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1908 Motorcycle at Preston Barracks

A c1908 Quadrant with a Sligo reg IZ85 registered to Edward Arthur Fuller, 4th Royal Irish Dragoons, Preston Barracks, Brighton.

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  • What a nice machine. (Well for 1908 I suppose! Similar to a 1911 Triumph P type I had) Very eligible for the Pioneer Run to Brighton these days. Single speed with direct belt drive, no clutch, beaded edge tyres, total loss lubrication system, acetylene front light and the only brake was on the rear wheel. Interestingly the front wheel has some sort of rudimentary spring loaded suspension system. Riding such a machine was an art in itself.
    To start the engine you had a ‘de-compressor’ lever on the handlebars. This you pulled so there was no engine compression and then pushed the machine as fast as you could until a good speed was achieved. You then released the de-compression lever and with any luck the engine would fire – BANG! – and you jumped on, and off you go. If it went bang twice, that is before you jumped on, you were either dragged down the road behind it or worse still if you let go it went off on it’s own and landed in a hedge! Beaded edge tyres were a devil to repair when you got a puncture. And that’s not ‘if’ you got a puncture as punctures were a permanent feature of pneumatic tyres in the early 1900s. In wet weather the drive belt being out in the open would slip so you lost most of your power and had to push it up hills. The little acetylene generator which can be seen behind the lamp needed constant attention and re-filling and the light wasn’t that good. Mr Fuller must have been a brave man to ride that all the way from Ireland but I suspect it would have been transported to Brighton or Preston Station by train. Unfortunately I don’t know anything about military uniforms but it would be interesting to know more about the ranks of the men in the photo and the one in civvies.
    In WW2 the Irish GUARDS were billeted in Sussex Square.

    By Tim Sargeant (12/04/2020)

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