Author Topic: S.L. Bailey  (Read 1115 times)

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Offline Peterjmg

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S.L. Bailey
« on: 15 May 2018 at 13:53 »
Hi Dave, I've just found this forum after searching on and off for years looking for information on my Great-Great-Uncle (Stephen) Les Bailey. Our family folklore is that he was a motorcycle champion.

I haven't found any information on that aspect, but he's attributed to be the designer of the RA Douglas.

Great photo btw!

Peter.


Offline Dave

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Re: S.L. Bailey
« Reply #1 on: 16 May 2018 at 17:40 »
Hi Peter,

Thanks for your message and welcome to the Forum.
You will find Les Bailey's name mentioned many times throughout these pages - a search on 'Bailey' will give you a list of posts.
This post by Doug has some good photos.

Dave






Offline Doug

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Re: S.L. Bailey
« Reply #2 on: 16 May 2018 at 17:50 »
Peter,

You might want to start a new topic on S.L. Bailey under the General Discussion board, rather than buried here under the model RA topic. I corresponded with Ian Bailey, SLB's son back in 2002. He could recall as a very young lad leaving the UK with his father and returning to Australia in 1924. He was able to provide some missing details about SLB after he left Douglas.

-Doug


Note: Topic has since been moved to the General Discussion board.
« Last Edit: 16 May 2018 at 19:07 by Doug »

Offline Peterjmg

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Re: S.L. Bailey
« Reply #3 on: 17 May 2018 at 01:14 »
Thanks Doug and Dave,

I am keen to get reading! I also sent a question to Doug about copying the photos. I see that none of them seem to be personal photos, i.e. they're from print publications, so I'm assuming it's ok to copy them, and will do so?

thanks, Peter.

Offline cardan

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Re: S.L. Bailey
« Reply #4 on: 20 May 2018 at 06:14 »

I find myself 1600 km from home, in Northern New South Wales. Along the way we drove through the country town of Forbes, about 400 km (250 miles) west of Sydney.

I hadn't realised that Les Bailey had some history there, but the attached snippet from the Forbes Advocate in 1913 tells the story.

Is there a decent biography of Bailey in the books, the Con Rod, the New Con Rod, or the classic mags? He was a most interesting Australian.

Cheers

Leon

Offline cardan

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Re: S.L. Bailey
« Reply #5 on: 22 May 2018 at 07:31 »

"It is six years ago since Mr Bailey first came to Forbes, and he was known here as a crack bicycle rider."

The Forbes Advocate said it, 12 Feb 1913, so it must be true. Bailey arrived in Forbes in (early?) 1907, at which time Forbes would have had some lovely buildings and houses around the centre of town (many still standing), but could otherwise be described as "way out west" of Sydney. Not the outback, but not too far from it.

A crack cyclist? In Forbes perhaps, but in the big smoke of Sydney not so much. In late January 1906, a year before his move to Forbes, Les entered the "The Sydney Thousand" bike race along with 142 other "cracks" from around the country. One mile handicap, prizes totaling a thousand pounds.

The real cracks started on scratch; Les started 170 yards - almost a full one-tenth of a mile - in front, with 30-ish starters ahead to chase down and  110-ish behind planning to mow him down within the mile.

I bet it was around then he began thinking of a career as a racing motor cyclist!

Cheers

Leon

Offline Doug

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Re: S.L. Bailey
« Reply #6 on: 23 May 2018 at 06:02 »
This was as summary I was putting together to make into a exhibit poster for one of the Australian Douglas Rallys, but it never got completed. I had been in contact with Ian Leslie Bailey, S.L. Bailey's son 2002-2006 who provided some of the details. Not only had he been collecting information both on his father's side of the family, but also his mother's. His mother was Cyril G. Pullen's sister. Ian mentioned he had about eleven folders worth of family history collected and was going to write up the family history, but I don;t think it ever got completed.

Stephen Leslie Bailey, 1889 – 1957


Earliest known picture of S.L. Bailey.  (scan via Ian Leslie Bailey, S.L. Bailey’s son.)

The Motor Cycle, October 10, 1912, “Current Chat”. (photocopy I.L.B.)
£200 Challenge. Sponsored by F.S. Whitworth of the Colmore Department and G.H. Mansell of Singer and Co. LTD. Between S.L. Bailey on a 2-3/4hp Douglas and G.E.Stanley on a Singer, both record holders. Cylinder capacity limit 350cc.  Hill climb, five lap, and a ten lap race at Brooklands. Article continued on following page, not seen. Outcome not known. (Note from I.L.B., the two were great competitors and friends.)


Photo from frontis, “The Pictorial History of Motorcycling”, Tony Middlehurst. Captioned as taken at the 1912 Challenge Lap, Brooklands.


Special 2-3/4hp engine with modified valve gear that gave a power output of 8hp at 3,600rpm, with a free engine speed of nearly 5,000rpm. Announcement that several machines (the aforementioned?) would be entered for the 1912 junior TT. Riders, all listed as amateurs, were Les Bailey, James Stewart, Teddy Kickham, Jack Haslam, and Harry Bashall. From The Best Twin, “Les Bailey was a young Australian who had emigrated to Britain in search of work. Infatuated with motorcycles, he applied for a job with the Colmore Depot in Birmingham, where E.C. Paskell was quick to recognize his riding ability. He mentioned this during a visit to Bristol and Bailey gained a place as a ‘works’ rider.”

Bailey led at the end of the first lap, but by Ramsey gearbox trouble forced a retirement at the hairpin. Harry Bashall went on to win Douglas’ first TT victory. Les Bailey and Teddy Kickham, after a quick overhaul, used their mounts in the Senior race where despite the displacement disadvantage took fifteenth and seventeenth place respectively.


(1913 Douglas Catalog)

At the end of 1912, Les Bailey entered the Brooklands T.T. race, breaking the one hundred and fifty and the three hour records in the Junior event. Several days later, he then won a race at LeMans, with Teddy Kickham and Harry Bashall taking fourth and sixth places. Then Bailey took the flying kilometer record at Brookland, at 72.63mph on a 2-3/4hp. Granville Bradshaw, at Bailey’s request, made some of the special parts for the record breaking machine. It is said this work set Bradshaw on the road for development of a horizontally opposed that would become the ABC design. (“The Best Twin”) 


Douglas advert/announcement in the Motor Cycling, 31 December, 1912: Riding a 2-3/4hp Douglas [Bailey] broke the Mile and Kilometer 350cc records. 72.63 mph for the kilometer, 70.04 mph for the mile.

Summary of write up of record event in, Motor Cycling, 24 December, 1912.:
Geared 5:1, engine was running 4650 rpm for the event. Claimed 6700 rpm free maximum (on stand).

Left England ‘Friday last’ to return to Australia. Returning to AU with P. Weatherilt with several Douglases for the AU season. While in England, S.L.B. designed a 500cc horizontally opposed twin with steel cylinders and pistons, OHV, turning 4000 rpm and developing 17bhp. Taken up by a ‘very famous record breaking motorcyclist (un-named), probably to be manufactured commercially.’ Entire external surfaces of the crankcase are machined. Expected to reach AU mid February.

Note from I.L.B.: This was fifteen months prior to joining Douglas.


Captioned as first machine of 350cc to exceed 70mph (“Douglas” Peter Carrick) originally credited Motor Cycle Weekly. Same image, cropped, used in Douglas advert in 31st December 1912 issue of Motor Cycling).

Records in 1912 (1913 Douglas catalog)

•   June 1st- B.M.C.R.C. All Comers’ Hour Race at Brooklands. First, Total distance 56 miles, 755 yards. Gold Medal
•   July 1st- Senior Tourist Trophy Race, I.o.M. Gold Medal (What? He came in fifteenth.)
•   July 20th- B.M.C.R.C. Fifth members meeting at Brooklands. All Comers’ 5 Lap Handicap Race (about 14 miles). First.
•   July 20th- Junior five miles scratch race. Second.
•   July 20th- Test Hill Climb. First.
•   July 27th- R.A.C. Inter Club Meeting at Brooklands Short Distance Handicap. Third in heat, forth in final.
•   August 30th- Coventry M.C.C. Open Hill Climb at Woodway Hill, near Daventry. One  First, three thirds. Also winner of President’s Cup.
•   September 8th- Motorcycling International Cup Race at Le Mans, France. (246 miles) First.
•   September 14th- B.M.C.R.C. Junior Tourist Trophy Race at Brooklands, Twelfth Short Motorcycle Handicap. First
•   October 3rd- Mr. S.L. Bailey beat 5 Miles Record by 10 seconds at a speed of 61-81mph, Brooklands.


Bailey c1912 (1913 Douglas catalog)



Bailey winning the 1912 French Grand Prix. Averaged 47mph for five hours. (1913 Douglas catalog)


Possibly take on the grounds of “Woodlawns”, William Douglas’ residence on the Cowley Road. (1913 Douglas catalog)

Bailey returned to Australia in 1913, to help set up Douglas agencies (I.L.B.: and reestablish his motorcycle records.) He returned to the UK in 1914, entered in the I.o.M. Junior TT race, where he finished seventeenth. (“The Best Twin”)

During the Great War Bailey was involved in production at Douglas, though in what capacity and job title is not clear. 


Douglas workshop, Brooklands. Bailey with a racing OHV model. Captioned 1919. (“The Best Twin”)

Date not specified, but in 1919 or 1920, Bailey became Works manager. A riding accident had ended his racing career. In conjunction with chief designer Walter Moore and a draughtsman named Curtis, set to work designing the first catalog OHV machines, the 3-1/2hp and 6hp Sports, which was revealed in a November 2, 1920 issue of Motor Cycling for the 1921 season. This was not much more than an adaptation of the previous two seasons racing models. (“The Best Twin”)


Bailey as Works Manager. (“The Best Twin”)

After the Great War, Cyril G. Pullin participated in many events at Brookland, where he got to know Bailey. A friendship between Pullin’s sister Catharine (Kate) and Bailey led to their eventual marriage. Bailey lent Pullin a Douglas, which he then proceeded to rebalance to eliminate a high speed vibration. Bailey then asked Pullin to further develop the 3-1/2hp, setting up a shop at Brookland where he tuned the 3-1/2hp to be sold with a certified 100mph performance. (“The Best Twin”)

Models appeared to stagnate in 1922, but behind the scene Bailey was working on the now legendary RA models. In conjunction with Rex Judd, Jack Emerson, Pullin, and others it was got ready for the 1923 TT races. Manxman Tom Sheard won the 1923 Senior mounted on a RA in appalling conditions; however besides the hometown advantage Sheard had won the previous year’s Junior race on a AJS. (“The Best Twin”) Freddie Dixon won the 1923 I.o.M. sidecar race with an RA model and special banking sidecar chassis.

The success in 1923 was overshadowed by the death of Bailey’s good friend, Willie Douglas during TT week at the comparatively young age of forty-three. At the same time William Douglas, Willie’s father was having tax problems with the Inland Revenue from profits earned during the Great War. He took into confidence W. Millman, former school agent and unemployed political agent. Probably today he would be known as a lobbyist. Millman offered to intercede, which William accepted. After some initial success in negotiations he then offered a Millman a position on the board. The rapid, and hasty rise did not sit well with Bailey, and neither saw eye to eye. Bailey decided to leave Douglas and return to Australia. At his suggestion, Cyril Pullin then became Chief Designer and Works Superintendent. (“The Best Twin”)

Sailed from London to Sydney, Jan 16, 1925 aboard the “Maloja” operated by the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. Accompanied by his wife Kate and son and daughter Ian Leslie and Dinah Elizabeth (both 8 years of age).

Kate and the children later returned to the UK.

Operated the Maroubra Racing Track according to his son. Other internet sources state it was Penrith Speedway. I have not been able to independently associate Bailey with either. The track fell on hard times due to dwindling attendance and virtually wiped Bailey out financially (I.L.B.).
 
Setup a retail automotive and repair business in Sydney.

Passed away 1957



-Doug


Offline cardan

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Re: S.L. Bailey
« Reply #7 on: 25 May 2018 at 10:31 »

Thanks Doug - great, interesting information.

I can add some stuff, and correct a couple of small errors.

Let me start with the brilliant photo of young Les Bailey in 1910 mounted on his "1000 cc Temple Anzani". The bike is in fact the 5 hp Massey JAP that Bailey raced, mostly in Newcastle (where he lived and worked) and Sydney in 1910 and 1911. It's typical of an Australian-built machine of the period, using the 5 hp JAP twin, with atmospheric inlet valves, in Chater Lea cycle parts. I'm not sure of the capacity of this engine, but probably 600 cc or there-abouts.

The "Massey" brand originated with the Canada Cycle and Motor Co (CCMC) who marketed Massey-Harris bicycles worldwide. In Australia CCMC built and marketed motorcycles under the Massey brand. During 1910 and 1911 Bailey worked at the CCMC branch at 21 Hunter St, West Newcastle.

We can date the photo, because it appeared in the Sydney paper Referee, 30 March 1910, the week after Bailey "a young Newcastle rider" became the  "five miles champion of N. S. Wales". The bike was fairly new, having had only one previous outing. It could have been built by Bailey at his work place, or built for him, or acquired elsewhere as this type of engine/frame combo would have been current 1908-09-10.

Cheers

Leon

Offline Paul Coney

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Re: S.L. Bailey
« Reply #8 on: 11 Oct 2018 at 20:13 »
Hi
I recently inherited this gold medal presented to S.L.Bailey for winning the “Allcomers handicap” race at Brooklands on July 20th 1912.
It was left to me by my grandfather who got it from his father, my great grandfather. He was into his bike racing when he was young, thats all I know of the history behind it I’m afraid. No idea how he ended up owning it.

Offline cardan

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Re: S.L. Bailey
« Reply #9 on: 11 Oct 2018 at 23:01 »

Fabulous trophy Paul. Your great grandfather's name was...?

Leon

Offline cardan

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Re: S.L. Bailey
« Reply #10 on: 11 Oct 2018 at 23:16 »

Here's the description of the race. There was also a photo in the Motor Cycle report - the same one posted higher up this thread with the caption "Photo from frontis, “The Pictorial History of Motorcycling”, Tony Middlehurst. Captioned as taken at the 1912 Challenge Lap, Brooklands." The bike was a very quick little 350 side valve Douglas.

Leon

Offline Paul Coney

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Re: S.L. Bailey
« Reply #11 on: 14 Oct 2018 at 13:34 »
His name was William John Webb (Bill). I’ve just discovered he worked at the Douglas factory in Kingswood for a while when he was a teenager. Apparently he was a pipe-bender there, maybe something to do with the frame building, I’m not sure.
I’m guessing Les Bailey must have known him and gave him this medal at some point?? Perhaps he had something to do with the building of the bike he won the race on... who knows???

Offline cardan

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Re: S.L. Bailey
« Reply #12 on: 15 Oct 2018 at 11:20 »
Interesting Paul. I don't know of Bill Webb, but perhaps we will come across him.

1912 was a year of extraordinary progress for Douglas and Bailey. By December Bailey had arranged for Granville Bradshaw to build steel cylinders, conrods and overhead-valve cylinders for his racing Douglas, and this allowed him to set high speed 350cc records at Brooklands: nearly 73 mph for the flying kilometre, eclipsing the old record by a full 5 mph. The 1912 ohv 350 was said to rev to 6500 rpm.

For this development we should perhaps thank George Stanley and his team at Singer. Over the summer of 1912 there was constant chatter in the motorcycle press about a match race at Brooklands between Stanley on the Singer and Bailey on the Douglas. This head-to-head race didn't eventuate, in part because Stanley was about to unveil his new 350 ohv Singer - his previous mount being sv. No doubt Bailey was keen not to be left behind in the transition to valves upstairs.

Cheers

Leon

Offline cardan

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Re: S.L. Bailey
« Reply #13 on: 16 Oct 2018 at 11:18 »

Bailey's 1914 Brooklands machine was similar, but the heads were obviously different. The late 1912 engine had the inlet manifolds entering vertically; by 1914 the entry was angled.

Bailey shattered 350cc sidecar records on this machine - perhaps this was not a very competitive class!

Leon

Offline cardan

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Re: S.L. Bailey
« Reply #14 on: 16 Oct 2018 at 21:36 »
In Doug's summary higher in the thread, there's a photo of SLB on the 1912 side-valve racer (Captioned as first machine of 350cc to exceed 70mph (“Douglas” Peter Carrick) originally credited Motor Cycle Weekly. Same image, cropped, used in Douglas advert in 31st December 1912 issue of Motor Cycling).

Did the side-valve exceed 70 mph in 1912? I suspect not - I think it was the first of the OHV racers, with sporty parts courtesy of Granville Bradshaw at ABC.

Pre-war, SLB was a rider with Douglas, but presumably he contributed to the development of the racing motorcycles. Postwar his role in design and development was very clear, and if the patent record is to be believed he was responsible for many/most of the Douglas racing developments up to 1924. Almost every part of the RA, as well as the S1 disc brake, various clutches, welded frames and so on.

A mystery however is the 4-valve-per-cylinder OHV motor that appeared at Brooklands in 1919. The cylinders were one-piece and were said to be aluminium. One of the Bailey patents describes aluminium castings shrunk onto steel/iron skeletons, so maybe this was part of the design of this motor?

The frame in which this motor appear is a precursor to the S1 (or a development from the 1914 3 1/2/4 hp model), with splayed down tubes but a single tube cradling for the motor. So far as I can see, all pre-war racers used the single-down-tube frame.

Leon