The 888 with an ST4 engine project has been a massive flurry of activity – with an equally massive series of setbacks. Time for another Valium
Progress mase through a roster of pesky niggles and ridiculous quirks
ONE MONTH after taking over the build from Alan Seeley I’m already beginning to understand how he felt when the project dribbled to a halt in September 2015.
The thing is, you really shouldn’t try and build a one-off bike to a deadline, because your decision-making turns to mush. I have found out the hard way that it would be cheaper, more productive and less traumatic to wander around town centres handing out fivers to passers-by. My fundamental error was noticing I was doing a track day in 10 days’ time. Maybe, I reasoned, I could get the 888 ready for a glorious debut. OK, seven of those days consisted of a long-booked family holiday, but hey – we all like a challenge. I blocked out the remaining three days and set to work. First stop: custom and fabrication specialist Etto Motorcycles in Sibthorpe, Nottingham. The 851 tank Alan had found didn’t suit the 888 frame’s mounting points. The front was adaptable, but the rear needed a total rethink. Ian Davis at Etto obliged by cutting off the old mount on the rear subframe and TIG welding in a new one. A bargain at £40.
If the bike turns out to be good I’ll be back in the autumn to get proper mounting tabs for the subframe. The 851 battery box Alan had found almost fitted the bracketts
Alan had made on the 888 frame, but the Motobatt battery wouldn’t squeeze in. Motobatts are excellent in value/ performance terms but I’ve noticed they can be slightly larger than the originals. Still, if I could make the lower box mounting screw flush it would just about comply.
An hour later we had a solution with a countersunk screw, custom spacer and slightly enlarged hole in the battery box. Next I tackled the dangly giblets at the front of the bike: five relays and two sensors. There’s not much space on the front subframe apart from two triangles of tube, which were the obvious homes for the air pressure and air temperature sensors. I made triangular card templates, replicated them in 1mm aluminium sheet, and drilled the mounting holes. The pressure sensor was easy enough: it sits on three soft rubber mounts. But the temp sensor lives in a strangely-shaped rubber grommet. Half an hour with a drill and files produced a fairly decent replica of the original hole.
Next, the relays. Ducati very thoughtfully provide little rubber cages for them to live in, with neat plug mountings that just need the right-sized hole. With my Clarke 300 lathe on spacer-making duty I managed to cram three relays onto the left front subframe. The other two relays clearly need their cables extending, but with the trackday looming my friend Rupe Farnsworth put them in the headlight space for now. Net result: only two cables needed extending (for the temp sensor on the left side of the bike). More lathe frolics allowed
me to mount the reg/rec, fit the throttle intake stubs without the airbox (no time to build one of those now!) and make adaptors for the Nitron shock’s remote reservoir mountings.
While this was going on, the issues I’d outsourced last month began to bear fruit. Steve Baker at Q Prep rang to say he’d shortened my replacement rear spindle, ground the damaged end to take a 22mm spanner, and cut a new thread for the nut. £40 well spent. Corby Kawasaki said they’d fitted the front Dunlop I’d given them, but the rear I’d blagged from a dark lock-up at work was a 160, not the 180 it should be. I am an idiot. “Can you get me the right size Dunlop Sportsmart in time?” “Yeah, should be no problem. Or we’ve got a Pirelli in stock.” “Let’s keep a matched pair if possible.”
At this point I noticed the silencers didn’t have any baffles. I couldn’t raise Nigel at exhaust fabricators NRP, but I knew he used Lextek silencers, so I rang them, described the silencers, and ordered two db killers for £22.45. While I was in phone mode I made a detailed list of stuff to arrive while I was on holiday: a new pattern fuel filter (£10), half a metre of submersible fuel hose (£19.80), eight 13-15mm hose clips, two Ramair pod filters to suit 57mm intakes (£49.98), two jubilee clips to mount the shock remote reservoir (£6), and some 7mm rear brake hose to re-site the fluid reservoir (£4.50). Farnsworth was ready to recieve all these goodies while I was away. With luck, a swift assembly job on my return would see the bike running on Sunday night, before the
“We threw in the towel at 3pm on the hottest day of the year and went canoeing instead”
Air filters and splayed bellmouths proved a troublesome mismatch
Wiring proved less bothersome
He always wanted an extension
Ian Davis strains to maintain his ‘endlessly cheerful’ attitude
New tank mount on rear subframe