August 2000 Bike Feature 
Home / Features / Stan's Chief Project, part 3
 Chief Project
   By Stan Jessup
OK, at this point, I have brazed the seat pivot casting in place, and made the required frame repairs. I took the frame to a local sand blaster to be stripped for powder coating. Rear hub and drum are rebuilt, repaired and ready for assembly when the rim is finished. I completed the shock cleaning, and assembly, and I bought a set of Kiwi's mandrel formed covers. When I went to install the covers, I was very impressed with the fit of the top body cover. You know, the one that can't be salvaged, and the new one is a bitch to install.... Well, they made theirs to have a loose fit, and it's a great idea. You can slip it right on, remove it if you need to, and never a problem. The others fit as normal but go on very nicely. I was impressed since I have used the ones that need to be forced in place and they're a pain. I highly recommend these covers.

Once I finish a subassembly, it gets bagged with associated fasteners and put on the shelf until I am ready for assembly. This helps keep the shop relatively free of clutter and keeps the freshly cleaned parts from gathering dust or flying particles from grinding or sanding.


Rebuilt shocks with new "easy fit" covers from Kiwi Indian Parts.

A bit of a note about powdercoating; This is a very tough product which is extremely resistant to damage when compared to paint, however, it has some major drawbacks. Powdercoat is very thick, and hard. Some parts of an Indian require a very close fit, and the added thickness of powdercoat will cause problems. Also, you won't get a solid ground connection through the coating. For things like brake drums, hubs, generator bracket, generator, etc. I prefer to use VHT barrel paint, and then bake the part for around 15 minutes in an oven. This will provide a very nice finish which you can touch up if needed, it's less expensive, and the small amount of paint you use won't cause interference problems. If you have room in your shop, you can pick up an old oven, usually for free, and it will keep your home life much happier. When I send parts to the powdercoater, I have a roll of heat tape that I mask all of the areas that I don't want coated. Yes, they will do this for you, but they charge more when they have to do it, and they may only mask what they think is right. Sometimes they're wrong, which will cause you to spend a great deal of time sanding the powder off. It's a good idea to plug threads with old bolts that you don't intend to use, and even then, run a tap through them after coating to clean them out.  Click on pictures for full size

Repaired frame.

I've finished the final fitting of the rear hub and drum, and installed heli-coils in the stud holes that were re-threaded. It turns out that I have all of the correct lugs, nuts, and studs (except 2 studs) to assemble both hub/drum combinations. They were just mixed and matched between the two wheels. This always bothers me to think  that someone didn't realize the front lugs were a different thread than the rear studs, and why they try to switch them around..... While I was at it, I did the front drum repairs and assembled it, even though I'm not going to use it. I hate to stock grungy parts, so I make the repairs, clean them up, and then prime or paint them prior to bagging for storage. I'm still doing some head scratchin' over the front axle conversion, but I'm close to a solution that will fit both the 50 forks, and the HD hub.
Cover for Chevy Sprint alternator from Lyle Landstrom.
I disassembled the generator, tested the fields, turned and tested the armature, and found everything is good. Since I can never seem to be able to break the field shoe screws loose, I'll have the generator shop break them free, when I have the two alternators tested for proper output (yes, 2. At $10 each, why not have a spare). Again, I'm not using the generator on this bike, but why not rebuild it, and have it ready to go when I need it. The only parts I don't already have for the repairs are new felt seals, the tag  and bearings, which are cheap. Lyle Landstrom is working on a special cover for the alternator, which is designed to disguise the alternator from a distance, and look more like a generator. I painted the alternators black to help detract from the obvious incorrect appearance. 
Alternator cover fitted. Or is this a stock Autolite Indian generator?? :-)
Both the side and center stands were damaged, and needed repairs. The side stand was missing its foot, so I welded a piece of 1/8" plate to the leg, and contoured it to roughly match the correct shape. It won't slide by an AMCA Judge, but then again, that's not an issue here. The other option would have been to buy a replacement stand, but at $168 when I can weld a piece of scrap to it for free, it just didn't make much sense. The center stand typically has the foot tab broken off, and for this I had to order a replacement tab. You could leave it this way, but the left side contact area is missing, and the bike will list to the left when you put it on the stand. The tabs sell for $25 from Michael Breeding, and the whole stand would run around $150, so again,  repair makes more sense.
Center- and side stands.
Parts for chrome stripping and cad plating are now at the different platers, and should return in about 2 weeks (they said 1 week). The cad plating is as expensive as chrome plating in this area, and VERY difficult to find anyone that still does it. Cost estimate on the parts sent was $175 (ouch!). The picture doesn't show the head bolts and washers, but they were included in the estimate. All of the parts are now stripped, and ready for the powder coat process. Once the chrome stripping is complete, all of the parts will go in for a nice coat of black powder.
Parts for cad plating
After disassembly of the front fork tubes, and pricing out the parts, I was pretty amazed at what these things cost. I've looked them over several times, and I had a lot of trouble deciding what could or should be salvaged. Someone has beat on every part of the lower legs with a hammer, and the fender mounts were all trashed. The two upper mounts had been re-welded at some point, but these were all messed up as well. With each lower leg costing over $300 a piece, I decided that even if I couldn't save them, it couldn't hurt to try. I had them hot tanked to remove the major grease, removed the one remaining bushing, and fabricated a lower bracket. I ordered the required parts, such as bushings, seals, etc., which I would need even if the legs couldn't be saved. I then went to work removing the lip that was formed at the top seal area by some 600 pound gorilla with a hammer. I then heated the legs up, set the brackets in position, and sweat brazed them in place. Usually you would be worried about distortion problems, but in this case if they weren't already distorted it would be a miracle. The upper tubes are pretty fair, and I should be able to have them polished back to a nice finish. I cleaned and repaired the damper tubes and rods which weren't too bad, and new ones are $185 each set! Even with buying only the required parts, the bill will be around $500 (half of which is the upper dust covers), but far less than $2000 to replace everything! It's just a good thing the triple trees are in good shape. There doesn't seem to be many good illustrations of the telescopic fork, so all of this took some head scratchin'. Sometimes it's best to walk away, and come back later and have another look. I worked on the lower legs for quite a while, and I have decided to buy the replacements, because the seal retaining ring groove was beat so bad that it is gone, and one of the bushings is permanently lodged in the bottom of one of the lower tubes. Since this is a major item in the front fork system, I'm just not going to risk it. 

Front fork parts.
The fenders have arrived, and they will need some bodywork, but nothing major. I'll be fitting a used 47 rear, 50 front, and reproduction chain guard. With any luck, the holes won't be too far off, but we'll see how it works out (soon). I replaced one of the rear fender mounting tabs that had been replaced with a poorly made tab, and bolted to the fender. Since I didn't have the correct size rivets to reattach the new tab, I used rear sprocket rivets, which will work just fine. The head is slightly smaller, but no big deal. All 3 of the chain guard studs were in rough shape, so they got replaced as well.

A friend called the other day, and asked if I wanted to ride our bikes to Tswassen British Columbia for a swap meet over the weekend, and I said why not. Cabin fever can get the better of you at times, but it's a very cold ride up North in April. This is about 400 miles each way, but a good excuse to get away for a couple days. The swap was mostly Japanese and British stuff, but I did manage to find a front master cylinder for about $9, and a good set of Chief tanks for $40! That made the trip worthwhile to say the least. I missed out on an original Indian cast iron rack for $67, but the tanks were a great find anyway.

Well, parts are due back from Cad plating and powdercoating any day, so next issue will have some assembly photos. With the frame back, I'll fit the sheet metal and start fitting the wheels, prior to painting the metal. Unless you know that the fenders came from the bike you are working on, they MUST be fit to the frame prior to painting, or you will be very disappointed when you end up drilling new holes in the fresh paint. Fitting reproduction fenders is a very long tedious task, but fortunately, I'm using originals so some of the original holes can be used for an alignment starting point. I have saved some notes from other bikes which give measurements between mounting points, which I'll use as a guide. Since I own a 48, which is essentially the same in the rear, I also have a complete example to compare to. Until next month, Ride Safe.

Project Cost Sheet

Part One of article here!

Part Two of article here!

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