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 it lights up and works - 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...