Sunday, September 19, 2010

1919 Douglas

My Uncle Greaser is known for his bike restoring and repairing. A guy he knows has asked him to show his 1919 Douglas. The bike is in its original condition but wasn't running. Greaser has cleaned it up and got it going again.

Its a 500cc flat twin that's mounted transversely, with one cylinder pointing forwards and the other pointing backwards. Its got two gears, low and high, and no clutch. You have to pump the engine oil by hand and the brakes are pretty similar to cantilever brakes off a bicycle. It has a belt drive. The chain you can see in the picture is the primary drive.

Douglas W.D 1919 WD stands for War Department.

You have to bump start it with a gid shove. Once its going you control it using the levers in the bars. On the right you have the black one which controls the fuel and the brown coppery looking one which controls the airflow. The one on the left advances and retards the ignition.

The black lever selects the gears and the brass nob is the manual oil pump.

Greaser explains about the lights.
You open the front to light the lamp.

The lights aren't working at the moment, but when they did they ran on gas. The gas came from the big can on mounted on the bars. You can read more about it here

You can monitor your oil flow is the wee glass cylinder in front of the pump.
I help Greaser start it by shoving it down a hill....





Greaser puts the Douglas through its paces.

It sounds really good, real old sounding, and it smells great, they should make insence that smell like this. Its pretty loud too. It was great watching Greaser running up and down on it. He says it takes some getting used too, but he had a book on how it works so it was fine. The hardest thing to do on it is slow speed turns, if you stall it you're pretty much fucked, unless you've got someone close by to give you a shove or you're on a hill.

Greaser tells me what it like to ride it.

The 1919 Douglas should have a top speed of around 50mph. I wouldn't fancy trying to stop from 50 with those rim brakes. Thats about the same top end as my C90! The dispatch riders who rode these things around back in the day must have been off their heids.


  1. Excellent, thanks for sharing

  2. Tidy!,today when we were between trails we seen the guy from the Indian shop on Scotland Street up near Glasswade om a suburb road on an Indian with no helmet! now this!,love old bikes...

  3. Takes me back to the day" when ships were made of wood & men were made of steel"

    Thanks for posting, made my day :o)


  4. Auld duffer rides an auld duffer - perfect , pity i cant smell it via the computer.


  5. Top stuff but seriously get a proper open helmet

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