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Indian Chief Problems

Post Thu Nov 14, 2002 1:56 am

Posts: 5
Location: Wesley Chapel, Florida

I am a new member and am looking forward to a long relationship. I have 8 bikes, 7 Harleys and 1 Indian. The Indian is a 1941 Chief, which is not a 100 pointer, but respectable.

I have a few problems with it, that I thought some of you might be able to help me with. I prefer to do my own wrenching because finding someone local that I trust to work on these old irons is next to impossible.

1) Charging system. It doesn't although it used to. I have seen at least 2 Indian chiefs with what looked like Delco alternators instead of the stock indian generator. I assume they were 12V which would also be a plus, but the bracket that was holding it to the frame down tube look manufactured instead of fabricators. The owners of these bikes were nowhere to be found, but I was wondering if you knew where to get such a setup.

2) Oiling; sometimes it does; sometimes it doesn't. The thing loses prime. Reading the service manual tells me to prime the system which is a non-starter. I am looking for something to do that would make the thing 100% reliable. Adding a filter would be a good thing too.

3) Brakes, they don't work. I have heard that Indian used to call the front brake the 'no grab' brake as if that was goodness. They should have said the 'no work' brake. I am looking for a source for aftermarket shoes or some other mods so that when I grab a handfull the thing will stop before the next exit ramp.

4) Ignition. Generally the bike is a one or two kicker, but if it rained on it or is otherwise foggy or misty then it just shuts down. I am looking for some sort of seal or something around the distributor. Kiwi is out of them, so was wondering if there was an alternative supplier.

Other then the above, the bike is drop dead beautiful and I enjoy the heck out of it.



Post Thu Nov 14, 2002 2:45 am

Posts: 3159
Location: Central Illinois, USA
I'll only address (1) for starts,

Walkem's of Canada pioneered the conversion of HD geneators for Indians;The H-D unit isn't exactly Delco, but very much built by the same theory.

Unfortunately, they did not fit the Indian frame clamps. And you had to hybridize a pulley.

So a few on us on the VirtualIndian List compared notes and encouraged Cycle Electric (the remnants of the original OEM suppiler for HD) to produce generators with turned-down bodies to fit indian clamps, and make the armatures accept original Indian pulleys.

They are a genuine internet success story.

They retail very reasonably, and replacement parts are on the shelf everywhere. You can run $30 batteries instead of $85 to $185 choices. And you have your choice of mechanical or solid states regulators,.. also available anywhere.

Halogens for chiefs are no problem.

Have your local independent shop contact CE for you.

Post Thu Nov 14, 2002 3:32 am

Posts: 1038
Location: Ojo Caliente,NM,USA
1 The alternators that you saw were from either a Suzuki Samari or the Chevy version of the Suzuki. Most of the large Indian suppliers will have the brackets. Although not origional looking they work great There is a even smaller alternator built by Denso that is starting to show up on Sport Scouts but I havent seen brackets for a Chief yet.
2 If the return pump loses prime follow the sujestions I gave for the 741 a few weeks back in this section.Just change the option for how many days back to display 30 then click go.
3 Search the back issues of the Virtual Indian for pics of how to modify the brake cam then have the shoes relined with modern soft lining then chuck the assembled backing plate in a lathe and grind the new shoes to about .040" smaller than the drum then use a heavier brake cable.

Post Sun Nov 17, 2002 5:25 am

Posts: 1038
Location: Ojo Caliente,NM,USA
Clint: Has the lining I was talking about I just couldn't find there addr. the other day.

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