Bringing Ugly Betty Back to Life


Years ago in rural Tennesee, Steve came across this unique 101.  When the skirted Chiefs came out in 1940, the former owner of this beauty wanted one, but couldn’t afford one of the “new” Indians at the time, so he did the next best thing….. he made one.  He added skirts to the original 101 fenders, thus Ugly Betty got her start….

We’ve had this old girl in the museum for quite some time, and when the announcement for this year’s Cannonball came out, the guys decided to all ride a 101.  Steve, Justin and Jared looked over the 101 bikes we have and each picked out what one they wanted to run.  Justin picked Indian Hall of Fame Inductee Art Buski’s bike, Jared wanted to start from scratch in the parts shelves in the shop and Steve wanted this gem.  So, the decision was made to pull her out into the light and breathe new life into her.


The disassembly began and it was soon discovered that her cylinders had seen better days, so sleeves were ordered.


She was more work than anticipated…..


Parts had to be machined, repaired, refitted…..a complete overhaul and then some.

Finally the bottom end was complete, the cylinders sleeved and honed and ready for top end assembly.   But, as with any project, there are always setbacks, and a week’s worth of rebuilding the bridgeport and waiting on the bearings and parts to fix it was included in this rebuild as well.  We’re always up for learning new things and rebuilding a bridgeport with YouTube videoes was no exception!


Then, it was back to bike building.

Somewhere during the process of  bike selection, Justin and Jared’s bike builds, and Steve walking by and looking at his bike selection, she got the name, Ugly Betty.


Time for lights and electrics……

Who knew a 30 over piston ring would be just the right size to fit around the lens to hold this rear taillight? Since this was my idea, I just hope that it stays.  I guess I’d better make sure to have spares on the support truck.

When COVID-19 descended upon us, we got extra help in the shop and Steve had an apprentice to train.  She had to learn where tools were AND where they went, (and Bill Page, you know what his tool box drawers look like).  This added a new challenge to the build.  There were naptimes, freezie pop breaks and time outs for sidecar rides  But, our youngest granddaughter, Estella (at 20 months) helped her Mipa finish up Ugly Betty and was the first one on her when complete. IMG_2363 (1)


IMG_2300Ugly Betty is ready to travel border to border and the adventures that await!  She’s ready to meet the rest of the Cannonball family that she’s heard so much about.  She’s ready to become part of that family.  Let’s ride!

Jared Rinker – Rider #37 1929 Indian 101 Cannonball Build

How to build a 101 in 10 days!

Day 1

Start with a good (broken) frame and clean gas tank.

And rebuild frontend rocker arms.

Go upstairs (where all spare parts are) and gather up front rim, brake drum / hub, and a healthy stack of old spokes.

Day 2

Lace up front wheel and make sure you have a good rear wheel (if need be cut off welded sprocket and weld on new sprocket because threads are gone)

Day 3

Go back upstairs and find leftover front end parts, fit up, and true front wheel.

Then after staring at the front forks long enough remember why they were “leftover”. Make necessary reinforcements to lower legs of forks. Rebuild front and rear wheels (new brakes, bearings, spacers, bushings, etc).

Day 4

Go back upstairs and find fenders and chain guard (you can’t be too picky when choosing tin that was determined non useable on other projects). Assemble chassis.

Day 5

Go back upstairs and grab EVERYTHING you can find that looks useable on a 101 engine. Spend most of the day fitting up 2 mismatched engine cases, finding 2 good right side sport scout flywheels and 2 straight 45 cu in rods. Press in new bushings in rods.

Do NOT go back upstairs. Instead go to new parts bins downstairs. Remove plastic from brand NEW crank, drive and piñon.

Talk to your crank shaft. Be sweet to it. Your entire cannonball hinges upon this one small part, and it is the starting point to building the power plant that will carry you across the country.

Day 6

Time to get serious. Start machining, honing, cutting and building the motor. True flywheels. Hone rods to fit crank. Balance rotating assembly.

Day 7

Assemble bottom end (using “good” used metal clutch disks and brand new Raybestos fiber clutch disks). Genuine Raybestos clutch disks are available exclusively at Bucks Indian and Kiwi Indian!!!

Hone cylinders (and prepare for top end build).

Day 8

Press in new hard faced exhaust valve seats into both cylinders. Perform complete valve job. Bolt finished top end to bottom end. Assemble transmission using “good” leftover gears, shaft, and slider. Bolt finished transmission to motor.

Day 9

Install mag and time motor. Adjust valves and rebuild carburetor.

Cut down “good” used head bolts to fit. Torque heads and install finished motor into chassis.

Day 10

Fabricate and install custom exhaust system. Install seat (repair first if broken). Also, install carburetor, chain guard, running boards, linkages, lights, and other appurtenances.

Add gas and oil. Time to ride!! Show Granddad (Buck) finished product and get his picture.

Day 10.5

Mess around. Fine tune and fix any bugs discovered from test ride (clutch’s, clutch pedal, shifter, sticking throttle, carburetor, etc). Install saddle bags and number plates. Drink a beer (or several). Set back and admire a job well done with Dad (Steve) and brother (Justin). I couldn’t have done it without my Dad, and having my brother’s help for a few days was pretty nice too!!

Sault Ste. Marie get ready for #37!!!

Family, passion, accomplishment, and satisfaction…. This is why we do this!

As our 1929 Indian 101 mechanical restoration comes to a close, a few I would like to remember at the starting line next September:

  • You can never get enough time with your family, so when you get that time, it should be enjoyed.
  • Hard work does pay off when the work is done right.
  • Everyone in this hobby can relate, the Cannonball is an ADDICTION!!!
  • Believe it or not, this bike started on the second kick after the rebuild 🙂

There are still several things left to get this machine ready for the Cannonball, but the list is definitely getting shorter.  Here are some pictures of the finished product.



Rider # 6 2020 Cannonball – Indian 101 Scout Rebuild

Buck’s Indian is getting started early on their projects this year!  Here is Justin’s 1929 Indian 101 Scout that he and his father (Steve) worked on recently.  The mechanical restoration included a complete motor and transmission rebuild, as well some front end improvements, front/rear wheel rebuild, and front/rear brake overhaul.  The gas tank was repaired and coated and a new set of tires went on to round out this project.  Many more things yet to do on the bike to make it Cannonball worthy, but this was a fantastic start by Justin and Steve (with a few helpers along the way 🙂 )





Until next time….

Crossing the finish line at Skamania Lodge with a absolutely breathtaking backdrop.

One last day of fun!

A few last interviews – thanks JJ (lollipop kid)

And the end to another amazing ride!

The vision that Lonnie Islam, Jr. had to take museum pieces of motorcycle history and let the world see, learn, enjoy and appreciate their beauty has been one of the greatest adventures that all of us could ever partake in. Steve refers to himself as “not as an owner, but just a caretaker of history for future generations to enjoy.” To have been on this journey firsthand as support crew and driver has been truly amazing! The love and passion of these motorcycles has been shared to anyone and everyone who came in contact with the Cannonball as it journeyed across the United States from Portland, ME to Portland, OR. This addiction is real!!!! It becomes as vital as breathing and until we gather again in 2020….. let the next epic search for the the perfect motorcycle begin for the man against machine endurance experience that rivals no other. It is the MOTORCYCLE CANNONBALL!!!!!!

Thank you Jason and LeeAnn for continuing to carry the torch that Lonnie lit in 2010. ❤️

Double Dog Dare Ya

With only 1 day to go to the finish of yet another epic ride across the US first envisioned by Lonnie Islam Jr, this Cannonball family knows it doesn’t even take a “double dog dare you” with Steve. 😆😂😘 As we tell the grandkids you’ve got to have fun and lots of it AND be able to laugh with others and at yourself. Life is too short otherwise!

So, today instead of riding a dime store pony, 🤣 Steve got to be a sprint car driver. Rebecca got it on video. Like I said— I cannot control my 8 year old (and I really don’t want too)

The wind got everyone today. They rode through onion cloud whirlwinds, dirt storms from plows and just the crosswinds of the Columbia River Gorge. It kept them humping just to make it in on time. However, the promise of a late morning start and the final 51 miles to Portland Oregon tomorrow was “the light at the end of the tunnel” for all of them.

The boys passed Doug today going up hill but he got by them on the downhill and they heard him recite “45 boys” and hand gesture the same every time they passed. Too funny! I don’t think they listened to him either.

All made it in with full miles and on time. Hurray! One more day to go!

Final routine maintenance and adjustments have been made and they are ready for tomorrow. Ziggy had to work on his kicker as he broke some of the rivets. Jared worked on his kicker and of course, polished Lexi up. There were discussions on the exact purpose of an adjustable crescent wrench and the lack thereof in any of Steve’s toolboxes. Plus the fact that someone had clearly used one on parts and it wasn’t Steve, had them laughing and playing the “well, it wasn’t me game.” Boys and their toys! 😁

Tomorrow’s day will take them from The Dalles, Oregon to Portland, Oregon for a total of 51 miles to the Grand Finale. Adrenaline, excitement and emotions are running high this evening.

Elephants 🐘 on Stools?

Ok! So maybe I wasn’t clearly understanding. Nope, I heard right, partially. Justin lost his elephant stool on his rear cylinder intake valve this morning and the valve cover kept slamming up and down. So, they were in search of a hardware store today on the route to get…. not an elephant on a stool (could you imagine if I was sent—crayons would have been a requirement), but just a simple hose clamp to fix it. 😃

Jared’s oil tank came apart at the bottom where it was soldered so he had to keep pumping oil in it and adding oil to it to get in to the finish tonight. He changed out oil tanks this evening.

They all completed routine maintenance and were set for the night. Steve helped a few others time some mags and a few other odds and ends.

Today’s scenery’s was amazing again for riders and support crew routes.

Hopefully there won’t be any more elephant incidents. 🐘🐘🐘

Tomorrow is a big day. Riders go from Spokane Valley, WA to The Dalles, OR. They have 120 miles between gas stops, so they’ll all need gas tomorrow. They will ride 314 miles in all.