Working on an early ’30s Douglas gearbox, I’ve been struck by the quality. Where a typical BSA or similar machine would have had shafts supported in bronze bushes pressed into blind holes, Douglas used bronze collars cast into the alloy to support proper ball races. And, with remarkable consideration for the restorer of ninety years later, they specified metric bearing sizes – part no. 6203 if you’re curious! – which are readily available today.
Douglas had an enviable reputation for quality. This gearbox is from a ‘budget’ model, an A31, yet it cannot have been cheap to manufacture. An omen for the financial problems which were to beset the company in the years ahead, perhaps.

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