Old Indian goes from stuffed wreck to wonderful

DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Last updated 10:37 26/03/2014

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Larry Moolenaar's 1941 741B Indian wasn't much to look at when he first came across it.

Years later however, it's often mistaken for being brand new.

He purchased the motorcycle in Gore and believes its more than rough condition at the time was thanks to it serving as a farm bike around Southland.

"It was absolutely stuffed.

"It was a complete bike, but the engine was seized up and it was really battered."

The Indian motorcycle is perhaps best known in New Zealand for featuring in the film The World's Fastest Indian, a biopic about the life of Burt Munro.

Moolenaar's version is a little different however.

"That was a Scout, that's a little earlier than mine. Burt's was a Sports Scout from about 1920, but they are modelled on the same thing."

Moolenaar has put years of work into restoring his machine, with several parts such as the fenders, speedometer and chain imported from across the Tasman.

He had the stand manufactured but the tanks, frame and 600cc engine are all original.

While the tyres are relatively new, they are modelled on the original tread design.

Moolenaar also selected the colour of paint himself and went for the deep red colour the bike is closely associated with.

One thing people notice straight away on the military version, which was made in the thousands when the United States entered World War II, is the lack of suspension on the frame.

"The suspension is on the seat, " Mr Moolenaar says.

"If you do hit a pothole the seat's inclined to pop up so that can be a bit tricky."

Another difference that makes the 741B unique is the way it's driven.

"It's a bit different being a clutch and hand-gear and a left-hand throttle, it's a bit different to drive ... but I like it because there's something about it."

The 741B also has quite a unique sound when it's fired up, which he says attracts the attention of cows grazing in roadside fields.

"I don't think they've heard anything like this before, " he says.

While he tries to get his bike out as often as possible, Moolenaar described this summer as "lousy", not ideal for the avid biker.

He is pleased he put the work in restoring the bike several years ago, rather than leaving it too late.

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- The Timaru Herald

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