Chapter Nine: First Ride!
By Jim Jones
The bike had been pretty much together for most of the summer, but when it comes right down to it, I still don’t know much about bikes. Called Bob Markey and made a date to have them look the whole thing over and make sure it was safe to take out on the road.
Got a call 2 days before the Chesapeake Chapter AMCA meet that I’d better come pick it up. Everything had been reviewed, adjusted and was looking good. When I got to Bob’s, there was a 1934 Sport Scout in the drive. Robin introduced me to John Seidts, who was apparently selling it for someone. Sadly, I did not have any money to purchase the bike. But then again, I was there to pick up a complete and running 1940 Sport Scout!
Robin asked me if I wanted to know how to start and operate it, but since I had to go to work we arranged to get together at the Chesapeake Chapter meet and he would show me what to do. I brought the bike home and went to work.
Then on Friday morning, I loaded it up and drove the two hours to Jefferson, PA. Arriving at the meet, I observed a familiar car following me. John Seidts and his son were pulling into the parking area. John asked me where the Scout was, and I explained that it was in the back of the van and I needed someone to help me learn how to start it. He replied, “let’s get it out of there” so we unloaded it and he showed me how to start the bike. I rode it around the parking area a few times and stopped by my van. It was different. It was cool! After 2 years I was riding a freakin’ piece of farm machinery!!! John was the first of several guys that day that asked me if I had crash bars to install. I wonder why?
Time to put on my helmet and take a ride though the countryside. Back on the bike I could not get it to run and stay running. Several riders of more modern bikes were glad to stop by and give advice. “Well you have to use that handle to shift it, but it’s on the wrong side!” Thanks for the help! After about 45 minutes it was time to seek professional counseling. No not a shrink or bartender, just someone who knows what is going on. I was baffled that the bike had run so easily, but now would not.
So I pushed it over towards the meet, sweating profusely. On the road, a couple of guy’s asked “Why aren’t you riding it?” “Just get behind me and push, and I will!” So they pushed me up the little hill at the gate to the meet. Coasting into the meet, I arrived at the Bob’s Indian booth. Well, here was someone who might know what the deal was. Everyone was talking, so I took a look in the gas tank to see what the level was. Is it possible that it won’t run because it’s low on fuel? There was not much fuel in the tank, so I left the bike and wandered through the meet to see what I could dig up.
Bumbling down one of the rows of vendors, I met Eli Sentman. We hung out for a while, and Eli lent me a tank of gas belonging to Scott Lehr. Returning to the Sport Scout, I filled it up.
Bob and Robin gave me the official starting procedure. Here is how I remember it: Choke all the way on, gas on throttle on half, kick twice. Ignition on, choke 1 notch from the top, spark turned away from me about ½ or a little more. Give a strong kick. It will start. Turn the spark all the way towards myself and adjust the throttle so it just lopes along slowly. Check for oil return. Warm up for a bit. Push the front of the clutch down. Firmly put the bike in first gear. It should just click in.
While we were going over this, a bunch of old timers started to gather around and give advice. The piranhas were closing in! Stalled it twice! I started to want to get away from them in the worst way. So I gassed it up, popped the clutch and blew on out of there. Slewing a little sideways and recovering, I tore the grass up for several yards, and left a nice skid mark.
Like an unguided missile, I rode through the meet, but without killing anyone or damaging any machinery. Returning to the point of departure I was informed by Kay Markey that “Evel Kneivel would be proud of that one!”
After that it was definitely time to quench! Luckily I had some Yuengling Black and Tans for the occasion. May as well drink the local product from America’s oldest brewery!
Hung out at the meet until dusk and then loaded up the bike and drove home. The next day I stole my wife’s little Buell and rode over to the meet. It had gotten cold and people were already leaving. The 4 hours spent on the Buell were not anywhere near as much fun as the 4 minutes I had spent on the Sport Scout. Returning home I practiced driving up and down the street. Tomorrow I’ll see if I can get her into third gear. I might even put on the crash bars. Have a feeling I’ll need them!
It took me almost 2 years to get a ride on the Scout. A lot of help was had along the way. Professionally from Bob’s Indian. Body & paint work and quenching by Gonzo. Parts from Kiwi, Greer, Stark, Michael Breeding and others. Answers to my many silly questions by VI list members. Thank you all.
I’m not as totally clueless any more. Still dumb enough to consider another attempt when the right project presents itself. Hummm, what’s this? Well, it looks like a 1914 Basket! A lot like Granpa’s bike that started this whole thing off!
Read the rest of Jim's
The first two chapters are on the old VI website, and some of the links on these pages may not work any more. In particular, the Book Page link in chapter one goes to an old version of the VI Indian Books Page. The current version is here.
on pictures for full size!