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23rd January 2006


Books: 'Profile of a Scott Owner' by Jeff Meehan

What sort of man builds a Scott motorcycle out of spare parts he found in a shed? This sort of man...

'Profile of a Scott Owner' by Jeff Meehan Some four years ago (or is it five, now?) Jeff Meehan took on the challenge of restoring a Scott. Renovating any old motorcycle is never a small accomplishment, even if the bike is a complete but shabby example.

It gets more complicated when the bike is an unusual model, like Scott's famously yowling stroker, and such projects can take on heroic proportions when large chunks of the motorcycle are missing and the rest is dismantled.

So Jeff was coping with double trouble: a really unusual model and a project in pieces. He started out with several boxes of bits; 'none were assembled and there was obviously more missing than present'.

Jeff didn't go looking for a Scott to restore. Instead, the bike (or at least, the bits of the bike!) found him. Engaged in a house clearance project, he worked his way around to a large shed.

'The first box I picked had a very old and battered Scott radiator in it… The next box I lifted contained a Scott crankcase and this stopped me in my tracks because underneath that box was now revealed an unmistakeable, very dented Scott tank. Looking around the dimly lit shed I could then make out hanging on a pair of nails what was definitely a Scott frame. This was obviously (…a…) valuable Treasure Trove!'

Anyone who has restored a bike will recognise the events which follow in Jeff's tale: from first build (to see what was there and what weren't), to scavenging for spares, to joining the owners' club, to despair over the radiator (OK, that last one probably doesn't happen to many Britbike restorers!).

Random Scott Stuff on eBay.co.uk
(Not very relevant at the mo', sorry. RM)

However, Jeff's story isn't really about building the Scott at all. In fact, I can safely reveal the ending without spoiling the book - the Scott isn't actually finished by the time this volume draws to a close in the autumn of 2005 (although from the final photo it's looking like a real motorcycle again). But the Scott story is only a part of this book's attraction - the majority of 'Profile…' concerns Jeff's life with motorcycles long before he unearthed those intriguing boxes and started to bolt bits back together.

There was the time in 1971 when Jeff snatched a ride on a works Ariel Arrow racer at Oulton Park. This was the bike which finished sixth in the TT - and Jeff was riding it on a nasty wet day: 'seconds later I was off the track and on the grass'!

Another Ariel, the Square Four, also turned Jeff's head and, like many RC readers, he was intrigued by the Healey brothers' special, with its trick chassis and tweaked engine. But unlike most RC readers, Jeff actually owned a Healey Four, back in the long hot summer of 1976. 'I did really have a ball with this bike. It lived up to all my expectations and in several aspects exceeded them…'

After the Healey came off-road competition, when Jeff rode in national trials. There are some brilliant photos which show 'position normal' (a trial bike on its side in a ditch!), and Jeff and his pal Brendan wheelying with flair on a pair of Bultacos across a dealer's car park in 1978.

The book details plenty more about trialling, then a gradual progression through a series of restorations of road-going machines - a 1930's ES2 Norton, a 1939 New Imperial, a Royal Enfield sloper, a Silver Bantam - all of which helps to build up a picture of Jeff as a man who really won't give up once he's got his teeth into a project. The path is seldom easily trod; 'I have struggled for years to find the exact frame' for a 30's Norton single 'but could never afford the ones I found. In the end I settled for a 1930 Norton twin frame', but it is all entertaining - especially the occasional detour off into particle physics, or the challenge of sailing a 42-foot trawler to Turkey at a time when Jeff didn't even possess a passport!

Quite a few folk reaching Jeff's position in life would content themselves with curling up by the fire to read a good book. Instead he's two-thirds of the way through a tricky restoration and has written a good book into the bargain. Through the wonder of this internet-thing, 'Profile of a Scott Owner' is available on demand at www.lulu.com/jeff-meehan. Publishing your own memoirs is a brave step for anyone to take - Jeff deserves a round of applause simply for his get up and go!

Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason

Bye then....

Profile of a Scott Owner by Jeff Meehan is a 70-page softback with plenty of colour photos. It costs around $16 USD, including delivery, and is only available online at www.lulu.com/jeff-meehan

******

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