Most of my motorcycles has been subject for newspaper articles. But only once have I been honoured with a main feature in a Motorcycle Magazine.
Jaqueline Bickerstaff was our guest for a few days as overseas secretary of HRD/Vincent Owners Club
klikk for å bytte språkThis feature was printed in the October issue of the magazine in 1995

Ding dong bell,             
              something's in the well,
                      -   but it's not a cat.

In Norway Jacqueline Bickerstaff discovered a
1936 Indian 750cc Standard Scout that was never a quisling

It was the summer of 1941, and Norway was occupied by the Germans. They were running short of materials and confiscating vehicles built after 1930, which would have included Karl's pride and joy, is 1936 Indian Standard Scout. Rather than give it up, or help the Germans, Karl hung the Indian down the well of his farm by a log through its rear wheel; then he covered the well over thoroughly, and left for neutral Sweden whose border was a mere 35 miles away. It was to be five years before he could retrieve his bike, which he kept until his death in 1984.

Karl Kakneset was born in 1898 but didn't become a motorcyclist until fairly late in life. He was a tenant farmer until, in 1936, he finally bought his little farm.

Finding there was some money left over from the transaction, Karl bought an old 600cc Indian Scout. The ageing bike proved a bit slow, which caused his friends Karl's first Scout stands behind his
"pride and joy" 750 Standard Scout,
in front of his farmhouse
some amusement, so that when his sister and brother-in-law, on a trip to Oslo, left him with their Harley outfit, he went straight to his Oslo dealer and traded in the old model for a new 750cc Standard Scout. After that, no one could catch him!
Indian leaf sprung trailing link suspension
For the duration of Norway's occupation, the Indian had to remain hidden until, in 1946, Karl could return and recover it. Up to 1953 he rode the Indian in Sweden where he worked, before returning to his farm in Norway to work in the forest and keep stock. The bike was kept on the road, officially, until 1958 when he handed his plates in. But he enjoyed showing the Indian off to youngsters until the day when someone stole the Chief front lamp, of which he was so proud. Thereafter, he hid the bike away and became increasingly reclusive - even to the point of chasing people away with a gun.

In 1968, Karl asked at the revenue office whether he needed to declare the old bike as an asset. Luckily, a motorcycle friend only intrerested in Triumphs were handling the declaration and was invited on a visit. He asked, Per Erik, who was already seeking out old bikes from all over Norway, to come along. Later he visited Karl, gave him rides in his car and listened to stories of the old days since his work was close by. The bike was not for sale, and the old man still regarded the Indian as his pride and joy, so much so that when a curator from the social service called at Christmas 1984, he found he had to help Karl with the rest of manhandling it from the shed and into to his kitchen! He had already spent two days hauling it through the deep snow. Sadly, it was only a few days later that Karl suffered a fall and spent two days lying in the snow before being found. He had been a strong man, but this proved too much for his constitution and he died in hospital at the age of 86. Karl's nephew knew of Per Erik's friendship with the old man, as well as his enthusiasm for motorcycles and, therefore, offered him to buy the Indian.

The Scout was a never restored, oneowner machine so, naturally, Per Erik snapped up the offer. But, there was another pleasant surprise to come. Together with the Indian's papers, Per Erik found some from Karl's little old Indian which he had kept for such a short time. It turned out that these papers matched the numbers on a dilapidated 600cc Scout that Per Erik had salvaged from Hamar. He had both of Karl's old bikes!

By the 1930s, American motorcycles had grown big and heavy and, in truth, the Scout was not the Scout of old but a redesigned (and cheapened) 750 Scout engine in the bigger Chief frame. With a foot clutch and left-hand twist grip to cope with, I was a little apprehensive about my first ride but, fortunately, Norway is thinly populated and there isn't much traffic outside urban areas.

The Standard Scout is a genuine one-owner, unrestored machine, seen here outside Karl's old farmstead; note old tyre by the door
But first, I had to start it! Not that the Indian should be difficult, with a modest compression ratio and coil ignition, but should you sit astride the. bike or start it from the side? Per Erik - and all the books say from the side, but I am used to being astride my bikes. Well, I continued to do it my way, but I can tell you that from the side is better for the Indian aficionado.
Karls old 600 cc IndianScout, now owned by Per Erik Olsen along with the later Standard Scout. It's not a runner
Why? Because the inside of your thigh catches the pansaddle frame and, with all one's weight behind the kick, it hurts. For my first take-off I pushed the Indian into the road, facing straight ahead, before attempting to pull away. The clutch began to take up fairly controllably, but finished with a bang -probably much more so than when new and well adjusted.

The heavy flywheels generally looked after things so that it didn't prove much of a problem, though I never got to be slick with it. Gear changes were no problem, though a bit slow. Roll both grips away, press the clutch pedal, haul on the gear lever with the right hand, then push the clutch pedal back and roll the grips towards you.

Unusually for a hand-change bike, the throttle hand (left hand) is in control throughout; the right-hand grip only controls the ignition advance.

Once underway, the bike wasn't as heavy as I had expected. Throttle response was poor and ignition response vague, suggesting stiff cables and loose pivots at the throttle butterfly and ignition distributor. Every indication, however, was that this was a result of wear and non?use, rather than being inherent.

With a little more speed and throttle, the engine ran surprisingly strong and at lower speeds gave a lovely vee-twin exhaust note, too. It was very flexible and quite happy to cruise at anywhere between 30mph and 60mph, I would guess, although there was no speedometer to check against. At higher speeds, I can understand why American models were popular in Norway before the war. Like the Americans, they had a sparsely populated country with primitive roads, and long distances between towns with few facilities. Sturdy and fairly fast bikes, with fat tyres, were well suited to these conditions and the low traffic density did not require quick handling or stop-on-a-sixpence braking.

Ah, braking. The manufacturer's advertising was adamant that Indian brakes did not grab, and I assure you that grab they do not.

The Standard Scout used a redesigned enlarged Scout engine in the new Chief frame
Dirt roads are still common in rural Norway and the Indian still copes with them admirably
Haul on the front brake lever as you will, it doesn't grab; the right hand, then push the clutch pedal back and roll the grips towards you. in fact, it doesn't do too much to stop the bike, either, although the rear brake (which is of a similar size) is reasonably effective. Since the drums are quite large, I would put the braking performance down to o1d age and wear were it not for the fact that contemporary road tests echo my own conclusions.

On Norwegian country roads there was little need for harsh braking, so only on a single occasion was I made fully aware of this limitation. I was just getting the feel of the Indian, and approaching an interesting twisty section, when I realised that the tarmac surface gave way to dirt between me and the bends. I couldn't scrub off the speed quickly enough and went in faster than I would have wished, expecting things to get quite lively. All it actually proved was that the big American bike handled better than I had expected.

The fat tyres absorbed bumps and washboard surface surprisingly well, and the heavy rigid frame remained stiff and true. I began to really understand why the Norwegians had favoured the big Harleys and Indians. Riding to Karl's farm involved more dirt roads, followed by the farm track, but the only time the Indian became a real handful was when I rode around in front of his old house for the camera, as there were numerous rocks hidden in the grass to bounce over! During the riding shots, the modestly finned side-valve became quite hot, but continued to run as well as the sloppy controls would allow. But later, on the open road, it began to spit and pop, running very poorly towards the finish. My conclusion was that rare problem on an old bike;

- too much electricity.

Foot cluych and left hand throttle proved not too fearsome, although control cables needed attention; sprung seat provided rider comfort
Fun on the open road
I had checked the voltage at one point, finding something like 13 volts which is just about right for a 12 volt system. However, both the books and the Autolite generator confirmed that the Indian was running a 6 volt system, so what was up? Well, the original specification called for a large, 24 amp? hour battery whereas Per Erik had only an ordinary, and old, standard (about 12 ah) item which the substantial dynamo easily overloaded with its crude "third brush" regulating system.

Joe Lucas could have learned a lot from Mr Autolite! The battery was fairly thoroughly "dead" and, even if this didn't harm the ignition system, no doubt it caused plenty of misfiring or points burning. A pity, because the Indian could be so nice when running well.

Per Erik has some beautifully restored machines in his garage, a Henderson and one of the earliest post-war Vincents among them. Fortunately, he has no intention of restoring the Indian. It would be a travesty to destroy an original machine with such a history, to create some better-than-new concours machine; of that we are greed. However Per Erik is reluctant to do anything more than necessary to keep it barely running, even though he has ridden it on one or two long runs.

If it were mine, I would undertake a little more refurbishment to get the controls, carb and ignition working smoothly, as well as the lights repaired. It would be such a pleasure to ride, then. In the early days of the US motorcycle industry there were numerous manufacturers, such as Yale, Thor, Cyclone, as well as better remembered marques, like Henderson and Excelsior.The two big names are, of course, the still-surviving Harley Davidson and, at one time the largest manufacturer of them all, Indian. It is perhaps fitting that so many Indians survive in Scandinavia, because Oscar Hedstrom, one of Indian's most famous designers, was Swedish, and the company employed many Scandinavians in their Springfield machine shops.

In 1911, Indians were some of the most advanced and fastest bikes around, as they proved by humiliating the British industry with a 1-2-3 in the Isle of Man TT. By 1937 they were big and heavy bikes, typical of late American practice and that is clearly visible in this Standard Scout, its engine looking a little lost in the frame designed for the 1000cc Chief. The buyers and dealers of the time thought so, too, and it never achieved the reputation of the earlier 101 Scout of circa 1928. All the same, the Standard Scout quite impressed me, denting my patriotic bias for British machines.

I look forward to the day when I can sample one of those nimble 101s, or maybe a big Indian Chief.

Norway's road system was similar to thew USA's and American Bikes proved ideal for tackling poor surfaces and long distances



42 degree vee-twin side valve
73 x 89mm
745 cc (45
25 bhp approx


Multiplate, foot operated
3 speed
4,66 6,45 11,5 :1
Quadruplex chain
5/8" x 3/8" chain


Coil / distributor
Autolite 6 volt, 3 brush
7 in headlampm, 6V 24ah battery


Duplex,brazed lug
Indian Leaf spring, trailing link
61,5 in
29 in
6 in
430 lb
4,00 - 18 front and rear
7,5 drums front and rear
3 gallons
4 pints


75 - 80 mph
50 mpg


Indian Motocycle Company, Springfield Massachusetts
£ 95 in UK
1932- 1937
Per Erik Olsen, Kongsvinger, Norway
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