AJW Motorcycles :: History
Chapter 11


John Wheaton began this year with the introduction of yet another new model.

MOTOR CYCLING  were given a preview in January 1936 and stated :

An entirely new A.J.W. model has just been placed on the market.  Like the other machines in the range, it is a 495cc single with a specification designed to appeal to the sporting rider, but it is fitted with an engine specially made by Stevens Bros. (Wolverhampton) Ltd.   The price of the Silver Vixen is £57 10 shillings, which includes electric lighting and full equipment.

In general the Silver Vixen follows the lines of the A.J.W. Flying Fox, which was the highest priced among last season’s models.  The new engine is not the same unit as that fitted to Stevens’ motorcycles, but has been specially designed for the A.J.W. concern, having a different crankcase and timing gear cover and other minor modifications.  It is a neat and clean machine.

The actual capacity of the engine is 495cc.  Duplex hairpin springs are provided for the push rod operated valves.  A large bore Amal carburettor is fitted given an angle of 15 degree down draught.  The lubrication works on ‘total loss’ system: there is no sump.  The pump, which has a hand adjustment, forces the lubricant direct to the big-end and the engine receives a constant supply of fresh oil.  Of course the owner is relieved of the periodical duty of draining the sump.  A by-pass from the pump returns a fraction of the supply to the oil tank.   By removing the filler cap the rider may accordingly see, when the engine is running, that the system is functioning properly.  The tank, of welded steel construction, is conveniently located below the saddle.

Silver Vixen 1936

Silver Vixen

The magneto (which has the usual Stevens vernier adjustment in its timing gear) is an entirely new Lucas model, with totally enclosed  Nifal magnets.  It is an extremely neat machine. A separate dynamo with an endless V- belt drive fitted forward, provides the current for the Miller lighting equipment. The battery is housed below the saddle.  The headlamp is of a larger size and the horn (a recent Clearhooter introduction) is a most powerful instrument.   It is carried just above the crankcase on the exhaust side.

A single exhaust pipe, two inches in diameter, leads to a tubular Burgess silencer. This appears quite effective and the model has a nicely subdued note, while the engine struck us as notably sweet in its running and apparently very flexible.

Total enclosure of the primary chain is a feature and it is positively lubricated by a by-pass from the engine supply.  The engine sprocket has its shock absorber as well as the clutch, which is of the four-plate type.  Positive stop-change is standardised for the pivotally mounted four-speed Burman gearbox.

The central and lower portion of the frame in which the gearbox is installed, is a box construction in wrought angle steel, an exceptionally rigid, though simple, arrangement. The main tubes of the frame are of 1½ in  diameter and Druid forks of a central spring pattern, with taper-tube blades, are fitted. Hand adjustment for the steering-damper and shock-absorbers are provided. The bars are rubber mounted and, like the foot-rests, adjustable for position.

A useful feature is that the rear wheel is fitted with extra heavy spokes and may be removed without dividing the chain.  It is fitted with a Dunlop 26inx3.25in studded cover. The front tyre being ribbed and of 26inx3in size. The tyre equipment includes security bolts.  Both brakes have 7in drums.  The pedal for the back one is on the transmission side and is conveniently placed, were it provides tremendous leverage.  A speed of 80-85 mph is claimed for the new Silver Vixen model.

The Stevens brothers had been devastated after they had to sell out and close the old A.J.S. Company in 1931, due to money problems.  They lost nearly everything in the process but decided to roll up their sleeves and start all over again.  Luckily they still owned their old Retreat premises which, in the intervening years, had been used by the Stevens Screw Company.   In May 1932, working on a shoestring, they established a new company called Stevens Brothers (Wolverhampton) Ltd.  Their first development was a light commercial vehicle.  Later they built a range of motorcycles, mainly 250cc and 350cc machines.  Then, under the name of ‘Ajax’, they manufactured a range of 495cc motorcycle engines.  The version supplied to A.J.W. in 1936 was especially designed for them and different in many ways to the standard unit.   How many machines were built using the Stevens engines is not known.  A figure of fifty has been mentioned, but there is no way of proving this.

1936 Red FOX

Red Fox

The 490cc J.A.P. engined Red Fox (above) now has the new frame and a new toolbox but other wise is much the same for 1936.

Flying Fox 1936

Flying Fox

The 1936 Flying Fox (above) was similar to the preceding year, but with several small changes.  The front mudguard had lost its valance, the tank knee rubbers now had A.J.W. imprinted into them, (not on the Red Fox), the horn had been moved from below the head lamp to the right-hand side of the engine below the dynamo and the front forks had larger diameter steering column races and bearings fitted.

Once again A.J.W. found themselves outside the Olympia Motor Cycle Show halls.  As last year, they showed their new range, with Pride & Clarke, across the road at 11, Hammersmith Road.  They were in good company as Calthorpe, Cotton, Douglas and Panther were also with them.

The record book shows that A.J.W. built 242 machines in 1936.

At the time of writing, three 1936 Flying Foxes and two Red Fox are known to have survived: but no Silver Foxes with the Stevens engines have.

Changes since 1935

  • New horn fitted Silver Fox.
  • Tank knee rubbers changed Flying Fox.
  • Engine oil feed modifications and changes to steering head bearings all models.
  • New tool box: Red Fox.







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