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Christmas 2011 - V-Twin Vertical
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Vertical Twin Custom V-Twin Conversion
 by Steve Salzman  Part 2 of 2 - Part 1 here

Well I can’t believe an entire year has passed since I decided to document this project. Time really does fly when you are having fun! 

We left off last winter with the 1949 Vertical Scout at the Iron Horse Corral in the capable hands of owner/Indian guru Matt Blake. When I dropped it off, it was basically a highly modified frame, wheels and some other parts. 

Watching this thing evolve was a great experience. It’s a good thing I did not get too far ahead of myself as Matt needed to make modifications as he went through the different steps of construction. Each day I wake up and thank G-d for giving us people like Matt Blake and Doug Burnett. For without these two artisans I would be SOL! (Google it)

When we left off last, we had a bunch of misc. engine and transmission parts and a somewhat modified frame. After delivering the plastic tub full of somewhat worn out Indian parts to Doug he began the long (and expensive) process of custom building a 45 CI Scout motor. 

The basis of this motor was a set of 1938 cases, barrels, and heads of which only the barrels were usable. Doug began his search to build the motor around the existing barrels. 

One day I got a call from Doug asking where I got the barrels from. I explained to him that the parts originated from a Indian dealer in Monterey Park, California. As it turns out, the barrels came to my friend Randy Benjamin who acquired them from Ed Kretz Sr. So I got me a hot set of barrels. Doug found some drilled rods and we were finally able to locate a set of 1938 heads. When Doug builds a motor, he does not mess around with second quality parts. Trying to get parts to meets his requirements was tough, but in the long run, his motors are bullet proof. 

Because of the prevalence of Chiefs throughout the hobby, many Indian collectors have not had the experience or interest in a Scout restoration. I own both bikes and I must say, the Scout in any form is just as much fun as my Chief. The drawback is the lack of available parts. As many of you, I scour the globe looking for the elusive Indian Scout part that I require. I hope that in the future more high quality parts continue to be made to bring more of these bikes back to life. Enough rambling - back to the story!

After about 6 months I got a call from Doug letting me know the engine was ready. By this time, Matt Blake had already rebuilt the front fork. With the help of Southwest Antique Motorcycles and Jim Pruessner we were able to get all the vertical parts necessary to modify the front fork to make it work properly with the heavier 45 CI motor.

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1938 engine with hot Ed Kretz barrels.

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Engine by Doug Burnett. Frame modifications by Matt Blake

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Engine in modified Vertical frame.

Timing was perfect in that Matt was ready to begin the process of properly installing the 45 V twin Sport Scout drivetrain in the Vertical twin frame. This has been done many times in the past. The conversions run the gamut from dangerous deathtraps to works of art like the” Blue Beetle” by Howard Wagner. There were also about 5 dozen conversions done by Sammy Pierce between 1967 and 1968 [see part 1 for photos of these]. These bikes were individually unique and are highly collectable in their own right. I decided that I wanted a bike that married the benefits of the lightweight Indian Vertical chrome alloy frame to the more sturdy configuration found in the earlier Sport Scout frames. This is why all the additional frame tubing was added. I also needed to ensure that the Vertical could handle the 40HP from the motor. 

To Install the motor properly several other frame mods were required. Matt removed the center down tube and added a Sport Scout type weldment to the bottom of the cut tube so the center down tube could be bolted directly to the rear engine mount. In addition, he had to add a kicker stop. Because we are using a Sport Scout rear brake, Matt decided to use the Vertical rear brake mount as the kicker mount. In addition, Matt added a seat T so a proper Mesinger 741 seat could be used. To mount the seat properly Matt used a 1939 Chief front seat T and using the original Vertical seat mount, created a bracket that would be involved with both the generator mount and the mounting of the 741 style tanks. This is better seen in the pictures.

You will also notice from the pictures the unique custom rear mounted Chief generator. This convoluted set up involves a late model Chief genny bracket, late model Chief genny, Gene Rymes solid state regulator, Shorai LI battery, custom sized belt and one beautiful hand-made custom fitted generator mounting system. I also had to hunt down an original Sammy Pierce rear generator housing and gear. This set up is so cool and works perfectly. I believe we will be using a similar set up on our next project, an Indian Sport Scout 647. More about that later.

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Multi-purpose bracket.

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Sam Pierce generator drive.

As usual, the most complicated piece was saved for last. In order for the sump to fit between the frame rails you have 3 choices.

1. Raise the engine higher in the frame so the oil sump and oil return tube can clear the frame.
2. Lower the engine in the frame so it can clear below the frame tube (not really possible).
3. Do what Matt Blake did!

I chose #3. Matt cut the frame and used hardened steel alloy to re-enforce the lower frame rail. We were then able to use a late model Chief scraper system to squeeze the entire thing between the rails. Once again, this is better seen I the pictures. I am sure there are other things he did without telling me, but those are his secrets!

You will notice in the series of pictures, that this bike was quite a process to complete. Throughout the build, Matt had to design and manufacture several pieces so that the bike would live up to his very high expectations and standards. 

Modifications include the use of a Sport Scout/Chief rear brake actuation system which used late Chief brake rods and a Chief bell crank to actuate a custom designed brake mechanism that Matt created. 

I forgot to mention that every part on this bike is either an actual Indian factory part or a custom made Indian like part to keep with the authenticity of this special. These are the small touches that make this bike very special

Finally, you will notice the custom exhaust header created by Matt to clear the frame and transmission. The coating is a new style of chrome like coating that does not “blue" after 5 minutes of use.

I have recently located an Indian Arrow speedo which looks really cool. I will be using a Stewart Warner speedo drive that came from either a 741 or a 1948 Chief. I cannot remember. I believe the only difference is the masonite gear, of which we will be using a 741 type. 

This is also a very complex process. Matt will need to create a way for the vertical front brake drum to accept the 741 speedo ring gear. This was done nicely by Howard Wagner and he was kind enough to show me his detailed pictures of how to assemble it. A hole will need to be drilled in the brake plate to receive the speedo drive. This will probably be the last part of the project.

Other neat mods include engine mounts and mounting points, front fork improvements, seat mounting, tank mounting points + so many additional things that space does not permit mentioning them all.

After all the welding, cutting and modifying was finally completed, we are now in the final steps of assembly and should be ready to run by new years. I promise a finished bike photo to all interested parties by January 31st, 2012 [update May 1st, 2012 - OK, so it took a little bit longer, but here it is!]

In addition to the many changes to the bike, Matt also sectioned and widened the rear fender, handmade the custom generator belt cover, made the tanks and put up with all my mid-stream design suggestions.

The bike will be painted black with red pinstriping in the style of a 101 Scout. As far as the finished look is concerned, I hope to have that worked out by spring so the bike can be shown at the Hanford, California swap meet.

If building a special is exciting to you, Matt Blake and the Iron Horse Corral is the man to speak with. You can find his website easily on the internet. I hope you enjoy the series of pictures included, as they tell a better story than I do. You can also see all the pictures from the build on the Iron Horse Corral facebook page.

This project was so much fun, that Matt, Doug and I will hopefully begin my next creation, an Indian Scout 647. We will be building the bike from the limited information available from Indian board meetings. Some of the information is available to read in Jerry Hatfield's book, “The Indian Scout”.

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Frame modification for sump fitting.

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Rear brake mechanism.

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Rear brake mechanism.

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Lots of modifications.

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Sectioned and widened rear fender.

Some of the information specified includes the transition to many Chief features including front end, front wheel and brake, rear wheel and brake, rear generator, 841 gas tanks, 648 cases and oiling system, I imagine a new oil tank would be needed as well. The most interesting is the modified 1941 Sport Scout rear section for better dampening, and several other Chief to Scout changes. I believe Indian was after economies of scale. They needed to produce the Scout at lower cost and this was the proper direction.

I have spoken to Doug Burnett about this project and he actually was encouraged. So far I have located the 648 cases, and the rear magneto drive that will serve as the generator drive for the rear drive chief generator. I believe Matt can make the tanks, fenders and other necessary sheet metal. 

The wheels will need to be custom made so that the Chief hubs can be used in the rear section of the 641 frame. The front wheel will be stock. I am unsure what will be necessary to use the 347 front end with the 641 front frame section. 

As you can see there are so many questions that need to be answered. Please chime in at any time via my email

Some of the more mysterious aspects of the bike are what fascinates me. There is a series of board meetings where the 647 is discussed and progress is made on the prototype or the preparation of a prototype. There is a press release, and then suddenly the 647 is never discussed again. There must be some historical documentation somewhere in someone’s collection.

I am currently offering for trade my beautiful 1940 Indian Chief police frame in exchange for Scout parts to begin this project. I will need a 641 rear section, 641 front section, 347 front end, 45 CI engine and trans etc. My motto is you gotta start somewhere. Why not here.

Over the next 24 months, I will be attempting to recreate, as best I can, such a bike. I am seeking information and contributions from any and all in this build.

Thanks Moen for letting me tell my story to all the VI readers. G-d bless the iron redskin!

Most importantly, have a wonderful holiday with your loved ones. I hope that each of you is blessed with a few warm winter days with little crosswind! I hope that all of your projects become rideable soon. Finally thanks again to Matt and Doug for without them this would be no fun at all!


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The factory could have done this. All parts are either from the Wigwam, or custom made Indian like parts,

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Not far to go now.

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Update May 1st, 2012 - The Finished Bike!

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