XJO 277. A Very Special Works BSA .

 

 

This is the version of XJO 277 that I owned in 1962.

Note the bent front forks.

These were the Ernie Earles designed forks and built by Reynolds Tube's Ken Sprayson.

 

Frank rang Ken up after the trial, the 1958 British Experts where Frank and Bill were runners up to winners Frank Wilkins and Kay Saunois. to say that the forks were twisted and bent.

It was not until the Motor Cycle News came out that Wednesday that the truth was out.

A picture of the outfit wrapped around a large tree told the tale.

 

Anyway on with the story.

 

XJO 277.

BSA Work’s trials outfit. Ridden by Frank Darrieulat and Bill Warner.

Now it seems as there may have been at least two outfits labelled with this registration number? Frank was a guy that just liked experimenting with his outfits and enjoyed creating new design some most outrageous.

Well I have known of the existence, of another outfit that James Freeman owns, as it has been in the press since 1989. But have just cast it off has (Well it can’t be another.)? But it does now appear that there were several built.

Well I owned XJO 277 the version above, when I was seventeen years of age, yes I am not joking. This was 1962.

 I was working as an apprentice in an agricultural garage in the middle of Banbury by the name of Young’s; they were a Ford main dealership.

So all of the staff was into Ford tractors?

 Not really, but every member of the working staff in that garage were into motorcycle trials in a big way.

 And within a couple of weeks starting at the place you would end up being involved with the trials game or owning a trials bike in some form or fashion.

 Now I firstly was persuaded to buy a Greeves Scottish, on the never-never. After a trip whilst out supposedly carrying out a service on a new tractor vaguely near Oxford, well we ended up at John Avery’s, where the purchase was carried out.

 This was after trying to build a trials bike out of a plunger framed James, that I had bought with the pocket money from my jam jar, when I spotted it for sale one day parked on the edge of my village with a £5 sale notice on it.

After a couple of years on the Greeves and helping my mentor Nobby Clements build up his brother’s road-going D.O.T into a trials bike. Our attention turned to the sidecar part of the sport. This was sparked by the fact that Banbury’s top Road Racer Dan Shorey, had forsaken his very individual trials Tiger Cub for firstly a BSA trials outfit, and then had built, a Kendall chair, to fit to a Seth Ellis tuned Ariel HS scrambler based bike.

 Nobby wanted to get into this branch of the sport with haste

So Dan was asked to try and find a suitable outfit.

 

Well he arrived one day with this BSA outfit perched on the back of his A55 pickup. It had come via one of the Oxford Motorcycle dealers at the time. Probably Faulkner’s, (I must ask Bill).

 Anyway that was fine we had a sidecar trials outfit! But who was going to pay for it? I was hardly paid at all £6 a week, and Nobby had a family and a trials and road bike, plus an Austin  A30 car to fund.

Well that is where I came in again, for with luck, (Not for him) one of my great uncles had died, slipping on the ice and having a heart attack.

Probate was just sorted, and my aunt had been left with a small legacy. What better to spend it on but an ex works BSA trials outfit (XJO 277).

So AWP was put into the logbook as owner of said bike.

 

And what a plot it was! The first adventure is already on TC if you look, and now further down the page.

Anyway to cut the story short,  we had great fun with this bike, and it only got sold eventually  has I had taken up residence (Permanently) in the sidecar seat of the Dan Shorey Ariel.

(Replica now being built), and I needed the money for other projects.

The last person to own this version of outfit XJO 277, has far as I know, was Arthur Lampkin? There must be two or more carrying the plate. But only one has the logbook. with my name in.

 

 

This is Arthur and Colin Pinder, riding there version of the outfit, and it looks to me that not a lot is left of the bike that I owned apart from the registration plate.

The outfit now sports a Bultaco front end a Kendall chair and what looks like to me a DB32 engine and not the DB 34 that was in it. but there again Arthur had a shed full of BSA engines, and probably fitted the first one in line.

 

All Photos used are courtesy of Deryk Wylde once again, 

 

OK this is another version of the outfit ,single down-tube frame, but with the Earles forks fitted.

Frank made a set of trailing link forks and tried on one of the outfits, but the thing would only steer in a straight line so they were dropped rather quickly.

 

Deryk Wylde Photo.

 

 

 

Other fascinating facts you may not know about Frank.

 

Well when he was not riding the what now seems many BSA trials outfits.

 

He was riding a D.O.T 8E 197cc powered trials outfit in club events in association with the Dot factory.  But Frank doing nothing by half's created  his own Alloy barrel for this machine and even the piston.

Such was is initiative skills to keep trying something different.

He was known by the nick name "Bird Cage Kid"?

Well he used to make Parrot cages for a living in London.

 

 

 Sadly Frank past away in October 2007 aged 93.

 

But I have found that his sons have found boxes of trophies that he did not talk about and kept them in the dark to his many success. several ACU Gold medals were found as well.

One of his later occupations was a pub landlord in the MuntJack at Harrold in Bedfordshire in 1997

 

 Here is another exponent using the Earles type forks again built by Reynolds.

This crew were friends of mine, "Uncle Bill" Slocombe and long suffring Frank Ball.

 

Ah they were good times to look back on.

 

Superb shot again by Deryk Wylde. Thanks mate.

 

 

Our first National Trial on XJO 277

Our first serious trial was the Knut National trial down in Devon.

We had an entry but no way of transporting the Goldie outfit down to the trial.

Frank Knight on of the stalwarts of the Banbury NOBAC club had told Nobby that we could borrow his trailer the one he had made to transport his Triumph Topy around the local club trials.

The trailer was no more than a thick length of alloy channel for Alcan where Frank worked in the RandD department. Bolted to an old straight car axle from a Morris or Ford, no suspension what so ever and no spare wheel. The draw-bar was just two plates bolted the alloy with 3/8” holes for a pin.

Anyway this was the only means we had to get the bike down to the trial. And the towing vehicle was to be Nobby’s powder blue Austin A 30 with the tiny 850cc motor and not a lot of power.

A draw-bar was made up and fitted in the tractor workshop an old Nissan hut at lunch time one day, and a appropriate 3/8” bolt found as a draw-bar pin.

Somehow the old Goldie was fitted onto the trailer with the sidecar wheel overhanging the trailer nearside mudguard.

Early one damp Saturday Autumn morning we set of on the scenic route the only way to get down to the West Country in the sixties.

Every bump of the road was felt through a tug and rattle of the draw-bar pin, and Nobby was playing a fine tune going up and down the gearbox of the little car trying to keep us moving forward.

The heater in the car was best part of useless, so it was cold as well.

We eventually arrived at the wet leaf sodden car park.

I was already cold and shattered. And we had not started the trial or even fired up XJO 277.

This was what you could say was a baptism of fire, but I was not warm all day and my New second hand fireman boots had chaffed my legs and feet raw.

 Nobby thought he was fit, well he played a full game of football most week ends,

But the strength had been sapped from him by the third group of sections; we had had the plot on its side a couple of times by now and looped it once. The rain was relentless at times, but this did help a bit to keep our sweating bodies cool, but perhaps to cool in between groups.

 We made one or two good results; well we got through the end cars without a five, which was most of the sections score.

The last sections arrived and we seem to get second wind and came away from them with three threes and a five, grounding on a large boulder at speed.

Loading the bike back onto the trailer was a marathon task we were cold wet and tiered, with hardly any strength left.

 But we set off for home and felt we had achieved something, our first ride in a National Trial.

Then in Tetbury half way of our home run, hitting a manhole cover snapped the backbone of the Alloy trailer in two.

We had to stop in the dusk of the evening to try and refit the plot onto what we had left.  The front end was moved has far as we could up to the draw-bar, which reduced the turning circle somewhat.

 And every bump on the rest of the way home the rear tyre of the outfit grounded down acting like a brake and requiring Nobby to change down to a lower gear.

Anyway we made it, and were only to keen to get back out on the outfit the next weekend.

 


I was recalling a few days ago when asked by a friend, the most memorable moment whilst riding in trials in the early sixties.
Well the one that sprung to mind was when we had one of the first rides on the Ex Frank Darrieulat's BSA Goldie outfit XJO 277.driven by my work mate and mentor "Nobby" Clements.
The trial was one of the Midland centre group trials, (I can't remember which one or the year) but it must have been 1962? And started from Edge Hill quarry Warwickshire.
We had experienced a strength sapping day as we were new to this sidecar game, and the old bike was heavy. Well we had managed to keep going and were up with the rest of the chairs as we reached what I recall as being the last section of the day. The long climb from the bottom of the hill at Radway up the old coach road to the top road opposite the Edge Hill quarry (King John's Lane) We were parked at the tail end of the queue of outfits so had time to watch and study the line taken by the front running crews. Well that old lane was muddy and deep. And there was only one line straight up the middle.
You could not see the bikes start the section standing halfway up the hill, but could hear the crescendo of revs building from the mainly Ariel and BSA singles as they set off. By the time they had come into view most of them were footing like mad or the passenger was off pushing. The galleried packed banks were passing comments on the action but not many were prepared to help the crews get their plots to the top. Well stood watching the melee and virtually unnoticed, were Ron Langston and Doug Cooper. A few words were exchanged between the pair a few hand signals and a few kicks of the soil slipping banks, they wondered back down the lane. In the mean time more red faced struggling crews tried to reach the end's card. The recognisable sound of Ron's Ariel sprang into life, the crowd was hushed with all necks craned to the corner down the lane, You could hear the power coming from the motors note and tell he was in a high gear, they sprang into view weaving from one side bank to the other the note of the motor hardly changing until they disappeared out of view around the top corner. The motor was cut and the observer blew a blast on his whistle, followed by the tiny voice of Doug "alright".
I think so. The remaining crew's including us, rushed down the lane to try the same manoeuvre but no one did. 
Dan Shorey was now short of a passenger in his chair after regular Eddie Braggins  had hurt is knee badly, I think at work and not riding with Dan,

Bernie Chequar had tried the seat but the arguments got to great between them so he was sacked.

Nobby decided to volunteer me for some unknown reason and this would leave him without a passenger in my Goldie outfit, It was to do with this talent thing again he said.

I would have more chance of getting to the top riding with Dan,I didn't know you could get to the top has a sidecar passenger, I thought you were only there to be shouted at,and being found the scapegoat for the marks lost.

The main trouble with this trying to get on in life for me was having to get up in morning.

And riding with Dan mainly down in the west country and in Wales where most national trials we rode in from October until March every year, meant getting up before it was light, and then having to put up with the journey in a rattling cold Moggie 1000 pickup, or if we had Berts Austin A55,

This would make me travel-sick with the boat like action of the suspension.

The problem of riding trials just in the winter months is that the days are short, and the weather through the sixties at winter time consisted of long periods of snow covered ground, hard frosts, and very cold rain.

There were the odd crisp days with sunshine but the ground was always wet even under trees.

 

I was still working for Young's garage initially while getting the ride in Dans chair.

And used to meet him at the garage usually on a Wednesday evening after work.

Dan was on pump duty that evening, so the Ariel that we now had was unloaded from the weekend before,some of the mud was knocked off outside the garage as it had mostly dried in the last couple of days.

 It was wheeled into the showroom part of the frontage of Northbar Garage, and lifted onto a appropriate stand, usually Len Bakers tyre fitting stand.

The back wheel usually came out to try and get the rear brake to work, and a new chain was fitted quite frequently, Well Dan had a racing contract with Renolds chain, so there was always a new one ready.

The clutch was some time striped and cleaned this was still and Ariel item, and it did get some abuse from Dan has he only knew one throttle setting Hard against the stop.

By about seven o'clock the regular Wednesday night drop ins would start to appear.

David Fitt from Little Tew would always drop by,and spend the next couple of hours talking motorcycles although it was his brother Brian that was the rider in the family, David was into the exotic Italian cars.

Dan had just about finished his bag of fish and chips that he usually brought to eat,placed on the nearest usually Triumph dual seat just inside the door, and then "Fitty" would come in with his bag.I usually ended up with a few of the cold chips.

Anyway any other jobs like cables and levers that had been bent would be changed and some times if there was time the oil would be drained,

It was usually left for Len Baker to refill the oil if we were out of our stock.

The outfit was usually left in the showroom in the way, until Friday evening if we were doing a Naional on the Saturday.

Baker used to moan about it every week but he did moan about every thing, and every one.

Bert used to say that having the outfit parked up in there used to help bring in customers?

 

Photo Courtesy Nigel Wynne Classic and Vintage Motorcycles.

 

Dan was always a bit feeble when it came to trapping his hand> "Got to think about my living Kid,racing the Continental Circus"

 

What did really annoy me riding with Dan was that we were just getting in the groove so to speak by about the end of February and then a halt was called to proceedings until the next autumn.

 

 

 

This is Ron and Doug on Camp in the Cotswolds. with the glass fibered sidecar built in 1961.

The bike a Scambler, bought New from the Ariel factory.

 

In the background watching, from the cameraman left, which is Johnny Pricket, next to him is his wife, then me in the duffel coat, next "Nobby" Clements,then my little brothers head over the top of "Nobbies" shoulder,next with the glasses is Roy Steel "Steelie"  clerk of the coarse for Banbury NOBAC trials up until the clubs closure. Below Roy is Micky Boddice side-car racer, and next to him with the black hair Ken Sprayson from Reynolds Tube.

 

Nobby was still riding the Goldie outfit with Johnny Pricket in the chair, and just made his goal to ride in the DK Mansell and Sam Seston trials, the rest were midland centre trials and a few in the Cotswolds.

My brother and Colin "Jenk's"  had a few rides on the Goldie too but I thing it was a bit to much for them.

And on one occasion I fitted one of the "Wal Phillips" fuel injector to the bike has an experiment. 

Bruv and Colin lined up for the start at one of the Cotswold trials and as they set off  the Goldie spluttered then cut in then out again, until Bruv gave it a full hand full upon this the Goldie came in at full revs ,depositing 

Colin in the middle of the road to the delight of the waiting competitors waiting to start, I cant remember how far they got in the trial but it was the talk for some considerable time afterwards.

We had built a chair onto the C15T that we had my brother and I, me doing most of construction I might add ,welding it up in the milking dairy at Southfield Farm.

It was to be honest gutless and eventually it got sold to Alan Hovey from Taylor Dow.

He swapped  the motor for a B40 and then had good results with the little plot.

 

In the meantime my brother had got a job working for Bert at his new Garage Well-Street in Buckingham.

Some how we ended up with a bent Triumph Twenty One,

And I built a chair for this with Glassfiber nose like the one I had now manufactured for the remodelled chair I had fitted to XJO277.

Ron followed suit with a GF chair on his Ariel not long after.

 

This is Ron's Glass-fibre chair that he built the same time as I was building the nose for XJO277.

 

The Triumph was I thought a good plot but really needed a descent crew my brother did his best as a pilot but was always second best  and little Colin Jenkins was just short of experience he worked for Bert to at NorthBar along with "Super Midget" Mick French now if he had have been taller he would have been a superb trials pilot.

Mick had a Triumph Speed Twin with a Steib sidecar fitted, and special rests so that he could reach the swept back bars, and get his leg over the seat.

Basically he rode the outfit stood up, but you should have seen him kick start the bike, I always stood with my mouth wide open.

Mick lived at Little Boughton up the Southam road out of Banbury.

And when he left work for home you could hear him flat out from when he left to when he shut off to turn right into the  Cropredy road.

 

Well when we finished our trials season in March my head would try and forget trials and turn to what really was my favourite pass time constructing something New bike wise. I was also now dreaming of becoming a top flight road racer and has you now know had converted the TR20 Cub into a formula road race bike. "Little" Colin Jenkins had chatted with "Sailor Rayner" from the North Bar Tool Company where I think he was design foreman at the time, who owned a renowned even at that time 1963 Racing Bantam, Colin was asked if he wanted the ride on the bike after putting up some Stirling sprint performance's on his ride to work Triumph Twin with normal road bars fitted, to see him disappearing in a straight line with only the bars visible was a sight for sore eyes.,

Sailor although a winner on the machine was like I was becoming, more interested in getting a machine to work right and get some one else to ride it.

 

If you think about it looking back I had been a sponsor for quite a long time.

So Colin and I did a couple of sprints with the bikes first at Church Lawford in Northants.

And had some really good practice sessions up at Shenington airfield.

That Bantam flew, and although I had the Cub tuned to perfection as I thought, I struggled to keep up with the BSA.

The first race we entered I seem to remember was a race meeting at Church Lawford. I might be wrong I will ask Colin when I see him. and I think Colin won that 125 race,

and this was despite the hazard of having leathers that were twice as big has he was.

I think we went long distance for the next trip out, all the way to Snetterton.

Bantam racing club meet I think.

To be honest the Cub although a nice little machine and put together well, but I would say that.

Was just not quick enough although it did steer well but even with air scoops fitted to the hubs the brakes were useless.

We had hitched a lift to the meeting with some of the other Banbury lads Steve Russell and Julian Dancer I think.

Anyway Colin came up trumps again on the Rayner Bantam and won his race despite the back brake being full on.

We were watching in the pits and I commented has he flew past and even the club circuit is long there as you may know.

I said that I could not remember the back hub being Red? I thought it was racing green like the rest of the bike!

 That hub was still glowing red when he came in and the grease from the bearings was now turning to acrid blue smoke.

I carried on playing with the Triumph Cub for the rest of the season, and in the mean time was converting my Ariel Leader work bike that Nobby and I found in a farmers barn one cold and frosty morning, Nob bid the farmer and we loaded it into the back of the old Thames pick up.

That bike was my transport for the twelve months after this. and it was a pain.

Yes anyway converting it into a race bike, the single carb  manifold was chopped off and I attempted to fit twin Amal TT carbs, and cycle wise a glass-fibre dummy tank seat unit.

 I had a picture of the bike Micky O'Rourke was riding and was trying to build it like that.

By the time the trials season came round again the Ariel was still not finished, and on a journey back from one of the first trials of the season Dan and I were taking about road racing,

Do you want to have a proper go at it "Kid"Dan said? yes I said, but could not afford a Manx Norton or any thing like that.

 

Photo Courtesy "Otterman Archives"

Trouble is I had seen Dan's Racing store at Well Street Garage in Buckingham and drawled over these Manx Nortons when I was there.

Photo Courtesy "Otterman Archives"

Dan Shoreys Manx Nortons.

 

In the mean time Steve Russell had taken delivery of one of the very first Cotton Telstars produced, even with the old type Michenall Bros fairing.

Dan said why did I not have one of these Cottons as they seemed like the best of the new crop of "Villiers Starmaker engined bikes.

Now Bill Russell, Steve's  dad was in partnership with Bert Shorey at NorthBar Garage.

And Bert or Dan never missed out on a good deal! I could have one of these "Telstars" for the price that they had to pay OK.

Where on earth was I going to get £325 from I had only just finished paying for the TR20 Cub.

I winged at my aunt a lot saying I am sure with this bike I could become a star,but it fell on deaf ears.

Now if it had been my brother he would have had no problem she would have stumped up the price without hesitation.Which she did for an ex Tom Philips Yamaha TD1A from Lawton and Wilson later.

 

So I had to keep working on my acting skills and sulking like you would not believe.

Eventually after refusing to move, lying on the front room cloth rug,in front of the roaring wood fire. she cracked, If I would help with more jobs about the farm she would give me a cheque for the £325

for the Cotton.

The bike was ordered and did not take that long to arrive at the garage.

  CoTTon  "Telstar"Photo.

 

`But if I was going to be a top flight road racer I would need top flight transport.

It was a coincidence Dan said that he had just ordered another New Thames 15cwt van from Youngs Garage for the 1965 season, the 1963 model that he had done the Continental Circus with for the past couple of seasons could be mine, all he would need to do is remove the long-range fuel-tanks that were fitted and he would swap them with the new tanks from the new van.

Photo "Otterman". Archive.

This is me with the full Equipe at Shennington Arodrome trying the bike out and running it in.

 

All he needed was paying and the van was mine.

I was to frightened to ask my aunt again, but don't forget Dan picked me up and dropped me off after a trial at the farm,most weekends.

Anyway he eventually persuaded aunt that a van about the farm would also be a good investment. and the deal was done.

It was now from March 1965 I was going to be nearly a full-time motorcycle road racer?

 

Well Dan had found me a pair of Reg Cross leathers my size, that had only been worn a couple of times for the Manx GP, the bike seized so I was told and that was the end of a promising racing career for the guy, and financial suicide.

Dan had said that he would ride the Cotton Telstar for the first meeting of the year at Mallory Park, to make sure the bike was OK for me.

See I was a sponsor again already.

Photo Courtesy "Otterman"Archive.

Here Is Dan Shorey riding the Cotton at Mallory Park in 1965, and also taking the chequered flag.

 

I remember standing in the paddock watching the race and could not believe on the first lap Dan was in fifth place on MY Cotton Telstar through the Esses. he went on to finish the race in the top ten, and I felt so proud that this guy had even considered riding my bike in a national road race.

He said the bike had potential? well it was a bit slow for him but it did handle well.

I now had to do this bike justice,and various meetings were ridden at Mallory, Cadwell,Oulton Park ,

Snetterton , and I even ventured past Scotch Corner to Croft,and down into deepest Wales to the new Llandow circuit.

I rode at the inaugural meeting at Lydon Hill , the tarmac was still wet and the landscaped banks still slipping and what moved fell onto the track.

Then one wet Sunday in June I think, I arrived at the newly opened aerodrome circuit at Darly Moor.

The surface was appalling more like a trials section, one long straight after the short run to the first right hand from the start, then a back straight and a bit of a chicane before the last right hander to the start and finish again.

I had done quite well in practice and got onto one of the first three rows of the grid .Trevor Burgess was on pole and Neil Tuxworth right with him I seem to remember.

The rain was still constant when the flag dropped, bang I hit the seat and the Cotton fired straight up, into the first bend I was in with the first three, and had good drive out of the bend feeling the loose surface underneath.

I snapped back the throttle to the stop in all gears, and found myself in the lead with the roar of the field behind me, You have to experience this once to know how it feels.

Late on the brakes and into the top bend still feathering the throttle in the conditions , still not been passed so gunned it out of the bend and then on the drive out caught some of the loose marbles that had been forced out during practice, and away I slid, with that devastating sound of a rasp on fibreglass, and the warmth coming through the seat of your leathers has you slide.

 The tank flew off of the Cotton has it ground to a halt on the moss covered outer part of the unused runway, I was furious and picked the tank up and threw it another good ten yards.

There was not that much damage to the bike except for the chipped tank that I had mainly caused.

 But my pride was in tatters, I had been leading this race but threw it away with over confidence,

Thinking there was always grip you could find like in most trials situations.

 

 "Clifton View" Wigginton.

Photo Courtesy "Otterman Archives".

Here is a better photo of the  Ex "Continental Circus" Dan Shorey Thames 15 cwt van.

The Old lady looking after it for me is my Gran Clifton, the photo was taken in 1965, but if you look at her clothes it could have been  early nineteen hundreds,

She did live to be ninety nine years, old though. and the New Bungalow that we built on this site at Wiggington Oxfordshire, is named "Clifton View" after her and my aunt.

Later that year my brother and I drove down to Cornwall in the van to meet my parents that had rented a cottage for the week, I had been racing at the week end before so could not leave until the Monday.

Well the new Motor Cycle magazine came out on  the Wednesday along with the Motor Cycle News.

I was sat in the sunshine reading through the new mags and the older ones I had taken to read.

Then we spotted the ex Tom Phillips Yamaha TD1A for sale in the Lawton and Wilson advert.

My Brother had been working at Well Street Garage in Buckingham the one owned by Bert Shorey at the time.

Photo Courtesy "Otterman Archives".

This is Well Street Garage Buckingham in 1964, known has "The Cave" by the locals. but little did they know what was stored inside.

This is the garage that the Yamaha Works Racing Team used for a week whilst practising up at Silverstone to get the bikes ready for the Isle Of Man TT.

Bert Shorey was the Reliant Distributor for a wide area, and used to pick new vehicles up on a weekly basis from Reliant at Tamworth. he used to tow them on a "Ambulance" This was a two wheeled trolley that the front wheel of the Reliant sat in  hooked onto Bert's Austin A 55 Pick-up. The young  Italian guy in the picture worked at the garage with my Bruv who basically ran the place at that time. Name Franco Godensa if I have spelt it correctly.

 

And the Works Yamaha Team had used the workshop for a week while testing the bikes at Silverstone. that must have been 1963-4.

Anyway he had decided that if he was going to start road racing it was going to be on a Yamaha.

So mind made up we looked at the Shell road map that we had, to work out a route to get from North Cornwall where we were, to Southampton, and decided to follow the coast road route.

It is quite a long way as you know but his mind was made up and what he says goes, and still does. 

So we set off for the road trip early getting to Southampton at about lunch time.

£475 was the asking price and there was no haggling.

Also know way of getting hold of the person that was going to pay for the bike My Aunt again. No phones then only the one in the phone box in Wigginton.

So we left Southampton and set off back up to Wigginton to get the cheque well we know she would give him the money.

Anyway Cheque in hand it was back-down to Southampton to pay for the bike, we could not pick the bike up until the cheque had cleared, so deal done we set of back to Cornwall to finish the Holiday all two days.

The bike was picked up the next weekend, so you can see I added a few miles quickly onto the Thames van.

Photo Courtesy "Otterman Archive"

If I had just enjoyed my holiday and forgot about bikes for a week it would have saved me a lot of driving about.

 

I am jumping a few years now to the Horse Box years,

 

I fill in the previous years later when I have found missing document and photos.

 

 

The year 1984.

 

 

The designer of the kitchen is still in business doing just that. Link with permission.

**************88

This was 1984.

 

This Shot was taken at the Royal Show at Stoneleigh in 1985  this was our stand right by the old Equestrian Centre that has now been demolished like the Royal Show it's self.

 

We were supported by City Motors of Oxford and Bedford Trucks, that have now also gone.

Although Vauxhaul  still remain, part of General Motors.

***

Well we better go back to the start of the horse box journey.

 

About 1968-70 I had got disillusioned with motor cycles.

I could not afford a Manx Norton to race which I really wanted, and messing with the ex Rod Gould 350 Gold Star, which I had now fitted into a Norton "Featherbed" frame was not going to get me into the top flight of British road racing. After doing a National at Castle Combe on the bike I could see that the best policy was to give up now, before I got further down the disillusioned ladder.

I was still very much into fibre-glass loved the stuff you could mould it into any shape that you thought of.

So I had got into making a few race fairing and seats mudguards etc. but this was not going to make me a living.

I sold some of the bike stuff off and bought a "PickHill" Arc welder New from a welding company in Newbury, I can still smell the newness on that machine today as we trundled it back in the back of my old Austin A50 van.

This  Oil cooled blue hamerite finished welder was going to earn me my fortune!

First off I made a few new 18 foot long bale trailers lower to the ground than most which was a good selling point. We used some ex WD old-stock ten inch heavy duty truck wheels and Rubury axles from a company in Walsall.

 We also knocked up a few water filled flat field rollers made out of huge water pipeline offcuts from a company in the Forest -of-Dean.

I can remember delivering one of these on one of the smaller bale trailers towed behind our newly canvassed and painted kaki green MK1 petrol Landrover, all the way to the furthest reaches of Wiltshire, some what an epic journey as the Rover kept boiling up with the weight she was pulling and the snatch from the farm trailer without any suspension.

Luckley it was in the late spring but we set of at six in the morning and arrived home at gone ten at night with lights on the Land Rover getting dimmer by the minute and no lights at all on the trailer.

 

"Long Tom" Page ,Petes cousin if you remember (Growing up tales), had this  shire-cross  horse that had only spent its first couple of years turned out into a field at his cousins place at the bottom of Whichford hill named "Cowpastures".

Some how we got involved with saying we would try and break the horse for him.

Well "Big Tom" as it got named was "Big" in all stretch of the imagination and also wild as the weeds in the field it was in.

We needed to get the horse home to be able to do anything with it.

 Well we now moved from the farm in Wigginton to the old asbestos prefab bungalow on the way out of the village  on the Hook Norton Road.

All we had as buildings were a couple of tin sheds that had been part of the previous owners, gardening enterprise in the old apple orchard. and the wooden shed that had been the home to my bikes since we moved.

Twelve foot was measured from one end of this building and a partition wall made up.

the wooden floor on this part-of the building was removed to  reveal the ground underneath.

Well this would give us enough height in the building then would it not?

A bottom stable door was constructed, and we then had a home for said "Big Tom".

He was a pleasant enough big chap and would not hurt a fly the shire in him coming out, but he had no manners and would barge his way where he wanted to go, and have you tried stoppin well over half a ton of muscle power? No way.

 His large head collar that had to be specially made by the  saddler at North Newington, was placed onto his head over the doorway while he was nibbling a carrot from your spare hand.

Once the door catches to the shed were pulled he was out.

And then spent an hour each day going round and around the orchard on the end of a drag-line that he was trying to pull from your gripping hands.

 He did get quite polite in the end and was such a sweet old horse, but how the shed was left standing I will never know, especially in the early days of his stay.

If you think the earth moves some times well that shed certainly did.

 

Anyway although I had been brought up in this country life and had followed the Hythrop Hunt since I was a child, I had not rely got into horses, and the pony we borrowed at the farm when "Old Monty" the pony died,  used to make a bee-line to the apple tree and remove you from the saddle by trotting under the low branch then stand watching for a-moment before getting its head down grazing. and after spending a fortune on a New saddle.

So you see I took some persuading to  get back into equine involvement.

But I had got this idea nagging in my head for years about bright square section steel that I had first seen used on that D.O.T. frame in Taylor Dow's showroom. and needing to do some thing with it.

Well thinking that it would get me into the horsey-set I decided to have a go and build a motorised horse-box has a challenge to me and to get me up a rung or two  on the gentry ladder.

I found an old four-cylinder diesel TK Bedford lorry in a salvage yard in Daventry. and it was just about the right price I could afford at the time.

I had been to a couple of horse shows just to try and mingle with the horsey-set, and to take some visual notes to what they were transporting there nags about in.

One particular loud character but most were "What" had this pristine newly built hardwood bodied box that he was demonstrating his wealth or lack of it, by showing every Delia, Veronica and Catherine around his New pride and joy.

I took particular notice of its construction method, and got one of those "I-can-do-that"

Moments.

A load of 2 inch by 1 inch hot rolled steel channel was ordered along with 2 inch by 2 inch hot rolled angle the same.

This steel was the basis of my horse-box body frame.

The steel channelled uprights were going to be filled on the outside by planed ash timber to cover the bolts that were going to hold, I had decided, Keruing side boarding. well Keruing was cheaper than other Mahogany  and easier to come by, and was actually stronger too, but did move a bit more when drying.

All this timber was ordered at Brackley Sawmills and picked up a week later.

A glass fibre 4 inch rounded roof was also ordered from Blooms  in Bristol.

 I needed two springs for the ramp to make it easy enough for the fair hands of  Jane or Julian to lift with ease.

These were sourced from an old Massey Harris 726 combine harvester.

It is amazing how farming had moved on from the fifties there was me now robbing springs form a once New fangled Combine-Harvester, now sat rotting in a yard, has this was now out of date.

 The bed on the truck chassis was made with Keruing again cross-runners and 9 inch by 1 and an half inch soft wood planks. all body fittings were purchased for Perks in the west Midlands I think they are still making them today.

The finished body now sporting five coats of best quality yacht varnish was jacked up and the wagon backed under now with its newly painted cream cab. One problem with this type of body construction was that it was heavy ,nice looking but heavy.

The truck found an home almost has soon as it was finished and before it had be for plating at Bicester to be able to get it on the road legally. In fact the New owner Lionel Hayward used it for hunting for a week without the tax being displayed.

One more of these were built because it was ordered. but then I needed to go to "Plan B"

This was building the frame work out of 1 1/4 inch square  or 1 1/2inch in the first instance 16 quage bright Electric Resistance Welded (ERW) tubing. in fact the complete frame work was made with this material, the first boxes were panelled with full length marine-ply sheeting,and that was bloody expensive but up to the rigours of a hard life  of country lanes and roads being as the panels were torsionally stiff they added to the strength of the body.

 But these bodies weighed so much less than the solid wood and rolled steel type.

Well we were on a sort of a winner, and could sell every one we built quickly.

 Then I thought if I used ribbed alloy panels that had now come about for the use on pantechnicon used has outside panelling, by using them on the inside of my lightweight steel frame work would be not only cheaper than the expensive  Marine ply scarf-jointed panels even with the added expense of a bit thicker lining ply.

The first bodies were sprayed in Land-Rover colours mainly the RAF type blue, that not only blended in with the Land Rovers and Rice trailers that were this colour, but being a grey based paint, was easy to spray and covered well.

Cabs were mainly sprayed in Royal Navy Blue as a contrast. after a few of these got about, more interest was shown.

 Then one day I had a visit from two boozy men one lunch time, one knocking banter off of the other.

Well it transpired that one of them Bob Brickle who owned a farm breeding shire horses at Enstone also had a farm at Witney where  he had seen one of the first Alloy clad boxes I had built and extended the chassis for use as transport for carriage driving,pony in the front, Gig, or Dog Cart in the back. This was Bill Hosiers little rig. anyway Bob was mates with "Middy" who owned the far where bill built his carriages.

 The other guy with Bob that came visiting, the flashy one, was by the name of James French.

His son of that name, still trades in Land Rovers by Witney today.

Anyway it transpired that Jim and his brother Andrew owned a Garage at Cummnor Hill in Oxford.

Now you know then coincidences again don't you.

Well it turned out that I had met both of these guys Jim and Andrew before without even knowing.

Andrew used to race an Aermacchi 250 the same time as I was racing the Cotton Telstar and we did all of the same meetings Jim was spanner man for Andrew and I could vaguely remember him then, as he was the spiv in the paddock with the spotless smock and Rolex watch.

Jim and Andrew had ran the very successful Mini Car Centre in the middle of Oxford just at the right time.

Jim wanted to buy these boxes how many could we make, and he would need one a week to sell. or he would find the chassis or even  buy new ones if we could not find them.

Again we had a mutual friend Irishman living in Oxford for a while and a yard at Kiddlington Station. Terry Donally was his name.

He was buying all of the redundant trucks from Unigate Dairies when they were being replaced with new. and I had bought some of these trucks from him before.

 The following Monday one of these trucks appeared outside the gate followed by a pick-up.

Jim had purchased one of these trucks from Terry and wonted a body put onto it post haste.

 We had just bought another petrol TK chassis from our old mate Dave Heath, (Trent), who worked for Hales Trent Cakes as a delivery driver, we had most of these trucks through the same principal has the Unigate ones. Only this time Dave was the supplier.

We had the materials to build a body for this Petrol truck which was half sold, but to show faith to our new client we used this to body the James French owned truck. the building we had was only big enough to swing a cat with hardly any lighting and power that would trip at the drop of a hat.

The body was finished in two weeks and I sprayed it with my newly acquired APOLLO spray unit which was a bit like a vacuum cleaner only it blew, and not sucked. Brilliant tool, still have one today only know one else seems to appreciate it?

The truck was delivered to Cummner Hill Garage still with the cab in its Orange Unigate livery.

Jim was sat at his desk in his crisp white shirt and well tailored suit cuff-links and gold embroidered dark blue neck tie with I think Volvo named on it.

Well an envelope was produced with a cheque for the agreed amount with him not even leaving his desk to look at the truck.

When can you get the next one done? I will get Terry to drop you another chassis down next Monday lunch time.

 We needed a factory unit badly there was just not the right facilities to do this work the way it was going, in the old make shift shed.

We found a add in the local paper that said there were small factory unit being developed at the old Plush mill at Shutford this was a personal enterprise by Jimmy Messenger one of the prominent builders sons of the town Ron Messenger that was also an old bike mate to Bert Shorey at Northbar Garage,and used to ride grass track I think, that's why he walked with a limp. Se what I mean about small world.

 Jim had used the yard for making cinder building blocks but the more mechanised belt-line versions that were now on the market had stopped his game, so he thought he would become a commercial property tycoon.

The units were sort of finished when we moved in, well at least we had a door we could lock at night and a loo that worked.

There was one problem with this unit! it was not quite high enough at the door way to get a built up horse box in, so most of the bodies were built inside, and then I had devised a system with stands that clicked into place after trollyjacking the bodies up, it was able to fit the framed finished and sprayed body onto the bedded Wagon outside waiting, in less than an hour.

The more bodies we built for Jim French  the more he wanted, and if he could not get good Unigate TK Bedford chassis from Terry he would buy New ones from City Motors Oxford.

By the way these Horse Boxes we were building at this time were named "Heathwood".

God knows how many we built but there were a lot. and there is still one or two about today.

It was time to get into the more upper reaches of the " Motorised-Horsebox" market.

 so a move was called for.

And the name was changed for one that sounded more appropriate for the horsey-types.

So after doodling for a hour or two came up with the name "EQUILINE.

 

Between the move to  Enstone I had created a new Luton moulding for the front of the boxes.

I had already been using glass-fibre , on the "Heathwood" boxes for the front and side panels of the luton. and also made ribbed moulds up the same pattern as the alloy sheets used so that GF panels could be made for the sides as well pigmented with colour so there was no need to spray the bodies and the colour was permanent. Oak pigment seemed the favourite with conahght green painted frame-work. most rear ramps were still covered in Keruin planks and vanished, but the side ramps were panelled the same as the bodies.

Anyway this new front Luton moulding I thought needed to be different than anyone else's, Smiths and Oakley's were the others using glass fibre for the fronts at the time and I did not want to be the same as them which were rounded.

I had an interlude a couple of years before preparing a sidecar race fairing for the Rust Brothers.

Peter had got an ex racing car guy (remember name later.) who lived at Ettington Warwickshire. to prepare this Hillman Imp powered projectile and he wanted a different shape to the dustbin fairing  norm that was fitted at the time to racing sidecar outfits.

So we set too to  shape the one we were building a lot like the F1 cars at the time, wedge shaped and a 3 inch bumper-bar edge at the bottom.

Me and the father-in-law spent days over there, filling and sanding that plug, the guy was fussy and it had to be mm perfect or we had to start again.

Alan the brother-in-law had not long got the ride in the sidecar with Brian Rust so we needed to impress.

Well you know I loved working with glass-fibre, but only if I was the master and not being told what to do by someone else.

Well we eventually made the plug to his liking and the fairings were made and the outfit got up an running in some form. It was the plot to beat for a few seasons ridden by Brian Rust and Alan Bedford.

While I am on this subject I may as well carry on, and it was at about the same time.

Well two lads from Hook Norton were building a new Terry Windle framed racing outfit powered by a Konig speed boat engine  of 500 cc.( 680cc) They were being partly sponsored by John Gleed of "John Gleed Motorcycles" also from Hook Norton. Yes the same guy that was foreman at Taylor-Dow and was a first class trials rider.

Well I got involved building the fairing for this outfit and there was just one stipulation, it needed to be has light as possible but still strong.

Again hours were spent making the plug and mould for this, working well into the night, starting with a faring supplied by Terry, along with the rest of the glass-fibre work.

I decided the only way to make it stiff enough for the lightweight needed was to use some of the new on the market  Grafil reinforcing which was basically thin strips of this new material Carbon Fibre in the middle of a 1" strip of some other carrying material that could be moulded in. Amazing now looking back but we could have been one of the first to use Carbon Fiber in mouldings.

Any way it worked and the boys went on to win races like they were going out of fashion culminating in there win  in the Ulster GP. in 1974. Names, Dave Edgington and Tim Samways.

                                               ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So I had come up with the shape above for the Luton Horse-Box Front.(Broacher picture)

I spent weeks making this plug and mould at the old shed at Wigginton.

 The first was fitted to a box built for show-jumper Richard Summner.

After the move to Church-Enstone, these Luton fronts were used on most of the builds but the old type fronts were still used on the boxes built for Jim French.

Graham Hudson got involved with the sales of the motor-home type boxes after buying the one above for himself, he was also a show-jump rider so knew the market, also being a shrewd businessman. and also had connections to the horse world in Europe. France in particular.

We sold boxes there France, Sweden, Denmark and even the Isle Of Man.

These boxes were again getting popular although vastly more expensive to build.

Our Old Friend Dave Heath (Trent) was taking some of the trucks to his car repair workshop in Banbury to spray for us. usually over the week end.

It was helpful to us especially over the winter months as the Hanger factory we had at Enstone was to big to heat to any degree.

Anyway this went on for a few months, Trent taking the finished trucks off spraying them and then returning them after the week ends.

One seemed a lot longer to spray :had trouble with the paint he said: but we took no notice as I had experienced the same problem with paint ,still do now.

Then a phone call was received from a friend one Friday morning, Have you looked at the Horse and Hound she said. No we haven't had time to pick a copy up yet was the reply. Well you better go and get a copy quickly or come to Barton and look at mine.

 A copy was purchased quickly from Enstone Post-Office.

Flicking through the pages it never occurred to me to look in the adverts for Horseboxes for sale in the back first.

 Bang!!! the page hit me a three quarter page advert for the "New"

"Banbury Horseboxes".

 

I had to sit down half grinning half wincing and shaking my head like I still do today.

It was one of my boxes in the advert, Well it wasn't but it was an exact copy frame work, panels, colour, and Yes you have guest it the SAME Luton front moulding.

 

"Trent" was not answering the phone, good job really at the time.

 

Such is life if you have something good someone will copy it? even to the extent of measuring every last detail and logging them in a book ,photographing every thing,and the thing that got my goat worse ,taking a moulding from the Luton front panel so they could copy it.

No wonder the paint had been a problem!!

 

They ,being "Trent" and his new business partners Bob Colman and Pauline Rickkets owners of

"Banbury Horseboxes".

We just sat back and watched. "Banbury Horsboxes" made a meteoric rise to fame over the next couple or three years, doing every thing "BIG" a huge grain store was purchased with vast floor footage and office space, workforce numbered sixty in a short space of time.

Crafts men were being poached from every conceivable area of trades needed to produce these wonderments of "Horse Transportation",  from upholsterers  ,to new to the market graphic designers.

All parts were bought in vast quantities. including New truck chassis  by AWD, the company that had taken over the production of the now at the time  defunct Bedford range. Full, and some time two page adverts in the Horse&Hound must have cost a fortune, but they were on a roll and at least six boxes a week were coming out of the factory.

Even financed by there own finance department,ESV.

I can't knock the workmanship that went into the builds because don't forget they had poached the best craftsmen for each of the coach-building trades with higher wages and a promise of more, with bonuses ,on most vehicles built. "Banbury Horseboxes PLC" was one of the countries fastest growing companies.What could go wrong?

                                       

Courtesy Commercial Motors, Archive.

 

Transcript.

• AWD Trucks has teamed up with Banbury Horseboxes to offer a range of 'off-theshelf boxes which are expected to generate over £7 million of business during the next 12 months. AWD hopes the deal will renew its leadership in this market sector.

The first batch of 30 AWD chassis cabs have been delivered to Banbury Horseboxes for conversion into a new three-model range of `Countryman' horseboxes: a four-horse hunting box, and two and three-horse versions which also provide living accommodation. Prices start at £27,000 (ex-VAT).

The bodies are built on Perkins Phaser-powered AWD TL8-14s, fitted with Spicer five-speed synchromesh gearboxes. Banbury is confident of selling 250 Countryman boxes next year through its Extra Special Vehicles subsidiary, which operates a network of specialist dealers.

ESV dealers will offer partexchange deals for the Countryman boxes, as well as hire purchase and leasing schemes.

ESV chairman Bob Colman says: "We have every confidence that the TL horsebox will soon recapture its once dominant role in the market. Being available off-the-shelf means that prospective owners will no longer have to go through the time-consuming process of choosing and ordering the appropriate chassis, and then waiting for several weeks or months for it to be coachbuilt and completed to the required specification:"

Archive.commercialmotor.com/article/14th-december-1989/12/awd-boxes-off-the-shelf.

 

Good Idea Bob, but things started to wrong just after this article for Banbury Horseboxes. A case of getting to "BIG" to quick. and within weeks the company had stopped trading  a receiver was put in. This also badly affected Mr Browns AWD truck company and this to with the blow of loosing the income from the 30 plus truck sales also went into receivership soon after.

Banbury Horseboxes 1985 to 1989,

But the story did not stop there, there was a twist in the tale. ~Oo>

I must admit after the rage and anger I felt at the time for someone stealing all of my ideas. in one foul swoop, once I had thought about it I thought well pleased I was right all along and someone had put there neck on the block because the Idea was so right.

So who do I blame? well the government at the time for letting General Motors get right peed off and pulling the plug on the institution that was Bedford Trucks. (Land Rover) is worth nothing anyway> Yea>. ~Oo> I was a Prat I should have bid for it at the time.

 Not only did they pull the plug on there long time operation in the UK and Europe. but they also ruined several hundreds of small businesses that relied on the goods. to make a living.

We to in 1989 threw in the towel, we had just got the backing of a company supplying us with the Bedford TL chassis that we so much needed, on a good and businesslike basis , and could not find any other that fitted the bill to what we were building. And then it was snatched away over night by some suited jumped up politician that had not had to change his own pants until he was five.

 I'm not bitter though, because life is is like this, there are the ones that preach, and the others that do. and we are not going to change that what ever we do, so, like ~Oo> says get used to it.

Well by 1992-3 Mother had had a visit By, " Do you know who's been here this morning" "Trent". He wants to have a word with you. does he really. well I bare no grudges to anyone as I say it is life.

So I went up to  Middleton Cheney to see the guy ,

 After a chat I agreed to go and help him out when I could on a roughly weekly basis but it would not be a Eight to six situation. anyway for the next couple of years  I enjoyed myself trying to  bring an institution back to life which this lightweight design of horse transportation was.  We also worked on stuff like the Castrol Honda  race arctic trailer and rig. sound studios , and loads more interesting stuff and also resurrecting the "EQUILINE" name which was most important to me, at the time.

 

"Banbury"  Horse box circa 1986. The best at the time and probably still now.

Wychavon Windows that relied totally on the supply to Banbury Horsboxes also took a tumble but I think survived in the end.

 

This front was taken from the body I sent to Banbury to paint , some ingenuity and cunning "Trent".

But has I say thats life, and the best thing is that when someone copies something you created in your head first, means that "You got it right". and do you know there are still people copying this design now in 2016.

But the story does not end there Ho No.

 

 

 

 

continue later.