While trying to improve my Ducati 900SS a little bit this month, I've actually ended up with it sat immobile in my garage again. Annoyed? Me? Yes, I am actually, very much!
It's nothing terminal, just the ravishes of time coupled with a bit of a failure to pay proper attention to the job in hand. My two modifying projects this months seemed like complete no-brainers, but actually they both turned out to be pulling massive on my daily happiness.
First modify project was to fit a new chain and sprocket kit, not the cleanest task in the world, but usually only a half-hour of my time with the right tools, and made all the easier on the Ducati for not having a massively hard to release front sprocket bolt. The Ducati 900SS uses a nice little collar that slides onto the spline, then rotates by a couple of degrees and bolts to the sprocket, holding it in place, much less effort than trying to free off the usual big nut with anything other than an a level of adrenaline which can cause a serious heart condition.
So I whipped the back wheel out and changed the rear sprocket, replacing the standard 37-tooth sprocket with a 40 to give it a bit more fire in its pants. On standard gearing you barely need more than fourth on the road, and I'd rather have a little bit more poke, and a less redundant sixth. The speedo drive is from the front wheel, not the gearbox, so the speedo won't even read wrong, which is nice.
Then I split the chain with the help of my new favorite toy – Dremel. I shaved the heads off one link, and prised the plate off one side, allowing me to push the link through and split the chain. New chains look great don't they? Marveling a the shiny new loveliness of it I fed it round the front sprocket and joined it up before refitting the back wheel, thus making the oldest first time mechanic error in the book – I didn't check that the chain was the right length. Having merrily joined the ends together and popped the wheel back in the hole, I immediately realized my error. I'd ordered a kit for a 2002 Ducati 900SS because it's the same front sprocket, a 40-tooth rear and I just needed to whip two links out the chain to make it fit perfectly. But with a link or two too many in the loop, the adjusters needed to go almost to their furthest setting to take all the slack out.
Not the most immediate of problems, except for the fact that time had ravished the adjusters, and rusted them solid in the swingarm. After a few minutes of gentle attempts of mechanical tricks, the offside on worked free, but the nearside one is as wedged as it could ever hope to be. I soaked the thread in WD in the hope that it would penetrate enough to unlock the rust, but it didn't show any sign of joy after leaving it for an hour. Heat is a great tool for easing seizures, so I got the blow-torch out and gently warmed everything up in the hope that the expansion and contraction of the metals would somehow break their union. It did, a bit, but I think the bolt is badly corroded inside the arm. I've soaked it in WD again, and left it for another day.
So on with the discs then, or not as it turned out. I'd assumed that I had an Allen key big enough to undo the front spindle, but I was apparently wrong, or the wife relocated it to a place where more stuff waits for me. So without having the right tools – a trip to the tool shop, or give up for the day. With two other bikes to crack on with, I wheeled the Ducati 900SS into the corner, and gave up. I'll get a new split link so I can resize the chain, and sort myself a larger tool so I can get the discs sorted.
This was another article from the tales of a motorcycle mechanic in Thailand