The ‘Misplaced’ Indian 4 | The Vintagent

Misplaced within the shuffle: that’s the one clarification for the shortage of consideration given the penultimate Indian 4 – dubbed the Mannequin 44X –  within the historical past books on Indian ‘motocycles’.  A lot better recognized is the post-war ‘Torque 4’, launched in 1946 (however by no means manufactured), which is recognized as a part of the trouble to streamline the manufacture of Indians below new proprietor Ralph B. Rogers. Because the Torque 4 was kin to the Indian singles and parallel twins produced below Rogers’ tenure (1945-53), it represented the final word expression of the modular manufacturing idea he championed.  The Torque 4 is understood to have been primarily the work of Indian designer George ‘Briggs’ Weaver, designed when he labored with the Torque Company throughout WW2, after leaving Indian in the course of the struggle.  What’s much less recognized is that Weaver designed, alongside Indian proprietor E. Paul duPont, an earlier 4, dubbed the 44X, beginning within the late Nineteen Thirties, that was meant to be produced alongside the identical principals because the Torque 4 and post-war Indian light-weight lineup: as a modular collection of singles, twins, and fours that used frequent elements for extra cheap manufacturing.   Thus, the unique idea and prototypes for the modular Indian lineup was dreamed up by E. Paul duPont and his staff within the Nineteen Thirties, developed by Briggs Weaver, and finally produced below Rogers within the late Nineteen Forties.

E. Paul duPont together with his private Indian 841 with its transverse V-twin engine that Moto Guzzi would later popularize. This was apparently his favourite motorbike and each day rider within the Nineteen Forties. [Jerry Hatfield Archive]

As famous within the following assertion from Stephen duPont, the design inspiration for these new modular Indians got here from the Future, within the type of Triumph’s light-weight parallel twins and BMW’s revolutionary flat twins, which have been bought and examined by Indian in 1938.  E. Paul duPont understood that the Indian lineup of heavy sidevalve V-twins was outdated, and that lighter machines with higher efficiency would show very fashionable.  Paul duPont had bought Indian in 1930 to reserve it (and his personal important funding within the firm) from chapter.  Briggs Weaver had been the physique stylist for duPont cars, however was employed as chief designer at Indian when duPont closed up his four-wheel manufacturing.  Weaver radically remodeled Indian designs, and created probably the most lovely fashions of all; the Artwork Deco fashions of the mid-Nineteen Thirties, and the deep-skirted Indians of 1940, and iconic design that has without end been related to Indian.

Briggs Weaver together with his very good 1936 Maserati V8RI, possible at Thompson Speedway in CT, within the early Nineteen Fifties. The Maserati is certainly one of 4 constructed, with a 4.8L V-8 motor and impartial suspension on all 4 wheels – a really superior automotive for the Nineteen Thirties. All 4 V8RIs competed within the 1937 Vanderbilt Cup races, and all remained within the USA for a few years. Weaver definitely knew tips on how to take pleasure in life! After retiring from Indian, he took a job with Briggs Cunninham, and supervised development of Cunningham’s racers from 1950-55, and took them to LeMans. A outstanding profession! [Audrain Automobile Museum]

The evolution of the Indian 44X is defined absolutely within the following assertion from Stephen duPont, son of E. Paul duPont, who labored within the Experimental Division at Indian Motocycles in from 1930-45. Stephen duPont was born in 1915, and joined Indian with a number of of his brothers when his father took over the corporate; all have been devoted gearheads on two and 4 wheels, and with airplanes as properly.  Stephen had an insider’s information on the Indian Experimental Division, and knew all of the principals concerned, so is a dependable supply for the story he tells in regards to the creation of the ‘misplaced’ Indian 44X.

Stephen duPont at an plane membership assembly (the Nationwide Hovering Membership) within the Nineteen Fifties. [National Soaring Club]

Notes on the Indian 44X, by Stephen duPont (1990):

“Within the late Nineteen Thirties E. Paul duPont, then President and Chairman of the Board of Indian Motocycle Co in Springfield MA (discover the spelling Motocycle) initiated a plan for a brand new line of bikes.  The purpose was to return out with a line of motorbike which might simplify the manufacture of engines and frames.  An illustration of the issue is that the 45 cubic inch Scout and the 74 cubit inch Chief fashions every used a pair of cylinders that weren’t alike, and have been totally different for every engine and the valve gear was totally different for every cylinder, in that every engine used 4 totally different rocker arm forgings.  The connecting rods have been a fork and blade rod and totally different for every engine.  The Indian 4 after all had completely totally different valve gear and cylinders and pistons and roads in comparison with the already talked about twins.  The frames, brakes and so on. have been additionally totally different from mannequin to mannequin.

Briggs Weaver’s 1941 patent drawing for the primary iteration of a modular Indian four-cylinder motorbike, with Indian leaf-spring forks, shaft drive, and plunger rear suspension (taken from the BMW R51). [Jerry Hatfield Archive]

The plan was to make use of a 4, a twin, and a single cylinder line utilizing related engine and transmission and chassis elements the place potential.  It is very important know that the corporate had procured two of the world’s greatest bikes of the time, and studied them fastidiously.  They have been the Triumph Tiger 100, the English motorbike, and the BMW R-51, the shaft drive German motorbike, each accessible within the late Nineteen Thirties.  The Triumph engine and transmission have been usually the thought supply of the engine and transmission and brakes, and the BMW chassis was the thought supply of the motorbike body and shaft drive configuration, with a big sprint of E. Paul duPont and Briggs Weaver’s concepts.  Weaver was a scholar of brakes and racing engines, and duPont, a really enthusiastic scholar of all issues roadable, in addition to engines.  He had designed the 4 cylinder engines of the primary DuPont vehicles proper after WW1, in addition to a six-cylinder marine engine, a pair of which he had in his yacht ‘Pythagoras’.  There have been executed within the early Nineteen Twenties.  The DuPont Motors was ‘merged’ with the Indian Motocycle Co in about 1930, and three DuPont vehicles assembled in Springfield.

The 1943 Indian 4 mannequin 44X as really constructed, and the one instance of its sort. One different engine was constructed for testing functions: each survive. Observe the full-skirt Briggs Weaver entrance fender, slimmer rear fender, telescopic forks, chrome gasoline tank, and plunger rear suspension. The forks and chassis of this prototype have been later used for the XA navy transverse V-twin. [Jerry Hatfield Archive]

The primary and solely of those new idea motorbike fashions produced as prototypes was the 4.  There have been two full engines constructed plus spares and cone full motorbike with one of many ineignes put in.  The opposite engine went onto the take a look at dynamometer.  The author of this word, is Stephen duPont, who in the course of the dime that the prototypes of the brand new plan have been constructed, was supervisor of the Experimental Division of the Indian Firm.  The engines and motorbike have been assembled within the Experimental Division, and the elements had been largely subcontracted out of the manufacturing facility from the engineering division and the Experimental Division.  This was as a result of some years earlier on account of labor issues within the toolroom, the toolroom at Indian had been shut down and all tooling and prototype elements executed exterior.  Most of this was executed at Mitchel’s Instrument Store, Mitchel I believer having been the foreman of the Indian toolroom.

Carol duPont, spouse of Stephen duPont, aboard the Indian 44X prototype circa 1944. Observe the exhaust manifold with protecting protect, the shaft drive, slim entrance fender, and what appears like a transparent inspection cowl on the gearbox. The entrance headlamp can be acquainted to any early BMW proprietor…as wil the remainder of the chassis! [Stephen duPont archive]

Because the elements of the 4 Cylinder machine got here into the manufacturing facility, Allen Carter, who had bee Service Supervisor of Mr DuPont’s Dupont Motors in Wilmington got here to work in Springfield and took over the administration of the meeting of the motorbike and far of the dynamometer testing and street testing, really largely below the attention of Mr. Paul duPont, however throughout the Experimental division.The author of this historic word, Stephen duPont, E. Paul duPont’s third son, really ordered and adopted up the skin manufacture of the castings of the engine, the patterns, the casting and machining of the crankcase, cylinders, transmission instances and so forth, most of which have been executed within the manufacturing facility.  When the 841 navy shaft drive machine got here into being, a lot of the 4 cylinder concepts have been used.  The  body, forks, brakes, shaft drive, transmission and so forth grew to become elements of the 841 shaft drive military motorbike, 1000 of which have been constructed, additionally designed by Briggs Weaver below the fixed affiliation of E. Paul duPont. All of this element design work was executed single handed below the pencil of Briggs Weaver, who had been Mr. duPont’s designer within the DuPont Motors in Wilmington and in Moore PA below the sturdy affect of Mr. Paul duPont.  The element drawings have been executed below Weaver by Bob Powell, a younger and really proficient draftsman.

Stephen duPont in 1944 with the Indian 44X and his two daughters, Polly and Nancy. [Stephen duPont Archive]

On the finish of World Battle II, the Indian Firm was bought or merged into the Consolidated Diesel Firm, Indian ceased to exist (various ‘Chiefs’ have been manufactured by some former Indian staff up untili about 1950 but it surely was not the previous Indian company), and far of the fabric within the manufacturing facility was bought.  The experimental materials and the ‘museum’ situated within the attic of the manufacturing facility was all bought at public sale in 1945. On the time this author was in Germany as a Scientific Guide of the US authorities finding out the German Motorbike Trade and small air cooled engines of that nation. In any other case I guarantee you these machines wouldn’t have been dispersed.  The 4 cylinder motorbike ended up owned by a physician in Brooklyn and was later modified to used a plunger fork, the ‘841’ model girder fork having been changed.

As a comparability, the Indian ‘Torque 4’ prototype of 1946, exhibiting the profitable modular engine design with 4 single-cylinder prime ends and the identical forks and gasoline tank because the parallel twin fashions. [Jerry Hatfield Archive]

Some years later Mr. Walter O’Conner of Agawam MA known as Stephen duPont to say he had been provided the 4 cylinder Indian take a look at engine on the market for $100, and did Stephen need it.  Sure he did and obtained the engine.  Walt O’cConner was a pilot and plane mechanic, with whom Stephen duPont had shared sure aviation actions (a Bellanca distributorship and a Cessna dealership).  O’Conner ran a small airport and seaplane base on the Connecticut River in Agawam and as a mechanic had maintained Stephen duPont’s airplanes.  He had additionally labored at Indian throughout a part of WWII within the Experimental Division and a few years after that donated it to the Colonial Flying Corps Museum in Newgarden Flying Area in Toughkenamon PA.”

A saddle design built-in with the gasoline tank, patented by Stephen and Benjamin duPont whereas working at Indian. [USPTO]

Each the Mannequin 44X and its take a look at engine survive, and are coveted in personal East Coast collections.  For extra on the duPont household and its connections with motorcycling, learn our article ‘The Motorcycling duPonts’.

Observe: The Stephen duPont transcript and a number of other of his pictures have been sourced by way of the Jerry Hatfield Archive, which is being built-in into The Vintagent Archive.  Hold a watch out for extra Indian historical past!

Paul d’Orléans is the founding father of He’s an creator, photographer, filmmaker, museum curator, occasion organizer, and public speaker. Take a look at his Writer Web page, Instagram, and Fb.