Find out about how the initial prototypes for the first Scottoiler system appeared over twenty five years ago, when Fraser Scott began to investigate and invest in the potential of his idea for a motorcycle chain oiler.
As a life-long motorcyclist, the initial idea came to Fraser when he was commuting from Glasgow to Manchester on a regular basis to meet with a girlfriend! Due to the high mileage that Fraser was travelling, he found himself having to continually adjust or change his chain. Eventually, under the name of FM Scottoilers Limited, Fraser first made the Scottoiler available to the public in 1986, finally settling on trading as Scottoiler (Scotland) Limited in 1992. Since then continual improvements and innovations have culminated in today’s range of products.
The Scottoiler chain lube systems, for which Scottoiler is now widely know, clean and lubricate the chain. The solution was originally designed for motorcycle chains, but we also do a similar product for bicycles too. With motorcycle chains a coating of oil or grease protects the chain from wear and corrosion. However, road dirt tends to adhere to the oil and this combination of dirt and oil forms a grinding paste that increases friction and accelerates chain wear. To prevent this from happening it is necessary to clean the chain often. This used to require the chain to be removed from the sprockets and immersed in a bath of solvent which was a tedious and messy chore, often leading to staining of the cleaners’ hands and clothing. Fraser wanted his invention to prevent this by significantly reducing chain wear. The Scottoiler not only does this but it also improves performance along with other benefits such as improved fuel economy. Fraser Scott’s invention has since changed people’s perceptions of what can be expected from the life of a chain and sprockets.
The popularity of Scottoiler products globally has created an ever expanding workforce with its HQ based in Milngavie just outside Glasgow. With a strong R&D function continually developing future Scottoiler products the company plans to bring the benefits of their product range to a much wider global community in the future.
Motorcycles have always been central to my life. My first memory was being a tank-top passenger, and falling off, my dads’ Triumph Twin around 1937 when I was two. Whether it was the wartime ‘black-out’, the Lucas lights, or the Demon Drink I do not recall.
My first bike was a BSA Bantam, bought for ‘get to work transport’ when I reached seventeen, and from which I regularly continued to fall off… usually because of ‘plug-seizures’?
A lifetime dedicated to bikes to go camping and hill walking trips, and then scrambling kept me busy, until, for my sins, in my forty second year, I invented the Scottoiler.
Around 1977, I used Norton Commandos and they kept blowing-up. I used them almost every weekend going between Glasgow and Manchester to see the lady of the time. After coasting silently to a halt, again, I bought a Suzuki 750 four. Previously I had used three Renold chains concurrently, pulling one off the sprockets with another, cleaning them all in a petrol-bath, drying them off, and boiling them in a Duckhams grease-pan every 600 miles. The Suzuki had an ‘O-ring’ chain which was immovable without removing the swing-arm and it was drooping off the sprockets the first time I got to Manchester. It looked too costly to replace.
It was then I thought the Suzukis’ vacuum petrol-tap could be adapted to make an automatic chainoiler, and a prototype was made up by John Mellor, a fellow fugitive from Glasgow at weekends, and it worked.
For five years I worked on perfecting the Scottoiler. I really did nothing else because the ‘O-ring’ chains were just not wearing out. The sprockets were wearing a bit, but the chains, on the road and even in the dirt were really enjoying life. I felt it would have been irresponsible to pack in the project even though it was costing me my social life and most of my money.
In 1983 a champion finally appeared in the form of Textile Mouldings of Accrington (TML) who commissioned Westclox of Dumbarton to manufacture 10,000 Scottoilers which were launched at the NEC show in 1983. We sold 50 kits to an indifferent public in a collapsing motorcycle market.
After taking a decision to make bits for cars instead, TML sold the Scottoiler project to me personally, and in 1985, having no capital left to re-launch, I decided to sell the kits by mail-order and rely on word-of-mouth to build sales up slowly. After five years it was all getting a bit too big for me to handle personally, so instead of hiring unemployed bicycle racers to remake kits, we took on more permanent people, and started to get more professional. I then went on to concentrate on designing lubricating systems for bicycle chains and skis.
Today, more than twenty people work here in our factory, with more employed by our engineering sub-contractors all over Great Britain. I’ve since taken more of a back seat, handing over the reins to my daughter Fiona who, as MD, has helped create the company’s current form, although my role as a disruptive innovator within the R&D team continues to this day… and long may it do so.