“Indian Jim’s” first D-I-Y restoration turns out perfect
Words & Photos: John Gunnell
“Indian” Jim Anderson, of Peoria, Ariz., was hanging out with his friend Larry Wood, in his shop near Daytona Beach, Fla. While he was there, Wood got a call about a 1947 Indian Chief that was for sale. The streamlined Chief was coming to the Antique Motorcycle Club of America antique bike meet in Eustis, Fla.
Wood said that he wasn't interested in the motorcycle, but Anderson was. When the Chief was trailered into the meet, the owner looked Anderson up. Jim went to the man’s trailer and saw an unrestored, running, original 1947 Indian Chief. He bought it right there and then, even before it was taken out of the trailer.
“I rolled it out and showed it to Dick Ollhoff, the owner of Yellow Spear Restorations in Tomahawk, Wis.,” Anderson told Hot Bike Baggers. “Ollhoff—who also happened to be attending the meet—told Anderson that he had bought a show winner just as it sat.
Dick Ollhoff had done a number of Indian restorations for Anderson over the years and although he is now retired, he invited Anderson to restore the antique motorcycle in his Wisconsin shop anytime he was able to visit and spend some time there.
“Up until then, the only thing I had done on my past restorations was write a check,” Anderson admits. Since he had recently switched to full-time living in a recreational vehicle (RV), Anderson decided to drive his "home" to Tomahawk. Once there, he did the work on his own bike under Dick Ollhoff’s supervision.
“It worked out great!” Anderson says. “Over the period of three months, I tore the old Chief down to its bare frame and brought it back up to the beautiful piece it is today. I also gained a new respect for the work that restorers do and the time and commitment it takes to restore an old motorcycle.”
It took Anderson a great deal of time to complete his project. He worked on it full time for the entire three months. “I only had one bike to do and many professional restorers work on more than one unit at the same time,” Anderson pointed out. “We got new fuel tanks, rather than rewelding the existing ones.”
Anderson reused the original fenders, frame, fork and engine. The bottom end of the engine was so “tight” that it was reused as is. However, it was the only major power plant component that wasn’t rebuilt.
A new overdrive transmission was installed, as was a modern generator. Anderson also added an electronic distributor. All upgraded parts came from Mike Tomas, the New Zealander who owns Kiwi Indian Motorcycle Co.
Other new components used on the Indian Chief included crash bars, a police style windshield, wheels and floorboards. A set of new saddle bags and a new seat were ordered from Sharon's Leather.
“What I ended up with was what I always wanted to have, an original-looking Indian Chief that was reliable and could cruise all day at 70+ mph,” says Anderson.