I was intrigued that former Scott racer, Colin Heath’s name had come up as a subsequent owner for both the ‘prototype’ racing Silk Scott and ‘FNT’, the Silk Scott racer owned by John Farrar and co-developed with Alan Noakes and Barry Tin(g)ley. See Alan’s memories here.
I wondered whether this could be true.. did he really own both of these machines and what was the story?
Colin came to visit me a few months ago, as his daughter lives in the same town as I do, and upon seeing the picture of the white Silk Scott prototype on my wall noted that he’d owned it, having bought it from George Silk himself.
Only this week, Dave Whiteside contacted me to say that he’d bought it from Colin and that it was now in Sweden.
I thought I’d email Colin to ask about FNT, and he sent me a piece that he’d written for ‘Yowl’, the journal of the Scott Owners Club in 2005 but never sent to be published.
As with all good projects, you need a certain amount of momentum to get over the tricky bits. The first tricky bit for the Moss/Silk Scott racer is to rebuild the frame so that its strong and aligned.
I cut the front downtubes out about ten years ago, as we had intended to make the bike work as a test bed for engines we were rebuilding. The problem was that you couldn’t get the blinking engine out without having to partially strip it, or that’s what I remember anyway. Maybe others (Yuri Gellar?) would have had better luck. Paul Dobbs, who raced Roger’s bike at the time, agreed with my suggestion that we could have a detachable cradle… so I cut the front tubes out. I’ve often regretted it, mostly because of the extra effort required to get the thing back together. With some intelligent work though, it could be a really useful modification and it’s time that I pushed to get it sorted out.
As Roger is snowed under with engine work (and welding and brazing were never his thing anyway) I’ve been talking to Alan Noakes, an engineer and a Scott enthusiast, about the best way to approach this. Alan has considerable experience with welding and brazing and also has a frame jig for the duplex Scott frame which may just work with the Spondon frame.
Another reason that it’s great to be working on this with Alan is the fact that he has his own history with the Silk Scott. He sent me a wonderfully atmospheric photograph of him with a Silk Scott set up for racing when I first contacted him and after some encouragement he gave me some of the background.
The Spondon Silk (see below) you have pictured on your website could be Georges prototype but it does not have the double sided Fahron front brake which I would have expected as the first one was raced in the Manx GP by Stuart Hicken 2 years running either 71/72 or 72/73, by the way I believe Stuart Hicken is MD of Mallory Park now, I did meet him at a vintage meeting at Crystal Palace after his ride in the MGP and he said he was aquiring Scott parts to build a vintage racer with Georges (George Silk) help but I don`t recall ever seeing him racing after that.
The story of the Silk Racer in the photo is this, during the 1960s I met a local Scott owner by the name of John Farrar, we were both intent on tuning our Scotts to make them faster we also used to bother George Silk at race meetings hanging round his camp asking stupid questions etc. at some stage John had his crankcase fitted with Silk cranks and we carried on experimenting with different mods and sharing information with George, I did the engineering John paid for it. When George and Bob Stephenson shared a stand at a race bike show in London could have been 71/72 george had his racer and the first road bike on display, John had decided to order a racing chassis complete with gearbox but minus engine as he would use his existing engine and placed his order at the show this is the bike you see in the photo, on the day the photo was taken you can see that the bike was not finished no exhausts etc. we just wanted to make sure that the gearbox and clutch worked I had modified a Jawa speedway clutch to fit. The letters FNT on the bike stood for Farrar Noakes Tingley, Barry Tingley was a Local rider quite good had been given rides by Stan Shenton from Boyers of Bromley who later ran team Kawasaki. Our first race with this bike was at a Big international formula 750 meeting at Brands with the likes of Sheene Grant etc. we finished well down the field the following week saw us drawing up a completely uprated engine with reed valves flat top pistons alloy cylinder and heads etc. I did actually start making some bits for this engine but a change of job put a stop to progress and by that time John had decided that Georges new Silk engine would be a better option for the bike. John eventually sold the bike to Colin Heath.
The virtual oily corkboard of a vintage motorcycle racing family