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Indian Chief Cams

Post Tue Nov 07, 2006 4:47 pm

Posts: 5
Location: Jackson, MI
Ok, I'm new at this, so bear with me (and thank you Doug for straightening out my registration problems).
I ride a slightly modified '47 Chief (12v Cycle-Electric Gen, Electronic Ign, 4sp OD trans). I would like to help out the lack of power by installing a new set of cams, but I dont want to loose the ease of starting I have now...Any sugestions? ( I know I'm opening up a can of worms, but I figured some of you out there have had some success with this mod!)
She is a stock 74 ci motor (not a Bonneville), that runs well with appx 11K on the rebuild.
Shunk? Savanna? Ollie? Other?
Sorry the question is so long. Thanks for the help, Turbinebronze.

Post Wed Nov 08, 2006 12:39 am

Posts: 77
Location: Espoo, Finland
Hi Turbine

I 'spose you're on VI list?? If not, join, it's a list fully dedicated Real Indians.

In my point of view Bonne cams are the way to go. BUT you need also Bonne lifters. I have those in my motor, well, it's a Bonne :lol:

Some say you will get same result with Ollies, I don't know, as I have not tested them personally. Shunks might be too wild, and require other mods also.
Jim Mosher has done nice study on this,
click techtalk.


Post Wed Nov 08, 2006 8:04 am

Posts: 641
Location: Wisconsin, USA
That is a nice bit of work Mr. Mosher put out there for us. Thanks for the link Jack. Now I need to go out and have a better look at the cams and followers from my 48, the niece of the former owner said they were hotrod, and the bike came with a Bonne carb.

Post Wed Nov 08, 2006 4:18 pm

Posts: 5
Location: Jackson, MI
Hi Jack,
Thanks for the info, and the link. I'm not a member of VI, but I soon will be.
I have a friend with a '47 Chief, Bonne motor, and its the hardest thing to start. I can hardly kick the beast over...and you have to kick it a lot to get her running. I cant believe its just the cams...something else must be amiss.
The cams are just one of those things that I want to do right the first time ( well I guess that goes for the entire bike). I just want a little more power, so when I'm rolling up a hill, or trying to get by that semi in a head wind, she'll do it.
Thanks again, Craig.

Post Thu Nov 09, 2006 2:16 am

Posts: 77
Location: Espoo, Finland
Hi Graig

I have a full Bonne motor and it is as easy to kick over as any other flathead. And the top end is freshly rebuilt. ( though I have a Dell'orto instead of Linkert)

You need to have correct kicker and kicker gear for magneto equipped motor. The ratio is different than batt.ign. models. Can't remember the tooth count now though.
Maybe your friend has wrong ratio kicker & gear. The mag motor needs to be turned faster than batt.ign. motor.


Post Thu Nov 09, 2006 8:48 am

Posts: 39
Location: Paris, France

turbinebronze wrote:
Shunk? Savanna? Ollie? Other?
Sorry the question is so long. Thanks for the help, Turbinebronze.

I've fit Ollie on my Chief, there IS a difference of power between standard cams and Ollie. The bike is still easy to start but need a idle tuned sligthly more fast than with std cams.

Jack, I hope to see you next year for the rallye, I propose we race together to see for real what are the real differences between these 2 kind of cams. I know you should have the adavantage because your Chief is lighter but it should give a more precise idea of the available power...

Post Fri Nov 10, 2006 12:33 am

Posts: 77
Location: Espoo, Finland

And I'm lighter too :lol:

We'll have to see that race later, maybe 2008 rallye here in Finland??

I can't make it to France next year, sigh, which sucks


Post Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:20 am

Posts: 39
Location: Paris, France

>>And I'm lighter too :lol:


>>We'll have to see that race later, maybe 2008 rallye here in Finland??
>>I can't make it to France next year, sigh, which sucks

ok for Finland..... if Istill have my licence, if the bike is not crashed, if I haven't broken some of my bones :wink: :lol:

Post Sat Nov 11, 2006 10:51 pm

Posts: 5
Location: Jackson, MI
Thanks Fred,
After reading up on some of the cam and spring specs, I might have to install Scout springs with the Ollie cams. I have the o-ring covers with the thick gaskets...and I think my friend also has them on his bonne motor. It might be part of his problem
I like what I've read on the CV carb too...she is a beast to start when shes very hot. The Linkert seems to have a bit of a heat soak problem, like it is vapor locked. (Anything more than 3 kicks is embarrassing at the local biker hang out.)
Good luck with the race, and dont break any bones! Craig

Post Fri Nov 24, 2006 6:45 am

Posts: 173
Location: Norway


I'm running the ollie cams as well.. but still with standard followers.
If I fins some bonneville followers, I will try that also..

My current engine is now a 84" stroker and breathes through a CV carb.. and has a 16% OD transmission.

I changed both the carb and the cams last winter, so the difference when pulling out the bike of the garage early this year.
With the cv carb and an electronic ignition breaker/point, it always fires up at the first kick when cold. But, with the cv carb you will need to change the timing point for both retarded and advanced..
Easy starting came by advancing the idle timing posisition, and it will actually idle very nice with the cv carb.

The intakes and intake manifold have been massaged with my dremel tool, and the valve guides have been chamfered etc for flow.. and a 3 angle valve seat job, off course.. had to by my own horrible expensive neway 35 degree cutter head.

I have also tried another 84" chief which have ollie cams AND bonne followers. This was much harder to start, but this could also be related to the idle timing settings and stock ignition points.
Out on the road, this bike seems to have a little bit more power in the lower 1/2 of the rpm range. But it falls off sooner than mine, mine just keeps pulling into high rpm. Actually so rev happy that a circlips for the piston pin came off and wrecked the cylinder in july this year.
Now I have new india made cylinders and proper piston pin circlips..and fresh valve seats.. so now it breaths a little bit better.
Also had to redo the valve train at the time..but I still think it's noisy. Probably would need new gears or some kind of coating to quiet it down.

Btw.. there are new intake manifolds coming out of Sweden soon, larger ID (tapered) and ready to accept modern carbs..

And yes.. I have been running a Krankvent for a while. This is a patented free flowing venting valve for the crankcase. It really works great, keeping the oil inside the engine and creates a 100% vacuum (which also should make the oil pump/ splash do it's job)
Well... the idea has reached the dealers.. Geoff at Old Iron should have some in stock.
My own engine got much more rev happy after installing this, instead of acting as an airpump which steals horsepower (ok.. pony power..:) )

I have had lots of problems and have done repairs and improvements over the last 4-5 years (and 50000 kilometers). The last 13000 kilometers(this year) has been the best, now it can be ridden almost like a modern bike..but it still a true indian !!

This winter I will work on project to reduce oil consumption and carbon buildup. The kranvent did reduce oil consumption .. but still a bit of oil goes out the crankcase breather line or ends up as carbon in the combustion chamber(s) .

So, I'm looking into making some kind of mesh (hopefully not a MESS :) ) inside the camcover for stopping most of the oil spray before it exits the breather line. And then installing valve seals on the intake valves... will se how that works out..

A video from before the piston pin circlip came off..

After the engine was rebuilt this july..:
1944 Indian Chief + sidecar
1939/40 Sport scout bobber,

Post Mon Dec 04, 2006 9:00 pm

Posts: 5
Location: Jackson, MI
Hi Halvor,
Thanks for all the info...sorry about the late post. I joined the VI mailing list, and have been trying to keep up with the mail coming in. WOW...quite a bit of info. I've read 50 e-mails today, some of it I'll never use, but the amount of brains (or maybe I should say experience!) is just eye opening! (I am the keeper of all worthless trivial knowledge!)
It looks like I will run the Ollie cams with stock followers...change the gaskets on the valve covers...change the valve springs to 741 springs (VI stuff!), and find out about the valve seals (auto parts store?)
O yes, had to say, great video clips! Beautiful country, except for all the white stuff on the ground...
Thanks again, Craig.

Post Tue Dec 05, 2006 3:35 am

Posts: 173
Location: Norway

If you didn't get the parts number for the seals on the VI list.. here's the parts # for the seals which should be a direct fit and works well (better than some other makes).

Pioneer brand, number OS 1068-16 No Prices..Pa for the box.
Summit racing on the web has them, or you can find them in a auto parts store. I tried to find them here in Norway.. but I would probably need to call some US car specialist . But..I didn't spend too much time looking either.

Trying to figure out how to install some kind of mesh in the camcover now.. too much oil mist going out the breather line..
Well.. too much for me is maybe not a problem for others..but I don't like oil on the bike/tire or bringing more than 1 litre of oil on the longer trips.
1944 Indian Chief + sidecar
1939/40 Sport scout bobber,

Post Tue Dec 05, 2006 4:43 pm

Posts: 604
Location: Largo, Fl

Why would anyone want to put valve stem seals on an engine that already has MINIMIMAL lubrication to the valve stems as it is?

Post Wed Dec 06, 2006 2:58 am

Posts: 173
Location: Norway

The intake valves seems to have lots of lubrication in my engine..and is clogging up the combustion chamber and eventually (usually after some 8-10K miles) scoring the top of the piston.

Just pulled off the intake valves yesterday..and there's a very visible trail of burnt oil on the stem and under the valve towards the bore.. and the cumbustion chamber also had quite a bit of carbon/ burnt oil. But luckily no piston damages yet.. but a ridge had formed on the top of the bore towards the intake valve. The exhaust valve guides also seem to have much better lubrication after the engine was stroked.. or the previous valve guides was the problem..
The stem seals are not really seals..just metering devices to reduce the oil flow a bit. The stroker engines seems to have a problem in this area...sucking/pushing up quite a bit of oil through the intake valve guides.
Do not install stem seals on the exhaust valve guides...

But if you have doubts.. I will keep everyone posted on the result from my REAL LIFE testing of these valve stem seals. If something is breakable...I usually break it..
I'm just trying to find a way to make the engine stay in shape for more than one season of 9-10K miles. Most indian riders don't ride this much in a decade..and don't see these problems so clearly. I have to remove carbon after each riding season, and the pistons may already be damaged by the carbon at that point.
I have been in contact with some serious riders who have successfully used stem seals..after experiencing the same type of problems I have had over the last 31K miles on my chief.

Next summer I'm planning to ride the inland of of Iceland.. gravel(volcanic) roads and water crossings.. and then by ferry to either Scotland or Denmark.. and then some fast highway cruising down to the International Indian rally in France... and then back home again.
That will be a good test of the bike..
Still.. riding hard on the bumpy, very twisty and steep grades up and down roads of Norway is also a good test:) Like riding on a bumpy version of the "dragons tail" road maybe, you won't get bored or fall asleep on the bike..
1944 Indian Chief + sidecar
1939/40 Sport scout bobber,

Post Wed Dec 06, 2006 9:27 pm

Posts: 5
Location: Jackson, MI
I'm running a moto valve in my stock 74ci speak highly of the krankvent. I have a little bit of weap from the base of the jugs, and a small amount from the vent tube (under the trans). Is the krankvent better than the motovalve? I know the motovalve gives the bike a odd hollow thump at idle. I'm using a little less than 1 quart of oil every 1000 miles...advise?...

Post Thu Dec 07, 2006 3:55 am

Posts: 173
Location: Norway

I did only run my chief as a 74" for only 1,5 seasons, before stroking it to 84". The 74" did have some occasional sweating and oil leaks.. but the motovalve worked like it should. I had to replace the discs twice though.. before replacing the brass discs with a steel one.
When going to 84" I noticed an increase in oil mess..and the noise from the motovalve increased. More air have to escape the cases when the pistons go down. It kept pushing oil out through the valve covers and pushed oil into the primary.

I (and several other) ran into what may have been a bad batch of hasting rings.. and the rings were gone in 9000 miles. When the piston blowby increased, it become an oil mess. Removing the disc inside the motovalve seemed to help a lot..

So.. that's when I looked into the krankvent and installed it last year.
It is much much more free flowing than the motovalve, and it will ensure a near 100% vacuum. The function of the krankvent is better than the motovalve, although they do the same thing. I think one will get more miles on each piston ring set, before the piston ring blowby gets too bad.
The motovalve guys is working on a new version I think...this may be more freeflowing and creating a true vacuum.

All the oil diseappeared from the valve covers.. the engine is more rev happy. And I think the oiling of the cam side actually got better now that there's a true vacuum. But.. time will show...
The downsides is that the oilmist from the camgears exits more "freely" into the breather tube. So I want to install some kind of mesh or a labyrinth inside the camcover to stop the oil mist before it enters the breather line.. then it's no way back.

I did some testing with the kranvent under the tank.. hoping the oilmist would cling to the "standpipe" walls and drip back into the camcover. But the tube needs to have a large diameter so it doesn't restrict the airflow.
It kind of worked though.. but I had to make a muffler etc to quiet the noise from the krankvent.
The optimal solution would be a large dia tube..into the krankvent.. then into an air/oil separator which is leads the air into the airfilter, and (if any) oil down to the rear chain or just on the ground. The oil tank sits too high for directing the separated oil back into the tank.

But.. personally I want to try stop most of the oil mist BEFORE it exits the breather line.. and accept an occasional drop or two exiting the breather line..

But.. anyway.. this is my plan and bike.. and everyone can do whatever they want with their own stuff.. I'm just trying to make my own bike work and last in the environment (and the rider) it is ridden.
1944 Indian Chief + sidecar
1939/40 Sport scout bobber,

Post Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:00 pm

Posts: 87
Of the many Chief cam lobes named above, which, if any, are presently available? Who manufactures them, and where does one purchase them?

Post Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:40 pm

Posts: 124
Location: Glenmoore, Pa. USA

Please do not foolishly limit yourself to the cams named above. There are Murdaugh's BA and BM, Greer 3-4 and Greer 4-5 grinds plus a few different variations on Daytona's and modified Bonney's for mile tracks.
Take some time and learn some more about lesser known speed secrets for Indians. I know the ironwigwam offers some different and exciting grinds

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