OUR BENCH

Mi­nor dis­as­ter on start-up of re­built en­gine as it pukes oil and re­veals top end mal­func­tion

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Contents -

Mas­sive grief with 900SS, mi­nor ag­gro with XL, all go­ing very swim­mingly with the GSX, plus, (shock, hor­ror) KH1F makes some ac­tual progress

ne of the joys of air-cooled Du­catis is the clank­ing racket they make on start-up. And af­ter a long re­build and much an­tic­i­pa­tion, my 1993 900SS is clank­ing more than most. It catches with an ex­plo­sive back­fire or sev­eral, stalls with an omi­nous whine from the bot­tom-end and takes an eter­nity to restart. When it fi­nally does I no­tice an over­whelm­ing smell of fresh fuel. That will be com­ing from the pud­dle spread­ing across the work­bench from the carb over­flow. This, I fur­ther note, has oil drip­ping into it from a leak at the bot­tom right cor­ner of the front­cylin­der’s base gas­ket.

There’s been a lot of work done and money spent to get to this point of dis­ap­point­ment and frus­tra­tion. Last month I got the en­gine back to­gether and ready to go in the frame. That’s not re­ally a job for the solo oper­a­tor. Sure there are only two en­gine bolts but chock­ing up the lump to lower the trel­lis frame over it is a high-risk strat­egy without some­one to hold the en­gine steady. That some­one ar­rived in the form of Mark Gra­ham who ex­pressed his sur­prise that a mere two bolts were en­trusted with keep­ing en­gine and frame united, be­fore de­cid­ing this was an ad­mirable hall­mark of Du­cati’s sim­ple ap­proach to mo­tor­cy­cle en­gi­neer­ing.

With the two long bolts torqued-up I could then get on with the rest of the Duke’s rather idio­syn­cratic as­sem­bly process on my own. The swingarm piv­ots off the back of the crankcases. Du­cati’s fond­ness for a hand­ful of shims where tighter man­u­fac­tur­ing tol­er­ances might have served bet­ter is well-known. The The harder you look, the more nas­ti­ness you find

Note one of two en­gine mount bolts (top, right)

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