EARLY SCOOTER DESIGN - SUMMER 1956 (LOOKING BACK No.26)

I explained in my OTL No 476 (mid May 2010) Historian's Notes that Velocette's first scooter design ideas were wrapped round the L.E. power and drive units. That original scheme was not sketched out at the Velocette factory, but at the Hay Hall, Tyseley works of Reynolds Tubes a couple of miles from Hall Green.

In August 1956 Jack Adams, Veloce's company secretary, wrote to Reynolds' boss Tony Reynolds setting out, "..certain fundamental dimensions so that Mr Frick's time will be spent to the best advantage". A carbon copy of this letter is reproduced here and comes from Veloce's works director the late Peter Goodman's files, which he donated to the Club some years ago. Alec Frick was chief draftsman at Reynolds, having been recruited from Ambassador, The Ascot, Berkshire, based motorcycle firm which was started post - WW11 by Kaye Don. Adams' letter suggested the new scooter should have a 51 or 52in wheelbase, running on 14in wheels. The L.E. power unit might be canted upwards at four degrees from the horizontal, with the oil sump angled to achieve a 4.5 in ground clearance.

Frick's work comprised a styling scheme, followed by a general arrangement drawing showing a tubular frame supporting the water-cooled twin's engine and rear drive. Both drawings are shown. Although the design was rejected because the step through section could not be made low enough with the engine directly underneath, many of its styling features foreshadow the Viceroy scooter's final layout. The petrol tank ahead of the rider and the mouldings giving access to the spark plugs are immediately recognisable features of the subsequent Viceroy. Incidentally, the general arrangement drawing shows that Frick was able to achieve the requested ground clearance without altering the engine's sump.

In the mid 1950s, Reynolds was also designing scooters for other UK firms such as Sun, Dayton and Panther. So it is not surprising for example that the instrument panel layout sited below the handlebar and leading link front fork became a feature of the Sun Wasp, a Villiers powered scooter produced by the long established largely cycle manufacturer based in Aston Brook Street, Birmingham. The fork layout was a Reynolds trademark of course, resulting from their collaboration with Ernie Earles.

These two drawings were provided by Ken Sprayson, at the time Reynolds top motorcycle man - and who had amassed an archive of the Tyseley firm's motorcycle output. Ken remembers that Alec Frick was also a talented photographer, recording many of Reynolds motorcycle related products on film. Frick latterly moved on, to design work at Jaguar Cars.

This archive material confirms that Veloce was considering scooter production more than four years before the launch of their ill fated Viceroy in late 1960. Fifty years ago this year.

 

Dennis Frost

 

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