California Highway Patrol Indian Chief

THIS now fully-restored 1940 California Highway Patrol Indian Chief was originally purchased from Hollister in California and shipped to Australia in 2011. It was essentially an incomplete basket-case which had been sitting idle since the early 1980’s. it was found through an eBay auction listed by a friend of the owner who had a bike shop in Hollister; he had purchased the bike from a California Highway Patrol Auction in 1971; $10 for the frame and $10 for the engine. It was the 1970’s and the new owner turned the bike into a chopper, a far cry from its origins as Highway Patrol Bike. He rode the chopper around Hollister for many years before the engine failed and he tore it down to re-build, and there it sat until I purchased the bike in 2010. 

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It was in a rough condition when it arrived in Australia with some of the parts unusable. At the time I had just finished my 741 Bobber Scout and was enjoying riding that. The Indian Chief was going to be a long restore, that I knew, and looking through The History of a Classic American Motorcycle by Tod Rafferty, I came upon a picture of an 1940 Indian Chief California Highway Police bike restored by Bob Stark and I knew that was the bike that I wanted to build.

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A lot of nights were spent looking for and sourcing the right parts — some came from Kiwi, some from Greer, some from friends, others from eBay — and slowly the bike was coming together one parcel at a time. 

Along the way some real bargains were found: the RM magneto; the S&M Lamp Company lights were a great find; the Motorola radio head is a prized item (need some radio boxes if anyone has any). The winter screen was a great find and came from Portland, Oregon, all the way to Perth. And I found a company in Washington that reproduces the California Highway Patrol stars for the tank.

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The Indian Chief has been torn down to bare metal and rebuilt with as many original parts as possible; additional parts were sourced from auctions and sheds. Due to the age of the bike and its previous history, some parts had to be replaced with new parts. Old parts were restored, cleaned, cad-plated; and where possible, new bearings installed.

All restoration was done here in Western Australia over a period of six years with the help of many. To name a few: Andrew, Chris, Jim, John, Graeme and Wayne. A lot of time and support from family and friends has assisted in the restoration of this bike and I must send out big thanks to all who helped and contributed.

Indian Chief Specs

Standard 74 cubic inch Indian motor.

Indian Bonneville cams and lifters.

Linkert M6BA; Indian Bonneville carb.

Standard three-speed Indian gearbox.

Original engine had 1942 cases (CDB319M) but they needed a lot of work; 1947 Indian NOS magneto engine cases were found in Australia.

Original NOS full winter screen.

RM Edison Splitdorf Magneto with a hot spark.

Original Motorola radio head (still looking for radio boxes).

Original friction drive Sterling Siren.

Original S&M Lamp Company Los Angeles Police Lights.

Original tinned, soft soldered, fuel tanks.

New front and rear guards supplied by Kiwi Indian.

Original configuration: Left-hand accelerator and right-hand advance/retard of magneto timing.

Foot clutch and hand shifted.

18 x 4.50 four-ply tyres.

words by Michael Tolj; photos by Julius at Tower Photographics

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You’ll find more photos of the California Highway Patrol Indian Chief at Mary K & the 1940 Indian Chief.

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