|February 2000 Ride Feature||www.virtualindian.org|
|Home / Features / Road Trip|
Before I get started, I'll give you a little information about myself.
First, I love long road trips, especially when it involves warm, scenic
areas. I live in the Pacific Northwest where the Summers are beautiful,
but the rest of the year, is dark and wet. My favorite motorcycles are
the "World's Finest" Indian motorcycles, but for the road trips, I ride
a 97 Harley Road King. I have owned many brands, and styles of bikes since
1970, but the Road King has proven to work best for the type of riding
I prefer. Harley's are dinosaurs, and mine is Violet (Purple), hence the
bike has been dubbed "Barney". Although I sometimes enjoy riding with select
friends, my preference is to ride alone and enjoy the solitude.
I purchased an Indian 741B (see photo 741) from a fellow in New York, and when it arrived, I began doing some of the background work for restoration. The bike had an unstamped engine installed, and the original engine in pieces, but complete, so I wanted to get the installed engine running, and then remove it, and install the correct engine. Then the sale of the unstamped engine would provide some of the funds for the restoration of the bike. Once I got the engine running, I was ready to rebuild the correct engine, and found that the reason it had been replaced, was a broken cam gear. I found that the crankshafts and bearing races were terribly pitted, and decided that I wanted to send the cases to John Bivens at Jerry Greer's Indian Engineering to have them replaced. I had also spoken to Jerry about trading, or selling him the spare engine, and some other spare parts, but it is risky and expensive to ship complete engines, so I decided to make a road trip out of it. This would also be an excellent opportunity to visit Starklite, and Kiwi, since I have dealt with all of them, but never been there. March in Oregon is wet and cold, and Southern California is dry and warm, so it was an easy decision, but how do you haul 300 pounds of parts and still make it a bike trip..... Well, I have a small cargo trailer that Barney could pull, and as long as I didn't hit snow and ice it wouldn't be a problem.
The trip to the Los Angeles area is about 1000 miles each way, and I figured it would take two days each way. I headed south on Friday, expecting to pull in to LA Sunday afternoon, get a Motel, and visit Greer on Monday. Starklite is closed Monday, so I would hit Kiwi and Stark's on Tuesday. I don't usually do a lot of planning, since I like to be flexible, and decide as I go.
I made it about 700 miles, before deciding to get a room, so I stopped and secured a place for the night. One of the reasons I like Barney, is that he can go the distance with very few problems. Pulling the extra weight, caused the fuel mileage to drop a bit, but Barney handles it well. I had to stop and redistribute the load in the trailer several times to improve the handling, and finally blew the air shock line on the trailer. I decided to make a run for LA, and then I could repair the damaged line at the Motel, since I would have plenty of dead time. I arrived in LA, picked up some air line, and secured a room by around 1 P.M. Sunday. I then set out to replumb the air lines in the parking lot of the Motel.
Monday morning I went to visit Jerry Greer's shop. I was surprised at how small the facility was, but impressed at the depth of their stock. The shop is located in Stanton, Ca., in a small Industrial rental park. Jerry's shop is very clean, neat, well organized, but not what you might expect by looking at the scope of his catalog detail. Jerry Greer's Indian Engineering, had planted the vision of some massive facility with computers, test equipment, CNC machining, and engineers in my mind...........
I spent a couple hours visiting with Ron (parts dude), Jerry, and the very interesting, John Bevins. John, owns the restoration part of the business, and besides being quite a character, his knowledge of Indians is impressive. John is meticulous, dedicated, articulate, and just an all round good guy. He is also more than willing to share his knowledge, and is not afraid to tell you when he doesn't know something (That impresses me more than all the self proclaimed experts).
Since the tour, and visit didn't take as long as I had anticipated, I decided to take a run up north to find Kiwi, in Riverside.
For those of us that aren't used to LA traffic, their freeway system can be like a pinball game, and you're the ball!
I found Riverside, and using my detective skills, circled the area that
I was sure they were in, several times, before giving my male ego a kick
in the butt, and finding a phone. Steve just laughed, and told me I was
about 4 blocks away. Now, you have to understand, none of the streets go
through, and their shop is located in a semi residential area, on Mike's
property, behind his house. Their shop seamed less crowded than Greer's,
but every bit as well organized, and clean. The shop has a small group
of bikes on display, as well as some memorabilia and original Indian items.
They were in the beginning stages of setting up an area for repair and
restoration work. I spent some time visiting with Steve between his other
duties, and got a chance to meet Mike "Kiwi" Tomas. They have a very nice
custom built Freightliner truck that has an amazing amount of inventory,
which is taken to the major swap meets around the country. I got some directions
from Steve, and headed back to the Motel, in the late afternoon.
741B for restoration
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