What Indian Offers For 1938…

A visit to the factory, and with the engineer, discloses many new departures in design and performance

From the November 1937 Issue of Motorcyclist magazine

It is a natural human trait to want to know what makes a piece of machinery tick. Probably that is why the average motorcyclist gets as much thrill out of visiting a motorcycle factory and viewing new models as he does from watching some exciting phase of competition.

Next to an actual trip to the factory comes a visit with someone who has been there.

It was this writer’s fortune to witness what might be called the unveiling of Indian models for 1938 and what follows is to be considered in the light of a visit in which an attempt shall be made to disclose the improvements and changes for the year ahead.

Plans of more than just one year have been incorporated in the new models. The trend of the improvements has been to bring to motorcycling, probably for the first time, some of the refinements and practices of the automobile industry, insofar as it is mechanically possible to do so. The improvements are toward cleaning up the machines, through presenting solid surfaces and hiding wires, providing accessibility to all parts of the machine, smoother and more quiet performance, and cooler running. Streamlining is a fundamental consideration throughout and appointments, as they are called upon cars, may this year be called appointments on the motorcycle.

Certain of the changes apply to most of the very complete line of models and it is appropriate that these be considered first just as the engineer has designed them and built them into the various machines.

One new departure in 1938 is the instrument panel assembly. Standard equipment will be a 3-color combination (two shades of grey and one of red) in the speedometer dial. The indicating hand is streamlined. The ameter matches the speedometer in color. The switch, conceived in a new waterproof design, is moulded in a material with color to match those of the first two units.

A streamlined, highly polished tear drop panel covers the entire assembly. It is interesting to note that a convenient feature of the whole is that the instruments are mounted on the frame, not on the tanks. The panel housing is lifted with the removal of two screws, thus tanks may be removed without disturbing the assembly. The entire group may be considered as being sunk into the tanks which makes possible a small and very pleasing panel.

Tanks are wider. They lend an appropriate feeling of massiveness to that part of the machine which affords an artistic balance with engine, wheels, etc.

The Indian head design on the tanks appears much as usual, except that the word “Indian” is accomplished in reverse, which means that it shows in the same color as the tank.

Handlebar grips are in gray to match the instruments. Grip angles are new and more comfortable, approaching the semi-sport position.

A new design high-low beam switch for the headlight is mounted on the bar, being smaller and neater than formerly.

The horn sports a new shield which has been revised to practically cover the back of that unit. It is now in an “upper” position on all models, the headlight being in “low” position. ‘This enhances the streamlined side view.

On the front fork there now appears a shield which gives a solid front to the airstream and which at the same time covers all controls at that point on the equipment.

The spring seat post on the Chief has a longer travel, hence softer action. The mast tube of the frame extends to the top of the machine and is equipped with a long bushing to give smoother movement to the seat post plunger.

Three-point support of the saddle is possible through a new and longer bracket, and likewise greater fore and aft adjustment. The saddle top has a newly designed pommel-somewhat narrower and certainly more comfortable.

Standard batteries combine a metal and moulded rubber top. They are 29 ampere-hour capacity, or a 5 ampere-hour increase over former batteries. Plates are set crosswise in stead of lengthwise for greater battery life and strength of plates. Plates are shock mounted in the case.

There is a new moulded stop-light switch, neater in appearance and the stop-tail-light itself has a reflector type lense, which is specified as standard in an increasing number of States.

As a part of the program to conceal wires where possible and still make for accessibility, snap-in terminals have been used liberally. The same style as found practical on cars has been used. One fine illustration is the snap-in terminal block on the rear fender. The rider can disconnect all central wires and power by pulling these terminals, when he wishes to work on his machine.

High output generators with two-stop regulation for special purposes such as radio, are available on special order.

Gear shift knobs are hard and screw on with metal screw inserts.

On interchangeable wheel machines, front and rear wheel roller bearing sizes have been increased for greater bearing capacity.

All the foregoing are general improvements, and as already stated, apply to all models.

Now we come to a consideration of the special and major improvements by model. Far reaching on the Chief in its influence on smooth operation is the new oil pump. A combined oil pump and distributor drive is set on a new cam case cover. The feed pump is of plunger type with a 100% increase in capacity. This extra flow of oil means better cylinder wall lubrication, increased bearing life, lower oil consumption, and cooler running motors.

The return pump, from the sump, is gear type and can handle many times the capacity of the feed pump. Thus the oil is more readily cleaned out of the crankcase, and the oil circulation is again enhanced. This provides further for rapid cooling of the motor. As any rider will appreciate, coolness of motor operation is a fundamental principle in accomplishing the best motorcycle performance.

The distributor dogs into the distributor shaft, facilitating retiming by eliminating the necessity for gear matching.

Fins on the 74 have been continued lower, concealing formerly exposed valve guides. This adds to the heavier appearance of the motor, in proportion to the wider tanks.

Last year’s aluminum cylinder heads have been retained.

Cooler running spark plugs have been developed by Edison-Splitdorf and will be standard. They are marketed under the Indian name.

Pistons are again cam ground T-slot. A change, however, has been made in rings. A more narrow ring is used and a more effective oil control ring.

The cam case breather, formerly exposed, is now combined with the pump unit.

Four holes have been drilled in the crankshaft to feed the crank rollers, obviously assuring better lubrication thereof.

The Chief rides with perfection of balance and gives prompt response to every control. It should meet the increasing demands of today’s active rider who wishes to vary the monotony of pavement riding with the stiff grinds of back roads, or trans-continental touring. Smooth, beautiful and enduring, it is a man’s machine through and through.

While we are visiting about these improvements by model it is unnecessary to repeat. Suffice to say in connection with the 30.50 Scout, that like the 4 it carries the same new equipment in battery, horn, handlebar grips, gear shift knob and lubricating holes in the crankshaft. It is fitted with a new high compression angle-fin cylinder head and combustion chamber furnishing more power and greater gas economy. Carburetor has been revised to help toward greater economy. This model retains its 1937 oil pump, that having been found ample. It has a muffler separate from the exhaust pipe that can be removed.

This job is the lightweight in the family and provides those qualities for which it was designed. New blood within the motorcycle circle will appreciate the 30.50 for it requires a minimum of physical exertion from one uninitiated in riding technique. Again because of its lightness and further because of its economy it should appeal more than ever to the individual who would turn to pleasurable and cheap transportation to or from work.

Within the fraternity and the increasing number of women riders and the lightweight fan. The 30.50 offers what they require in weight, yet its snappy pick-up and high cruising speed will enable them to keep up with their more heavily mounted friends.

After riding the ‘38 Junior Scout a person finds himself thinking, “There should be one of these in every family.”

On the 45 Sport Scout likewise are found the features of the 74 such as- larger tanks with a greater capacity, decorations, fork shield, low headlight which it already had, horn, high-low headlight beam switch, the saddle top with new shaped pommel, saddle bracket, battery, stop light switch, concealed wiring, terminal block, handlebar grips and angle, gear shift knob and oil pump.

The cam case cover is made smoother and similar to that of the Chief.

Exhaust pipes are larger to give greater exhaust outlet capacity for cooler running engine.

The crank shaft feature is the same as are spark plugs, pistons and rings.

The front fork stem construction is increased in size for greater strength, and this helps also in appearance. The handlebar bracket matches the fork stem construction.

In summary of this model it may be said that the same attention has been paid to refinements, improvements, appearance and performance in connection with it, that has been accorded the Chief. It preserves much of the lightness of the Junior, yet borrows part of that surging power of the Chief. Therein lies its desirability as a class “C” competition unit. Withal it has balance, ruggedness and the new grace of line. A 45 is perhaps the greatest all around model for the American pleasure rider and motorcycle sportsman.

Leaving some of the best to the last, if there can be any such thing as a comparison in this wide range of improvements, we must consider that favorite with many riders, the four.

In brief, it too enjoys the refinements listed on the other models. In the motor comes a complete new design. The cylinders have been cast in two blocks and are mounted four in line. Beautiful horizontal finning of both blocks creates a distinctive appearance for this model. Valve and tappet mechanism has been fully enclosed with oil tight, finned covers. Similar overhead rocker covers are used. These covers a re all quickly removable for purpose of adjustment, following the best principles in current automotive practice.

Side exhaust and overhead intake is incorporated. Bore and stroke is as before. A new cam shaft has been designed. Push rods for the intake rockers are fully enclosed. A new cam ground T-slot piston with narrow rings is used. Cylinder heads are removable and are of heat treated cast aluminum. More power is obtained and remarkable reduction in cylinder head temperature through these heads. Of course serviceability is ready due to the removable head.

The motor has a single Marvel carburetor

For the first time in motorcycle practice the four affords an automatically heated and heat regulated inlet manifold. A thermo coil installed in the inlet manifold operates a valve controlled by vacuum, which by-passes the right amount of exhaust gases through a special heating chamber on the side of the inlet manifold, and automatically keeps the manifold at a temperature which produces the smoothest possible carburetion, plus the greatest gas economy that has even been considered in a motorcycle engine of this size.

It is common knowledge that motor cars have used this principle in securing their higher gas mileage with large engines. It makes it possible to use any kind of fuel, since the heating arrangement facilitates the vaporization of the heavier components in the lower test gasolines.

The exhaust manifold and muffler are very much streamlined.

An entirely new clutch gives smooth starting and cuts clean for shifting.

A redesigned oil pump makes possible a uniform pressure throughout the entire range of normal cruising speeds.

The four is available with battery ignition only-and it’s again the distributor type.

Quietness is a noticeable accomplishment in the new four. Enclosure of all moving parts is, of course, a factor in this. Likewise the valve closing the exhaust outlet at cooler temperatures tends toward the same end.

Naturally the four-in-line has a massive appearance. But, due to blending of fin lines with general lines, that very massiveness has been moulded into an un usually smooth flowing picture of streamlining. This factor, combined with the ultra cool running due to the new departure in heat regulation, and its epochal quietness not only recalls the title its makers have given it, but also puts new meaning into that term, “An Aristocrat of motorcycles.”

The fastidious will be interested in color combinations. Five standard selections are available: Indian Red; Chinese Red and Black; Maroon and Orange, with Green striping; Mohawk Green and Seminole Cream, with Gold striping; Navajo Blue and Apache Gray, with Gold striping.

While prices as listed in Indian advertising may appear, in some instances, to be higher-it will be found by actual analysis that they are lower. The explanation lies in the fact that many items formerly considered as extras are this year included as standard equipment. The list price including these additional items is lower than was the total when all items were purchased.

All the important features of the new models have been carried into the Dispatch Tow and Traffic Car units as well as other minor improvements in keeping with the development of the entire Indianline.

Thus it was that we listened to the engineer, feasted our eyes on new beauty and rode.

We hope our written visit may convey even a small part of the enthusiasm we felt.

That is Indian for 1938

Top-The most powerful twin of the Indian line, the 1938 Chief, beautifully streamlined and including all the major improvements of latest Indian design. Center-The aristocratic new Indian 4 cylinder “In Line” with cylinders cast in pairs, thermostatically operated intake manifold temperature control, automatically lubricated push rods, lappets and rockers-an embodiment of many new departures in motorcycle design. Bottom-The Indian Sport Scout, featuring in addition to all general improvements a built-in instrument panel with 120-mile lighted “Corbin” speedometer. Inset the position of the headlight and horn has been redesigned on the Chief and the Indian 4 models. Note the dust shields that have been fitted to the upper portion of the front fork.
The Indian 4 has a completely new engine. Cylinders are cast in pairs and it has removable aluminum heads, fully enclosed pushrods, tappets and rockers, automatically lubricated tappets and rockers, new silent muffler and exhaust manifold, heat controlled inlet manifold, new oil pump by-pass, new cam ground “T” slot pistons, improved “free action” clutch and other regular Indian features.
The Indian Junior Scout for 1938, an economical twin, low priced, fully equipped and very much a lightweight. It embodies all the fine points, workmanship and material as used in the more expensive machines. New features include, in addition to previously adopted streamline features, new horn and mounting, large 29 ampere hour battery, improved carburetor, new “angle fin” heads, dry sump oiling, hydraulic lubrication fittings, forward shift lever, large gas tanks with a main and reserve section, large filler caps and distributor ignition
The new Indian instrument panel is streamlined in appearance, to harmonize with the tank lines, offers no sharp corners for accumulation of dirt and is easily removed. The panel includes a 120-mile lighted speedometer, a new ammeter and switch with waterproofed switch lock. The whole assembly sets into the tank. The color scheme throughout is aluminum, bright red and gray.