Author Topic: Identifying an Old Motorcycle  (Read 8546 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Petr Horský

  • Member
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2010
  • Posts: 5
  • Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Identifying an Old Motorcycle
« on: 02 Feb 2010 at 12:11 »
Hello,

In our family archive, I've found the picture below.  Is there someone who could kindly help me determine the year(s) of production of this 350 cc Douglas?

(Larger view:  http://www.formica.cz/douglas/Lida-260402-1-343.jpg )



« Last Edit: 03 Feb 2010 at 09:23 by Dave »

Offline Wilfr

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Join Date: Jan 2010
  • Posts: 20
Re: Identifying an Old Motorcycle
« Reply #1 on: 02 Feb 2010 at 13:27 »
Hello Petr,

what a lovely shot, bike and all!  :D
I'd think it is a 1926 model EW - maybe 1927. But there are more knowledgeable members in this forum, so let's hear what they say...
Dou you know the date of the picture?

kind regards
Wilfried

Offline Petr Horský

  • Member
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2010
  • Posts: 5
  • Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Re: Identifying an Old Motorcycle
« Reply #2 on: 02 Feb 2010 at 17:49 »
Do you know the date of the picture?

Hello Wilfried,

I even happen to know the exact day of purchase.  Perhaps you forgive me if I don't disclose it right now, as I would like to avoid biasing other readers before they give their guesses.  The point is, I wish to figure out whether the girl bought a brand new motorcycle; if I knew the possible years of production it might suggest it was a second-hand one.

Just for the case, I'm adding another picture showing the portside.  (Full size here: http://www.formica.cz/douglas/Lida-260403-2-325.jpg .)

Best regards,
Petr

« Last Edit: 03 Feb 2010 at 09:25 by Dave »

Offline Chris

  • Master Member
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2004
  • Posts: 500
  • Location: Kent, UK.
Re: Identifying an Old Motorcycle
« Reply #3 on: 02 Feb 2010 at 20:12 »
Hi Petr
   I also think that the machine shown is an EW of either 1926 or 1927. The model continued almost unchanged into 1928 and 1929 designated A28 and A29 but a change to the specification saw footpegs replacing the footboards. The doubt still arises that Douglas were known to supply whatever people wanted within reason and if someone had specified that they wished to have footboards it is quite possible that an A28 or A29 could have been so supplied.
Chris. 

Offline Petr Horský

  • Member
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2010
  • Posts: 5
  • Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Re: Identifying an Old Motorcycle
« Reply #4 on: 02 Feb 2010 at 20:42 »
Hello Chris,

Thanks for you reply -- which incidentally induces a further question that didn't occur to me previously:  What also puzzles me is, why did she select Douglas (quite rare in Czechoslovakia by then) while all her friends used A.J.S., B.S.A., HD or Indian (the first two being at a price level comparable with Douglas)?  Might the footboards be the answer?  In other words, were the other brands available with them, too?  (Considering the apparently inappropriate shoes she invariably wore...)

Petr

Offline Doug

  • Global Moderator
  • ****
  • Join Date: Mar 2004
  • Posts: 3546
  • Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Re: Identifying an Old Motorcycle
« Reply #5 on: 02 Feb 2010 at 23:56 »
Petr,

The date of manufacture can be narrowed considerably. It has the early oiling system only used on the first 6500 or so engines. This system partially relied on vacuum to draw oil up from the tank and through the sight glass. It was prone to air leaks and then the oil stopped being delivered. A redesign incorporating two oil lines to the the timing chest replaced it. Here it is clear to see the early single oil line. The factory furnished a repair kit via dealers, for owners that wished to upgrade to the newer system. It has not yet been established just when this change over took place. But the 350EW was available in late 1925, and initially sold very well (till some reliability issues surfaced.) So probably they were up to 6500 units in early 1926.

The EW 'Standard' had footboards, and the EW 'Sports' had footpegs and aluminum pistons.  

-Doug

Offline Dawn

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Join Date: Oct 2009
  • Posts: 92
  • Location: Nottinghamshire, UK
Re: Identifying an Old Motorcycle
« Reply #6 on: 03 Feb 2010 at 07:43 »
In reference to Dougs quote.  This is correct.

I have a picture that had been given to me showing an EW Douglas taken in Nottinghamshire.  I didn't know which model it was so I took it to Malcolm M (at Stow a few years back) for advice.  He stated to me that the machine in my picture was a 1927 EW as this had 2 oil lines.  Prior to that date they only has a single oil line and it was felt that the machinery would benefit from an extra oil line.

Offline Chris

  • Master Member
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2004
  • Posts: 500
  • Location: Kent, UK.
Re: Identifying an Old Motorcycle
« Reply #7 on: 03 Feb 2010 at 08:32 »
What also puzzles me is, why did she select Douglas (quite rare in Czechoslovakia by then) while all her friends used A.J.S., B.S.A., HD or Indian (the first two being at a price level comparable with Douglas)? 

Hi Petr
    There are any number of reasons why the lady may have chosen a Douglas. As a lady rider she may well have been impressed by the extremely light weight of the EW which was built to meet a weight limit for taxation purposes. In fact it was so light that it led to reliability problems and is believed to have initially caused serious warranty problems for the factory. H.D. and Indian were of course generally the opposite being relatively massive machines designed for all day cruising for huge distances on  quite often indifferent surfaces. Another advantage of Douglas over the AJS and Matchless also for a smaller lighter rider is that it was a smooth easily started twin cylinder machine while most AJS and BSAs of the period were fairly heavy singles with twins only available in the larger capacity models.  Chris.

Offline Petr Horský

  • Member
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2010
  • Posts: 5
  • Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Re: Identifying an Old Motorcycle
« Reply #8 on: 03 Feb 2010 at 10:58 »
Hello,

I thank you all very much indeed for your detailed and informative replies.  It may be the right time to disclose the day of purchase:  My grandfather's sister Ludmila (who is the girl in the pictures) bought her Douglas at Arnošt Dietz (Praha II., Novomlýnská 9) on April 2, 1926 (after 5 p.m., according to her diaries).  What you've written drives me to the conclusion that it must have been a new machine (or if it had, purely theoretically, been used, certainly it hadn't been worn out too much, thus not influencing the price substantially).  She was just twenty-two by then, so it isn't quite clear to me how she could afford buying a motorcycle on her clerical salary.

To answer Wilfried's question, the pictures above were taken on April 4 and 3 (the latter in the backyard of this building: http://www.mff.cuni.cz/toUTF8.en/fakulta/budovy/f.htm ).

May I ask another question?  In a Czech 1927 price list, I can see that electric light for Douglas E.W. was delivered optionally (increasing the price by some 11 %), but can't find it in older ones.  Was that already available in early 1926 (or was it a sort of trade-off to stay with a carbide one)?  (I am asking because its reliability was to play a critical role later.) 

Another reason why friends of mine have suggested it had been a second-hand bike was a relatively high number of defects she was facing.  If anybody is interested, I'll try to post their full account here.

Offline Chris

  • Master Member
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jun 2004
  • Posts: 500
  • Location: Kent, UK.
Re: Identifying an Old Motorcycle
« Reply #9 on: 03 Feb 2010 at 13:18 »
Hi Petr
   Douglas had been playing with electric lights before the EW. I have seen a timing side crankcase with an extension to the top rear to take a dynamo and a friend at one time had a complete electric light system for a 2.3/4hp machine. Presumably this would have been on a late TS or SW in 1924 or on the CW, the last true 2.3/4 hp model which ran to 1926 when the EW took over. I have never seen it included in a catalogue or price list but it may have appeared in documents that I do not possess. A lot of after sales accessories for Douglas bikes were available from various manufacturers including Zoom Zoom exhausts and alternative livery petrol tanks but I think it unlikely that they would have gone so far as to produce replacement crankcases to enable electric lighting to be used. Thus I have assumed that this came from the factory.

Offline Wilfr

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Join Date: Jan 2010
  • Posts: 20
Re: Identifying an Old Motorcycle
« Reply #10 on: 03 Feb 2010 at 18:27 »
Hi Petr,

thanks a lot for all the information, all in all a fascinating story! For the reasons to buy a Douglas, I think Chris is absolutely right - with low weight and easy starting the 350 EW appears to be an ideal ladies mount.

The high number of defects you mention may partly be due to the lightweight construction, but possibly also to Ludmila's spirited driving, who knows? Certainly also the poor road conditions of the time put a lot of strain on the bikes - if we ride a mile on a surface like the one on the second picture today we feel it is about enough, don't we?

Sure we'd love to have an account of the repairs needed!

best regards
Wilfried

Offline Petr Horský

  • Member
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2010
  • Posts: 5
  • Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Re: Identifying an Old Motorcycle
« Reply #11 on: 07 Feb 2010 at 16:44 »

Hello, and sorry for the delay -- I had to go through more than 13000 words of the diaries.  Here's the list of problems, defects and repairs mentioned in there, I'm just omitting all tyre fixes and planishing or straightening after falls.

  • April 18:  unspecified carburetor troubles
  • April 24:  failure to light the carbide lamp
  • April 30:  the chain(s?) and clutch adjusted
  • May 2:  unspecified repair (or adjustment) at Dietz
  • May 8:  clutch Bowden cable rupture
  • May 12:  unspecified troubles with the lamp
  • May 16:  carburetor leakage
  • May 30:  gas tank leakage after a fall
  • June 2:  the tank soldered
  • June 13:  driving without the front light
  • June 19:  the 2nd gear couldn't be shifted in; the gearbox removed and disassembled
  • June 29:  the chain fell off
  • July 4:  the chain fell off
  • July 5:  the chain kept falling off; then broken; a link replaced; then the chain fell off again
  • July 9:  carburetor fixed or adjusted
  • July 11:  the rear cylinder jammed; temporarily fixed on the road (by grinding the piston down); "[finally] we've learned how the Douglas lubrication actually works"; then a long and various repair in a workshop
  • August 15:  the clutch adjusted

Offline Wilfr

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Join Date: Jan 2010
  • Posts: 20
Re: Identifying an Old Motorcycle
« Reply #12 on: 07 Feb 2010 at 17:22 »
Hi Petr,

thanks a lot for the list - very interesting!
I think many of the problems are giving a reflection of the poor road conditions of these days, but some maybe also of the young driver's lack of mechanical understanding...
However, the final entry is also telling us a lesson: Try to understand the lubrication system berfore you take your EW to the road!  :D
I hope I will still remember this when mine is eventually ready for a first test....

best regards
Wilfried

Offline Doug

  • Global Moderator
  • ****
  • Join Date: Mar 2004
  • Posts: 3546
  • Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Re: Identifying an Old Motorcycle
« Reply #13 on: 07 Feb 2010 at 18:12 »
Petr,

Some of the oiling problems and the eureka moment could have been due to a combination of the design of the early oiling system and the repeated falls of a novice motorcyclist. The system relied on suction created by the pump and engine crankcase depression (via a one-way valve at the base of the front cylinder) to draw oil up into the sight glass on the top of the petrol tank. From there gravity would take over. The system was very susceptible to air leaks, which would destroy the vacuum required to lift the oil out of the tank compartment. Numerous drops and falls could well have jarred and loosened the joints, breaking the airtight seal, and stopping or diminishing the supply of oil. One still could override the system by use of the hand pump, but you had to turn a stop cock to bring it into play. It was because of the air leak problems that Douglas redesigned the system to rely on gravity alone. Hence the second oil line from the timing cover to return oil up to the sight glass on engines after number 6500.

-Doug

 

motorcycle