Billy Hughes and the Indian Scout
Billy Hughes | Published on 3/19/2023
This reads like a movie script, so jump right in and enjoy the story in his own words:
The yellow 1928 45 in.³ Indian Scout is named Daisy after my Aunt. I give all of my bikes names and a gremlin bell when completed. The name usually comes sometime during the restoration and honors the relative keeping the name and the memories alive thru the motorcycle. She is an early 1928 short frame with a long tank. This set up is preferred for the “Wall of Death” because the short frame makes it easier to go around the wooden barrel. Later in 1928 the frame grew in length and the tank got shorter. This combination is the 101 Scout built from 1928 to 1932. Some people say this is the best motorcycle Indian ever made in terms of the ride and handling because of the geometry.
A friend of mine found the basket case at the Wauseon Ohio meet. He remembered me buying a pile of parts to get a particular piece for another restoration. That pile came with a 1928 transmission. This basket case did not have a transmission. Because I bought a pile of parts this motorcycle came to me because I already had the transmission!
It took 10 years to find a gas tank. It was $1000 and the bottom was rotten. So, I didn’t buy it and looked for another and found a second a couple years later for $1200 and it had the same rotten bottom. I finally found a reproduction gas tank from Sweden from my friend Ziggy. With the sheet metal being so hard to find. I decided to make it a bobber using 50s scooter fenders. Carl Sorenson at Apopka Indian started to put the motor together and found that the cylinders needed to be sleeved. Two years later I got the sleeved cylinders back from Walker Machine. And then it took two more years to find the cams. None of these pieces are being reproduced. Eventually I found the cams in Carl’s shed in a coffee can when I was picking parts for another project. When the motor was coming together it had iron heads, but I found a set of aluminum heads on Ebay that only needed the spark plug hole repaired. I used these heads to dissipate heat better and lighten up the bike.
The rear brake on the 1928 Scout is a band brake that doesn’t stop very well. I used a 1971 Suzuki drum brake that actually works. This is an old race trick from the flat trackers. It has a vintage look and stops really well. If you didn’t know what you’re looking for you would never pick it up. The motor runs off a Splitdorf model S Magneto. The front and rear lights plus the horn run off a 12-volt Koboto dynamo hidden inside a hollowed out 6 volt Indian generator case. This gives the ability to have bright modern 12-volt bulbs and better light for safety.
It then got a paint job by Frank Craft restorations. He had a little of the Dodge Viper yellow left from painting his hot rod. Being a small bike, I wanted something highly visible and the yellow did the trick, leading to the name Daisy. I had problems getting the bike to run after final assembly. She had a bind when kicking and would not fire. I took the bike to my friend Jeff Butz in Virginia. He was able to determine that the timing was off and the Magneto needed a shim kit. Kent Thompson was able to supply the special bolts and the shim kit.
I brought Daisy to the Sunshine Chapter after getting the carburetor adjusted. At the Municipal Stadium in Daytona, I was able to get help from a few friends and find that the float was sinking in the carburetor. A rubber ducky float was procured, and the bike still didn’t run. There were some crucial adjustments made to the spark plug wires, the float and the shims were adjusted in a different direction for the bind on the Magneto. After a little starting fluid and these adjustments Daisy came to life.
Everybody was really excited to see this machine come back to life. This is what the Antique Motorcycle Club does. We bring back old motorcycles and develop friendships and camaraderie in this passion for those beautiful old machines. They connect us to each other and the past. They bring good memories to share at the next swap meet campfire. I rode the bike around the meet and then out onto the road. Everyone that saw me riding that motorcycle was smiling and I was so excited to finally ride my bike. The Scout is way faster than the Chief through the gears. It revs up faster and outperforms the chief in the turns and maneuverability. I brought her around the front of the stadium and entered her in the period modified class for the Sunshine Chapter and received third place.