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WHAT IS IT ABOUT ’46 INDIAN CHIEFS?

A Strange Restoration from Planet Deny 528

By Bandit with photos from the Shop
6/9/2017


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Every American motorcycle manufacturer encountered major issues during the WWII era. Some didn’t survive for lack of resources, materials and customers. Indian, Harley and Cushman survived because they supplied units for the war effort. After the war, Harley wouldn’t allow dealers to sell Cushmans as an entry-level bike. Dealers needed something.

It’s all nuts, but my favorite Chief was a ’46 and it still is. Deny of Deny 528, the custom painter and builder, also loves ’46 Indians and finally got his hands on one through a friend of a friend who had a handful of basket cases. “I went with the ’46 with a rebuilt engine,” said Deny. “It had all the big stuff and tins.”



He’s been collecting Indian bling for a while, just for this project. He lived in San Clemente in a HOA neighborhood, which like me, he hated for the rules, constraints, and lack of parking. He had his shop crammed into a single car garage with truck project.

“I was painting the truck for a customer,” Deny said, and he had an additional, maybe 5 feet on the side to the wall and a 3 by 5 foot bench jammed against it in the limited space.



He had no choice but to build the Chief in his living room. Of course, he fucked up the carpet with oil and greasy shit. Building the low and straight pipes was tough.

“I heated chunks of pipe and ran in the house while they were red hot,” Deny said. “I set the carpet on fire more than once.”



He’s the only painter on the planet who paints his shit before the bike is done. “Sometimes I need to weld tabs on the frame after I paint it,” Deny said. I didn’t ask. We all build bikes then discover a mistake or a change we need to make. It’s always a perplexing challenge, but we figure it out, or die trying.


It’s tough to see, but this old looking Chief is a solid pale white, and he made a point to use only red and blue bling for a red, white and blue theme. He displayed it at Born Free last year after two years working it over.



He painted three bikes for Born Free last year and two this year. He works with patinas and custom paints. He spent a year developing different paint styles. At the time he built the Chief, everyone built minimalist bobbers. “I went the opposite direction with all the stuff and bling extras.”



It’s basically stock except for the handmade exhaust, and the old Flanders bars and risers from the ‘40s. The seat is actually off a Panhead and he needed a seat bracket for both Indian and Harley. He stumbled into one incorporating ½-Harley and ¼ Indian, perfect. It did the trick.



He’s currently working on a completely molded show bike, chrome and everything. Just the front end is part JD and part Peashooter. The bike will be tight, demure and sleek, just another example of the vast ways any dreaming rider can head with his project.

Regarding his pride and joy, a foreign collector immediately approached him and the offer was too good to pass up. “I let it go too soon,” Deny said. Deny is a painter by trade, a builder by heart, and an artist to the core.



I’m sure we will see Deny 528 expand over the years to come. He’s currently painting the sheet metal for my Sturgis Panhead. Can’t wait.



--Bandit

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Reader Comments


Great article n bike. Old iron is the best

Glenn
Newark, DE
Sunday, June 11, 2017
Editor Response Yes it is!
--Bandit

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