European Motorcycles

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Vintage and Classic Motorcycle Brakes

Mon Nov 05 2007
kiwiraca3<at>aol dot com

on feb 22 06 somebody was looking for seals for what look like colin lyster front calipers on a triton .a friend needs seals also did you have any luck finding them .i've tried emailing the owner of the triton but no reply. thanks tony .
santa barbara ,ca


Oldani Brakes
Fitted to a great many Italian sports bikes. Fontana brakes were apparently developed from these.


Lockheed brakes were fitted to early Ducati V-Twins.


magura logo

Magura were best known for their handlebar controls.

Research Association brakes may have been fitted to the 1923 sidevalve TT Beardmore Precision machines. More...

Scarab discs were fitted to early Ducati V-twins.
Some Scarab brake components available at Road & Race
docv.org Scarab article at DOCV

Vintage Drum Brakes at Eurospares
Dual Leading Shoe Drum Brake Articles

Brake Fluid

"...Dow Corning Silicon brake fluid. This has a higher boiling point, does not absorb water, will not ruin paintwork and will keep corrosion at bay while giving a brake system a life many times that of brakes using conventional fluid."
From Scarab article at DOCV

glycol brake fluid 

Research Association

It is the British Motor Cycle and Cycle Car Research Association, (B.M.C.C.C.R.A.), often abbreviated to "Research Association" or "R A.", 1920-1931, to which I refer.
I am trying to write an accurate history of the above association and its interaction with the motorcycle industry of the day.

Good information on the Association is hard to find, the Douglas side of the story is fairly well documented, but this Beardmore-Precision angle seems so far to be blank!

In the September 1985 issue of Classic Bike, there is an article titled "Braking away", by Peter Watson, pages 50-54.

On page 54 Watson claims:
"Bailey was not alone in his enthusiasm for the Research Association brake, for it was also adopted by Beardmore-Precision, who campaigned side-valve singles rather than the Barr & Stroud sleeve-valve design they also favoured at this time. But Beardmore's brakes - they went the whole hog with the new type at both ends - were simply replicas of the Research Association's original design with none of the improvements wrought by Les Bailey for Douglas" (Watson may be quoting from an earlier source, as he does a lot in this article, but while he partly identifies some sources, others are not identified at all)

The B.M.C.C.C.R.A., jointly with their then Director of Research, Mr. Henry Snowdon Rowell, took out a patent for a brake, British Patent 199,956. (so far this is the only patent known for the association's 10 years of research)

The summarised patent claim of the B.M.C.C.C.R.A.-Rowell brake is:
Applied 10Jul22

Complete 12Oct22

Accepted 05Jul23

1. Fully exposed rotating drum of softer material, and a non-rotating shoe of harder material.

2. The soft material is supported by a metal rim.

The B.M.C.C.C.R.A.-Rowell patent makes no claim for a V-shape wedge brake; the V-shape is mentioned in the body of the patent, but it is not part of the claim. This feature was already covered by the earlier Bailey patent for the S1/S2 Douglas wedge brake. (though the earlier patent was for a metal rotor and a shoe lined with friction material)

The B.M.C.C.C.R.A. and Rowell did not patent a wedge brake, they jointly patented a brake where the friction material was on the rotating member, to which a metal "shoe" was applied.

The Beardmore Precision recorded results for the 1923 T T are 11th, 18th and a DNF, all in the Junior event. If there were any Beardmore Precision's entered for the Senior or Sidecar events they failed to make the start and thus are not recorded in readily accessible results.

Source: Beardmore Precision TT results iomtt.com/TT-Database/Events/Races

Seemingly the only similarity shared by the so called RA Douglas brakes and the B.M.C.C.C.R.A.-Rowell patent brake is that both used rotors made from a friction type material together with metal "shoes".

Apart from the Classic Bike reference, I haven't got a clue what the '23 TT Beardmore Precision machines actually used for brakes.

I have found images of Beardmore Precision machines with front only contracting band brakes, and also with front and rear contracting band brakes, all appear to be conventional types with metal drums (rotors) and friction material lined contracting metal bands.

What I am seeking is:

  • Evidence of the actual brakes used in the 1923 TT by Beardmore-Precision.
  • Did Beardmore-Precision enter the Senior and or Sidecar events of the 1923 TT?
  • Were the 1923 TT Beardmore-Precision brakes contracting band type with the friction material affixed to the rotating drum and a plain metal band?
  • Were they wedge type brakes similar to the RA Douglas?
  • Were they conventional contracting band brakes with a plain metal drum and the friction material affixed to the band?
  • Were they something else entirely?
  • Is the 1985 Classic Bike quote erroneous?
  • Help desperately required!
Neale Gentner

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