April 2000 News www.virtualindian.org   
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  Warpath Big Base Scout engine cases!
   By: Lyle Landstrom
The real reason for the Big Base engine cases is the same reason that I switched to riding Indians in the first place. That is, in my opinion, a motorcycle should be a motocycle and not a two wheeled car. Modern bikes lack the light weight, lines, and most importantly, feel, of bikes gone by.  

Being an Indian and a foundry enthusiast, it was natural that I combine the two. About 5 years ago I started making parts in my garage. My purpose was to have some "neat" parts that no one else had. At about the same time, I started trading some of my homemade parts and foundry services for items I needed. The main goal however, was to make stuff for myself, get better at my craft, and build my garage up to the point where I could really do something. That time is now.  

The Big Base project started out as a simple inquiry on the Virtual Indian list. I had the foundation for a Scout project which included a set of wrecked cases. I thought it would be easier to manufacture a new set rather than repairing my own set. I also thought whatever cases I made should incorporate some improvements. Hence my inquiry.  

Jim Wall responded to my inquiry by sending me a copy of the original factory drawings for the right case. This was more than anyone could have asked for. I took these drawings and converted them to CAD so I could manipulate them to facilitate the pattern making. I could also edit the CAD drawings without destroying the originals.   

Within a couple of weeks after my inquiry, the Big Base cases became a project on the Virtual Indian magazine. At the time I thought I really didn't need the hype as it was a serious project but the intent was more for my own purposes rather than any group effort with intentions of mass distribution. Jim sent me the drawing with the understanding that it was a "grassroots" effort.  It is my intention to keep it this way. I am not a big corporation, nor do I intend on becoming one. I'm "Joe Blow" in a garage. If it was my intent to be making money, I wouldn't be into manufacturing, I'd be into distribution.  

Because of the project listing on the Virtual Indian magazine, several people have responded with suggestions. Damon Strub had some concerns about the rear motor mounts. This has since been confirmed. Jim Wall suggested bigger cam bosses for bearings rather than bushings. My own cases are blown out at the bottom and the front and rear motor mount areas are broken. All these problems will be fixed with the new cases.  

It is not my intention to produce some "fake" cases and rip off the Indian name or cheapen the few Big Base Scouts in existence. My intention is to build a set of cases that will sustain high speed high rpm modern Interstate long distance riding. The cases will be similar to, yet different enough to be noticed, from the originals. I could argue that once these cases are built, original Big Bases will be worth even more, not less.   

Now that this is a ongoing official project, my steps are as follows:  

        1.      Project Conception  
        2.      Solicitation of Views  
        3.      Final Design  
        4.      Pattern Methodology  
        5.      Prototype Castings  
        6.      Prototype Machining  
        7.      Pattern Adjustments  
        8.      Final Production Casting  
        9.      Final Production Machining  

All of the steps above will be in house. That is by myself, or members of the list. I've done all the CAD work and am starting on the patterns. I also plan of doing the foundry work in my garage with certified 356 aluminum.  I'll then send the castings out for heat treating. Jim Wall has agreed to machine the first set of cases. This is no small effort on his part.    

At this time Jim Wall has been sent 3 prototype cam covers. The covers utilize the cast aluminum oil pump and also are deeper for double lobe cams. If regular cams are chosen, the extra material can be machined off. Jim is in the process of doing the prototype machining on these covers. The pattern making and casting is covered in another article in this month's magazine. Although the cam cover article was written from a lighthearted perspective and was a sort of "bang up" job, I can assure you, the Big Base Project is serious business. I have invested too many hours at this point to quit or do a half ass job. The drawings Jim sent me are much more readable than the cam cover drawing I had to work with for the cover pattern. There will be less "slop" in the case patterns.  

Moen asked me to write this short item concerning the Big Base Project. This also serves the purpose of answering questions and dispelling rumors that might be out there. I'll keep Moen posted as to the progress of the patterns and subsequent castings. My regular job is going to get busy as the construction season is about a month away and I'm going be working long hours. When this starts I'll need to quit the list as I cannot handle the long working hours combined with a hundred email messages a day. I'll need my off time to complete the patterns. The patterns will take a good month per side of part time work to complete. Although some operations for either side will be simultaneous.  

I would like to thank everyone for their questions regarding these cases. Once the patterns are complete and the first few are machined, We'll take a step back and see where it goes from there. It is my intention to trade raw castings for whatever. But if there is enough demand, I might see if there's a CNC shop that will undertake a batch of them. As far as the casting, I can handle whatever demand there might be. This is not a corporate effort, yet materials, heat treating, and machining do cost money.

Click on pictures to enlarge.  

  Here's the original VI article on the Big Base cases (use your browser's "back" button to get back here) 
Related Articles in the April VI: 
DIY Casting & Pattern Making 
The Four Cam System 
Tall Fin racing heads 
 Cam cover. 
 Prototype cam cover ready for machining.