October 2000 Bike Feature 
Home / Features / Chief Project, part 5
  Chief Project
   By Stan Jessup
Well, I just checked on the status of the lower fork legs, and I am told they will be ready to ship next week. This means I will be able to complete the front end and start fabrication of the disk brakes by the end of June. The legs were ordered in late April, so this caused about a 9 week delay. This is where it pays to order early  as some parts aren't always in stock and the production runs are small, but slow to be completed. Kiwi has been given several promised delivery dates for the exhaust, and he has been disappointed each time. The dealers deal with this on a daily basis, and I am sure it is one of their largest frustrations. When a vendor contracts to build these small quantity parts runs, they usually have the best intentions, but they also tend to push the most pressing orders to the top of the list. Let's face it, a stock order is less pressing than the guy standing at the counter, or the bread and butter customer who provides a steady income stream.  Click on pictures for full size

Project costs so far

Specifications here

Currently, all of the major dealers are out of oil pump gears, but they should be back in stock soon. Most of the items that have been out of stock at one dealer, were available through another. In some cases, I prefer to wait for a dealer to restock, due to prior knowledge of the part quality from previous use. The most common items to find in short supply seem to be cosmetic items which are usually replenished pretty quickly due to sales volume. When working with a 50-53 telescopic fork, Starklite is the only dealer that carries virtually every part for the forks, so your sources can be limited if they are out of the part you need. Kiwi and Greer carry some of the telescopic parts, but very few by comparison due to the relatively small number built when compared to the leaf or girder front ends. I like to order all parts for a major component such as fork, engine, transmission, etc., from the same dealer for consistency. As an example, if you buy some transmission parts from one, buy all of the transmission parts from them as well. I don't like to mix and match critical parts.  Chief Project so far:

Part 1
Basket Case

Part 2
Disassembly & Inspection

Part 3
Frame & Parts

Part 4
Sheet Metal, Weels, Electrics

Since Tom finished the front axle construction, I decided to take a stab at the hub machining. The front hub I am using is from a late 70's Harley, with dual disk mounting flanges. I only want a single disk front brake, so I machined off one of the mounting flanges. I left a small portion of the flange above the main hub body because they were welded in place at the factory, and I didn't want to create any new weakness by taking it down too far. The ridge I left won't be noticeable under the fender valance anyway. Oh joy; another wheel to lace and true. Now I just have to see if I can fit all this under the skirted fender......

Several list members have given me a hard time about my buying a Lathe/Mill combo machine from Harbor Freight Tools www.harborfreight.com/. Although they are correct when they say these machines don't have the accuracy of the professional makes, I can neither justify the cost nor space required for those machines. At a total cost of around $500 on sale (with free delivery), this machine has enough accuracy for most hobby machining, and they don't require much space. Just the cost of the small amount of machine work on this one bike would have been close to the cost of the machine, so I still believe it's a good value. It also has enough distance between centers to use as a truing stand for flywheels, and only costs slightly more than a flywheel stand which only has one use. The machine is too small for large milling operations, but if I were going to need work on a set of cases, I would want someone that had lots of Indian machining experience do the work anyway. Someday, I hope to find an old Sunnen bench top hone, and then I'll be able to do all of the engine work (except boring) myself. Another excellent tool and restoration supply source is Eastwood Company at www.eastwoodco.com/.

Harbor Freight lathe/mill

Finished hub

I've enclosed some photos of the oil tank return tube, next to an in tank filter from Kiwi, which slides over the return tube in the tank. The second photo shows the return tube, with the end trimmed for length to avoid bottoming the filter on the tube and having the filter obstruct the return. 

There is also a Quick Drain in the second picture (also Kiwi), which I highly recommend. This will eliminate the mess caused when you try to drain the oil, and takes about 5 minutes to install. Every Indian I own (Verticals excepted), gets a filter and Quick Drain. I change oil often, but adding a filter certainly doesn't hurt anything. 

For quite a while now, I've had this idea for an external filter, but the ready made "universal" units for cars just look like a hacked up mess when installed. I don't like having to relocate the coil, or the idea of having to tear the engine down to install an adapter. Couple that with the cost of some of the filter systems, and it still made Kiwi's filter the best option, even at around $10 per filter. So, I built my own external system, which uses locally available $3 filters, was designed to fit your coil deck WITH the coil, nothing needs to be modified, and they don't cost an arm and a leg to buy! More details and info here.

Two weeks have gone by, and still no fork legs, so I called again. Ooooops! No, they aren't there yet. Maybe another week, or two, or three..... (Thanks for calling and letting me know!) I ordered and paid for the legs over two and a half months ago.

Kiwi filter and return tube

Trimmed tube. Also Quick Drain for clean oil changes

Stan's filter kit. More here!

Well, again with nothing much I can do, I started fitting the battery. The 12 volt alternator conversion (from a Chevy Sprint) creates a few problems, but nothing major. One of the problems is the loss of the battery hold down. Now, you could use a strap system, but for appearances I didn't want to. I had a light fiberglass battery cover which is used to disguise a modern battery, but unlike most shells, it has thin walls, and fits over the top of the battery, rather than being a box with a lid, that the battery drops into. I like this arrangement in this case, because it allows maximum battery size, and if I needmore clearance, I can trim the height. The cover, is on the right in the picture, which also shows a hollowed out shell next to it. I took the cover to a friend who owns a battery distribution company, so we could find the best fitting sealed battery available. I chose a sealed type battery because I didn't want a vent tube, and covers make checking fluid levels difficult. I originally used the cover in my 741B, but I took it out when the new replica batteries became available from India, at which time I replaced it. The new replica batteries are serviceable without removing anything from the bike, and they are currently sold by all the major dealers, (including our own Duffy) for $70 to $90, depending on the dealer. The last time reproduction Indian batteries were available, they cost around $200 and had a marginal reliability record. I am currently running two of the India batteries, and they appear to be holding up very well. Despite the reputation India has for quality control, I've had no complaint with these batteries, and much prefer them over the shell or cover, with a Japanese battery inside. 
Hollowed out shell and cover


Now that the battery was selected to fit the cover, I had to find a method of anchoring it to the bike. I cut two small angle iron clips, and riveted them to the battery tray, spacing them so that the cover fit snug over them. With a blind nut riveter, I installed four blind nuts, so that the cover would be held on by two screws on either side. If you really wanted to hide the screws, you could paint them black, but I don't feel they really detract from anything as is. Because of the blind nuts, I used about an inch of padding between the tray and battery for protection. The biggest problem will be access to the screws on the right side of the bike, when the chain guard is installed.
Modified battery tray
My custom built JE forged pistons are WAY overdue. Like I've said before, when a manufacturer says 8 weeks, they really mean 12, or 16, or...... Anyway, this will hold up assembly of the engine, but I'm without rods and flywheels, so this is a multiple issue anyway. At this point, the fork legs are the major issue, since they hold up several steps in the completion of the project. Engine assembly isn't really required until final assembly of the bike. Hopefully, this will all be resolved shortly.

I rebuilt the oil pump, and installed new washers where they were required. Actually, rebuilt is an overstatement, since it really only needed new gears. The bushings are all tight, and the internals weren't worn or pitted. Most of all, it needed a good cleaning. Once it is back together and oiled, turn the shaft in the distributor hole to make sure everything turns smoothly, and there isn't any binding. I oil everything as I assemble it, and when I am happy with it's operation, I squirt some oil in all of the openings, and then cap all the fittings until I am ready to install the pump on the engine.

Rebuilt oil pump, oiled and capped while waiting to be used.
I rough mounted the alternator, and find that this is going to be a very tight fit between the seat post and fender. If the alternator presses upagainst the post, there really isn't any need for a top bracket, but I made a shoulder bolt to go through the cross hole in the frame (where a crotch shift lever would go), so that if I feel it needs a bracket, I'll have a means to anchor it. Since the engine and transmission are currently out of the frame, I'll do the final fit of the bracket when everything is in place. It appears that I will need to add about 2" of belt length to get the alternator in the position that I want it, if I used the pulley that it came with, so I fit an original generator pulley to the alternator, which allowed the use of a standard 4L210 belt, and will increase the alternator RPM's for better low speed charging. I had to remove one of the circuit breakers I mounted on the cross tube for clearance of the alternator, but since the second one was redundant, it really didn't matter anyway. I did some fitting of the alternator cover that Lyle Landstrom cast for me, and I think it looks awesome! I replaced the alternator pivot bolt with a 6" piece of 5/16" rod which I threaded 2" of one end, and 1/2" of the other. I ran a nut down the long thread, and used RED loctite to lock it in place. Then I installed the bolt, put a nut on the pulley side, drilled a 5/16" hole in the cover, in the middle of the pivot flange, and slid it on. I had to cut 5/8" off the long threads (I made it long on purpose), installed a nut on the inboard side of the cover, to act as a stop, and a jamb nut outside to lock it in place. I also trimmed 1/4" off the chain guard to avoid touching the cover, which isn't needed if you want to pull the cover in tighter, but I wanted more air circulation for cooling, and I wanted to retain the dust proof connector used at the exciter plug. Since I'm using a repro chain guard, I wasn't apprehensive about altering it. If you didn't know what you were looking for, you couldn't tell this wasn't a stock generator! I'll add a generator oiler to the casting, and it will be complete. The cover is easily removed, and it pivots with the alternator.
Alternator mounted in frame

Neat cover!

Kiwi announced the availability of their modern style pinion seal, which is made of a neoprene material and replaces the felt seal and retainer system originally used by Indian. Steve sent me one to try out, and it fit perfectly, but he never would answer my question; How would you know  if you had a leaking pinion seal? Oh well, the new seal is easier to deal with, fits well, and should be an excellent upgrade to your engine  rebuild. If I have a choice between using the original style felt seals  and retainers, or modern neoprene lip seals, I'll take the modern seals  every time. Currently, you can get modern replacement seals for almost  all of the felt units used in an Indian, so why not? It doesn't detract from the appearance, and they function far better than felt.

It's currently mid July, and the latest word on the lower fork legs is "any day". I guess we'll have to wait and see how that works out... Next month; PICTURES OF A ROLLING BIKE (I promise)!

Kiwi's pinion seal. 37551R $6.99
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