THE INDIAN SCOUT.
By ARNOLD RADCLYFFE.
-IT is now just twenty-five years since the first Indian.
motor-cycle was built ; during this period many models have seen the light of day, and many of the earliest are still running about the roads at the present time with enormous mileages to their credit. Throughout the two and a half decades the characteristics of the Indian have remained fundamentally the same ; the old single geared model, the Red Indian, the Blue Indian, the Powerplus, the Scout, and the Chief, all of them had a wonderful capacity for “road burning.” To be the owner of one of the old Red Indians was in those days the equivalent of being the owner of an aeroplane to-day. They were credited with super-normal speeds and stupendous acceleration and the ma,n who could mount one successfully at his first attempt was looked upon as a hero or an acrobat. On two occasions I have seen a 7.9 leap away leaving its owner or prospective owner biting the dust. The acceleration was usually connected with the twist grip, but in reality the Schebler carburetter should take the credit. A Scb.ebler with a Bowden control is just as violent (if you wish it to be) as it is when fitted with the usual twist control.
After twenty-five years of solid experience in all countries the Indian designers place before us the 1926 Scout. It is only natural that a critic should have a difficult task when he approaches the machine to pull it, verbally, to bits.
In fact, after a strenuous test, I could discover no radically weak points about the machine. What little criticism I have to offer can be put forward in a few lines.
It concerns chiefly the gear lever. As a lever it is neat and well finished and harmonises with the machine ; in practice I should prefer it bent forward considerably as at present, in. the low gear position it fouls the leg badly and is inaccessible if one has on voluminous garments. It also causes an awkward position to be adopted if one wishes to manipulate the footbrake when in bottom gear. The remedy for this is obvious and it should knot influence anyone adversely for more than the time taken to bend the lever. Second gear position is in my opinion too indefinite and some sort
of mark should be made on. the tank to guide one in one’s change. Of course, at night this would be useless, but then one never misses one’s gears at night, the principle being the same one which seems to eliminate all bumps and put on ten miles an hour ; both wellknown nocturnal phenomena.
lEsthetically, I dislike the following details. The lopsided method of mounting the electric horn, the excrescence on the tank which is an exhaust lifter and the aluminium silencer which does not tone with the rest of the machine.
Aurally, the only disturbing element is the crackle of the quick starter segment as it returns to its normal position. I am afraid one is advised to put up with this as the outside segment gear is so much more efficient than the silent internal mechanism on some machines, which, as we well know, is never happy unless it is being renewed.
No further adverse criticism is possible to my mind so I will dilate on a few of the good qualities of the design of the Scout.
Desirable Features of the Scout.
The double tube frame has a world-wide reputation for being practically unbreakable ; personally I have had practical experience of this. Crashing into a six-foot ditch one night with a sidecar outfit I bent my front forks to an angle of about 40 degrees with the ground. Apparently, a wreck, half-an-hour’s work with a blow lamp rendered the machine “as you were,” and the forks were never even sent back to the makers. The frame was in perfect alignment and the machine is still in use ; the accident occurred four years ago.
If anything the frame of the present Scout is more sturdily built than in those days and an unbreakable frame inspires great confidence in those parts of the world where garages and spare parts are things of the future.
Mudguarding is stout and of sensible section ; in common with the rest of the machine a wise margin of strength is present in construction of the guards. This remark includes the chain guard. A notable feature of the chain is its position ; located on the offside of the machine it is instantly accessible for removal where a sidecar is fitted. Thus, is an unpleasant operation simplified.
The footrests are, of course, footboards rubber covered, and collapsible; very useful for Scramberley and the like. Front springing is adjustable to the riders weight, an operation which is sometimes necessary to eliminate fore and aft motion on a balloon tyred machine. The Scout can be obtained with or without balloons, the
standard equipment, however, includes Goodyear low pressure tyres.
The tank has very pleasing lines and holds 2/ gallons of petrol and 2/ quarts of oil ; the latter is fed to the engine mechanically and the method is practically foolproof ; a hand pump is provided in the tank for emergency purposes.
The Sports handlebars, fitted as standard to the English machines, are of good stout tube, anchored at three points to the head ; the centrol wires are enclosed in the bars and leather casings guard them where they emerge. The bars are soft and can be bent to any other shape which an owner might prefer ; this malleability is useful after a collision.
The rear stand is of channel section, and designed to allow an easy pull up ; it might, however, with advantage be cranked a little to allow the machine to stand on a downward slope.
Coming now to the power unit ; this has a capacity of 596 c.c., and enclosed side valves and detachable heads are utilised, giving at once an accessible and neat cylinder job. The primary drive is by unbreakable and practically everlasting helical gears (the London depot has only once been called upon to supply a spare wheel, and this was caused by foreign matter in the oil). The whine which used to indicate the nature of the drive has almost completely vanished in the present model ; at any rate it does not obtrude itself above the hum of the relatively quiet engine.
Gear box, helical drive and crankcase are all unified, but are, nevertheless, independent of each other and instantly demountable.
The Splitdorf magneto delivers a useful spark even at the low speed of 35 revolutions per minute, thus enabling the weakest to start the motor with ease ; a further aid to this end is provided in the shape of a priming gear integral with the filler cap, an old-established Indian feature.
The dynamo is mounted above the gear box and is driven by a leather belt, adjustment of which is provided in the dynamo mounting. The belt is shielded but can be easily renewed if necessary.
Contrary to my usual custom I have occupied rather more space than usual in detailing the engine and frame features ; I put forward the excuse that the design of the Scout excites my admiration and merits a more introspective examination than is usual.
The road performance of the balloon tyred Scout calls for little comment, inasmuch as it is as perfect as modern design will permit. Comfort on a sports mount is not always obtainable, but in this case it is omnipresent and a ride of any length can be accomplished with a real minimum of fatigue. On this machine the problem of that pitching motion has been solved ; balloon tyred cars and motorcycles have so far been subject to the phenomenon and it has been decidedly unpleasant to experience it on a pot-holey road. The Scout does not pitch and very
bad surfaces can be taken at speed without the discomfort usually connected with low pressure tyres.
Touring speeds of fifty and fifty-five can be held indefinitely, the engine showing no signs of drying up ; the maximum speed of this particular machine was in the neighbourhood of seventy, sixty-five having been actually accomplished over the kilometre on the track with a loaded sidecar. And the Scout looks so unassuming that the old saying about melting butter could be easily applied to it.
The gear box is there to be used, however, and the sweet top gear pulling of the older models was not quite so noticeable on this actual machine.
The acceleration possible with the foot clutch and Schebler carburettor is delightful and the former fitting is forgiven its disadvantages when it displays its utility in enabling a lightning change to be obtained. A short tussle with an o.h.v. T.T. machine showed that if anything the Scout excelled in getting away. The one great advantage of a foot clutch and twist grip throttle combined is that only one operation is called for which needs the right hand and that is the gear lever. Thus, the change can be made instantaneous without the necessity of imperilling one’s gears by a “slip” change ; also this latter is not always possible with every make of gear box.
Naturally enough the Scout despised any hills that I could show it, and my test was concluded with some rough stuff where the machine showed its true colours, no amount of bad going affecting its steering or stability. A steering damper was fitted but was slackened right off, its useful sphere being confined to work with an empty sidecar.
The electric outfit was efficient, a very extraordinary beam being given by the headlamp, the ammeter and switch is mounted on the tank, control and observation being nicely situated. The machine can be obtained without the electric gear, the price being 72 los. od. Needless to say in the States a model is never sold without electric lighting, but for our convenience over here it is listed separately.