Photos from the VMCC Banbury Run 2019

It was the VMCC Banbury Run yesterday and as I wasn’t taking part this year,  Ken Druce and I decided to drive up and have a more relaxing time chatting with friends, looking at the bikes and wandering around the autojumble.

When we set off at 7am, the weather was terrible, even worse than last year, with torrential rain on the A34 up to the M40.  It was still raining when we got to Gaydon and although it looked like most riders and their bikes were present, many of the autojumblers didn’t turn up and the number of visitors was down.  Which was a shame, as by 11am, the sun was out and we only had occasional light showers for the rest of the day.

Didn’t see many people from our Section there.  Bumped into Peter Miller several times as we wandered around the site. And Roger Gillard was drinking tea with Bettie Barber while Ian Clarke was manning the stall.  But that was about it.

BTW: the car parking for visitors to the British Motor Museum at Gaydon always used to be bad.  In previous years, I’ve had to lug heavy gearboxes, engines etc back to my car which was 1/2 mile away.  That’s all changed this year as there is now a massive new car park just behind the museum and close to the autojumble. Much better.

In The Autojumble:
In The Bike Park:
At the Start Line:


Report on the GIANTS Run 2019

Cerne Abbas Giant
Cerne Abbas Giant
  • thank you and all the organisers for a wonderful event. Same time next year then?
  • thoroughly enjoying myself
  • already in our calendar for next year

Just a few of the comments passed to me yesterday during and after our inaugural GIANTS Run, an event for girder fork bikes.  I’m sure Paul Miles has received many more.


Saturday Late Afternoon and Evening Meal:

It kicked off with a late Saturday afternoon gathering at Henstridge Golf and Leisure to meet riders who were camping overnight.  At 5:15pm, led by Gabby Hunt, we all headed off on our bikes to Sherborne Golf Course for an early evening supper.  Two course meal for £10; what’s not to like!  We had 22 at this gathering, which was more than expected, so many thanks to all those who came to welcome our visitors.  It was a great way to meet new girder fork enthusiasts, so the scene was set for the following day…

Sunday Morning Line-Up:

And what a day it was!  Fantastic turnout!  80 pre-registered for the event, with 10 signing up on the day.  Nine were pillion riders, so 71 machines, plus at least 4 of the usual hangers on, too mean to register 🙁 .  At least 11 no-shows on the day, without notice, plus a couple of cancellations prior, usually due to ill health or mechanical issues, so we think about 60 rode on the day.  Rod and Sandy at Henstridge Golf and Leisure did an excellent job of providing breakfast and the “pie and pint” lunch — it’s worth mentioning that we decided that cancellations and no-shows would not be eligible for refunds, and this helped ensure that- Rod and Sandy’s catering plans would not be upset at short notice.

Professional Photos with kind permission from Andrew Butler Photography:

Andrew, a friend of Paul Miles, shows how photographs should be taken.  Some brilliant photos here — many thanks Andrew.

Other Photos taken on route:

Signing-on was administered by Cressy Miles, Philippa Wirdnam and Marie McGladdery.  Plus, we had a number of fluorescent jacket marshals helping with parking,  and Andy Grew & Pete Dungey offering a breakdown service for the long and short routes respectively.  Many thanks to all of you; it all worked very smoothly.

The only thing we lost control of was the weather. Beautiful start to the day but by 1:30pm, the heavens had opened and several of us were caught in torrential rain.  Simon Dillon’s Sarolea magneto was overwhelmed by water as was the magneto on your Secretary’s (me!) Ariel Sloper.  Both of us were about 62 miles into our 67 long route — so close yet so far.  I did eventually get back to Henstridge by car but by then it was 3:45pm and there were only a few people left…although Sandy still managed to produce a pie!

Final Thoughts From Paul Miles:

There was a will in the section to try and offer an event purely for girder fork bikes and to include the 1930s machines- so often the bridesmaids in that they are too new for established events such as Banbury yet find themselves slightly overwhelmed in general runs as the majority of riders choose 70/80s bikes for them now.

A turnout such as this vindicates the decision and really shows a desire to keep these fine old bikes on the road where they belong. The carefully curated routes by Paul Wirdnam played to the strengths of these machines, avoiding faster roads, or the goat tracks we’re sometimes subjected to; especially difficult on bikes with no suspension!

Dozens of these machines going off together and mostly riding at similar speeds made for a tremendous feeling of camaraderie and it seemed to be so much more than ‘just another ride’ to me, at least. Girder fork enthusiasts are the beating heart of vintage motorcycling and long may it continue. I loaned out three of my bikes, all to ‘vintage virgins’. Everyone survived and loved the day. One even asked me how much a ‘GIANTS eligible’ bike might cost as he intends to come again next year with his own machine. Another tried to buy the Duggie off me there and then! I’d really love to see us getting more enthusiasts out on our bikes.

Roll on GIANTS 2!

Gillingham In Gear 2019 : Help Needed!

Following from Ray Dickinson; please get back to Ray if you can offer any help at all, no matter how small.

Gillingham in Gear show takes place on Saturday June 8th and we need your support . As one of the organisers, I will be on site from 7am setting up and on car park duty all day.  Can anybody help by bring the club gazebo;  if needed, I can help on the Friday in collecting it from the Section’s shed at Fiddleford.  There are many motorcycle clubs taking part and we need to have a stand that shows how good our club is.

Then we need plenty of your bikes.  It’s free to enter and no restriction on how long you stay,  plenty of food stalls, a pub next door and a lot to see;  all sort of bikes, classic cars, lorries and tractors.

The Section’s Committee is putting a lot of work organising many more events this year and we need the help of its members.

Regards Ray

Photos from the Bluebell Run 2019

Andrew, Ray, Linda and Dave

Sunny start today at the Okeford Fitzpaine Recreation Ground where we had 30 people signing-on for our annual Bluebell Run to Lulworth Cove.  Coffee, tea and pastries kindly provided and served by Marjorie and Philippa — many thanks ladies!

By departure time at 11:ooam, the sun had gone and it was unusually chilly.  But it didn’t rain and we did see bluebells…( remember 2018? 🙂 )

At least 20% of us didn’t get as far as Lulworth, but instead ended up at Moreton Tea Rooms drinking more tea / coffee, eating more cake and generally talking rubbish.  I couldn’t possibly say who was the leader of this breakaway rebel group, but they’ll not be allowed to take part next year 🙂 .


A Final Farewell to Three Members

We’re very sad to report the recent passing of the following three members and I’m sure we’re all thinking of their friends and families at this time.

  • Colin Goody, who died a couple of weeks ago, was a fearless speedway rider.  I’ve heard many stories of Colin and his Ariels. His funeral will take place at Poole Crematorium on Friday 10th May at 4pm.
  • Ken Blake of Poole who died on Monday 22nd April. He was a very early member of the Section and at one time was Chairman. His funeral will take place at The Church of the Good Sheppard, 63 Good Road, Rossmore, Poole, BH12 4HR, on Wednesday 8th May at 11am.
  • Pat Manley from Leigh who died on Saturday 27th April. He was a Dorset member for many years and only gave up a year or two ago. His funeral will take place at Leigh Village Church on Wednesday 15th May at 2pm. Motorcycles will be welcome and motorcycle kit worn.

SCAM Alert : Be on your guard!

Fellow Section Members, yesterday I received this email in the Secretary’s email inbox.  It looks like a legitimate request from John Adams, our Treasurer.

But having looked at the email address of the sender, it clearly wasn’t from John.

Be careful!  Our Committee members, with their names, phone numbers and email address, are all listed on our Contacts page for all to see, so it is inevitable that we’ll get scammers pretending to be one of us. If you’re in any doubt about anything you might receive from one us, best to pick up the phone and check before acting on something you’re asked to do…



Photos from the Blandford Run 2019

Who remembers the Blandford Run last year?  It was miserable: rained all day, mud everywhere and took me a week to clean my bike….

Not so yesterday.  A bit overcast to start with but turned into a nice day.  Many thanks to Peter Miller for putting together a very interesting 50 mile route to our lunch stop at The Fox in Ansty. I heard several members saying that they knew Dorset roads quite well but had never come across part of the route;  certainly for me, the Bloxworth area was unknown.

How’s our new stick-on Star system working out?  Did anyone spot any riders without the compulsory Star stuck on their headlight? If you did, it means they haven’t paid the £3 entry fee…or the Star fell off 🙂

At the start, Corn Exchange, Blandford:

At The Fox, Ansty:

News from the South Dorset Section

I had a phone call from Martin Figg last night — he is the new Secretary of the South Dorset Section and he hopes to get the following into the May Journal Section Notes:

Support for the Section has been mixed of late, but following the AGM in March a fresh start has been made with the support of a core of local members. Recognition and thanks are extended to John Morey who has stepped down as Chairman after many years. Rod Hann becomes Chairman, Martin Figg, Secretary and Andrew Samways, Treasurer. Informal Section Meetings will be held in the skittle alley of The Three Compasses, Charminster, Dorchester DT2 9QT on the fourth Thursday of each month, the next being on 23rd May at 8.00 p.m. It is planned to establish a programme of Sunday Runs, initially once a month, starting from either Dorchester or Bridport. It is hoped to attract support from both former and new participants and additional events (to address members preferences) will be introduced, given sufficient support. If you’re a former rider, new to the Section, from a neighbouring area, or better still a potential recruit, you will receive an open welcome. Watch out for Diary events, just turn up, or contact one of the members named above. If you would like to receive information by email, please notify Martin Figg, as above.

You can contact Martin on 01305 774793, 07896507278 or email him at  Rod can be contacted on 01935 872528 or email him at

Monkey See, Monkey Do!

Monkey Fixing a Douglas S6

Wikipedia definition: The saying refers to the learning of a process without an understanding of why it works. Another definition implies the act of mimicry, usually with limited knowledge and/or concern for the consequences.

That’s us….I’m Monkey #1 and Paul Miles is Monkey #2 and we’re both following the monkey in the photo above.  This is the story of how we got hold of three 1930 Douglas S6/T6 motorcycles and what we’ve done with them so far…

The Lead

I’ve a friend Alan, in the Surrey/Sussex Section, who I’ve known for the last 30 years and he’s always had an interest in Douglas motorcycles, having owned all sorts of pre-war models.  For the past 15 years, he’s owned a 1930 Douglas S6, so I’m fairly familiar with this model and I’ve always viewed them as rather ‘quirky’ motorcycles (more on this later); the S6 has all those pre-war features that Douglas is known for: external flywheel, fore and aft twin cylinder engine, etc.

About a month ago, I had a phone call from Alan informing me that the widow (and sons) of a well-known Douglas Club member was selling off her late husband’s Douglases.  Alan had already visited her to buy a few spares but told me that there were at least three complete bikes under tarpaulins, and that nothing had been advertised. Quite sensibly, her sons did not wants hoards of oily bikers visiting their elderly mother, so initial contact was made via Bert, a Douglas Club member who was a friend of the family.  At this point, I told Monkey #2 (Paul Miles), that I was off to see some Douglases and did he fancy coming along…which he did. So off we travelled to Bert’s house near Guildford, where we were blindfolded and bundled into the back of his car and taken to the secret location.  OK, the last bit was not quite true, but it felt a bit like that.

When we got there, we were greeted by one of the sons who opened the garage door and rolled out three Douglas motorcycles:

The Purchase

Before arriving, we had no idea what to expect as no one had taken any photographs and we had no idea of the age of the bikes but as S6/T6 models were made from 1930 to 1935, I had assumed early 1930s, but a quick check of their V5’s revealed that all three were 1930, a big bonus as they’re all eligible for V&V events.

Paul and I decided pretty quickly that we’d like one each and as we couldn’t possibly leave the third one by itself, we each decided to take a half share in it.  As for price, the son had already had valuations from the Douglas Club, so we made an offer for all three, headed home and waited for him to check with his brother. Later that evening, we each had a phone call confirming that our offer had been accepted. Result!

So what have we bought?

  • Duggie #1: As the lead was mine, I had first choice and chose PL2257, an S6, which had the best overall cosmetic appearance*.  It has a conventional foot kick start.  Douglas 4 speed box fitted — they usually have a 3 speed box.
  • Duggie #2: Paul chose the other S6, GH6846* which has a very rare hand start lever.  Douglas 3 speed box fitted.
  • Duggie #3: Half share in the T6, GF5656. It has a conventional foot kick start.  Douglas 4 speed box fitted — they usually have a 3 speed box.

S6 (sports) and T6 (touring) are very similar: same engine, frame, gearbox etc.  T6 has foot boards rather than foot rests, has a carrier and has different girder forks with side springs.  Handlebars are fixed (non-adjustable) on the T6.

None of these bikes have been ridden / started for at least 10-15 years.  The T6 looks the most neglected and has a tax disc dated 1984, which maybe when it was last used.

*On our recent Spring Run, in which Duggie #1 and #2 were ridden, to Paul Miles’s great amusement, it soon became clear that Chrome Doesn’t Get You Home but In Rust, We Trust.  It is possible that, mechanically, Duggie #2 might be marginally better than Duggie #1….or maybe I just need to lose some weight! 🙂

Duggie #1

As neither of us have a double trailer, it took several trips to fetch the bikes. Plus, we subsequently bought all the spares that were in the garage and outside workshop.  Duggie #1 was the first to arrive in Dorset:

As Monkey #1, I set about Duggie #1 immediately.  No intention of cosmetically restoring it; my first oily rag bike and I love it.  Did the following to get it up-and-running: new tyres and checked wheel bearings, checked out magneto on the bench, cleaned carb of old sticky fuel, new clutch springs fitted, new clutch cable and work on clutch thrust bearing, new chains front and back, drained old oil and cleaned all gauze filters, checked tappet clearances and ignition timing, semi-fluid grease added to gearbox.

Having done the above, it didn’t take much to start it.  Although initially quite smokey, that soon cleared and after 5 miles on the road, it is smoke-free and the plug colour perfect.

Duggie #2

Duggie #2 and #3 were fetched together about a week after Duggie #1:

And in true Monkey #2 fashion, and with In Rust, I Trust ringing in his ears, Paul got Duggie #2 up-and-running, and on the road, in record time.  But I guess if you only do an oil change, things are quicker 🙂

Duggie #3

Monkey #1 is still working on Duggie #3, the T6.  It is up-and-running but it is not running very smoothly at the moment.  As both compression and magneto spark are good, I’m hoping this is just a carburetion issue.  In addition, the clutch thrust bearing needed quite a bit of work:

As per Duggie #1, lots of old oil to burn off, but it really needs a blast on the road to do that and I’m not quite ready for that:

On The Road

Monkey #1 and #2 have met up several times on their respective S6 Duggies.  Initially, a short run to Thyme after Time Café at Spire Hill near Stalbridge and then, in at the deep end, on Bernard Jones’s Spring Run where I covered 80 miles before I got home and during those gruelling 80 miles, I realised that Duggie #1 needed a little more work 🙁 :

Duggie #2 Hand Starting. Remember, In Rust, We Trust

Duggie #1 Kick Starting. Remember,  Chrome Won’t Get You Home

The Quirky Douglas

Douglas S6 Oil Pump / Sump Drain Plug
Douglas S6 Oil Pump / Sump Drain Plug

I mentioned at the beginning that these S6 Douglases were ‘quirky’ and maybe the list below applies to all pre-war Douglases, and some other makes as well, but here are some of my observations that have amused / confused me:

  • You adjust the primary chain by sliding the engine back and forward.  It’s very easy: you just loosen the two large clamp nuts under the sump and use the pull/push adjuster at the front of the engine.  And unlike conventional adjustment of the primary chain, this one doesn’t affect the rear chain.
  • The oil pump is also the sump drain plug.  It must also be one of the longest motorcycle oil pumps out there.
  • The clutch is inside the flywheel and when you operate the clutch, it not only moves the clutch plate but also the engine sprocket and primary chain.
  • The Amal carb (5/116/S) is an updraft one and is position over the hot exhaust pipe.  It is a type 5 (75, 275) carb but has many unique parts such as the float chamber, needle jet, jet needle and main body…only the slide is interchangeable with other type 5 carbs. Amal / Burlen in Salisbury have all the technical drawings but not the parts.
  • It has an external flywheel as did many bikes in the 1920s and earlier, but Douglas stuck with them well into the late 1930s.
  • The hub brakes do not use two shoes as normal bikes, but an expanding band.  They don’t work very well!
  • Wheel nuts on these S6 Douglases are left handed.  Why?
  • They use the infamous pancake dynamos.  No field coils but permanent magnets instead; if the latter have lost any of their magnetism over the last 90 years, you’ll get no charge.

Some people paint silly spirals on their flywheels…

The Future?

Initially, I thought I might like to own both an S6 and a T6, but they really are so similar, it makes no sense.  I’ve owned near identical Ariels in the past and there really is no need for it — one gets used and the other doesn’t.  Monkey #2 has already made it clear that his half of the Duggie #3 T6 is up for sale once we’ve got it running nicely.  And before we sell it, we’d like to have all three taking part in some Dorset Section run.  That would be cool.

As for Duggie #1 and #2, the S6s, I guess only time will tell….

Monkey #1 signing off.