MON­STER RESTO

Bought for just £500 this M900 Mon­ster was on the brink of death. Nearly three years later thanks to ex­ten­sive re­con­struc­tion... IT LIVES!

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - CONTENTS - Words: Jon Bent­man Pic­tures: Ja­son Critchell

Andy Pat­ter­son spent £500 on a very rough run­ner and then 100 years get­ting it right

Andy Pat­ter­son’s M900 project came about sim­ply, and quite un­der­stand­ably, be­cause, as he puts it, “I had to have an­other Mon­ster in my life”. It is osten­si­bly – but not wholly – a 1993 M900, the very first of the lin­eage. It was bought for a ‘mon­key’ in May 2015 as a spares or re­pair propo­si­tion from a lo­cal man who had to give it up as he didn’t have the money to fix the grum­bling en­gine.

When Andy says ‘an­other Mon­ster’ he means his fourth. His fas­ci­na­tion with Du­cati’s stripped-down street twin be­gan in 2003 with a ’97 M900, fol­lowed by an S4, then an 1100S (a great bike, but some way on from the pu­rity of the 904cc orig­i­nal). It was when he re­placed the 1100S with one of Du­cati’s new Scram­blers that he knew he still needed a Mon­ster.and £500 for a bas­ket­case was ‘a cheap way back in’.the bonus – and in­spi­ra­tion for a full nut and bolt restora­tion – was the fact it was one of the first of its type.

Andy’s no stranger to a project. tin­ker­ing with bikes had started for him around 10 years ago when he slot­ted an S4R sin­glesided swingarm into his S4.the suc­cess of that in­spired him into a restora­tion of a Suzuki GT50, that was sup­posed to be a joint project with his step­son, only the kid wasn’t into it.then came a rareyamaha SS50 vari­ant on the Fizzie which he bought as a £600 wreck from a ven­dor in Hol­land.that rolled into a resto of a pop­si­cle pur­ple Fizzie – the same model and colour as the one he owned back in his youth.

And that’s just the tip ofandy’s resto­berg. He’s also ac­quired a Yamaha XT500, in boxes, for £250, that’s now 95 per cent com­plete. Sit­ting next to it is a ’70s Yamaha 80 minibike, per­haps for a grand­child? Then there’s the un­ex­plained mint RD250 cling­ing to the garage wall, and the SRX400 cafe racer project hid­ing in the gar­den.all this en­ter­tained in the small­est of garages (as you can see over the page).

“Yeah, I guess things have just snow­balled,” con­fesses Andy. “This resto thing, it gives you some­thing to do, you see.” So, back to the Mon­ster (it’s easy to get side­tracked at Andy’s). He started strip­ping it al­most im­me­di­ately.

“I didn’t dare ride it with the en­gine mak­ing the noise. I knew I had to get the mo­tor out and looked over by a pro­fes­sional to see what the dam­age was. But if the en­gine had been a right off I was com­mit­ted to re­plac­ing it, so I con­tin­ued with the strip.”

As it was, thev-twin lump needed the crank re­build­ing as the grum­ble was com­ing from shot main bear­ings. Sec­ond gear too had suf­fered big wear and needed re­plac­ing – a £200 part.thank­fully the en­tire en­gine bill came in at a very rea­son­able £784 – done by Si­mon Tong, a me­chanic who used to work with Kevin Sch­wantz, a re­fer­ral from Proteam Du­cati with whomandy’s shared some of the more tech­ni­cal work.

How­ever, as Andy was work­ing on the chas­sis and Si­mon on the en­gine the Mon­ster’s some­what che­quered past re­vealled it­self. Mon­sters started as a bit of a parts bin spe­cial (tak­ing the 900SS mo­tor and slot­ting it in a mod­i­fied 851/888 trel­lis frame) – but this one took Dr. Franken­stein’s Mon­ster ethos a step fur­ther.the crankcases were stamped 1995, the bar­rels 1992 and the heads 1993.The ex­hausts were a later model too, the frame and wheels weren’t the right colour for the year and even­tu­ally Andy dis­cov­ered the tank – one of the clean­est parts of the bike – wasn’t year cor­rect either.

“The like­li­hood is that at some point the bike had been in an ac­ci­dent, but at £500 what do you want? Be­sides it came with an Öh­lins shock, alone worth £300. I wasn’t wor­ried if it was go­ing to need an­other en­gine, I’ve never been hung-up on the match­ing numbers thing, but then again I do like things to be year-cor­rect.”

And this can also lead to some com­edy with the Mon­ster, as the early ones came with many parts stamped or stick­ered with Ca­giva’s ele­phant em­blem, whereas the post-ca­giva era mod­els don’t. So it’s not so

much a mat­ter of rivet-count­ing as ele­phant count­ing.andy says he’s not yet es­tab­lished the full count of ele­phants on a Mon­ster but it’s prob­a­bly more than 40...

Mean­while he was chas­ing down var­i­ous parts.the si­lencers, while proper Mon­ster, were the wrong year, the 1993 ones unique in car­ry­ing no cham­fer on their lower edge. As of­ten hap­pens, the cor­rect ones don’t al­ways ap­pear ex­actly when you need them,

“I’VE NEVER BEEN HUNG UP ON MATCH­ING NUMBERS”

so you ef­fect an al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tion, only for a sound pair to emerge later. So there are a fair few Mon­ster si­lencers clut­ter­ing up Andy’s al­ready packed garage. Like­wise with the switchgear, mi­nor model vari­a­tions make find­ing the cor­rect ones tough to find, some come with wires too short, oth­ers too long.three pur­chases later and some more Franken­stein-es­que mat­ing of var­i­ous donor parts, the switchgear is cor­rect.

“The process isn’t straight­for­ward and I think at the be­gin­ning I didn’t do things right. I’d post a pic­ture on the Mon­ster UK fo­rum and the guys would come back say­ing ‘that’s not cor­rect’ – it was a big learn­ing curve.then in 2016 I took a year off from the resto, I got mar­ried to Caro­line, grand­kids came along, I had a fam­ily be­reave­ment, life got in the way.when I came back to it in 2017 I de­cided if I’m go­ing to do it, I’ll do it right, and as 2018 was the 25th an­niver­sary of the Mon­ster then I should fin­ish it for this year.”

Do­ing things right meant sac­ri­fic­ing the per­fectly good but wrong year tank.andy found a thor­oughly beaten up orig­i­nal (there’s a unique seam around the front lead­ing edge) for £35, and with the help of a mate they pulled out the dents the best they could be­fore it was sent away for a pro­fes­sional re­spray.the fin­ished ar­ti­cle is in­dis­tin­guish­able from new.

The frame went to an­other firm for pow­der­coat­ing. It came back the per­fect colour match – for the wrong year. “That prompted me spend­ing an hour and half with a lo­cal paint spe­cial­ist us­ing a sus­pen­sion loop sup­plied by a fo­rum friend from a 1993 model with the orig­i­nal paint un­blem­ished.the paint man man­aged an ex­act match, so I took the code for the other fo­rum mem­bers and a bunch of cans for my­self. I rubbed back the pow­der­coat and painted the frame my­self on a warm sum­mer’s day in the gar­den.”only even then he’s not quite got the de­sired fin­ish.

“It looked great.and so I started re­assem­bly, so many parts to fit, all re­fur­bished or re­placed.then a few months in the paint on the frame started to dis­tress, with mi­cro cracks ap­pear­ing. I was too far along to want to strip it again, but one day I will. But from now on, when it comes to key items where fin­ish is so im­por­tant, I’ll leave it to the pro­fes­sion­als!”

One el­e­ment that was in sur­pris­ingly good con­di­tion was the wiring loom. Ital­ian electrics don’t have the best rep­u­ta­tion yetandy found the Mon­ster’s loom to be in good nick, just need­ing to strip off the odd add-on loop, like for heated grips. But oth­er­wise it was fight­ing fit.

There’s more to tell. Like the pur­chase of a swingarm from the US, on ac­count of it be­ing scratch-free where­andy’s had a few dings.the re­place­ment of the clock set be­cause the orig­i­nal di­als had an odome­ter drum stuck be­tween the 4 and 5 dig­its.the re­place­ment of the ex­haust head­ers where the orig­i­nals had been flat­tened, prob­a­bly by drop­ping off a kerb.and the vapour blast­ing and re­paint of the var­i­ous en­gine parts. Not to men­tion the ex­act­ing one-off fab­ri­ca­tion of var­i­ous brack­ets neatly done byandy. Then the zinc plat­ing.the brake ren­o­va­tions. All de­tailed stuff.

Once com­plete,andy handed his Mon­ster over to Du­cati Proteam where boss and top tech­ni­cian – and now good mate –Alec Short gave the Mon­ster a once over and an MOT.

“I was al­most too fright­ened to start the en­gine again, in case it went bang. But it fired up straight away, only for the carbs to start flood­ing – the one as­sem­bly I’d not stripped as they looked fine.alec sorted those for me quickly and now it’s fine.and com­pleted in time for the Mon­ster Club week­ender and 25th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion on the May Bank Hol­i­day.and while I’ve only rid­den it a hand­ful of miles so far I’m de­lighted, it feels like the Mon­sters I love, like it’s sit­ting up, keen, alert.”

It cer­tainly is a sight for sore eyes: as faith­ful as a restora­tion can be, dili­gently ex­e­cuted, us­ing self-taught skills but with ex­perts brought in when ap­pro­pri­ate. But it’s no mu­seum piece,andy says it’s for rid­ing. And in his evenings now?well, there’s the XT500 to fin­ish (for a start). “FROM NOW ON, WHEN IT COMES TO KEY ITEMS WHERE FIN­ISH IS IM­POR­TANT, I’LL LEAVE IT TO THE PRO­FES­SION­ALS”

“I made it from an old saucepan, just like the fac­tory did”

Ready to rum­ble – and only its sec­ond time out since the build

Öh­lins shock worth al­most as much as the bike

This is where it all hap­pens, squeezed in round the back

Top: the colour-co­or­di­nated bin thing get­ting out of hand Above: a nice XT, or what will most likely be a nice XT when it’s done

Top: as it came – on a trailer mak­ing hor­ri­ble en­gine noises Left: and now, mak­ing one of the sweet­est en­gine sounds Hard to miss this Yam SS50

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.