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Matt
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Recently acquired this 1996 916 SPA (aka 955 SP) from its original owner…it’s 1 of the 54 original SPA’s sold. The SPA’s did not have plaques and the last digits of the VIN didn’t start at 0001, so for reference this bike has engine # 13. The SPA was born out of the desire to homologate the 955 engine for AMA with Ducati needing to sell at least 50 bikes to meet the homologation requirement. My understanding is that this effort was spearheaded by Ferracci and I had previously thought that Ferracci sold all of the SPA’s when they were new, but this bike was originally sold by a dealer (which no longer exists) in Georgia.

The bike has ~8,000+ km’s and is mostly original. Modifications include Marchesini magnesium wheels (that were put on a number of years ago, but have only seen a few hundred miles as the bike wasn’t ridden much in recent years), Ohlins steering damper, aftermarket clutch slave cylinder, and fender eliminator bracket. Luckily the prior owner kept all of the original parts, so I have those along with the bike.

A recent dyno run shows that the bike is running too lean in the mid rev levels. It’s also low on compression and producing lower than expected horsepower, but this isn’t deemed to be a mixture issue as the mixture is good at high rpm where peak horsepower is being made. The bike has an aftermarket Ferracci chip and the original chip is missing in action, so we are going to start with using the oem chip from my other SPA and see how it does on the dyno. One challenge is that none of the ecu controllers currently available (e.g. Power Commander, etc) are compatible with the P8 ecu, so it will take some customization to get one of these installed/connected to this bike.

The bike is currently with Mark Sutton at the Ducshop in Atlanta and he is going to handle all of the engine matters. Once I receive the bike from Mark I will handle the balance of the needs which are largely cosmetic along with the normal wear and tear items. It will take some time to work through this, but I’ll post updates/pics in this thread along the way.
 

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Matt
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I went to pull the chip out of my zero mile SPA and low and behold it didn't have the stock chip in it. Instead the chip was a Ferracci F00401 chip and we haven't been able to find any information on what spec that chip is (would love to know more about it if anyone knows). I had thought the bike was completely stock, but I do know that Ferracci was the original selling dealer for the bike and based on the date on the chip it appears that they installed the chip back in 1996 when they sold the bike originally. I sent the chip to Mark Sutton to try and surprise, surprise....the bike wouldn't even run. He put the other Ferracci chip back in the bike and it fired right up...so he will move forward with that chip and will investigate how to install an ecu controller in conjunction with the P8 ecu.

The low compression numbers are probably behind the lower than expected power output that Mark saw on the dyno (see pic). It might be that it is losing compression past the rings or through the valves; we're not sure at this point. I do know that the bike previously had a problem with the nikasil flaking in one of the cylinders (perhaps due to the issue of the mixture being lean) and that the bike had gone to a Ducati dealership to address that issue (a dealer that has long since closed its doors). The bike ended up being there for approximately one year and over the course of that time several technicians tackled it as a side project - - not very reassuring in terms of how the engine may have gone back together. I've had previous projects where I've spent a lot of time and money chasing ghosts and haven't came up with much progress, so I've decided to bite the bullet and do a full tear-down and rebuild/blueprint of the engine. If the bike was already with me I would likely just ride it and see how it does over time. But given that the bike is already at Mark's (the previous owner lives quite close to the Ducshop) I'm opting for this route and in the end will have something that I have full faith in as Mark does phenomenal work.

More to come....
 

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Mayor of Simpleton
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Yeah, at this point you're more or less pot committed so you might as well do it right the first time. But you should at least wind up with a motor more reliable than it was when new.

Speaking of money pits and DucShop...just yesterday Mark and I set a date. :) The first week of October, the Microtec ECU and quick shifter will get sorted out on the Adamo. Then it's off to Barber.
 

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Matt
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yeah, at this point you're more or less pot committed so you might as well do it right the first time. But you should at least wind up with a motor more reliable than it was when new.

Speaking of money pits and DucShop...just yesterday Mark and I set a date. :) The first week of October, the Microtec ECU and quick shifter will get sorted out on the Adamo. Then it's off to Barber.
Correction (in the event my wife is reading this)...these aren't money pits; these are investments.

Great that you have a date for the Adamo...Mark is worth the trip in my opinion; maybe you can bring my bike back :)
 

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Mayor of Simpleton
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Correction (in the event my wife is reading this)...these aren't money pits; these are investments.

Great that you have a date for the Adamo...Mark is worth the trip in my opinion; maybe you can bring my bike back :)
That's what I meant. Investment. (In titanium and carbon fiber futures)

Yeah, Mark did the Microtec and tuning on my 996R a few years ago.

I'm taking a little over a week for Barber. As of right now, there is an open spot on the trailer. I'm taking the Ridgeline with 1 bike in the back and a Kendon 2-bike trailer. Bringing the Adamo of course and then my NSR250 to ride Deal's Gap/north GA on the way down. Say hello to Mr and Mrs Erv, kiss a pig (don't ask), map the 851, head to Barber for the second weekend, then home. I'm trying to get some guys from the Ducati club to make the trip too though.
 

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Matt
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That's what I meant. Investment. (In titanium and carbon fiber futures)

Yeah, Mark did the Microtec and tuning on my 996R a few years ago.

I'm taking a little over a week for Barber. As of right now, there is an open spot on the trailer. I'm taking the Ridgeline with 1 bike in the back and a Kendon 2-bike trailer. Bringing the Adamo of course and then my NSR250 to ride Deal's Gap/north GA on the way down. Say hello to Mr and Mrs Erv, kiss a pig (don't ask), map the 851, head to Barber for the second weekend, then home. I'm trying to get some guys from the Ducati club to make the trip too though.

Kidding (sort of) about the bike hauling; hopefully I'll have it back before then, but we won't know the timeline until we see what greets us when the engine is opened up.

And you cannot say something about kissing a pig and then say I cannot ask...I think that's spelled out in the forum guidelines somewhere. So let me guess, you told Erv that you'd kiss a pig if he landed a Foggy 888?

Nice trip plan btw.
 

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Mayor of Simpleton
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No. Last time I was there, the bet was about the type of cheese in the antipasta. I still maintain I was right, but I've never been a welcher so I will kiss their daughters' pet pig.

C'mon. I'd never bet against Erv acquiring an Italian bike.
 

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Registered
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I would not let any "tuner" who claimed that a custom Power Commander was needed to be able to tune a Ducati with a P8 ECU tune my bike.

Tuners have been directly tuning by burning custom chips for these ECUs for over 2 decades and because the extra tuning flexibility they had over the subsequent 1.6M ECU, they were preferred by tuners.
 

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Matt
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726 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
No. Last time I was there, the bet was about the type of cheese in the antipasta. I still maintain I was right, but I've never been a welcher so I will kiss their daughters' pet pig.

C'mon. I'd never bet against Erv acquiring an Italian bike.

Who was officiating? Have you lost the right to appeal? Anyways, we need a pic of the kiss :)

Ya, I surely wouldn't bet against Erv acquiring an Italian bike, but this isn't just any Italian bike.
 

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Matt
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I would not let any "tuner" who claimed that a custom Power Commander was needed to be able to tune a Ducati with a P8 ECU tune my bike.

Tuners have been directly tuning by burning custom chips for these ECUs for over 2 decades and because the extra tuning flexibility they had over the subsequent 1.6M ECU, they were preferred by tuners.

Hi Ray...my understanding is that Doug Lofgren is really the only one still burning Ducati chips in our region of the world; you're lucky to have him close by to you. I also understand that he would need the bike on his dyno in order to work with it and create a custom chip; unfortunately it's a tall order for me to get the bike to him.

Actually the first thing Mark mentioned was that he planned to connect with Doug before we dive straight into trying to install an ecu controller. Mark wanted to first check with Doug to see if he has any stock profiles we could try or whether Doug could custom burn a chip using the data from Mark's dyno (without having to ship the bike). If Doug's seen a stock SPA before there might be a chance of him having a profile that would work for me, especially since I am not planning to race the bike and instead will ride it a bit more casually. The chips we have now are way, way off and are problematic to consider running as-is.

Let me know if you know of others that still burn chips (in the Atlanta or Michigan areas). At the moment my understanding is that this is a dying art...our beloved 916's are growing old.
 

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Matt
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The bike had to spend a bit of time in the queue, but now work is underway. Engine pulled this week and now the fun begins - - interested to see with firsthand experience what's inside that engine as it isn't extremely well documented (at least that I could find) as to the cams and rods that the 955 SP engines had. Engine will come apart soon and then an assessment of what parts need to be tracked down.
 

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Matt
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The engine recently came apart. It has Pankl steel rods (not titanium as sometimes speculated in write-ups about the SPA's) which are consistent with the SP's that came before the SPA. For cams it has G intake and A exhaust (this was a year before the SPS cams were introduced in model year 1997).
 

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Premium Member
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The engine recently came apart. It has Pankl steel rods (not titanium as sometimes speculated in write-ups about the SPA's) which are consistent with the SP's that came before the SPA. For cams it has G intake and A exhaust (this was a year before the SPS cams were introduced in model year 1997).
Interesting - I was curious to see what rods it had. Have you got any pics the pistons?
 

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Flying Brit
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Who was officiating? Have you lost the right to appeal? Anyways, we need a pic of the kiss :)

Ya, I surely wouldn't bet against Erv acquiring an Italian bike, but this isn't just any Italian bike.
I'll make sure when he does we will post the pic everywhere
 

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Matt
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

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Matt
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Making some progress. I'd probably be a full day ahead of where I'm at now if Adam hadn't tied up Mark with tuning the Adamo :)

The cylinders came back from nikasil and the new pistons came in. The bottom end is done now. The valve guides on the exhaust side had some issues and although they were probably "ok" it seemed like now is the time to tackle them given that the engine is apart and I hope to never see it apart again in the future. So now it has new valves guides (inlet and exhaust) and the heads are going back together.
 

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Making some progress. I'd probably be a full day ahead of where I'm at now if Adam hadn't tied up Mark with tuning the Adamo :)

The cylinders came back from nikasil and the new pistons came in. The bottom end is done now. The valve guides on the exhaust side had some issues and although they were probably "ok" it seemed like now is the time to tackle them given that the engine is apart and I hope to never see it apart again in the future. So now it has new valves guides (inlet and exhaust) and the heads are going back together.
Hey Matt,

Looking good! Are those OEM 955 pistons or hi-comp replacements? Cheers, Luke
 

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Matt
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hey Matt,

Looking good! Are those OEM 955 pistons or hi-comp replacements? Cheers, Luke
Higher compression Pistal's. And sorry, you asked for pics of the pistons that came out of the engine, but I don't have any pics of those.
 
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