to Moen’s invitation for ideas about how a Warpath
Scout engine could be usefully deployed, I provide here a short description
of a 741 put together on a shoestring budget.
Most discussion about the Warpath has centered upon the notion of a 648 racing Scout replica. That’s fine and dandy, and definitely has its appeal, however price-wise this is the high end of the spectrum of possibilities. Special parts like the underseat oil tank and front frame section will need to be accurately (and therefore expensively) fabricated, and genuine (or genuine-looking repro) ancillary parts will need to be obtained.
Moving down-market into territory I am more familiar with, I see most requests for a Warpath engine coming from the zillions of military 741 owners out there who are sick of being continually blown into the weeds by Honda step-thru scooters. I predict that as soon as the Warpath becomes available and more widely-known, there’ll be a rash of complete 741 engine units offered for sale by people who want to finance their way into an up-gunned mount. Either that, or they’ll wait the eternity it takes to wear out the stock 741 motor, and then spend on Warpath replacement parts to get the desired extra ooomph.
on pictures for full size
|Scratchbuilders working from a basket
of swapmeet parts will also give the Warpath concept a good hard look.
In Australasia and Europe there’s still a lot of 741 parts around, and
its not too hard to obtain sufficient to make up a motorcycle. For
each 741 that the New Zealand Armed Forces imported, folklore has it that
enough spares were provided to assemble another two bikes. Restored
and original 741’s are now afflicted by the same dizzying prices as all
Indians generally (5000 pounds each in the UK – are they out of their tiny
minds!!!) but you can still get the components for a non-stock project
Consider my own entry into Indiandom, which was by picking up a 741 rolling chassis for US$250 through an ad in the newspaper. I then paid another $800 for an engine and gearbox unit, assembled and pretty-much ready to run. The biggest items missing from this assemblage were the gas tanks, rearmost fender section, chain guard, carburetor, distributor, and speedo.
$250 bike + $800 engine and gearbox + $20 gas tank + $20 oil tank + $40 seat...
|I promptly swapped those items not essential
for forward propulsion, like fenders and the tractor seat, for a carb and
Gas tank ($20) came from a swapmeet, and was originally fitted to a BSA B31 rigid-frame single. This meant I now needed a separate oil tank, and this came courtesy of AMC (makers of Matchless and AJS) via the swapmeets for another $20.
|Chain guard, tail light bracket and instrument
dash were hand-made from sheet metal, with the dome over the countershaft
sprocket in the chain guard provided by a wheel-bearing cap from a Hillman
Avenger car. Battery and oil-tank mounts were similarly hand-made,
though the battery holder itself came from a Honda CB125 complete with
its nifty little rubber retaining strap and fuse holder. For the
seat I got a repro English Lycett saddle ($40) which had the added advantage
of placing my bum further rearward than a stock seat.
For the speedo, Kevin Lowe took me around the trailers at the 1991 Manawatu Club Swapmeet looking for a Stewart Warner speedo mechanism. We found one in a dash from a Ford 10 car, and obtained it for the princely sum of $2.50. It was then given to Graeme Marsh of Palmerston North who altered the number of mileometer digits, fitted it into a repro case and bezel, and made up a cable for me, for a total of $60.
Rear fender is a generic British repro item ($30) and the front fender is off a Kawasaki Mach II (free).
BSA gas tank looks fine. Lots of similar Brit tanks around...
|It wasn’t long before an altercation with
a car resulted in a cracked front engine mount, so I stripped the motor
to get the case welded up again. This led to the discovery of pitting
in the crankpin and mainshaft hardening, so I bought replacements from
Paul Hanes (an NZ dealer now on the VI list,
gudday Paul!) for about $100 all-up, plus I got new rollers throughout.
The pin and shafts were repro, made in Australia in the early ‘90s.
I have since learned through the grapevine that the hardening was not done
correctly, with the result that some bikes fitted with them have since
detonated. Well, the ones I got were still going strong after 5 years
of use and I think if they were going to let go then they would have done
so by now.
Painting, blasting, powder-coating of frame and forks, sundry small parts, tyres, battery, electrics and the odd bit of welding and machining brought the total cost to about US$1900. Five years later I sold the bike for $2250 to help finance Project Chief.
I left the engine in stock capacity and tune, though 600-cc overbores are popular in New Zealand and some even go out to 640-cc. I considered stroking it to a 750, which was going to almost double my investment in order to make the bike perform roughly on a par with a sprung-hub Thunderbird. Rather than go to this kind of trouble and expense, I reasoned, why not just get a Thunderbird?
Oil tank, fenders, seat and other parts are not Indian, but falls nicely into place.
|Since then the fates have brought to me
a swing-arm Thunderbird, and I’m now in a position to judge that the 741
is more fun to ride. Sure, the T-bird is quicker off the mark, better
for highway cruising, and just more capable all round. But by comparison
it is smooth, quiet, and very Honda-like. The 741 is extremely agricultural,
and this makes it very satisfying to ride around town or use for countrylane
pottering. You really feel like you’re going somewhere, and simply
arriving brings its own sense of achievement. The bike batters your
senses with its rorty acoustics, vibrations and acrobatics to provide “kinesthetic
thrills”, a phrase coined by a ‘70s magazine road tester to explain why
people still bought T140 Bonnies rather than a Japanese superbike.
Pilots who fondly reminisce about the radial-engined Harvard aircraft used
by NZ and Aussie Airforce trainees make a similar comment, that “no other
’plane made so much noise for so little pace”. This describes
a 741 exactly.
If a stock 741 is already fun, then a Warpath 741 will be the same but even more so.
Ring-ding Jappa Step-thru’s will have to eat your dust!
Total cost, all included, US$1900.
Warpath engine could raise that, but there's still a long way up to what most "genuine" Indian projects cost.