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rebuilding 1927 EW

Started by bikerdude, 05 Dec 2006 at 20:04

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I'm rebuilding a 1927 EW and was talking to a fellow owner today. He has stopped riding his as he is afraid of the poor brakes, especially the front. His view is you couldn't lock the wheel on wet ice! Now I 'm worried. Is there a way of setting up or modifying the brakes to give an adequate performance? Can a Rudge 8" or similar brakeplate be inserted to give better performance?  Would like some comments or suggestions.  Don't the 500, 600 and 750cc bikes have virtually the same brake? Surely this means that you can get an adequate performance from the Douglas item? 


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The brakes on the EW are more than adequate if set up correctly - quite good for their time. It is VERY important to make sure that the band adjustments are done properly - my understanding is that there should be minimal clearance. I have the same brakes on my OC600 - so far it would seem that I have one adjusted well and the other still needs work !!

Stuart Lister

Hi there,

I finished the rebuild of my '26 EW this Summer, and I have done around four hundred miles since. Like you, I had heard all sorts of bad things about the brakes, but guess what? they're all right. The back is definitely better than the front, and even then you have to put some effort into it, but don't forget, it's only a short lever, you can't expect it to be a light touch. The front brake is of course exactly the same, but it suffers from having that short inverted handlebar lever. It works, but you do have to pull on that lever, (forearms like Popeye would help!)

It's also worth remembering that in the 1920s lots of manufacturers didn't fit a front brake at all, and those that did believed it was just there to assist the back one a bit.

When you get the linings done, ask for the softest possible material. Lets face it, we don't put enough miles on these old bikes to have to worry about longevity, let's just buy the material that works best. I had mine done at Safetek in Bradford here in the UK; they were not expensive, and I had them back in well under a week.

As for fitting a different brake plate, I doubt if it's worth the effort. The limiting factor is not the brake band itself, but the thin steel drums. As the brake band expands, the drum warms up and distorts. A different brake plate would not change that.

Having said all that, mine passed it's MOT without the tester having to make any allowance for it's age, so they can't be all that bad can they?

Good luck, enjoy,



I can concur with Ian and Stuart - the brakes on my S6 were terrible before I set them up properly, but now they are really quite good. They certainly compare favourably with other machines of the era - notably AJS, their brakes are bloody awful!