Summer 2002 Bike Feature
"Brother of Arctic Rat"
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 Blue Master Rides Again!
 By Jan Emil Kristoffersen

After my brother Torkel and his ”Arctic Rat” 1936 Chief were featured in issue 9 of the VI, Moen asked for more stories about Indian life in Norway and so I have written a few lines myself. 

Torkel and I have been Indian enthusiasts ever since we found our first Indian in the woods outside Oslo 31 years ago, brought it home, fired it up and rode through the neighbours fence. We now know it was a humble Junior Scout, but to us it was a BIG Indian. With no litterature and no knowledge apart from the rusty and rosy memories  of guys in their fifties and sixties that had used to ride Indians, we had no real info as to what an Indian motorcycle really was.  Still, there was something magic with this bike, only identified as an Indian by the insigniae in the worn footboard rubbers and the maroon brushed paint finish. 

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Jan in 1977
Imagine our surprise when we by sheer coincidence learnt that there were other guys around Oslo that also had Indians, and dreams of riding them. One such guy introduced us to what was to be the local ”Big Chief ” of Indian owners in the Oslo area in the seventies. At the time I rode a 741 that had been restored in a moist basement in our fathers house on a shoestring budget that did not allow disassembly of engine – to avoid unwanted expenses. 

The ”Big Chief” was a slim man in his early thirties riding this HUGE blue Indian with white wall tires, fringes, conchos, skirted fenders, and all that chrome!!! It was a shock to us that the Indian mgf. co. had made such an enormous, extragavant, voluptuous bike. I rode silently home on my maroon and black 500cc Indian and knew that the world would never be the same again. I had seen the Marilyn Monroe of motorcycles for the first time in my life. 

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'53-ish Chief outside closed-down Art Deco restaurant in Oslo, Norway
I later learnt that the cool guy with the seafoam blue '47 Chief had bought it when he was 18, and ridden it since. He had also been to America and there he had ridden a cocoa brown 1953 Chief with telescopic front forks (where would it all end, this to us hithertho unknown Indian extragavanza?) and he told us youngsters that there was no other thing to do than to have one yourself once you had been bitten by the 80 cubic inch disease. ”There’s no substitute for cubic inches”, he said while lighting another cigarette, leaning on to the fringed Chumme seat.

So one winter he set out on the tedious task of dissassembling his '47 Chief and sorting the parts on two different shelves - according to whether the parts were compatible with a '53 Chief project or not. 

This was the early seventies, before repop and Asian bits, and so, probably relying on an overstretched bank account, he bought the parts he needed to erect his '53-ish Chief. Forks from Starklite, NOS sliders and triple trees, handlebars, front fender etc etc from various dealers and enthusiasts, like Wagner’s, Flint’s, Indian Joe Martin, and a complete 80 C.I. power pack complete with Torque Evener from Wally Komondy. 

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Jan and his brother Torkel in an Norvegian old-bike magazine with their matching 1937 Chiefs

The article about Torkel's 
"Arctic Rat" Chief
is in VI issue 9

When his ”1953 BLACKHAWK CHIEF” was finished it was a fully dressed Roadmaster beauty, first painted in sunshine yellow, but the next season in Checkered flag metallic blue, or to be more precise, Volkswagen Bahama Blue metallic, a good match for the stock Indian blue metallic job. 

If the telescopic Chief  had looks to die for, it sounded even better, and at least it sounded like it would outrun any other bike. 

As luck later came my way I became the owner of a 1928 Chief with Princess sidecar in 1975 (set me back $200), later I rode a Vincent Rapide, lovely bike apart from its funny high-revving shortstroke v-twin engine, then I found and restored a 1937 Chief and rode a BMW R90S before I learnt three years ago that the old ”Blue Master” '53-ish Chief was up for sale after 15 years of hibernation in a downtown garage in Oslo. 

This time I was set back definitely more than the $200 I had paid for the '28 Chief 23 years earlier, but the excitement of bringing a dusty old Indian out of a long sleep, renewing its fluids and inflating its tires, and then kicking it into life aided by a car battery was just as great this time.

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Jan picking up "Blue Master" from former owner, autumn 1998
As I am primarily a rider, and the bike is not a genuine '53, I have modfied it to make it a more roadworthy and safe riders bike. Modifications include fitting '46-'51 handlebars with the old fashioned but much more positive twist grip controls, and a Starklite windshield, which really works beatifully, with a practical windshield bag from National Cycle. 

Headlamp and spotlights have been fitted with 12V halogen bulbs fed through a 6 square mm cable straight from the battery through a light relay, thus sparing the footboard dim switch and ignition switch from the high currents flowing to the magnificent long-reach wide-spread light I now have up front.

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Garage atmosphere
Generator is a 12V 240 W Bosch dynamo with electronic regulator and battery is 13Ah 12V. I run on modern cruiser tyres and 35 psi front and rear, giving much better roadholding than vintage type tyres. 

A cartridge oil filter has been fitted, and I do of course ride with the KING clutch installed. News for this winter is an engine rebuild  with new pistons .020 os, new pins and oversize rollers, new gearbox internals etc. and not to forget: The MOTO VALVE!

3 years, some dissapointments, many spare parts and workshop hours and some thousand miles later I am increasingly happy with my snappy, springy, velvet action get-up-and-go '53-ish Blue Master. 

Myself also being a  '53  model we do make a matching pair, even though we do not have matching numbers.

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This bike's a rider
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