Saturday, February 27, 2010


While the Replica Factories pop Indian 8-Valve Board Track racers into our world with stunning regularity, the 'real deal' becomes that much harder to find, and document. On ebay at the moment is what appears to be an actual spare 'small-base' ca.1911 Indian 8-Valve racing engine. The story sounds genuine, but if you're considering a bid, I'd get a money-back guarantee in writing with a notary and a lawyer, as this engine could easily top the $100k mark [I've heard a rumor the seller has had a firm $100k offer, but wants $125k...].

Indian was at the cutting edge of engine technology with their 8-valve racers, a position which they were never to occupy again. The 4 valve per cylinder head technology not only improved the flow of gases into and out of the combustion chamber, but made for lighter valves and an easier time for the whole valve train, as the valve springs didn't need Herculean strength to keep the valves following the cam contours. With the lousy lubrication of the day, less pressure on the cams meant longer life to the components, and greater reliability. Lighter valves meant less likelihood of them breaking and dropping into the cylinder - a real consideration with steels technology of the day, as engineers hadn't perfected which alloys could withstand the nasty combination of combustion heat and quickly reversed inertia, not to mention any lateral forces from imperfect rocker alignment or wear from their exposure to track grit (especially on dirt tracks!).
The seller's description:

I bought this engine approximately 20 years ago along with other engines and parts. At that time, I was told by the seller these engines and parts were purchased decades earlier from the mother of a early motorcycle racer who lived somewhere in the "desert" and was killed. The racer's mother claimed one of the engines in the group had been raced at the Isle of Man TT. I contacted The Isle of Man TT association and was advised that no 8-Valves were raced there between 1907 and 1930. However, another engine in the group (which I also have) is a 1909 Indian. I believe the 1909 engine is the one the racer's mother was referring to. It appears the 1909 Indian engine was in a bike ridden by G. Lee Evans and finished in Second Place at The Isle of Man TT in 1909. I "speculate" that the 8-Valve engine offered here and the 1909 Indian engine may have been among parts sold at an Indian factory "back room sale" sometime in the late 1940's.
8-VALVE SPECIFICATIONS: The 8-Valve engine offered here is a small base, 1000cc, twin cylinder. It is complete with the exception of the carburetor and one push rod. The engine is in very good condition and still has traces of apparent Indian red paint. The engine was carefully disassembled so as not to disturb this paint and NO CLEANING has been done on any parts. There is no evidence of markings or serial numbers on the outside of the cases and no evidence that any markings were removed. All markings and numbers appear on the inside of the cases. On the inside of the cases are timing marks which look like those used by Indian. See photos. Each cylinder has twelve (12) "ports" at their base for case pressure release. Each cylinder has two (2) threaded sparkplugs holes. The exhaust port spickets are "straight", unlike early big-base and later (1914) small-base 8-Valves which, were "curved" downward.
And if you happen to buy it, let me know!