Author Topic: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia  (Read 45970 times)

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Offline cardan

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There are several good threads on the forum about the Bailey-designed RA/RW/TW machines that were the bee's knees in terms of Douglas racing machinery in 1923-25. They were very popular out here in Australia, and I've come across some interesting photos from the period that I thought I'd share - perhaps I'll put up one every day or so in this thread to prolong the joy.

Today's photo comes from a journal called "The Farmer and Settler" of 27 Feb 1925 and shows Gus Clifton aboard what I think is the rare TW - a 350cc with sloping petrol + oil tank (no sump). Another photo of Clifton on the same machine reports he won a 350cc event on it. Penrith is 55 km west of Sydney.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 18:47 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #1 on: 04 Nov 2013 at 20:31 »
Today's photo comes from Exhaust Notes (journal of the Vintage MCC of Victoria) for July 1986, where it was captioned "American rider Jim Davis at the Melbourne Motordrome in 1925. Note the early Victorian trade plate on this machine." The banked motordrome track can be seen in the background.

The RA shown is very close to catalogue spec, although for your money you would have received domed mudguards, and lights and horn if you were planning to ride on the road. The bike is most like the 3 1/2 h.p. 494cc.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 18:49 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #2 on: 05 Nov 2013 at 20:28 »
Not much of a photo, but if the caption is to be believed this completes our triplet of models: TW in the first post, RA in the second, and 2 3/4 h.p. (350 cc) RW in this one.

The RW/24 appears in the 1924 catalogue, and other than the smaller bore (57mm for the 2 3/4 vs 68mm for the 3 1/2) and machining of the cylinder head to suit it is listed as identical to its big brother the RA/24. It carried its oil in an alloy reservoir running the length of the motor tucked in under the lower frame rails, as on the RA.

A. Clifton is no doubt our mate Gus from the top photo, full name Angus. Warwick is in southern Queensland, some 800 km (500 miles) north of Sydney, so the racing boys and their machines were well travelled.

Leon


« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 18:50 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #3 on: 06 Nov 2013 at 19:38 »
Not all RA/RW/TWs in Australia were to catalogue specification. A common deviation was the presence of a third stay in the back section of the frame - from the seat stay to the back axle lug on either side. Quite a number of bikes were fitted with these extra stays, at least in Australia, and the conversion is neat and professional. It could have been done at the factory, but more likely the distributor, Williams Bros in Sydney, who were heavily involved in racing, was responsible. Has the "three stay" frame been seen outside Australia?

In New South Wales it's hard to differentiate two- and three-stay frames as the Auto Cycle Union NSW number plates - that identify the rider regardless of the event - are large enough to cover the entire rear part of the frame.

Our photo comes from Jack Nelson, and shows Paddy Dean on a three-stay RA, date and exact location unknown. Note the absence of brake shoes.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 18:51 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #4 on: 07 Nov 2013 at 22:02 »
We've seen the sloping-top-tube frame and the three-stay frame. For the record we know that these two features were combined in at least one machine, as a surviving frame (a TW with an FF frame prefix) has both.

But just to confuse things completely, there are a number of period photos that show the sloping-top-tube frame fitted with all other parts to RA (or perhaps RW) specification: i.e. a flat petrol-only tank and an alloy sump for the oil. In this combination, there was a wedge-shaped gap as the top frame tube rises above the flat petrol tank. The photo below, reproduced form "The Racing Boys" by Wayne Adams,  shows such a beast. Close examination of the photo reveals that the bike certainly does have oil in a sump. The caption suggests the rider is E. Williams from Sydney and that the event is the Ambulance Motor Cycle Carnival, but since this event was held in Easter 1923, before the IOM TT at which the RA debuted, the photo must have been taken at a later event. One of the features of the December 1923 Hospital Motor Cycle Carnival at Goulburn was the appearance of a special Douglas identical to the TT winning bike, so the photo was probably taken at this event or even later. A photo of this, or an identical, bike appeared in a newspaper in January 1924, so the sloping frame was available very early in the RA product cycle.

Is the bike pictured a 350? 500? If you don't think a TS could cover just under 5 miles in just under 5 minutes (60-ish mph) on a dirt track - seems unlikely to me! - there is evidence for a racing 2 3/4 Douglas at that December 1923 meeting...

A thought on frame numbers: Early production RA frames (parallel tank tubes, with gooseneck to steering head) have prefix DF and the few surviving TW frames (sloping top tube) have prefix FF. An educated guess would be that an RW frame, identical to the RA item, might have frame prefix EF. Can anyone confirm? If a sloping-top-tube frame with a 494cc motor were built by Douglas, what frame prefix would it have? I recall that Doug told me that there was a surviving sloping frame with a DF prefix - Doug can you confirm?

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:06 by Dave »

Offline graeme

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #5 on: 08 Nov 2013 at 00:14 »
This is superb stuff Leon - thanks so much.

Offline Doug

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #6 on: 08 Nov 2013 at 02:22 »
Leon,

There is one frame extent with the sloping top tube (as usually seen on the FF prefix frames), stamped with 'standard' RA frame prefix of DF, numbered in the upper twenties. As (so far) it is the only one, one must allow that the fella at the factory may have picked up the wrong letter to begin with when the frame was stamped! Is a second one turns up it would indicate it was intentional. 

There are not enough frames yet known to determine if the DF and FF prefix frames were numbered in series or parallel. This will be resolved the day a DF and FF frame turn up with the same number. 

The frame prefix EF was assigned to the 1923 4hp RA. These were not cataloged for sale, but known to have been made. These would have been suitable for the sidecar racing class, and the sidecar frame was indeed significantly different than the solo frame. Unfortunately the one frame of this type that I know of is so corroded where the frame number would be, this theory can not be put to the test.

My current thoughts are the RW just used the same frame as the RA, with the same prefix.

A for when the TW appeared, the drawings indicate it was prepared for the 1924 season (drawings being made around September of 1923 and labeled TW/24), and came equipped with niceties such as chain guards and a rear parcel rack.

-Doug



[fix typo.  13Nov13.  -Doug]
« Last Edit: 13 Nov 2013 at 22:46 by Doug »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #7 on: 08 Nov 2013 at 20:35 »
Thanks Graeme and Doug - I'll follow up some of those thoughts as we go on.

Doug mentions that the TW came "fully equipped". If the 1924 catalogue is to be believed so did the RA, but it is rarely seen in this form. In fact in Australia it's rare to see and RA/RW/TW fitted with mudguards in a period photo! Because even TT bikes were registered in the UK, most 1924-7 UK photos of RAs show bikes with road equipments fitted (usually not lights). True the 1924 catalogue illustration shows the RA without carrier or toolbox, but it does make it clear that the bike was delivered with the following:

STANDARD EQUIPMENT. - P & H headlamp, generator [acetylene gas that is], horn, license holder, oil can, oil can, grease gun, .... tool roll and full kit of tools.

Many RAs in photos have a rectangular tool box on the left side of the machine, below the tank rail of the frame above the front cylinder - the Williams bike in the photo immediately above is an example. However some at least (perhaps for 1925) had rear carriers with tool boxes in the usual position. The photo below shows forum member Russ's grandfather W. R. Reynolds (http://www.douglasmotorcycles.net/index.php?topic=4270) on his RA at Seven Mile Beach in Tasmania. Some good road equipment on the bike, but not the lights (of which more later). I doubt that the bike was delivered with the smaller-but-wider rear wheel (likely 26x3 compared with 28x2 1/2) - perhaps a Tasmanian pot hole was enough to initiate the change.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:08 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #8 on: 09 Nov 2013 at 21:01 »
The rear carrier had other uses than carrying the tool boxes. I only hope that what looks to be the standard Douglas item is strong enough for this sort of activity!

This is one of the photos from Ron Hipwell's scrapbooks http://www.douglasmotorcycles.net/aa-files/html/hipwell/scrap1.html . Note that the bike is carrying A77, the same trade plate number as American Jim Davis is using in one of the photos above. At the time Hipwell was attached to Melbourne Douglas agents Turner Brothers (also responsible for the manufacture and marketing of the Invincible JAP), so it's probable that A77 belonged to them. No racing number (Hipwell mostly used 16) suggests we are not in the heat of battle.

A day ago I would have suggested that the sloping-top-tube frame is of the "standard" TW/RA style, but perhaps it is one of the EF-prefix 4 h.p. frames Doug mentions in his post? No brake shoe obvious on the front, but the rear is there.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:09 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #9 on: 10 Nov 2013 at 20:50 »
A couple more thoughts on RA rear carriers and tool boxes.

Recently Howard posted a beautiful full-colour front cover of Motorcycling, 29 October 1924 http://www.douglasmotorcycles.net/index.php?topic=4972 . The very accurate artwork shows a fully road-equipped RA, complete with lights, mudguards, small fish tails on the pipes, and a rear carrier complete with leather-fronted tool boxes. Given that the cover is a paid advert by Douglas, it's a fair bet that at least some RAs were delivered in this trim.

As noted above, earlier RAs, perhaps 1923-24, carried their tool boxes below the front part of the tank. If we dip again onto the Ron Hipwell Scrapbook we come up with this photo of Ron on his RA. Other than the missing mudguards and perhaps the footrest position, the bike seems to be in standard trim. The detail photo shows us the back side of the toolbox (it opens to the left side of the bike), as well as the Hutchinson tyres, AMAC 15TT23 carbs (air slides in the main body, aluminium alloy fuel bowls), petrol taps with in-line filters, aluminium oil reservoir under the lower frame rails... all good stuff.

A surprising number of RA racers are shown in period photos with their under-tank tool box still fitted, including Sheard's 1923-TT-winning bike.

Leon



« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:10 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #10 on: 11 Nov 2013 at 09:28 »
In discussing Paddy Dean's three-stay frame above, I suggested that the modification was most likely local. I've never seen a three-stay RA/RW/TW frame in the UK, and only rarely outside of NSW.

I'm not going to claim this photo of Pat Hamilton on his RA as "proof" but it is at least "strong supporting evidence" that the third stay was added locally. Could it be that his standard frame has just had "the procedure" to braze in the third stay? You'd think so.

No back brake fitted, but the front is still there. Photo from Jack Nelson.

Leon



« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:11 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #11 on: 11 Nov 2013 at 19:06 »
"As different as chalk and cheese" is a well-known saying, but it could be replaced by "As different as the motordrome and the dirt track".

Just a reminder that while in NSW Douglas RAs were being campaigned, and cleaning up, mostly on regional dirt tracks, at Melbourne's Motordrome (three laps to the mile) RAs were asked to do something quite different. 90 mph on a concrete saucer with big crowds. Not too much detail on the bikes, but the front brake is unmistakable. Another Hipwell photo.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:12 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #12 on: 13 Nov 2013 at 09:07 »
Same rider, different surface. Hipwell in the dirt.

Canted over like this, we get a nice view of the oil reservoir under the frame; also the lugs on which the tubular centre stand would pivot if it hadn't been removed for the race. The spring clip on the rear chain stay is still there, so maybe removal was only temporary. Looks like no brakes connected...

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:13 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #13 on: 13 Nov 2013 at 19:05 »
Another stripped-but-pretty-standard RA, this time with Ernie Buck aboard.

Dirt tracks ran counter-clockwise, which presented two problems for a Douglas rider: both the rear brake pedal and the exhaust system were low and on the left of the machine. Once again Ernie's bike is brakeless (even though the Ferodo discs are still on the wheels), but his exhaust pipes are full length. In the Hipwell photo above you'll notice that the exhausts can't be seen at the back of the bike, indicating he was using stub exhausts.

Ernie also did without any type of friction damper; many riders used a steering damper (anchored to the top frame tube) or a scissor-type suspension damper, or both.

"N'cle" on the photo is Newcastle - a major town north of Sydney, Australia, rather than the UK city of the same name.

Leon


« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:13 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #14 on: 14 Nov 2013 at 17:56 »
At the top of the page we started with the very rare 350cc TW, which Doug once referred to as a "colonial RA". Was it ever sold in the home market? Bonhams in the UK had a Douglas on offer at their Harrogate sale on 13 November 2013 which they advertised as an RA, and indeed the frame was a (modified) sloping-top-tube stlye. Very sadly the frame number has gone in the mods to the back stays, so we don't know if it started life as a TW (350 with frame prefix FF) or an RA (494 with frame prefix DF). However James from Bonhams has confirmed that the bike came out of South Africa - another "colonial RA". Does anyone have a period photo of a sloping-top-tube TW or RA in the UK?

[Edit April 2014: The Bonham's RA, now with a forum member, has a DF frame prefix, indicating RA. Another sloping frame in Australia has a DF prefix. An intelligent guess would be that a sloping frame fitted with 494cc motor, sump and flat petrol-only tank was designated "RA", likely 1924 build with a special frame for "the colonies", largely Australia and South Africa.]

Here's the only other TW photo I have seen; Gus Clifton aboard and explicit mention of winning a 350cc race - good evidence that the bike is a 350 TW. The date is January 1925.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:14 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #15 on: 17 Nov 2013 at 08:17 »
Irvine Jones gives us a good look at his RA, particularly the alloy oil reservoir - shallow but filling the gap between the frame members underneath the motor.

Two dampers (steering and suspension), three rear stays, no brakes shoes, but unusually the tubular centre stand is still fitted. Perhaps the stand was removed before racing. Another Jack Nelson photo.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:15 by Dave »

Offline Doug

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #16 on: 17 Nov 2013 at 13:22 »
Leon,

It also has the inlet manifold muffs, as seen on the Ron Hipwell and Jim Davis machine. A better look can be seen on this engine here, repatriated from Australia.



There would be small stubs on the front and rear exhaust pipes to tap into the hot exhaust gas. Rigid tube would lead this across the bike, underneath the sump, to circulate through the cast-on aluminum muffs. As can be imagined, the tubing passing under the sump was in a very vulnerable location.

So far period pictures of machines with the muffs have only turned up for Australian venues.

-Doug

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #17 on: 17 Nov 2013 at 17:54 »
Thanks Doug - at some point I was going to mention the muffs. There is a good mix of muff and no-muff RAs in the period photos, but we can add Arthur Wardell to the "muff brigade". (I think I can also show you muffs fitted to RAs in the UK, but will do that elsewhere as I'd like to keep this thread Australian.)

Front brake in place, steering damper, but no apparent suspension damper. Douglas themselves were a bit conflicted about whether dampers were a good thing or not on an RA - I'm away from home but will add some info on this later. By the way, you'll have to ignore the dates written on the photo. The birth of the physical RA was in 1923 I believe, in time for the TT. MotorCycling carried "the first detailed description" in their issue of June 6 of that year.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:15 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #18 on: 18 Nov 2013 at 19:47 »
The earliest dated photo I have of an RW/RW/TW in Australia is this shot of E. (Teddy) Williams on his racer. Apologies for the poor quality, but there are still features of interest. The photo comes from the Sydney paper "Arrow" of 1 Feb 1924.

Sloping top tube but flat RA-style tank, presumably with a sump for oil. Shipping for the UK was about 6 weeks at this time, so here we have evidence that the sloping frame were built in the later months of 1923, even though they were likely "1924 models". I'm guessing that the frame prefix would be DF if the bike was delivered in 494cc (3 1/2 h.p.) form.

Williams Bros. were the NSW distributors for Douglas; was Teddy Williams one of the firm?

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:16 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #19 on: 20 Nov 2013 at 21:32 »
Show me your sump!

Australian Noel Johnson obliges, but we've had to cheat a little. The caption with the photo in Jim Shepherd's "A History of Australian Speedway" gives the venue as London's White City and the date as 1928. The bike is pure RA, which would be a few years out of date by 1928. The 1928 Douglas catalogue did not list a dirt track model, but later a model RA/28 was built (frame prefix SF) followed shortly after by the famous DT (frame prefix TF). Photographs suggest that is was the original 1923-4 pattern RA that was used at the first dirt track meetings in the UK, with a mix of Australian and UK riders.

Doug tells me there were two styles of RA oil reservoir/sump; this seems to be the later three-piece design, where the ends are separate from the central hollow casting.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:17 by Dave »

Offline Doug

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #20 on: 21 Nov 2013 at 03:11 »
Leon,

I think the one piece sump only was used in 1923, which would limit it to Works machines. The three piece sump would have been much simpler to cast, and was likely introduced when the RA was offered to the public in 1924.

This shows a 1925 (late?) to '26 RA frame, with open ended lower frame lugs at the rear down tubes, similar to the OB model. That makes it the fourth variation of RA frame seen, excluding the RA28, which was more DT than RA. The RA was only cataloged for 1924-25, but one machine numbered in the low two hundreds is known to date to 1926 so they could probably be special ordered. 

-Doug
« Last Edit: 21 Nov 2013 at 03:21 by Doug »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #21 on: 21 Nov 2013 at 19:14 »
"These were a precision made job. The most perfect steering ever."

So wrote Wally Woollatt on this print of him aboard his road-equipped RA. Wally was a founding member of the Veteran and Vintage Motor Cycle Club of SA, and was the patron of the club when I moved to South Australia in 1990. He raced a variety of machines, and in particular set records on lightweights at Sellick's Beach here in South Australia.

Nice to see an RA wearing its road gear.

[Edit: This photo appeared in the News (Adelaide, SA) Monday 16 February 1925, so the machine is likely a 1924 or early 1925 model.]

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:18 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #22 on: 23 Nov 2013 at 01:04 »
Billy Conoulty was one of the more successful riders on the dirt tracks of NSW. He was also one of the "senior" riders; perhaps this explains why at meetings in 1924, where RAs we plentiful, Billy continued to campaign his two or three year old Sports Model Douglas, in both solo and sidecar races.

Billy's RA is much as we've seen before. The rear brake is connected, but it's hard to say much about the front brake as the artist has been hard at work tidying the background. It would appear that the front wheel is fitted with the Ferodo disc of the brake on the right (note the spokes visible in front of the disc), and the cable and shoe appears missing.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:18 by Dave »

Offline graeme

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #23 on: 23 Nov 2013 at 02:24 »
Am I right in thinking that the man standing behind the machine is S L Bailey? Back home to promote his new design no doubt

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #24 on: 23 Nov 2013 at 23:08 »
Yes Graeme, it could be Bailey: he was out here at the time (say 1925 - I'm not sure of the date of the photo). The first photo below compares Bailey celebrating Sheard's Senior TT win in mid-1923 with the man in the Conoulty photo above. Perhaps Bailey lost a little weight on the boat on the way out.

So far, most of the RA/RW/TWs shown have been close to standard, other than the usual removal of mudguards and brake parts, and perhaps alterations to handlebars, exhausts and foot rests. Given the number of "butchered" RA surviving, it's surprising that there are not too many photos of drastically-modified RAs from the 1925-1930 period. Of course it could be that modified bikes were more the domain of regional tracks rather than the main events where the Douglas Boys were competing on the latest hardware, and the impecunious lads on their 3-4-5-6-year-old Douglas special were not often the target for the photographer.

This photo comes from South Australia, and shows an unknown rider with an RA modified to accept an OB gearbox (main shaft at the rear of the box). Presumably the lugs to accept the gearbox and its change lever have been added to the RA frame. Note also that the alloy lug that usually projects at about 2 o'clock from the RA crank case to carry the RA change-speed lever and quadrant has been cut off; probably more RA engines have been found without the lug than with. The photo comes from The Sporting Car Club's South Australian Motoring History Book No. 10, Motorcycles 1899-1930, compiled by the late George Brooks.

Leon



« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:20 by Dave »

Offline Doug

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #25 on: 23 Nov 2013 at 23:32 »
Leon,

Glad I got you interested in RAs, it is saving me a lot of research!  :)

Yet another instance of a 'late' or third generation RA frame. Note open lug at the rear (circled in red).



With the gearbox attached to the frame, I thought at first that you might have possible scored the first known photo of the RA28 model. However that had the DT lugs for the rear axle and this does not (circled in blue).

Also of interest is yet again a machine where the front wheel has been installed backwards, placing the brake on the right-hand side. But unlike Conoulty's bike, the fork girders have also been swapped side for side. The hand change is also from an OW/OB model, probably form the same bike that supplied the gearbox.

-Doug


[fix typo. -Doug, 24nov13]

« Last Edit: 24 Nov 2013 at 18:47 by Doug »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #26 on: 24 Nov 2013 at 01:52 »

Thanks Doug. I scanned the photo a month or two back when I was looking for photos of the elusive RA/28 - if fact I named the file possible-ra28.jpg. I too thought I have discovered a photo of the elusive RA/28. But then I noted, as you did, that the rear wheel lug (in fact everything about the frame) is RA, which lead me to RA modified with OB gearbox. Still looking for a period photo of an RA/28.

Pity the exhaust pipes conceal the lower rear frame lug in drive-side photos, and the rider's foot is usually in the way from the other side.

Leon


Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #27 on: 24 Nov 2013 at 20:06 »
Roy Hindle is good enough to keep his feet out of the way, and we can see his bike sports one of the later style frames that Doug mentions. The lug in Doug's red circle is again open (you could poke a stick from one side to the other through the cross member); the early bikes had a shaped lug that prevented access to the inside of the frame cross tube.

Although the artist has been at work again,we can make out two dampers (steering and suspension), no brakes, and inlet tract muffs. Also a good view of the tank-mounted knee grips, which mounted via a bolt though the petrol tank: no chance of crushing the tank when a scary moment caused the knees to grip very tightly.

Another photo from Jack Nelson's collection.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:21 by Dave »

Offline cardan

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #28 on: 25 Nov 2013 at 19:54 »
Adjusting the chains on an RA was "interesting". The gearbox was clamped to a vertical flat surface on the back of the crankcase. The clamps could be loosened and the box slid up or down (using an adjuster high on the crankcase) to adjust the primary chain. The drive chain was adjusted by sliding the entire engine/gearbox unit forward or backwards along the lower frame rails. An adjuster for the purpose ran forward from the lower front of the crankcase to the front lower cross member of the frame. An addition brace was provided by a turnbuckle which ran from the rear of the gearbox to the seat lug of the frame. Parts of this arrangement can be seen in the photos above.

But this was not enough for some. This photo shows a variant of the three-stay frame, which includes an additional brace extending from the junction of the third stay and the seat tube to the back of the gearbox. Such a direct brace from the rear axle lug to the gearbox would ensure that the chain would maintain tension, even under racing conditions.

At least two surviving RAs have braces of this type fitted to their three-stay frames, including the bike sold recently in Queensland and now in the motorcycle museum at Nabiac. I wonder who was responsible for this particular mod? To date this is the only period photo I've seen (it comes from the James Flood Book of Early Motorcycling in Australia), but unfortunately neither the name of the rider nor the location is given.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:22 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #29 on: 25 Nov 2013 at 20:06 »
For comparison, the Nabiac RA, frame FE215, showing the gearbox brace modification. Very similar to the period photo above?

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:23 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #30 on: 26 Nov 2013 at 20:08 »
Another poor quality photo, but with interesting content. Tommy O'Dea was a rider from Bathurst. Although the caption doesn't say is explicitly, his sloping top tube frame with petrol-only flat tank and oil in sump is probably the 3 1/2 h.p. 494 cc RA. Reproduced from a newspaper of May 1924, again illustrating that the sloping frame bikes were available for the 1924 model year.

Although  the 1924 catalogue included neither the sloping frame RA nor the TW, it did include an illustration of the "Douglas duplex cradle frame" describing it as "... especially constructed for the most heavy solo or sidecar work". Similar, but not identical. An artist's impression of an OB/OW around the time shows a bike with the gearbox mounted on the back of the engine, RA/TW style, but there doesn't seem to be any evidence that bikes were actually built in this form (instead the gearbox was mounted on a lug under the seat, in what was to become the usual Douglas position). However from our photos it is clear that RAs, TWs and sidecar racing bikes in Australia used the sloping top tube frame, during 1924 at least. As usual, "constructed for the most heavy solo or sidecar work" can be translated as "constructed for use in the colonies".

Leon



« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:24 by Dave »

Offline Doug

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #31 on: 27 Nov 2013 at 03:14 »
Leon,

It is not clear if the bare frame shown is supposed to be RA or OB. As you noted the prototype OW/OB models were initially going to use a frame akin to the RA, where the gearbox mounted to the engine and nut up under the saddle. I am inclined to belive this is an illustration of the prototype OB frame as it lacks the lugs for the RA center stand and the bracket for the center stand clip. It also lacks the full compliment of the RA saddle suspension mounting points.

It does have the RA headstock (upper and lower lugs joined by a tube), where as the OB used a one piece headstock. But since the OB frame changed significantly for production with the introduction of the saddle lug to mount the gearbox, they could well have created a new headstock that saved the trouble of fabrication.

-Doug


[20Jun17 fix typo. -Doug]
« Last Edit: 20 Jun 2017 at 20:29 by Doug »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #32 on: 27 Nov 2013 at 03:31 »

Yes Doug, I favour OB/OW too. As well as the things you mention, there are also the forward mounted lugs for the foot rests/boards, and the top lug of the steering head has the frame top tube coming out pointing to somewhere way out beyond the back wheel. In the sloping tube RA/TW frame, the top frame tube leaves the top head lug pointing roughly towards the back axle (two piece head lug); in the standard RA frame it points roughly towards the rear cylinder (before doing the goose neck thing). Three different top lugs for the frame, even if the OB style wasn't subsequently used.

But the frame does approximate the "sloping top tube" RA/TW frame, and since they had the artwork... The caption making reference to rough conditions fits in with the appearance of the sloping frame in the colonies (Australia and South Africa, and possibly elsewhere), but not at home in the UK.

Leon

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #33 on: 27 Nov 2013 at 20:58 »
Another Hipwell photograph, this time on an RA outfit with extra struts fitted to the front fork to prevent sideways flex. Fork aside, the outfit is very similar to the one shown in a photo above where it carries the A77 trade plate. The two photos may show the same machine.

In this photo Ron has his left hand on the ignition lever, which seems a slightly unusual thing to do during a race. Perhaps he has just started off and is going for full advance. The sloping top tube can be clearly seen, as can the rear carrier (near the passenger's wrist). The scene is a 600cc sidecar race at Ascotvale Racecourse which Hipwell is said to have won. I don't know if the bike is a 68x68mm 494cc 3 1/2 h.p. RA, or the larger 4 h.p.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:25 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #34 on: 28 Nov 2013 at 21:39 »
Again not a good photo, but interesting content. The machine on the left features a sloping top tube and a three-stay rear end. It would seem to be an RA, with a flat tank and oil in sump. A surviving TW (frame prefix FF) has these two features together, a reasonably rare combination.

The bike on the right has drum brakes and is likely a TT Douglas; the bike in the middle is another Douglas, and since the front fork seems to be of the side-spring design may be another TT. Location unknown.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:26 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #35 on: 29 Nov 2013 at 22:15 »
February 1925. Hot. The beach is wide, hard and flat. The ocean is cool, and so is our man on his road equipped RA Douglas. No need to mix it with the racing boys.

While racing in NSW was mostly on dirt tracks, and Victoria had the motordrome, SA held many of its motorcycling events on Sellick's Beach south of Adelaide. The Motor Cycle Club of South Australia was lucky to have a group of senior motorcyclists who, with their competition years behind them, contributed to the sport through administration, either as organisers, judges, or by designing, building and monitoring electronic timers. Away from the beach there were speed contests on closed roads, but no circuit racing as such. In the 1920s in SA there was essentially no motorsport for cars.

The third bike from the right is also an RA, stripped of road gear.

Leon





« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:26 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #36 on: 30 Nov 2013 at 10:25 »
Hard to beat the photo in the previous post - it may not have much technical detail but it just oozes vintage motorcycle zeitgeist.

Back to reality. Here's a nice clear shot of Leo Melville on his RA, in trim similar to most we've seen before. Although the front brake and centre stand are still fitted, the back brake hardware and mudguards are gone. Is it any wonder RA brake parts are rare these days? Equal length, separate exhaust pipes seems to be the most common configuration, but very short "stub" pipes were also popular. It would seem that Melville was a "no damper" man.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:30 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #37 on: 01 Dec 2013 at 06:54 »
Two RA riders dicing at the Melbourne Motordrome in1925. We've encountered both previously in the photos above: Ron Hipwell on machine no. 16 (the photo comes from his scrapbook) and American Jim Davis. In the inset Jim congratulates Ron, who apparently won the race (we see them taking the chequered flag in one of the other photos). RAs achieved something like 90 mph on the three-laps-to-the-mile banked concrete track. It would seem that Hipwell's stub exhausts and Davis's standard long pipes gave similar performance. Brakes were banned on the track.

Sydney's equivalent of the Motordrome was the Maroubra International Motor Speedway which opened at the end of 1925. Both venues proved highly dangerous, and were short-lived.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:31 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #38 on: 01 Dec 2013 at 19:42 »
Charlie Datson must have been a conservative rider: he still has both brakes fitted and connected! Note in particular the RA brake pedal. It mounts on its own frame lug, comes forwards, then snakes out and up to clear the front exhaust pipe. If anyone has such a brake pedal lying around, could they let me know?

Damper for the steering, but not for the suspension.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:31 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #39 on: 02 Dec 2013 at 05:43 »
Olympia Motor Speedway, Ltd, spent more than 20,000 pounds acquiring the land and constructing the concrete speedway at Maroubra in Sydney. Racing commenced in late 1925, but by early 1926 the company was already in financial trouble, and was looking to go into voluntary administration. Olympia Motor Speedway (Brisbane), Ltd, was formed in 1926 to run a speedway at the Exhibition Grounds in Brisbane. Nothing as elaborate as the Motordrome in Melbourne or the Speedway at Maroubra, the Brisbane track was a tail-out sliding racetrack and the first events were held on October 16, 1926, attended by 16,000 spectators. Frank Pearce, riding for the first time on an Isle of Man Douglas (RA) won the Golden Helmet that evening, and is pictured below on said bike wearing said helmet. Clearly the RA was still the preferred weapon for "speedway" in Australia as late as October 1926, by which time it had disappeared from the Douglas catalogue. (I wouldn't be surprised if the RA were built continuously through 1926, 1927 and into 1928 for Australian racing customers, despite its absence from the "official" Douglas catalogue.) Frank's bike looks to be in relatively standard trim. The other bike is a single cylinder OHV Harley Davidson, known to all as the Pea Shooter.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:32 by Dave »

Offline Daren W Australia

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #40 on: 02 Dec 2013 at 05:56 »
Unfortunately I only have a photocopy of the program cover Daren

« Last Edit: 11 Jul 2014 at 19:19 by Dave »
too many dougli not enough time!

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #41 on: 02 Dec 2013 at 06:14 »
another program 1934 Daren

« Last Edit: 11 Jul 2014 at 19:19 by Dave »
too many dougli not enough time!

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #42 on: 02 Dec 2013 at 20:16 »
Thanks Daren. The Maroubra cover is magnificent; perhaps it was the extravagance of a colour cover to the program that tipped Olympia Motor Speedway Ltd over the edge! I'm still searching for a photo of an RA at one of the Maroubra meetings. I doubt there were too many Douggies in action at the 1934 meet.

Another photo of a "stock" RA in Australia, rider unknown. Inlet muffs, steering damper (probably a suspension damper too, zealously whited out by the artist?), disconnected brakes. A quick tally gives us period photos of 30-odd RAs so far, with more to come. I wonder how many made it out here?

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:33 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #43 on: 03 Dec 2013 at 10:10 »
Three RAs line up against the rest in this photo reproduced from the James Flood Book of Motorcycling in Australia. Unfortunately we are short of detail on location, bikes and riders, but no shortage of atmosphere.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:33 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #44 on: 03 Dec 2013 at 19:33 »
There were two Datsons: we've pictured Charlie above, and here's Jim. I suppose they were brothers? Or perhaps father and son? Certainly "brothers in Douglas".

Again a reasonably standard RA (494cc) or RW (347cc). By weight of numbers in our photos, the majority of racing Douglases in Australia in the mid 1920s were to this pattern: flat petrol-only tank, goose-neck frame and oil in a reservoir under the motor. If these bikes were delivered with mudguards, they were almost uniformly removed.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:34 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #45 on: 04 Dec 2013 at 11:49 »
Although the general outline of the RA stayed the same, there were many detail changes. Doug has mentioned frame and sump variations but there were also variations in the engine and gearbox unit. Tom Sharp's bike, for example, has a cush drive on the gearbox input sprocket (as does the surviving Nabiac machine), while early examples above have a rigid spoked sprocket (see, for example, Teddy Williams' machine above).

Leon



« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:35 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #46 on: 06 Dec 2013 at 03:28 »
The Douglas boys line up at one of the Goulburn road race events, most likely the first Australian Grand Prix in 1924. Let to right: Tommy O'Dea (18), Harry Hulford (67), Teddy Williams (11) and Bill Conoulty (17). Can you pick the odd man out?

It's fairly easy to recognise the RAs from their large brake discs on the left of the front wheel, particularly at a road racing event where the brakes are needed. The RA was the first Douglas to have its gearbox over the back cylinder, so the odd man out is obviously Harry Hulford (from Cootamundra, 200-odd km west) second from left whose bike clearly carries its gearbox low underneath the rear cylinder. The bike is a Sports Model (3 1/2 h.p. S1 or 6 h.p. S2) of the type campaigned by Bill Conoulty at many events around this time. It may even be the Conoulty machine, on loan for the event. Of the three RAs, the O'Dea machine (left) has a sloping top tube, and although we can't see detail in this machine the Williams bike is probably also this type.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:35 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #47 on: 07 Dec 2013 at 10:48 »
Another photo from the Hipwell scrap book: "The Successful Douglas Team. From left: J. Jones, N.J. Ferguson, R. Hipwell, A. Forecast and F. Hevey."

From the written inscription, the event may have been the Junior Solo Championship Meeting, held at the Aspendale track in Melbourne in April 1925. The press of the day reported:
"A number of important events were decided, and some fast times were recorded. In the 50 miles scratch cycle race Ron Hipwell won by 100 yards on a Douglas machine after a keenly contested race...
Junior Solo Championship of Australia. 50 laps [sic], for cycles under 400 c.c. - Turner Bros.' Douglas (Ron Hipwell), 1; H. McKay's A.J.S. (McKay), 2; Turner Bros.' Douglas (A. Forecast), 3. Time. 44m 35s."

If so, the machines were in 350 guise - I wonder if they just swapped motors and used the same cycle parts for 350/500 races? It would also seem that the "Douglas Team" was a "Turner Brothers Team", run by the Melbourne Douglas agents. A. (Arthur, I recall) Forecast has an interesting story - perhaps more later.

The Aspendale track was built before 1910, but featured banked corners so high speeds were possible. As built, the surface was hard-rolled but I'm not sure if it had been sealed by the 1920s. With brakes present and connected, the RAs were in road racing trim.

Leon


« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:36 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #48 on: 09 Dec 2013 at 07:59 »
Here's a photo of legend Bill Conoulty, from the Refereee (a Sydney newspaper) in January 1930. The bike is clearly a sloping frame RA (we can see the rear brake disc, for example), but was he really riding a machine like this in 1930, or are we looking at an archive photo? Hard to say, but in the mid 1920s Bill was riding a Sports Model Douglas when it was 3 or 4 years old, so he was not a man to demand the latest hardware.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:37 by Dave »

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Re: Photos of RA, RW and TW Douglas racers in Australia
« Reply #49 on: 10 Dec 2013 at 21:53 »
In a post above I mentioned Arthur Forecast. Arthur was alive and well on Boxing Day 1983, when he attend the traditional gathering of members of the Vintage Motorcycle Club of Victoria. At this event, well known VMCV member Dave Dumble chatted with Arthur, and later put pen to paper and wrote an article for "Exhaust Notes", April 1984:
"If anyone wondered who the nattily dressed elderly gent at our Boxing Day P.S.M. was, his name can be found on page 124 of the James Flood Book of Motorcycling in Australia. Aspendale, February 7th 1925, winner of the Open Solo event: A. Forecast (Douglas).
"Arthur Forecast is a many talented man - motorcycle racer, ham radio operator, cinema projectionist, and even now, in his eighties, he makes custom CB radio aerials for truckies and 4WD freaks. I met him a few years ago when Alan Bruce asked me to deliver a couple of books. Nice to meet up again especially as Arthur brought along a clutch of photos which he let me copy."
Dave went on to describe the RA, including the brakes which "Arthur remembers as not being up to much".
He also comments on something that I've alluded to above:
"Riders had an enviable arrangement with the Melbourne Douglas agent in those days, whereby the agent [Dave suggests Milledge Bros., but it was actually Turner Bros.] supplied the bike and the riders kept any money they won."
This photo, from Arthur Forecast himself, via Dave Dumble in 1983, shows Arthur sitting on his RA Douglas in 1925, probably the bike on which he won at Aspendale. Stub exhausts, but otherwise much to the usual specification.

Leon

« Last Edit: 21 Aug 2014 at 19:37 by Dave »

 

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