A 33 year love affair. Part One

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by Team Dennis, Nov 22, 2004.

  1. Team Dennis

    Team Dennis Certified Troublemaker

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    It seemed like just yesterday when my twin brother announced he had bought a Ducati. 1973 was the glory years of Japanese bikes and we were just getting over the radical change from the venerable Honda 305's to the ugly 350's after breaking in with CL-90's. There was a veritable war of cool, high performance (or so we thought) Japanese bikes and the Italian's were just trying to stay in the market.And why have a single cylinder when more could be had for less.

    But I guess the Ad's of the cool Italian guy with the leather coat thrown over his shoulder as he mounted his stallion made an impression on at least one mid-west boy. :lol3 So he promptly went down to Racine, Wisconsin to Sunset Motors and brought home this.

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    Note the signature of the dealer,, Yep,, that's T.C. Christenson, the famous drag racer with the twin engine Norton Racer. He became a GOD to us poor Wisconsin hicks after winning all those races and his dealership was "kinda" like a temple. He finally saved my ass when I owned this,,,

    [​IMG]

    because I was going through head-gaskets weekly.He apparently was too as he finally came up with a compression-ringed head gasket that worked even better in the Dunstall than his drag bike. :evil


    But I am getting off-track and that is another story. :deal

    Please note the tax-rate in the contract,, 3%,, Wow. The good old days. While the date shows 1973 on the contract, I believe the Ducati was a 1971 and the state of Wisconsin title tends to back that up. I just remember a lot of orange and chrome and some very cool engine art.

    [​IMG]


    part 1 cont.
    #1
  2. Team Dennis

    Team Dennis Certified Troublemaker

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    So the die was cast. The thumper vs everything else. Those chrome panels on the tank really set it off and it was quite sleek. :evil

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    But the weakness was starting to show. Those damn tool boxes constantly were falling off due to "thumper" vibration and either LocTite was not invented yet or we did not know about it. Note the now naked air filter which was normally housed in the RH tool box.

    [​IMG]



    part 1 cont.
    #2
  3. Gerg

    Gerg Cupcake

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    :lurk
    #3
  4. Team Dennis

    Team Dennis Certified Troublemaker

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    So the love affair, while not torrid , was still hot. Because while the pieces kept falling off and the muffler had a monthly appointment with the welder,





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    because of fracture issues, for some reason, this bike carved tracks. Like a damn slot car. The Pirelli tires held firm despite our indifference and the poor footpeg rubbers showed the abuse. :evil A perfect angle on the ends.




    [​IMG]


    But the Japanese were gaining ground and the 350 thumper was showing it's age. Buy new or re-decorate? So it was in-evitable that the DUC had to have a new look. Sadly it was the start of the ugly years. While the Candy root beer paint looked promising on color swatches, it never made a statement on the bike. And the saddest part was covering up those chrome panels on the gas tank. By now the tool boxes were still history, the air filter was replaced with a velocity stack, the gauges with the constantly broken speedometer was replaced with a Veglia tach and the gas cap was put on wrong, perhaps to protect a valuable part of the anatomy. :evil


    [​IMG]


    part 1 cont.
    #4
  5. Team Dennis

    Team Dennis Certified Troublemaker

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    But the lure of new technology kept pulling "bubba" away. He finally sold the bike to my older brother Greg, who promptly tore it all apart for "restoration"
    Between them they managed to pull apart the motor apart and replace all the bearing with genuine American Timken bearing before putting it together to await the rest of the restore. Greg managed to strip and repaint the frame and swing arm, refurbish the ceriani front forks and install those pieces along with that fabulous engine.

    [​IMG]


    Then life got in the way. The now assembled frame/engine/swing arm/forks was put under the stairwell in the basement of a north Milwaukee basement to age for 25 years. :cry




    To be continued.
    #5
  6. Stephen

    Stephen Long timer

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    Mine, since, uh, about 1975:

    [​IMG]

    Yes, it's pathetic. But I will have more free time soon, and then... oh my, I do remember how that thing corners.

    I'll have a few more things to say later on. Meanwhile, back to the story. :lurk
    #6
  7. matey peeps

    matey peeps Bead Buddy

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    SWEET! That's thumptastic! Keep us posted. :thumb :thumb
    #7
  8. norton73

    norton73 drinkin'

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    Cool :thumb

    My first street bike was a '72 350 Duc, just like yours but in black. I rode the hell out of it, got more tickets on that bike than any other. Converted it to a cafe racer, solo seat, clip ons, and homemade rear sets. During one of my License loses, I put the stock bars and footpegs on, and rode it in the woods.
    Traded it in about 1977 for a Honda XL350. Not sure if I regret that, other than I wish I still had a Duc single. Had my first Norton at the time, so didn't need two cafe racers.
    #8
  9. eskimo

    eskimo gunga-galunga

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    After 25 years, it's a resurrection, not a restoration. Keep it coming....
    :thumb
    #9
  10. Team Dennis

    Team Dennis Certified Troublemaker

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    Rather than start another thread for parts 2 and 3, I will just build on this one.
    #10
  11. Team Dennis

    Team Dennis Certified Troublemaker

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    So one day I was on Ebay and noted this Ducati 350 for sale. Figuring it was going to be a resto project, I clicked on it and this came up.

    [​IMG]


    Wow, that's how I remembered the bike. A proper color for the scrambler (orange for 350's and yellow for 450's) and some how the tool boxes survived.
    Imagine my suprise when the reserve was never met and bidding stopped around $1K. So I gathered there was not much collectability for it, and promptly gave up on that idea.
    #11
  12. Team Dennis

    Team Dennis Certified Troublemaker

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    And life continued to get in the way. A family funeral finally got me back to Milwaukee and a visit to TeamGreg's house. The talk of bike's came up as it usually does with the 4 boys and we were talking about Greg's habit of always tearing down a bike and never finishing it. Like his 1st bike, a 1966
    H-D XLCH sportster.

    [​IMG]


    He rode it 1 year took it down to the basement for the winter tear-down where it remained. Because my parents co-signed for the loan, they were in panic mode when spring came around and the bike still lay in pieces. I was saving all my pennies for the latest Honda CL-90 when they asked me if I was interested in taking over payments. They sent it over to West Side Cycle for re-assembly and I became the proud owner of a monster that I was sometimes in-capable of starting. I painted it metal-flake blue over the next winter, yet that did not make it any easier to start. Here is a photo of it with Greg trying to start the damn thing. :lol3

    [​IMG]
    #12
  13. Team Dennis

    Team Dennis Certified Troublemaker

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    But that is yet another story. So while we were admiring the BMW 650 that Greg had partially taken apart ( a trend that still lives with him) talk of the Ducati came up. A quick visit to the basement revealed the engine/frame assembly under the stairwell covered with a sheet in very good shape. We finally located all the other pieces in various boxes in an outdoor storage shed where the humidity was not as kind to the alloy pieces as the de-humidified basement. And the worst travesty was the color, a "candy black/purple" from you guessed it, a H-D sportster. A deal was struck for $700 even thought TeamDonnie was telling me I was paying too much. Greg was going through a divorce and needed the $$$$ so I paid up and told Don to "put up or shut up" :lol3

    The Ducati came out to Arizona a month later on a truck and I had my winter project. Many parts were carefully organized and marked for easy identification. :lol3


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    #13
  14. Gerg

    Gerg Cupcake

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    Damit, you taking posting lessons from Flug:dunno

    How many days is this going to take?
    #14
  15. Team Dennis

    Team Dennis Certified Troublemaker

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    Fortunately the manuals were plentiful,,

    [​IMG]

    and the electrical schematic seemed easy enough.




    [​IMG]


    So I concentrated only on assembly to see if all the pieces were there and if I could sort what I would need later. It only took approx. 2 weeks to assemble and the end result was only OK but lacking in many area's.
    Remarkably, after tickling the Amal carg the bike started on the FIRST kick after 25 years of vacation. I re-set the ignition timing to get some power and tooled around the neighborhood realizing that the Ducati now reminded me of my Norton. An obsolete relic. Technology can shatter old dreams sometimes.




    [​IMG]


    The toolbox's remained missing, so some temporary cover were made to fill the void. The velocity stack remained as did the Veglia tach.

    [​IMG]


    But that purple was UGLY. Through the half-assed resto, one fact remained.
    I had to correct it to look original and that engine still was one of the best looking motors around.

    [​IMG]





    To be continued.
    #15
  16. Team Dennis

    Team Dennis Certified Troublemaker

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    The final exciting :snore :snore conclusion will be this weekend. I have to go meet TeamGreg in Wickenberg and drag his ass to Prescott for the Thanksgiving weekend, as he plays heavily in the final chapter (though he doesn't know it yet :evil )

    Perhaps a mini-trip report will ensue. :deal

    TD
    #16
  17. FatChance

    FatChance Road Captain

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    I remember reading a Cycle World road test of a Ducati Diana MK.III back when I was about 13 and fell in love with the Ducati single (though that one was only a 250cc). That, the Triumph Bonneville, and the Vincent Black Shadow had the most classic, visually stunning engines of all motorcycles, ever, IMHO.
    #17
  18. norton73

    norton73 drinkin'

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    This I wanna see :thumb
    #18
  19. Team Dennis

    Team Dennis Certified Troublemaker

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    So over the next year I was on Ebay constantly. Watching and waiting.

    For toolboxes. For a tail light bracket to replace the one that cracked from thumper stress. For the right speedometer. And for the most un-obtainiam, a fuel tank with no dents and the chrome side panels intact. A piece here and a piece there. As time came and went waiting, I decided I could start with the re-paint on the fenders. So off they came and off to the sand-blaster to take off multiple coats of HD purple, root beer and original orange.

    The next item of business had to be finding the right color of orange. Because the painting was going to done over months as the search for the tank continued, I needed multiple cans of a consistent color. Try as I might, my search for "Ducati Orange" at various hardware and paint stores only got me blank stares. I tried one type of orange paint on a test section only to be rewarded by a color that reminded me of the once famous root beer. Finally in desperation I decided to try the most common orange in the world.Yep,,,,
    you guessed it.






    [​IMG]


    Chevy orange. :lol3 And hi-temp for the blistering speeds the bike could reach. :lol3 The front fender went well after only a few disasters. I learned as I went along not to worry about orange peel or sags, just put enough coats on because wet-sanding was in-evitable. 10-15 coats were the norm followed by hours of sanding and compound work. The end result put me temporarily in high gear.

    [​IMG]

    The rear fender quickly followed after multiple trips to AutoZone for more paint.



    [​IMG]





    to be cont.
    #19
  20. Team Dennis

    Team Dennis Certified Troublemaker

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    A CEV tailight bracket was found at my local Guzzi dealer and promptly sand-blasted and painted.


    [​IMG]



    As was a reproduction copy of a 6 volt horn.



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    The watching and waiting on Ebay was also starting to gain results. While I had the original holder for the gauges only the tach was operational. The speedometer was another issue. Many variations were out there, mostly CEV units. I finally scored a set of the VDO Avis units on Ebay but used only the speedo unit.



    [​IMG]





    to be cont.
    #20