The story of Automoto

Mono cylinders 2 HP

Moto “Automoto” 2 3/4 HP type Toerist D

Engine : – 2 cylinder in V, “Automoto-Moser”, bore size: 56 mm – Stroke : 70mm – operated by valves.
Magneto (magneto ignition): – Bosch high voltage armoured
Carbu : “Automoto-Moser” with throttle slide control on the handlebars – throttle on the carburetor for corresponding air flow.
Gas tank : nickel plated and ornamented copper with a met a capacity of 6 liters of gasoline and  1 liter of  oil. – drain tap.
Drive : By means of a trapezium shaped drive belt
Springy front fork: Type “Wright” with  compensation springs
Brakes: Front – braking on a pulley-rim, operated by a pedal, left, next to the magneto
Frame: made from straight tubes, at the bottom interrupted to allow support of the engine by steel engine plates.  Distant between ground level and the central top tube 0,725 meter.
Mudguards: enforced and easy to demount – Mud-rag attached to the bottom of the front mudguard
Tires: “Continental”  600 x 50, enforced behind.

1911 – After being disrupted in 1907, the production was resumed by the firm: “ Nle CML”, (New CML)
An agreement with the Swiss motorcycle manufacturer Moser was made for the production of the Mono cylinders 2 HP ( bore size 68 x stroke 78 mm, volume 283,3 cc ) and the two cylinders in V of 2,75 HP ( bore size 68 x stroke 78 mm, volume 552,2 cc).

Magneto ignition and carburetors were made by Moser. The frame parts look like to be copy’s of the Moto-Rêve. And because these frames were offered rough to be used by manufactures, you can ask yourself if it wasn’t a Moto-Rêve frame that was delivered for some time in St-Etienne .
This hypothesis is worked out through the following argument.

Moto-Rêve of 1913, shows the two cylinder type C on the same scale as the drawing of the two cylinder Automoto

An excellent illustration from the catalog of Moto-Rêve of 1913,shows  the tw0 cylinder type C on the same scale as the drawing of the two cylinder Automoto, published in the edition “Cycles et Automobiles Industriels”; then the frame of the Moto-Rêve was turned and the frame of the Geneva motorcycle was overlay-ed on the stéphanoise (Automoto) motorcycle.
As the sequence of the 4 illustrations on the left proves, a certain doubt is justified.
The frames of some Moto-Rêve’s of 1912 and 1913 are more likely to originate from Automoto even though they were differently equipped in Genèva.

Moto AUTOMOTO one cylinder : 850 Fr

Engine … …  Automoto Moser 2PK
Valves … …  Operated
Bore size … …  68 m/m
Stroke … …  78 m/m
Magneto … …  Bosch high voltage
Carburetor … …  Carburetor Moser
Tank … … Nickel plated copper, volume 5 liter gas and 2 liter oil.
Transmission … By means of trapezoidal belt
Two brakes … At the front of the rim and the back of the hub
Front fork … … Springy
Mudguard … …  Steel plated
Frame … …  Special enforced, height 50 cm
Wheels … …  Diameter 600
Foot rests … …Reversible
Luggage carrier …behind
Saddle … …  With springs, especially for motorcycles
Weight … … 35 kilo
Tires … … “Persan” enforced.

1912

On the right, a photo from the 1912 catalog, showing the right side of the motorcycle, this time equipped with the swinging fork.

The 2,75 HP of 1912

The same basic models, offered for, respectively, 850 and 950 Francs.
A first form of suspension, which does seem to be light, is introduced. It closely resembles that of the motorcycle KD
There are two catalogs, one with a purple cover and one with a maroon cover.

Engine Moser 2,5 HP model M

1913 – In 1913 a complete reversal finds place:  In a new chassis, now far more modern, 2 Moser side-valves engines are built in:   The type T , gets the “promised” old two-cylinder  3,5 HP ( without any modification of the dimensions: still a bore size 68 x stroke 76 mm for  552,2 cc), on the other hand the model M profits from a new vertical mono cylinder of 2,5 HP (bore size 68 x stroke 80 mm,  being 290,5 cc); completely different than the previous 2 HP engine. A clutch was an option , but the beautiful hanging front fork made by “Wright”, brought to you by the firm, is being used.
It seems like that, despite the accompanying catalogs which aren’t dated, the models of 1912 were further sold under the name SCL till the beginning of World War I in 1914. The engines were still delivered by  Moser, but have now the inscription Automoto.

2, 5 HP type M, version “toerisme” without belt tensioner
Clutch Automoto

The Clutch Automoto

“Our new clutch with a kind of plates, what seemed best for the motorcycle, it allows the maximum progressiveness and gives the slightest tension.
We felt a need to shift from annoying sticking out pulleys and clutches which were realized by the tension of the drive belt, which is a second choice and a poor technical solution, with a frequent irregular operation which caused the rapid wear of the belts, and had no other benefit than a lower second-hand price.
This clutch is the most robust and the most solid one that can be made. In addition the disassembly is extraordinary easy and the lubrication takes care that the clutch always keeping its progressive function without additional  adjustments.”

The Wrigt front fork
Just one motorcycle during the Salon in 1913; the bicycle is dominant.

1914

The range was significantly expanded: with a 2 1/2 HP mono cylinder type M and a 3 1/2 HP mono cylinder (type to be specified further); a two cylinder, 2 3/4 HP which reappeared under the name type D, a 3 1/2 HP type T stays maintained, however a 6 HP appears ( type not established), whereby the the latter two models can be supplied with sidecar. Two kinds of clutches and forks depending on the cylinder volume of the engine. In addition to the standard versions, the so called  “Tourists” versions, were offered as the “Luxe” versions; the main difference is the belt tensioner. You can have for the 2 1/2 mono cylinder and the 31/2 two cylinder a clutch with gear drive on a engine pulley with a big diameter, which is a positive contribution to the performance of the belt and to limit slippage.

They are identical – a picture from a catalog to prove it – a combination of a clutch with gear drive with chain drive, that made sure the 3 1/2 PK “Sport T” was placed in the top range of the technology.
At last the possibility of a rear hub with clutch appeared and 2 or 3 gears for the “Touriste” and “Luxe” versions; on invoices 420 or 470 francs. When no brand like Armstrong or Sturmey-Archer was added people thought that they were home made.

Moto “Automoto” 2 3/4 PK type Toerist D

Engine : – 2 cylinder in V, “Automoto-Moser”, bore size: 56 mm – stroke : 70mm – valve operated.
Magneto (magneto-ignition): – Bosch high voltage armoured
Carbu : “Automoto-Moser” with throttle slide control to the handlebar – throttle on the carburetor for corresponding air flow
Gas tank : nickel plated and ornamented copper with a met a capacity of 6 liters of gasoline and  1 liter of  oil. – drain tap.
Drive : By means of a trapezium shaped drive belt
Springy front fork: Type “Wright” with  compensation springs
Brakes: Front – braking on a  pulley-rim, operated by a pedal, left, next to the magneto
Frame: made from straight tubes, at the bottom interrupted to allow support of the engine by steel engine plates.  Distant between ground level and the central top tube 0,725 meter.
Mudguards: enforced and easy to demount – Mud rag? attached to the bottom of the front mudguard
Tires: “Continental”  600 x 50, enforced behind.
Collapsible parking stand which automatically attaches to the rear mudguard
Price : 975 francs

Accessory for brake working on the inner part of the pulley-rim:                                      25 fr
Accessory for silencer with valve for free or restricted passage of exhaust fumes           25 fr
Accessory for springy front fork “Automoto”                                                                         50 fr
Accessory for luggage carrier in tube structure, gas welded:                                               10 fr
————————————————————————————–
Only the equipment of the “Automoto” factories can realize such a perfect machine for such a low price.

Moto “Automoto” 3 ½ PK type Sport T

Engine : – 2 cylinder in V, “Automoto-Moser”, bore size: 68 mm – stroke: 76mm – valve operated.
Magneto (magneto ignition): – Bosch high voltage armoured
Carbu : “Automoto-Moser” with throttle slide control to the handlebar – throttle on the carburetor for corresponding air flow.
Gas tank : copper, descending from behind, extra luxurious decorated  – filter in fuel pipe  – drain tap.
Drive: By trapezoidal drive belt, extra reinforced, choice of leather “Houben” or rubber.
Belt tensioner: patented “Automoto”, functions automatically.
Springy Front fork : “Automoto” a double jointed parallelogram.
Two brakes:  Front and rear- braking on the pulley-rim, one controlled by a pedal and the second controlled  by a lever at the handlebar.
Frame : lowered at the back – top central tube, arched – covered with enameled black lacquer and decorated with lines.
Foot rests: with aluminum rests
Mud guards: enforced with flanges/side pieces to the side and easy  to demount – Mud-rag attached to the bottom of the front mudguard
Tires : “Continental”  600 x 50, enforced behind.
Collapsible parking stand which automatically attaches to the rear mudguard

Price : 1300 francs
Type “Sport D”, same model but with a engine  2 3/4 pk,  tire size 600 x 55
Price : 1.180 francs
Ideal machine for many rides through the country.

People saw the rise of the “Sport” T of D versions with lowered frame and an alternative free silencer controlled by a pedal. In those days motorcycles had an exhaust without significant damping materials in their silencers.  These were not used because the 2 and 3 HP engines from those days didn’t have so much power at all and wouldn’t have any power left if used. So they all rode merrily around with a hollow exhaust with a lot of noise.

This wasn’t a big problem in the open French country, but in the cities, towns and villages there soon came  regulations to restrict the noise. So manufacturers  built in the exhaust a kind of valve which closed off the exhaust almost (and muffled the noise) by which the problem was solved cheaply once more. Once outside the cities and villages you were able to open the valve with a foot pedal while riding your bike and you had all power (and noise) at your disposal.

Motocyclette “Automoto”, type “Sport T”

The drive of this “Sport T”  is a combination of a clutch with gear drive with a chain drive: ahead of its time!
There was an error in the assessment of the 500 by the race with the 350 which has basically one cylinder of 452cc.

500 cc course machine

Description Course 500 cc

Engine: mono cylinder vertical. Operated by valves.
Magneto: Bosch Z.A.I.
Carburetor: injection
Drive: by trapezoidal drive belt
Springy Front fork: “Automoto” nr2
Frame: lowered at the back
Tw0 brakes : Front and rear- braking on the pulley-rim, one controlled by a pedal and the second controlled  by a lever at the handlebar.
Mud guards: enforced
Tires: “Continental or Dunlop” 650×55
Price: with 350 cc engine, bore size 70 mm, stroke 90 mm 1900 fr.
Price: with 500 cc engine, bore size 80 mm, stroke 70 mm 2100 fr.

There is a clutch with gear drive available for the 2 1/2 mono cylinder and 3 1/2 two cylinder to use on a engine pulley with a larger diameter, which benefits the good performances of the tire and to limit the slipping. They are identical to the combination of a clutch with chain drive which placed the 3 1/2 HP “Sport T” earlier in the forefront of technology.
Finally, the possibility of a rear hub with clutch and 2 or 3 gears appears for the versions “Touriste” and “Luxe” which are listed on the invoices for 420 or 470 francs; without mention of make (like Armstrong or
Sturmey-Archer ), causing people to believe they were home-made.
And last but not least, the icing on the cake, two (or three) “competition customers” were offered the 350 cc and 500 cc… this is a way to negotiate the price: 1900 fr. and 2100 fr. for the first place!

Type 350 Course…in a state…

The whole Moser engine series. The nice front fork is, now, called Automoto and not Wright… The production, despite high prices, had to be big enough judging from the number of surviving motorcycles. There is even found a type “350 course”. In a state….

Motorcycle “Automoto” type “Course” 550 cc ( Racing-model)

This 550 racing model  is listed on page 7 of the 1914 catalog…with luggage carrier.
Did it really exist or is the cylinder named after the resemblance of a shell type graphic? Mysterious.

the factory “A” in 1916

1919

Some motorcycles with frames from the 1913 models and two-cylinder Moser engines, appear as long as the stock lasted. Imagine,  in the collection, a model equipped with an engine from 1906… the Ultima motorcycles succeeded in doing so. Assuming that it usually was custom to use the frames as long as the stock lasted.

1922

The start of selling bicycles and other activities, didn’t make it necessary to return to the motorized bikes before that date.  A first attempt of selling a motorcycle will be the offering of a 350 Gillet d’Herstal tw0 stroke. I never had heard of it, but a catalog by Oliver Loungueville was found and this is irrefutable evidence. How many bikes were sold? Perhaps none.

The Automoto-Gillet “Luxe” as presented in a prospectus dated in 1922. The  effectiveness of the  marketing strategy is more than questionable.

1923

The return of the motorcycle will be a fact by the way in which the original bike with auxiliary engine was inspired by the Evans Cycle engine. Remains remarkable that the drive pulley can be slid aside and forward of the block to allow a longer belt. Taken closer, rightly, because it promoted the starting procedure well. Internal gear drive and a clutch with plates are certainly not the things as common as on a lighter motorcycle. Well presented and a good price, these motorcycles, named type MA, sell very well at the beginning of 1923.

1924

Undoubtedly encouraged by this success the firm repeated the general plan when launching the MB, but equipped with two gears and a   kick-starter. Very soon the cylinder capacity of the MC type will be increased to 175 cc. The sale will not, far from that, match the one of the motorbike with auxiliary engine and their modernized tank.

1925

Only type MA was maintained. The 175 MH Jap engine Aza appears secretly. The next series of the 175 MF engine Automoto shall known a great success. Including the sport version. We see a magnetic flywheel ignition and the separate lubrication by a pump which is placed on the carter of the primary drive, by the way, the indention is a construction seen on every other versions. The same engine equips the MS series, more economically with a direct belt drive and magnetic ignition with flywheel.

Evolution, still in 1925, of the 100cm3 MA ( which was a BMA before its time, auto registration didn’t exist yet ) which received a new tank and an other handlebar and which is presented with a speedometer… as an option mounted.

The tank stickers as “signature” ( D185 reference, length 132 mm ) are more and more replaced by separating “Auto” en “Moto”  by a little clover.

1926

On the first of April 1926 the Sociëtë Française des Boîtes Campbell was founded which, although a seemingly separate existing, with the headquarter in the Bron, in the neighbourhood of Lyon, appeared to have been a pure emanation of Automoto. For the first time type “P with gear drive” appears which is a simplified version of the 175 MF equipped with a gearbox, but, instead of the gearbox equipped with a delay box? with clutch and pedals (Transmission system which causes a decrease of speed due to a (inhibitory) increase of the torque. This is achieved by shifting a load gear and/or flywheel, which reduces the speed of rotation of the drive shaft.) In 1925 the name MS employée was replaced by the  type “P without gear drive” in 1926. Finally the beginning of the four-stroke series GM. First with a 250 Moser. This model will be, in general,more or less form the basic model of all the following Automotos till 1930.

Without question a 250cc Automoto from February 1927.
The engine with a half round cylinder head is from Moser.

1927

In February Moser was replaced by a Zürcher. A “lateral” version equipped with a JAP will follow. These are fine machines equipped with a Webb front fork which gave it a amazing modern look.  Boîtes Campbell, of course.
The egg shape tank was designed in 1925 and wasn’t used since the MF, as it was:
MF1: “Populaire”, swing front fork, release the clutch with a kick but without a gear box. Belt driven. No  front break. Simple exhaust. It replaces type P with  gear drive.

MF2 Warians
The system that was applied at the Warians with adjustable pulley

MF2: “Warians”: The same, but with changing gear by an adjustable pulley.
Also known as “W”, or sometimes MS.  MF3: “Touriste” likewise with an exception of a two-speed gear box.
MF4: “Sport” double exhaust, three speed gear box and chain chain drive. Webbs front fork. Drum brake at front.

175 cc MF4 with double exhaust

The exhibition in October 1927 saw a truly explosion of the range of motorcycles together with the trade of all “A quelque-chose”.So the MF4 gets the pressed line and shape of the tank of the GM and becomes the A1. The same development happens to the MF1 named “Touriste populaire”. But the disappearing of the egg shaped (ovoid) tank, and more strangely, the Webbs front fork was badly accepted by the customers. At production we see the use of a lateral 350 engine “maison”, which is purely inspired on the Blackburn; the equipment of the A3. Generalisation of the décalque ( the print on the tank, or the side panel, with respectively, the name of the brand and/or the type classification. This along both sides:in this case the brand AuTomoTo ) in slat-shaped letters (characters), with the lines of the (letters) T protruding. The decoration of the tank and the jerrycan for gasoline for the two-stroke is the classical “flammé” of the parent company on a grey background.

The 175 A1 “Bol d’Or” of 1928 which succeeded the MF Sport of 1927. Pay attention to the very beautiful original exhaust.
The MF “Sport” with double exhaust of 1927.

 

1928

A7 belt driven and equipped with a two-speed Campbell gear box.
A8 belt driven and the same gear box as the A7.

At the end of  1927 marketing of the new products was presented. The 175 cc A1, called “Bol d’Or” ( although this isn’t the showed version ) and the 250 A2 ( also called MY ), equipped with a two stroke Automoto engine, the same as from the MF. What remains is a double name for almost all types from the serie, taking into account that catalogs always show the different names of the “A”series followed by a number. So there are:

– A1:175 = “Bol d’Or”
– A2:250 = “Grand-Sport” somtimes “MY”
– A3:350 = with Automoto-engine and …= “Tourisme-Confort”
– A4: the same rijgedeelte als de A3, maar met een (zwitsers motorblok) Zurcher 350cc met tuimelaars en uitwendig vliegwiel = Sport-Confort.
– A5: 500 JAP zijklepper = “Grand Tourisme-Confort”
– A6: 500 JAP kopklepper = “Grand-Sport-Confort” Gedurende het jaar verschijnen twee extra modellen.
– A7: 175 economisch; dat is, ongeveer, een MF3 met een tank van een A1 gemonteerd die wordt genoemd “Touriste Populaire”; 2 versnellingen en een riemaandrijving.
– A8: Als de A7, behalve met kettingoverbrenging; deze versie heeft geen ander benaming.

To be continued….