AJW Motorcycles :: History
Chapter 17

The Lightweights

A.J.W. left the motor cycle market for a while but returned in 1958 with yet another Fox Cub; this time the machine was an import with a 48cc F.B.M engine and three-speed gear box hung from a pressed steel spine frame with front and rear suspension.

Jack Ball 1958This Fox Cub was produced in collaboration with Messrs Cimatti of Bologna.

Light weight, combined with a powerful engine and correct gear ratios, is the secret of the Fox Cub’s amazing performance and low fuel consumption, reads the caption for the photo. (right)

I believe the person holding the bike in the photograph  could be Alex,  Jack Balls son.

The A.J.W. Airedale (below) was a heavy-duty long-life 3-speed moped specifically designed for regular everyday use in hilly areas, for longer distance commuting, or for messenger services.  Top speed is around 40mph and petrol consumption around 140 mpg.

The engine was a Minarelli P3 50cc with a 3-speed handlebar gear change and an automatic return choke.

Other Features were a speedometer, anti-theft lock, large carrier, tool box, full chain-guard, deep section mudguards, main and dip headlight, electric horn and engine stop button.  It was finished in stove enamelled blue.

Vixen Standard

The Standard Vixen (above) was powered by a F.B.M. 48cc engine.  It had a sturdy duplex cradle frame, telescopic front forks, dual rate rear suspension and the powerful, heavily finned brakes ensure ease of control under all road conditions.

A two-gallon tank of distinctive design, adjustable footrests and handlebars, deeply valanced mudguards and sleek lines, with a choice of colours, were other items of attractive specification offered with this machine.

The Vixen Sports was built to individual specification only.

Vixen Sports

Vixen Sports

The Vixen (second series) had a sturdy duplex frame holding a F.B.M. 48cc engine with telescopic front forks and dual rate rear suspension.  Powerful brakes in heavily finned light alloy hubs gave confidence in all road conditions.  A large tank of distinctive shape, adjustable footrests, a choice of handlebar shape and up to the minute styling were only a few of the many features which made the Vixen a winner.

Vixen second series

Vixen second series

The speed given in standard trim was well over 40mph with a fuel consumption of 180mpg.

The Giulietta had five models in its range, the GS, GSE, GTD, GSS/3 and GSS/4, the latter being the top model. All had robust frames and forks of high quality steel (so the A.J.W. leaflet said), with inspired Italian elegance of line, enhanced by two-tone stove enamel finish.

Giulietta

Giulietta

Smooth powerful engines were of a well proven design, built in hundreds of thousands and in service all over the world. The machines had effortless steering, efficient brakes and Pirelli tyres for safety.  There were no valves to bother about and adjustment of chain and brakes for ease of maintenance took only moments.  The minimum tax-rate, lowest insurance premiums and low fuel consumption made for economy of upkeep.

The Vixen and Giulietta range were made by Peripoli Bros, Vicenza, Italy, and distributed by A.J.W. Motorcycles.

Jack Ball continued importing and distributing a small range of two-stroke machines from Italy up until 1974 when a new company was formed.

Jack Ball was a draughtsman by trade employed by The British Aircraft Corporation at Hurn Airport, on a contract basis.  He worked on designs for the B A C 111 and other aircraft, including possibly Concorde.

Most of his spare time would have been spent in his shed up-dating his designs for his motorcycles and making frames, tanks and many of the other small parts that go to complete a machine.

He made several Speedway machines for friends in the area and, as the Poole Speedway track became more popular, his services were in great demand.  The frame top tube fuel tank was one of his ideas, so he was kept busy with repairs and modifications.

Jack would travel alone to Italy by train once or twice a year to buy engines, tanks and other parts for his machines.  Most of these trips would have been to the Peripoli Bros. Vicenza, Italy and the Minarelli factory.

Christopher Steel worked part-time for Jack at Colehill for five years.  Chris told me that  A.J.W. made quite a few prototype machines for evaluation in Italy and that at Colehill, and later the Andover factory, he made and sold hundreds, yes hundreds, of 50cc machines and later 80cc machines for delivery to Ireland for road racing and sprinting. Quite often some of these machines would be returned for repair or modification.

Amazingly, Chris told me that A.J.W. again sold hundreds of 50cc machines in America to hotels.   They were shipped with no brakes but had a kill switch fitted.  Apparently they were used as free-bee runabouts and hotel guests could use them as they wished with no licence required.

In the late seventies Jack designed, built and developed the first prototype of the Fox Cub.  This was the Fox Cub that would later be built by Chinwood Ltd in Andover.  He also designed and built a special jig to build the Fox Cub frames.  This consisted of a square box section frame standing in a stand with two spindles, so all the parts needed for the first frame to be completed could be put on one side and clamped down and welded.  The foot control was pressed to spin the frame over in the cradle and then a matching frame could be built on the other side, as the jig was mirrored.  Welds that could not be made on the first frame were made through the second frame. Then the jig was spun over and the completed first frame removed.  Then the parts for the next frame were loaded and the cycle repeated.

Jack Ball

Jack Ball retired in the late seventies and moved to Shipton Gorge, Burton Bradstock, Bridport, Dorset, where he died.  Having spoken to his neighbours and other people that knew him, I formed the opinion that he was a quiet and very studious man.

Jack Ball (left) outside his home in Shipton Gorge, he would then have been about 75 years old.

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