Joining the Antique Motorcycle Club of America (AMCA) exposes one to three prominent activities; formally judged motorcycle shows, swap meets and organized road runs. As I became familiar with this environment it was increasingly apparent that woven throughout these three pastimes was the regular appearance of an appealing type of machine I'd not encountered to that degree in single marque clubs heretofore, what we'll call that faithful dusty old trail horse. All the regulars seemed to have one. No matter how large and grand their collections, they always made room on their trailer for their most comfortable pair of "old boots" when heading off to an event. Ranging from very valuable original paint machines to highly valued crusty old veterans, these machines are elevated to almost family member status. I was to poor to afford the former and to young to have accumulated the necessary miles and patina on one of the latter - my stand-up basket case 47 Chief having sat mocked up for years now and not ride able - basically I was going to have to create my own instantly dusty old trail horse with original looking paint and fixings.

That opportunity was not long in coming as it turned out. Casually settling my hotel bill with my crew for 94' Bike Week following arrival home saw me get weak kneed and write a check for ten times the amount originally due to the "Objecto De Funk" from the indignity of crossing yet another auction plank later in the month, probably to go unsold as it had at Daytona. As a reasonably crusty/greasy matching high numbered un-abused 1946 with less than 20k original miles it was the perfect start for my "instant" old pair of boots. Just like those 100 year old paintings I'd developed a knack for touching up at a local interior decorating firm in my youth, MrChiefster - as he was now referred to - would be carefully re-patinaed up a few notches on the scale from Rat Bike to dusty trail horse and made reliable enough to deliver down that trail at the same time.

Here's hoping you younger chaps will be suitably inspired to go a different direction with that moldy basket case; your own instant old pair of boots. Why wait till you've gotten old riding one to have it look that way, build it dusty today and get a head start!

Some Noteworthy Features of the 1946 Indian Chief
Chainguard surrounds kicker arm (early production)
Small sheetmetal shield covering over generator
Indian face tank badges
xxx vertical hand ammeter/slant faced ammeter on late production
lower fork link sourced from wartime 741 model
boat-type front fender light
Rubber mounted rear muffler hanger
Spring cushioned boat-type starburst horn

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

10/20/11 - After 41 years it was time to freshen this motor up, top to bottom and tend to a few chassis details, View a 47 photo sequence of its freshening over the Winter of 2010 with captions here.

With a reasonable amount of attention to detail and minimal modification at the outset when going over one of these machines, Indians of this era can be made very reliable, MrChiefster's never failed to start or get us home drama free... as of yet. Here are a few tips to help ensure yours is a more pleasant journey than ordeal.

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