A late attempt to reinvigorate the brand came in 1949 when the marque launched a 440cc Vertical-Twin Scout that was built to rival the increasingly popular and pervasive BSAs and Triumphs. “Launched amid a marketing flurry that included publicity shots of movie stars and football players aboard Indians, the motorcycles were met with marketplace indifference,” explains the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, in a description of Greg Easly’s ’49 Scout which was on display at the museum for a number of years. “Worse, the ones that did sell earned a reputation for being unreliable.”
An uninspiring and problematic bike? Sounds like perfect park-and-forget conditions…
Fast forward 60-plus years to Northern Illinois. Analog Motorcycles’ Tony Prust is checking on a lead for a Kawasaki W1 and notices boxes of parts and a rolling chassis sitting in the corner on a workbench.
“I asked, what’s that?” explains Prust. “He said ‘it’s an Indian Scout, had that for about 17 years, been planning on doing something to it someday.’ The guy was older and his buddies were making fun of him because he had a lot of projects he wasn’t getting to. So I asked if he wanted to sell it. He was hesitant and we just told him to give us a call and in a couple weeks he called back and decided to sell it.”
It turned out to be a ’49 Scout, in shambles and inoperable. According to Prust, “the engine was together, the transmission was in the frame, I think the inner primary was on and the outer primary was not. It was in all kinds of random pieces.”
Prust began to imagine the possibilities. The plunger rear set-up made it easy to envision a bobber project, but Prust wanted to do something more original. He ultimately decided to create a replica racer inspired by machines from the 1960s and ‘70s, and this meant he had to scrap most everything but the engine. Starting from the ground-up, he turned to Frame Crafters for a new chassis and they built a modified Trackmaster frame that would house the engine.
Then the fun began. The 440 Twin was unreliable off the showroom floor and had not ripened with age, so Prust made contact with Bill Bailey, owner of Zyxx Vintage Motorcycles. Bailey used to race the Indian Twin and had extensive experience working with the mill, but years of struggling with the engine’s gremlins made him hesitant to jump on board with the project.
“He knows how much of a pain in the butt the engines are,” said Prust, “but we ended up building a friendship out of it and in the end he agreed to rebuild the whole engine. He had a billet cylinder, one of five he cut when he was racing them, because they were lighter and were designed how he wanted. There was an extra one laying around so we put it on there and punched it out to 500cc. I had to source several parts, make lots of phone calls and do a lot of hunting.”
Some pieces, like the valves, weren’t worth the effort of tracking down so Bailey made new ones instead. The heads proved to be a sticking point as well. Finding heads that weren’t already cracked was a difficult task to begin with, and even welded/repaired pieces were “notorious for cracking where the push rod is,” according to Prust. Baily had a contact and Prust went down the rabbit hole once again, going through five or six people before finding a guy with a stock of pieces that showed promise. Among the 30 heads he had to sort through, only three were undamaged.
It took some finessing to get the carburetor dialed. They ended up fitting a concentric Amal unit and tuning it for a Triumph 500cc mill, which ended up being “pretty close.”
The transmission was another problematic area.
“One of the gears was bad, but he (Bailey) had some gears,” said Prust. “I had custom-made sprockets for it, the cases were cracked so I had to have those welded, sanded down and polished. The outer primary case I had was pretty much shot so I found another one on eBay. When it got here it was warped so bad I had to send it back. Bailey had an older outer primary cover, which were made from aluminum and chromed, and the chrome was bad. I had to have it stripped and sanded down and polished.”
The exhaust pipes were done in-house and Prust added a pair of Cone Engineering mufflers, giving the revitalized Scout a “gnarly little race sound.”
Stopping power is provided by big drums on the front and rear. Prust built all the vent covers, adding a few extra to the original design with plenty of brass accents. Avon Road Rider tires are wrapped around a pair of Buchanan rims and spokes, and Prust utilized TZ750 hubs to complete the wheel package.
As for bodywork, Prust developed an idea of how he wanted the tank, tail and front fairing to look before setting out to create models of his vision. The tank and tail were formed from Styrofoam and Prust assembled a skeleton fairing out of eighth-inch rod before sending his designs to Pavletic Metal Shaping for the final aluminum pieces. Originally the idea was to display more brushed aluminum and keep paint to a minimum, but as the project advanced Prust decided to go another direction.
“During the process there was a lot of bikes coming out with raw aluminum work, so I figured I’d just add more color to the fairing. The original paint scheme was going to be just the maroon frame. We mixed the color ourselves, I wanted it to be a little darker than typical Indian colors, it’s a little different but still honoring the heritage.”
The headlight and taillight feature brass covers, both which need to be removed to make use of the LED lights underneath. The speedometer has the stock “guts,” as Prust puts it, but it’s refined with an Analog Motorcycles logo disc with a small window cut in it. Below that disc is another with numbers and your current speed is displayed in the small opening. Simple and elegant.
Parts sourced from around the world contributed to the completed project, so Prust dubbed the finished bike the “Continental Scout.” He estimates that the build took a little more than a year to complete, thanks to the lengthy blocks of time used sourcing pieces, designing, fabricating and collaborating.
We think the time was well spent.
Analog’s Continental Scout Photos