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Old 07-25-2011, 11:14 PM   #1
kallehof OP
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1937 Indian Chief Project

Here's my current project. It's a 1937 Indian Chief. The engine is 74" and the transmission is a three speed. I've been working on it for a year and have been blogging on my personal site but thought I'ld share my trials and tribulations with ADV'ers. You may have seen my 1948 chief on SFMCJohn's posts from our ride to Yosemite for Gary Stark's Harley Vs. Indian Race this past spring and in Death Valley last fall for a AMCA ride. My 1948 Chief was built to be a rider. This project is being built to be a beauty queen. Don't get me wrong it will get ridden but unlike my 48 ($50 flat black rattle can paint job) it will start it it's second (possibly third or fourth) life just as it did in 1937.



So I'm starting this bikes story the middle as the bike sits as of July 2011. It's almost on the road. Most of the hard to fine (not all that hard to fine) parts have been acquired and bolted up to the frame or case. A few parts either are truly hard to find (pre-38 seat pan stubby nose for those in the know) or just down right expensive ( 100mph or 120mph Indian branded Corbin Speedometer).



A few things struck my about a 1937 Indian Chief. The first was nickle plating. Before chrome was ubiquitous, Indian and many Motorcycle manufactures protected everything with nickle. The majority of the hardware in 1937 on a Chief was nickle. Later they turned to cadmium plating which is more of a chalky silver finish. Unfortunately, my understanding is that neither Nickle nor Cad hold up very well over time. Several shops in the Bay Area and in Sacramento can Nickle plate. And there is two process. Electro and Electroless plating. Electricity following the path of least resistance so on hardware and such as bolts, screws and nuts electroplating works well. But for more complex shapes like cylinders with cooling fins electroless is the only way to go if you want total coverage deep between the cooling fins. I can't wait until modern manufactures rediscover nickle.



One thing to be aware of if you have you stuff nickle plated is that even thought you may be paying for prep and cleaning you will get much better results if you clean and prep your hardware yourself too. Really nobody will put the time and energy into your parts the way you would. Another thing I learned is that some of acids and cleaning solutions that are used to prep the hardware can severely etch your parts. Not much you can do about it. Although I suspect that some of the hardware and parts I had nickle plated may have been left in the cleaning solution longer then absolutely necessary. No whining here just a bit of learning. So more pictures and thoughts to come while I wait for parts I've ordered. Next posting: "The beginning"

Kalle
San Francisco, CA

kallehof screwed with this post 07-25-2011 at 11:19 PM
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Old 07-25-2011, 11:16 PM   #2
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Used nickle hardware for the oak strips in my Willys, just has that classy look to it.
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Old 07-25-2011, 11:18 PM   #3
ADVPanzer
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Nice

Along for the ride. Look forward to pics of the progress. My neighbor was a Indian dealer during the early 70's. Would love to have an old, "real" Indian.
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Old 07-25-2011, 11:28 PM   #4
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This is the kinda thing I love to read, watch, participate.

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Old 07-25-2011, 11:32 PM   #5
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participate.


Shoot, if'n ya promised not to touch anything I bet Kalle(wicked kewl dewd) would let you come check it out in person!!!
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:00 AM   #6
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The Beginning

The beginning of my 37 Chief Project starts at the end of my 1948 Chief project in late 2009. I kept a photo history of my progress while I was building my 48. And when I finished my bike I sent emails to the people who sold me parts or helped me out. It's hard for people to let go of parts for vintage bikes so seeing that the parts went to good use always fun. Several of the people and collectors I traded with I also shared thoughts of future ideas and projects.




To be honest I'm really not a big fan of the skirted Chief Post war look. I never felt like I could trust a bike I couldn't see through. Same goes for modern bikes. When I bought this 48 chief I always envied the prewar rigid Chiefs and British bikes (i.e. Arial's and Matchless). There is something about the simplicity and lines of bike with minimal suspension. Plus I prefer the profile of an 18" wheel over the 16" balloon tire. This being said I have grown to appreciate Art Deco lines on my 48 Chief so back to the story. One of the follow up emails and follow up emails included my interest in starting another project but this time a rigid Chief. 1936-1939 Chiefs are very similar at first glance. 1936 and 1937 Chiefs both share a Speedometer that looks to be an after thought and possibly was since it was not standard equipment but an $15 (or so) option. These years also shared a strangely located headlight above the handlebars. 1937 was the first year of interchangeable rims which make it slightly more of a rider than the 1936 (but not much), 1938 the Speedometer was dropped between the gas tanks and 1939 has the best Oil Pump of all the ridge Chief and by far the most kick ass color scheme of any chief. The "1939 World's Fair paint scheme".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:19...motorcycle.jpg. So I preferred the high mounted headlight, interchangable wheels, after thought Speedometer and of course Nickle plating. And shared that with people I had traded with.



Low an behold one of my emails reached out to someone who had a 1937 Chief Project at the right time when he was willing to let it go. So I bought it based on a few pictures emailed to me, a description of the parts and the reputation of the seller as being an Honest Injun.





Oh. Another thing about a 1937 Chief is that the first civilian to drive/ride across the Golden Gate bridge in 1937 Was Hap Jones of San Francisco. And he rode a 1937 Indian Chief, he was the local Indian Dealer and he was an active member of the San Francisco Motorcycle Club. Next year the Golden Gate Bridge is celebrating it's 75th anniversary and wouldn't it be neat to ride a 1937 chief over the bridge that day? If I finish it by then that is. Next Posting: "Homework"

Kalle
San Francisco, Ca

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Old 07-26-2011, 12:32 PM   #7
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Izzat 20 Mule Team Canyon?
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:46 PM   #8
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Izzat 20 Mule Team Canyon?
Good Eye crazydrummerdude. Yep 20 Mule Team Canyon. I couldn't resist take this tourist loop and stopping to pose. SFMCJohn and I attend an AMCA ride there last fall (report somewhere on ADVRider). We had our hearts set on Titus Canyon but recent rains caused the rangers to close it. So the real kick ass picture of my bike will have to wait and this one with the sun low on the horizon and the shadows long will have to do.



Here's Dennis Magree myself and his 1936 Indian Chief. He rode this bike from Washington to Alaska last summer and after a new top end he's up there again this summer with is son.



Shot of Myself, Gary Stark and Las Vegas Jim on the east side of Death Valley Near the entrance to Titus Canyon. Jim is one the sharpest mechanics I know. He field repaired my points in Snowshoe and got me back home. He just eyeballed the 20 thousands and away we went.
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Old 07-26-2011, 03:31 PM   #9
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Laugh Brilliant!

Wow. Great pics & posts, Kalle!

Here's the links to the ADV RRs Kalle mentioned:
Yosemite
Death Valley

Thanks for posting, Kalle; it was worth the wait!
-- SFMCjohn
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Old 07-26-2011, 03:37 PM   #10
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20 mule team canyonyou say? Thats up by Boron right or am I wrong?
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Old 07-26-2011, 04:51 PM   #11
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20 mule team canyonyou say? Thats up by Boron right or am I wrong?


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Old 07-26-2011, 04:57 PM   #12
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ha! just got home from the shop - working on my 37 chief project.

rustolium black
early cylinders and heads
later cast iron oil pump
12 v + halogen
kiwi rods
righthand throttle
lefthand tank shift


at least that's the plan-

yours looks killer - mine will probably look very much like magree's '36. seeing these old bikes get ridden and dirty is about my favorite thing in the world.
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Old 07-26-2011, 11:37 PM   #13
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Could you please share some more pix (if you like in a separate thread) of your '48 ?

Nothing wrong with a beauty queen, but a real rider, that's what my heart is beating for!

Cheers,
Greg
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Old 07-27-2011, 12:00 PM   #14
kallehof OP
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Originally Posted by nanno View Post
Could you please share some more pix (if you like in a separate thread) of your '48 ?

Nothing wrong with a beauty queen, but a real rider, that's what my heart is beating for!

Cheers,
Greg
I plan on getting to that after I finish this 37 thread. for now check out SFMCjohn's postings.

Yosemite
Death Valley

Kalle
San Francisco, CA
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Old 07-28-2011, 12:43 AM   #15
kallehof OP
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Neato Magneto

My case is marked "M" so originally it came with a Magneto. I also got a NOS distributor block off plate (original packaging) with the project. I've always loved bikes that you could ride even after the battery is dead/ dying/ or simply falls out. So I had my heart was set on finding a mag. Plus most old Indians that I've seen on the road now seem to have a distributors. In the Indian world for those who stay true to "original" tend to be very attracted to rare original factory options. A magneto is not really that rare as factory options go for a 1937 Indian Chief but then again they aren't exactly common.



So my search started for a Edison Splitdorf "Neato" Magneto, I was told that were hard to find but as luck would have it I came across one with in a month of Ebay hunting. The bad news was that the mag I bought needed a new coil.



The good news (really it's all good news when your working on an old bike, it's just that sometimes the news means that your project may take longer or cost more) was that Jack Hurts in Santa Rosa is one of the few folks around that still rewinds coils and services mags. So I was off to a good start. And a few weeks later I had a freshly rebuilt Mag that shot out a strong blue spark even at low rpms. Which hopefully will make for easy starts for years to come.





So I mentioned that I was told that a Edison Splitdorf Magneto was hard to find, Turns out the following month another one came up for sale on ebay and sold for less than what I paid for mine. And it put a decent spark with out requiring a rebuild. That seems to the way these things go. Long story longer, I couldn't resist buying it, And it must have been a good price since I just paid for for one in worse condition. I'll hold on to until the one Jack rebuilt for me has proven itself worthy for another 75 years. Or I'll use it for leverage on a trade for equally hard to fine parts. Next Posting: The Frame.

Kalle
San Francisco, Ca

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