The 1936 Indian four, a complete new design and more than ever an aristocrat among motorcy
It was back in November, 1934. On the third floor of the great Indian plant that boasts over nine and one-half miles of floor space a sandy-haired, shirt sleeved engineer stood outside a small concrete room set in the center of the test department, a room that stood, stark and alone, like some forlorn, deserted shack in the center of a plain. In front of the sandy-haired man was a board panel with bracketed instruments. A steady, muffled roar indicated there was life in the concrete square. Through heavy, non-shatterable glass the sandy-haired one watched. His hands moved levers. The roar from within deepened in tone. The multiple dials crept slowly across the white faces.
The first of the 1936 model Indian power-plants was rumbling steadily; a short chain gearing the bellowing engine to a dynamometer. Wires, controls and leads ran from many places and the dials on the outside panel told a story to the engineer. The creeping dials told of super-performance; of superb running at sustained high speeds; of low engine heats. They told a tale of minimum oil consumption, of soul-satisfying tick-over idling and one by one as they crept their way across the dial faces they spelled out success to an engineer whose career had been wrapped up in the production of air-cooled engines for a decade.
The 1936 Indians were ready for the severest test of all, the test of the roaring road.
In the months that followed grizzled testers who had seen years of service poured out machines from the factory. One went north and anxious eyes watched the performance of Dry Sump oiling in zero and near zero climates. Another went his lonely way to the south and checked and checked again in summer temperatures. Still another to the beach, where hour after hour a spinning, screaming motor was run wide open, full throttle, in an effort to break it up. Here it was a check of top revolutions per minute for stamina of pistons that were newly designed and destined for the greatest Indian of all, the 1936. Here it was that the greatest forward step in the history of motorcycle engineering, distributor ignition, received its baptism of fire.
The requirements were many; it must idle at tick-over speeds. It must start with no annoying kick-back. It must literally run forever at something around 5000 r.p.m. with no sign of flagging, no tendency to falter. Coils must last under terrific load, must deliver full, hot sparks under drenching storms and in summer heat; condensers must be as stable for stamina as the very bolts that held the cylinders.
It was more than just engineering! It was another forward step in Indian progress.
It marked another milestone in development of new equipment, styled for today’s cyclist-and so revising the entire motorcycle set-up that the machine of 1930 is as obsolete as yesterday’s newspaper.
Dry Sump oiling had come, the same oiling system that flew the great China Clipper across Pacific seas; leaf spring front fork suspension for long wheelbase machines, primary drive chains running in an inclosed oil bath, aluminum cylinder heads, as smart from an engineering standpoint as tomorrow’s wisecrack, wider fork assemblies, unit power-plants… each and every feature tending to a greater Indian for 1936… a greater Indian based on engineering principles that are the principles of today and hold no brief for yesteryear.