September 2000 News
Home / Features / Frame
   Legion Chief Frame
   By Frank Woslum
While checking prices on Chief frames, it occurred to me that not all of us can afford $1400.00 - $2000.00. Perhaps you have an engine, but aren’t really interested in ‘correctness’ or total restoration. It makes sense to carry the ‘Warpath’ concept a step further to include the Chief powerplant.
Wheels, forks, etc, from other makes of bike are readily available, but unless you have an original Chief frame, you usually have to be prepared to do a bit of cutting and welding. 
My solution to this problem was to come up with a frame that, while not ‘correct’ for restorations, would be economical, easily manufactured, and adaptable to the user’s ideas.  By using modern materials and fabrication techniques, it should be possible to keep costs in the $500 - $750 range.
I was fortunate to locate a copy of the factory blueprints of the 1944 and up (per drawing date) Chief plunger frame.  I used the original pertinent geometry for steering head, motor mounts and wheelbase as a starting point.   The main difference in design is that this frame  uses all tubular welded construction and is rigid rather than plunger.
As the design progressed, I received valuable input from listers.  Some of the suggestions were incorporated in the design, others were not.  It is important to be aware that the “Legion” may not appeal to all.  It wasn’t intended to.  It is my personal vision of a way to get a Chief powered machine on the road.  While I salivate over a well restored Indian as much as anyone, my feeling is that they are meant to be ridden, as well as displayed.

Once the basics were laid out, it was a simple matter to modify the concept to achieve a ‘wide-glide’, standard or OHV frame.  The ‘Standard’ will be the prototype.  All tabs, with the exception of motor/tranny mounts, have been left off. Castings can be purchased and added by the user as he/she sees fit. This not only keeps the cost down, but allows for a good deal of personalization.  There is also a 4-inch stretch behind the ‘seat post’.  I have always liked the panhead oil tank/battery box arrangement and this accommodates it well.  The chain tension is by Japanese style adjusters, available at any salvage yard.  The steering head is set up to accept virtually any fork set up by using modular bearing cups, again, added by the user.

At this point, all of the engineering drawings are completed and the design has gone out for fabrication quotes.  There are several ways to market the frame:

1. The plans alone can be made available and the user can put it together.
2.  A “D.I.Y.” kit including plans, pre-bent frame tubes and all machined parts could be provided, leaving welding and assembly to the user.
3. The finished frame, ready for your Chief engine, bearing cups, forks, wheels, etc, could be purchased. (See drawing 3.)

Of course, #3 is preferable.  It is my intention to see the “Legion” frame produced and marketed as an alternative to the high cost of an original or reproduction frame for your Chief engine.

More next month...

Click on pictures for full size

1. Side view

2. Front view

3. Rolling chassis

For castings (kicker mount, seat T, footboard mounts etc), check out Michael Breeding's online catalog here!

If you would prefer a stock replica frame, keep in mind that only 10 orders are needed to start production of any Indian frame!

See the VI Buyers' Club for details.

Home  -  Features  -  Archives  -  Back Issues  -  VI Network  -  VI Mailing List  -  Contact VI