What Goes Around, Comes Around
by Doug Kephart
There are many things in this world that travel in circular paths. Crankshafts immediately spring to mind, or at least for some of us they do. What might not be so obvious is that crankshaft drawings, though they be two dimensional, also travel in orbital paths.
I first entered into this story in the year 1994, though the beginning of this tale is far older than that. In that year I had written to the late Len Cole, expert on matters re- Douglas DT models, about some questions I had related to drawings for the DT engine I was working on at the time. Len's health, in decline, by that point did not permit him to engage in lengthy correspondence, so instead he had engine tuner Phil Manzano reply in greater detail for him. An introduction for which I am ever in his debt, and probably responsible for my carpal tunnel syndrome affliction. He also had Phil forward a copy of the works blueprint of the DT crankshaft, drawing number 10411.
When I first clapped eyes on this, I thought my drawing project was on the threshold of a new age, I was finally cracking into some of the elusive information on DT machines that I suspected lurked out there. Knowledge of which at times seemed frustratingly secreted away by various folks in the know; myself not being one of them a primary objection!
I anticipated this was just a precursor to reams of works prints to start emerging for me to gaze in wonder upon. I quickly found out that survival of the crankshaft print was a fluke, and there was no more where that came from! But it would be a fluke with an odd twist.
Jumping forward to 1997, I acquired the supercharged DT Douglas from the estate of the late Bill Brownlie. This machine had been built by Richard Gower of Toronto, Ontario and competed in hill climbs in the late forties, fifties, and possibly the early sixties. But that is of little interest here, and is a story for another day. Bill had kept a comprehensive file of correspondence on the bike. Gathering information for the day when he could start restoration, together with all his letters and the replies he received related to the bike, including a couple of mine. Unfortunately he did not live to see that day. Part of the file included some material he received from Mr. Gower with the machine.
In 1947 Gower had contacted the factory with a query about the DT crankshaft. Even then they were scarce, and he got the expected response of 'sorry, not available'. But the factory did send him a copy of the works print for the crank, which Gower saved, print 10411. It looks to be a reddish-brown diazo copy, though I think back then they may have called it the ozalid process. It is a little worse for wear, having been folded and re-folded into a small envelope sized square many times. On top of that it was heavily soiled, and at the edges acid from handling has darkened the treated paper.
It seems Bill Brownlie undertook to restore this print (his occupation was automotive design artist), first by making a 1:1 negative image on acetate. This was then used to make a positive on mylar, but before doing so much of the background area on the negative was painted in. This prevented the positive from capturing the soiled and darkened areas of the original, and greatly cleaned up the image. The positive mylar then had extensive and heavy restoration with ink pens to fill in broken lines and faint dimensions. In some areas the image was just too far gone to be recreated. By comparing this to the one I received from Len Cole, it is obvious this is the master for all the extent copies. How this print then got back to England is the only part of the story I do not yet know. But there are a few possibilities.
In the early seventies Bill had been corresponding quite a bit with Douglas grass track and sprint enthusiast Bill Dent, about acquiring parts and restoring his DT. A matter in which Bill Dent was able to provide quite a bit of assistance. Possibly Brownlie sent Dent a copy of the crankshaft print and he in turn sent it to Len Cole, who sent it to Phil, who sent it to me; I who ended up with the original master of the copy Len sent to me (follow me?) However in Brownlie's drafts of correspondence with Dent, and the voluminous replies, there is no mention about the crankshaft drawing.
In 1973 Brownlie must have wrote Frank Dolman, Technical Information representative for the LDMCC at the time (and still, June, 2002) as on the April 12th there is a reply from him answering technical questions Brownlie must have asked. It also mentions that that the club would very much like a copy of the crankshaft print. The draft of Bill's reply, if he made one, is also missing so I do not know if he did indeed send one. Though I can not imagine Bill refusing such a request, based on the short time I corresponded with him. Perhaps Frank could answer if he was the one that passed it on to Len?
So, back to where I started. I have a factory diazo copy, a negative copy, a restored master copy, and several photo copies! A bit of an overkill for just one part. I could have done with less quantity of one part in trade for more diversity! And so ends the tale.
Well actually the factory did send Mr. Gower some drawings for the valve springs, but I was hoping for something more exciting like cylinder heads! The inner spring (4994) dates back to 1/8/22 and was traced by SS. The middle spring (10012) can not be dated, but states it was first used on EW'28, and a reference number of 9846. I assume that is the EW part number. In the March 1927 issue of the EW parts list, the spring is listed as 8634, so perhaps it was one of those many running changes Kingswood had to make to sort out the early production EW teething troubles.
It would be a bit odd as in most cases I am finding Douglas did not renumber parts. The part number would gain a "-1", "-2", "-3" suffix and so on to denote revisions. I have a copy of the F-28 (1928 600cc EW) spares list and it is not that spring (9660) either. A later EW 350 parts list might shed light on this. There is no drawing for the outer spring, but from the DT spares list, we know that to be 8799. Since most parts unique to the DT seem to be numbered in the 10,000s, I assume even the outer spring to be recycled from an earlier model. But a study of part numbers is a whole new avenue of exploration and a subject worthy of its own article.
© 2002 D. Kephart