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Barn Find 2¾hp Restoration

Started by Doogle, 20 Mar 2024 at 20:41

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Hi All,

So firstly a huge thanks to Gary whose thread on this bike leads us to where we are now.
Now landed in Devon the 1914/15  2¾ Dougie that was recently discovered in the garage of a 91 yr old gentleman in Surrey, buried under 6ft of rubbish. It had been there since somewhen in the 60s and last on the road in 1930 going by the last tax disk still in the holder.
There is still some work to do identifying it (frame number 21209) seems likely that it is an ex WD machine with later engine/parts fitted post war. The early tank has had two coats of paint in the 2 panel style fairly early on in its life and it still remains very original looking. The plan is for a very sympathetic 'patina' restoration. The front wheel needs re-lacing, possibly both and the gearbox sprocket and belt pulley have seen better days. Engine turns over with some compression which we hope is a good sign.
Looking forward to getting it recommissioned and back on the road again! Will update with pics etc as we get into the strip down.


Link added to Gary's 'Barn Find' thread - Dave, 20Mar2024


Fuel tank


Gearbox and other parts


Gearbox number and rear stand


Hi Doug,

From this post,

I would presume the two speed gearbox dates from 1918.

I wouldn't be surprised if the current tank paint was stripped back to show the original paint it might show the usual "3 Blue panel" paint design of the pre 1919 tanks? If so I suspect it would reinforce the notion that it was refurbished shortly after WW1 as discussed before? I have an original tank from this period (although it has been turned into a pattern - not by me!) and it has a "Two blue panel" paint job like yours. It reputedly came from a 1920 2 3/4hp - so possible was also a refurbished bike from WW1 left over stock?

I'm still working on the engine number as it has me intrigued - if the engine does not have a "standard" 2 3/4hp engine number on it maybe it was originally a post 1916 2 3/4hp stationary engine that has been repurposed? From the above research there does not appear to be any engine numbers available for the presumably many thousands of stationary engines made by Douglas i.e. for the  2 3/4hp motorcycles the total number of engine numbers is approximately the same as the number of frames - so maybe they were numbered with a different scheme? - not sure.



Great bike and it will be good to see it back on the road!.


Thanks Hutch
Any help would be greatly appreciated. I haven't found any other numbers on the engine but will keep looking. Also the stationary engine idea, you could be onto something there, I guess there would have been plenty of those left over post war too or readily available.
There appears to be a letter U spaced out after the frame number, guess this could be denoting it as a model U?

Part of me wants to look through the layers of paint on the tank  but would be criminal to do that. There's plenty of evidence of two coats of black on everything too so it's had some form of refurbishment in its days.


Quote from: Doogle on 20 Mar 2024 at 23:16
There appears to be a letter U spaced out after the frame number, guess this could be denoting it as a model U?

Part of me wants to look through the layers of paint on the tank  but would be criminal to do that. .....


I seem to vaguely remember a W stamped under the gearbox mount on my 1915 frame - I will see if my memory is correct!? ( is a bit sketchy these days :-) ) So possibly the U could be for the model, but unsure if this was normal Douglas practice. Usually near the frame number the "K inside a D"  trade mark was stamped on the later models.

Yes I know what you mean about the dilemma in wanting to know an answer vs keeping the patina !!

Attached is a 1919 crankcase showing the "normal" position of the engine number on the timing side half. The number (and sometimes letters) below it is the unique identifier used to match it to the timing side half of the crankcase. If you have the barrels off sometime it would be interesting to see if the crankcase halves match as it may be another small clue?



A little more info unearthed this week from the records office where it was first registered, in 1921, backing up the ex WD theory. Engine number is recorded on the register as 6193 


So interesting! I don't know much about the UK registration system, but was there some kind of revamp that caused some older machines to be put on the registration record for the first time c1921? I just feel like I've read that somewhere...

Re the belt pulley on the gearbox. The chip out of the flange is not fatal - a new piece could easily be welded (brazed, probably) in. The biggest problem is if the V of the pulley is badly worn. The sides need to (relatively) straight or the belt will slip, so if there's enough meat it might be possible to re-machine the pulley once it's been welded to give a nice even V.



Leon, In the UK, pre 1921, a lot of vehicles were registered through the local authorities - this gave rise to the duplication of some registration numbers, so a national registration scheme was introduced - hence, some early machines ended up with a 1921 registration date (our 1913 'TT' 2¾ is one of them!).



The crankcase has an X marked on one side. In better light the letter after the frame number appears to be an 'L' too rather than a U. Not sure what this may refer to.


There are plenty of clues on such an original machine. Not "original from the factory" but original none-the-less. I like the idea of so much history being tangled in to one surviving machine.

Eddie's info on the registration number is worth thinking about. It's not absolutely clear that the bike is a "1921" build/rebuild even if the rego dates from 1921.

It's a fair bet that the frame number is original 1915, but I wonder if the "L" is something added at the renovation shop. Either one of the wartime government shops which renovated and reissued bikes for further service (even is some reissued bikes were still in crates after the war having never made it back into service), or one of the privately owned companies that bought ex-WD bikes and renovated them before selling them to the public.

The number on the engine must have a story to tell! Not sure what it is, but with such complex numbers you'd expect some other bike survive stamped similarly? Certainly "X" was used commonly by Douglas in the 1920s on their export bikes.

I think a good description of the bike might be "1915 Douglas, renovated".




Update on the Dougie, ee have some progress, making use of the good weather this weekend to start stripping the bike down and cleaning parts.
Everything coming apart fairly easily although we have found a few more parts to add to list of those that are needed.
Removed a pot for a quick look and the cylinder and piston appear to be very clean, there is however a fair bit of movement/play in the con rod big end though, assuming that this isnt normal?
Fuel tank is dry and the oil compartment very clean still although we will drain and flush out.
Refitting the fork spring where a nut was missing and degreased and jet washed the frame and engine/box.
Footboards have cleaned up well too and even found the remains of an original headstock decal under the post war second coat of paint which has now mostly been removed as it wasn't keyed very well to the factory frame paint.


More images


Quote from: Doogle on 12 May 2024 at 21:53
Removed a pot for a quick look and the cylinder and piston appear to be very clean, there is however a fair bit of movement/play in the con rod big end though, assuming that this isnt normal?

Failure of the big-end bolts is the primary reason Douglases go bang, so it will be important to check out the bottom end as you rebuild the engine. But you'll need to be more specific that "a fair bit"! A plain bush big end in usable condition might have a bit of play, or even clunk a bit, when the rod is shaken, but this might disappear when it is well oiled. You need to get the crank out on the bench to inspect the big end bolts and measure the play in the big ends. And the little ends. If you have the crank fixed it's interesting to put a dial gauge on the top of the piston as you pull/push on it: if there's only a couple of thou movement there should be no problem, but 10+ thou and you need to explore more.

(By the way, I'd never use a pressure washer on an old bike - water gets in everywhere. Make sure you dry everything out carefully and use WD40 or whatever to displace any remaining water.)




Yes hot day, left to dry and sprayed thoroughly with Mechoil before going back in the shed. Plenty more cleaning and paint preservation to do on it yet.