De­void Of Trou­ble

Classic Trial - - GAME OVER DOT - Words: Eric Ad­cock and John Hulme Pic­tures: Mal­colm Car­ling, Geoff Howe, Brian Holder and The DOT Col­lec­tion

The death of Michael Scott Wade in September 2010 brought to an end the DOT motorcycle dy­nasty based at Arun­del Street in Manch­ester. In some of these pic­tures, which were found by pure chance on an uniden­ti­fied roll of film, we can view the end of the Villiers pow­ered ma­chines which were proudly pre­sented in 1967. Us­ing a ‘Mi­cro’ Ital­ian 175cc Minarelli en­gine they tried in vain to sur­vive, to no avail. With the help of life-long DOT en­thu­si­ast and works rider Eric Ad­cock we look at DOT mo­tor­cy­cles as it was case of ‘Game Over’ as the Span­ish and Ja­panese tri­als ma­chines in­vaded the sport of tri­als and mo­tocross in the late six­ties and early seven­ties.

When the Span­ish ar­mada of Bultaco, Montesa and Ossa ar­rived on UK shores in the mid-six­ties and started to dom­i­nate tri­als many Villiers pow­ered ma­chines man­u­fac­tured in the UK rose to the chal­lenge, and DOT was one of them. The heavy­weight fourstroke ma­chines, which had dom­i­nated for so long, were deemed to be too old fash­ioned as the lighter and eas­ier to work on two-stroke ma­chines were seen as the fu­ture. Cot­ton, DMW, Greeves, Sprite and DOT had all en­joyed much suc­cess and along with some of the other, smaller, cot­tage in­dus­try man­u­fac­tur­ers they had re­lied heav­ily on the Villiers en­gines.

Sport­ing Suc­cess

The early six­ties was a suc­cess­ful pe­riod for DOT machin­ery in the mo­tocross field, with Alan Clough and John Grif­fiths win­ning many Na­tional and Cen­tre races in­clud­ing the week­end TV races be­fore they both de­fected to Greeves. By the mid-six­ties it was John Banks who up­held the DOT name but the ma­chines were no match for the Swedish Husq­var­nas and Czech CZs. Banks then per­suaded his close friend Dave Bick­ers, who at the time was in­volved with CZ, to ob­tain a works en­gine from the Cze­choslo­vakian man­u­fac­turer which was fit­ted into a spe­cial DOT frame, but this was no match for Bick­ers’ ma­chine and not long af­ter­wards Banks moved to BSA.

In the tri­als world Eric Ad­cock was win­ning many Cen­tre and Na­tional Tri­als and in the six­ties was al­ways in the First Class awards at many events. Dur­ing this pe­riod his team-mates in­cluded Tony Davis, Rob Hart, Pat Brit­tain, Nor­man Eyre, Doug Theobald, David Younghus­band — when his speed­way com­mit­ments per­mit­ted — and Ken Sed­g­ley, who was in­volved in scram­bling as well.

Wade’s last ef­fort to keep up with the con­ti­nen­tal in­va­sion in mo­tocross was to pro­duce an all DOT 360 en­gine, us­ing an Al­pha bot­tom-end and an Al­bion four-speed gear box.

White Strength

In 1966 Wade re-styled both the tri­als and scram­bles ma­chines with plas­tic/ fi­bre­glass mud­guards, fuel tank and air fil­ter boxes, list­ing them as White Strength mod­els. The de­cline in or­ders for tri­als ma­chines started af­ter Sammy Miller won the 1965 Scot­tish Six Days Trial on his Bultaco, which was start­ing to have a mas­sive im­pact on pro­duc­tion.

A new ma­chine was in the process of reach­ing pro­duc­tion us­ing the 37A four-speed en­gine, which went through a de­vel­op­ment pe­riod with fac­tory rider Eric Ad­cock rid­ing the ma­chine and sug­gest­ing im­prove­ments where he thought nec­es­sary. It fea­tured a lighter fab­ri­cated frame and swing­ing arm us­ing, in cer­tain ar­eas, square box-type steel tub­ing and fi­bre­glass body com­po­nents and fuel tank to help achieve the ul­ti­mate goal of the light­weight com­pet­i­tive two-stroke tri­als ma­chine to fight the Span­ish chal­lenge. Lead­ing-link front forks of DOT’s own de­sign were ini­tially used, with Ad­cock opt­ing for the far su­pe­rior tele­scopic front forks from Metal Pro­files on his ma­chine. Af­ter much per­sua­sion by Ad­cock, Wade even­tu­ally agreed to fit his 1967 Tri­als ma­chine with tele­scopic front forks and listed them as ex­tras for the buy­ers. The pro­duc­tion ma­chines when they were even­tu­ally re­leased would be fit­ted with the cheaper REH ver­sions.

Also in 1967, to boost sales, Phil Bright and John Grif­fiths asked Wade to make a mo­tocross frame suit­able to take a Maico en­gine, and six were pro­duced with an aim of pro­duc­ing a com­pet­i­tive ma­chine. These were good enough for cen­tre events but only a few were built.

The Fi­nal Blow

Af­ter the launch of the ma­chine, Ad­cock would con­tinue to ride it through 1968 with some suc­cess, but the fi­nal blow to pro­duc­tion of the ma­chine, which was now sup­plied in kit-form, would come with the takeover of the Villiers em­pire by Man­ganese Bronze when the sup­ply of en­gines ended for­ever on the 24th July 1968. With no new en­gine avail­able in the UK Wade did not give up, and even­tu­ally he set­tled on an Ital­ian 175cc Minarelli en­gine and de­signed a new tubu­lar steel frame to suit. Sales were slow and the ma­chine was no match for lat­est Span­ish mod­els now flood­ing the tri­als mar­ket. The en­gine lacked a heavy fly­wheel and at slow run­ning speeds in sec­tions it would stall eas­ily. Ad­cock, who worked at an engi­neer­ing com­pany, ac­quired a scrap elec­tric mo­tor slip ring which he had ma­chined to fit over the small, ex­ist­ing, ex­ter­nal one. This im­proved the per­for­mance im­me­di­ately.

An­other Bri­tish motorcycle man­u­fac­turer who lost out with the end­ing of the Villiers pro­duc­tion was Cot­ton. They were also us­ing Minarelli en­gines and fol­lowed the DOT trend, and started fit­ting heav­ier fly­wheels as stan­dard. They also fit­ted higher qual­ity gears more suited to the needs of the tri­als en­gine. Wade at DOT de­cided to fol­low his own path and did not fol­low suit. Sales con­tin­ued to de­cline and even­tu­ally dried up in 1973 with only 45 of the ma­chines ever be­ing built. It was quite fit­ting af­ter all his com­mit­ment to the Manch­ester man­u­fac­turer that the last one pro­duced went to Ad­cock on the 12th May 1973. This ma­chine has been re­stored by a mem­ber of the DOT Motorcycle Club.

A DOT Shock

At this stage Wade started look­ing at other op­tions to keep the firm go­ing and he started a man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany in the old Braz­ing de­part­ment, which ran for sev­eral years be­fore he sold it on. He also started sell­ing sus­pen­sion units, with the damper parts pur­chased from Arm­strong, hav­ing the springs made lo­cally and then build­ing the units in the fac­tory un­der the DOT badge.

Late in 1977 the Wades, Burnard and Michael called on Ad­cock, say­ing that they had a pro­to­type tri­als ma­chine fit­ted with a 250cc DMW En­gine and would he eval­u­ate it. Ad­cock who had only rid­den in­fre­quently dur­ing the pre­vi­ous five years asked a lo­cal club­man Mau­rice Bray­ford, who was com­pet­ing reg­u­larly, to help him. Test­ing was car­ried out in a lo­cal quarry in Old­ham over sev­eral months. The main prob­lem was the tele­scopic front forks that Wade had made in the fac­tory, which started to seize af­ter about ap­prox­i­mately one hour’s con­tin­u­ous use. Af­ter fit­ting the lat­est MP branded tele­scopic front forks it im­proved its han­dling and per­for­mance. Bray­ford used it in lo­cal and the oc­ca­sional na­tional trial, but it was not com­pet­i­tive against the Eu­ro­pean and Ja­panese ma­chines now avail­able. Only six of these DMW en­gine ma­chines were man­u­fac­tured and sold, and sev­eral have been re­stored in more present times. Sev­eral more frames had been made and have been fit­ted with 32A en­gines over the years.

By the end of 1978 the last motorcycle had left the fac­tory but the sale of dampers con­tin­ued un­til the 2000s un­til Arm­strong ceased pro­duc­tion.

DOT For­ever

Burnard Scott Wade, who had bought the com­pany in 1932, died peace­fully in his sleep on the 11th October 1984 af­ter a full day at the fac­tory. His son Michael car­ried on with the busi­ness, sell­ing damper spares for post-war DOT ma­chines un­til his un­timely death on the 14th September 2010. The fac­tory was sold in Jan­uary 2017 but the com­pany still ex­ists and is owned by Roy Dick­man, who was a co-owner with Michael. John Hulme: “I would like to per­son­ally thank Eric Ad­cock for his knowl­edge and in­put into the gen­er­a­tion of this ar­ti­cle.”

The 1965 DOT Al­loy tri­als model.

Not as­so­ci­ated with DOT dur­ing his off-road ca­reer, Mick An­drews is seen here hav­ing a day out prac­tis­ing around the Peak District in Der­byshire; we be­lieve around 1965. The sec­tion is Hollinsclough and the ma­chine is the ‘works’ DOT of his good friend Nor­man Eyre, which he wanted to ride to test the front forks.

Doug Theobald changes the oil on his DOT prior to the start of the 1967 SSDT. It’s the 1965 Scott Trial in October, where we see Eric Ad­sett cross­ing Or­gate Splash be­fore he started to be in­volved with the new model.

Wade made a mo­tocross frame suit­able to take a Maico en­gine, and six where pro­duced with the aim of pro­duc­ing a com­pet­i­tive ma­chine.

This shot of Eric Ad­cock is from the 1967 Red Rose Trial as we see one of the very first out­ings of the new pre-pro­duc­tion ma­chine.

Feet-up and con­cen­trat­ing; Doug Theobald took a Spe­cial First Class award at the 1967 ‘Scot­tish’ and was the best placed DOT rider, in 19th po­si­tion.

The cra­dle-loop frame was fab­ri­cated from man­ganese molyb­de­num al­loy steel, which was bronze welded with gus­set plate where deemed nec­es­sary. The main frame tubes were formed from 1 5/8” tube with the steer­ing head an­gle changed to elim­i­nate the heavy feel­ing when the ma­chine is on full lock. The 1967 model seen here was avail­able in kit form 3–4 weeks from the or­der be­ing placed. Each model was avail­able fully as­sem­bled at £236 in­clud­ing the new Pur­chase Tax with a shorter lead time, or in kit form free of Pur­chase Tax at £197. The al­loy en­gined mod­els were £271 and £226 re­spec­tively.

This is the new model, on which you can see the lat­est Villiers 37A en­gine. The fly­wheel weight has been in­creased to give smoother run­ning at very low en­gine rev­o­lu­tions. Mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the crankcases has al­lowed for a slim­ming ex­er­cise on the chain­case.

Late in 1977 the Wades, Burnard and Michael called on Ad­cock and stated that they had a pro­to­type tri­als ma­chine fit­ted with a 250cc DMW en­gine.

Two sizes of fuel tank were made avail­able, with the smaller one hav­ing been cut away at the rear to make it nar­rower for the rider when stand­ing. It was also claimed that the con­tours of the un­der­side of the tank would de­flect air down onto the cylin­der head to give ex­tra cool­ing.

Us­ing a ‘Mi­cro’ Ital­ian 175cc Minarelli en­gine they tried in vain to sur­vive in the late six­ties and early seven­ties, but to no avail.

By the late seven­ties the ‘Mi­cro’ tri­als boom was in full flow. With no Villiers en­gines avail­able the small Bri­tish man­u­fac­tur­ers were look­ing to for­eign en­gines to use in their ma­chines. This shot of Eric Ad­cock on Hollinsclough, watched by fel­low rider Den­nis Jones, is of a very early Minarelli en­gined DOT in 1969.

The front wheel hub is lo­cated with a 65-ton-ten­sile front wheel spin­dle which in­cor­po­rates an os­cil­lat­ing brake plate, giv­ing max­i­mum brak­ing with­out in­ter­fer­ing with the sus­pen­sion move­ment. At the front the wheel hub is 8” and at the rear 6½”, giv­ing a large pur­chase area for the brakes when ap­plied.

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