|Remember Grizzy's "Geronimo" Chief in VI issue 1 and 2?
comes a time in a man's life when he is too old to die young, and too young
not to try!
This has all came about because I miss racing. For the last 20 years I have tried to substitute other types of entertainment, but there is nothing that gives THE buzz, and sundays just ain't the same. All my old sparring buddies that were as slim as racing snakes and as sharp as poteen (with a twist of lime!) have turned into a collective Homer, and I'm not ready for that yet (but my girth might be).
So, I have thrown down the gauntlet. There must be something, not too taxing, that would not break the bank, but would fulfill my need to compete and my LUST for speed.
Sprinting! A form of geriatric drag racing! That will do. My club, the VMCC, have a sprint section, and they always get an invite to "put on a show, chaps" at all the best meetings: Brighton Speed Trial, Festival of 1000 Bikes, Goodwood Festival of Speed, and Brooklands events. Sign me up! What do I need? Oh, of course a BIKE.
What is everyone else using? Well? A diversity that defies any logic whatsoever! Fours, triples, twins V, twins flat, twins vertical, twin twins, twin singles, singles - most are sporting a blower and running on dope (alcohol) - of all years, from 1920's to 70's, and every pilot with a grin on its face that says it all! That'll do for me
enough about why? What? is the question now. I had it in mind to build
something that would not look out of place on the banking at Brooklands,
and would fit in at Vintage and other period events. About this time of
contemplation there was a fair old debate going on in the VI
chat box about Chouts. To me it was an education (in fact most of the time
the VI is such ). The only Chout that I knew, or heard of at that time
was the Chase/Bubeck job, I did not know that guys on the street were hot
rodding in this way .
This is where RF & Ron can be fairly blamed as being my Agents Provocateur! In the Christmas VI special of 2004, those two in a blink of an eye had produced a Chout as if by magic! And not only that, it looked good! Thats no reflection on the craftmanship, just the fact that it looked so damn right! Respect bros. It shall be mine! I've just got to have one!
This is a warning - Be careful what you wish for .
By September 05, I had just about given up on all leads looking for a Chief engine, we are not exactly flush with any Indian stuff in the UK, and without the venerable Chief engine there is no Chout. It's about this time in a project that fate has a nasty way of rearing its ugly head! I am sure there is some bugger up there pressing buttons - (fatalism, look it up). I was on a jolly off to France for the D-day (September) rememberance (Utah, Omaha, Sword, Gold, Juno). Lay a few wreaths, church parade, good food & drink (the best), and a few more drinks.
For the ferry trip I took a bike paper, Old Bike Mart. In it was an advert stating: "Indian Chief 1200 motor and gearbox, 1931, virtually complete, bla bla bla, see at Beaulieu autojumble £1950", and no bloody phone number! The print was smudged! I was with my buddy Razor (a 741 rider), and showed him the ad. "That'll be gone ". Drily said with a wry grin. "Someone will snatch that up at the Beaulieu swapmeet". Thanks mate, I just knew you'd say the right thing! Missed that one, but needless to say we had a wonderful time Sur le Continent .
The next month (October 05) I picked up the Classic Motor Cycle mag, and lo behold in the free ads, the self same advert - but with a phone number this time - harah! I phoned and phoned and phoned, texted & texted, left mesagess, it hadn't sold! December came ("No Mr. Frost, I am not going to build a chopper with it! Honest"), and in the end so did the engine and the starting point for MY Chout. Having checked the engine number, it is a 1930 not a 1931, in a hell af a state. Carbon-covered flywheels (years of blow by), oil pump missing, big end shot, and drive side main too, clutch bits missing, the wrong bolts for everything, I dare yet to take a look in the gearbox! But as I said, we are not that flush with Chief engines. So sometimes you just got to go with whatever comes up (fate, again). That can make for an interesting life if you let it !
So a Chout it will
be. To build said Chout I needed a 101 frame. Now they are rare here, as
rare as rockinghorse poo. Jurgen Hecker with one of his new frames looked
like a good way to go, but in all honesty I really wanted an old frame.
Not that there is anything wrong with Jurgen's products, splendid as they
are. It just feels like with old, I am visiting with the old stuff, which
I like very much (saddo).
The Day the Engine came Home!
fate took another stab at me through my buddy Razor (of 741 fame) who was
by now getting into MY Chout as much as me. The phone call went something
like: There is a Scout frame on eBay. There is? Yep. OK Razor, but my computers
down. Well best you get your sorry arse round here and have a look then!
Put the kettle on, I'm on me way mate!
Sure enough it was a Scout all right, but not what a traditional Chout would be built out of. It was a 1926 Police Special Scout, not a 101, it had an old "repair". It was cheep enough, but I had no idea if a 1930 Chief engine would fit. It was worth a gamble and, if no good for my purpose, it would sell easy enough back on eBay. At that price, worth a try! Razor said he would do the bidding if I wanted. I don't think I had much choice; all of a sudden dry old Ray was as sharp as his nickname, the chase was on! Well Razor was like an old gunslinger on eBay, with his trigger finger he won like a smooth old pro, just blew the smoke away and scratched another notch on the handle of his mouse (a real Randolph Scott moment).
On getting the frame home the first thing that you'd notice was the, let's say less than professional , repair on the top rail. This had been butt brazed in two places, as a result of a front end crash (prang). With a check on my flatplate bench, the headstock was a full inch side ways and another inch back at spindle hight! No wonder I ended up with it! So let's see if a Chief will fit a '26 Scout.
The bottom end of the Chief engine was droped into the frame, and the two barrels balanced on the outside studs just to see if it was feasible. The front engine mount was about an inch and a quarter too short and the bottom tank rail about two inches too low on the tallest part of the engine's V. Yep! I can make that fit. I turned up a pair of slugs (mild steel stock), and extended the bottom rails just under the output shaft under the gearbox, at the same time cutting the bottom tank rail. With the slugs brazed into place, the tank rail was bent with heat to give a clearance for the top of the engine.
As a repair was needed to the steering head, it seemed like a good idea to implement that into the Chout conversion, and so much easier with the frame cut. Some serious gusseting was required, as I felt the constructional design had been compromised somewhat! But all that I have done could have been constructed at the time this bike was in its heyday. I also think my work is in the spirit of the time (that's because I only have old fashion stuff (crap) to do it with).
Because there is a bloody great gusset were the gas tank use to live, I had to look elsewere for a tank. Nothing I tried looked right at all, so the only thing to do was make a tank. As the bike started to take shape, it became obvious that I would have to build a pair of tanks.
I wanted to keep the bike slim so each tank is only 4" wide, and the same shape as the hole that a single tank would have fitted in - just to make it look a bit more factory. While looking for suitable donor material to make the tanks out of a space heater blew up at work, and at strange angles the curve could (to my eyes) take on the shape of a gas tank (it was going in the dumpster, so also free - I do free).
I roughed out with a jigsaw the side panel shape of the tanks along the cylindrical shape of the heater.
This was clamped on to a mandrel that I made from gas barrel. I made the mandrel so each side was used to shape the same for each side panel .
That meant each tank outer panel could be clamped firm and made to beat round a quarter of the barrel, and a top and bottom beaten to meet it. By using the same mandrel to form both tanks, they stood a chance of being the same shape (mirrored). The back of each tank is just a flat sheet and sits flush to the Scout frame. As the tanks hang from the frame I needed to have a top fixing, which is also used as part of the corrective repair to the damaged Scout frame. I also made the bottom tank brackets stronger .
Getting to the spark
plugs was going to be through two straight tubes from the top of the tank,
but I think frenching
looks more efective. The frenched spark plugs were done by bending a 2"
tube to 90 degrees, sawing it in half (like a slash cut with a bend), then
spliting it open on its short side, beat and open it up to fit the tank
cut outs (simple, eh?). All the welding is gas (oxy/acetylene) In fact
all the welding on the bike is gas. I have not decided if the oil will
live in part of one tank (the capacity is one and a half gallon each tank)
or if I make another tank to fit the seat post. We will see.
First mockup with modified frame.
talking of seat, I must take this opportunity to thank Ray Elbourne once
again for his corespondence over my Messenger saddle. I had the opportunity
to use a Messenger saddle and was chuffed as punch, untill I tried fitting
it. What a mess. It looked like a tramps (bums) old shoe! And was about
as comfortable to sit on. I got to chatting with fellow VI'er Ray on the
old VI chatbox. He had just fitted a Messenger on his stocker '25 Scout
(you should see it, its a cherry), and sent me a pictorial build of his
saddle, to which I could see what was wrong and missing on mine. Now it
looks the part AND can be sat on without pain! Cheers mate.
And talking of Aussies. This brings us nicely to the forks. And that old cyber-warrior Razor back in action once again, God bless eBay ! I thought my luck had run its course with this project and was preparing my self to use another make of fork. But a pair of 101s came up on Ebay, problem was they were in Australia, Melbourne to be exact, the trouble was they were exactly what I needed, "Yes", "no", "yes". The price went though the roof, Razor was hell bent on spending my cash! We got 1st prize - a set of 101 forks, the cost of shiping to the other side of the world, import tax, customs and exise, and insurance. It was a very expencive way to do things. The forks are straight and true (Aussie, see!), but the links were so worn they looked like they'd spent 60 years Moto X'ing in the bush (I have been told the old Aussie spends a lotta time in the bush!), and no handlebar tree. There now came a need to start collecting parts for repair. Blessed are the Parts Blokes for they shall supply.
There was lots of bushes, bearings, bolts, spacers, washers, and other stuff that finish a bike that I needed, and I did not have a clue as to part numbers! So I enlisted our old buddy Moen at IPE, for he has an uncanny knack of knowing exactly what I am talking about as regards the parts I needed. A proper good old fasion customer service, I didn't once have to "pop stuff into a shopping buggy". It was nice to converse with some one on the counter! All good kit too.
I did get a handlebar tree (top yoke) cast blank from Alan Forbes (Motolux). I made such a mess of the machining that I gave up till I have better equipment. I really failed miserably. So the only thing to do is make one from scratch. I found it so much easier to fabricate each part from scratch then low temp braze the lot together. It also gave me options for handle bars. The pics show the bars held by zip tie. This will be changed. This is only to get an idea of position (which will depend how dangerous I feel!).
Wheels are 741 back, for now, but I do have a 1919 hub that needs a lot of work which I hope to use one day. And on the front an old 30's Triumph pair of hubs twinned back to back (they do look strangely 741!). I did a Joe Hunt HD magneto to 42 degree, and made the thing fit an Indian dizzy hole for another VI'er, my mate Steve Plowman, for his stroker Scout bobber (another nice bike you should see), for a nutty Scottish Highlander he throws together a nice bike! He swapped me the front hub for the work.
I was hoping to be the first Chout builder in the UK, but as always I lost. That honour has to go to Tony Carabine, a founder member of the "Chout Breeders Association". A fine breeder of the marque, he has just hit the road with his Chout and clocked 200 miles. Bugger!
Well that's about It so far, there is still a shedload a work to be done, a lot of thinking to do to work out stuff (exhaust is a bit wanton - made from garden furniture). Yes, I know its not a Traditional Build Chout, and I have put my slant on the theme, but I don't think I have made a bad fist of things.
Next time I write
I hope to have ride'n.
Handlebar centre blank with hole-sawed holes.