1971 Moto Guzzi Ambassador 750 Barn Find Resurrection & Questions

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by fadingfastsd, Jul 31, 2013.

  1. fadingfastsd

    fadingfastsd Looking for riding partner near Fort Collins, CO!

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    272
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    Fort Collins, CO
    Just picked up a 71 Moto Guzzi Ambassador 750 last night, and I'm going to need some advice. I'll document the work on the bike here in this thread. I've been reading every Guzzi thread on Old's Cool I can find, but I'd really appreciate advice and input from you guys. I've had plenty of airheads and just about everything else, but this is my first Guzzi.

    I picked this up originally just to flip, not intending to ride it for long. However, it's already growing on me. I've got a nice 85 BMW K100 for a commuter right now, and I'm thinking I might sell it and keep this once I get it going. I picked it up for $1400, which I think is a fair price given it's condition. It was literally sitting deep in a barn in Ramona, CA (North-East San Diego county, fairly rural area). Guy parked it in 2002, hasn't been moved since. Said he drove it in, and he put 20k miles on it himself over a couple years.

    First off, here's some pics to get you started.

    This is the link to my photo gallery. I will keep all pics here for this project:
    https://plus.google.com/photos/117117141812860974450/albums/5907009476157280193

    Bringing it home, just loaded up:
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    And finally got it back to my shop this morning. I hosed it down after soaking in S100.

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    Pulling it apart for cleaning:

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    and...a bug problem:
    [​IMG]


    So anyways, I'm on to general cleaning first. Get all the bugs and spider webs off. Then I'll get a battery in it, turn it over and make sure the engines free. I'll be cleaning the carbs at the same time. Both are horrible gunked up and slides are stuck.

    Now the main problem I'm aware of on this bike (reason the guy parked it) was that he said the rear hub splines are trashed. He said that there is a ton of slop in them. I'll post pictures of the rim hub and driveshaft hub splines tomorrow for input. They are definitely worn, but don't look 'trashed'.

    Can I remove the splines from the rim hub? Or are they part of the rim hub itself. Does anybody have a set of splines for sale? Any tips on where to get these?

    That's about it for now, I'll update on progress. I'm trying to keep learning as this is my first Guzzi!!
    #1
  2. England-Kev

    England-Kev Long timer

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    Fantastic project, a little air and oil andbit looks good to go
    #2
  3. lrutt

    lrutt SILENCE.....i kill you

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    better pop the heads and take a look at the bores. If still chrome then you are in for a set of Gils for about $1k. If you don't do that you will surely destroy the motor. with those original chrome bores, it's not a matter of if but when they flake.

    Also check the WildGuzzi site, great bunch of guys there that will help out.
    #3
  4. sjc56

    sjc56 Long timer

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    #4
  5. east high

    east high Been here awhile

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    That patina! :knary
    #5
  6. England-Kev

    England-Kev Long timer

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    Ok, my first bit of advice, I hope you take it...

    listen to the guys on here.

    that's it, they know so much between them, and offer the support freely. If I was closer I would buy them a beer.:evil

    Remove the heads before trying to turn it over, you really don't want to be pumping chrome around your engine.

    and lastly, have fun, we are all here supporting you:deal:clap:freaky
    #6
  7. Nessman

    Nessman Evangelical Atheist

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    What Kev said, and I'd add that paint is easy, patina is hard. I love the way it looks now, a runner with that "character' would be special.

    But that's just me.
    #7
  8. melville

    melville Long timer

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    Yes! Despite my preference for the shiny, DO NOT mess with that patina!
    #8
  9. fadingfastsd

    fadingfastsd Looking for riding partner near Fort Collins, CO!

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Fort Collins, CO
    Thanks for the good replies guys. I've already joined Wild Guzzi, and the Loop Frame Yahoo group. Good information there, and especially on the ThisOldTractor site

    Well, I'm really glad I took your advice. You guys are very helpful...and wise :D

    I pulled the heads like you guys advised. And....it's worse than I thought. Much worse. The right side is filthy and carboned up. The left....is trashed.

    Left side:
    [​IMG]

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    The right side:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The rockers and pushrods look fine. Guys, I need some help. I'm on a pretty strict budget, and it would kill me to have to get rid of this bike. I'm on a mission to put this back on the road, and ride the crap out of it.

    I can't afford to go with new cylinders, possibly replate them, but I've got to keep the cost down as much as possible, since I still have to fix the rear end splines.

    Does anybody have a parts bike, or any source on cheaply priced good & useable used parts? I'm going to post in Classifieds on here, and start scouring eBay. If anybody has a lead on good used parts as CHEAP as posible, PLEASE, please let me know.

    I can also offer trades for electrical parts (stators, regulators, etc) check out www.racetechelectric.com.

    I'm going to keep working on the bike. Probably pull the engine today. More pics and updates coming soon.
    #9
  10. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Aw - its just a little dirty.......that should clean right up.........

    You could also try posting in the Want section of Classified on Wildguzzi - and keeping your eye on the For Sale stuff there too. Good parts come up at reasonable prices from time to time. Also, if you have a specific part you can't find, you can always try making a request directly to the (WG) forum. Its not really 'approved' practice, but most of the inmates there are more interested in helping get a bike back running than PC or feathering their pockets.

    Good luck

    Nick
    #10
  11. Nessman

    Nessman Evangelical Atheist

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    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=5837696&postcount=38

    "I'm running vw-sourced iron liners and venolia pistons on my ambassador"

    Heard of it, no experience wif it.

    Sorry, an old Guzzi is like an onion. The more layers you peel back the more your eyes water...

    There's a set on eBay but any stock Ambassador jug is a time bomb.
    #11
  12. MZRider

    MZRider Neo-Luddite

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    Every time I see a reference to "VW liners" I'm always a bit confused. What VW? In air-cooled VWs, there was no separate liner - the bore was in the cast-iron cylinder block with cooling fins. In water-cooled VWs, the pistons run in the bores machined into the cast-iron block.

    I've heard of backyard engineers "back in the day" buying liners from companies such as LA Sleeve and then modifying VW pistons to work. Or LA Sleeves and Venolia (or other brand) pistons. Lots of work to save a few $$ and they never work as well as Nikasil plated cylinders.
    #12
  13. fadingfastsd

    fadingfastsd Looking for riding partner near Fort Collins, CO!

    Joined:
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    Well I got both cylinders off the bike today, and pulled both pistons. The right side (cleaner side) came off easily, no problems. The piston is carboned up as well, but not bad. The cylinder on this side looks just fine. The chrome plating is all completely intact, and perfectly flat. No scuff marks, scratches or gouges. Certainly no flaking or bubbling of the chrome plating. Is this one safe to use, or should I be wary of problems with the chrome even if it looks ok now? I'll put up a good picture of it next week. This piston also had a couple of the compression rings broken, just snapped clean in half. They basically fell out when I pulled the cylinder off.

    I finally got the left (corroded) side off, but it was pretty difficult. The piston was completely rusted to the cylinder. The chrome plating had flaked off in big chunks. There was oxidation everywhere. To get the cylinder off I had turn the engine over to get the left side to TDC. Then I put wood blocks between the cylinder and engine block, and slowly turned the engine over from the nut on the front of the crank. It took some tapping with a mallet to break the rust loose, but the piston finally slid out. The rings are rusted completely solid to the piston. The cylinder is a mess, as is the piston.

    The good news is the crankcase looks good. The crank turns freely. The con-rods have little play in them. It was stored with lots of oil, and it seems clean. The cam looks good and so do the pushrods.

    So ultimately, I need to figure out my options for the top end to get this running as cheaply as possible. I need pistons, rings, and preferably cylinders and heads for this bike. The right side head is OK, but the left side is so corroded, I believe the valves will have to be replaced. In all your wise opinions, what is the absolute cheapest route to get the top end sorted and get this bike running? My priority is to get this bike going as a local cruiser. I can always tear it down for a full rebuild later on, but I can't afford to have this bike sitting around if it's not usable. However if the parts are just plain too expensive, I'll have to come to terms with selling this off as is, because I just can't get in too deep $-wise on this.
    #13
  14. England-Kev

    England-Kev Long timer

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    No matter how you look at it, this project is going to cost you big bucks just to get running, I hate to say this, but someone needs to, I think the better option would be to break it for parts:cry

    As the bike stands, or stood when you bought it, there were loads of parts missing, so if you start adding up what needs to be found and bought just to put it back on the road, it aint going to be cheap. Let's face the truth here, even sorting out a running bike is not cheap.

    Sorry if that is not what you wanted to hear.



    Now it would be a different option if you had the time and the money to throw at it, with time and money it would be a great project.:evil
    #14
  15. fadingfastsd

    fadingfastsd Looking for riding partner near Fort Collins, CO!

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    haha damn you said it. I figured somebody would give it to me straight sooner or later. I was avoiding the obvious and hoping a magical cheap and perfect parts bike with just what I need would show up on Craigslist or something. I know you're probably right, and on my budget this is most likely not going to happen. It just kills me to part out such a cool bike...
    #15
  16. JonnyCash

    JonnyCash turd polisher

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    Then just park it until you have the money to deal with it, or just work on it over the span of years. I'm sure that you could make some money off of parting it out, but it is a lot of hassle, and you only really get good money for NICE parts. Parts that need restoration work don't bring a whole lot of money, as I have learned.

    If you have spent much time on here looking at people's over-the-top 100 point rebuilds and customizations, it is easy to feel like that's what you HAVE to do when you find a bike like this. Last winter, I picked up a toaster tank /5 that was an abandoned project. The engine was locked up, so the PO took everything apart, and then couldn't bring himself to go any further. I've made up my mind to fix it with all used but good parts, and I'm not going to repaint and polish everything. It will be a nice bike. I suggest you do the same with this one. Don't hurry, and don't worry. You'll have a lovely thing in the end.

    Please don't break it up.


    Then again, in the end, it is YOUR bike.
    #16
  17. B_C_Ries

    B_C_Ries Long timer

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    Having an old bike that runs is really cool, Do what it takes to get it running and rolling, and do not worry about restoring it to excellent condition. Old Guzzi's have tons of personality even if they are rough, I would rather ride a ratty old bike than look at a pretty one.
    #17
  18. t4halo

    t4halo VIGILANTE

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    Irish Hills, MI
    It took me a couple years to get my 69 Ambo back together, at the time I had 3 Guzzi's an 02 V11 Sport and an 83 Le Mans. Now I have one. The 69. These Loop frames are awesome and easy to work on. Take your time and build a great bike. You'll never get rid of it when you're done. T4
    #18
  19. Nessman

    Nessman Evangelical Atheist

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    I've had a Tonti in the garage for 20+ years (not always running) and I've wanted a loop for almost as long. Every time I ride a loop it feels like there's a hinge in the middle (several different bikes).

    Have I just ridden a bunch of roached bikes or is that part of the charm?

    If I was closer to San Diego I'd be doing things I'd regret later.
    #19
  20. MZRider

    MZRider Neo-Luddite

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    790
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    Western MD
    No original chrome plated cylinder is "good", the chrome will eventually flake off and destroy expensive bits.

    You could use a later engine (Convert, SP, CX100, G5 would be best IMO) but by time you purchase the engine, a crank adapter and go through it also (even a known good engine can have issues, such as timing chain and tensioner on the engines mentioned) you'll have almost the cost of Gilardonis.

    The cheapest way to achieve good cylinders is to replate a set of originals. However, you need to have reusable pistons - ones that meet the specs set forth in the factory manual as far as diameter and ring groove width. New oversized pistons are available (Moto International in Seattle), but by time you buy them and have the cylinders replated, you'd have been better off with Gilardonis.

    Assuming you find reusable pistons, replating cylinders is ~ $420/pr. at Millennium Technologies, rings can be found for around $100 for both sides, then gaskets, piston pins circlips, o-ring, etc. add a few more $$.

    While you're tearing things down for inspection, I'd pull the rear drive and diassemble it, having a good look at the condition of the pinion gear teeth in particular. If they look good, you can get away with just resealing the rear drive, if they're chipped, pitted, etc. figure around $750 to put it right.

    U-joints can be a bit fragile for some folks (though mine is the original at 104,000 miles), fortunately John Chicoine in MA can rebuild it for $140.
    #20