December 28, 2006

Duc 250 bits and travel plans

Posted by gornzilla

A list of stuff going on with my motorcycle and possible travel plans. Some of this is just me re-editing emails I've sent to lists and friends. Do you care? I don't know who you are, so I don't know.

Basically, part of this is stuff going on, but a lot of it is me typing out loud to myself. Feel free to browse and give opinions. I can't expect anyone to read all that.

I'm getting ready for Round 2. Currently, I'm thinking of shipping my bike from Melbourne to the UK. I'll fly from New York to London and pick up my bike on May 4. I'd like to see the 100th Anniversary of the Isle of Man TT races, and more importantly, the Motogiro d’Italia. I'll ride across Europe and Asia. Then Malaysia to Darwin, Australia. Or maybe Russia to Alaska.

Nothing much really planned except visiting Gallipoli in Turkey. I'm keen on World War 1 and that's the site of a major battle, and it helped build Australia and New Zealand into what they are today. Sort of the American Revolution. I'd like to be there for Anzac Day (April 25), but I won't be able to make that unless I find $15,000 in the street within the next month or so.

The Motogiro coincides with the IoM TT, but my best friend Bill is planning on getting married around June 9. I'll have to fly back from Italy to San Francisco, hitch a ride back to Sacramento, for the wedding and then fly back. I don't have the money for that.

I don't have the money for Round 2 in the first place, but 2007 is the 50th anniversary of Leopoldo Tartarini and Giorgio Monetti's trip round the world on a couple of Ducati 175.

I've been having a lot of fun and I've met lots of great people, but those guys. Wow. September 1957 - September 1958. Even with Tartarini being a Ducati racer so they had some factory support, and that they're both engineer/mechanics, that was crazy. I can't miss the chance of meeting them both, so I'll have to have a child to sell to pay for a ticket. Any girls out there that wants to get pregnant in order to sell the kid so I can buy a plane ticket? Oh, and you should've been pregnant about 4 months ago.

Either way, I can't make the Motogiro with the IoM TT. There's the IoM Manx Grand Prix (vintage) from August 18 through the 31st though. And the idea of crossing Russia in the winter seems like a bad idea. I'm sure it'd be fine for me, but I think it might make my banjo go out of tune.

I think I will try to find a job (maybe teaching American) in Portugal or Cairo for the winter. And I want to visit Matmata, Tunisia where they filmed parts of Star Wars. The Mos Eisley Cantina in Tatooine is the hotel at Matmata, and we all know I'm a big enough geek to make my way to Tunisia to visit that.

Maybe I can ferry my bike from Sicily after the Motogiro to Tunisia. Then ride across Algiers and Morocco and then up to Spain after seeing the Rock of Gibraltar.

Back to the bike.

There's some stuff I need to do to make the bike more reliable (such as not letting me ride it). Ignition and the front brake are two main things on my mind.

I asked on a few lists, BevelTech, BevelHeads, and Giro d'California.

What would be the easiest way of putting a disc brake on a 250 narrowcase Ducati? Drums aren't bad, but wet drums ain't the best. I first kicked around the idea of the cable disc that the first Honda CB200s came out with. Looking that up on google (see CB200 site above), I found that Honda discontinued that option since they weren't reliable.

Ivan The Thelin, and a couple others, suggested just yanking off the forks and brakes from any small Japanese 1970s bike. It'd look correct and it'd work better. Maybe I will.

I might stick with the drums anyway because most of this bike should be Italian.

And I need reliable ignition. It's running points. There's electronic ignitions out there, but how reliable are they? This isn't a bike used for Sunday rides.

This is after I crossed this creek at Daintree in Australia on my way up to Cooktown. I screwed up bouncing off a big rock in this creek and killed the bike. But hey, it's just the second creek I've crossed on a motorcycle. Once I dried the points, the bike started right up. Lots of steep hills and wet drum brakes is fun! At least in the dirt.

Ivan also said:

"I installed an MZB ignition/lighting system on my Bultaco Metralla
and built an upgraded wiring harness from scratch. The MZB products
are agricultural, bulletproof, and simple. Mine has been reliable as an
ax. It can even apparently charge a small battery, but doesn't require
one. Under $300 and well worth it every time your bike fires on the
first kick and you see that headlight blazing out ahead of you on a
dark night...

The I talked to Bob Brown. He said the engine is fucked and it'd be cheaper and easier to find another engine to rebuild. Ducati narrowcase engines can be found in the US, but they're hard to find in Australia.

I whined a bit about how I paid nearly $10,000 Australian for this bike and specifically asked for hardened valve seats on a couple lists. Someone on BevelHeads responded with, "You ever hear the one about burning bridges Dave?"

I answered, "I'd think hosing a customer is burning bridges. I learned my lesson and there's other places for parts -- Cosmo Motors, DomiRacer and Ian Gowanloch are a few". BevelHeaven also have parts for sale. I expect the bike to break but I feel a bit ripped off on what I got sold.

I got a neat reply from another Dave who said,

"Not that you asked, but I have had my share of unplanned,
uncontrolled separation of parts inside engines, including narrow
case singles, superbikes, V8's making too much power, supercharged
MGB engines, and even old two-stroke Yamaha factory road racers.
I've come to appreciate the opportunity to examine these mechanical
catastrophes, and learn from the folly that created these disasters in
the first place.

"It all goes in the experience bank, and when the grey hair exceeds
the dark, it comes back as wisdom. (Gotta have some way to maintain
respect in your old age! Perpetuate the myth!"

If I switch bikes, it'll be something old and British. BSA M20, Matchless, Norton 16H, or Panther. My mechanical "skills" are more of the bailing wire type anyway. Which took me 14,845 miles on the Duc before detonation.

I like traveling and I like old. If this was the 1930s, I'd be complaining about new bikes and how they don't compare to the 1908 models. I know that most of the people who ride Ducatis grew up with these bikes, but some of us didn't and we just like old stuff.

I'll put on a Cheap Suit Serenaders 78 and sit on my porch with a banjo. I'm learning, just in a different way.

Then I started seriously thinking about doing this on a bicycle, since I don't have the money to buy another old bike. That would also be a dumb choice with me getting my brother in law to build me a 3 speed. A single speed would be fun, but it'd kill me. But what's the point of showing up to the Motogiro on a bicycle?

Then I got this list from Bob Brown at Melbourne Desmo Center about my motorcycle. If you want to see pictures of the damage that Tony Hannagan took, check this spot.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bob Brown

Hi Bud,
What do you want to do with this motor of yours.
It needs as follows...........
2x valves
2x valve seats
2 x rockers
1x cam repair
1x oil pump
1x cylinder liner.........not available
1x big end
1x big end strip, clean & assembly
1x piston assembly
2x main bearings
all g/box bearings
1x chain
1x oil
1x gasket set
1x clutch plate assy
1 x grind crank end and make oil feed bush in outer cover
Hope like hell I havn,t forgotten anything.

ciao Roberto

---------- End of message ----------

Ouch, I say. Not that I couldn't tell it'd be bad from Tony's pictures. Before I had talked to Bob, I was thinking, "Hmmm... it can't be that bad to fix".

Garry, another Aussie I met and worked with at Ian and Georgia Gowanloch's Happy Farm said he talked to Ian. I sent the list to Ian asking how much it'd cost for him to build a Mototrans 250cc.

At the Happy Farm where The Wonder Pigs of Australia live, Ian had explained that Mototrans licensed Ducati but the later singles they built were built down from large twins. Ducati singles were built up from a 125cc engine. So the Mototrans was a lot tougher so more reliable.

And I thought more about getting a bicycle.

Georgia and Ian called me up right before Christmas. Ian said he has everything on Bob's list except the rocker arms. He said he'd rebuild the engine and install the hardened valve seats.

If you haven't been following my story, Ian Gowanloch established Gowanloch Ducati in 1977.

He's semi-retired from motorcycles (which basically means lots of long drives to Gowanloch Ducati in Sydney), and he's building a Ducati Museum and a winery in Adelong. Between Ian and Georgia, they're raising 2 kids, and many many animals. Happy Farm is also an animal rescue center. Trained pigs, cows, sheep, ducks, geese, kangaroos, wallabies, dogs, and wombats. I'm sure I left some out.

It'd help them if I could pay in several hundred thousand gallons of water, but that I can't arrange. Six years of a drought, but the raging Australian fires stayed away.

Use the force, Duke.

Posted by gornzilla at December 28, 2006 01:08 AM

Old is fine, I suppose. But why'd you have to fall in love with old & Italian? What's that all about? Oh yeah, that's right, you're Dave.

I think you should try out being a male prostitute. Youhaven't done that yet, have you? I mean, actually making a living wage from man whoring?


Posted by: Dr. Biggles at December 28, 2006 01:12 PM

Sounds like you should find an engine here ( donor ? ) that has most of the stuff on the list alredy good, then ship the engine there... or better yet ship the bike here for @ 350$ and do the repairs yourself!!!! you will learn enough about that engine to fix stuff on the road and if you had done this last year you would be almost done!!!


Posted by: james at January 3, 2007 07:26 PM

I just looked at your " disaster pics " and it dosen't look all that bad.. the little peices of piston are not good but everything seems like it could be fixed.. not cheap but I have seen (done :( ) worse

Posted by: james at January 3, 2007 07:31 PM

Hey Guy, I think the days when I could've been a man whore passed 15 years ago. Now I'm just a late 30s guy.

Hey James, The bike is getting fixed in Australia because I was planning on going to Australia and shipping the bike to India. That wasn't working out so well, so I was going to do Melbourne to the UK.

If I had it sent out here, if I could ride to New York and ship it to the UK. I just want to ride it to the Motogiro which is Sicily in late May. Shit, that would be cheaper than arranging to get it shipped from Melbourne to the UK.

Damn, James. Thanks for the info. I'm going to look into getting the bike/parts shipped from Melbourne to Oakland. And see how much it'd be to ship from NYC to the UK.


Posted by: Dave Smith at January 4, 2007 09:58 PM


It would be just a little more to ship from NY to the UK, not much.. I have had quotes from europe that were in the 450USD range.


Posted by: james at January 5, 2007 09:00 AM

Where are you getting quotes from? I think it might be too late. It has to go from Australia to here, from here to NY, and from NY to UK.

Posted by: Dave Smith at January 5, 2007 09:22 AM

The quotes were from shipping bikes from the continent to here... NYC may be cheaper. I could inquire with my agents ( that sounds fancy... the folks I bought the bikes from ) as to the best shipper and a more current quote. The last one I had shipped from Holand to here ran me 495E. I thought it was cheaper but that included a pick-up from Marks shop and the bike being delievered to Oakland... It would have to be cheaper to ship from NYC... Bty I had that bike air freighted here for 895E. same deal.


Posted by: james at January 5, 2007 02:57 PM

That would be great. The US $1,700 for Melbourne to the UK (door to dock) seems high. I might try Melbourne to the UK. I like the idea of getting it in Oakland so I can ride across the US but don't think I'll have time. I need to be in Sicily May 18.

Posted by: Dave Smith at January 5, 2007 03:10 PM

Dave, what's the story? You gonna make the IoM or what?

I'm still gonna make it. I'm working in Ireland as we speak, and won't be long off buying another bike.

Posted by: Matt Bishop at February 1, 2007 07:49 AM