Devoid Of Trouble
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.
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.
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.
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.