29 October – Triple Triple 9s

This week was highlighted by a nice ride through Blackwater and a “Family Work Day” on my new building. On Saturday Mark, his brother Scott, and me got out our 999s for a ride. Scott, like me, has an ’03 999s with the Ohlins suspension, while Mark’s ’05 999 base model has the same motor in our S model. It’s a rare treat to see 3 Ducatis in the Panhandle of Florida, and a rarer event to see 3 999 models sitting side by side.

Above:    There’s a whole lot of bling between these three 999 models. Stock stuff sucks! 

Above:    A profile shot of 3 girls would be nice to look at, but if you don’t think this looks sexy, you’re visiting the wrong web site.

On Sunday, my in-laws, sister-in-law and nephews came over to help me with my new building. I’m finally at the point of finishing out the inside, so we started insulating and putting up the rough-cut wall boards. It’s starting to look like a real building from the inside. It will take months to finish out the inside, but I can at least see some progress being made. Every week I’ll put in a day or so, and by the end of the year I should be able to tell when the inside will be finished. Right now my hands look like Swiss cheese from splinters. Ouch! I’ve got good gloves, but seem to like working without them. My hopes to finish the insides by the end of December are dashed. If I had off every day of the week between now and Christmas, I still wouldn’t be able to finish the inside. I’m shooting now for a Spring Grand Opening.

Above: We have walls, sort of….

 

Above:  … but there’s still way too much to do. 

As expected, Ducati is going to announce a new model next month. Everyone expects the new Monster to be launched. I expect a look similar to what MCN had. It’s been long-needed though, so I welcome the redesign.  I’m expecting a gentle restyling, so perhaps the first year will be almost free of design defects.

The last race of the season is this weekend, as MotoGP rounds out a great year… great at least for Ducati. Have a great week.

22 Oct 2007 – I still live in a swamp

Last week’s action was tempered by the rain. It rained 3 days in the Panhandle of Florida, as bands of rain kept feeding inland from the Gulf of Mexico.  We needed the rain, but not THAT much rain. Working in the shop in the rain is a drag, as the noise on the roof is like the Chinese Water Torture in high-speed mode.  A local town, Gulf Breeze, received 25 inches of rain in a 24 hour period. I don’t care who you are, that’s a LOT of rain.  We didn’t get quite that much, but it was still a bunch. Fortunately, the rain cleared later in the week and I was able to get a ride in on the MTS1000. The fresh exhaust valves really did the trick. It pulls like a freight train. The addition of the powercard really makes it sing. I need to add a laminar windscreen though. At high speed there’s some turbulence, but at least there’s good wind protection too. I like the idea of the HM, but I’ll take the wind-protection of the MTS any day. It’s a shame Ducati decided to leave the sport-tourer market to focus on sport-bikes. I understand their focus, but the MTS is the only bike left in the lineup what is really 2-up and touring friendly. I’ve toured on other Ducati models, but not as comfortably. I’ve got many good years left in my current touring lineup, so I’m set for a long time.

Even with the rain, I managed to get a lot accomplished last week. I finished the current round of mods on the 1098 (see the “bike of quarter” section). I didn’t get to install the silicon coolant hoses, but that can wait until I do the first service – in about 3 years. After completely removing all of the fairing, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Ducati….. for finally designing a fairing that takes longer to remove than an ST model. What a friggin’ nightmare of fasteners. The number of fasteners is bad enough. Designing them with 3mm allen heads is downright fiendish. Let a few year’s worth of corrosion set in and technicians will be stripping or overtorqueing the fasteners faster than Brittany Spears flip-flops between trailer trash and glamour queen. Strip a fastener on a 1098 and you’re screwed, as the only way to then remove it is with an impact driver or slotting the fastener head with a dremel tool. It probably took me over 2 hours to remove and assemble the fairing. I’m guessing I had 50 fasteners laying in my bucket once it was completely removed. On the upside, the CF instrument shroud, Puig screen, CF air intake runner covers and tail section and fender eliminator look bitchin’. It may be nothing more than bolt-on mods available off the shelf, but I like the fact that others can duplicate most of the mods I perform…. if they have the time, $$$ and patience.

This week I finally got around to rebuilding Bluto’s instrument panel. I did my best given that the only thing that would fit the SS instrument holder was the speedo. By being creative, I got everything else to fit. It took me a month to get the parts to rebuild the front end of the bike, but it looks much better. Unfortunately, it’s still a bitsa. Bluto got it for a good deal, but no matter how much money he puts into it, it won’t be worth more than he paid for it. Well, maybe….

Above:    This is the final product of what I was able to do with a good used uncut instrument holder. The tach is a monster tach and doesn’t fit the cutout perfectly, but it looks good. 

Above:  This is what was left of the old instrument holder. The last owner dremeled 2/3 of it away in an attempt to get the Monster instruments and idiot lights to fit. 

Above: By carefully dremeling the box holding the Monster idiot lights I was able to get it to fit the SS instrument holder and then simply siliconed it in place. Note the tangle of wires. Yuck. 

A note for those of you that think of dropping a Monster engine and wiring harness into an SS — it doesn’t work. None of the instrumentation wiring is the same. At least it looks good now and the fairing mounts somewhat straight. I have an electrical gremlin to sort out on the bike before it can be considered complete. I also spent a few hours replacing the fuel filter. As the pictures below show, the tank has some “issues”. There was more rust than fuel in the bottom of the tank. I used a roll or paper towels scraping the sludge off the tank, but it really needs to be relined. I replaced the fuel filter, then removed the float bowls and cleaned them out. My suggestion to Greg is to get a used tank from eBay just in case a relining isn’t feasible on this tank.

Above: When debris gets into the float bowls it can clog the jets.

Above:  Now that’s a Bluto fuel filter. The body of the filter is supposed to be white. When I emptied it out, sludge came out..

 

Above: Anice tasty corroded fuel cap. No amount of cleaner will restore it to new condition. 

Above: Forunately, the fuel cap and filter matched the tank itself. Check out the rust in the bottom of the tank. In the bottom/back end, a 1/2″ thick layer of rust and sediment floated around. Yum.

After I fussed with the SS, I diagnosed the oil leak on Bryan Jones ST4. It was a simple valve cover gasket. I fixed that and adjusted his steering head bearing torque. That only left one other bike to get to – Henry Avello’s 996. I’ve done every service on the bike since new, and it now has 26K on the clock. I haven’t touched it in 10000 miles and I was happy to see that I only had to replace 3 shims and there was no more rocker wear. Like I have said before, once a Ducati shim stack and valve train bed in, shim replacement is rare. I completed the valves, changed the fuel filter, flushed all the fluids and only have the injection left. I’m doing the single-injector mod on his bike (finally), which will fix the low end richness that plagued that year of 996. The FIM chip should be here later this week.

Above:   Henry Avell0’s 996 sits awaiting the FIM chip and final F/I tuning

 

20 Oct 2007 – Ride Tomorrow

RIDE SUNDAY 10/21/07. MEET UP AT BAGLEHEADS ON 9 MILE ROAD AT 0800.

MARK

15 October – Hello Fall

Last week was another good one. Greg’s 999 left the shop on Friday, and Bluto’s 900ss is all but complete. I’m still awaiting a new instrument cluster mount to finish it. The week was topped off by a nice ride on Sunday with Mark, Papa Smurf, Brad and some guy on a Gold Wing whose name escapes me. I rode the Sport Classic. Great weather, a great bike, and time with the boys in our twisties. Good stuff. The only downside is that I hadn’t adjusted the ohlins suspension since putting it on, and it was like a pogo stick. I adjusted the rear shock at the first stop and adjusted the front end when we got home. I’ll take it on my local test ride route to check how good my settings are. I need to check static sag. but I need a few bodies to help me with that.

The only other work I accomplished in the shop was to get the 1098 up on lift #2 for the mods I planned back in early Summer. Now that’s its riding time again, I want to finish up the bike and flog it. Brad came over to show me how to disassemble an electrical quick-disconnect. I didn’t want to have to chop wires. I’m awaiting a new license plate bracket/turn signal bracket to replace the boat anchor that was on the bike.

I didn’t add any products last week. Instead I focused on tidying up things around the shop. I’ll be spending some time next week on the new building, so I’m getting ready for that. Time to give Home Depot some more business. The only product news worth mentioning is that the Perform brand oil filters I sell went up 40%. I guess they’re made overseas as well. Damn. Also, I had another batch of clutches drop-shipped to my clutch basket manufacturer and he said the 3-piece quiet clutch is gone… so it’s back to the old design. Again, I think this is a shame that Barnett listened to a few people that griped. I still have a few of the quiet clutches on the shelf and my existing inventory of clutch combos all have the quiet clutch, but when they’re gone, they’re gone. The next batch of clutch combos I’ll get next month will have the older single curved steel separator plate.

I was sad to hear of Norick Abe’s death last week. What a tragedy. I thought the funeral images up on SOUP were awesome though. What a tribute to his racing to have his race bikes as end-pieces on either side of his casket.

What a great race yesterday for Ducati. Finishing 1-2 should leave no doubt who reigns supreme this year. I’m very proud to ride a Duck. You should too. They took on the goliaths and beat them. It will be sad to see the season over, but it will all be over the first part of Nov.

I was surfing the net and came across another bootleg copy of my book… by the same knucklehead that was trying to copy them last year. Stephen Reij or New Zealand purchased a copy of my book 2 years ago, made copies of them and has been selling them on Trade Me – a Kiwi auction site. He has a company called e-classicbike where he sells repair manuals. I confronted him last year on the matter, and he pulled the ads, but they’re back. I wonder how many of his other manuals are copied. I contacted Trade-Me about the matter. What a sorry sack of shit.

You can find his auction for my pirated books here:

http://www.trademe.co.nz/Trade-Me-Motors/Motorbikes/Parts-accessories/Manuals-magazines/auction-121905193.htm

This week I’ll finish up the SS, work on an oil leak on Bryan Jones ST4 and do some of the mods on the 1098. I’m also looking forward to the commute to the branch campus on Tuesday on the trusty GC. Ah, life is good.

Because I have so much time on my hands, Suzi and I are signing up with the Humane Society to be volunteers. With summer yard work almost over, we’ll have time on the weekends throughout the winter to volunteer some time.

Another thanks to the many of you that continue to support DT. I’ve got a great little group of customers. Nobody knows the pain of maintaining a Ducati like a fellow Ducati owner.

10 Oct 2007 – Ride this Sunday

Okay folks, the day we have all waited for has arrived…THIS SUNDAY!  Weatherman says Saturday night low 63 with Sunday high of 82 with sunshine.  LOCAL RIDE TO BLACKWATER.  MEET UP AT BAGELHEADS ON 9 MILE ROAD AT 0800.   :) – Mark

8 October 2007 – Indian Summer

WSB Spoiler Below..

I had a good week last week in terms of productivity. I got Greg Ames 999 head sorted with a new set of valves, checked and reamed the guides and reset the clearances. The head and airbox are back on, the clutch mods are complete, the license plate relocator bracked is installed and the rearsets are in place. I should have it all together early this week. I’ll also get the 900ss off the lift. Bluto, I’m tired of waiting for the forks. Where are they? I’ll be rolling the SS into the corner of the shop to await them.

Chris Turner wrote a nice review of his new Hypermotard. You’ll find it HERE

I rolled out quite a few new products last week – Lever Skins, Fork and Swingarm Sliders, Bleeder Banjo Bolts, Air Filter Cleaner Kits, and the VDST software. I also got the stuff sitting on the workshop shelves gathered up and put it all on the clearance page. I still have a few tidbits to put up, but that’s most of it. The only product I’ll be adding this week are the stainless 5mm pan-head screws used on ST fairings.

The only riding I did last week as a commute on Monday and a 150 mile trip to the branch campus on Tue. The Gran Canyon is awesome. What a touring rig. Unfortunately, by the end of the week the rain and heat returned, and I regressed back to summer mode. However, I lived up to my promise to take shots of a few more bikes. You’ll find them under “Bike of the Quarter” on the webpage. I’m glad I shot the pics of the MhE. When I rolled the bike out to clean it up, I discovered a weeping battery on the right side of the bike. It was starting to corrode things. That would have been very bad news. Fortunately I had a new set of Westcos to put in, but the process took 2 hours. In order to change the batteries on an MhE (yes batterIES – the MHe has saddle-mounted batteries on either side of the front cylinder) you have to pull the front fairing and fuss with the battery boxes. Fun stuff.

Well, I was very disappointed to see the final tally in WSB. Haga only finished 2 points out, but, in my book, he won the title. Toseland coasted to a win the entire 2nd half of the season. He may leave a Champion, and he’s a nice guy, but he’s going to have a rude awakening in MotoGP next year if he think he’s going to coast to a title.  Meanwhile, Bayliss’s first half of the season doomed his efforts. You cannot afford to have DNFs and win a title. I hope 2008 is better for him. I have a feeling the 1098 is going to kick ass next year, and require some rules changes mid-stream to compensate for the power of the bike. What they won’t be able to compensate for is how much better the bike handles than the 999. Good luck to the Japanese manufacturers. I’m also wondering if FBF will try to compete with the MV Agusta next year. Its a beautiful bike, but it wasn’t competitive in AMA (then again, what is against the Suzuki in AMA?).

The heat is supposed to leave here on Thursday this week. Local rides commence this Sunday. :-)

This week I’ll have some time to spend in the workshop. Hopefully the 999 will be ready to leave and the SS all done except for the forks. I start work on my building in 2 weeks, so bike work needs to be wrapped up by then.

2 October 2007 – Free Porn

There, got you to read a midweek post. If you’re in the Pensacola area, drop by Wednesday night for our monthly Ducati meet at the Tijuana Flats on 9 mile Rd across from the ballfields from 7:00-8:30.

I’m shooting pictures tomorrow of the MHe for the Bike of the Quarter. I’ll post them by the end of the week.

1 October 2007 – It’s Riding Season Again!

Well, it was finally cool enough the past few mornings for me to ride. I enjoyed my first commute into the office this morning since the Spring semester, and our 4 months of miserable heat is about over. Time to rotate each bike for commuting and riding duties and the weekend rides will start very soon. Check back to the DD in case we decide to ride this coming Sunday. This Wed is our monthly meet at 7:00 PM at the Tijuana Flats on 9 mile rd in Pensacola. I think I’ll wheel out the Mike Hailwood Evo for the ride there.

I rolled out the new DT front axle tool last week. I’m proud of the effort. We’ll see if anyone else sees the value in it. I also did another production run of the old ’98 ST2 voltage regulator relocator plates. Last, I completed my dealer sign up for motovation fork and swingarm slider kits. I’ll have them in next week. Going on the website this week will be VDST software for you DIY tuner types that want to do your own fuel injection testing/setup during routine services. That’s about it on the product front. I still have a few orders outstanding from the 1 day sale. I had to order several pairs of CRG levers and it takes 2 weeks to get stuff from CA.  I’ll be updating the Closeout page this week. I’m clearing out all my stock of CRGs. The product is great, but there are just too many variants to stock all of them. I also cataloged all my old laying-around parts and they’ll be up on the closeout page by the end of this week.

Not much wrenching to report. I’m still waiting on Bluto’s instrument shroud before I pull off the subframe. His new front subframe is here waiting to be installed. On Gregg’s head, I have to have the valve guides reamed as the valves were so bent that they nicked the guides. The guides and seats all look good though, so I should be able to install the head this weekend.

I got caught up on some product reviews last week, including comparing the olympia and joe rocket mesh pants and the tankbag/saddlebag setup for the MTS from FAMSA. I also finished my 2007 State of the Industry update for MCN. I have a few more product reviews to crank out in the next week or so before I begin writing some feature pieces – How to bleed brakes/clutches, install and remove wheels, etc.

I rode the Gran Canyon into the office today. I had a fit trying to get a new clutch setup to work with it. It turns out the clutch pushrod on the GC is a few mm’s longer than usual, and the STM center bushing I had in the pressure plate wouldnt’ properly seat on the hub. That killed an hour trying to fix. I’m continually amazed how many different things can go wrong on such a basic system as a dry clutch.

Well, the BMW Z4 is history and my ’02 Avalanche will be history soon. In its place is a new Avalanche, with enough $$$ left over to finish my building. I don’t miss the Z4, but I will my old Avalanche. It’s the best vehicle I’ve ever owned. I’ll rough it with one 4-wheel vehicle until Hummer comes out with their Wrangler-Beater H4 in a few years. I’d pick up a used Wrangler, but they’re too expensive given the flaws to the design. I’ve ridden in enough of them to know I want something that size but in a better package.

Our man Bayliss got 2 podiums yesterday, but it’s all relative to the performance of the rest of the guys. At best, he’ll finish 4th in the points and it looks like Toseland, who has been unimpressive the 2nd half of the year, will win the title. I’d rather see Toseland get it than Biaggi though. Too bad for Nori again this year. I wouldn’t mind seeing him with the title before he retires.

This week I’ll continue my teaching duties and try to catch up on orders. Things have been painfully slow on the sales front, but last Sept and Oct were bad as well. Everybody is talking about recession, but I’d like to think my business would do even better given that the more people try to pinch pennies they’re more likely to want to do their own wrenching. That logic might be flawed though.

I had a chance to peruse some competitor websites last week. I’m amazed at the use of frequent discounts to lure in customers, yet when I looked at the discounted price it wasn’t any cheaper than mine. Consumer behavior is a funny thing though, as the word “sale” or “discount” brings people running. I put up on the website my motto – Why not deliver everyday value instead of offering a tiered discount program? Maybe I’m fooling myself. Maybe I should raise all my prices 10% and then offer 10% discounts to various clubs, affiliations, and religious sects. After all, perception is reality, and people would then be able to say they got it “on sale”. I use my sale to try to reward my readers and repeaters. I’m still humbled at the level of support I get from so many repeat customers. Sniff. Sniff….

No pictures this week. I didn’t do anything worth shooting. As I start to put Greg’s 999 back together I’ll have some stuff worth pixelating. Enjoy the start to your October.