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Thread: 1926 JD Build

  1. #1

    Default 1926 JD Build

    Well I guess I will break in this new section. First let me introduce myself. My name is Mike Nichols and I live in western Massachusetts. I'm 27 years old (does this qualify me as young?) and work at a mechanical engineer. I became interested in the antique car world about 12 years ago when my father an I restored a 1972 Chevelle. After completing a few more cars, we discovered antique motorcycles, and, well, fell in love. Our introduction to motorcycles started with a few mid 70's Honda's, then it turned to Indians. Right now both my father and I ride Indian 741's and love them. I however, wanted something a bit older, hence the 26' JD

    I found the beginning of the JD at the Rhienbeck Swap meet in 2013. It was pretty crusty looking but I thought it would be a good start. I knew it was missing some stuff but I love swap meets so I didn't think that would be a problem. Settled on a price and brought her home! Once home, I spent a few hours looking everything over, since this was my first JD I wasn't really sure if what I was looking at was correct or not, turns out there was a fair amount that was not. After a few months of looking at the bike I decided it would be a good idea to tear everything apart and break the bike up into small sections for restoring.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    N. Huntingdon PA


    Thanks for being the first to post on this section. There are several Members on the Forum who will be able to help you with the restoration of your JD. And yes, you qualify at age 27 to post on this section. There is no hard and fast rule but 35 and under is a good starting point.
    Richard Spagnolli
    AMCA #6153

  3. #3


    A few months after I purchased the bike I had gone to the Yankee chapter show/swap in Hebron, CT. Low an behold what do I find sitting in the field but a pristine 1926 JD. I immediately take out my phone and start snapping pictures of every detail. I could now see some of the parts my bike was missing and how some of the parts I had already were not correct for the year. After about 30 min of snapping pictures and basically crawling all over the bike the owner comes up and introduces himself as Dan. Dan is able to answer all of the questions I had and even offers up his contact info if I had any further questions. Turns out Dan would later help me out as a somewhat mentor for this restoration.

    So with winter fast approaching I decided it would be time to get some help restoring my motor. This really wasn't something I wanted to tackle myself for a few reasons; the biggest being that I just didn't have the appropriate amount of time to dedicate to it, and second I had never done a complete motor before, just top ends. So I contact Dan so see if he could recommend someone to me. The suggestion was made that Dan himself would do the motor for me, sounds great I said! A few weeks later, Dan had the motor at his shop.
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  4. #4


    As you can probably guess this isn't the beginning of my build, I am just trying to get everyone caught up to where I am now.

    So Dan has the motor at his shop and I had managed to put together a list of the parts that I will need for the rest of the bike, or at least the beginnings of a list. Turns out that the front end that came with the bike is a 29' only. I believe this to be true because of the brake stay that was on one leg. Also the cast end of the spring tubes were different than earlier models. The transmission that came with the bike was also not correct. It was dated 1925. After a bit of research I discovered there was a design change from 25-26 mainly with how the clutch was actuated. Add it to the list!

    With my wish list in hand I headed to the Davenport swap meet. I was fairly confident I would be able to find some parts on my list, others not so much. After the swap meet I was still in need of a headlight, horn, dash, coil cover, and a good seat post. Luckily at this time I have managed to find almost all of that except the headlight (anyone have one stashed away??)

    Not much happens on the bike from Davenport till the spring on my end. Dan however was hard at work with the engine.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Corvallis, Oregon USA


    1916 thru 1929 J/JD group on

    Pictures of most parts on Yahoo J/JD group’s site:
    Bill Gilbert in Oregon

  6. #6


    Thank you Bill. I have been meaning to join the Yahoo group. I have done a few searches there and yielded some great info.

    When I brought the motor to Dan I had removed all of the top end components, but all the inspection was done by Dan. Overall the motor was in pretty great shape. The cylinders measured at a stock bore and still had original Harley pistons (the ones with the pin passing through the wrist pin). I was pretty shocked the cylinders were stock bore, I mean what are the odds. The exhaust seat was also very high showing very little signs of excessive valve jobs. One cylinder did have one chipped fin that was later welded back and blended in. A clean up cut was taken on the cylinders bore at + .010". After that cut it was clear that from sitting for an excessive amount of time the rings have grooved the cylinders where they sat. It took +.020" more to achieve a clean and true bore.

    Once the cylinders were bored it was time for plating. I had called around to a few places and was a bit shocked when to told me $1,000+ to nickle plate two cylinders. Dan suggested we try the Caswells plating kit and do it ourselves. So that's what we did. I drove up to Dan's shop last winter and we spent the entire day prepping and then finally plating the cylinders. I was very impressed how they turned out and for a fraction of the cost.
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  7. #7


    Few pictures of the cylinder plating.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Sarasota, Florida


    Great stuff Mike. I'm currently working on my 1916 J motor so I can directly relate to your challenges. In my case, I did all the bottom end work a few years ago but I have been struggling with a solution for a bad set of cylinders. Fortunately, a good friend came to my rescue with another '16 motor with better cylinders. I plan to use genuine cast iron pistons as I have had very good experiences with my other early bikes with C.I. pistons.

    I have also used the Caswell kit with great success, and like the fact that I have control over the plating finish, and process time. . . Not to mention affordability. I notice you are using plastic buckets for your solution. I assume you are using an immerse able heater. I also assume it worked well since your finished cyl. looks great. I'm asking because I have a long shifter handle, and some linkage to plate. I was thinking of using PVC tubing with a cap on one end, and you have inspired me to follow through on that. Anyhow; great stuff, and keep it coming.
    Eric Smith
    AMCA #886

  9. #9



    Yes you are correct, we use an immersion heater. Similar to something from a fish tank. One reason the plating took all day is one of the two heaters got damaged in the morning. The single heater just took a while to come up to temp. If you look close we also used these ping pong ball type floats on the top of the water. This helped to keep the heat in. I would think your PVC idea would work just fine, especially for the long rods.

    Good luck with you project as well!


  10. #10


    Really awesome build, and great to see someone younger than me doing this too! (im 30)

    I hope to see a bunch more on this build.

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