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Thread: What is the difference from a 1939 Indian Chief motor and a 1948?

  1. What is the difference from a 1939 Indian Chief motor and a 1948?

    I am working on a Indian Chief motorcycle rebuild/restore in my shop.

    After researching the frame and motor numbers, I found I have a 1948 Frame with a 1939 Motor on it.

    I am just trying to find out what the difference there is in the 1939 motor that's on it and a 1948 motor that should have been on it.

    Thanks for any help.

    JR
    Briggs Bikes, Manhattan, KS

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Sarasota, Florida
    Posts
    5,538

    Re: What is the difference from a 1939 Indian Chief motor and a 1948?

    Quite a few things. No timing hole on the left side motor case of a '39, which changed in 1944 when Indian wisely added it.

    No sump valve on most '48s, but early '48 still had it.

    Major changes on cylinders, and heads between '39, and '48.

    A 1939 motor is desirable, but of course all of the other stuff that goes with a '39 is very desirable, expensive, and hard to find. A '48 chassis is much easier to do than a '39. If your '39 motor is all correct, you could easily trade it for a '48 motor, and put some money in your new project. But, those are your decisions.

  3. Re: What is the difference from a 1939 Indian Chief motor and a 1948?

    Hi,
    The biggest difference between the 1939 frame and the 1948 frame is the width of the frame. I think the earlier frame was wider. Because there was a frame change, there usually has to be a primary drive/transmission change to go with it or the kicker arm gear won't line up properly with the transmission mainshaft gear. On a 1948 engine, the exhaust pipes go on the outside of the 1948 frame. On a 1939 engine the exhaust pipes go on the inside of the 1939 frame. Depending on the cylinders used, there could be great difficulty with the exhaust system. The primary chain adjuster may have to be monkeyed-with in order to get it to clear the frame. If the combination you are working with is already a running/working machine, many of the necessary modifications may have already been done. I think that axeric is on to something when he suggests using a 1948 engine instead of the 1939 engine. The biggest advantage of using a 1948 engine in a 1948 frame is that everything is easier - much easier.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    35 mi east of Pittsburgh
    Posts
    130

    Re: What is the difference from a 1939 Indian Chief motor and a 1948?

    Can you post some pics JR?

    My immediate thought as well is the 39 engine has significant value especially if it has period cylinders and heads. And who knows what other 39 parts it may have.

    Putting the $$$ value aside, selling the 39 engine to someone who needs it for their 39 helps make their bike more correct and obtaining a 48 engine for the 48 frame makes that more correct. Kill 3 birds with 1 stone. Extra money in pocket and two bikes more correct. There is no "functional" advantage of a 39 engine over a 48.
    Jason Z - S.W. PA
    48 Chief

  5. #5

    Re: What is the difference from a 1939 Indian Chief motor and a 1948?

    Agree on the idea of going with a 1948 motor. So it won't be matching numbers.... it isn't right now anyway. And I'm not sure how big a premium is paid for matching numbers anyway.... seems like doing the restoration correctly is more important than having a matching numbers bike that has been customized and has a wide variety of mis-matched, cheesy parts on it... IMHO!
    1946 Chief - take apart and put back together
    101 Scout - parts accumulation stage

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