Photos & Post by Jack McIntyre: Being the Artistry in Iron Photographer each year gives me the opportunity to photo some of the worlds best builds, and this 1941 Indian by Jon MacDowell of Bonneville Customs, caught my eye immediately during setup. Just so you all know, I offered this bike to the print magazines, and after learning it would be “possibly” a year in the file cabinet before consideration, I checked with Jon and received the permission to post this amazing bike. Enjoy the images below. I shot them at the 2017 Las Vegas Bikefest, my favorite event of the year, every year!
Enjoy this write up from Jon, he describes the creation of this masterpiece.
JON MacDOWELL: I bought this 1941 Indian Scout 741 as a basket case on eBay about a year ago. I spent the next 9 months tracking down parts, some I got from Jerry Greer’s Engineering and some from Kiwi Indian, but I had to buy many from eBay all over the world. I found some parts in the US, some in Australia, and some from Sweden. I started building the bike after winning the Fremont Street show at Las Vegas Bike Week last year. I started building the frame and front end while I sent the motor off to Carl Pusser at Walkin Tall cycles to bore the cylinders out to 37ci and rebuild the bottom end. After Carl shipped it to me, it was destroyed in shipping by Fed Ex, so damaged that they couldn’t deliver it to me. I had to shop it back and forth to Carl twice as we tried to repair it. BTW, FedEx has denied that they were at fault and refused to pay out the insurance we purchased for it. Yes, I’m still mad about this to this day. I didn’t have a complete motor until around May of this year, in the meantime I had to try to build everything else that I could without a motor. I was missing the primary cover and couldn’t find any around, so I machined an inner and outer primary and converted the setup to an open primary, I also used this machining opportunity to relocate the generator to the top of the transmission. The inner primary is machined to mount the generator above the tranny. I mounted a model 65A 12V generator and used a generator gear from a 1946 Indian Chief to torun the generator. The gear fits into the primary chain to turn it. The engine case and transmission are painted Indian red by Blair Peterson of Creative Custom Paint in Idaho Falls, ID. They are the only items painted on the bike, the rest is polished Stainless steel and aluminum. I decided to forego the Linkert carb and build a custom manifold to adapt an Amal 930 carb to the engine.
I designed and build the frame and front end, the welds were done by Rhett Patner of Power Needy The front end is a custom springer, the internal and external springs are opposing tensions and laced through plates mounted to the forks. The bike rides on a custom pair of Black Bike Wheels with Stainless hubs and powder coated rims, the front is a 23″ Bridgestone knobby and the rear is a 19″ Firestone ANS and runs a pre-unit Triumph brake and sprocket.
The handlebars are hand bent from 1″ Stainless, with an internal throttle capped off by a set of cast aluminum grips from Speed Foundry in Texas.
To make the tanks, I made a trip down to Vegas and took a Shaping class from Cristian Sosa at Sosametalworks. The tanks are shaped on the outside from 14ga aluminum. The gas caps are hand machined from aluminum bar and rotate sideways to open.
The fuel filter and oil filter are handblown glass pieces that I had a local guy do in Boise, Idaho. I machined the cap pieces to fit the glass and rubber mounted them to the frame. The oil bag is hand shaped polish aluminum and sits in the frame under the filter.
The final touch is the seat, made from 1/2″ thick solid brass mounted to 1/8″ aluminum plate. We built a custom form for a brake and pressed the two pieces together to make the shape of the seat. From there we hand cut the brass and filed it down, then rolled the edges of the aluminum at the legs so it looked like an old vintage motorcycle leather seat. It sits on top a compression spring that runs through the frame.
I started the majority of the work on this bike in May when I got the engine finally back. I work a normal day job and have a wife and 2 kids. Most of my time working on the bike came after I put the kids to bed, I would work from 10 at night until 1 or 2am. I spent nearly every night working in the shop until the show in October. Many weekends throughout August and September I loaded up the bike and parts and drove 4 hours to Idaho Falls to work in the Bonneville Customs shop with Mark Shell. To say I was relieved to finish the bike and get down to the Artistry in Iron show is an understatement, I was burnt out by the end of it. But after nearly a 2 month break, I’m back in shop and building more parts.
Check Jon out on facebook, see his other work’s of art: https://www.facebook.com/jon.macdowell