My father and grandfather as a hobby collected antique motorcycles in the late 1940s – 1970s. This 1942 Indian Four was part of their large collection. It was purchased at a Los Angeles Police Department auction in the early 1950s by my grandfather. It was stored in my great-grandfather’s large 2-story garage along with most of their bike collection. When purchased, it was of little collectable value other than being rare. It was ridden up until the 1970s when it was taken apart due to excessive oil consumption. It then sat in dry storage until my grandfather’s passing. We were, however, unable to find the original title to the bike and was most likely lost to a house fire that occurred decades ago.
Most of the original and rare parts were there neatly boxed up. The engine was free and turned over, however it was caked in 50-year-old grease and needed a complete overhaul. In the 1990s the frame was painted, and the wheels were rebuilt to get it rolling. The rims were chromed, and the wheels laced with heavy-duty stainless spokes. The bike was then covered and once again sat dormant until it was gifted to me.
Work started with the frame which was prepped for paint. Below is a picture of the frame stamping 442 111, which also matches the engine case. The frame had some early welding repairs to the right side of the center side mount. Other than that, the frame looked great with normal wear with no corrosion found.
Cataloging and identifying all the parts, pieces and hardware that were original. Jerry Greer Engineering was an invaluable asset, as he specializes in Indian parts and has CAD drawings of every nut and bolt piece on the bike. Using those drawings, I was able to sort out what I had and what was missing. Then all the hardware was sent to a plating company in Utah to get plated in the original silver cadmium plating.
Break-in and Test Ride: Bike starts on the first or second kick and runs great. The oil pressure was adjusted for 50 PSI at cruise warm and 25-30 at idle warm. During first start up, it will be at 65-70 cold. Clutch is nice and soft. thanks to the upgrade with 12 vs. 16 springs and shifts fine. It was ridden during the break-in for a total of 32 miles on backcountry roads. Minor leaks were fixed, and I adjusted the rear chain tensioners for a slight pull to the left. Tuned the high-and-low speed needles on the carb as best I could. I currently run 20W-50 VR1 due to its high zinc levels in the oil which these old motors need for the tappets. I also run AVGAS 100 Low Lead fuel in it to avoid CA ethanol fuels, as these old bikes originally ran on leaded gas.
Check out the pictures of the Build — at the very bottom/right side of the page.
32 miles on the rebuild and restoration.
Paint is in excellent shape. I decided to paint the Indian the original “Indian Red”. The original paint code was used. My father has a large shop, and the fenders were painted in his booth in BASF Limco Supreme 2k single stage paint. They then were cut with 2000 grit and polished over the next week.
The frame was painted by a local “restoration shop” but after finishing assembly of the frame I feel the paint job they did is of lesser quality than the rest of the black paint work that was done by myself at my parents’ shop. This will be the main reason I decided to do all the paint and body work myself. Handlebars were painted, horn and dip switch were taken apart, cleaned, and sent out for triple chrome. Aircraft wire was used in the wiring of switches due to its small size, high abrasion resistance.
The original fenders required a lot of massaging to get them ready for paint. Years of police use had not treated them well. I spent a week with a hammer and dolly to get them straight. The fender had a lot of extra holes for various lights and racks for police use. These were all welded closed. Some of the original black paint was found under the layer of primer.
After stripping to bare metal, priming, thin coat of overcoat filler, sanding again, they were then sprayed with slick sand and sanded, then primed with 2k, and then a final sand for paint.
Excellent condition. Most chrome was replated during the restoration. Rear Shocks were rebuilt with new chrome covers. Shocks installed, of note the shocks also have the correct top reinforcement cast rib on the top.
● Head work included new stainless valves, new valve guides, seats where ground and head were decked. The rocker arms were overhauled with new needle bearings.
● Crank was magna fluxed and ground.
● The Babbitt work for the main bearings were done by an antique engine builder in San Jose. New Babbitt-poured bearings were then align-bored to factory specs. New Babbitt rod bearings and small rod ends were re-bushed for new piston pins with the proper clearance specified in the overhaul manual.
● New pistons and rings installed. Cylinders were sent in for electroless Nickel plating on the outside fins, as was original from the factory. The cylinders were bored “30” oversized and fitted to the new pistons per the factory clearance limits.
● New stainless exhaust valves, springs, and keepers, along with fresh valve grind. Cylinders were decked prior to valve work. New upgraded clutch plates and disks along with new springs.
● Transmission was in great overall shape, new bearing installed, all others were in factory specs. Redline assembly lube used throughout.
● The generator is an original GDE series high out generator which was rebuilt with new sealed bearings and new brushes. This was a factory option from Indian. The Magneto was sent to the Midwest for service and testing.
● Upgraded lower steering stem bearing to a tapered bearing and replaced loose ball bearing on top bearing.
● Lower front suspension rockers overhauled with new pins.
● This exact replica reproduction fuse block was used with correct terminals.
● Original stop light switch was completely disassembled and cleaned, painted, and tested. Rear light painted, original lens cleaned and new wiring.
Wheels & Tires:
Wheels were disassembled and inspected. Upgraded sealed bearings and modern dust seals were installed to replace the old-style felt and loose bearings. New stub axle was also replaced for safety. The chrome on the rims still polished up and I decided to keep the wheels as they were. There is some minor pitting and a few chips on the edge of one rim from tire installs done in the past. Installed new Coker reproduction tires and tubes. Tires are 500 X 16.
Sold on a Bill of Sale. CA Title is available
Engine # DDB 111
Frame # 442 111
NADA Value Guide: “https://www.nadaguides.com/Motorcycles/1942/Indian/FOUR-CYLINDER-MODEL-442-78ci/Values”
Very Good $40,135
Hagerty Value Guide: “https://www.hagerty.com/apps/valuationtools/1942-Indian-Model_442”
• #1 Concours $113,000
• #2 Excellent $87,300
• #3 Good $66,300
Mecum Auctions: Various examples including $123,000 for Number DDB 101.
● All Registration Cards were saved by my great grandfather from 1954-1973 and were found in the boxes of parts.
● A complete journal of the build with pictures.
1942 Indian Four — The Build: