25 June 2015

The Stuart Parr Collection - Art of the Italian Two Wheel - NYC

Despite living within 5 or so miles of Staten Island (almost my whole life), I haven't been to the city in over 7-years. Part of this has to do with being married, having kids, and being a grown up, but I think more of it has to do with working in Park Slope and having to commute there 5 days a week. Hanging out in nyc every weekend loses its appeal when you're trudging between 3 boroughs for 12 hours daily during the work week. Not much gets me excited enough to make the trip into Manhattan, but my mom (who works on Madison ave.) kept telling me about some weird vacant space getting filled with old Ducatis, and that piqued my interest. Then I started getting pics of the place and it wasn't just Ducatis, but also MV Agustas and a Laverda, but there were still no signs up and by all appearances, it just looked like they were assorted in some vacated building. Eventually the place opened, and it wound up being the Art of the Italian Two Wheel (Stuart Parr Collection) exhibition and what finally got me back into the city. It's open through July 18th (and it's FREE), and is definitely worth checking out.

Here's some pics of the trip. I took a lot and was going to post them all, but there's just too many.

We were greeted by a '64 Aermacchi Ala Azzurra at the door, a very good sign.

Definitely not abandoned looking anymore

This '66 Motobi racer was my favorite bike of the bunch, shame it was hanging vertically by the front desk, there were a lot of details I wanted to check out on it.

Side case cutaway in weight saving, aesthetically pleasing, sexy-Italian kind of way

 MV Army

I love the note to replace the rings on the top piston. The air-filter hidden under the tank is a nice touch too, reminds me of the original set-up on my Aermacchi 250 SS.


 Above and below - the two red-headed step-children of the MV Agusta family.


14 June 2015

North Carolina

I had to take a trip down to Goldsboro, NC for work and this place is what comes to mind whenever I think of a typical Southern town.

Chevy C10 parked on the lawn (another in the backyard), '59 Impala drag car in the car port

Main Street, USA. They don't tear their history down and replace it with strip malls.

Local, seasonal food and beer. Can't beat it

Cool town, at least the old part further away from the Air Force base. A lot of blight though, a lot of abandoned buildings. Probably would be a cool place to set up shop once I retire and can finally get a bike shop going full time.

06 June 2015

Deutscher Club of Clark BMW Biergarten 5 June 15

Every summer the Deutscher Club of Clark hosts German car shows/Biergartens and last night was BMW night. As a member of the club you're encouraged to volunteer to help out during the summer season and I always end up working this one; some day I'll make it out the Mercedes, Audi, and VW ones too. BMW night is hosted by the BMWCCA and in past years I've tried to get BMWMOA clubs to show up, but they never returned my emails, I don't know why, and have since given up. Usually the cars that show up are newer ones, with brand new ones supplied by JMK BMW, which is fine, but the older stuff is better. This year I was happy to see a '71 2002 and an '87 (IIRC) M5.

I rode the R90 in and parked it in the lot, when the DC President came out and told me to move it to the showing area. I don't really like showing my stuff and generally I don't like attention, but at least I'd be able to keep an eye on it while I was working the grounds. No one from the car club seemed to mind (or if they did they were polite about it)

Something here is not like the others.

M5, probably my 2nd favorite car of the night

 One of the two I3s at the show. Pretty strange cars, the front doors open normal and the rears are suicide doors. There's no pillar separating them so when all doors are open the car is wide open and easy to get into. This is probably really helpful with getting kids in and out of the car. There was natural wood trim along the dash which was a nice touch, but there's something about electric cars that I just can't get into. I think it's also silly to emulate gas engined car features, like a front grill, which with the I3s was solid (doesn't need an intake) and a crummy facade.

Delphin grey, I think I may use that color for the R60

On the left was a line of M cars, probably should have taken more pics of them

2002, great to see one on the road instead of only at the BMW Museum in Munich. I don't know which car was voted best of the night, but this one had my vote.

I wound up leaving the the show around 8ish and when I started my bike, gas started pouring out of the right side. Apparently the fuel line to the carb tore. I don't know how that happened as it wasn't broken when I parked the bike, but it did. Unfortunately the spare gas line I always keep with me was absent as I used part of it for the Aermacchi vent line and the rest I left on my work bench. To fix the issue I had to cut off the bad section of line, which made the fuel line too short, then rotate the carb to make up the difference. This was enough to make it home, fix the problem, and then make sure my spare lines went right back into my backpack.

Some of the car guys came over to help me, but stuff like this doesn't really need tools and is sort of a one person job, but it was very nice for the offers, especially for some guy with a motorcycle at a car event. One of the guys held a flashlight for me while I worked, which was very helpful and he did it on his own accord without me even mentioning anything. I was a little short and cut off people that genuinely wanted to talk about the bike, but it was a long day and I just wanted to get home (I finished night shift at 6AM that morning and only slept for 5 hours). I still feel bad about it and wish I could contact someone and apologize - if anyone reading this knows any of the guys please let me know so I could do just that. I remarked to one of the guys that I thought someone was messing with the bike because tears like that don't just happen (it wasn't in a position to rub on anything and wear), but he didn't think so and honestly he's probably right - maybe I am just too cynical... blame it on life in NJ.

03 June 2015

Venting the Aermacchi tank

Lately, I've noticed on "spirited" runs that I'm getting vapor lock issues because of inadequate gas tank venting. The problem only presents itself when running WOT up a bridge or on a long straight and I think arises from the fact that I adapted a Benelli 2-stroke tank to do a job that it was never intended to do - if you look at the top of the cap it has the instructions for how much 2-stroke oil to add to the tank. There is a sub-par venting system within the cap, but it just wasn't up the task. I fixed the issue by taking a 1/16" drill bit and putting it right through the top of the cap, but that allowed gas to escape and collect on the top of the cap and wasn't acceptable. As a temporary stop gap, I cobbled up some parts laying around the garage and came up with a working vent, until I can get better stuff and perfect it.

You can see the hole I made with the drill bit, and the dried gas on the top from the test run. Next to it is a Verlicchi cable adjuster I had laying around with M7x1.0 threads. The threads aren't important, but the screw is, as it already is bored out through the center to accept the cable in its former use and the length was good enough to clear the cap and still have enough room to attach a hose.

I tapped out the cap to accept M7x1.0 threads and used the base of the adjusting screw as a stop on the bottom of the cap.

Attaching the fuel line vent was straightforward. I wanted to retain the adjusting nut to help secure the screw/vent in the cap, but it didn't allow enough clearance. To fix this, I just put a hose clamp on, and that'll keep the fuel line on and keep the screw from backing out with engine vibrations. I needed a method of securing the fuel line away from the tank in a clean manner, so I added speed-holes to the steering damper knob. Functional, but doesn't look out of place on a cafe bike.

The line isn't took noticeable, but it was pinching a little in it's current position. I needed to remove the kinking and had to raise the hose a little, which doesn't look as clean.

Not sure if I'll just replace this cap with a better, stainless, proper venting cap, or install an L pipe to allow the vent line to go straight to the front of the frame without having to arc it (as pictured).

29 May 2015


It's the smallest parts that cause the biggest problems...  

Idle jet clogged solid, don't know how debris made it past 2 filtering screens but it did.

The only thing I had small enough to fit in the jet prior to chemical cleaning.

16 May 2015

less stock, more rock

Due to financial constraints I'm pretty much ruling out getting the crankshaft rebuilt for my R60 this year. That's pretty much the last piece needed before I can start assembling the engine, so getting the engine running is going to be put on the back burner. Instead I'll focus on getting a rolling chassis together and knocking out some fabrication.

I've already pretty much decided that this isn't going to be a concours bike, after all, I'm putting a /5 telescopic fork on the front end instead of using an Earles fork and I had no intention of going with a stock paint scheme. To keep things affordable I'm going to try to make use of stuff I have laying around when I can. I know I'm going to have to make my own solo seat and frame from scratch and in order to do that I'll have to get an idea of how things are laid out on the bike.

I had a beat up fender from my R90/6 laying around, so for shits and giggles I wanted to see if it'd mount on the R60 frame. FYI, if you want a new rear fender fresh from BMW in primer, it'll set you back $1300. As it turns out, the mounting points line up pretty well. I planned on bobbing the fender and cutting off the crap areas, so what I did is actually reverse the fender from where it's mounted above and cut off the license plate mounting area and have that side facing forward. The humps for the bolts on the fender line up with the current mounting point, and the other bolts will line up pretty well for mounting a pillion seat. I'm a little concerned that it's fiberglass and may not hold up to the weight of a person, but with enough framing with tube steel it may be good.

Doesn't look bad for the first cut. Obviously some trimming will be necessary, but this may work out to be a cheap option

The tank for the bike I bought was (and is) in rough shape when I bought it. I had to spend a little to get a new toolbox cover and lock, but that's about all I have for a tank currently. To get it to mount to the frame in the rear you need M8x1.0x30 bolts and the only thing I had laying around in that size were old pressure plate bolts from the R90 that were way too small, and the two studs I salvaged from the final drive that start at M8x1.0 and then go to M8x1.25. Since M8x1.25 is an easier thread to find (and I have tons of nuts for that size), I figured I'd just put the studs on the tank and secure it with nuts I had laying around. Besides that, my Behelfskatalog doesn't give the rubber spacer dimensions, but I had some left over from a VW Thing that I used to have (I don't even remember what they were for) and they seemed to be just right.

I guess this is the reward for holding onto crap, hopefully I can recycle more stuff I have laying around the shop. Now that I have some visual cues, I can work out how tall to make the tabs for the solo seat from that I have to weld on, and then figure out how big to make the seat itself. Next is welding on a new centerstand lug, powdercoating and lacing the wheels, and then I'll be on my way to having a rolling chassis.

23 April 2015

Brandon gets his bike back + and tips on installing Denso brushes

I think the gods were against this Ducati ever getting back to the owner. After fixing the original issues (electrical problems, new ignition and tank lock, and fork brace) that the bike arrived with, then replacing completely worn out rear brake pads, I called Brandon and let him know his bike was finished and that he should come over and warm it up so I could change the oil + filter, then send him on his way. He didn't think something felt quite right during the test run so I figured I'd take a ride to see what was up (it wound up just being an under-inflated rear tire). About two blocks away the clutch lever broke off in my hands...

There were signs that this bike had been crashed by the PO, and likely why the bike was turned into a naked rat, and the clutch lever must have been damaged and just needed enough pulls to snap. No big deal, $34 got a nice condition complete lever and clutch master cylinder. Put that on, bled the system, reset the choke, and called Brandon back to tell him his bike was done, again. He comes over and I go to start the bike, crank, crank, dead. The starter motor just stopped. Diagnosing the issue ruled out the solenoid and indicated starter problems. Bad, bad bad... Removal of the starter motor requires draining the oil, removing the shifter, the complete left side case, the alternator, and then accessing the hidden mounting bolts. That being said, access to the brushes can be done by removing the oil cooler hoses on the right side of the bike, then the two long bolts on the right side of the starter. Figuring I'd check the easy stuff before completely removing the starter, that's what I did first. I was expecting somewhat worn brushes, but not this...

What you're looking at is a positive brush that broke apart, followed by the two armature shims that somehow welded to each other, broke off, and then re-welded themselves to the brush spring. I'm speechless. $10 later, a shop put on brand new brushes and returned the brush plate, now time to mount it.

From this angle the install looks really easy and straightforward. What can't really be discerned in the photo is that the oil cooler inlets protrude from the case enough to make it impossible to put the cap back on by going straight in, you have to cock it and fit it. I first attempted to put the cap and brush plate on as a unit (with the slots already aligned), this made the most sense to me at the time, but was a total failure. Way too difficult to get the brushes on the armature along with the cap mounted correctly to the starter. Next I removed the brush plate from the cap (which meant removing the bolts from the cap that connects to the brush and the positive electrical lead). That made it easy to get the plate on, and the cap on, but next to impossible to get the bolt back into the cap and get the cap back on. Finally, an hour and a half later, I came to the conclusion that I'd leave the bolt in the cap, but leave the nut on at the very last thread of the bolt. This would leave me enough slack to get the brush plate on the armature, and wiggle the cap on, and then pull the bolt fully through the cap and tighten up the retaining nut. Voila...

Buttoned everything up, started it up, starter whirred like a jet engine, and everything is good again. I couldn't be happier to return the bike to the owner.

And here's the happy couple. 

It's rewarding to bring life back to a motor that hasn't run in years, restore the driveability and integrity of the bike, and see the owner beaming to go on his first ride in about 3 years.

12 April 2015

Brandon's Ducati 900SS rat

Just finished up work on Brandon's rat 900SS.

Once the electric was sorted out, it was just a matter of replacing the steering stem/lower fork brace and the locking gas cap to match the new ignition.

JB Weld is no one's friend - this is the brace I have to replace.. Kids, do not repair structural stuff like this.

naked, like Italians on a beach

This is the method I use for greasing in pressed in bearings - way easier than trying to use traditional packing methods. Grease injecting directly into the races, can't beat it

It's so ugly, it's beautiful. Look mom, no JB Weld.

Brandon also wants an oil change and the rear brake pads changed, but all in all, the work is done. I'll be happy to see Brandon ride off on his beast again, it hasn't run since Hurricane Sandy...

10 April 2015

Ducati 900SS back to life

Brandon's Duc has been OOS since around the winter of 2012. It ran fine, then he put it away, then no good (no lights, not spark, no starter) + the fork brace is cracked clean. Since he dropped it off a couple of weeks ago, I've only been able to spend about 5 hours or so on it, and those hours have been dedicated just to fixing the electrical issues. It had me stumped for awhile. The electronic tach is wired directly to the battery, not the ignition switch, so it's on as long as there is battery power - I installed a disconnect to remedy that while I mull over rewiring. Additionally, there are a ton of homemade connections and rewiring on this bike, which was a pain, but after changing the battery, tracing everything out, installing the new ignition (he lost the original keys), and cleaning and rewiring some connections, a turn of the ignition would trigger a quick flash on the indicators and the click of the main relay. Finally I figured it'd have to be the relay, despite it clicking like normal.

not looking good

 After opening up the relay it didn't take long to see what the problem was. The coil was in great shape which is why it was clicking over, but the contact was well burnt up.

contact detail

I found out that Ducati isn't like BMW at all when it comes to old parts, they're more like H-D. Only worry about the new stuff, and anything older than 5 years or so will be relegated to the salvage market. I wound up finding a used relay for $11.95 on eBay (with a video showing that the bike was working before disassembly), and then an automotive generic relay on Amazon for $4.20. Since the Amazon relay is lost in the mail currently, and the old Ducati one happened to arrive today, I decided to try that option.

After a brief recharging of the battery, this 94 is back to life. Now to tackle the front suspension, rear brake pad change, and oil change, and this bike will be back on the road again. Just listen to that Ducati clutch clang around...