This is a nice Ducati that came to us for a check over and a service. The new owner had procured it for a very reasonable price or in my words a very cheap price. There are several anomalies that allow it to drift away from its true production form but they seem to accompany the engine and frame unit very well. These narrow case engines are unbustable and will happily rev out to 9,000RPM if they are built well as so few are nowadays, this particular engine had been contested over several years in the classic racing motorcycle club by a decent rider who decided to eventually build it up for road use.
The jelly mold petrol tank from an earlier model would have sported an amount of chrome plating on ether side of the tank. the new owner told me to check out the fiber glass petrol tank for leaks and to his glee I told him it was a steel one that had probably been silver painted due to chrome plating giving up the ghost or more usually to hide some dents, anyway I like it with it’s crazed silver paintwork .
The seat unit looks a little thickset but is ideal for road use. The fairing is a little large but it has to be so as to contain the instrumentation and give good clearance for the handlebars. The headlight afore seems to be crying out for the Perspex cover that would have fitted on the front of the fairing giving a more wind stream effect. I don’t like the side panels as they are a little brick like in design, everything on this bike is very functional although a bit of a mongrel.
A home made wiring loom had been fitted and something on usage kept blowing 2 fuses in the fuse box when any lighting was employed. The problem was traced down to bad earth connections and a couple of shorted wires. A home made tail light mounting plate was a bad earth connection as some flue was used in constructing it. Creating intermittent earth connection. The tail light bulb wiring was also shorting out in the bulb holder. Electrical faults are always time consuming to track down particularly if it’s a custom loom even though the owner had provided a good wiring diagram.
Starting the engine that requires a certain knack in getting the crankshaft just over TDC on the compression stroke. This particular engine is inclined to flood and may blow the odd flame out of the carb bell mouth if you get your kick starting wrong you may find that the engine will lock up on the compression stroke due to its high compression. You may want to use an amount of judicious use of the exhaust valve lifter to help with starting. When the engine starts its raucous note emanates from its open megaphone. It definitely isn’t the loudest tone but it does let the hard of hearing pedestrian know you are in the vicinity. The sound is lovely.
Out of interest I though I would remove the top end of the engine as so much can be learnt about the builder. On removal of the whole top end which is very easy as long as the crank isn’t turned over when the head is off as it will screw the valve timing up. It was found that the bottom bevels were a little on the tight side with zero clearance. I though the easiest way of dealing with this problem was to swap one of the shims behind the crank bevel to give the correct .0002 tenths of an inch clearance on the tightest bevel tooth. I inspected the barrel and the ring gaps and they were in perfect condition as well as the camshaft and followers, obviously a good builder. When checking the bottom bevels it is prudent to check if there is any end float on the crankshaft, this can easily be done without stripping the bottom end. If there is undue end float you will have to shim the crankshaft ends, if you don’t you will have the bottom bevels out. Unfortunately crank shimming is only possible if the engine is removed from the frame and striped down, watch out for those shims I put the top end back on and was satisfied that all was well.
Another start up by bump starting in second gear as I do when I rev mine and she starts up with no problem. I’m not used to kick starting small Dukes as I fear damaging as already damaged right ankle. All in all, the owner has bought well as I would be proud to be its new owner if ever he cares to part with it. There are a few amendments that I would make to the Ducati, I would lower the compression ratio so as to give less embarrassing start ups. The ignition timing is good at 36 to 37 degrees before top dead centre. I would defiantly put the nose cone as it will keep any rain out of the electrics behind the fairing. Some slight carb adjustments would be a good idea after lowering the compression ratio. Floppy kick starters can be a prob. I would ditch the side panels and fit something else to match the tank. I suppose that’s it.