30 June 2007 – Comin’ and Goin’

It’s Friday night and I’m feeling pretty good. I haven’t spoken to Suzi since she left on the cruise, so either she’s having too much fun to call or phone calls are too expensive. I miss her. The house is way to big for just me and the cats.

Today was a good day. I started off by taking the 996 for a test ride at 0530. The bike ran great, but there was front end shudder so I planned to find suitable replacement rotors. I put the 996 up on stands, removed the wheels, and then tackled Papa Smurf’s M620. He’s had a bad fuel sender unit and needed it to be replaced. What a pain in the ass. In order to replace it you have to pull the cap and snake your hand all the way to the base of the tank to pull out the fuel pump. The fuel sender plugs into the fuel pump.  I ended up tearing off the whole tank. My knuckles are all banged up. The new sender has a different profile, but fits perfectly. That should fix his problems.

Above: What do you do when you have a customer bike in need of an air filter and the one  you ordered won’t be in for a week? You tear apart your own 916  and give him yours.

After working on the baby 620, I headed to Brad’s with the 996 wheels in the back of the truck and had him change out the tires. While balancing the front wheel, we noticed a wobble. There is a spot about 4 inches long on the left side of the rim that bulged out about 2-3mm. Not good. It looks as though the original owner hit one hell of a pothole or something. You can’t see it until you spin the wheel, but the whole tire deflects in that spot. Not enough to break the bead of the tire, but it’s noticeable. I bought Brad lunch and then headed back to the shop. I then had to decide if the brake pulsing was a result of the damaged wheel or the front rotors. I gambled that it was the rotors.

 Above: What do  you do when a customer is in need of a straight set of rotors and doesn’t need or can’t afford a $600 set of new ones? You give him a set of yours and then blow all the money you made on the service to upgrade rotors that were fine to begin with. 

The only donor rotors I had left in the showroom were on my 888, so I used my last available front stand to hoist the front end to remove the 888 front wheel. I swapped the rotors over to Patrick’s bike and put his wheels on. Then it was time to install the fairing and shine up the bike and wheels. Nice looking machine. The 916 series never looks dated to me. Few bikes have that ageless appeal.  A quick spin confirmed that the front brake pulsing is gone… his rotors were, in fact, warped. However, I’d recommend replacing the front wheel. You can find those 5 spoke gray Marchesinis on eBay for a few hundred bucks. Patrick may not notice the damaged wheel, but if it’s enough to deflect the front tire, it will effect tire wear. I’m kind of like the princess and the pea when it comes to front ends. I can diagnose something wrong anywhere in the suspension with a quick test drive.

Above: Ain’t that perty? Patrick Norcross’ 996 ready for departure from the DT workshop. 

Tonight I cut the grass, fed the fish and turtles, combed the loose hair off of Mr Tubby, and sent some emails. I also got a good start on my Part 2 eBay article for MCN. I have to finish that by Sunday.

Tomorrow (Sat) I’ll get up and check out who won the Dutch MotoGP race. Go Stoner!!!… Then, Patrick is coming to pick up his 996. I also have an MTS1000 being dropped off to take it’s place for next week’s service. I’ve got a bunch of yard work to do as well. After that, I’m going to prep my ST2 for the ride on Sunday. The poor little underpowered desmodue will tackle Blackwater once again. She hasn’t been ridden in 3 months and needs to stretch her legs.

Grover, your forks shipped today from Traxxion. Did you get them yet? 😉

Tonight I also had a chance to call one of my best customers — Stan Julian. He’s almost as much of a Ducati junkie as me. I say almost, because you start working on other people’s Ducks, you aren’t a TOTAL junkie. After saving his sheckles, Stan is going to get the Full Monty with a vented clutch housing and an STM pressure plate. Speaking of which, I’m still awaiting the STM pressure plates in red. They’ve been backordered for 6 weeks. I’ve been promised them within the next week or so.  

That’s if for Friday night. Have a great Saturday and don’t forget to cheer for Stoner… and Desmo Times…

One question before you go. I’ve been toying with the idea of carrying STM billet frame plugs. I’ve got them on all of my bikes. The frame plugs replace the black rubber plugs on the side of the frame. Unfortunately, I’d have to order a lot of different sizes and colors, and it may be one of those products where I’m the only one interested. If you’d be interested in frame plugs for your scoot, comment here.

29 June 2007 – 996 Complete…. almost

I’m writing this late TH night for Friday. It’s been a long day. I worked from 0800-2000 on Norcross’ 996. Every last shim had to be changed out. I misspoke when I stated the mileage on the bike. I thought it had 17k. It only has 7K, so the belts were just old. On the other hand, to find 5 bad rockers and the clearances so bad on the bike at 7K is a disappointment. The good news is that bike runs like a scalded dog. You don’t even need the fast idle to crank it off, the CO is perfect across the temp range and it runs great. It has passed all the leak test and bench blipping. Tomorrow morning (Friday) I’ll take it for its test spin, then yank the wheels and replace the rubber. After that, she’s ready for pickup. Patrick, you can pick it up Sat morning. Good news,bad news on the rockers though. I couldn’t get them warranteed, but I’m becoming a reseller for megacycle rechromed rockers, so instead of $185, they’re only $85 apiece. Not as good as free, but certainly better than $185.

Above: Once the service is complete the bike gets run up to temp several times to check for leaks and then gets the F/I work done. Here the CO is checked through the temp range on an exhaust sniffer.  

Above: 5 bad rockers out of 8 openers ain’t good for only 7K miles. I blame it on the HUGE valve clearances.

 I’m trashed from lack of sleep last night and a 12 hour day in the shop. I’m sick of motorcycles and need a break. Good night, and have a great Friday.

28 June 2007 – Insomnia

I woke up at 0200 to take a tinkle, and couldn’t get back to sleep. I decided to do some work, so from 0230-0400 I packed boxes, unboxed replenishing inventory and got out all the orders. The batteries didn’t come in yesterday, so those 4 orders are still sitting here. I have a few new products to put up – non-folding CRG bar end mirrors and the ST4/4S cam wheel holder tool. I also will have valve cover gaskets for 2v/4v bikes by next week. I’m getting closer to being a 1-source for Ducati maintenance. I got a sample of my testa cam wheel holder but it doesn’t fit. Prototype #2 will be here next week. I chatted with one of my fab guys, and the DS1000 case saver prototype will be here in a few weeks. If that fits, I’ll have them in stock by August.

Suzi leaves today for her 3 day cruise with the girls. I’ll be working all day on Patrick’s 996… after I take a nap that is. I’m ragged.

We had a good turnout for the Desmo Times club meet last night. Mark, Shelly, Suzi, Me, James, Patrick and Mike showed up. 

That’s it for my 0430 report.. Have a great Thursday.  

27 June 2007 – Some quality time with a 996

I had a very productive morning yesterday, and had both classes prepped for today by lunchtime. I grabbed some lunch with Brad and high-tailed it home. It was just starting to rain with our daily afternoon shower, so I changed clothes and started to prep the 996 on lift #1. It takes me approximately 2 hours to prep a 4-valver for service — remove the fairing, drain and remove the tank, remove airbox, remove battery and battery tray with voltage regulator, remove oil pressure sensor and belt covers, drain coolant and remove radiator, drain the oil, clean the screen and drop the oil filter, clean the throttle bodies, clean the engine, and inspect visually for anything weird.

I had to add a line item on my service invoices for something called “shop supplies” last year. I probably burn through a roll of paper towels, 15 pairs of rubber gloves, 1/2 can of WD-40, qtips, coolant, brake fluid, missing or bad fasteners, etc. on each service. I now charge 3.5% of the labor cost for replenishment of these supplies. By the looks of a lot of the bikes I work on, other shops don’t really clean the bike or replace fasteners that are bad during a service.

One thing to note on 996 models is the dual-injector setup. Ducati found that top end performance was enhanced by the dual injectors. Unfortunately, the dual injectors run like crap at low rpm, regardless of the level of tuning.

Another curious facet of the 996 is the inclusion of large rubber air restrictors inside the air runners. Let’s see, you design a bike with dual injectors, then install restrictors to reduce the flow? What’s wrong with this picture?

The solution is to install an FIM brand chip in the 1.6 ECU. Patrick’s bike has the FIM 191 chip, which was designed for the 1999 996 BIP. FIM also had chips that converted the 996 to a single-injector setup. FIM found out that running a single-injector, the bike ran better. Unfortunately, the chip in Patrick’s bike is for a ’99 996. The recommended setup for his bike is the FIM UM222 — the single injector mod. I’m going to remove the rubber snorkels, the restrictive inline air filters, and install an over-the-velocity-stack air filter. The bike is running a bit rich, and I think that will liven it up. If it still bogs at off-idle, the FIM UM222 is the ticket. The FIM chips cost around $200. I’ve got other fish to fry before I think of that mod though. See below.

I had time later in the afternoon to pull the vertical intake valve cover. The pic above shows my clearance measurements. When I see clearances so large on a 4-valver, I write it down, but I get mentally prepared for something worse than large clearances…. Rocker arm wear. The pic below shows rocker arm wear on the left rocker. See that dull square spot on the face of the chrome? That spot is actually recessed about .0003″ due to the chrome coming off. You only see that if you pull the cam. I’m the first person to pull a cam on this bike, and it has 17K on it. How do I know that I’m the first? Because Ducati puts a line of paint across the fuji locknuts holding the cam belt eccentric in place. The paint on this 996 was intact, meaning no belts have been changed, and you can’t pull a cam without removing the belts. Let’s see … 17K and 6 years on the same set of belts…. not bad. A bit beyond the spec for replacement though.

I don’t know if Ducati is still good-faith warrantying back to 2001, but I’ll try. Otherwise, those suckers are expensive – $185 apiece now that Ducati tripled the price back in Feb. When a rocker is bad, you have to replace it and remeasure the clearances. The opener clearance is affected by worn rockers. I’ve got replacements on the shelf, so it won’t hold anything up other than Patrick’s retirement plans. If Ducati isn’t warrantying any more, it’s time to switch to megacycle rechromed rocker arms. At last check, they were around $80 with exhange.

26 June 2007 – Back to School

I’m in the middle of my prep to begin teaching later this week. That’s taking precedent over everything else, so a light DD today.

The builders are hammering a few nails each day, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel… and it’s a speeding train heading right for me.  A new and improved electrician is coming out today to give me an estimate after my last one came out and never called back. The insulation arrives tomorrow. Once that’s here, I’ve got to sequence the contractors — electrician, plumber, dirt fill guy, paver. I can also start on the inside once it has electricity.

I’m stacked up with bikes again, or at least I will be. I won’t have time to do Patrick’s 996 until Thursday, and still have a deadline on a 5 page MCN story on Friday that I haven’t started. I’m screwed. Suzi leaves Th morning though for her vacation with the Gals, so I’ll be pulling long days while she’s gone.

BC, the prototype of the Testa cam holder is in the mail to me. Good news eh? Also, the ST head cam holder tools are done and on the way back to me with the long awaited eccentric wrenches. Once they get here with my long lost battery shipment, I’ll be back to 100% stock on most items.

Have a great Tuesday.  

25 June 2007 – A good day

Yesterday was a great day. It started off with a good ride through Blackwater. We did almost 150 miles. That’s a lot of riding to be home by 1100. We saw two other groups of riders going through Blackwater. The rear group was stopped to help out a rider that went down, but he looked okay… target fixation. So typical. I don’t like seeing groups of riders in Blackwater. We try not to offend the locals, but squids will mean cops, which will ruin it for everybody. I won’t be riding out there again for a month or so again anyway.

Mark wore his new perforated Alpinestar leathers yesterday. Very bling. All he needed was some spiked heel boots, a black leather whip and a copy of “spank me” magazine.

Above: We gear up from our rest stop. Ain’t that yeller 1098 perty? Mark, thanks for the pic.

There were no incidents on the ride yesterday, which means it was a good ride. Ron Ward came on the ride on his FJR1300. That thing is blinding fast on the straights, but the Sport Classic could eat it up on the turns. There’s only 1 section of road where a naked bike is at a disadvantage. On that stretch, Mark usually checks out and disappears into the distance on his 999. I’m too responsible to go at such speeds.

Stoner was the man yesterday. Wet races are a drag to watch when somebody checks out like he did at the end, but any race that Ducati wins is a good race. It’s humbling to see them drag their knees through corners in the wet. I don’t to that in the dry. Stoner opened his lead a few points. I was glad to see Edwards do so well too. Maybe he’ll do well again at the upcoming Laguna Seca round.

Above: The shed now towers over my 24×24 workshop. Now I need a bigger workshop, or at least one that doesn’t look like it should sit next to a mobile home.

Things on the shed are progressing. The crew worked all weekend, off and on as per usual. As you can see from the pic, the left side is complete now with the windows, wood trim and flying rafters. The tarp is to shield the front of the building where the dormers have been cut out. Hopefully the tarp will come down this week and the dormers will be completed. We had afternoon storms yesterday, so I’m glad the tarp was there.

Above: How many Ducati’s can you pack into a 24×24 garage along with all the Desmo Times inventory? Not enough…………… 

Some people have asked me why I built the new shed so big. The above pic should give an indication of how packed I am in the current building. Inventory racks have grown to take up one-third of my showroom, and I’m bursting at the seams. It’s an effort just to get a bike out of there. Don’t you feel sorry for me?

Last night Suzi and I had dinner with Brad and Carol. Before dinner we went over their house to play with their dachsund puppies. Both are females. I get a kick out of playing with the the oldest puppy. I can get her so wired up by playing with a little stuffed bunny rabbit that she straddles it and starts humping it. It happens every time I play with that dog. Whenever she does it, we all yell out “hump the bunny”. Brad’s wife is mortified whenever it happens. The rest of us hoot and holler. It’s hilarious.

Today is an office day for me. I start teaching on Wed. Have a great Monday, and remember, Hump the Bunny!!!

24 June 2007 – Edwards on Pole

We’ll see if Colin can finally put together a complete race today. Yamaha must have Donington dialed in to put Edwards & Rossi 1-2 in qualifying. Other than Stoner, the Ducatis are struggling. My money is still on Rossi for the title. He’s just been so consistent, and you get the feeling he’s just waiting for Stoner to have a few bad races.

It was a nail-biter in AMA yesterday. I wasn’t sure if the finish would be Spies – Mladin, or Mladin – Spies. Wow!

I didn’t get a whole lot accomplished yesterday. I mounted the Carbon stuff, and am happy to report that the fit and finish was top notch. The Sport Classic now has a rear hugger. Cool. Other than that, I puttered on the computer, did some yard work, and relaxed. I needed a good night sleep after the concert fiasco Friday night. I must be getting old and weak.

Grover popped by yesterday. He’s a Ducati junkie if ever there was one. Of course he left with more bling to put on his bikes.

Today we’ll enjoy a quiet Blackwater ride. I’ll be piloting the Sport 1000. We’re getting an early start to beat the heat. It’s just wrong for the temp to be 75 degrees at 0600. Very toasty. This will probably be my last local ride until after Laguna, so I plan to enjoy it.

Later today I’ll strip the bodywork off the 996 and prep it for a service, pack the MTS heads, and do some writing.

Have a great Sunday.

23 June 2007 – I’m screwed

I ran errands for most of the morning yestterday , then took the work crew to lunch in an attempt to motivate them with a pep talk about work ethic. My talk had a definite influence on them. They knocked off at 2:00 PM for the day. It’s rewarding to see all the money the Army spent on my role modeling skills being used so effectively. Well done LT.

In the afternoon I tackled the MTS. I crossed my fingers before removing the horizontal head. I pulled the head, opened up the exhaust valve cover, pulled the opener and closer shims and gave the valve stem a wiggle…. Shit!!! You could move the whole stem about 2mm. I didn’t need a dial indicator after all. With the diagnosis complete, I pulled the valve to inspect the seat surface. I didn’t see any scoring, but the seat shows wear.  After only 3300 miles, the guide was shot. I then had the unenviable task of pulling the vertical head. The position in the frame makes it a pain in the ass to remove. It’s tough to remove some of the head nuts. Additionally, the intake manifold has to come off and the top header stud has to come out before the head will clear the frame tubes. I accomplished that by mid afternoon, did the same check on that head, and had similar results. I spent the rest of the afternoon stripping the heads, and putting the parts in bags. I’ll box up the heads this weekend, and mail them off to get redone next week. It looks like the MTS will be down for a month.

 Above:  A worn exhaust valve seat and a whole lot o’ wiggling signal that the MTS heads need a rework. Thanks Ducati. If you’ve got a 2004-2006 DS1000 motor, you’d be smart to inspect it for exhaust valve guide wear.  

Last night I joined Suzi, her sister, and my 2 nephews for dinner at the beach, followed by the Steve Miller concert. The opening band sucked. Then there was a 45 minute delay before Steve Miller showed up. By the time he got on stage it was 9:30, and Suzi was bleary-eyed. We sat through the first set, but Suzi wasn’t enthused and gave me the high-sign to beat it. So, we left early to beat the nightmarish parking situation and got home by 11:30. Still way past our bedtime, but at least it won’t screw up our Sat morning. After getting home I remembered why I don’t go to concerts any more – #1 – I don’t like crowds, #2 – I can’t stand smoking (outdoor venue), and #3 – I REALLY don’t like crowds.

Today I’ll lose the ST4S to Ron Griffin and roll Patrick Norcross’ 996 up on lift 1. That will be my service chore this week. I only rode the 996 from the house to the shed, but already I can tell that I’ll be able to improve things quite a bit by a good tuning.

I ordered a bunch of carbon stuff from Clay Carrier composites 5 weeks ago. I’ve been testing the waters to see if any CF vendors keep a stock of parts. The shipment arrived today. The Carrier Carbon is very nice stuff, but I can’t wait 5 weeks to get a restocking order. Thus far, I haven’t found a domestic CF vendor that can keep a dependable inventory of parts. It’s tough for Ducati vendors because the market is so small. I can feel for CF vendors, but if I stock my stuff, I don’t see why they can’t stock their stuff. Weird.

That’s it for now. Have a great Saturday.

22 June 2007 – Progress on the Shed

I spent a lot of time running errands yesterday. First, I decided to upgrade and put more windows in the shed. I went and got the windows today. They are much nicer than the ones that were going in the building. I’m also upgrading the underlayment for the shingles. The stuff is called peel-and-stick. It’s a rubber membrane that replaces the felt layer and is self-sealing. Should the shingles ever come off in a storm, the building is still waterproof. Pretty neat stuff. I’ll pick up the underlayment this morning.

Yesterday afternoon I removed the fairing from the MTS, popped the throttle bodies and pulled a head to have a look see. Today I’ll pull the exhaust valves and inspect the guide and seat. If the dial indicator doesn’t show wear on the guide, I’ll button it back up again. Otherwise the heads go off for a rework. Maybe I’ll be lucky.

Patrick, Steve and Mark joined Suzi and I on Wed night for our Ducati get-together. I caged it with Suzi but the other guys rode. Patrick is new to Ducatis and is the most enthusiastic. It’s refreshing to see somebody so enthused about his bike.

I just read the update from Ewan and Charlie’s Long Way Down. They’re currently in Ethiopia. What a trip. I’m very envious. If I’d quit purchasing bikes and pumping money into the property, I’d have the money to do a round-the-world. Of course, I wouldn’t want to do it alone, and I don’t know of anyone else who’d want to go.

My free shipping offer didn’t enthuse many people yesterday. Sorry, but that’s the best I can do right now. The shed is gaping hole devouring cash. Self-inflicted, but a hole nonetheless.

I mailed off the prototype for the DS1000 case saver to a metal machinist yesterday. Just for grins, I decided to test fit the plate to my Sport Classic… it didn’t fit. Exact same motor as the MTS1000, and it didn’t fit. So, I had to make a modification that will allow for tolerance differences between motors. Super.  You’d think that sand cast engine casings would be identical.  You’d think wrong.

Suzi and I are heading to the beach tonight to see the Steve Miller Band. That’s about as rock oriented as we get in Pensacola any more. It’s a shame, but if it isn’t redneck rock or country, Pensacola doesn’t want it. I’m not a big Steve Miller Band fan, but they’re okay compared to Lynryd Skynrd or 38 Special.

Next week is a hectic week for me. I’ll have a 996 to service, I start teaching again, a deadline on an MCN article, I start my physical training regimen again and more coordination with sub-contractors.

Ride on Sunday… Meet at the Bagelheads on 9 Mile Rd at 0730… Earlier meeting time to beat the heat.

Have a great Friday.

21 June 2007 – Suzi and LT’s 11th

I’ve always been into military history. When it came time to get married, I wanted do so on a day that had some sort of military significance so that I could remember the date. I picked the 22nd of June, but it fell on a Thursday back in 1996, so I settled for June 21st. That day was close enough. For you WWII fans, June 22nd was Operation Barbarossa, the largest land invasion in history – Germany invading Russia. I grew up an armored warfare buff – Guderian, Manstein, Kleist, Manteuffel, etc. were my heroes as the pioneers in the use of Armor. What can I say, I had a weird childhood. So, June 21st is the last prep day before Operation Barbarossa. It’s easy to remember. Of course, the Germans failed in Russia, thanks to the stupid Balkan spring campaign and then Hitler’s stupid decision to turn South to Kiev, but that’s another story.

In commemoration of my 11th annivarsary with Suzi, free shipping on all domestic orders – Today only for my DD readers. The shopping cart will charge you, but I will reimburse on my end. To get the free domestic shipping, you must enter in the words “Desmo Times” in the customer comments section.

I spent the day yesterday making the prototype for the DS1000/DS1100 case saver insert. It goes off to my machinist today. It will probably take another month or so to actually have them, but at least I’m over the biggest hurdle, my procrastination.

 Above:  You can’t see it, but there’s a case saver prototype tucked in front of the countershaft sprocket.   

I never did get to tear the head off the MTS, but at least its up on the lift and I have it ready for disassembly. I’ll tear off the bodywork and pull the head today. Next week I have Patrick Norcross’s 996 coming into the shop. Lift #1 is ready and waiting.

Have a great thursday.

DT Tip of the Day – If you’re committed to owning Ducati’s it will pay off in the long run to start collecting the tools necessary to do routine maintenance yourself. With dealerships charging $65-$85/hour, it doesn’t take long for simple maintenance things to shock your wallet. Start with oil changes, then move to fuel filters, spark plugs and bearings. Finish it off with your first self-performed valve adjust. The self-gratification will be like the first time you ever masturbated, but the feeling of satisfaction will last a lot longer…. or not.