A Brief History of Indian Motorcycles

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A history of the Indian Motorcycle company, which for a time was the dominant American motorcycle manufacturer.

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A Brief History of Indian Motocycles Will Boutelle, M.D. Springfield Museums May 8, 2008 References ! A Century of Indian. Youngblood, Ed (2001). ! Indian Motorcycle Photo History. Hatfield, Jerry (1993). ! Golden Age of the Fours. Hodgdon, Ted (1974). ! Classic Indian Motorcycle Carroll, John (no date) ! Hendersons, Those Elegant Machines. Schultz, Richard (1994). Springfield, Massachusetts ! Manufacturing hub from mid- 19th century ! Large pool of skilled labor, plentiful power, and available capital ! At least three cars (Duryea, Knox and Rolls Royce), bicycles and motorcycles 1893 Duryea, Springfield Mass. DURYEA 1893 - Brothers Charles & Frank built first car 1895 - Second car, won 1st auto race in USA (50 miles roundtrip Chicago-Evanston) 1896 - First production run (13 units) - First auto accident (NYC, Henry Wells hit bicyclist in his Duryea, went to jail overnight) Manufactured at least until 1913 in IL, NJ, and PA Late-Model Duryea Knox Automobile 1900-1914 KNOX AUTOMOBILE Built: ! Cars ! Trucks ! Tractors ! Fire engines quot; Using Knox engines, Springfield became first mechanized fire dept. in the United States Springfield Rolls Royce George Hendee, 1884 Oscar Hedstrom Pacer, 1899 INDIAN PRODUCTION FIGURES 1901 3 1902 143 1903 376 1904 ? 1905 1000+ 1908 3000+ 1910 6000+ 1913 32000+ 1914 25000 1915 21000 Indian #268 (early 1903). With engine and gas tank, its a bicycle! From 1906 Indian catalogue, showing various products: Tandem, triplet, tri-car, tricycle and van 1907: First cataloged twin cylinder Indian. 42 degree angle between front and rear cylinder. All Indian twins through the end retained this angle 1909 Loop Frame - No longer a bicycle with a motor Steering head of 1909 Indian single. Note U-joint controls for gas and spark. Indian always concentrated on police business. Pictured below is a 1910 two-man patrol V-twin in Cincinnati. NYPD placed their first order in 1903. Indian Factories 1911 Isle of Man TT Race (Britain) ! Indian came in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place Board track racing Los Angeles 1912 1/3 mile tack, 90 mph Eddie Hasha with big base 8-valve twin, Sept. 1912, on steeply banked board track. Photo taken just before an accident killed him, another racer and six spectators in Newark, NJ This was the only time that Motorcycle racing ever made the front page of the NY Times 1912 Indian with Colonial sidecar made of wicker 1914 Indian with Indian sidecar 1913 Indian twin with spring frame Major Innovation, but nobody else followed Note early buddy seat hanging off the back Ford Model T: Hauled five people Kept you dry with top up Got cheaper to buy every year Killed market for motorcycle as cheap transportation Oscar Hedstrom, Indians engineering father, retires at age 42 in 1913 Oscar Hedstrom, circa 1913 Hendee Special Electric Starting, but no generator Pancho Villa Its hard to understand why he needed electric starting, with no place to charge his batteries for miles around. Two years later, he was being chased by General John J. Pershing George Hendee Leaves Indian in 1915. Now both the founders are gone. Gun Car, 1915 marketed to British army 1919 spring-frame military Indian. Note gas lamp and brass levers. 1917 Model O First Indian Attempt at a lightweight twin Cylinders opposed, front and aft Harley riders called it the Model Zero due to its low power Erwin Cannonball Baker Not too bright, but he could stay awake for days May 1914: San Diego/New York 11 days, 12 hrs, 10 min August 1915: Canada/Mexico 3 days, 9 hrs, 15 min 1917: 24-hr. record:1534.25 miles All on Indians Publicity photo of Baker on Indian Great Motorcycles, bad business Scout, 1921 Starting to look like modern motorcycle Scout primary drive -- helical gears in oil bath. Led to the chant,You cant wear out an Indian Scout 1923 Chief First 74 cubic inch motor 1922 Chief with sidecar Orie Steele Pre-eminent hill climber with trophies, on 1924 Scout 1925 Indian Prince 2nd attempt at lightweight motorcycle 1926 souped up overhead valve Prince (Still didnt sell) Typical small-town Indian agency of 1920s Dealer and wife in front of showroom Lineage of the future Indian Four Motocycle Will Henderson, designer of: Henderson, 1912-1917 Ace 1922-1926 Indian bought out Ace after bankruptcy 1912 Henderson First year of manufacturing First motorcycle to drive around the world (driven by C.S. Clancy) Mr. & Mrs. Will Henderson on 1912 Henderson 1917 Henderson Company sold to Schwinn Dec, 1917 Will and Tom Henderson kept on as consultants, but Will soon left to start Ace Motorcycle Company Ace Designed by W. Henderson Sept. 1922: Cannonball Baker rode Ace LA-NY (3332 miles) in 6 days, 22 hours and 52 minutes Worlds Fastest Motorcycle 129 mph solo, 106 mph with sidecar Will Henderson Killed Dec. 1922, while testing the new Ace on city streets 1927 Indian Ace Indian Car Silver Arrow Outboard Motor Non-motorcycle products fail 1930-1939 Du Pont to the Rescue Du Pont Letter, 1930 1930 Hillclimber 1932 Scout Pony 1936 Chief (restored 2005) 1936 Chief view from saddle 1938 Four Cylinder restored 1999 1938 Four Cylinder 1939 Traffic car 1941 Military Model 841 Sport Scout, 1941 1941 Chief 1941 Four Cylinder 1947 Chief and Sidecar ! Owned by Jim Seidell ! 3 miles from Chesterfield Center ! Jim owns several other Indians 1947 Chief and wife chief restored 1998 wife in original unrestored condition) Indians Last Mistake 1949 Scout 1949 Scout engine Poorly engineered Poorly tested Bad electrics Not a V-twin Dealers cant sell them Dealers give up and turn to Harley When engineering fails, turn to PR Erwin Cannonball Baker (who won his first race in 1909), pulled out of retirement to tout the vertical twin Indian. 1948 We dont know who the Motorcycle Queen was When engineering fails, turn to PR (Part 2) ! Jane Russell presented with her own Indian Vertical Twin, 1948 ! No one knows whether she ever rode it When engineering fails, turn to PR (Part 3) ! Vaughn Monroe (who actually rode motorcycles) brought in for photo on Indian ! Not recorded as to how many Indians he was given 1950 Chief Same stroke, but bored out to 80 cubic inches Plunger fork 1950-53 Except for fork, bored cylinder and minor engine & body changes, basically the same as 1948 Chief The dealers had all gone over to Harley Indian Factory 1952-53 ! Assembling the last Indians ! Indian name about to be sold to distributors of English motorcycles ! Dealers not told of production termination 1947 and 1905 Indians Not the first and not the last, but quite a transition over 42 years Last of the Breed ! Indian Factory 1953 ! Last non-police bikes built ! The very last of 1953 production went to the NYPD who had placed their first order for Indians in 1903 1953 Indian Factory (1981) ! Indian long gone ! Crime-ridden neighborhood ! George Hendees office windows in large arch on corner Interior of Indian Factory, 1981 Building is now used as an apartment building Indian Factory, 1984 ! Large parts of the original factory were demolished ! What remains has been renovated for housing Now What ??? European Indian Rally Scotland, 1994 Indian Racing Team Daytona Beach, Florida Esta Manthos Collection of Antique Motorcycles given to Springfield Museums in June 2007 Last Indian Day July 2005 Esta Manthos presenting Oscar Hedstrom Best of Show trophy to Will Boutelle, MD for 1938 Indian Four Cylinder Proposed Museum of Springfield History Questions

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