Disclosure. The Indian Scout is at the top of my list of preferred motorcycles and it always has been. Something I can’t explain but that many around the world share with me. And among them custom builder Jesse Bassett at The Gasbox who re-designed and built this gorgeous custom Indian started out as a 1940 Military model but restyled with the late 20’s Scout design. For sure Charles B. Franklin, the original Indian Scout designer, would be very happy to know that his work, almost 90 years later, continues to inspire and motivate so many young builders
Jesse told me that he got started on this project because his girlfriend informed him that the 2012 Quail Exhibition in Carmel, CA would this year celebrate the Indian Motorcycles brand. Jesse started planning the type of Indian bike he wanted to build for the show, and lucky him, found a very rusted 1940 741 Indian frame on eBay. From the day he received this frame, it was an almost non-stop race of 3 months (7 days a week) and 18 hours (he kept track) until he was able to fire his bike and load it on a railer on April 29, 2012 in direction of the Quail Lodge in Carmel.
First the top frame rail was cut and raised to fit the shape of the fuel tanks. Then it was stretched 4” to move the down tube in front of the generator instead of behind i. In doing so, the line of the motorcycle is cleaned up, avoiding the generator to stick out. To improve the overall bike stance the lower girder links were stretched 3/4″ for rake and the front axle position was raised 3″ for the correct ground clearance in order to accommodate both front and rear 19” wheels wrapped with Dunlop rubber. Top of the girder was narrowed 2” to eliminate the bulky look.
The fuel reservoir was hand formed from sheets of .080” aluminum to copy the look of 1920’s Indian tanks. Handlebars were made from cutting up sets of Harley Panhead bars to utilize original internals, then designed after the original Indian scout bars. The front hub is original Indian and the rear is triumph. The headlamp is a 1920’s automotive lamp with the bezel was hand spun from brass to copy the original since it was in too bad condition to re-use.
For the drive train, the Indian engine was rebuilt with new hard parts. A Norton Commando 4-speed transmission was chosen to replace the OEM Indian 3-speed. New engine plates were made and the scout primary was cut in half, offset and mated with a 1920’s Indian outer primary. All of this was done in order to accommodate the Norton diaphragm clutch. The Norton engine sprocket was bored out and welded to the machined down Indian front sprocket, then re-hardened.
All aluminum was polished, all steel was nickel plated, and all cast iron was electroless plated. The entire frame and fork were nickel plated then painted Indian red. You will not be surprised to know that this Indian machine placed second in the Custom Class at the Quail Show. A very proud moment for Jesse riding his flawless custom Indian on stage to collect his award. The Gasbox (copyright Scott Pease Photography for Cyril Huze)