There is an old Lynyrd Skynyrd southern rock song “Give Me Three Steps” which seems like my Douglas anthem. Since the motorbike is a push start with no clutch mechanism, I must always push it with the transmission in gear with a lever pulled to decompress the motor. Decompression opens the exhaust valves and the engine tries to fire but lacks the compression to make full power. As it tries to fire you close the compression on the engine and it fires right off…usually in about 3 STEPS! Ironically, the old saying “2 steps forward and 1 step back” also adds up to 3 STEPS! I’ve been experiencing several two steps forward, one step back the last several weeks…the main reason I’ve been a bit delinquent in my blog updates. As we test and ride these old machines they break…and we’ve broken the Douglas a couple of times in recent weeks. The great thing about mechanical devices is they can be repaired, sometimes those repairs can be tedious and costly but they can be effected.
One example of my recent woes is the stud that holds the cam gear (the cam is what governs the opening and closing of your intake & exhaust valves) vibrated loose from the engine casing. When preparing these old machines you have to make decisions on to what extent you want to disassemble certain components. In this example removing the cam stud from the engine casing may have led to a host of other complications (stripped threads, snapped off stud, etc). We opted to not remove the stud, a decision in hindsight that we should not have taken. When the stud worked loose it caused some slight timing chest damage but nothing severe and it was repaired.
Pictured are some views of the damaged cam. The small screw in my hand was the root cause of the failure. It allowed a retaining clip to come loose, the clips job is to keep the stud from vibrating loose. Sometimes big problems start with little items.
We are back on the road and running testing miles leading up to the event…hopefully our “steps back” will become much fewer and far between!