's (497 Ariel) climb, for just a dab, was a stout effort."

It is also nice to see the Winwood boys mentioned both worked at the BSA.

*******

So how are we going to draw this page to a close.

Well I am going to stick my neck out, it is only my opinion and you may disagree or prove me wrong?

But I think.

"Will the real GOV132 Please Stand Up."

I think that Ralph Venables totally got it wrong, and not his fault, all he wanted was keep a Legend of a machine, that he had watched a Master of his Sport ride to so many Victories.

And he thought that it was only fair and right  to keep the Machine in the United Kingdom.

 Ralph I think you let the Real GOV132 slip through your finger-tips.

I think the bike you saved was in-fact 786 GON .

 And that machine now seems to be in the vaults at Beaulieu.

 and we are  deprived "the public" of  getting a glimpse of it.

 

Why, I here you say,

Because we can't have two machines in the country pretending to be GOV132 can we.

I think while the two Miller Ariel machines were for sale in the showrooms at Comerfords.

It was not that the wheels were swapped on the machines with the approval of Bert Thorne,

(The Classic MotorCycle  article June 1988)

I think it was a case of just swapping the Registration plates one dark night.

 

Am I wrong then?

 

A true Australian fan of the Great Machine GOV132. Visits the Sammy Miller Museum in the October sunshine.

 

Half way through our first circuit of this museum we met up with our ever- cheerful host as we passed into the second wing of the museum, and there in front of me was what I had sat in a metal cylinder called an aeroplane for 24 hours to see, the bike I had dreamed about all those years ago, the bike with so much history attached to it. I felt intimidated by its presence, I almost started to

shake with excitement, I could feel a lump in my the very back of my throat, my voice quivered as I said to my wife, “That’s what I have come 12000 miles to see” “What!, that’s all we came to see? couldn’t you see something like that in Australia?” Was her retort, I strongly disagreed. Now I am known to be a hard, and miserable old man, but this bike meant so much to me. I walked up closer to it, strange how some things didn’t seem to mater right then, the kids, the grand kids all blended it to the back ground, here it is, GOV132 .

 

Much More Later.