Author Topic: Photo guide to Douglas Models  (Read 14193 times)

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Offline eddie

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Photo guide to Douglas Models
« on: 28 Mar 2008 at 12:33 »
Hi All,
         Can I make a few comments about the current Photo Guide? It is obvious where we have a choice of photo, that some machines are not as they left the factory. The posted photos are very interesting - but how we look at them depends on whether we fall into the category of 'expert' or 'new owner'. An 'expert' will probably pick out every minor fault or deviation from standard, whereas the 'new owner' will take it for granted that that is how it should be! For this reason, would it be possible to add a few words detailing how each machine deviates from standard? As we slowly lose our 'experts', the photos and written word will gradually become 'gospel'.
       I have attached four photos - two of my Comps (to fill the present void) and one of my Dragonfly that is externally standard except for the twin carbs, and the fourth shows my Dragonfly alongside the new 'Doublefly' which is exceedingly non standard - although built mainly from modified Douglas parts.
      Maybe we should even start a new category for 'specials' - I notice there is already a Dragonfly with Mark engine and gearbox listed as a Dragonfly.
      I look forward to hearing other points of view.
                                    Regards,
                                              Eddie.







« Last Edit: 29 Mar 2008 at 06:37 by Dave »

Offline Dave

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Re: Photo guide to Douglas Models
« Reply #1 on: 29 Mar 2008 at 06:21 »
Eddie,

Thanks very much for posting your comment. You make a good point about deviations from standard on some machines. Comments from anyone – “experts” or “new owners” - are most welcome in the Photo Guide. It’s meant to be like any other forum - with discussion as well as photos. But so far there hasn’t been many comments posted. Perhaps it’s the title “Photo Guide” that deters people from saying something?

A new category for “Specials” is a good idea – I’ll set one up and post a copy of your Doublefly photos in there. Perhaps you could add a few words about the machine? Also I would be grateful if you could post a comment about anything you have spotted as being non-standard such as the Dragonfly with Mark engine you mention. I’m hoping others may then follow your lead.

Thanks again for your constructive feedback.

Dave
« Last Edit: 29 Mar 2008 at 08:16 by Dave »

Offline eddie

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Re: Photo guide to Douglas Models
« Reply #2 on: 29 Mar 2008 at 07:21 »
Dave,
          If you wish, I will look through the photos that are already posted and note any obvious deviations from standard, but the last thing I would want to do is cause offence. I like to see bikes in standard trim but am not against some modification if it makes them more usable - like the twin carbs on my Dragonfly (comments to be added to photo) - provided the changes are declared and then they cannot be mistaken for standard specification. On the other hand, some owners can get very upset at the slightest criticism - and these are the ones I don't want to offend.
        Hopefully, all owners/members of this forum will accept the comments as an attempt to preserve an accurate record, rather than an attempt to criticise any individual's efforts.
                                      Regards,
                                                     Eddie.

Offline richson

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Re: Photo guide to Douglas Models
« Reply #3 on: 29 Mar 2008 at 14:21 »
You could be walking into a minefield here Eddie!


Offline eddie

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Re: Photo guide to Douglas Models
« Reply #4 on: 29 Mar 2008 at 15:14 »
What! by way of a change!
                                             Eddie.

Offline richson

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Re: Photo guide to Douglas Models
« Reply #5 on: 29 Mar 2008 at 20:54 »
Eddie, I think the sentiment is great, a (fairly) definitive guide on what is correct would be invaluable to future owners/restorers, but - that presupposes those people will exist. As you say, we may slowly lose our experts (but new experts may come along) so it's important to generate new interest in the marque so that there will be a need for the knowledge that the "experts" can deliver. I know that you get your bikes out a lot, but maybe the club or this site can do more to encourage owners to get their bikes out into the open. From my own experience last year, as soon as my bike was running I took it everywhere it could go. It was hardly factory spec, in fact as you know, apart from the frame and rear hub, there is nothing original on it. Nonetheless it won best classic in four shows, and got into two magazines. This was in the face of quite a few really good Triumph/Norton/BSA offerings (had their owners frowning), and it got a best in show when there was a whole horde of painted up HD bikes on parade . . Ok, the locality may be having an effect, but the point is that it's getting the bike out into the open for people to see. There are loads of bike shows/meets/rallies going on, and maybe an "events" page on the site might be useful. All the sprint stuff that you and Henry do could be publicised, trials, shows etc. Just do a search on google for "Douglas Cavalcade" and you won't get a link to what is our biggest show this year, on this site or the club site.

Is my head over the parapet now?

Neil

Offline MRD

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Re: Photo guide to Douglas Models
« Reply #6 on: 29 Mar 2008 at 21:51 »
Quote from: richson
I know that you get your bikes out a lot, but maybe the club or this site can do more to encourage owners to get their bikes out into the open.

Niel
Surly this site does this already under the topic of "Special Events" viewed on the home page.
Regards    MRD


[Quote formating. 29mar08 -Doug] 
« Last Edit: 29 Mar 2008 at 23:10 by Doug »

Offline richson

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Re: Photo guide to Douglas Models
« Reply #7 on: 29 Mar 2008 at 22:32 »
Hi MRD, yes. and the last post was 27th August so it's not getting used is it?

Stretching my neck our a bit further, attached is a list of what I hope to do this year.

Cheers,
Neil

Offline graeme

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Re: Photo guide to Douglas Models
« Reply #8 on: 30 Mar 2008 at 00:13 »
That's quite an itinerary Neil! Good on you for getting out and flying the flag - I hope you get better weather in the UK than you did last year to have the chance to use your bike.

Offline eddie

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Re: Photo guide to Douglas Models
« Reply #9 on: 30 Mar 2008 at 07:57 »
Niel,
        The fact that you were prepared to use your Comp before all the rebuilding had been completed should be applauded. After all, bikes were built to be ridden - then cleaned, polished or whatever - and we should maintain that order of priority. If we own a Mark or Dragonfly, there is still a good knowledge base out there to be tapped, but move on to the 'more competitive' models like Pluses or Comps and that knowledge thins out. This is not peculiar to Douglas - by their nature, competitive machines often got modified on a rolling development basis - so were soon a very different animal to that which left the factory. The problem gets even worse if you happen to have an even rarer model - take the ISDT model, for example. There is only one photo known to exist of this bike (going through the watersplash at Abergwesyn) and that only shows details of the front end. So when I rebuilt it, I had to rely on just that photo and a few artists sketches from the magazines of the time. Eventually I put the bike on the road with it rebuilt as I thought it would have been - hoping all the time that someone who remembered the bike might come along and say "that's not right!" - then I could correct it. It never happened! At the time of rebuilding, the only person who had worked at the factory and may have been able to help was Charlie Ball - but he was not in the best of health, so I did not pester him at that time - sadly, he later passed away - and another mine of information was lost for ever.
     When I started riding Douglases, there was no such thing as an MOT, so any 'old dog' could be filled with petrol, ridden until it died and then discarded. That is how I got my Mk3 Sports - the previous owner had had problems with it, and it would have cost more to repair than to replace. In those days, very original bikes could be picked up for a song - and that is where my knowledge base started. But, after nearly fifty years, my instant recall of the detail is not so good, so reference to photos, etc. is often needed to liven it up! Others of my age are probably in the same boat, but the younger generations haven't even got that knowledge base to fall back on - so it is for them that a factual reference should be available. After all, a sobering fact which should never be forgotten, is that we are all identical - we are only temporary custodians of these bikes!
      With that in mind, perhaps I should stop right now - a get back to preparing my bikes for the coming season.
          Look forward to meeting up with you on the road, sometime!
                                            Regards,
                                                           Eddie.

Offline Chris

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Re: Photo guide to Douglas Models
« Reply #10 on: 30 Mar 2008 at 15:36 »
Within this thread, while discussing originality and appearance of machines I thought it might be appropriate to add my thoughts on the subject of restoration etc. prepared as an article in The LDMCC journal The New Conrod a few years ago.      Chris.
SOME THOUGHTS ON RESTORATION                        
A dictionary definition is “bring back to original state, condition or use by rebuilding, repairing etc.” There are those who believe that if 10% of the original paint exists then it would be criminal to destroy that authentic evidence and the machine should remain original and untouched. Others would argue 90% rust is hardly original. I can remember many years ago seeing a basic cooking model Honda CB200 horribly hand painted in red Finnigan’s Hammerite on display with a proud owners notice claiming that this had been restored to its current condition by the owner. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with hand painting and many superb classics are hand painted but if a machine is going to go on display, surely it deserves more than slapping on the remains of the only tin of paint to hand with cheap brushes. At the other end of the scale, I dare say some members will remember a Douglas Mk. model brought to an annual Gymkhana on a trailer that featured its Burgess silencers immaculately painted in red gloss paint internally!!! I think most people would agree that there is little to be proud of in the first example and that restoration is going too far in the second. What is a reasonable approach? Obviously views are going to vary tremendously. Much will depend upon the initial condition of the machine (if indeed it is more than just a pile of bits), how it is to be used, funds and skills available, information available as to the original build standard and probably quite importantly, the owner’s preferences.
Many machines had well documented shortcomings that sometimes hastened their demise. Few would disagree that it is reasonable to make modifications to overcome these deficiencies if the end result is a rideable and more reliable machine. Incorporation of a universal joint in the drive line of the Douglas Endeavour or introduction of modern rotary shaft seals internally in engines and gearboxes to prevent oil loss, for so long a less attractive feature of British motorcycles, are examples and I believe such changes come within “restoration”. When major changes are made such as substitution of telescopic forks for girders or Manx Norton front brakes incorporated in a thirties machine this may be a personal idea of the perfect machine for riding, but this is special building, not restoration.
Most owners start with a period of research in which they try to establish what is missing, what is incorrect, what the correct original colours were etc. Museums may be visited to examine and photograph similar or identical models. The decision will be made as to whether it can be tidied up sufficiently to ride as “oily rag” condition or whether a full restoration is necessary or desired. There is no doubt that a machine to be used extensively is very much easier to look after if it is in used, slightly distressed condition than as a concours example. If much is missing or major repairs are necessary it is difficult to make new parts and repairs that blend in with the old. It is usually easier to make all parts look new. However, if the machine is just to ride what does it matter what it looks like? A mixture of old and new can “go” just as well.
By far the majority of people think of “restoration”, as opposed to repair or reassembly, as returning the machine, as near as possible, to the condition in which it left the factory. Some will go way beyond that and be accused of “over” restoration but it can be argued that there are examples of machines which were specially prepared by the manufacturers for the Earl’s Court shows which had polished crankcases, superior chrome and paintwork etc. Some machines are rare and little or no documentation survives, so that the research becomes even more important to determine what was originally fitted. For example did it have reverse levers and a straight pull twist-grip? Should one ditch the modern levers and 1960s radial pull twist-grip that some enthusiast fitted in the past? In respect of the former, reverse levers are now available from a variety of sources, however they tend to be very expensive and clearly it is better to have a bike “on the road” with incorrect levers than consigned to the shed because they cannot be afforded. The original straight pull twist-grip however, may be rarer than hen’s teeth and it is a dedicated and skilled individual who can make one from scratch. So at the end of the day most people will do want they want and why shouldn’t they? It’s their bike.
The only area where I feel quite strongly that originality is of paramount importance is the non-historical machine restored for display in a museum, especially a major museum, when I believe there is a duty to ensure that future restorers have a definitive standard to follow. We are all familiar with examples in museums where no attempt has been made to even approach originality and often, there is no excuse on grounds of lack of information or cost. Items in polished alloy or chrome plated that should be painted and vice versa, incorrect headlamp and instruments in the wrong position in the tank panel are just some of the examples that come to mind. Errors such as these help to perpetuate and actually encourage further departure from the original build standard. Museums should be there to preserve the past not to distort it. (I do not include historical machines in this argument where the motorcycle is displayed as owned or ridden by a past celebrity)
These are just some personal thoughts on a subject upon which I know some individuals are obsessive, so I hope they are not taken too seriously. What I would like to see are more of those old wrecks and basket cases put back together by means of assembly, rebuilding or restoration and then, most importantly, used on the road for all to see. 

Offline richson

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Re: Photo guide to Douglas Models
« Reply #11 on: 30 Mar 2008 at 20:10 »

Yes, people have different views on restorations and this is a very hot potato in most clubs. I’m absolutely sure though, that all clubs would want to be able to provide their members with information to enable them to restore bikes to a factory standard – that has to be the ultimate resource for any club or Marque. Ok, the owners can choose which way to go (but painting the inside of a silencer? – bizarre) and ultimately it’s a matter of choice. But I agree with Eddie in that the knowledge may be a diminishing resource, and let’s get as good a grip on it as we can before it’s gone. So, getting back on topic, maybe the photo guide should be a record of the original factory standard machines as verified by our experts, with deviations duly noted and described. This means no free posting though, with the administrators working with the experts to ensure correctness as far as possible. The members gallery can continue to be used to post photos of all our bikes, restored as the owners see fit.

Getting back to my previous post, I think it’s also very important to get our machines out into the open. I know for sure that there is a lot of interest out there for Douglas bikes and that includes the judges at all kinds of shows. Not to denigrate the more well-known classic marques (I have a couple myself), but in comparison the Douglas is something of a rarity and unique in its design. So, an events section, not limited to “Douglas only” would give us a bit more opportunity as Chris said, to get them out on the road for all to see, and hopefully some may end up getting one.

Cheers,

Neil

Offline richson

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Re: Photo guide to Douglas Models
« Reply #12 on: 30 Mar 2008 at 21:33 »
That's quite an itinerary Neil! Good on you for getting out and flying the flag - I hope you get better weather in the UK than you did last year to have the chance to use your bike.

Hi Graeme,  yes you're right our summer was unkind last year, but with a little help from carbon emissions it might get better!
Went to the Malvern show this morning then in the afternoon did nearly 50m along the west somerset coast - that's about as much as the butt can take in one go, but got some refreshements along the way, all in brilliant sunshine. Even got home before the wife served up dinner - what a belter of a day.

Cheers,

Neil

Offline Ian

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Re: Photo guide to Douglas Models
« Reply #13 on: 30 Mar 2008 at 23:50 »
I am very much of the view that getting a bike on the road and used is the most important thing we can do these days to continue our hobby into the future. I also think that getting a machine as standard as possible should be the goal of a restoration. Having photographic records is a good thing - but these should be original photos and catalogue drawings, etc.

There was a suggestion earlier in this thread that the photo identification pictures should be critiqued and a list of non-standard items pointed out. This makes me cringe as it opens the field for any "so called" expert to put comments up (although in this particular case I am sure the knowledge is correct  :)). One of my absolute pet hates on rallies of any sort is the so called expert who looks at someones new pride and joy (whether restored or purchased) and proceeds to pick every fault they can see. You often then never see that person again.

In my stable of old bikes I have a couple of quite rare machines - one being a Douglas. I always aim to have my bikes as original as possible as that is what I like. However I am not going to keep a bike off the road just because I have not been able to source correct levers, etc - so these things are sort of ongoing restoration projects. I also have a veteran peerless which is an Australian bike which, although it was one of the more popular machines here, there is no information available on colours, etc. We had to guess from B&W pictures. I am sure however, that at some stage someone will come up and start telling me everything that is wrong with it (even though they have no idea.

The problem with Douglas motorcycles - particularly from what I have seen in the vintage era - is that they used whatever happened to be available at a given time on their machines - so what is a correct carby for example when even their catalogue says things like "Douglas, Amac, Binks, according to supplies" ??

 

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