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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This story starts with the purchase of a 1996 900SS-SP in disrepair. I found it on CL on a Sunday and drove out to Apple Valley from Costa Mesa (SoCal) on Monday morning to look at/buy it.

The Supersport was in sorry shape having sat for 8 years with the valve covers off the front cylinder. Based on the amount of dust on the bike, I'm betting that some of that time was outside under a tarp.

See attached photo for the gory details.

The owner said he had the side fairings too, but they were a mess.
The good news were the 'extras'; a steering damper and high-rise Termignoni mufflers.
It also had a lightweight clutch.

After an attempt to get his price down, I relented and paid up when he showed me the emails from 2 other buyers who were going to buy it if I passed. Realistically, the price was good for an SP that was nearly complete.

It did have the wrong clip-ons; some weird aftermarket type, but on the whole, it was remarkably original. As the plan was to restore the bike back to stock, this was a good thing.

I brought it home in my trusty Chevy Express Van (Death Van for Ducati) and cleaned it up some (see second photo).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Basic inspection

When I was looking at the bike originally, a cursory inspection was all I could do. As is always the case, when you get a bike home from buying it, the real inspection begins.

I discovered 8 year old stinky gasoline in the tank (what was left of it) and could only imagine what the carbs were like inside. I must say that the inside of tank was rust-free thanks to the dry, high desert climate.

While the paint looks ok in the photos, there were plenty of scratches and the gas tank had 2 small dings in it. Plus, the side fairings were a Bondo fest with the side markers completely covered up (what's with that?).

The engine was full of dust, dirt and grime. It did turn over freely by hand using a turning tool in the stator side cover and had that compression feel. The front cylinder cam belt was missing (don't worry, I made sure the valves were closed before turning it over). My impression was that the engine would be removed, disassembled and inspected.

When the oil was drained, a small piece about an inch long of what appeared to be spring wire was found on the magnetic drain plug. This worried me as the only two places where the engine has a spring are the valves (valve closers) and the shifter mechanism. when I compared the piece to a valve closer spring, the wire size was too small for that so it must have come from the shifter I reasoned. One more excuse to open up the engine.

The suspension needed servicing (obviously) with the front forks showing signs of leaking. The brake calipers needed a rebuild and were filthy. The cast iron full-floating rotors looked ok though very rusty and the wheels looked straight.
 

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Nice job on the clean up, it's got to be making you feel a little better about the price. Granted there might be "value depleting" surprises along the way but then you can stand back and look at the bike overall and say "it's not so bad", hopefully.
 

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You will have a challenge finding rebuild parts for the calipers as Ducati/Brembo doesn't think you should be doing that work. Steve at Bevelheaven has some rebuild kits, but if I remember, they are missing some of the parts. Check with him first. I ended up purchasing rebuild kits on-line from a KTM dealer as the same calipers were used on the KTM Duke and KTM will provide parts for their bikes. Came shipped directly from Europe. Don't tell the dealer they are for a Ducati. Also, some guy on Ebay UK was selling the o-rings that go between the caliper halves. In the end you might decide it is simpler to buy new calipers from someone like Bevelheaven rather than deal with the rebuilding. They aren't very expensive... yet.
 

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Gives me a bit of déja vu. I bought my 1995 SS SP back from the second owner after 18 years and with 13,000 miles. So far I'm in for the original price ($4900) plus another $5000 in repairs/updates. I had the original dealer do a complete inspection and they replaced the tires, cam belts, did the valve adj, replaced the steering head bearing and the complete clutch (seal failure - it was soaked). Then I bought a Sim Moto exhaust and a bunch of small things. My CF looked about like yours and I was able to get them fine sanded and cleared. Almost on the road now!
If it was me I'd get the motor work done first before trying anything cosmetic other then the clean-up.
You will end up with a great bike IMHO.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Brake parts

You will have a challenge finding rebuild parts for the calipers as Ducati/Brembo doesn't think you should be doing that work. Steve at Bevelheaven has some rebuild kits, but if I remember, they are missing some of the parts. Check with him first. I ended up purchasing rebuild kits on-line from a KTM dealer as the same calipers were used on the KTM Duke and KTM will provide parts for their bikes. Came shipped directly from Europe. Don't tell the dealer they are for a Ducati. Also, some guy on Ebay UK was selling the o-rings that go between the caliper halves. In the end you might decide it is simpler to buy new calipers from someone like Bevelheaven rather than deal with the rebuilding. They aren't very expensive... yet.
Yes, I'm familiar with Bevel Heaven as I used to own an Alazzurra. I prefer to stay with the original caliper if possible. We will see...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
1995 900ss-sp

Gives me a bit of déja vu. I bought my 1995 SS SP back from the second owner after 18 years and with 13,000 miles. So far I'm in for the original price ($4900) plus another $5000 in repairs/updates. I had the original dealer do a complete inspection and they replaced the tires, cam belts, did the valve adj, replaced the steering head bearing and the complete clutch (seal failure - it was soaked). Then I bought a Sim Moto exhaust and a bunch of small things. My CF looked about like yours and I was able to get them fine sanded and cleared. Almost on the road now!
If it was me I'd get the motor work done first before trying anything cosmetic other then the clean-up.
You will end up with a great bike IMHO.
You have a very nice 900SS-SP there my friend. The goal would be to make mine close to level of your bike.

From what I've read (Falloon), the SP is the same equipment spec as a Superlight, but in Biposto trim (dual seat/pegs/low exhaust).

Do you have a photo of your bike with the fairing installed?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Disassembly

Taking a bike apart is an adventure. Some of the history of the bike is revealed; sort of a motorcycle archeology project.

As the 900SS was going back to stock, I removed some of the parts that I wouldn't be using. The steering damper was the first to go. Usually steering dampers on a Supersport are installed to cure other problems. These bikes are very stable when properly maintained. I knew I would need to look for a reason why this one was installed.

The Termignoni high pipes were going to find a home on my 1999 900SS track bike, I will have to hunt down some nice stock pipes for this project along with matching passenger pegs and brackets.

The light-weight clutch was removed and placed in my inventory; a stock clutch will take its place.

I know what some of you are thinking, "why take the cool parts off the bike"? I am trying to replicate the riding experience of a stock 900SS-SP. This will give me a time machine Ducati-wise of the riding experience back when it was new. I have ridden plenty of the newer 900/750SS models both stock and modified (see:http://www.ducati.ms/forums/57-supersport/468138-1999-900ssie-superlight.html). To get a good perspective of the Ducati Supersport evolution, a new/old 900SS-SP fits the bill. I could only be sure of the 'newness' if I restored one myself; making sure all the important mechanical parts were fixed correctly (in my mind anyway).

Next, I removed the bodywork so I could start on the engine removal (see photos).

One interesting observation was the charcoal canister. This was only present on the California models in 1996. Looking at the production numbers, only 160 of the 900SS-SP model were delivered as CA-only bikes. Now, obviously that doesn't mean much in the greater scheme of things, but rarity is nice.

It looks like the engine will come out next.
 

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Not quite yet.
The new exhaust system came from FBF and it has the "spaghetti" header. Beautifully crafted piece but I'm still working to get it to fit properly. The front pipe was too close to the oil cooler line but I was able to move the cooler over slightly to hopefully provide enough clearance. Current issue is it is touching the left faring insulation. Looks like I have to move the header higher to get away from this and then pray the cans will still be positioned properly.
Nothing is easy!
BTW: I also had the dealer replace all the fluids including the fork oil which involves pulling them out and turning them upside down.
I really admire your goal of going back to original. My exhaust system had replacement carbon cans installed (poorly too) and I would have had to source a set of nice originals. In addition - I'm heading for a more open system to let out that great Ducati sound. The top of my airbox had also been cut off so I found an original replacement from Ed at Duc Power. I was worried the open filter would have had water issues if it happened to rain.
Looking forward to more stories of your adventure.
 

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Not quite yet.
The new exhaust system came from FBF and it has the "spaghetti" header. Beautifully crafted piece but I'm still working to get it to fit properly. The front pipe was too close to the oil cooler line but I was able to move the cooler over slightly to hopefully provide enough clearance. Current issue is it is touching the left faring insulation. Looks like I have to move the header higher to get away from this and then pray the cans will still be positioned properly.
Nothing is easy!
BTW: I also had the dealer replace all the fluids including the fork oil which involves pulling them out and turning them upside down.
I really admire your goal of going back to original. My exhaust system had replacement carbon cans installed (poorly too) and I would have had to source a set of nice originals. In addition - I'm heading for a more open system to let out that great Ducati sound. The top of my airbox had also been cut off so I found an original replacement from Ed at Duc Power. I was worried the open filter would have had water issues if it happened to rain.
Looking forward to more stories of your adventure.
As one who has a full SilMoto system - match it up with a set of FCR's (sounds like you can afford them ;)). The two work together beautifully. As for the airbox - as per my sig - I'm running mine with the lid on (and uncut), but with the rubber 'trumpets' removed, so it breathes through the two large holes left. Reduces the intake noise by quite a bit (over a lidless or cut down lid), but still flows far better than with the trumpets fitted. And NO water issues (I've ridden in some truly horrible conditions over the years).

I'm running my exhaust open (no dB killers), and while noisy when I'm hard on the gas, it's remarkably quiet at cruising (100-110kph) speeds. I tried the dB killers with just the mufflers and everything else standard, and they restricted the exhaust so much, the bike would hardly run - and it was WAY quieter than the stock mufflers. An improvement was made by removing the 'disc' from the inside end of the dB killers - this brought the noise level up to about par with the standard mufflers, and allowed the bike to run. That was going to be plan B if the open system was too loud to pass a WOF (govt. roadworthiness tests), but it passed easily.
 

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Sorry - while I'd love to have a set of FCR's they are certainly out of the question for me at this point!
Like you, I left the trumpets off of the lid. Also glad to hear you've not had any water ingestion issues. I'm assuming you do get some rain in the north end of New Zealand too.
Did you install the Sil Moto's? If so, did you have any fitment issues?
I've dropped a shot below of my new header vs. the stock Ducati item. Is this similar to yours??
Thanks.
 

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Very cool project. I am looking to seeing how it all goes. Best of luck with it all.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Bodywork and suspension

In the process of stripping the bike down to remove the engine, I brought together all of the body work and took it to my local painter. He looked at the parts and gave me an estimate, commenting on how bad the side fairings were (I agree with his assessment!). He told me to order the correct stickers from the dealer.

With the body work disposed of, I decided that the suspension needed to be completely rebuilt. My go to guys for that is Race Tech (somewhat local to me) so I delivered the Showa forks and rear shock with the instructions to "do whatever it needs".

After wrestling the engine out, I popped off the heads to see if there was any damage to the valves (I had suspected that maybe a belt had broken). To my surprise, there wasn't any sign of damage.

Because I am a curious soul, the pistons and cylinders came off so I could get a look at the infamous crankshaft plug backing out issue. To my pleasant surprise, the plug had not backed out (yet!). But, there was some bad news inside the case. I was able to see the transmission gears and 4th gear on the output shaft was coming apart (see photo). This meant that the cases needed to be split to replace the transmission.

Additionally, the broken spring I had noticed on the engine drain plug did turn out to be from the shifter mechanism. I wonder how long that had been broken and what that did to the shifting action.

It looks like plenty of work to do plus cleaning, inspecting, ordering/sourcing parts, etc.
 

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Looks like the cylinder studs had been changed to the good studs at some point.

The damage to the gear is common with running oil that cannot handle the loads, we used to see similar with golden spectro in race bikes so we stopped using it. Gearboxes should be plentiful keep in mind when you change it you will need to re-shim everything. Best to look at all bearings while you are in there, not cheap to change the mains but while you are there it may be a good idea. Look at the crank plug and see if it is a hex head or a flat blade screw type, oem would have been a flat blade. If not someone was there before.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Engine rebuilding

Looks like the cylinder studs had been changed to the good studs at some point.

The damage to the gear is common with running oil that cannot handle the loads, we used to see similar with golden spectro in race bikes so we stopped using it. Gearboxes should be plentiful keep in mind when you change it you will need to re-shim everything. Best to look at all bearings while you are in there, not cheap to change the mains but while you are there it may be a good idea. Look at the crank plug and see if it is a hex head or a flat blade screw type, oem would have been a flat blade. If not someone was there before.
Thanks for the info DucVet. I have a spare transmission in hand from my 900SSie rebuild when I installed a close ratio gearbox in that bike.
 

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Sorry - while I'd love to have a set of FCR's they are certainly out of the question for me at this point!
Like you, I left the trumpets off of the lid. Also glad to hear you've not had any water ingestion issues. I'm assuming you do get some rain in the north end of New Zealand too.
Did you install the Sil Moto's? If so, did you have any fitment issues?
I've dropped a shot below of my new header vs. the stock Ducati item. Is this similar to yours??
Thanks.
Re the FCR's - save your pennies. I know I thought my stock setup was working OK - then I fitted the pipes and FCR's. :D After that - I was kicking myself for not doing it years earlier. There is THAT much of a difference. ;)

Yup. It rains here. We're (well, where I am) sub-tropical, and have an average rainfall of 1500mm (nearly 5 feet) a year. I've done rides of 4+ hours in bucketing down rain, with no problems. I don't know about a pod setup on the Duc's - but the ones on my old Suzuki 1100 used to choke up a bit in really wet weather- but absolutely no problems with the airbox unit on my 900.

Yep - installed them myself. All fitted together without a hitch. I never worried too much about the proximity of the header and the oil line - though I did manage to move the line slightly (easier than the header) to give an extra mm or so clearance, but it's never caused any problems (at the end of the day, the two are in proximity for only a short distance). One day, I may invest in some exhaust wrap, and wrap the headers - partially at least, which should reduce heat transfer into the line. Those look just like mine - there's a picture of mine in the 'Spaghetti' thread somewhere. Ah yes...

 

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Man all that brings back memories.
I had to change a frame on my old 92 900ss due to cracks and ducati na warrantied the frame but would not do the labor. This was in the early 2000's so I decided to blow everything apart in my garage.

bummer on the gearbox failure but rad that you had a spare gearset laying around.

Good luck on the rest
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Engine disassembly

Before I tackled the engine work in earnest, the wheels were cleaned including removing the rotors. I like to clean the rotors off the wheels to inspect them more thoroughly and get them really clean. That darn old brake dust is really invasive and stubborn to remove. Additionally, the hardware can be cleaned in my ultrasonic bath and I will know that the rotor bolts are properly torqued with Loctite on the threads. Call it piece of mind.

All in all the wheels cleaned up nicely even though they are painted black (not the original color). I figured that wouldn't be such a bad thing and obviously didn't impact the riding experience.

The next job was to take the engine apart starting with the heads. I wanted to confirm the condition of the cams, rocker arms, valves, guides, etc. and get the heads ready to be cleaned and soda blasted.

All in all, the parts seemed to be in good shape which is surprising considering the engine was obviously neglected in it's past life. I mean, how many of you would leave an engine open to the elements for years on end?

After the heads were disassembled, I attacked the crankcase. These carb engines are more of a challenge to take apart because of the ignition pick-ups. The connectors have to be carefully released from the wires and everything marked.

About a year ago, I bit the bullet and bought the factory primary gear remover. What difference that makes! The gear just pops off easily. In the past I have struggled to get the gear off the end of the crank.

Looking at the internals, everything looks to be in good shape (9,500 miles on the bike) except the gear box. I will replace the output shaft bearing for sure, but will just inspect the others as they look pretty darn good. Of course, all the seals need to be replaced. I will measure and inspect the pistons/cylinders and rings.

Aside from the tranny issue, not too bad! By the way, the crank plug was ok, but not super tight.
 

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looks like a ton of fun lol.
I actually enjoy that kinda work.
I didn't know the full floater rotors came on the 96. Nice.
 
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