The Rob Edwards Story – Part Three – 1965

Rob - JOM John Hulme credit
Pictured at the Scott Centenary Re-Union in November 2014, Rob Edwards and ‘Trials Guru’, John Moffat try the 1912 Scott “AK222” and James Dabill’s 2014 Scott winning Beta Evo 300 for size. Photo Copyright, John Hulme/Trials Media 2014

The 1965 Scottish: A few weeks before the ’65 SSDT, I had an out-of-the-blue phone call from Hugh Viney, the competitions manager at Associated Motorcycles (AMC) who owned the AJS & Matchless brands; wanting to know if I would ride in the ‘works’ team in the forthcoming Scottish – WOULD I?

It seemed that they wanted Mick Andrews to either go scrambling or ride the 250cc James, which AMC’s also owned.
And so it came to pass that I became the third member of the AJS factory team.
However, there was no time for them to prepare me a bike and Mick’s bike 644BLB wasn’t available for some reason, so I needed to ride my own Ajay – not a problem!
Both the ‘Gordons’ – McLaughlan and Blakeway, had put my name forward to be in the team to Hugh Viney, so a big ‘thank you’ to them both for that gesture, which I have treasured all my life since.
My week was going well, I was clean on the Tuesday.
Later in the same day, we were looking forward to riding the new section ‘Pipeline’, introduced the previous year.
There were so many stories about ‘Pipeline’ that I wasn’t really sure if it had been cleaned yet or not.
I had teamed up with Alan Chant from Bexley-Heath who was on a 350 Matchless.
In those days all the ‘big bikes’ were grouped at the back of the field.
As we rode up to ‘Pipeline’, the spectators were all heading back into Kinlochleven.
Alan and myself walked the hill and both agreed on bottom gear.
Alan went first and he cleaned it.
I went next and after a bit of a shaky start, by trying to go too fast too soon.
I settled down and at the right speed things were a lot easier and guess what, I cleaned it.
I bet the spectators who left early were a bit peeved!
On the Thursday, I parked my bike close to the first section on ‘Mamore’ and went off to view the sections.
When I returned to my bike, there was a large pool of oil on the floor underneath!
A stone must have flicked up from the front wheel and hit the small alloy casting that the oil feed to the cylinder-head connects to and smashed it.
There was no way of fixing it, so I set off free-wheeling down to the road, expecting to retire from the trial.
I was sitting by the road side at the gate, that is the entrance to the famous Mamore path, when a car and trailer pulled up.
“Whats up Rob” the chap shouted over, I explained my plight.
“No problem mate, give me two minutes and I will take the one off my bike” he said.
In all the confusion and despair, I hadn’t noticed that the bike on the trailer was a 350 AJS, what a stroke of luck – for me anyway.
The engine had ‘gone bang’ and the fellow had retired from the trial.
You don’t have to be good with luck like that!
He got me going and I forget the lads’ name but I am indebted to his sportsmanship and generosity that day.
On the sixth day, we did Town Hall Brae in the centre of Fort William.
We were then faced with the long ride back to Edinburgh.
For me it had been a great week thanks to Gordon Blakeway and Gordon McLaughlan. – Bye for now! – Rob.
1965 SSDT Programme
Front cover of the 1965 SSDT official programme.

Trials Guru: 1965 was the effective beginning of the end for the ‘big bikes’ that Rob talks about. Sammy Miller had been victorious for the last time on his 500cc Ariel (GOV132) and had moved over in late 1964 to the Spanish Bultaco, the creation of Franciso Xavier Bulto.

Miller brought the 244cc Sherpa T (669NHO), home to victory in the 1965 Scottish losing 29 marks, the first win on a foreign machine in the trials’ history.

Second was Arthur J. Lampkin on his 249cc BSA (XON688) losing 33 marks and third was Mick Andrews, 250cc James (307AKV) on 37 marks.

It wasn’t all to go Miller’s way though, a year later, arch rival Alan ‘Sid’ Lampkin was to snatch victory from Miller’s grasp on his 249cc BSA (748MOE).

In the ’65 trial, Rob Edwards rode number 207 as part of the works AJS team comprising of Edwards, Gordon S. Blakeway (No. 178) and Gordon O. McLaughlan (No. 177).

Rob rode his own machine registered 970PL with many of the works style modifications.

However, history records that it was Triumph that won the 1965 Manufacturers Team Prize, the Blackford Challenge Trophy.

From the Official Results of the 1965 Scottish Six Days Trial:

Award 16 – For the best performance by a competitor on a solo motor cycle from 251-350 c.c. – R. Edwards (A.J.S.).

In the 1965 Scottish, Rob lost 63 marks and gained a Special First Class Award, just 6 marks behind his friend Alan Lampkin who went on to win the following year.

LEP - 1964 - Holder Photo
1964 shot of Rob on his own 350 AJS, the one he rode in 1965 as part of the factory team. Part of Rob’s personal collection of photos. This is the top of Loch Eild Path. Photo: Brian Holder, Teddington, Middlesex.

Rob on AJS:
When the SSDT started and finished in Edinburgh, on the sixth day after the lunch check at Crianlarich there were no more sections until the Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill in the city. This was purely to see if your clutch still worked. You had to stop between two yellow lines and when the official dropped his flag you could move on – simple.

When you passed a third yellow line, that was the end of the observed hill. The path was so flat, nobody actually treat it like a section. However, I did see a rider who when the flag dropped he picked up the front wheel and tried to wheelie to the ends cards unfortunately he tipped his bike over backwards and his score went up by five points.

After Blackford Hill was the final scrutineering test when you wheeled the bike onto a wooden workbench for inspection.
The AJS had one big problem, the swinging-arm bushes, they wore out at an alarming rate!
1964 - Cleveland National - Best Perf - Best 350 - One make team - E Yorks Rider - Middsb member
Rob seen here at the 1964 Cleveland National which he won on his AJS 16C. Swinging arm bushes were this models ‘achilles heel’. The swinging arm was a two piece unit held in place by a cotter pin, the bushes wore out at an alarming rate.
If the scrutineer thought that there was excess movement in the bushes, your score could go up by five marks.
I can still see my Dad, Bob at the bottom of Blackford Hill, with a cup of tea in one hand and an industrial grease gun in the other.
After my cup of tea, I pumped the swinging arm full of grease. It only lasted for 100 metres, but it was enough to get through scrutineering!

 

To Be Continued …

Copyright:

Words: Rob Edwards/Trials Guru, John Moffat 2014.

Photos:

: Copyright: John Hulme/Trials Media – photograph at Scott Re-Union Dinner 2014.

: Edinburgh & District Motor Club Ltd for the use of the 1965 programme cover.

: Rob Edwards for the 1964 photo of Loch Eild Path. Brian Holder Photo.

To read all of Rob Edwards’ story of his life in trials click … here

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