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Grandpa’s Creation

January 6, 2014

The mailbox has been filling up lately with a lot of really great old photos.  This one came in from Roger Chambers in Australia.  It is a pic of his grandfather’s creation, an early fully sprung motorcycle.  Grandad was Leonard Chambers from North Ormesby, Middlesborough, England.  The family doesn’t have any other info about the bike, so Roger wrote in to see if our readers knew of it. 

motorcycle-002-edited.tif(click to see a larger pic). 


The early motor features an automatic valve and coil ignition, both features which point to a construction c1910ish.  The front forks are typical Druid pattern, but the real novelty is that rear suspension.  The frame has been modified by adding a loop around the rear mudguard with a swingarm sprung below via two short coils.  What appears to be a secondary linkage between the swingarm and the seat is the mount to hold the rear mudguard, which moves with the wheel.


Remains of sidecar attachments can be seen on the swingarm and on the frame down tube, and possibly that left footrest too which appears to be identical but with some rubber tubing applied.  Likely that frame top tube was cut down and the seat lowered about the same time that the suspension was grafted on, and I’d venture a guess that was c1913 or later.  Probably not quite as early as the first mono shock rear suspensions as shown in our earlier article here.  But it is a very good looking machine, and Mr. Chambers obviously knew engineering and had excellent fabrication skills.  The quality of the suspension appears to match that of the factories of the era.


Does anybody know more of the history of DC299, or where it is now?  Feel free to comment via the link below.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Doug Lyon permalink
    January 7, 2014 12:52 am

    An interesting mod and well thought out, as the sidecar would give the swinging arm some torsional stiffness, otherwise the poor rear wheel spindle would probably cry “Enough!” pretty quickly! I’m guessing a bit of a handful on the dirt when solo though?

  2. Nick Smith permalink
    March 7, 2015 10:48 am

    This got a mention in Eric Walford’s Patents column in the 5 December 1912 issue of The Motor Cycle – page 1472.

    The patent number is given as 27980/1911, and a copy of the accepted patent (given the nod in October 1912) is available.

    Quite possibly the image above was sent in to the press of the time: it was fairly common for private owners to send in evidence of updates to older machines, to show their various experiments and modifications, and to try to lay claim to advances in design.

    • March 9, 2015 9:25 am

      Another good one Nick! What searches did you use to find it so easily?

  3. Nick Smith permalink
    March 9, 2015 11:56 am

    The surname’s reasonably distinctive, so that makes for a fairly good starting point. I think I’ve seen a pic of it in the magazine, but couldn’t trace it. You didn’t have to wait long for a spring-frame design to turn up in the weeklies in those days…

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