Resurrecting my 1941 Indian Four - Page 8
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  1. #141
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman109 View Post
    I once owned an Indian Woodsman bike, It was actually a 500cc Royal Enfield Bullet that had been re-badged. The larger Royal Enfield 750cc Meteor was re-badged as the Chief. There were also some Velocettes that were sold with the Indian badge. There was even a British startup company that built four cylinder models a couple of decades back. The laws in UK permitted the company to use the Indian name. I don't think that it took off, though.
    There was also the Vincent Indian. It was made in England for Indian to sell in the USA. I have a photo somewhere with Phil Irving sitting on it. To my eyes it looked ridiculous and judging by his expression he might have agreed. Both companies were beginning to struggle so perhaps it was desperation shared.

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    Something like Sears and Kmart combining and having Craftsman made in China?

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  4. #143
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    "The new Polaris Indians are pretty darn nice bikes, I rode a couple in Vegas a couple of years back, they are miles ahead of the Gilroy bikes though I don't seem to have found the need to buy one, I may some day."

    I agree that the Polaris "Indians" are nice machines and very well built. They just aren't "Indians".

    There's only one Indian motorcycle company regardless of what name you might put on a gas tank.

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  6. #144
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman109 View Post
    "The new Polaris Indians are pretty darn nice bikes, I rode a couple in Vegas a couple of years back, they are miles ahead of the Gilroy bikes though I don't seem to have found the need to buy one, I may some day."

    I agree that the Polaris "Indians" are nice machines and very well built. They just aren't "Indians".

    There's only one Indian motorcycle company regardless of what name you might put on a gas tank.
    You see the one I chose, might be I can't get past that either, I have had just about all the modern bikes at one time or another except that and a Harley

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  8. #145
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    Quote Originally Posted by billmac View Post
    There was also the Vincent Indian. It was made in England for Indian to sell in the USA. I have a photo somewhere with Phil Irving sitting on it. To my eyes it looked ridiculous and judging by his expression he might have agreed. Both companies were beginning to struggle so perhaps it was desperation shared.
    They just plain managed themselves into history, it happens all the time, I sometimes wonder what they would be making today had they made it.

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    In wartime, Indian did what they could for the war effort. They built some motorcycles in wartime trim. There were some Chiefs and some Scouts. They also built the model 841 V-twin with a transverse engine and shaft drive which was in competition with the Harley-Davidson XA. The XA was a flat boxer twin copy of an early flathead BMW in US dimensions rather than metric. I think that there was a contract on each company for 1,000 bikes to test. I don't believe that either of the machines ever saw military duty.

    A friend of mine had an 841 in his garage that was out of commission due to a broken ring gear. Since there were no parts available, it just sat there.

    After the war, Indian struggled to convert back to civilian production and lots of their machines were mix and match built "floorsweep" models. In that era they brought out the European-inspired Scout (440cc) vertical twin and the Arrow vertical single (220cc). Later the Scout was upgraded to a full 500cc and named the Warrior and TT Warrior as a competition model,
    None of these were well-received and the dying company took it's last gasps in the winter of 1953, 1954, never to be forgotten.

    Model 841 in Military trim.

    index.jpgx.jpg

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  11. #147
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman109 View Post
    There's only one Indian motorcycle company regardless of what name you might put on a gas tank.
    I agree. We should let the sleeping Indian lie.

    I can't properly sympathize about your father's death since I haven't "walked in your shoes", but to the extent that I can, I do. He wasn't the first or the last driven to the end of his string by lawyers. RCA's lawyers harassed Edwin Armstrong until he wrote a note to his wife telling her that he still loved her and was sorry that things had come out that way, then went out a window, I think on the 11th floor. His wife followed up every lawsuit over infringement on his patent for FM and won them all.

    The 841 and XA were inspired by the shaft drive BMWs the Germans used in North Africa where the sand ate up chains. By the time they were ready, the campaign was over. Local machinist Steve Tettaton did a nice restoration on an 841 which I got to ride on occasion. The engine has 90 degree twin cylinders like a Guzzi, making a smooth running, low vibration one. One time I rode it to Wauconda from St. Louis. The speedometer didn't work and I just went a comfortable speed, then realized that I had left the rest of the pack far behind. The bike was so comfortable and handled so well that I didn't realize how fast I was going. One of the group had a heart attack at Hannibal so I was given his 1953 Harley side car rig to take back. At anything over 45 MPH the handlebars would become a blur and the miserable beast was out of rig so I had to hold continuous pressure on the vibrating handle bars to keep it straight down the road. One of the best and the worst rides in one trip.

    Bill

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    This morning I spent finding the holes in my timing cover and making a part to test my findings.
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    I sure wish I could get this pic thing down, sometimes it works and sometimes it don't
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9100 View Post
    I was given his 1953 Harley side car rig to take back. At anything over 45 MPH the handlebars would become a blur and the miserable beast was out of rig so I had to hold continuous pressure on the vibrating handle bars to keep it straight down the road. One of the best and the worst rides in one trip.

    Bill
    so some one did a piss poor job of setting up the bottom end.

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    US military bike production was killed by the jeep......all the bikes were cancelled in early 1944 when jeep production met demand......The economics and practicalities were all on the side of the jeep.....the US bikes wernt suited to cross country,muddy tracks and heavily damaged roads as the British bikes were.

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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    US military bike production was killed by the jeep......all the bikes were cancelled in early 1944 when jeep production met demand......The economics and practicalities were all on the side of the jeep.....the US bikes wernt suited to cross country,muddy tracks and heavily damaged roads as the British bikes were.

    Right - and then in the late 1940's the British invasion of motorcycles started, There was BSA, AJS, Matchless, Velocette, James. Norton, Vincent, DOT, Villiers, you name it. They were cheaper than the Harleys and Indians, lighter, faster (Vincent did 128 mph out of the crate in 1950!) and handled better. The AMA passed a new rule that 500cc OHV twins and singles could run in AMA Class C alongside of the former Harley WR's and factory Indian racers. The competition was on! After that the British bikes mopped the floor with the old American iron on flat tracks and TT courses..

    It was fun to watch when I was a kid, The Harley riders hated the British bike riders and the Indian riders. The Indian riders hater the Harley riders and the British bikers and the Brit bike riders hated both the Harleys and the Indians. LOL

    Then in the late 1950's the Japanese bike invasion came and Indian was done and Harley nearly took gas. Gosh that was fun!

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    Radios didn't help the case for bikes, either. An army cyclist during WWII said that another factor was that they were useless for scouting. They made so much noise that everyone knew where you were and either had their heads down or were shooting at you.

    Apparently Indian took a worse hit in the cancellation because they had orders for a lot of spares and mistakenly thought those orders were still in force, that only the new bikes were cancelled. The army had a different view and declined to pay for the parts. A lot of those parts went on the market for next to nothing as Indian tried to recover some of their loss. Even as late as the 70s they went cheap. I have a 741 engine and a 741 engine + clutch and gearbox that cost me $75 and $100 respectively, both never run.

    Personally, I think Indian started down the slide in 1936 when Harley introduced the Knuckelhead with overhead valves and Indian didn't counter it.

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    "Personally, I think Indian started down the slide in 1936 when Harley introduced the Knucklehead with overhead valves and Indian didn't counter it."

    Absolutely, The-36 Harley EL was an Art Deco sensation. They were lighter, faster and, in the opinion of many, the most beautiful motorcycle ever built to that date.

    It was also the first Harley with a recirculating oil pump. No more hand oil pump and total loss oi systems on road machines.

    I had both a '46 and '47 Knucklehead when I was a mere child and I knew how nice they were.

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    I think the four speed constant mesh gearbox and a clutch that actually freed up were probably the biggest selling points .....especially ,as the main buyers were police forces in the 1930s.

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  23. #157
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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    I think the four speed constant mesh gearbox and a clutch that actually freed up were probably the biggest selling points .....especially ,as the main buyers were police forces in the 1930s.
    No doubt. If you ran normal oil in the clutch/gearbox on my 741, it was next to impossible to get it into gear on a cold morning. Since the driveline was suited to a bigger engine, I could use aircraft red hydraulic fluid without causing noticeable wear and ground the gear teeth ends at an angle that gave them a better chance of picking up the mating tooth. Another problem was that the thin steel disks in the clutch would warp and drag when the clutch was supposed to be released. I clamped them between plates and stress relieved them in my mother's oven, which did not make me any points on the home front.

    Bill

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  25. #158
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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    I think the four speed constant mesh gearbox and a clutch that actually freed up were probably the biggest selling points .....especially ,as the main buyers were police forces in the 1930s.
    Sure was. In general, the Harley transmissions from 1936 on were pretty much bulletproof if certain precautions were taken. Of course, they needed oil, but most important was the condition and adjustment of the clutch.

    If the clutch could be made to fully release before engaging low, you would likely never have a problem.

    I had several Harleys from 1946 on up to 2011 and never so much as nicked a gear tooth. I suspect that it had to do with my care and adjustment of the clutch.

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    You should see what a knuck sells for these days. Back when Marcus Dairy was running, a guy often arrived on a barn fresh version of one of those. He was probably driving more dollars on the road than the man who had been driving his vincent black shadow.

    I would love to be able to take an 841 around the block... an extended road trip? Unimagineable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jim rozen View Post
    I would love to be able to take an 841 around the block... an extended road trip? Unimagineable.
    What is unimaginable about it? It has a Messinger sprung seat and foot boards, comfortable on an all day ride and smooth running. It also has a hand clutch and foot shift, non standard by today's practice, but easy to get used to, far superior to the old hand shift and foot clutch. The thing I like least about my Indians is the old clutch/shift system. When starting up on a slope, you need one foot on the clutch rocker, one foot on the brake, and one foot on the ground, and the front brake is on the same side as the shift lever so you can't hold that brake and shift into low. I usually reach across with the other hand to shift, but it is easy to see why someone invented the Harley mousetrap.

    Is the weather as miserable there as it is here?

    Bill


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