Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Work-related business kept me in Brandon today, so I was able to run some errands. I dropped off the Ducati headers at Cycleboys, and discussed some oil tank options. Basically, the best thing I can do is re-assemble the bike, and drop it off at the shop for them to take some measurements and see what fits.

Made a stop at Atom-Jet to drop off the two bolts to get threads cut. Both the rear swingarm pivot axle and front m10 bolt needed to have threads cut to suit. Should be ready on Thursday; I really hope this is the last trip there for this project...

Also stumbled across a really cool paintjob, suitable for any Italian bike -- this is a MotoGuzzi, but with some imagination you get the idea of how it would look on any bike. Apparently this was inspired by Vitt. Guareschi -- a Ducati racer, and now a Thunderbike rider (I think).

I started to rebuild the bike this evening, after cleaning up the engine with some "gunk" spray product -- looks better! As well, the carb was completely taken apart and cleaned with carb cleaner. I got new bolts and hardware for reassembly -- allen bolts from Canadian Tire, rather than the stripped out phillips head screws. No manual handy for reassembly, but I think an exploded parts diagram from Bikebandit.com might be enough for me to figure it out. I'll leave the jetting stock for now, but I anticipate it being pretty lean with the aircleaner and exhaust I've got in the works.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Another crazy cold weekend -- 29 degrees below zero, not including the wind chill. My typing sucks as my fingers are still slow and lacking feeling. Not that I was much of a typist anyway. Away on Saturday, and so Sunday was spent finish-welding the frame. As always, there is some distortion in the end result, but the old cases sure helped keep the engine mount straight. Nice to know that step is done. From here on in, any welding will be mainly for fairing stays and mounting the electrical components to the frame.

Speaking of, while I have the harness on hand, the starter solonoid is the only part that I have with the machine -- will need an EFI, a regulator/rectifier, and the handlebar switches. As well as a manual or wiring diagram to sort everything out. These are stupid expensive new, so its time to troll ebay again -- I got an EFI from Canada for $25.00, and have a line on a regulator from the UK -- if the owner will ship it my way. However, the next immediate step is to give the engine a good cleaning, and start to re-assemble. This requires another unfortunate trip to Atom-Jet, to get the rear swingarm/engine mount bolt cut to the proper length (thread-wise), and the front M10 as well. At least I have a nice grade 8 bolt for the front.

I have the carburetor sitting behind me, in pieces. Previous owner used a PK sheet metal screw instead one of the float bowl bolts. Ahole! Not sure how I'll sort that. That sort of stuff drives me mental. Might be able to re-tap things. And ALL the phillips-head screws for the carb are stripped. Mini vice-grips to the rescue.

Kate and I watched "Cars" again on DVD this weekend. A great movie -- I love how it apes a Nascar telecast, or any film like "Days of Thunder". Led me to wonder how this scheme might look on the bike...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Looking More and More like a Bike...

Was able to get my hands on some more of the parts I had ordered this week. Came home from a family visit in Winnipeg with a car-full. The tyga bodywork, K&N filter, the damaged cases, and the radiator, amongst other things, arrived. The bodywork appeared in good shape, although the tail section has a bit of a twist to it -- like it came out of the mold a bit too early. The fairings are by no means top-quality (hence the price) but there really is nothing like them anywhere. The first step was to fit the rear subframe.
Thankfully it is steel -- a bit more durable, easier to modify, and stout enough that if I need to use part of it as a pick-up for an exhaust mount, that shouldn't be any trouble. It took most of the day, but I was able to get the suframe modified to suit the frame, and get new mounts fabricated and tack-welded into place. The seat itself needs some modification to butt against the tank -- that is why you see the green masking tape and fibre-glass gooped around it. It was a balmy -2 degrees this weekend, and so I thought I'd try some winter fibreglassing. This is just to make a mold, not structural... the tin does say that, "colder than 20 degrees will require more curing time..." we'll see.
The subframe is made of pretty durable steel. There appears to be a provision for a battery box just aft of the rear shock. Hopefully it will fit in the original location. The battery box itself came with the parts, and is finished in a nice brushed alloy. Will need to find the right battery to slot in. The lower braces for the subframe are assymetrical, but I spent a pile of time truing up the symmetrical upper braces -- more standing on the ladder, eying up the whole process. Note green masking tape at the front of the seat.

The next step was to fit the radiator. The rad itself is from a YZF450. Purchased for $9.99 off of ebay. This rad should be easy to find if I need a replacement; as well, the aftermarket makes oversized versions of these, so that is an option should I need more cooling. My (potentially flawed) logic states that a radiator for a hot-blooded racing quad (the 450) should be plenty for a milder 400. I don't know what that stain is on the the lower left hand side of the rad -- didn't notice it until the flash of the camera picked it up. Hopefully not evidence of a leak, although to use this as a mock-up tool is still worth the $9.99 I paid for it.

Pretty soon I will be taking everything all apart for finish-welding. Over time, my initial tack-welds on the frame have become more substantial, but it is time to finalize everything. Not sure when I will be able to do it -- don't want it to be an evening thing... want to have an entire day to slowly complete the multitude of welds needed. A lot have been finished, but those are mainly things like nuts inserted into tubes to mount components (like the seat, tank, and radiator braces. I still want to make 2 more radiator braces for the lower mounts on the rad.

When I go to Cycleboyz to drop off the Ducati header, I'll bring along this picture to show them options for an oil tank. I think that the area just ahead of the case, and under the rad, to the right of the pipe (as you are sitting on the bike) provides plenty of room for a 3L oil tank. There are 2 good mounts readily available to use to hang the cooler. Even without bodywork, I think it will look "clean" in that location. As well, the oil lines will be considerably shorter than what Suzuki used on either the dirt bike or the quad -- should make for a more efficient cooling system.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Quiet Weekend

Relatively. Parts from both Atom Jet and the Suzuki dealer came in this week. From Atom Jet, the last two spacers for the rear swingarm were completed. Slot in as expected. From the Suzuki dealer, some oil line fittings and dowels, as well as the radiator spigot from the LTZ400 quad that routes the rad hose in the right direction. Basically, an elbow that bolts onto the cylinder head in a different orientation than what was required on the dirt bike. Should be getting a pile more parts from FF this week.

As for the Duc, spent a frustrating but ultimately fruitful day tack-welding the stainless steel tubing I bought on eBay to finish the forward (horizontal) header. It will need to be finish-welded by either tig or mig. The headers were originally mig-welded, so perhaps for consistency's sake these should be too. Then I'll fabricate an exhaust mount for the reverse-cone muffler.

I may have a place to stay at a DOCC rally this summer at Calabogie. By all accounts, an amazing track. Will have to make some decisions and arrangements to make sure that happens. A long trip, but hopefully worth it to ride a different track and get to know other Ducati nuts in the country.

Of my previous "to purchase" list, I was able to get the right air filter (new) for less than half the price advertised by Dennis Kirk ($20 vs $48), and a two-brothers bolt on muffler from a ZX10R for only $25.00. The muffler has a bit of damage to it, but if the pictures are correct, not too much.

My $100 reconditioned Mig Welder has been stuck in Minneapolis since December 17... no idea why. I've put the seller onto it, but no answers yet. For no other reason than to look at nice bikes, here are a few -- Capirossi's Suzuki MotoGP bike. I like this version as there is no obvious mention of "Rizla" -- the main sponsor of the team. For those of you unaware, Rizla is a Dutch company (I think) that makes tobacco rolling papers. For some reason, I have no issues with putting Lucky Strike on the side of my machine, but a rolling paper company gives me pause, mainly due to the fact that very little tobacco is rolled in Rizla papers... you guessed it -- it's a particular favorite of pot-heads. The only "Stoner" I've heard of is named Casey, and he rides a Ducati. Not the image I want to portray, being a school principal or not. Drugs are for losers.

Another idea I had is to go the (now vintage) Kawasaki route. It's official, there will be no Kwak team in MotoGP this year; blame it on the economy. And considering all the help Scott had given me at TransCanada, the local Kawi dealer, maybe this would be more appropriate... This is a particularly old picture -- I think the first MotoGP Kawi prototype. Being a fan of Gary McCoy, maybe doing the bike up like his would be better, or even the Nakano bike I got to see up close at the 2005 Laguna race.

Remember, I have the option of calling the bike a Suzuki DRZ400-based supermono, or a Kawasaki KLX400 based supermono...

Finally, trolling the web for other 'mono resources and builders, I have come across a few.

1. Nisky Garage: a teacher at a school in the states is building a supermono with his students. Regular updates and great photos, as well as access to some neat tools. Yes, I am jealous, as some items are also donated to the program, but as a fellow educator, hits home to me. What a great idea. Here is the link: http://niskygarage.logical.net/nisky_garage/Home.html

Here is a pic to get you hooked. Honda RS250 frame, swingarm and tank; TZ250 front end; Infinity bodywork; supermono wheels. I think if I had this as an option in High School, I woulda dropped all the university-entrance courses I took...

2. TZ690. A Brit is building a supermono to race in the BUFF series in the UK. Not building a frame from scratch, but is trying to fit a donor engine into a TZ frame. He started with an XR600, but Dave Pearce convinced him to go with the new Katoom 640cc engine. Should be a rocket. http://mitomono.blogspot.com/

3. Team Thumper. http://team-thumper.blogspot.com/. Another bunch of Brits. Even has some videos on the site. But of course, not updated as religiously as yours truly. Stand by for funny British humour -- most of which I wouldn't have gotten had I not watched "CBC Latenight" back in the 80s... Benny Hill, Carry on Camping... etc.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tank Mounting

Spent yesterday fabricating the mounts for the fuel tank. As much as possible, I want to avoid the "bent metal tabs/aluminum straps from Home Depot" look. It triples the amount of time to fabricate anything, but the reality is, I'm in no rush. Today its too cold to do anything (and I mean ANYTHING) other than stay inside. The plan was to head to Killarney to fool about on the ice with the TTR, but I'd rather not subject anything mechanically (the bike) or organically (me) to -41 degrees Celsius with the wind chill. Ripping around a frozen lake likely would provide little in the way of wind protection. Man, I wish the weather would break a bit. -10 will feel balmy...

Back to the tank -- I spent some time figuring how I'd like to mount it, and came up with the design you see at left. The front is a typical centre tab with a bolt through it (a shouldered washer/sleeve with a m6 allen through it). The rear two tabs are likewise, set into 5/8 tubing that has a nut welded into it. The pics likely explain it better than I can with words. I've left each end of the 3/4" cross tube quite long, to allow for the possibility of the aluminum subframe in the Tyga kit bolting to it.

I'll trim the cross piece to whatever length is needed, regardless if I can use it as a pick-up point for the subframe. It was a good reminder for me to measure 15 times before, during, and after tack-welding. And to look at it from as many different perspectives as possible. To improve the ambient light, I usually work (regardless of temperature) with the front garage door open. I'm sure the few brave souls who were out walking yesterday wondered why I was poised on a ladder, looking down at a funny pile of steel, with one eye closed. When all was said and done, a slight tap with the rubber mallet (while the welded areas were still cherry red), and everything lines up square.
I think I am now officially at the "50% done, 90% left to go" stage. Huddled over some home-made Tim Horton's I came up with the following 2 lists:

TO DO (in no particular order)
  • Install appropriate K&N filter prior to installing rear subframe (57mm boot)
  • Fit rear subframe
  • Front fairing mounts
  • Side fairing mounts
  • Finish exhaust header
  • Install suitable muffler
  • Finish-Weld Frame (after damaged cases arrive from Thumpertalk)
  • Fit Radiator tabs and hoses
  • Install appropriate Kickstand (need to call Dave in the UK for some direction here)
  • Finish tank -- fill oem petcock hole and install outlet hose
  • Get the manual and check all the wiring I have/establish what I need
  • Find appropriate switchgear for handlebars
  • Fit Dash -- OEM or aftermarket
  • Fabricate gearshift mechanism
  • Fit rear brake m/c and lever
  • Oil tank -- needs to be designed, fabricated, and installed

TO BUY: the following parts are still required to finish

  1. Front NSR250 fairing mount (UK only)
  2. Muffler (aftermarket slip-on)
  3. K&N filter
  4. Radiator hoses
  5. Fuel Cap
  6. Kickstand
  7. Rear Brake M/C
  8. Shift Lever
  9. Brake Lever
  10. Pegs
  11. DRZ400 steel shifter (to fabricate one that will work with street switchgear)
  12. Chain
  13. Oil tank
  14. Oil lines and clamps (oil tank will be in different location than OEM)
  15. Dash -- OEM or aftermarket
  16. Battery
  17. Front RS125 fender (likely UK only)
  18. Fuel Tank liner (Kreem or POR-15 after it's been tested)

Right.... still a ways to go then. The time off recently has been wonderful. A ton of progress has been made. New parts are still in transit, so aside from the K&N filter, I have time to wait on some things... Back to work tomorrow! As in, my real job, not the expensive hobby you see here.