Great Scott those bikes are rarities

By Catherine Pattison on Sat, 6 Sep 2008 | Latest News | Motorbikes | Otago Daily Times
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Bill Veitch starts up the Scott 1930 Flying Squirrel. Photos by Gregor Richardson.

Almost deserving an endangered species listing, a handful of Scott motorcycles have survived to see the uniquely-innovative marque reach its centenary.

Three Dunedin men - Bill Veitch, Hec Browett and Lew Williams - put their Scotts on a trailer and travelled to Levels Raceway in Timaru recently to mark the 100-year milestone with 15 Scott enthusiasts who brought along 10 machines.

A long-time motorcycle collector, Mr Veitch said it was an uncommon occurrence to have this many of the breed at one gathering: "There wouldn't be many places in the world they could get 10 Scotts together.''

He estimated there were about 20 Scotts in New Zealand, five of them based in Dunedin.

Conceived in 1908 by a Yorkshire inventor Alfred Scott, the first production model was built using a home-made twin-cylinder, two-stroke engine, mounted between the frame tubes of a modified bicycle.

He went on to produce a motorcycle with a low centre of gravity, innovatively employing a radiator for its water-cooled engine, slung low in a lightweight duplex frame. It was also the first bike to use telescopic forks and a kick-starter.

Another peculiarity of the Scotts was they did not need pre-mixed petrol and oil, instead each was contained in separate tanks. Mr Veitch said this "positive oiling'' feature allowed the rider to adjust the mix ratio according to the conditions.

The Scott's pioneering design saw them set the fastest laps at the Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy race) from 1911-14, with outright wins in 1912 and 1913.

Early on they had only two speeds before a third gear was added in the 1920s, Mr Veitch explained.

During the 1920s and 1930s, when demand for Scott motorcycles peaked, devoted owners ensured they gained an almost cult-like status.

Mr Veitch said it was this "rarity'' that inspired him to buy bits of two 600cc Scotts and rebuild them.
His first purchase was a 1930 Flying Squirrel model, acquired through swapping parts of a veteran motorcycle he owned.

Mr Veitch put it together by 1972 and, five years later, located parts of a 1929 Scott TT replica which he also restored.

Mr Browett bought a 1927 Scott Flying Squirrel in the mid-1990s, after "hearing about them and reading about them.''

Known as the "yowling two-stroke'', the two-cylinder Scotts had a definite audible characteristic, Mr Browett said.

"They make a noise like ripping calico. It's the sound you hear as you are going down the road: the yowl. It's very distinctive.''