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Thread: Indian Motolamp History

  1. #1

    Default Indian Motolamp History

    I have recently been interested to find information regarding who made the motolamps for Indian motorcycles, specifically 1941-1953. I have seen comments made in other forums about the number at the bottom, inner lining being a casting number. Is this correct? My three all have the same (mold casting?) number: "IGC 5574." The top of each also matches with the non-beveled "MOTOLAMP" name stamped there. beneath in the next section, the lens says: "Made in U.S.A." The fluting pattern runs in patterns as follows top down; 10-11 partial bevels, 20 bevels, 26 bevels, 26 bevels, 22 bevels and finally 20 bevels.

    Where were they made? What company made them?

    Any member with helpful information, please post a response.

    Thank you.
    -JR
    36450

    1951 Warrior MotoLamp-3.jpg
    Last edited by JTR249; 06-22-2020 at 11:47 AM.

  2. #2
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    JR, interesting search you’re on! Corcoran-Brown made the Motolamp, but I have no clue of the years involved, but I always thought when Indian changed to a sealed beam lamp that they used a Dietz or Dietz style lamp.
    Pisten Bulley is Harry Roberts in Vermont.

  3. #3

    Default Thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by pisten-bully View Post
    JR, interesting search you’re on! Corcoran-Brown made the Motolamp, but I have no clue of the years involved, but I always thought when Indian changed to a sealed beam lamp that they used a Dietz or Dietz style lamp.
    I have always wondered about this. I have always thought it strange that part of the Indian motorcycle mystique was actually created by inaccurate or lack of proper record-keeping.
    Anyway, thank you for telling me. I will see what I can find. I did find a study on 1940 sealed beams though cannot attach the document because it is too large for forum limits. I'll try the PM and see if that works. Hope you find something you need.
    I would also guess that the name Corcoran Brown is why the Indian 4 Motolamp was called a "John Brown"? Interesting.

    -JR
    36450
    Last edited by JTR249; 06-27-2020 at 06:32 PM.

  4. #4

    Default A few pieces of information

    Quote Originally Posted by JTR249 View Post
    I have always wondered about this. I have always thought it strange that part of the Indian motorcycle mystique was actually created by inaccurate or lack of proper record-keeping.
    Anyway, thank you for telling me. I will see what I can find. I did find a study on 1940 sealed beams though cannot attach the document because it is too large for forum limits. I'll try the PM and see if that works. Hope you find something you need.
    I would also guess that the name Corcoran Brown is why the Indian 4 Motolamp was called a "John Brown"? Interesting.

    -JR
    36450
    I did some research and only found a few sources after pisten-bully's lead. Seems there were two companies; John W. Brown Manufacturing of Cincinnati, Ohio c. 1865 and then Corcoran Lamp Company of Detroit, MI of around 1911. At some point the companies merged and became Corcoran-Brown. They were very well-known and manufactured lights (lamps) for a variety of carriages and later, automobiles. The John Brown Motolamp was the headlight used on Indian 4 motorcycles. One source said, Indian was the only motorcycle company they originally made them for in production. Another source claims the John Brown Motolamp was made from 1927-1935, though in 1932 the Corcoran-Brown company was absorbed into Auto-lite. Those of us who have read everything we can obtain about Indian motorcycle history know that Indian continued to use a lamp they called a Motolamp in the thirties, most likely 1935 and up to 1952. It was the standard lamp for the 741, the stock lamp on all verticals and even used on some Chief models. I have since contacted Auto-Lite for research assistance. No word yet.

    The United Motors Service Guide lists Indian Motorcycle 1929 lens, headlamp: Motolamp 613-1; 1930-32 lens, headlamp: Stabulate B 787; 1933 Motolamp CB-981. I do not know what this actually means as this information was mostly indexed and unexplained.

    Another source said Harley re-continued to make John Brown Motolamps from 1948-1950, though they were a little smaller than the original.

    It would be nice to see a pamphlet out there somewhere that illustrated the part and components in the original literature.

    -JR
    36450

  5. #5

    Default

    Robin Markey posted this description of my 249 Motolamp glass lens description:
    “NOS Indian MOTOLAMP HEADLIGHT LENS 39-53 Chief 4-Cylinder Junior & Sport Scout
    New Old Stock Genuine Factory Indian Motolamp Headlight Lens. OEM Original - Not Reproduction! This lens was packed for WWII, during WWII. This lens is 6-7/8" in diameter with the locating dimple at the top for the bezel. Has "Motolamp" on the inside of the lens and a small number on the bottom - #5574 - probably manufacturers number. On the outside of the lens in raised letters is "Made in U.S.A".
    No chips, breaks or scratches. The glass has a slight iridescent look, but you really have to look hard. But remember, this was made around 75 years ago during WWII - It doesn't get much better than this!! This is the real thing!! This is for the following years and models:
    1939 and 1940 - Chief, Four Cylinder, Sport Scout, Junior Scout
    1941 to 1945 - Army Chief, Essential Use Chief, Scouts, 340, 344, 345, 640, 741
    1946 to 1953 - Chief 346, 347 (Standard). Optional for 348, 350, 351, 352, 353 with a Motolamp headlight. A lot of Police Departments used the bulb style headlight instead of the seal beam headlight which was normally standard.
    1949 to 1952 - Indian Arrow, Scout, Warrior, Warrior TT - 149, 249, 250, 251, 252, 1150, 2250
    I will combine auctions to save on shipping. Check out my other auctions for more vintage Honda, Indian Chief, Sport Scout, Four-Cylinder and Harley Davidson motorcycle parts. Payment is due at end of the auction by Paypal. Feel free to email with any questions.
    1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953.”

    I don't know if his knowledge has come from Jerry Hatfield's books or other sources as I'm sure bob passed even this knowledge on to Robin and Terry.

    -JR
    36450

  6. #6
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    Mar 2010
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    Merritt Island, Florida
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    IGC is Indiana Glass Company. They made the lenses. 36 and earlier Motolamps used the early lens pattern, something like an M. Motolamp in raised letters on the OUTSIDE of the lens. Can't find my picture of the casting number at the bottom.
    The 37-38 lens is a very rare two year only, has 3979 backwards (as seen from the front) on the inside at the bottom. No correct exact reproduction available. Motolamp on the OUTSIDE of the lens. Expect to pay big bucks for this lens. 1/4 inch smaller than 39 and above. Has the bow tie lens pattern.
    All 39 and up Motolamp on the INSIDE. Glass lens pattern remained the same.

  7. #7
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    Jan 2003
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    England
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    Harley and Indian both used the Motolamp 1931-34. For 1931/2 it had the flat lens and a bezel with a lozenge at the top. The Indian version had Indian stamped in the lozenge while the Harley version was plain. For 1933/4 the bucket, reflector and internals remained the same, while the lens was curved with a new bezel. Both companies used the same headlamp for these two years. For 1935 the same lamp continued for Indian, while Harley switched to the cheaper CycleRay with a fixed focus bulb rather than the complicated Motolamp arrangement with a bulb holder moving inside the reflector and controlled by a focus screw at the rear of the headlamp shell. My Indian knowledge now becomes fuzzy, but I think the Motolamp bucket continued, but with a new lens and an altered reflector to carry the pilot bulb. By around 1940 the new Motolamp version was introduced with a smaller lens and a bakelite terminal block in the bottom to make the connections. The 1931 Henderson headlight looks like the flat lens Motolamp, but with side mountings instead of a lower mount like Harley and Indian.

  8. #8

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    Thank you to bikerdds and Mr. Slocombe. I still have found no literature on these parts. Only listings in the parts catalogs. Never found a photo or anything like that in the brochures or anything.
    I have also not found any on the company that made the complete headlight after 1935. Ziggy still has a few photos of originals at his website 1933-1936.
    Let me know if you two find anything more.

    -John
    36450

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