Brooklands Douglas 1922
Douglas S1 – Ridden by Cyril Pullin at Brooklands, 1922?

A visitor to the site has kindly sent me two old photographs to forward to the Club’s archive – but they are too good not to feature here first! The photo above looks like a ‘works’ shot – but it’s the captions which intrigued me. It appears to have been displayed in an exhibition, and is captioned ‘Cyril Pullin’s 100 MPH Douglas‘. On the reverse, in pencil, someone has added ‘23rd March 1922 Brooklands 100.06 mph. 3.1/2 HP 494cc OHV Model S1, 68mm x 68mm. Les Bailey / Cyril Pullin. Cyril Pullin became chief designer.’

The S1 was, according to Mick Walker’s ‘Douglas – The Complete Story’, the star performer of the 1921 range. It was the first series production OHV model from Douglas and featured all-chain drive, a three-speed box, ‘efficient’ brakes and a ‘special heated induction system’ – possibly the sleeve and vertical pipe visible in the photograph, behind the carburettor? At £130, it was an expensive machine for the early 1920s.

But was this really the Brooklands racer? The mudguards, rear wheel with belt rim, rear stand and front number plate do not suggest a racing machine, yet the dropped bars and that impressive oil tank under the seat definitely do. More intriguingly, the front wheel is fitted with Douglas’ early disc brake with cable-operated aluminium caliper. But – the disc brake (more accurately, an inverted vee lined with friction material) did not appear until 1924, when it was fitted on the RW and RA models at the front and rear. At the rear, this machine is fitted with what looks like Douglas’ 8-inch servo-operated brake, which appeared on production machines in the middle of the decade.

So, I’m slightly puzzled by this ‘record breaker’! If you can shed any light on the story, please use the ‘Comment’ box below to let us know.

One thought on “A Brooklands Douglas from 1922 – or is it?

  1. This is definitely an S1. Both brakes are correct. The front brake has the friction material riveted to the inverted V of the caliper , and the disc bare steel. The later RA brake had the ferodo riveted to a much larger disc. The caliper was bare. As for the rear, it looks larger because the backplate had a larger diameter covering the sprocket. The brake is 7″ diameter with two bronze shoes, each with its own fulcrum pin, rather like a Norton. A very strong brake and drum . Although it has a belt/brake rim fitted, it is not connected to any mechanism. Possibly the bike has a rear stand fitted, ( there is enough room on the rear forks ) is because the centre stand , which originally was bolted to the bottom of the gearbox, was quite a flimsy affair with a poor bracket and spring arrangement and would be in danger of grounding. Also there isn’t a gear lever on the gate over the tank, but a large knob on the handlebars. This is probably the gear change lever connected to the gearbox by Bowden cable. The tank is fuel only, probably from the 4HP. The separate oil tank is quite large too. Much more capacity than the original set up for speed and record attempts. I see no reason not to believe that this is the record breaking machine.


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