Sunday, October 14, 2007

Parts and Painting Progress

Kate and I returned from the east with a car full of bike parts, both new and used. As promised, I'm posting some pics of them installed.
First, the slave cylinder was a pretty straightforward operation. The kit came with no instructions, but I've worked on these before, so it seemed pretty easy. This model came with a wee spacer to accommodate the shorter pushrods of pre-99 Ducatis as well, so it came together like butter. Bleeding took some time, as I didn't want to waste any brake fluid by trying to pour it into the threaded feed. But after some time, I was able to get it properly purged of air.
Of course, actuating the clutch (and the front brake calipers as well) were a set of matching Nissin MV Agusta levers. These were a pain to install, from the "simple" single-bolt clamp design, to the reservoirs fouling on the clip ons. I ended up changing the mount of the clip-ons (remove the triple clamp, slide them off the forks, etc. etc.), but in the end, they fit OK. And personally, I think they look pretty sweet. They're not a radial design, but somehow we all managed prior to radial levers being created. You can see how the front master cylinder looks as well. The great thing is, the front calipers are 6-piston nissins, so the compatibility should be perfect -- nissin all around! The front levers also included a brake light switch for the brakes -- no more using a banjo pressure switch -- I soldered on some appropriate wire and then used quick-disconnects and spliced it into the loom. Hooray!
Further to the wiring front, as my first brake version had an oil pressure warning light on the lever, I needed to find another location for that indicator.
The headlight kit came with blue high-beam lamps built into the top of the headlight housing, which I never used -- the aftermarket dash I got had a hi-beam indicator already, so that seemed a bit redundant. So I removed the original blue light, drilled out the hole to suit the red lamp I got, and then wired it in. Looks good. Note the dash display and neutral light as well.

The last part was the biggie -- the exhaust system. The ebay seller was less than accurate in regard to his description. The rear header was not a pristine Hindle, but an OEM piece with a reducer pipe spliced onto it. I think this was used primarily to incorporate and exhaust sensor built into the OEM pipe. Regardless, it will work fine. The "y-pipe", however, was full of holes to accommodate heat shields riveted onto the pipe. This section (as you can see below) was covered in heat wrap, but the holes were still there, and I don't plan on using any heat wrap... so its off to a tig-welder, as this is .028 tubing, and I can't weld stainless with my oxy kit. The mufflers look OK, but NO springs were included, so I'll need to go to Transcanada motorsport and get a set via motovan. I'll also have to fabricate a set of pipe mounts, ideally out of steel first, and then get them done in alloy (or do them myself if I can find some).

While this was going on, I got the last of the supplies ready for the paint process. When I got to the top-secret paint area, things looked like this...

So prior to putting any paint anywhere, I decided to get organized. This is what I used on the one day (approx 6 hours) I had in the shop. The pic includes hardware and supplies I used to put on a sealer coat, base coat, transparent coat, and first coat of clear.The key purchase I soon found out was the Devilbiss gun (the chrome jobbie in the pic). The right tools sure make a difference, and this is certainly the case. Its by no means expensive by painting standards (about $125 from ebay), but it is miles better than the $30 ones I get from Princess Auto. I found that everything, from the finicky waterborne paint to the clear, laid down much better. The whole process was a lot simpler. First up was the sealer. This needs to be sprayed on in rediculously light coats (essentially all the autoair products do), and dried with a heat gun in-between. This allows a re-coat over dry paint in about 10 mins. You'll notice as well that I made some funky wooden contraptions from scrap lumber at home to mount the parts, to allow me to get at everything with touching the parts.
This is a pic of the second coat of sealer: I wanted to be sure to get the underside of the tank, so I left it on some foam insulation, and then mounted it onto its home-made stand. The tail is on a sort of "rotisserie mount" I devised with conduit tubing and welding rod. I'm able to turn the part and get to the underside, without having to hang the part from the ceiling.

The pic to the left is the tail section with the first dust coat of the base coat, something known as "Metallic White (coarse). I decided on this color because it was a bit more subtle, it was neutral, and should go well with the orange.

This pic to the left is the tank and tail, with 4 coats of base -- I actually used a whole litre, witch is a lot in this case, as the autoair paint usually covers pretty well. There is also 3 coats of transparent mid-coat over the paint. Sort of a water-based clear that is also dried with a heat gun. The idea is, it helps fill in the coarse finish of the waterbornes to allow an easier time applying clear, and speeding up finish work. We'll see about that. From bare parts to this stage is about 4 hours, which includes drying time, gun cleaning, etc. I'm now ready to shoot the first coat of clear. I used the same devilbiss gun, as it had a nice 1.3mm tip, and it was such a joy to use.
The last two pics are the panels with 3-4 light coats of clear on them (one spray session). The "white metallic" has taken on an interesting tinge, and of course looks a bit different in real life... I can tell already that wet-sanding is in order prior to the next coat of clear. The process I think will be, a light wet-sand, and another coat of clear. Then another wet-sand, and decals will be applied. Then, of course, another coat of clear. Depending on the finish, likely another coat of clear will be applied. My goal is, a durable, relatively orange-peel-less finish. We'll see. Patience, grasshopper, time to let it cure...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I've complained before about how easy it is to get caught up in the "bling" when you own a Ducati... billet or carbon-fibre anything is easily available, and one could sink thousands into a bike without knowing it. I was thinking of this after I heard a song on the radio -- a blues tune that went, "I wish I had a dime for every dollar I spent on you..." Somewhat similar to my favourite, "I never knew how rich I was until I stopped racing.
On to the blingy bits:

First off, a new clutch slave cylinder. In a nice anodized red, featuring a 30% reduction in lever effort... OK, that would be nice. I just like the color.

Next, a new set of brake and clutch levers. I've always hated the remote resevoir models... at least since I actually owned a bike that had one. They stick up, get in the way of fairings, and seem to be the first things to break off in a spill. Also, there are two more places where brake fluid can weep out. In my past experience, a brand new Braking brand master cylinder leaked (replaced for free), as well as a used Gixxer model. So I prefer the coffin-style ones. I happened across an auction where a seller was selling a matching set of hydraulic front brake master cylinder, and hydraulic clutch master cylinder, from a MV Agusta. He also included the front brake calipers, but I will re-sell them, as they are not compatible with my parts. They are built by Nissin, so should match up with the Nissin 6-pots I have perfectly.

Next, the exhaust system. I've always wanted a Hindle exhaust... but never owned a new-enough 900ss to make them fit. Their design requires the 900ss ie style of frame (some subtle differences) to clear the hi-mount pipes exiting towards the mufflers. With the 748 frame and the detachable subframe, clearance won't be an issue. And since I am using a stock 900ss swingarm, with the shock at the same attitude/angle, I shouldn't have any clearance problems with the shock. Guys with big feet have complained about hitting their heels on the pipe and melting their boots, but I don't think that will be an issue because I'm a size 10, and the location of my feet on the pegs will be different (different frame and rearsets). Note too that a section of the pipe has been wrapped with tape... I've heard nothing but bad things about pipe wrap, so I plan to remove it, but maybe get it coated by DI coatings with some jet-hot material.

The last purchase I made for cosmetic's sake was a newer rear hugger. I already have a CF one, but it was damaged as a result of a ride-height/underseat exhaust fiasco... so there was a section that was burnt through. And no amount of repair via convential means would make it look decent, so I grabbed up a replacement when it came on ebay. Should match the front fender

The final piece in my mind would be a CF chin spoiler to complete the cafe look. I had a race version, but it been beat up and repainted so many times that I wouldn't think of putting it on a streetbike. So until I scratch together the cash, I'll dream of this:

When I get some time, I'll go over the installation of the clutch slave cylinder...