Sunday, June 21, 2009

more screwing around

So what follows are some photos of me continuing to not get started on the bike, but instead to do other peripheral stuff. Building a primitive work platform out of old shipping palettes.

This is more than worth it: I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on a lift table, but it would kill my back and my knees if I had to go through this whole thing with it on the floor. I'm going to have a 21 pound (and growing) baby strapped to my back most of the time as well.

So now what I ought to do is clean off what grease and grime is left on the bike and then get to work dismantling it and cataloging all the parts. I could take a couple more close up photos of how the wiring is routed, although I'm sure that more than half of the wiring on it now is jury rigged.

One reason I hesitate is the chaotic state of my garage. The right thing to do is to spend at least another full day sorting all the sundry nonsense stuffed into the garage and move as much as I can out of there, into the basement of the house or the rafters above the garage. And probably build at least one storage shelf in the garage so that I can neatly store and label all the parts I remove.

I don't relish this chore, mostly because I don't have a clear idea what to do with all that stuff, and I don't know if I'll be able to decide where to put it. I could easily get sidetracked dealing with some of that stuff and not get to work on the bike for two more weeks. That's an argument to simply get started on the Bronco and work out the details of what to do with the parts as I go.

While you mull that over, read my Motorcycle training article. I got it on Wikipedia's main page in the Did you know box. When I'm not working on the Bronco, I'm going to be writing a Wikipedia article on the Guggenheim Museum's 1998 The Art of the Motorcycle exhibition.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

at last

So I finally finished this high chair I was making.

Why that matters is that we needed the high chair and it was taking forever. I couldn't really spend any time on the motorcycle until I got that taken care of.

So! I did do a compression test on the Bronco and got 20 psi dry and 25 wet. I haven't actually researched what those numbers mean to me on this particular engine. But it's something to compare to when I'm done.

I would have worked on it today but I haven't started my other bike for three weeks and so I took a ride to Snoqualmie Falls.

So that's out of the way, for now. Going to get to work real soon. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

wherein i say nice things about DomiRacer

So you remember from, um, one post ago, that I got a box of parts from DomiRacer that should add up to a complete magneto-flywheel assembly. So it turns out that I got two flywheels, and both of the coils were lighting coils. You need one light coil and one ignition coil.

So I checked my order and sure enough, I specified 2 when I ordered the flywheel, and didn't even notice then they replied back with a change in the prices. The coil part numbers I asked for were correct, at least. So I emailed them and explained the errors and they said they would credit me for the flywheel if I sent it back, and send me the ignition coil in place of my second light coil. I paid shipping on that heavy brass flywheel, but of course that was my fault. Later they even called me on the phone to verify that they were sending me the right coil.

So there you go. DomiRacer is A-OK.

Now that I have a more or less complete bike, I feel more confident investing more time in the bike. I had some fear that the project would stall indefinitely waiting for the magneto and flywheel, but now that I've got them I'm going to go all in.

The engine turns freely by hand with the plug out, and you can feel compression if you put your thumb in the spark plug hole. I think I want to use a compression gauge to measure more accurately the wet and dry compression, as a heads up for what I'll find when I tear into it, and as a baseline to compare to when I'm done.

Dry compression is the reading you get with the pressure gauge screwed into the plug hole, turning the engine several times. You then remove the gauge, squirt some motor oil into the combustion chamber, and repeat the compression measurement. If you get too-low compression in both tests, this means your valves and possibly also your rings are bad. If you get low compression dry but significantly higher compression wet, this means your valves are probably OK but your rings are bad. This is because the oil flowing down from the top of the piston onto the rings formed a temporary seal, correcting leaky rings if the were leaky. If both readings are good, with the wet perhaps a little higher, then your engine is in good shape.

With this bike having only 8,318 miles on the odometer, it seems perhaps a possibility that the rings and valves are healthy, and I might even go so far as to start riding the bike without completely tearing the engine apart. But there is likely rust, mouse droppings, spider webs and oil sludge all up in there, and so that would be risky. I need to at least know I'm going to have oil pressure and the oil gallery that carries lubricant from the oil pump to the upper valve train is not blocked.

Right now in this bike I have $585.61 in parts, plus the $375 purchase price and $60.38 in taxes, title, and fees. That's $1020.99. I would surmise that if you could find a complete but not running 125 Bronco, you might get it for $600 to $1,000, though that bike would not have a brand new alternator-flywheel or muffler and whatnot. I budgeted $1,500 beyond the purchase price, so I've got about $800 left to get it running. I think I can make the engine run, but won't be able to ride it regularly without rebuilding the wheels, which I think would put me over budget. But we shall see.

I've been stuck on the couch with the baby, one or the other of us sick some of the time. And all of the time waiting for the weather to improve. I spent the time researching Ducati history, and polishing the Wikipedia Ducati Bronco article. I also created a new Berliner Motor Corporation article, which turned out far better than I had thought. I was able to find a lot of source material on Google Books. I made a half dozen new motorcycle stubs for various bike mentioned in these articles, like the Ducati 60 and so forth, and also a lot of little tweaks on articles like Motorcycle Frame, which didn't even mention pressed frames. This could go on forever of course, but I think revising the Wikipedia history of Ducat Singles to include the story of the pushrod OHV bike's and not just the bevelheads is doable. I fear Ducati two-strokes will be forgotten; I know I have little interest in those smelly, smoky things. *winky winky*

Today think I can see something like a sunbeam out the window, so I think I'll strap the little guy to my back and wander out to the garage. Of course, I can only finish putting the lights back on my wife's Yamaha Vino 125. After that's done, then maybe I'll get to work on the Bronco.

Monday, March 30, 2009


These are magneto parts! I can't wait to get started.

A couple weeks ago the bike's new title arrived, so I no longer have to worry about officialdom issues popping up.

Monday, March 23, 2009

not sure how high to go on this

I can't find prices for all those bits, but they seem to add up to around $125, except for the exhaust. It could be worth $100 to $300. At least that's what headers for other Ducati singles can cost, but I'm not certain if there are any for the Bronco to be had. None of these are parts I'm certain I need, although I'm pretty confident that my rings, valve guides, clutch springs and so on are not as young as they once were.

It's interesting that the triple clamp seems to be painted the same blue color somebody sprayed all over my bike at some point. Maybe the forest service or somebody like that was using these bikes for utility work at some point and painted them all blue. I don't know how I'd find out but I'd at least like to be sure if it is the same paint.

Friday, March 20, 2009

exhaust nut success

I just got this Ducati singles exhaust nut wrench, and it worked like a charm. I was worried that I should have chosen the other type, cut out of a single flat pieces of stock rather than this two piece version. But no worries.

I also added WD40 around the nut repeatedly over several days, allowing it to soak in. The nut looked very rusty and seemed like it would be totally seized, but not the case. Turned very easily.

This headlight bucket looks like it isn't quite the right part. That's $4.99 I probably shouldn't have spent. But maybe I'll have it powder coated along with the other bits and resell it.

Here's the polished air cleaner next to one of the ones I didn't do. This sort of make you think the bike could look really nice some day.

I got email back from Buchanan Spokes, about my questions as to what to do with my wheels. They said I probably won't find rims 2.75" x 16" so I should have the originals re-chromed and buy a set of spokes. Hopefully I can learn how to build my own wheels, after a few tries. Maybe I can find an expert to inspect my work before I attempt a ride.

Monday, March 16, 2009


This is a Benelini Wards muffler, not specifically for a Ducati Bronco. The original has a nearly identical inscription except it says "MOTO DUCATI" down below the "Brevetti Interfon-Special Silentium" logo. This was much cheaper than the Ducati one, and I'm not going for that level of perfection.

As long as it works. *fingers crossed.*

I have to finish other projects before starting any actual work, but I did put one of the Dell'Orto carb air cleaners on the buffing wheel yesterday and it polished up real nice. I've also been spraying WD40 around the rusty exhaust nut and letting it soak in for days, as Mick Walker recommends in his Ducati Singles Restoration book. The special exhaust nut tool should be here soon and then we can see if I can break it free without drama.