29 February 2008- Another Month is Gone

Poof, there goes month #2 of the year. Wow, that was quick. I’ve got an impending deadline of Monday for two MCN pieces, so the weekend will be busy. In the meantime, I’ve been busy with various things. Last night I had the opportunity to go out to dinner with Gregg Kirby and Frank Kapaun. We grabbed a bite to eat and then watched the first WSB race at Gregg’s. Bayliss is as crazy as ever. I’ve never seen anybody ride with such abandon. Awesome.

The latest cold snap to hit the panhandle really had things chilly this week. I’m not bitching, because I can sense the heat approaching.

There are few new batteries on the way to me for my faithful Sony digital camera. I can’t finish the pictures for my articles without them because the original battery gave up the ghost last month.

I was chatting with one of my buddies in the Marines this week about the state of the economy. I don’t know what’s going to happen this year, but I have a feeling more bad news is on the way from banks, both from mortgages and credit card companies.

I’m not a big conservative talk-show fan, as I consider myself a moderate — libertarian. Still, you might find this interesting. My Marine buddy had me read it.

http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/6592/

That’s it for Friday. Don’t forget, Phillip Island WSB this weekend.

FLASH: My credit card processing company server crashed last night at 7:00 PM. If you get an error message when ordering, that is the culprit. I’ll be screaming at them today.

28 February 2008 – The Mailbox is Full

I realized last night that I hadn’t received an emails yesterday, and figured out this morning that the reason was that my mailbox was full. It turns out my new LP rep decided to win over all of his new clients by sending out multiple emails with attachments. That, plus a friend sent me a HUGE picture of his new KTM. Brilliant.

I had a nice dinner last night with Tyler and his SO. Tonight I’ll dine with Gregg Kirby and Frank Kapaun. Frank is a war buddy of mine, while Gregg is your basic customer turned good friend.

It’s been a long week, but I’m looking forward to getting a few nice rides in this weekend. At the very least, I should have time to take some pictures to finish up a few articles for MCN.

I read of a few Ducati recalls in the latest RRW – The license plate bracket and battery mount on HMs, 1098 updates to the ECU to correct lean conditions (I don’t know how the DDS can correct that since I’m not aware of any PROMs on the ecu beyond the trim setting. The maintenance indicator is in the dash display, and the rest are ROMs). I’ve got an early 1098s and never got a letter from DNA. It’s a shame the service bulletins aren’t made public. I think owners should know of things, and not just when they take their bikes in for service. Particularly where a home remedy fix things. And no, your warranty isn’t voided. Remember the Magnuson-Moss Act. A cut and paste as follows:

“The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act in a nutshell is the federal law that governs and monitors consumer product warranties. It was passed by Congress in 1975, and sets forth requirements and guidelines for manufacturers and sellers of consumer products to provide their customers with detailed information about their warranty coverage.

It’s also worth mentioning that this Act is designed to effect both the rights of consumers and the obligations of warrantors that are offering written warranties.

So, with that said here’s the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act in all it’s glory.

To understand the Act, it is probably best that the consumer be aware of Congress’ intentions when they first passed it.

First of all, Congress wanted to make sure that consumers could get complete information about warranty terms and conditions up front and in their truest form. By providing people with a way of learning what warranty coverage is offered on a product before they buy, the Act actually gives them a way to know exactly what they should expect if something goes wrong, and it also goes a long way in increasing customer satisfaction.

Secondly, Congress wanted to make sure that people could compare warranty coverages before buying their cars because in doing this, consumers can choose a product that has the best combination of price, features, and warranty coverage to meet their individual needs.

Thirdly, Congress wanted to promote competition on the basis of warranty coverage alone. By making sure that consumers can get warranty information, the Act has practically forced dealers and manufacturers into hosting sales promotions on the basis of warranty coverage and this competition among companies has made it much easier for consumers to seek various levels of warranty coverage. (Are you seeing a trend yet?)

Finally, Congress wanted to strengthen the pre-existing incentives for companies to perform their warranty obligations in a timely and efficient manner so that it would be easier to resolve any consumer disputes with a minimum of delay and expense.

Because of this, the Act makes it easier for consumers to seek a private solution for any breach of warranty in the courts, but it also creates a foundation for companies to set up good operating procedures for resolving disputes inexpensively and informally, without litigation.”

and the Wikipedia info is at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnuson-Moss_Warranty_Act

and the legal stuff is at

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/warranty.shtm

 

27 February 2008- Nemesis

I called up to discuss a problem with Eric of BCM last week, and we were chatting about race bikes. During the discussion, he brought up ECUs, and asked if I heard about the ultimate fix for the O2 sensored bikes. Of course I said no. His fix was a system called a Nemesis ECU.  You can read about it here.

http://www.compsystems.com.au/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=44

The Nemesis uses o2 sensors, but offers a fully customizable setup, including reading differences in each cylinder. Eric said you no longer need to do multiple runs on a dyno, because the ECU builds a map to your specifications. There are a few downsides though. It doesn’t appear to be something that an average enthusiast would want. I think said it costs in excess of 600 pounds – or almost $1200 dollars. That makes it about the same as a DP Ecu. However, the Nemesis can be removed from the bike and installed on another bike, so an owner can swap back the stock ECU when he sells the bike. Another problem is that the average enthusiast wouldn’t understand what he was messing with.

I’ll keep gathering info on the option though. It seems more suitable to racers and wrenchers than enthusiasts, but it may have promise.

Enjoy your Wednesday.

26 February 2008 – More fun with suppliers

I had more fun yesterday with my suppliers. Brake pad supply has been a nightmare. Galfer has been out of stock of one model for 4 months now, and it’s one of the main models I sell. So I get an order for 2 sets of pads for a 200 M900, but that bike isn’t in the fitment guide for Galfer, so I email them. They “think” they know what pad will fit, but they’re out of stock of both the organics and the organic/sintered combos. So I call Braketech to check on the availability from Ferodo. They know what pads will fit it, but are also out. Email the customer and refund his money. Then I get an email from another vendor that the order I placed last Monday still hasn’t shipped and I stocked out this past Friday. So I email back to send it 3 day select UPS. We’ll see if he charges me extra for his week-long delay. Naw, he would never do that.

25 February 2008 – Nabbed

I didn’t join the boys for the jaunt through Blackwater yesterday, but by the sounds of the ride, our ride area is on the radar screens of the mounties. Damn.. No tickets were issued, but poor Patrick got caught in the wake of the afterburners of Brad, Ole and Mark and was left for the picking by a forest ranger. Bummer guys, I guess we’ll have to get out there at dawn next time… so be it. Never done a nighttime blast through Blackwater. I’ll bet that would be interesting.  

Well it was a great race for Ducati in Qatar. Expect the competition to be crying for restrictors. I think the series will be great this year. Too bad that there aren’t any Americans, but that’s a sponsor thing. Now that the series is back on US soil, maybe a few AMA guys will migrate over. Philip Island is this weekend, so I hope Troy does well again. You have to be consistent to win any long race series. It was a disastrous weekend for Haga.

This week looks like great weather in the panhandle, with plenty of sunshine and cool weather. God I love the winters here. I just wished they lasted longer.

Remember that orders this week will ship on Sat. I’m in catch up mode from all the work piling up, including restocking of inventory and organizing things. By the end of the weekend, things should be ship-shape.

Enjoy your Monday.

24 February 2008 – Track Day Prep

I spent yesterday getting my gear together for a track day next weekend. Ken Ford also dropped by to pick up his GT1000. That bike leaving wasn’t much to show for all the work in the shop last week, but one must be patient with Ducatis. Speaking of which, a customer/friend Mike Wallace, sent these to me. I got a kick out of them, so I thought I’d share. On the shipping thing, Ducati actually overnights everything from Italy, but the boat analogy is what prevails when a customer waits months for parts. I’ve had good luck, but then BCM is the best when it comes to parts.

No other pearls of wisdom for today, but after I watch WSB, I’m sure I’ll comment on Ducati’s performance tomorrow. I already know the results, so I won’t spoil things if you don’t.

The DD may be hit and miss this week depending on my schedule. It’s CRAAAAZY until next weekend.

23 February 2008 – Two screwed up 748s

Yesterday afternoon I worked on both of the 748s in the workshop. I changed out the starter on John Dean’s tricked out bike first. Before pulling the alternator cover, I drained the oil. Bad news there, as his oil screen had the most amount of steel bits I’ve ever seen stuck to the screen. That’s a sign something is up either in the bottom or top end. Next I pulled the alternator cover and replaced the dead starter. After replacing it, I decided to check out the rest of the parts inside just for grins. I pulled on the flywheel and it moved outward a few mm. Uh oh… I took off the flywheel nut by hand and pulled off the flywheel. Stuck to the flywheel were large aluminum shards from the flywheel and nut beating into the alternator cover. Wow. The good news is that the alternator cover looks okay. After checking out the starter gear and operation of the sprag, I reinstalled the flywheel and red-loctited the nut. I called John and told him I’d like to look at the valvetrain for worn rockers, so I’ll be doing that soon.

Above: The picture doesn’t do it justice. This oil screen was chock full of metal debris. Yuck. 

Next I cleaned off all the oil pooled behind the vertical cylinder on Bryan’s 748. Then I noticed the blown slave cylinder and the floppy track bodywork. It rained all day again so I couldn’t warm up his bike and look for leaks. I’m hoping the oil leak is from the oil breather, but I have a feeling it’s the base gasket. I shold say that knowing my luck lately, it will be the base gasket. With rain continueing to pour down, I called it a day and packed a few boxes.

Due to my schedule this coming week, all orders between today and next Friday will ship on Saturday March 1st. All orders prior to today should be cleared out of here by Monday.

Like a dummy, I pulled a muscle in my upper left arm yesterday. It’s the same muscle I pulled in my right arm last summer. The damn thing takes months to heal because I kept reinjuring it. With an impending PT test, I’m going to have to keep training and tape it up. I use those perfect pushup bars, which allows me to choose an arm orientation that doesn’t stress the pulled muscle. I can’t use the bars when taking my test though. No biggie, as it only hurts when I raise my arm.

22 February 2008 – A little head

Yesterday it poured all day. That isn’t a problem, except for the fact that my workshop is a steel building and the roar inside when it rains is enough to drive one crazy (or Mark sane). I wore ear plugs all day to protect my view on life. Hmm, maybe I should have taken them out.

More problems with Kim’s ST2. BCM overnighted the old head back to me, but I seem to be missing one of the new valves I purchased for the bike. It took me 3 hours yesterday to swap over all the parts from the old head to the new head. It’s all set though, minus the exhaust valve. That’s in the mail to me.  The heads on the 2-valvers are pretty simple, but there sure are a lot of parts. While I await the valve, I looked over his ST2 and saw a drop of oil drop the clutch cover, a sign of a blown tranny seal. I removed the rusty clutch springs, pulled off the pressure plate and removed the pushrod. Sure enough, there was a lot of oil outside of the seal. I also noticed the tranny needle bearings were dry. Not good. I lubed them, installed a new tranny seal and pushrod orings, robbed a Paulimoto billet pressure plate off one of my bikes and installed a new set of stainless springs. I don’t know if he’ll notice the bling, but it sure looks better, plus I’m not charging him for it so I don’t think he’ll complain. He needs a new clutch pack and basket too, but I’m not going to broach the subject given the costs of the motor fixes.

As 5:00 approached, I had time to prepare John Dean’s 748 for a new starter; removing the Yoyodyne slave, cleaning around the alternator cover, etc. The starter arrived yesterday, so that will go in today. I held off working on Bluto’s bike because I need to be able to open the sliding door to work on the fuel system, and couldn’t do that because of the humidity outside. If I can finish John’s 748 today, I’ll consider it a modestly-successful week. On Bryan Jones’ 748 I’m going to try just replacing the oil breather. That will save him 3-4 hours of labor and me a lot of time. When there is oil welling on top of the crankcase behind the vertical cylinder there are 3 culprits – a leaky exhaust valve gasket, a leaky oil breather or a blown base gasket. The best I’ll be able to do is run the bike up and down the street and try to make it leak with the new oil breather. Bryan has the bike in race trim and I can’t take it out on the roads. 

 Above: At 4 feet, my homemade work bench is the perfect height for goons like me. I just wish I could keep it free of clutter. I need a garage assistant to tidy up…. in a French maid’s outfit.  Forget about it Papa Smurf.

 

Bayliss is 2nd after the first qualifying in Doha, with 4 Ducs in the top ten. Go 1098r models. Of course, now the inline 4 guys will be bitching again if the Ducatis start winning. 

Good news/Bad news on the product front. First the bad news. I had to delete the option to purchase my voltmeter kits with an included carbon bracket. The costs of carbon have gone through the roof in the past year, and the option is no longer affordable. I may make up some aluminum brackets and have them anodized. I’ll have to delete my option as well for the carbon brackets on the remote fan switches, but I have a few of them left to sell. The good news is that I broke open the piggy bank and invested in a batch of Surflex clutch packs from Italy. It gives another option for the Barnett haters. I won’t be putting them into our Pro-Cutting combo though. The Surflex packs are too expensive for that.

Rumor has it that a Ducati shareholder is trying to encourage Ducati to go private. I’m sure the shareholders would be pleased, as the stock has sucked since being listed.

Enjoy your Friday.

 

21 February 2008 – 1 Down, 4 to go

No more pity parties for awhile. After all, most of my problems are self-inflicted. If I was a regular Professor like my colleagues, most of my problems would go away. Nah….

After I taught yesterday morning, Brad met me at the workshop for the lastest attempt to free the seat on the GT1000. One spring hook took and 3 long-handle screw drivers used as pry bars did the trick. After lunch I fiddled with trying to get the seat to work with the luggage rack. When I originally installed the luggage rack, I had to lengthen two of the mounting holes because they didn’t line up. In short, it didn’t fit well. After trying to reinstall the seat for awhile with the luggage rack on, I gave up and removed the luggage rack. I informed the owner, who emailed back that “every else gets theirs to work”. I felt like reaching through the computer and strangling him. Restraint prevailed. I reset the TPS, did a  good throttle body synch and verified the F/I settings. All looked good, so I took it for a spin and parked it in the garage for pickup.

Next up was the SS. Before I janked the carbs… again, I decided to try to improve the spark, installing new wires and platinum plugs. No difference — 1 cylinder is all I can get running. It looks like the carbs will have to come off…. again. One way or another, the SS leaves the workshop today. Even if I have to swap out carbs with the FCRs on my SS.

No new products this week, but I have been tweaking some ads and modifying some prices, most of which came down. I lowered the price of my clutch combo $40 and am leaving it there. Starting in April, I’ll also be selling the baskets separately. I’ll also be offering Surflex clutch packs to appeal to those that believe the Barnetts are flawed. As I haven’t had issues with the Barnett packs I’ll stick with them in my own fleet.  The Surflex plates cost an additional $50. 

I called one of my suppliers yesterday. He also happens to be the sales VP for techlusion. I wanted to get an update on attempts to develop a fix for the 02 sensors on Ducatis.  His assessment is there is no consistency to either the signal sent by the 02 sensor or how the signal is read by the ECU between 2006, 2007 and 2008 bikes. In short, I’m correct and we’re screwed. Nobody will be developing a fix. Supposedly the 2008 bikes only use the 02 sensor at idle, so it is possible to tune the bike easier above that threshold. My solution will be to continue to stick with Termi pipes and the included ECU for the superbikes and Arrows for some other applications. I’m just not a fan of Marelli closed-loop injection.

Mark sent me this pic of a naked 1098. Interesting.

http://www.ducati.ms/forums/showthread.php?t=38264

Today is a wet day in the shop, as opposed to tomorrow, which will be a wet half-day spent in the shop.

20 February 2008 – A Wasted Day

Some days it pays to just stay in bed. Yesterday was one of those days. On my to-do list was a trip to the PO, the vets to drop off a sick cat, visit a vendor to pick up some supplies, then over to Brad’s to have a nail removed from a tire on the Avalanche. That killed the morning. The afternoon was supposed to be a productive wrenching session. It was a waste of time. I fought to get the seat off Ken’s GT1000 for 2 hours to no avail. Unlike all the rest of the Ducatis I’ve seen, the seat on the GT1000 is tamper proof. There is no way to remove any access panel to gain access to the latch mechanism, and the luggage rack mounted to the rear subframe prevents any access to the rear of the seat. Short of cutting the seat off, there isn’t much I can do. What happened is that one side of the cable slipped out of its mount, so when you turn the key, the cable doesn’t pull on anything. It does no good to pull on the cable either. I have one more idea – use a long thin set of needle-nose pliers with a 90 degree bend at the end to reach in and pull on the cable where it attaches to the opener. To do that, 3 wide long handle screwdrivers have to be used to pry up the back of the seat enough to get the pliers in. Wish me luck, and some extra arms.

After the frustration on the GT1000 I moved onto Bluto’s SS. I couldn’t get it started. I pulled the plugs and did a compression test, but everything checked out good. I noticed fuel on the plugs, so I thought each cylinder was getting fuel. I thought the plugs might have been fouled so I changed plugs. I then attributed the problems to stale fuel, so I drained the tank and float bowls, put in some fresh fuel, and tried again. I got the bike to run, but only on 1 cylinder. I had spark on 2, so something must be up with the vertical Mikuni even though I could smell fuel in the cylinder. I threw a few wrenches at the wall and walked out at 4:30 to go pick up the sick cat. I accomplished nothing in the workshop. To make matters worse, I have a long list of orders piling up because vendors have been slow in getting products to me. For instance – 2 weeks and counting to get an order of radiator shields, 6 weeks and counting to get a batch of case savers, 5 weeks and counting on fuel hose (+ I just found out the vendor won’t have more until June!!). Here’s the growing list of back-orders, all of which are waiting on single-items that have been on order for awhile. Another problem is Speedymoto. It takes me 7 business days to get anything I order from them, 6 business days from Lockhart-Phillips and any other vendor on the west coast. Most of the time, vendors are up front about when they will ship, but there are a select few that stretch the truth about when they’ll ship, hoping I won’t notice the delays. I notice. In fact, I’ll be dropping several products in the next few months simply because the vendors string me along. It’s a shame.

The backorder status is as follows: 

  • Lee – Non-DS Case Saver
  • Letkeman – Non-DS Case Saver
  • Rumohr – Brembo Levers
  • Read – Non-DS Case Saver
  • Kassing – Non-DS Case Saver
  • Gilbride – Shim Kit
  • Forehand – Radiator Shield
  • Hickman – Radiator Shield
  • Rockdale – Teflon-Braided Fuel Hose

The last bit of bad news I received was when the UPS man today dropped off the new head I’ve been waiting on for a few weeks. What’s bad about that? Well, BCM didn’t mail back the old head with the new head, and I can’t install the new head without all the rocker parts that I have to swap over. When it rains it pours. This week is half-shot and I have little to show for it. At least I have my health. I feel like going on vacation for a month and then coming back to see if any of the backordered parts had come when I was away. My new prediction? All 5 customer bikes will be safely in the shop come this weekend, either because of parts delays or problems that I can’t seem to fix. That means a no-go for any of the projects on my own bikes. Want some more good news, I’ve got military training for most of March, so any bike sitting here come next week won’t leave until April.

I’m upset at all of the above, but there’s nothing I can do. I call and email vendors, I order parts BEFORE I stock out, I order repair parts the instant I anticipate needing them, and still I wait, and wait, which means customers wait and wait, and email me, and wonder why their orders haven’t shipped.

I hope today’s better. So does my cat Muzzy. He had 3 teeth pulled yesterday and now hates me. :-)