Quite simply, this is the very machine that started the antique motorcycle passion for me. Sitting temptingly visible in the shop area of a longtime local motorcycle dealership, it was the last of a dozen Fours and the last antique motorcycle of the retired one-eyed WWII navy-vet owner who now toiled away quietly in the corner of the shop 50 ft away, but I was not to know it was his or the last till much later. He whiled away his retirement hours resurrecting totaled rental cars in a makeshift body shop in the service area of his dealership while keeping a wary eye on the proceedings as his sons wrenched on and sold their now chosen marque, Kawasaki's, and I came and went regularly on a variety of old machines, apparently the only one brazen enough to ride directly into the work area past the "do not enter" signs from the parking lot.

Though young and enamored of fast bikes and cars, this machine struck a chord with its tall imposing engine and massive chassis. I had enough of a feel for the market place then to know this one was well out of reach but maintained frequent contact with his son over the better part of ten years, and as I got further into the old bike hobby and my affluence grew, it became more of dogged pursuit than idle admiration as I now got in line with a procession of suitors dating back decades on this machine I referred to as "The Tease", as none had made any headway in wresting this famous prize from its owner. The son had apparently assumed the mantle of owner to field the endless inquiries and his response to my now regular requests was "no", he would never sell it.

     Not surprisingly this machine had the same effect on others too, like this chap I've never met - who responded on The Virtual Indian board to a posting on its restoration - who worked at Leo's Kawasaki Sales in the 70's and went on later to amass a sizeable collection of Indians out West....but we're getting ahead of ourselves here.

     It was now getting into early 90's when old bikes were taking off in general and storied ones in particular. My admission fee funds to the Four world, formerly approaching a decent rider was now retracting into rough runners, but when I witnessed the feeding frenzy over this very crusty basically standup basket with tanks lacy from rust then sell off the trailer at asking price within minutes of arrival at Davenport on Thursday, I knew it was now or never, regardless of condition. An "opportunity" was not long in coming. My old reliable, Rocky Halter, hadn't sold a skirted 4 in years, but called me 3 days before departing for the big AMCA swap meet at Oley with a running original painty-ish 440 and it was decision time.

     I drove straight to Leo's Kawasaki sales asked them if they would sell the 441, got the customary "no", and with a clear conscience, set off the next morning for the 900 mile drive to Rocky's to get this budget-busting runner of a 440, fortified with loans from both my wife and her mother.

     In the feverish weeks that followed, selling everything but blood, hadn't had a chance to swing by Leo's but figured a triumphant arrival on my new Four was in order. But first, it was time to wave off my wife on the girl's weekend trip to Nashville. After having just paid off my mother in law on the 440 the previous night, I stood at the door stoicly proclaiming to my wife that I'd never borrow money from her again, much less for something as frivolous as a motorcycle.

     Now, on my arrival at Leo's minutes later, something was different. As the quiet settled over the shop after my deafening aircraft like idle had been stilled, the son I had pestered so often was not there, the 441 had been moved over into a line of jet ski's across from battery area and Mr Leo was not at his usual station covered in bondo dust and pounding out bodywork. As I peeked through the door into the showroom there sat Mr Leo clean as a pin in a big green vinyl chair at which point he spied me and boomed, "Peter, I sold something you'd of like to have had." What was that Mr. Leo? "1928 Henderson, been sitting in the garage since 1960, wasn't going to do a thing with it." As one permanently afflicted with spilled milk syndrome, naturally had to ask, how much was it? "10 thouuuusand dollars!". Man, I didn't know you had that. "I got something else I'm selling too." Being polite, and what is that? "1964 Buick Riviera." And how much is that? Mr Leo - "10 thouuuusand dollars!". His wife chimes in, "old George has a thing with $10,000." To which he exclaimed with a beet red face in embarrassment, "no I don't, I've got a 1941 Indian Four back that runs and has got a title and I'll take $xx,xxx for it."

     At that point, my wife not an hour gone, disoriented by a conversation with a chap I hadn't shared two sentences with in a decade, stunned at the discovery that this was his machine, not the son's, and now numb at the thought of some interloper swooping in and making off with "The Tease" I'd pursued so doggedly, with only the change from a cup of coffee in my pocket for a portfolio, I heard a faint voice say "I'll take it" and that voice was mine.

Thirteen years later, a rather rocky road traveled as the captions below will explain, but now reveling in this view from the helm at Daytona, it's a decision I've never regretted.



     A matching number early production machine purchased new in Illinois with an optional set of dealer installed Vard telescopic forks, it had low miles and indoor storage from new with only slight rust on the backs of the rear shock covers and original paint on the frame when I acquired it. Mr. Leo bought it in 1951 for only the amount - $150 - required to remove it from storage after it had been pawned by the original owner. With up to a dozen other fours at any given time, a new Harley and other dealership machines at his disposal, with the exception of a brief 8 mile jaunt by his son with a lashed up fuel tank arrangement, no mention was made of ever riding this machine, rather, it was kept it on display at his dealership. When they moved to their current location, it was titled for the first time - under Bluff City Motorcycle Company - in 1958 as part of collateral for their building loan and the title left open and provided to me at time of purchase in 1995.

His sons did a partial cosmetic restoration sometime in the early 70's which included painting the rims and spokes in situ which preserved both perfectly. Using an IV bottle as a fuel tank, it was started regularly in the shop for visitors until finally losing oil pressure as the shoulders of the rod bearings were sloughed off. Fitment of a homemade top end oil system had bleed precious oil pressure off starving the bearings..


Some Noteworthy Features of the 1941 Indian Four
5.00 x 16 inch rims/tires optional.
5/16 inch wider forks to acommodate wider fender skirts.
Rectangular fender trim - narrow on top, wider on sides - replaces
       uniform half round.
Fuel tank trim strips added.
Simplified horn face fitted with round back.
Slimline grips and straight collars replace donkey grips and
      beveled collars.
Sealed beam headlight with new mounting pedestal.
Single sweep brake handle replaces "S" curved..
110mph Corbin with smaller font replaces 130mph Corbin.
Hoyt Ammeter replaces Conn Tel.
Thicker padding added to seat.
Two tone paints optional.
New three hinge toolbox mounted on left of rear fender.
Linkert M441 replaces Schebler DLX124.
Brace added to top of slipper on later 41 models.
 

Pass your mouse over the images for an explanation and good luck with your restoration. Cheers, Peter.




Continuing the theme of the Chiefs - one shiny and one dusty - in the space of three short weeks I had the dusty side of four ownership well covered with the purchase of the 440 so it was only natural the 441 was going to be fully restored, and not just restored but with the best powertrain I could muster up. In 1995, that meant an aluminum insert solution for the marginal babbit bearing configuration. The bar has been set considerable higher in the intervening 13 years and the ten year "delay" in getting my motor built and back meant a raft of improvements had come along and they are all incorporated in this one from complete gear sets made by the supplier to HD to purpose made Carillo rods, offset pin forged pistons, carbon fiber clutch discs and Clevite tri-metal bearing inserts to name just a few.

The objective with this restoration was to build a nearly perfectly correct 1941 Indian Four - visually - with every reasonable and concealed mechanical improvement (sealed wheel bearings, tapered roller head bearings, custom brake linings, electronic ignition/regulator and AGM battery) possible, that would enable trouble free riding for my wife and I on AMCA Road Runs.

You may notice some gaps in the chronology here, especially in fabrication and trim restoration. A hard lesson learned on "saving" images from a digital camera that resets its count after every download - many were overwritten by subsequent images of later work.





Though not as tolerant of severe duty as the Chief, Fours can be made into reliable machines which only serves to enhance their reputation for smooth effortless operation, while retaining nearly original appearance. The following tips apply to both machines in process of restoration as well as runners needing only slight improvements to become trusted mounts.




Here is a list of product and service providers along with a smattering of the more educational and entertaining reading material available for this storied marque.



The motorized two wheel side of a 40 year 4 wheel - and even one wheel - mechanical journey has distilled itself down to the following machines...at least for the moment. Pass your mouse over the link for a pic and overview and click for the full story. With this restoration complete and site developed, next up will be a site devoted to the 1940 Indian Four.








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