Tag Archives: Jock Wilson

ARIEL HT500 – Sammy Miller – 786GON

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Rear view of 786GON showing the fibreglass mouldings by Butler. The Ariel was not a replica, it was Sammy Miller’s second string Ariel he used as often as GOV132, it is rumoured that Sammy simply changed the numbers over for different events. Photo courtesy of Roy A. Kerr.

Not generally known, but here we have Ariel HT500 registered as 786GON, known as ‘Sammy’s other Ariel’. During the late 1950’s and 1960’s Sammy Miller had access to two HT500 Ariels, his famous version GOV132 and the machine pictured here. The bike is now in Italy in the possession of a collector, having been owned by Jock Wilson (Comerfords) Ernie Page, Roy Kerr and Tim Beaven, plus some other individuals

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Timing side view of 786GON when it was owned by Roy Kerr. The exhaust was made to blow mud off the rear tyre. The machine was fitted with Ariels alloy ‘Leader’ type hubs. Photo courtesy: Roy A. Kerr.

The machine was put on sale in early 1965 by motorcycle dealers, Comerfords Limited in Portsmouth Road, Thames Ditton, Surrey along with GOV132. Comerfords having taken over the support from Ariels to Sammy Miller when the factory had ceased manufacture of trials machines. 786GON was for sale at £350, which was almost £150 more expensive than a brand new Greeves two-stroke at that time.

Arthur Fowler bought 786GON, but returned it for sale at the end of 1965 to Comerfords and Jock Wilson purchased the machine.

The motor shows its pedigree. The engine number indicates that this is no ordinary HT5, but an experimental motor. (Photo copyright: Roy Kerr)
The motor shows its pedigree. The engine number indicates that this is no ordinary HT5, but an experimental motor EXHS 99. (Photo copyright: Roy Kerr)

After selling the bike to Harry Rayner, Wilson bought it back from another owner, John Parry, at which time Jock Wilson slowly restored the machine to its former glory.

Wilson sold 786GON to Scotsman Ernie Page, himself an accomplished trials, scrambles and ISDT competitor, who owned Page Motors in Edinburgh, who at that time had a sizeable motorcycle collection. After a period of time, Page sold the Ariel to former employee, Roy Kerr, himself a former Scottish trials champion.

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After some years under the ownership of Tim Beaven, the bike was then sold to a private collector in Italy called Carlo Ramella. The Ariel lives on but in its new home in the Italian alps.

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786GON at it’s current home in the Italian Alps with current owner/collector: Carlo Ramella. Photo copyright: Justyn Norek, Turin.

Justyn Norek a design consultant from Turin, made the following observations of 786GON when a test of the machine was undertaken by the German ‘Trialsport’ magazine in March 2014, here they are:

“Frame: In Reynolds 531 tubing, modified with steeper steering angle, oil in frame.

Fuel Tank: Beautifully styled in fibreglass, very light and slim design, one bolt mounting with depression in front part to allow full lock of the steering, with the fork coming close to the tank. Perfectly done by Butler Moulded Laminates, the creation of Chris Butler. Also the builder of the Butler trials machine. It has a metal logo on the top of the tank a real work of art.

Seat Base: Integrated with the rear mudguard, another artwork in fibreglass by Butler. Very slim viewed from the top, in cream white finish, synonymous with Miller’s Ariel. It also had the integration of the rear registration number plate. The seat is perfectly designed to be light and slim, but still comfortable.

Exhaust system: Starting with the beautiful curve, extremely compact and well tucked-in to the motorcycle. It terminates with a small silencer breathing out the hot expelled gasses on to the rear tyre knobs. This ingenious idea allows for cleaning of the rear tyre from any mud and leaf-mould and also warms the tyre rubber for better grip.

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“… extremely compact and well tucked-in to the motorcycle. It terminates with a small silencer breathing out the hot expelled gasses on to the rear tyre knobs.” – Justyn Norek (Photo copyright: Roy Kerr)

Kick-starter and Gear Shift levers: Bored out to shave more weight from the machine.

Speedometer: Mounted to the engine plate and protected by the aluminium shield from mud etc. It is not the easiest to look at when in operation, but who looks at the speedometer during an event. This was merely an attempt to keep the machine street-legal.
Chain guard in fibreglass, neatly styled with simplicity, weight-saving and functionality.
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“…Chain guard in fibreglass, neatly styled with simplicity, weight-saving and functionality.” – Justyn Norek. (Image copyright: Roy Kerr)
Front mudguard: Again in cream white fibreglass by Butler. minimal and beautifully shaped and in perfect aesthetic harmony with the fuel tank, seat base and rear mudguard units. This creates an unforgettable aesthetics of this historic motorcycle.”
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Technical Specification of 786GON:

ARIEL 786GON – Technical Specifications:

Engine layout: Single cylinder, vertical cylinder in light alloy.

Capacity: 497cc

Bore & Stroke 81.8 X 95 mm

Compression ratio: 8.5: 1

Max power: 24 hp at 5800 rpm

Carburetor: Amal monobloc.

Oil system: Dry sump with double oil pump and separate oil tank.

Primary drive: Chain.

Clutch: multiple discs in oil bath.

Gearbox: Burman – separate, 4 speed ratios: 6:1; 9.5:1; 14.7:1; 19.3:1

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Gearbox: Burman – separate, 4 speed ratios: 6:1; 9.5:1; 14.7:1; 19.3:1

Frame: single down front tube in Reynolds 531 steel – Weight around 14 kg.

Suspension:

Front: Hydraulic telescopic forks with sliders shortened from Norton road-holder, yokes from BSA shortened to shorten wheelbase.

Rear: Rear swing-arm on silent-block bushes with chain oil system incorporated, Armstrong shock absorbers.

Wheels: steel rims, tyres front: 2.75 x 21, rear 4.00 x 19.

Brakes: Front: drum type 180 mm – Rear: drum side type 180 mm

Main dimensions: wheelbase 1340 mm

Ground clearance 220 mm

Seat high: 810 mm

Steering head angle 63.5 degrees

Weight: 111kg.

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The magazine Trialsport in Germany carried a full report using material from Justyn Norek Snr and his son Justyn Norek Jnr. If you can read German language, here is a link to the article on the internet, (you may need to right click on the link to open it):

Article 786GON – Trialsport ©

© PDF version of article from Trialsport Magazine DE: Ariel 786 GON (1)

© Photos courtesy: Roy Kerr, Kelso, Scotland, UK.

© Photos courtesy: Justyn Norek, Turin, Italy.

For more photos of 786GON – See Justyn Norek Photos

Please be aware that the article on Ariel, 786GON which appeared in Trialsport magazine is copyright – Trialsport March 2014 – © 2013 TRIALSPORT Verlag, Odenwaldstraße 5, 97896 Freudenberg-Ebenheid

Additional information Words and photos copyright © – Justyn Norek, Turin, Italy.

© – Article: Trials Guru/Moffat Racing, John Moffat – 2015 (All Rights reserved)

Jock Wilson – ISDT Team Manager and more!

Peter ‘Jock’ Wilson … a great friend … a great man ~ By Renee Bennett.

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Jock Wilson on ‘Cheeks’ at the Clayton Trial in 1962 on his specially built ultra-short-stroke AJS 350. (Photo supplied by Patricia Wilson)

When I think of Jock Wilson, it reminds me of the fantastic Thames Ditton motorcycle dealers, Comerfords, AJS trials machines, Bultaco, the Scottish Six Days and a top Home Counties based trials rider who went on to take charge of the British International Six Days Trial Trophy Team for nearly 20 years.

Peter Cameron ‘Jock’ Wilson was born in Scotland on 12th January 1934 at Oakbank, Bridge of Balgie, Glen Lyon, Perthshire. The Scottish Six Days was practically on his doorstep as the ‘Meall Glas’ section was only ¾ mile from his front door.

Jock on his short-stroke AJS in a Sidcup 60 Trial. Comerfords Sales manager Bert Thorn is following in the background.
Jock on his short-stroke AJS in a Sidcup 60 Trial. Comerfords Sales manager Bert Thorn is following in the background.

There is the main reason he was such a good trials rider ~ with all that practice ground, he just had to be good!

‘Jock’ as I’ve always known him, started his working life as a lumberjack, then a spell in the British Army doing his national service at Aldershot, then marrying his wife Pat and moving to London to live permanently.

At Aldershot, Jock was in the Royal Army Service Corps or RASC for short, his commanding officer was Captain Eddie Dow, but he also met many of the factory trials and scrambles stars of the era who were also doing their national service. Riders such as Roy Peplow, John Giles and many more.

He took up employment at Arthur Cook Motors in Kingston-Upon-Thames and then the well-known motorcycle dealership, Comerfords based in Portsmouth Road, Thames Ditton, Surrey which he joined in 1957.

Jock started at Comerfords as a motorcycle mechanic in the workshops, soon progressing to workshop manager. When he became bored with that, he moved into sales under Sales Director, Bert Thorn.

1965 Scottish Six Days on Callert, riding the ex-Sammy Miller Ariel 786GON, which Wilson owned and rode for several years. The machine is now in Italy.
1965 Scottish Six Days on Callert, riding the ex-Sammy Miller Ariel 786GON, which Wilson owned and rode for several years. The machine is now in Italy.

Jock’s specialty was modifying AJS trials bikes, cleverly making them lighter and more powerful. Gordon Jackson, Gordon Blakeway and Gordon McLaughlan rode AJS machines as a team in those days and Jock even named one of his sons after the trio.

Gordon Jackson of course won the 1961 SSDT on his factory AJS (187 BLF) with just one ‘dab’ ~  Amazing!

Jock went on to manage the British International Six Days Junior Trophy and Trophy teams. His knowledge gained by riding in the ISDT many times himself on AJS and Triumph machinery gave him a valuable insight into this part of off-road sport and was a very highly thought of manager by the riders and the ACU. He actually cut his teeth initially by managing the Scottish ACU squad in Sweden in 1978.

A Scottish ACU presentation of awards ceremony at Perth in 1980. From left: Ron Wright (SACU Trials); Alex Phillip (Clubman TT winner 1948); Robbie Allan; Charlie Bruce (Scottish racing champion); Tommy Milton (SACU official); Anne Allan (wife of Vic Allan) and Jock Wilson, ISDT Team Manager.
A Scottish ACU presentation of awards ceremony at Perth in 1980. From left: Margaret Allan (SACU Chairperson); Ron Wright (SACU Trials); Alex Phillip (Clubman TT winner 1948); Robbie Allan; Charlie Bruce (former Scottish racing champion); Tommy Milton (SACU official); Anne Allan (wife of Vic Allan) and Jock Wilson, ISDT Team Manager.

When Comerfords eventually took over the importership from Rickman Brothers of the Bultaco brand, Jock was soon in charge … supplying dealers and operating a first class spares service.

When Jock left Comerfords, some many years later, he started his own business importing the Italian SWM trials and enduro macinery in partnership with Mick ‘Bonkey’ Bowers, which became equally as good as the Bultaco brand and very popular.

Jock and Bonkey set up a countrywide dealer network which included former World Trials Champion, Martin Lampkin.

After SWM stopped producing motorcycles, Jock went self-employed working from his home in Tolworth, fixing and tuning bikes and repairing damaged wheels, as he is an ace wheel-builder.

Nowadays, Jock is retired but still works a little on classic bikes in his spare time. I speak to him regularly and it’s always a pleasure.

Jock has always been a friend to me, to my late father Wag Bennett, and to my children Charles (who runs a busy London motorcycle shop) and my daughter, Julie.

I owe Jock a debt of gratitude for the support and help he gave me over twenty five years of trials riding.

Thank you Jock Wilson … Renee Bennett, Plaistow, East London.

Trials Guru: Jock Wilson, so named because this was common place for a Scotsman living and working in Southern England at the time, became one of off-road motorcycle sports’ most respected characters. Jock was a very competent mechanic and a serious trials competitor. When he was with Bultaco UK, he was responsible for setting up the contracts with the Comerfords supported riders in both motocross and trials. Wilson was mentor to Greeves rider and fellow Scotsman, Vic Allan when he moved from Aberdeenshire to Thames Ditton to ride for Comerfords in 1967. Allan then went on to ride for BSA briefly, during which time he crashed heavily at the Italian GP on his factory BSA breaking his hip and was sidelined for several months, during which time BSA closed the Small Heath competitions department. Allan then reverted to race for Comerfords on the Spanish Bultaco and became British 250cc and 500 cc Motocross champion in 1974, riding the Pursang models in both classes.

© – All text copyright: Renee Bennett & Trials Guru / Moffat Racing, John Moffat 2015.