Classic Trial - - CONTENTS - Words: Gilles Es­cuyer • Pic­tures: Pas­cal Deliege


Rid­den by Frank, this But­ler is cer­tainly one of the few used in com­pe­ti­tions

Top right: The orig­i­nal BML badge

As a sup­plier of fuel tanks and an­cil­lar­ies in fi­bre­glass, in­clud­ing those on the fa­mous ‘GOV 132’ Ariel of Sammy Miller, and the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the Greeves leading link forks, But­ler Mould­ing Limited also pro­duced around 200 mo­tor­cy­cles be­fore aban­don­ing the off-road scene for sail boats. To mark the oc­ca­sion of one of these ma­chines go­ing

on dis­play in the Joel Cor­roy mu­seum in France at his Trail 70 HQ we spoke to Frank Du­lubac, the proud owner of a Tem­pest model, to learn more about

these rare and un­der­val­ued ma­chines.

An in­dus­trial de­signer, and cu­ri­ous by na­ture, Chris But­ler be­came in­ter­ested in 1954 by a ma­te­rial de­vel­oped be­fore the Sec­ond World War but still not of­ten used in prod­ucts. It was re­in­forced glass fi­bre or, more cor­rectly, glass fi­bre re­in­forced plas­tic (GRP). Chris had been a pas­sion­ate mo­tor­cy­clist since the age of four­teen and so he de­cided to use this new ma­te­rial and con­ceived cer­tain el­e­ments for his own ma­chines used in both tri­als and scram­bling.

The aim was on the one hand to lose a sub­stan­tial weight from the heavy ma­chines of the time and on the other to give his mod­els a dif­fer­ent aes­thetic look from those of other rid­ers. The mod­i­fi­ca­tions that Chris But­ler made to his ma­chines were of­ten the cause of many dis­cus­sions in the pad­docks!

With a hand­ful of or­ders from friends and other rid­ers Chris did not wait long be­fore launch­ing into a small se­ries of prod­ucts in GRP such as fuel tanks, side pan­els, front and rear mud­guards, as well as num­ber boards. It was the start of his new busi­ness ven­ture But­ler Mould­ings Limited — BML.

Lighten your Ma­chine

Se­ri­ous pro­duc­tion got un­der­way in 1963 when he was con­tracted to sup­ply Greeves who were a sub­stan­tial pro­ducer of mo­tor­cy­cles at the time. He had made his name with his prod­ucts be­ing seen on the great­est de­vel­op­ment ma­chine of the time, the 500cc Ariel of Sammy Miller who, in his re­lent­less quest for im­prove­ments, had used But­ler-sup­plied fuel tanks and mud­guards in or­der to re­duce weight by a few more grams.

It was from this start that the cham­pion in­tro­duced the small pro­ducer into the his­tory of tri­als. Chris how­ever de­cided to take his prod­ucts one stage fur­ther, con­vinced that his GRP prod­ucts when fit­ted to a frame of his own de­sign could lighten even more by a not in­con­sid­er­able 30lbs (13kg). His aim was to have a ma­chine lighter than the no­tional

bar­rier of 200lbs (around 90kg). His idea was to de­velop and mar­ket a rolling chas­sis kit which would al­low a rider to con­struct his own ma­chine by adding an en­gine and wheels etc. He set to work and had the idea of a rev­o­lu­tion­ary leading link fork (not fit­ted to our test ma­chine) equipped with Gir­ling sus­pen­sion units. It was this con­cept that Greeves purely and sim­ply copied two years later for their own mod­els. The But­ler was launched in 1963.

The box sec­tion tub­ing used in the frame con­struc­tion caught the eye of many a prospec­tive buyer but there was no chance that Chris But­ler would sell his prod­ucts be­fore they had been well and truly tested and proven to be re­li­able.

Into the Fire

He rode in the tough­est events pos­si­ble such as the Scott and Scot­tish Six Days Trial, amongst oth­ers. The re­sults were promis­ing and the lit­tle But­ler was as­ton­ish­ing.

In Novem­ber 1964 But­ler had its own stand at the Earls Court Mo­tor­cy­cle show. John Lee was con­tracted as a fac­tory rider and Olga Keve­los rode the SSDT twice at the con­trols of a But­ler. How­ever, af­ter 1965 the pre­vi­ously unas­sail­able Bri­tish mo­tor­cy­cle in­dus­try was in trou­ble and the pro­duc­tion of tri­als ma­chines turned to Spain. The prob­lem of find­ing a mar­ket for his GRP prod­ucts was solved when Chris had the idea of pro­duc­ing plea­sure and, later, rac­ing boats.

Af­ter pro­duc­ing close to 200 mo­tor­cy­cles in kit or fully as­sem­bled form the work­shops of BML turned to­wards a brighter fu­ture. To­day at least three But­ler mod­els sur­vive in France; one is in a to­tally orig­i­nal state and can be found in the Trail 70 mu­seum in Ve­soul, one is in the course of prepa­ra­tion at BPS run by expatri­ate Stu­art Brown in Ca­hors and the test ma­chine, which is still used in many tri­als by owner Frank Du­lubac!

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