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Tyres won't fit!! ... and how to fit them.

Started by ste, 29 Mar 2016 at 02:15

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Help please. The tyres I have for my 1924 TS won't fit the rim.  They don't even look like fitting, yet they are all 26x2 1/2". I've checked the diameter of the rim 65 times, and it is approx. 22&5/8". A couple of sites have confirmed this number but one or two say that there are tyres with a slightly smaller diameter. Perhaps I have the "smaller" tyres?
My tyres are all new old stock, not "flash" new ones. Ones that I've picked up off Trade Me over the last few years.
I haven't tried the "heat the tyres", use talc, use CRC and water or any of the other remedies suggested.
Should I persevere with these tyres or buy flash new ones which presumable will be nice and soft and supple????

Advice please.




Somehow I've ended with the job of fitting BE tyres for my friends - in fact at Victor Harbor a couple of years back I seem to have ended up with the job for the rally. I think I did two or three.

Yes they're the right size for the rim. They will fit. You need correct size tubes (Michelin do a 21 x 2.50 that will do), then, well, you just put them on.

But before you do, just how old are your tyres? Are we talking original Dunlops, or Chen Shins, or Okadas, or ...  Examine the rubber and make sure they are not perishing already.

These days it might be worth considering a brand new pair of Ensigns. They have a number of advantages over the older tyres: they are made for motorcycles, not hand carts, and come with a speed rating, and, being new and supple, they will not have big cracks in the sidewalls when you fit them.




Much appreciated, thank you.


If you want to try to fit the tyres you have:

1. Very softly inflate the tube.

2. Fit it to the tyre carcass. With side cutters or otherwise, cut a "V" on either side of valve stem so that the beads of the tyre, when squeezed hard together around the stem, can just be squeezed between the edges of the rim.

3. Use talc as a lubricant between the rim and the tyre. Proper tyre talc is good, but baby powder works too.

4. Fit both beads of the tyre around the valve, and a few inches either side.

5. Did I mention that you've left the tyre in the hot NZ sun?

6. Fit one bead of the tyre to the rim. You should be able to do this with fingers only, but if absolutely necessary you could use a small, polished, high-tensile tyre lever. If the rims are painted, use a sock over the tyre lever.

7. Starting at the valve, fit the other side, as in 6. Plenty of talc, careful use of tyre lever if necessary. You will be amazed how much the trye will stretch.

8. Inflate hard - say 50 psi - and deflate several times, focus on making sure the bead of the tyre is under the hook of the rim.

Plan B:

If steps 6 or 7 are impossible, try this. Away from the rim, fit the softly inflated tube inside the notched tyre carcass. With one bead flap carefully pulled over the other, tie the tyre and tube into a tight, overlapped bundle in about 15-20 places. I use builder's line, which is a bit elastic, and pull it tight using a slip knot. Two pairs of hands are very helpful. When you've finished you should have a tight bundle, tied frequently enough that there is no chance of the tube being exposed. Fit the valve and the beads adjacent to it first. There is a preferred side to work from, which should be be obvious. Now fit the entire tyre/tube donut to the rim in one go. This will almost certainly need tyre levers, socks, and plenty of talc. When the tyre is on, snip all the strings and pull them out from under the tyre one by one.

To be honest, it's a tricky job but it is possible, and practice makes perfect.




I have used Leon's Plan B a number of times with tyres that don't want to go on - works fine. I now use cable ties to tie off the tyre and cut them when fitted.


I don't know about using talc the best product that is water soluble and doesn't eat into chrome and alloy is, wait for it!! KY jelly! best ive ever used!!, (for fitting tyres)


Not another case of the rubber being too tight???!!!!


Oh you're all off.

Cunning plan re the cable ties Ian.



I'm pretty enthusiastic about wheels, and, at the risk of being banned for un-Douglas-like activities, I'd like to share with you the tyre I fitted yesterday and the wheel I built to fit it on.

The tyre is an Australian-made Dunlop Thornproof, wired on, 28 x 1 3/4", age unknown but certainly pre-1960. To clean it up I wiped it over with a rag dampened in a glycerine-water mix. Glycerine can be bought from the local pharmacy as a treatment for roughened skin. It seems to work well for softening old rubber, but I am not sure if it is a "correct" treatment. Certainly better than Armor-all that should never enter your shed. I've tried glycerine on a range of old rubber products with good success, but have no idea of what might happen on modern synthetic rubbers.

The rim is hand made in Italy from laminated Ash. Yep, it's wood. I paid extra for a carbon fibre insert to strengthen the rim and allow the tyre to be inflated to higher pressure without fear of damage. The bead seat diameter is 622mm, which means that as well as fitting an old 28 x 1 3/4" tyre (no longer available, but 28 - 2 x (1 3/4) = 24 1/2" = 622mm), it can also use any of the new 700c tyre sizes. There are many to choose from.

The tube is 700c x 47, with a Presta valve. Readily available. A normal (Schraeder) valve requires a relatively large hole, but wood is better than hole for strength. The original valve would have been a Woods - you might remember them from the 1960s but almost unused now.

The original rim had been eaten by white ants, but was for a tubular (glue-on) tyre. New tryes for tubular rims are not readily available in large sizes, although you can get display-only tyres to keep the rims off the floor. I intend to ride the bike.

The spokes are single-butted stainless steel, from the US. 13g for an inch or so at the hub end, then 14g for the rest of their length.

The nipples are extra-long to reach through the wooden rim. They were supplied with the rim, as were the oval spoke washers to go between the nipples and the carbon-fiber mat on the inside of the rim.

I used a 16-mm adhesive cloth rim tape to cover the ends of the nipples, to protect the tube.

The hub is the original.

Since the wheel has 40 spokes, I built it up 4-cross which gives full tangential spoke pattern. Technically even a 36-hole wheel can be built 4-cross, but on a motor cycle the spokes are relatively fat and can foul each other at the hub for some combinations of flange size, spoke size, and pattern. I chose to cross the out-board spokes under the last-crossed spoke in bicycle fashion - i.e. it crosses three spokes on the outside and goes under the fourth. This is sometimes done on early motorcycle wheels, but usually only up to about 12g spoke thickness.

Anyway, I'm very excited by my new wheel. I has been a big job planning it, and a huge amount of fun building it. Oh, by the way, the bike is a 1903 Columbia motorcycle (from the USA), but I might get away with this post if I mention that these rims would look lovely on a Fairy!




Fantastic project and description Leon!. I especially like the front brake  :D. Probably works as well as a 2 3/4 front stirrup brake !



Fabulous stuff Leon! And yes indeed the rims would look fabulous on a Fairy - I'll be in touch for details  :)


Wooden rims were almost universal on American bicycles from the late 1890s into the 1920s, but they were seldom used in the UK. Perhaps due to the damp conditions? The French were a bit more into them. Here in Australia they were not very common, yet somehow I now own two American motorcycles, both 1903, which started life with wooden rims. My wooden rims on my California are the originals, and in excellent order. Wooden rims on motorcycles were rare anywhere after 1903.

This photo of the Columbia demonstrates just how hostile the Australian environment can be on wooden rims: termites, or maybe rot, at the front, and splintered violence at the back. The photo is from 1964 and shows Mrs Campbell, wife of the previous owner, at her home at Salt Ash, just north of Newcastle, NSW.



I hope I don't get into trouble...


I should've posted this earlier.


Hi Stephen,

There are websites where they have special terms to describe things tied up like this!

Looks like Plan B, with Ian's cable tie mod, did the trick?



Very definitely as the pictures will show. Restoration is getting close to trial firing. I'll post some better photos after that. Been a long time coming this one.