A.J.W. had been busy again during the last months of 1932 updating its machines. The whole range had been given a new frame, but the Vixen had also been given totally new enclosed rear body work.
THE MOTOR CYCLE announced in December 1932 –
Handsome Rear-enclosure System Adopted in range of three ‘Vixen’ models.
For 1933 the A.J.W. ‘Flying Fox’ and ‘Vixen’ models have undergone many alterations. The most outstanding of which apply to the Vixen range. Actually there are three models in each range, making six in all. Basically the models are alike, the main difference being the ingenious enclosure of the rear half of the Vixen machines.
The frames of all models have single top and front down tubes, which arrangement incidentally, gives better accessibility to the cylinder head and the central plug on those models fitted with radial valves. These tubes are 11/2ins in diameter.
Python engines and Python four-speed gearboxes are used through out. Wide or close ratios are optional, but while a positive foot gear change is standard on the Vixen range, it costs 25s extra in the case of the Flying Foxes
The general specification of the Flying Fox includes Druid forks with quickly adjustable dampers, 26in x 3.25in Dunlop tyres, 7in brakes, a steel saddle tank with quick-action filler cap and a rain deflecting device on the tank top.
The rear mudguard is deeply valanced at its forward end. The exhaust pipes are two inches in diameter throughout their length with internal baffles so fitted that their presence cannot be noticed externally. This produces an extremely neat appearance though, it is to be feared, one which might arouse the other wise unmerited attention of the police.
While constructionally the Vixen range is similar to the Flying Foxes it is in the equipment and appearance that the difference lies. Forward the two types are similar, but, to the rear, the Vixen models have practically one half of the wheel enclosed in two side panels which extend from the saddle tube to the mudguard tip, with a cutaway to allow access to the rear hub, the chain sprocket and brake. The top of the guard is streamlined into the saddle providing a neat base for a pillion seat.
A tool-box is built into the side of the panel, the rear half of which hinges to allow access to the rear wheel.
Upswept pipes are fitted as standard. The specification includes a trip speedometer, mounted on the front forks, foot gear-change, chromium plated wheels, electric horn, Licence holder and Miller electric lighting.
One model of this range that I have been unable to find much information is the ‘Vixenette’ 350cc equipped with special mudguarding etc. (probably aimed at the ladies) I have been unable to find any photographs or road test reports.
The Flying Fox with its Python engine and 4 speed gear-box was available in both 350cc and 500cc form. It was an attractive looking machine with its large 2in diameter straight-through high level exhaust pipes. Note the efficient rear mudguard.
Ignition was by Lucas with a variable magneto. Carburettor is a Bowden. Lighting is Miller 6 volt with separate dynamo driven by a Dunlop V belt.
The Red Fox was built down to a price of £42, which represented the lowest priced 500cc machine on the market at that time. This was the first A.J.W. machine to be sold by Pride & Clarke, Stockwell Road, Brixton, London S W 9.
The Red Fox, unlike the Flying Fox, was not fitted (due its low price) with a valanced rear mudguard or a water trap on top of the tank, which was painted all black with a gold line instead of being chromium plated. It was fitted with a 3 speed gear-box and a Dunlop waterproof saddle. Low level exhaust pipes had tubular silencers fitted and coil ignition was used. However it was still a good looking workman like machine.
John Wheaton had by now had several quite successful years. In fact the business was now well established and showing quite a useful profit.
But, unknown to John, there were dark clouds on the horizon, as in March 1933 a receiver had been appointed to manage the Rudge company, which was then close to bankruptcy. Rudge informed John by letter that they were keeping all engines for their own machines and sales of the Python engine were to be stopped.
John promptly went up to Rudge at Coventry with Glanfield (his agent in London) to plead with them for more engines but came away with a promise of only six.
Worse was to come, near the end of 1933 Glanfield Lawrence went into liquidation owing John Wheaton £3000, a very large sum in those days. But financial disaster was avoided. John had had enough of motorcycles by this time and was looking to sell, when Geoff Corby offered to buy the A.J.W. Company. Geoff had by that time worked for A.J.W. for quite a while. The change was agreed; John still kept an interest and he would stay on as consultant, but would now spend more time in the Printing Works. During this time he helped secure a new sales agreement with Pride & Clarke who were to be come the sole agents for A.J.W. from the end of 1933 until 1939.
A.J.W. now started to use the J.A.P. 500cc twin port engines from Tottenham. Unfortunately that year was not a good year for this particular engine. A.J.W. had had a tremendous amount of trouble with crank-pin breakages, which John believed was probably due to the hardening of these items. Along with Reg Grindlay of Grindlay-Peerless, John went up to Freddie Cotton’s factory in Gloucester for a meeting with Vivian Prestwich in an attempt to get these matters corrected, but it was some time before this was achieved.
With all these changes taking place it meant changes to the frame and other small parts to allow work to resume.
The picture right has been taken from the A.J.W. record book and shows what I would think is a stand bolt and what Peter Abrahams, the foreman who drew the sketch, describes as the shark. This photo shows a right-hand shark being reworked. They were all date stamped in 1932/33 with code letters; for October it would be O.
Again from the Record book I can see frame numbers for one hundred and sixty machines built during 1933.
Only four Flying Foxes are know to have survived from 1933.
Changes since 1932.
- New frame, tool box, oil tank and battery carrier.
- New petrol tank.