The 103 year old blues…

While preparing a machine that is 100+ years old for a cross country attempt, you are going to periodically find yourself singing the blues.  The last 10 days I’ve been singing them, fortunately none of you could hear it and it wasn’t recorded and put on social media like so many other things currently.  🙂  The upper bearing cups that hold ball bearings, allowing you to turn the front steering were worn substantially.  Enough so that making the ~3400 miles safely would be of significant concern…(imagine running 50 mph on your bicycle and the steering suddenly locking up!).  The blues happen when you start trying to find parts to fit these old machines.  With the more popular, American manufacturers such as Harley & Indian it can be difficult… but there are thousands of enthusiasts in the USA that have stockpiled these old parts over the decades.  Also some of these models major parts have been reproduced or have templates for reproduction parts.

Not so much with the Douglas!  There are only a handful of actual machines in the USA, relatively no spares to speak of in the country and the UK manufacturer quit making motorcycles in the early 1950’s.  Any spares for the early units (pre-1925) are typically found in the UK or former British colonies such as Australia or South Africa.  Then you have the issue that many of the nuts & bolts were made to the old “British Standard Whitworth” thread sizes…you can’t find that at your local ACE Hardware!   Sometimes you have to be creative and improvise, either machining your own parts or finding a “close enough” substitution that you can make “operationally fit” the machine’s needs.  We did that with the suspension spindles/cantilevers, machining & fitting replacements.  As for those pesky steering bearings, a week long search on the internet resulted in parting together 2 bearing assemblies from 1980’s era moped steering parts.  As you improvise you often find yourself singing the blues…to the tick, tick, tick of the clock as time continues to run away from you.  85 days and counting…IMG_5422


5 thoughts on “The 103 year old blues…

    1. at only 21CI or 348cc it will be quite the challenge. I rode with a 14 indian and a 15 harley a few weeks back…they had a much faster average speed, but in an endurance run speed is only part of the equation. See you in Atlantic City in a few days now…


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