Mostly I haven’t done an entry for a while ‘cause the cramps in my hands are almost unbearable by the end of the day (which comes later and later as the weeks roll by). With three major projects nearing completion and the Mosport date looming on the near horizon, its become more than the usual thrash. Normally, I have my business partner and good friend Adam pulling along with me, but his recent cancer diagnosis and surgery put him down for the count for at least another six weeks..
It’s crazy. He’s the one who eats well, exercises regularly and leads the clean life. I exist on one (very good) meal a day supplemented with ample helpings of coffee, O’Henrys (The King of Candy Bars) and cigarettes.
Between the shock of Adam’s diagnosis, the loss of his talent and optimism and the increasing pressure to complete the work on hand – the pressure has been intense.
Anyway, here’s a quick run down of what’s in the shop:
Brutus was rode hard and put away wet . A mixed vintage early 900SS track bike owned and thrashed by Montrealer Salvatore Scebba, the bike’s seen a few hard seasons and a couple of crashes (and not a heck of a lot of maintenance). The plan was to swap out the bent frame, add a Stadium shock, new (used) swing arm, new rear sets, re-valve the forks, bolt on some ARC meggas, spoon on some slicks and generally give the bike a good going-over. But everything I touched highlighted more work and new problems…. The rear brake line (Kevlar) was rubbing against the rear tire (and worn through to the point of leaking). Weird stuff, like the incredible amount of gas in the oil (and the spaghetti exhaust). Took a while to trace it, but it turned out that the gas cap vent pipe fitting had been ground off (and the feed hose removed), so the vet line became an unregulated and unrestricted fuel feed line that was constantly flooding the FCRs. This might explain why the bike looked like it had overheated a few times during the season. And a rear cylinder FCR that was barely onto the intake manifold that had been not quite correctly modified – thus posing a clearance problem between the modified battery box and the top/rear of the carb. And that was the easy stuff.
I had to make a bunch of brackets for Brutus, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s wrestling with stainless steel – evil stuff. Regardless, the exhaust system is hung; the seat mounted properly, and boot heels now safe from the exhaust headers. I fired-up Brutus earlier on the weekend hoping that the FCRs were in the ballpark, but sadly they were obviously off the baseline. Off the bike and onto the bench for new float levels, a 52 pilot jet and new fuel delivery settings. Today, the bike starts, barks and idles sweetly. Doug Cook’s meggas sound amazing!
With the constant stream of unpleasant surprises on Brutus, I figured I should get into some of the dangerous bits on Sal’s ex-Leoni/Adamo F1 racer. The bike was campaigned by Adamo in the states for a while, then shipped up to Canada where Frank Mrazek won a few championships with it and then after sitting some time out as a divorce asset, it suffered a brief, but brutal stint under the ownership of John the Lawyer. Sal had it rebuilt by, uh… another guy and gave it a quick, disappointing try at the last event last season. Why was it that everyone involved in racing back in the old days believed that race bikes shouldn’t idle? As I worked through the bike I found the idle screw replaced with a lead plug, 851-type 2-piston callipers misaligned due to hand-hewn adapters, radial pumps with crimped-shut reservoir lines, leaky forks, battery acid damage due to a poorly routed drain line, a broken rear calliper (poor installation), and a front end missing the upper bearing cap and steering stem locking nut (really). Some people’s children…..
The F1’s a very trick bike and really deserves a proper rebuild, but Sal wants to see if he likes it before sinking a bunch of dough into it (a reasonable fiscal position…). I finished it at the end of the month, and then rode both bikes at Mt. Tremblant at the end of the month to shake ‘em down. Things went incredibly well with both bikes: Brutus is now a solid handling, wheelie-prone, loud-as-hell thug of a bike and Sal had his knee pucks well worn by 1PM (he rarely put a knee down in the past). The F1 is incredible; very much like mine was in 818 form, but with more balls and better brakes. As suspected, once Sal rode it hard in a session, he parked Brutus for the day. Once you’ve tasted heroin…
Despite the Australians’ threats of a “knee-capping”, I continue to chip away at Neville’s RC51-SP1 and have to say I’m falling in love with it. The ARC exhaust is stunning and sounds brilliant, the Ohlins SBK forks have been fitted to the Harris triples, the PVM wheels painted, and we’re starting to piece the rest of the bike together. PVM radial pumps and callipers, Harris clip-ons and rear sets, etc. The swing arm is in the process of being buffed. I can’t wait to pound the snot out of this bike.
And then there’s Marcos Lara’s wild 900SS. Marcus met me though an eBay auction and sent me the remains of his tasty custom for a rebuild and some upgrades after crashing it last season. I’ve swapped frames and had the front wheel straightened, repaired the cracked front motor mount and will take the bodywork into the painter when I pick up Mike’s stuff next week.
Mike Cecchini’s Loud Bike is done. Not without a ton of final act drama, and some pretty severe hours leading to his visit last Thursday afternoon. Mike’s asked that I hold off on posting any pictures until he does so..... What’s it like? At first glance, it just looks right. Almost understated, but as the eye wanders, all of the hand-built stuff becomes more apparent and the trick bits make themselves known. Viewing the bike from first glance through all the details can only be described as a constant stream of visual and techical suprises - none of which really show up until your eye wanders to a particular spot in the bike. It's evolved over the past year from being a very pretty racer with lights to a full-zoot custom that can turn racer lap times. The frame’s been heavily modified, but only really shows when the bike is put in the context of a “normal” Sport. The paint is wicked, and all of the hand built stainless and aluminium components work in concert to such a degree that the bike kind of looks like it was designed as a whole. Kind of amazing, really – ‘cause I never had all of the bits in the shop at one time and had to use a ton of imagination to envision the finished project. He’s well pleased and as I write this, the bike is being fired-up for the first time at Guy’s. (In fact, it drew 1st breath at approximately 4:30 this aft' and sounds like all hell breaking loose).
When Thursday morning came around, our plan was that I would finish the horn, fairing and spare tank brackets, install the ST2 stator and cover, set-up the suspension and go over all of the fasteners while he wired the headlight, instruments, idiot lights and taillights. I’d discovered that the right side hi-pipe was fouling the ignition housing, so we agreed that he’d stop at Doug’s on the way back to work through the issue. Mike arrived at 3PM and by 8PM we really hadn’t progressed much, so we broke for dinner and called it a night. The moment of truth – when I rolled the bike out of the shop and he got his first view was priceless. I know how he felt ‘cause when I had first seen the beast as a whole unit rather than a series of parts, I was stunned by its beauty.
By Friday mid-morning, Mike had decided that he wanted to redo the front section of the harness back at his shop and we focussed on prepping the bike for start-up. The drama continued when the insulation on the stator began to crumble as I worked the wire into the output fitting. The unit had overheated and was going to require a complete re-wire. And it just got worse from that point forward. By 11PM, we just hadn’t had any forward movement and we were knocking items off my list and deferring them so we could focus on prepping the bike for start-up. The bike was no longer beautiful and everything sucked.
Just past midnight though, we started to get little wins and by 1AM Mike’s energy was at full output ( I was completely punch-drunk with fatigue). I pushed my floor stool back away from the bike (now almost completely assembled again) and saw once again what we had created together. I called him over and it was as if we were seeing it again for the first time. All was almost well again and we worked with renewed enthusiasm ‘till about 3:30am.
I imagine that I’ll be allowed to release a bunch of pics of the finished product next week.
Content: 1987 Ducati 750 F1, 1993 Ducati 900SS, loudbike, Steve Munro