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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently acquired an engine that so far as I can tell, came from a low mileage 900SS/FE. The engine number checks with a 1998 model 900SS. The engine still has the external oil lines, so I think it must be an FE engine. I don't know that for sure, only the number begins with LC4 and the first digit after is an 8. It also has the V2 stamped in both heads and the oil cooler mounted above the horizontal head.

My main question is, are there major differences between the FE engine and the bog stock 900SS engine?

I ask because I got the engine in a plastic bin, which it was stored in for some time. I don't know how long, but it was more than a couple of years. Last night, when I removed the engine from the bin, I noticed that it was significantly lighter than the engine it is replacing. By significantly, I mean like 30lbs significant. That's not measured by anything but my back and biceps. I just know I was able to lift if far easier than the original engine.

My son suggested that it was because there was no oil in it, nor the clutch. Now, oil weighs 7.7 lbs per gallon, more or less. A clutch no more than a few pounds. At most, we're talking about 12lbs that is logically missing. I ain't the weakest guy around, but by no means am I the strongest and the new engine was fairly easy to lift. The old one, took both my son and me to lift onto my work bench. I could have hoisted the new one up there by myself. I might have hurt myself doing it, but it was seriously that much lighter.

I noted after I wheeled the engine to the back of my garage where my overhead work lights are, that there was a different color paint on the clutch housing. It is gray rather than silver like the rest of the engine. Also, it looked as though the alternator cover had been painted silver. As in, not consistent with the rest of the engine silver. Is it possible that the clutch housing and alternator cover are of a magnesium alloy? That's about the only way I can conceive there to be such a significant weight difference between the two. Any experiences with the FE engine are more than welcome to be added to this thread........sean
 

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The FE engines to my knowledge were no different than all the other 900 models. You might want to pull the side covers and see if anything is missing like the primary gears or the crankshaft,trans etc. The odd side cover and above head oil cooler may indicate it has some monster heritage.
 

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I was under the impression that the engine went to internal oil lines in ‘97. My ‘96 has external lines. I see no way that engine can be 30 # lighter unless it is missing either the crank or transmission gear set and shafts. Even deducting weight for the complete clutch plus oil is only 12# as you said. Maybe a lightweight flywheel could account for 6# more ? Maybe your estimate is off ? Are you considering the starter motor ? It weighs a couple of pounds. Are there shafts sticking out of it ? clutch shaft, counter shaft ? Can you see pistons looking down the spark plug holes ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You might want to pull the side covers and see if anything is missing like the primary gears or the crankshaft,trans etc. The odd side cover and above head oil cooler may indicate it has some monster heritage.
All the shafts are there. Transmission shaft at the clutch housing turns freely but I can feel the gears turning when I turn it.

I considered it might possibly have come from a Monster but the above head oil cooler came on the FE also.

I removed the crank cover and installed a bolt and jam nut onto the crankshaft. Using an Allen wrench, with no other leverage I was able to turn the crank shaft. I removed the spark plugs to make sure it had no resistance. When I turned the crank, I got air blowing out of the spark plug bores.

All of that suggests to me the engine in internally intact. I will likely pull both the clutch housing as well as the alternator cover to check for debris. The fill plug, oil pressure sender and the crankcase breather were all removed when I got the engine. Don’t know how long it was stored that way.

The plugs have never been run, suggesting they were installed after the engine was removed. Same for the belts. They’re Exact Fit belts and there are no marks on them indicating the engine ran with them installed.

All I know is, it is a low mileage engine. Presumed due to the lack of heat discoloration on any part of it. Not even below the crankcase breather.....sean
 

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I have a 98 FE, number 10 to be exact. Mine has internal oiling to the head like the later model fuel injected bikes. It also is 3 phase charging which takes a specific flywheel according to the Nicols website for a light weight one, And yes the oil cooler above, but that should be about it. Nothing worth 30 lbs difference
 

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As crazy as Ducatista are for weight loss, if there was a 900 motor that weighed 30 pounds less than others it would be common knowledge. Do you know how much a 30 # loss on a Ducati costs ? I can lift my 900 motor by myself so it can’t be that heavy, maybe 100-120# ?
 

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I was under the impression that the engine went to internal oil lines in ‘97. My ‘96 has external lines. /-----------//
My '97 SS/CR has external lines. So did my '95 M900.

The '98 900 engine I bought to put in my Monster came with the big alternator, and internal oil lines. It had a high mount for the oil cooler on it also.
.
 

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the euro 900ss fe engines were the old 97 single phase engine. the usa 900ss fe engines were 98 m900s 3 phase engines with the v2 heads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I did not see that you confirmed the weight given was with starter?
I hadn't looked to see. If it isn't there, and there is a lightweight flywheel installed that could be the answer right there. I'll take a look in a little bit....gotta help my kid install a transmission....sean
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I did not see that you confirmed the weight given was with starter?
Starter installed. It was not a given weight, just a perceived weight. It seemed inordinately easy to lift out of the plastic bin it was transported in. The original engine in my 1993 project bike seemed much heavier. I'm not the weakest guy around, but I do have a bad back with some (5) bulged discs. Lifting anything while bent over is a painful and sometimes debilitating ordeal. This engine lifted out without too much effort. Certainly not as much as my original engine required when doing basically the same lift. Certainly not the difference of 4 qts of oil and a complete clutch would seemingly make.

On another note, I may have misidentified this engine. Originally when I took a look at the engine number, it appeared to be LC48 followed by the normal string of a numerical sequence. After closer examination, and much research; it is more likely that rather than an 8 following the LC4, it is a letter G.

I found a letter code specifically for engine numbers that seems more applicable than the previous information that I had. The letter G would make it a 1996 engine rather than a 1998 by that chart. Much more difficult to tell with the dot punch numbers versus the stamped number like the original engine from 1993 has. After looking at countless picture and images, reading articles etc... I came to the conclusion that the paint is a match to a 1996 due to the blacked out cylinder "jug" and silver on the crankcase. I think the alternator cover was originally gray like the clutch housing is but was later painted silver to match an SS/FE. If so, that would be a match to the paint description given in Ian Falloon's book on restoration of belt driven 2 valve bikes.

Back to the weight thing....the entire clutch is not installed. The hub, basket, pressure plate and all the discs are on my work bench. The engine came with a lightweight billet clutch basket from Nichols...makes me wonder if there is a lightened flywheel installed also. I think those two things, combined with the empty oil pan "could" explain why the engine felt so light. I dunno for sure, but now I'm gonna pull the alternator cover to have a look.....thanks everyone who chimed in with information......sean
 

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The 98 engine should have a completely different shape alternator cover from the 97 and earlier bikes (different crankshaft and alternator. a easy way to tell will be to look at the stator wires and see if it is a 2 yellow wire stator or three. Also check for the usual chrome studs.

maybe you were just excited for the motor and the extra shot of adrenaline powered you .:grin2:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
The 98 engine should have a completely different shape alternator cover from the 97 and earlier bikes (different crankshaft and alternator. a easy way to tell will be to look at the stator wires and see if it is a 2 yellow wire stator or three. Also check for the usual chrome studs.

maybe you were just excited for the motor and the extra shot of adrenaline powered you .:grin2:
hahahaha, I doubt it. :grin2: I was a boom operator on active duty. Stared death in the face on more than one occasion..near mid air collisions, narrowly avoided. THAT will get the adrenaline going....new motor...not so much :laugh:

It is set up identically to the 1993 in regard to the stator wires and the iginition pick up wires. The alternator cover also looks exactly the same, only in silver instead of black.

Chrome studs...I guess so, they're silver but don't look chrome...more like brushed nickel maybe. I looked at every resource I have at my disposal and the more I looked and compared I got to where I was certain it was not an FE motor...not unless it is of Euro origins. The Tecnol heads of the US FEs negated the external lines.


To be fair, it could very well be of Euro origins. Even then, I read that the FE engines were painted all silver. No gray, and the jugs weren't painted black either.

While I got no details regarding the donor bike, I got that it originally came to California from Erico Motorsports in Denver. Beyond that, I have no other information to go on besides the engine number.

I'm relatively sure it is a 1996 year motor. Might be that it was a later year build that went into 1997 MY Supersport, hence the position of the oil cooler above the horizontal head. As far as I could determine from my research, that didn't begin until 1997.

There are other possibilities too, like it was just cobbled together from 1997 and 1996 parts...or someone built it like that intentionally. No matter. I'm going to pull the alternator cover and see what flywheel is installed. After that, I'll get the all the standard maintenance done. Belts, valves, oil change...plugs are unused so I'll just leave them. Thank you everyone for responding....sean
 

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FYI:Mine is a 1997, the last version with the extra air intake in the fairing and the stock oil temperature meter. Not an FE. She has external oil lines and a low mounted oil cooler...
 

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As crazy as Ducatista are for weight loss, if there was a 900 motor that weighed 30 pounds less than others it would be common knowledge. Do you know how much a 30 # loss on a Ducati costs ? .....
Ain't that the truth! If all of us 2 valve lovers new we could take 30 pounds off of our bikes by going with the FE engine we'd be hoarding them up like crazy. Sumthin's not passing the sniff test here.

30 pounds is a LOT. That's 120 quarter pound hamburger patties!

Let's just hope there is a transmission in it, and not an empty cavity with a hand written note inside that says "BITCH!"

I've seen it happen. It's true!

:laugh:
 

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To get more info, you could send an email to Ducati in Bologna, provide them the engine number and ask what motorcycle it was originally installed in. I have contacted them a few times in the past and found them to be quite helpful.
 

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30 pounds is a LOT. That's 120 quarter pound hamburger patties!
And, conversely, if all of us stopped eating the 120 quarter pound hamburgers, we'd all have the 30 pounds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
To get more info, you could send an email to Ducati in Bologna, provide them the engine number and ask what motorcycle it was originally installed in. I have contacted them a few times in the past and found them to be quite helpful.
That is my plan. However, August in Italy is like national take a vacation month. No one is at work. As such, I'm waiting until next week to send an inquiry regarding the engine and its origins....sean
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Surprises....in a good way

Took the alternator cover off this morning. Obvious that it had been off previously, loads of gray sealant on the mating surfaces and stainless steel bolts in almost all the bolt holes.

Once I got it off, I was greeted by the sight of this:

Surprise!!

I'm guessing that's why the cover was taken off and maybe why it is painted silver instead of gray like the clutch housing.

Also guessing why the thing felt so light. Between the flywheel, the absence of the clutch assembly and no oil....that's gotta be over 20 lbs difference right there.

Checked on the head studs too. I got curious after finding the Nichols flywheel...seems the studs are stainless steel. They don't stick to a magnet well, I'll say that.

Anyone know for certain what material the Nichols head studs are?

With the Nichols flywheel and clutch basket....kinda be a shame to not get Nichols engine mount bolts too. Guess that's next on the bigger ticket agenda.

Hmmmm....got a birthday coming up....make a perfect birthday gift to myself. :grin2: ......sean
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Also, while I was in there poking around, I discovered this:




Any ideas of what went on to produce this? Looks like it was done with a die grinder or dremmel for the most part....not sure why though......sean
 
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