31 Jan 2006 – Where did Jan go

Gee, I thought New Years Day was yesterday. What happened? The first month of 2007 is shot and I’ve accomplished nothing. Maybe Feb will be more productive. Shorter month though.. Hmmm.

I’m off the the dentist to get fitted for my first crown. I think I’ll choose something in titanium. Carbon Fiber probably wouldn’t hold up in my mouth very long.

The new bars came in for the 888 yesterday. I’m still awaiting the new top triple. I can’t do anything in on the 888 anyway until I get the forks back from traxxion. I’m sure the 14 year old fork oil and seals will appreciate a change. I just completed my Ohlins dealer app, and was tempted to go ohlins on the front, but couldn’t justify the cost. Besides, a good valving/spring combo is better than a generic set of ohlins. It’s the fork internals that matter rather than what you see on the outside.

Today is another long teaching day. I’m losing Fridays for the next 2 weeks due to University obligations, so TH is it for wrenching in the shop. That’s not enough time to get much done. I might get an early start tomorrow in the shop and get cranking by 0600. That should give me enough time to pull the head and inspect the 996. I’m going to start off with a compression test, but I’m guessing that’s the culprit.

Mad, I’ll order your shift-tech CF today and see you tonight for the Ducati meet. I’m riding the Z today, but will probably brave the cold and ride tonight unless Suzi comes along.

30 Jan 2007 – it ain’t Siberia, but cold is cold

I got a wild hair yesterday and decided to ride into work. The old thermometer only read 27 degrees, but I wanted to test my new Aerostich electric vest. Verdict – it can’t handle temps that cold. By the time I got to the office a mere 10 miles away I was Frozen Chosin. On the way home last night it was in the mid 40s, and the vest handled that just fine. I like for my electric vests handle things down to freezing temps, so I’m going to try insulating a little bit more on top of the vest tomorrow to see how it goes.

There’s been quite a few posts on the message board the last few days. I like it when that happens. I’m guessing the winter temps are keeping people at their computers rather than on their motorcycles. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to handle each question. I do it either late at night or early in the morning.

Today I hoisted the front end of the 888 and pulled the forks to have them reworked. While they’re off I’ll pull the steering head and inspect the roller bearings. On Th I’ll have another bout with the 996. I have a feeling I’ll be tearing the head off again to see what’s up. I’m off to the branch campus to teach tonight.

 

  

29 Jan 2007 – A sale is a sale

It’s Monday again, and time to head off to work. I had a relaxing day yesterday. First, I posted a few more ebay ads for stuff sitting on the shelf. Thee were mostly non-duc-related items. Then Suzi and I headed off to Mike Hill’s house for a get-together. Mike has a very nice place. His house was immaculate. We spent a few hours there, enjoying the spread Mike put out, then headed home to sit by the fire and watch a movie.

Last Friday Suzi brought home a scanned copy of an article in the paper about a fast-growing e-tailer on ebay. The etailer was somebody that I’ve purchased a few items from on ebay. He boasted 40K a week in sales, which is exponentially more than I sell. I went to his ebay store to look at the stuff he had. The first ad was for a full set of rocker arms from an ST4. The picture showed all the rockers laying out side by side. Visible in the picture is clear rocker damage on several of the arms, yet no mention is made in the ad. The etailer in question makes money by parting out Ducatis, a time-honored tradition first on the Ducati index and more recently on ebay. The problem with these etailers is that they only care about the sale. I purchased one item from this etailer – a clutch housing cover. It came covered in oil and grime. The box was even stained. It would have only taken 5 minutes to clean up the part, but then the ad never said the part was clean. My mistake right?

Parting out Ducatis is a skill. A businessperson has to know the value of the items and know what information to provide. And, if they’re adept, they know what information to leave out. If I can get fooled by an ebay ad for a part, anybody can. eBay has a response mechanism, but it doesn’t work. I have a rating of 667, with 666 positive responses. When I purchase an item from eBay, I rarely say anything bad even if I’m not satisfied with the product. I know that if I slam somebody on ebay, they’ll likely retaliate in kind, thus tainting my image in cyberspace. eBay’s rating system only works if a user doesn’t care about your own rating. Back to the etailer in question… any knowledgeable Ducatisti knows about the rocker arm problem with 4-valvers, and SHOULD know to use caution when purchasing used rockers. However, I would expect an ethical etailer to inform customers of any quality issues with things they sell. It’s a shame that business periodicals are much more likely to report the sales volume of a business rather than the reputation of the business. Sales volume comes and goes. I’d much rather have a good reputation, for that is what I’ll take to my grave. A man is remembered for the things he does rather than the things he owns.

Above: Today’s DD is brought to you by my loyal shop-cat Mr. Tubby. 24 pounds of love and muscle.

29 Jan 2007 – Cruising around

Suzi and I ran a few errands yesterday, heading over to the West side of town. We stopped by a few of the motorcycle dealerships, including Ducati, Victory, and the multibrand dealership of Pensacola Motorsports. D&D actually had a few Ducatis on the floor. They had a cool looking S4R in a matt black that looked trick. They’re mostly a Triumph dealership though, so Triumphs dominate the landscape. At the Victory dealership I got to talk to the owner and his wife. If I were to buy a cruiser, it would probably be a Victory. From all indications from their customer satisfaction, growth, and service record, it is rare to have a problem with one, and service costs are minimal. Hydraulic lifters, a 100,000 mile belt and DIY engine and fork oil changes. Victory is coming out with what I think will be a segment killer later this year — A cool looking mega tourer that will go toe to toe with the Gold Wing in the premium tourer segment. $20K is nothing to sneeze at, but the bike is trick.

Above: The Victory Vision Ultra Tourer. If Honda isn’t sweating, H-D probably will. Finally, a V-Twin mega tourer that may work. After riding an Electra Glide cross-country, I don’t think it would be hard to outperform H-D’s offering.

After making a run to the Navy PX, we stopped off at Pensacola Motorsports. The dealership is the largest in Pensacola. There were probably over 100 motorcycles on the showroom floor, and 80 of them were cruisers. That’s about the right percentage in terms of cruiser market share. I think cruisers are nice, but they don’t fit my riding or viewing style. I look at the super tricked out cruisers in terms of eye candy rather than functional transportation. When I was sitting on the Victory Hammer yesterday, the salesman noted that the bike was one of the lightest in the segment — at over 700 pounds wet. It even had USD forks. I told him to when they find a way to shed 300 pounds to give me a call.

 

27 Jan 2007 – Too cold to mount

I was going to ride today, but it’s only 36 degrees outside, and nobody else seems crazy enough to ride. I’ll reschedule tomorrow if it’s a little warmer and the rain blows through.

I spent 8 hours yesterday on the bridge, first anchoring the stringers and then nailing, trimming and staining the deck. It turned out great, but my fingers are a battered mess from splinters and scrapes. Now all I have to do is build both ramps, which will be feat unto itself. I’ll probably tackle the ramps after I finish my retention wall in front of my workshop. I’m paranoid that I won’t have that part of the property ready when it’s time for the new building to go up.

  Above: The hard part is done. Now it’s time to build the ramps.  

I didn’t do any work on Ducks yesterday.  I can only muster about 10-15 hpw working on Ducatis. Anything more than that and I burn out. I don’t know how technician’s do it day in and day out. If I’m not fresh, I’m not focused.

No new product news. I’m gearing up for the Dealer show in 3 weeks. I’ll be ready to roll out some nice stuff after I get back.

 

26 Jan 2007 – Insomnia again

Well, Suzi is fast asleep and gently snoring. I wish I could sleep like her. I’ve often opined that she must have an internal mercury switch that causes her to go to sleep the instant she lays down. I think I’m up thinking about the 996 and the cause of the one-cylinder thing. Hmmm.

A few product comments. I just got the bill for the latest batch of clutches that arrived from Barnett. Barnett indeed raised the prices of their clutches $15. I swallowed $5 of it, but raised the price of the clutch combos and barnett clutch packs $10. I stocked out of the Madduc reservoir covers. I’m seeking an alternate source because Madduc frequently can’t supply me. I’ve had several people ask me whether I plan on expanding my exhaust coverage. The short answer is both yes and no. I won’t recommend any exhaust system that I haven’t installed myself. Because I had some fitment issues with my Zard, I’m hesitant to offer them for sale on the website. I like turnkey products. If I can’t write a simple instruction sheet or if the product requires a lot of work-around for fitment, I won’t carry it. If I was interested in a one-time sale, that would be the way to go.

I put titanium axle pinch bolts up on the website. I sourced these from 2 locations – Fred at Yoyodyne and from Pro-Bolt. The Pro-bolt ones have good specs and are less than 1/2 the price of Yoyodyne’s. Titanium is bloody expensive though.

I’m trying to get a hold of a unique front axle nut for the 25mm axles. The Gilles Titanium front axle nut replaces the aluminum OEM nut. The nut looks great and has a unique shape. It looks like it takes a special tool, but a standard 6 pt socket fits the nut. The nut also has a lock feature. In one of the holes on the face there is a set screw. As you turn the set screw in, a plate comes out against the axle, holding it in place. The front axles on Ducati are secured by the pinch bolts anyway, so this nut is overkill..which is why I like it.

 Above: Is this nut worth $75. If you’re a nut like me it is.

I had my editor send me PDF of my Dec clutch article in MCN. If you’d like a look at it, you’ll find it here. I have the copyright for it, so no posting around the net please.

Time to play some Doom3 and see if I can put myself to sleep.

 

25 Jan 2007 – A mixed bag

The last 48 hours have been a mixed bag. I had a great day of teaching yesterday. I love my job(s). Yesteday I covered personal finances in class, trying to teach my graduating seniors fiscal responsibility. It’s a tough chore given the average American’s debt level.

Last night a few of us gathered for our weekly Ducati meet. It was cold as hell riding to the get-together, but the new electric vest seems to work well. I’ll wear it this weekend and do a writeup for MCN.

Today I had to take one of our cats to the vet to get some medicine and shots. After that I made a Post Office run, and purchased the decking for the bridge. I’ll be working on the bridge all day tomorrow.

This afternoon I worked on the 996. First, I replaced the fuel filter, I found about a cup of water and rust in the bottom of the tank, and the  pump assembly was rusted in place. Gee, I wonder if the fuel filter has ever been replaced. I cleaned out the insides of the tank with a rag and also cleaned inside the fill cap. Next I filled it with oil and water and she fired right up. Well almost. It isn’t running on the vertical cylinder, which is the one that had the bad head gasket. Next week I’ll do a compression test, check for spark and look at the injector. After disconnecting the vertical injector lead, I spent the rest of the afternoon filling the cooling system, running the bike up to temp, and then draining the coolant. So far I’ve done it about 20 times. Until the water comes out perfectly clear, it won’t be ready for the street. The oil sight glass has a coating of coolant on it, but after draining and filling the crankcase a few times, all the residual coolant seems gone. Once I sort out the Supermono issue, I’ll be able to take it for a spin. I have to wear ear plugs when I start it because the original owner fitted an open clutch cover, and after 25K the original basket is banging like a prostitute in heat.

That’s about it for today. I smell of gas, rubber and oil and am hitting the shower. There’s a nice fire in the fireplace and I’m in a lot better mood, even after wrestling with the 996 today. Things could be a lot worse.  I could be back in Iraq.

Here are a few videos to cheer you up. I have them bookmarked, and look at them when I get bored. The first is a compilation of Ducati clips, most notably some great footage of the factory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRAsnO58o1w

The next one shows some clips of various incarnations of the Ducati superbike, finishing with video of development work on the 999.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUQr2Uma7C0

The next one if a completely irresponsible 999 owner flying through traffic on the highway. You’ve got to see this idiot to believe it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph9eyL-JXSw

Finally, here’s a good video recap of the 2006 MotoGP season

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQJUaFvtghM

 

24 Jan 2007 – I hate Shops

Well, yesterday didn’t go as planned. I had forgotten that I hadn’t completed the valve adjust on the horizontal cylinder of the 996, so I spent almost 3 hours on that. After the valves were completed, I cleaned and installed the throttlebodies. Then I had to flush the radiator and coolant lines from the congealed mess of oil and coolant created when the head gasket blew. What a freakin’ mess. The morning ended when I went to drain the oil and found the drain plug stripped. After 30 minutes, a dremel and a chisel I got the plug out. The last shop that worked on it stripped the allen head. Idiots.  Then I went to install the belts and the left side cover screws were stripped, so I spent more time with a dremel tool and a impact driver to remove them. I’ll spend more quality time with the 996 tomorrow.

Above: This stripped oil drain plug was a MOFO to get off. OEM torque is a mere 42 Nm (31 lb ft). Customers and shops often use double the spec. This results in a stripped bolt and a headache for me.

I didn’t ride to the branch campus. The 996 wore me out and I wasn’t in the mood. The weather is crap today as well, so no commuting to work today either. I’m hoping it clears for the Ducati meet tonight.

I got to read some of my Sport Rider while eating dinner at a Subway restaurant last night. It had an article on the 1098. There were factual errors throughout the article. The 1098 is the first Ducati to sport a 190 rear wheel? Give me a break. A magnesium sub-frame? I don’t think so? Oh well, at least they spelled Ducati correctly.

On the way home last night I got to listen to the Pres’ State of the Union speech. He articulates about as good as I write, but at least I understand him. I stopped for gas and couldn’t understand a word of what the attendant was saying to me. The chaw of tobacco in her mouth might have had something to do with it.

Today I have to talk to a few suppliers about some stuff, and call Motowheels to ask where my money is. Guess who isn’t going to get any more net-30 shipments of my books? I’ve got an easy day of teaching. I’m showing videos. :-)

23 Jan 2007 – Quality time with a 996

This morning I’ll have another session with the 996 up on lift 1. If I’m lucky I’ll finish her up. If I’m luckier, the bike will start. After that the forks come off the 888. If I get these 2 things accomplished it will have been a good morning. This afternoon it’s back to Ft Walton Beach and my branch campus students. I’m itching to try out my new Stich ‘lectric vest, so I may ride to the branch campus today. I’ll see at lunchtime if I feel like rolling out the Gran Canyon.

There was a good artlcle in Road Racer X about Ducati’s attempts to have the FIM change it’s rules to allow 1200cc twins. I hope something happens this year. Otherwise, 2008 will have no Ducatis in WSB. The 999 is homologated for 2007 because of the 999 Xerox, but in 2008 there won’t be any in production. BSB and Spanish Superbike will both allow 1200cc twins in 2008. Of course, AMA is a few years off.

Barber Motorsports gave a heads up that they may be hosting a major international race next year. It’s been no secret that they and Indy have been vying for an international race. I would have thought MMP in Utah would also be vying to host a race. We’ll see.

The 1098 launch in the US is 2 weeks away. Some dealerships have already had an unveiling, but 1098 models ending up in customer hands is a few weeks off. I have a 1 week window in Mid-march to go get mine.

On the product front, Throttlemeister came out with a new milled black finish that looks awesome. I added the style to the ad page. Also, I’ll be adding Cyclecat bar riser systems to the mix soon. I have them on my 888, 916, M900, and 999, so I must like them. The degree of adjustment and fit and finish of their systems are top notch.

 

 

22 Jan 2007 – Sink or Swim

It’s a dreary day in the Panhandle of Florida, but it’s Monday so who cares? Today I come to you live from my office at the Univ of West Fl. I have my office door open and the sound of the Ferrarri 275 GTB careening through downtown Paris blaring out of my speakers. What a great way to start the week. After both of my teams lost yesterday, I’ve retreated to my gear-head universe.

I stopped off at the Post Office on my way in and mailed a big batch of stuff out. The rest of the hard anos will get here this Friday, so those that ordered them will get them early next week. Sorry for the delay.

I put up the ad for the exchange service to mill out clutch housings. You’ll find it under the clutch section of the website.

I came across an exotic car this past weekend in Pcola. On our way to our car Sat night, we saw a Ferrarri amongst the parked cars. Suzi commented that I should get one sometime. An interesting thought, but I already have a sports car that I don’t drive. Besides, exotic cars require time and attention, both of which I don’t have the ability to provide. I want my 4 wheel modes of transportation to be reliable and functional. You usually don’t think of those two words when you think of a Ferrarri.