September 2001 Garage Raid
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  A Visit with Greg Galster
By Jim Jones

Once upon a time, a young man rode his Harley Davidson Knucklehead to a local tavern. A few drinks and the talk turned to old bikes. Time and a few more beverages passed, and he mentioned that he had an Indian Chief at home. "No way" said his unbelieving drinking companions. Living close by, our hero rode home to pick up the Chief, take it back, and show it to the boys.

He hopped on, forgot that the controls were the reverse of the Knucklehead, and drove smartly into the side of a barn! His understanding wife called an ambulance, and he survived with a good story to tell.

I met Greg Galster through the VI website. Greg emailed, saying that he was restoring a 1940 Sport Scout, and had read my restoration articles. We spoke by phone and he mentioned that he owned both a Knucklehead and a Chief. When I asked if he ever became confused by the reversed controls, he admitted that it had happened once, and told me the sad tale related above.

A few weeks later, I was working in the area and he invited me over to see his bikes.

Although the original Chief and Knuck from that story have moved on, Greg still has one of each. After pouring a cold beverage, we went out to admire them. These are a rider's bikes, not trailer queens. Both are ready to hit the road, restored by their owner.

Click on pictures for full size

Greg and his Chief

Chief in the snow


When you're working on old iron, it helps to be a blacksmith with a portable forge on your truck! His business as a farrier (horseshoer) means he's shaping hot metal every day. And visiting old barns. We did not discuss it, but I bet a few interesting bikes have come to his attention while at work.

Greg has loved bikes for a long time. His wife Karen showed me a book of photos of their previous bikes. He's owned about 10 different chiefs! Also a couple Knucks and Pans and some other miscellany (I liked the Cushman Eagle).

They refused to let me into the "secret underground laboratory" until I had been well fed... Greg whipped us up an amazing salad and some delicious salmon and homemade chips, and we looked at the bike photos while we ate a gourmet meal. This garage raid stuff is getting better and better! The guy should be a chef!

Over coffee we retired underground and checked out the Sport Scout. I was surprised to see that it was almost ready to assemble. The motor has been rebuilt and runs, the frame and wheels are painted, and the sheet metal has had some preliminary attention. It was nice to see the original fenders in such great shape! Although this basket case has been apart for a long time, most of the original stuff is still there. We looked it over and talked about how some of the pieces go together. It was a trip down memory lane, as each part reminded me of nights spent in my own garage over the last two years.

Some folks on the Virtual Indian list might argue the relative merits of Harley vs. Indian and Scout vs. Chief.

Greg did not mention which he likes best, but he has his bases pretty well covered with these three bikes.

And he has a whole different outlook on the phrase "Barn Find"!

Knuck (flip side)

Secret Underground Lab

Mad Scientist

Front Frame

The VI Garage Raids is a series about Indian garages (and basements and sheds..) around the world. Stay tuned for the next VI Garage Raid!
Rear Frame