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Thread: 1946 Chief CDF754 numbers matching?

  1. 1946 Chief CDF754 numbers matching?

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/1946-Indian-Chief/223556510604

    I'm personally looking to purchase a numbers matching Indian where the stampings are not only matching, but are factory original stampings. When the above listed machine turned up on eBay I asked the vendor to send me photos of the engine and frame serial number stampings. I have yet to receive them. All that they told me regarding the serial numbers is the engine was CDF754 and the frame was 346754. Knowing what the serial numbers are, i went into my library and tracked down this bike's history. This same machine was listed three different times on eBay earlier this year.
    The vendor claims that "Funny thing is before I took the bike in on trade, I reached out to one of the most reputable and largest restoration shops in the country (located not far from me) and I had them inspect the stamping's and they said that they saw "no issues"". That unnamed 'one of the most reputable and largest restoration shops' did not do the vendor any favors, as both stampings are bogus and are non-factory.
    Matching numbers are not necessarily factory original stampings. Someone could stamp numbers that look like they superficially match, but for someone interested in investment potential; non-factory stampings are not the way to go. For maximum investment potential, the engine and frame serial numbers should both be matching and factory original stampings. Prior to 1930 or so, the frames were not serial number stamped. Engines always were, unless they were special in some way; such as engines used in racing machines or normal replacement engines. Starting part-way through 1950 and later, machines had identical engine and frame serial numbers; letters and digits.
    1946 is more complicated than other years serial number-wise, as three distinct sets of digits were used during the year. The first batch included the first 1,000 machines (approximately). The second batch included the next 4,000 machines (approximately). The third batch went from approximately CDF5000 to the end of that year's production. The third batch for 1946 uses the same digits that were used in 1947 and 1948.
    CDF754 falls into the first batch serial number-wise, so the digits should be similar to other machines from the first batch. The photos of CDF754 and 346754 below, are from the three times a different vendor listed this same machine on eBay earlier this year.
    For examples of what the 1946 first batch frame numbers should look like, I have attached 346732 and 346866. Notice that the '3' of 346754 has a rounded top. This is a give-away that the stamping is bogus; as the first batch of 1946 Chiefs used a '3' with a flat top.
    For examples of what the 1946 first batch engine numbers should look like, I have attached CDF482, CDF566, CDF677, and CDF910. As an example of what the second batch of engine numbers look like, I have attached CDF1413. Whoever stamped CDF754 used digits for the second batch instead of the correct digits for the first batch. When looking at CDF754, the '7' has a vertical header that shouldn't have, the '5' has a serif that it shouldn't have, and the '4' has a horizontal footer that it shouldn't have.
    If you are looking for a machine with factory stamped matching numbers and maximum investment potential, this eBay bike is not for you. If you want a bike to ride around that has limited investment potential, then this bike might be the right one for you. CDF754 and 346754 are both bogus non-factory stampings. Sincerely, Steven Bailey Yellow53Chief baiste@sgu.edu

    1946 Chief CDF754 by Steven Bailey, on Flickr

    1946 Chief 346754 by Steven Bailey, on Flickr

    1946 Chief 346732 by Steven Bailey, on Flickr

    1946 Chief 346866 by Steven Bailey, on Flickr

    1946 Chief CDF482 by Steven Bailey, on Flickr

    1946 Chief CDF566 by Steven Bailey, on Flickr

    1946 Chief CDF677 by Steven Bailey, on Flickr

    1946 Chief CDF910 by Steven Bailey, on Flickr

    1946 Chief CDF1413 by Steven Bailey, on Flickr

  2. #2

    Re: 1946 Chief CDF754 numbers matching?

    interesting information. i acquired a 1946 model from my father about 3 years ago when he stopped riding. he has owned the bike since 1965. numbers are matching and i have to imagine they are factory original stampings as my father never touched them. i would guess that prior to 1965 people weren't forging the stampings as back then the bikes were worthless - but you never know. can i send you pictures of the numbers i have for verification?

  3. Re: 1946 Chief CDF754 numbers matching?

    Quote Originally Posted by linckeil View Post
    interesting information. i acquired a 1946 model from my father about 3 years ago when he stopped riding. he has owned the bike since 1965. numbers are matching and i have to imagine they are factory original stampings as my father never touched them. i would guess that prior to 1965 people weren't forging the stampings as back then the bikes were worthless - but you never know. can i send you pictures of the numbers i have for verification?
    Hi,
    Yes, I'll gladly look at your engine and/or frame numbers and then tell you what I see. I have many more 1946 Chief serial number examples that what I attached to this thread. One thing about serial number stampings that are not original, is that it is almost impossible to tell when the work was done. Older restamps tend to be more grossly inaccurate as older stamps were used. Modern restamps can be quite accurate when modern stamps are used, but even then, if somebody uses the wrong modern stamp, the results will be detectable as a restamp. I didn't get into it with the above 346754 frame stamping evaluation, but another strong clue that the number was restamped is that the area behind the stamping is unusually smooth compared to an original frame casting. Originally, Indian stamped the frame numbers directly into the rough-cast frame castings on the 1940-53 Chiefs. On earlier machines the number platform was flat and was a machined surface. Looking at the above photos of 346732 and 346866, the rough-cast background is what would be expected and normal. With the 346754 stamping, my guess would be that whatever the original stamping was, it was removed and then the 346754 stamping was performed. Certain techniques can be used to improve the appearance of a restamp, but it is not my intention to encourage restamping anything. Back in the day, and even today, there are some innocent reasons for stamping an engine or frame. A motor that has hit a curb or has blown-up will sometimes become irreparable, and so the replacement engine is restamped to match the original; especially if the bike's paperwork was to the engine. Today, a less innocent reason for restamping an engine or frame is an attempt to create a 'matching numbers' machine. Luckily for the integrity of the serial number system, the number of people who can restamp something in an undetectable way is exceedingly small.
    When evaluating someone's serial numbers, I usually try to get the work back in a couple of days, and I never charge for the service. I also evaluate serial numbers of machines that someone is considering purchasing. I maintain the world's largest collection of Indian serial number stamping photographs, so I can usually be 99% certain of my evaluations. The other 1% is serial numbers that are non-factory stampings that are done so well, that they appear to be, for all practical purposes; factory stampings.

  4. #4

    Re: 1946 Chief CDF754 numbers matching?

    so sounds like you are the authority on these numbers. i'd love for my stampings to be factory original and correct, and i think they are. but even if they aren't, i'll still have just as much fun on the bike. i never intend to sell it, it'll go to my son some day... anyway, i sent pics to the email you gave above. let me know what you think. thanks.

  5. Re: 1946 Chief CDF754 numbers matching?

    Hi linckeil,
    I have received the photos, and my initial impression is that the engine and frame stampings are both factory originals. It will take me a couple of days to get a more comprehensive evaluation completed and sent to your regular email.

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