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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is just for interest and in case anyone else has to drop and ship their motor and is looking for some tips.

I was sent a couple of brackets, which were going to serve as a stand for the engine and be bolted into a crate for shipping. The task was to get the block out of the bike and onto the brackets. The brackets were very simple.. a flat base piece, plus a couple of short lengths welded vertically to each end and with bolt holes at the top.

After reading about using jacks and such to lower the engine, front end first to the ground, I thought about it and came up with my own method. This uses a tie-down strap placed around where the lower cylinder meets the engine block and over the top of the frame. I examined various straps and decided to get a couple that had rubber around the buckles and were not of the ratcheted type. Instead they use a more minutely adjustable friction catch.

I used two straps but could just have easily used one. The only movement of the strap is over the frame rail and so some plastic tape protected that nicely. I had no idea how heavy it all would be once released, but it turned out to be lighter than I thought. It was quite easy to move it up and down using the strap. With the block tilted forward, one can reinsert the upper rear bolt and then fasten the second strap around the ends of that. This strap could have been the first strap re-used as it was no longer needed at the front.

I considered leaving the side covers on the engine and dropping it straight down, but I went with advice and removed them so that I would only deal with one end of the engine at a time. When time comes to lift it back up, I'll examine it all and decide again whether to remove them first. One can always tape the frame and engine case where they might drag against each other... i.e. at the rear.

Moving long.. with the engine bolted to the brackets and already sitting on the piece of MDF that was going to form the base of the crate, I built up the rest of the box around it, right there on the floor. I had placed a piece of MDF underneath so that the piece with the engine on it could easily slide out sideways away from the frame.

I had designed the box to give me 600 x 600 x 500mm internal space. These dimensions allowed me to have a single 2440 x 1220 sheet of 16mm MDF cut up at the hardware store, leaving 1/4 of the sheet over. I also purchased a 2440 length of 1 inch square pine, which I used for additional internal bracing.

I had designed it so that I could build the crate up without having to insert any screws underneath. Everything was to be done from the sides and above. I also wanted the top to be removable for inspection by customs without messing up the integrity of the box.

From memory, the panels were as follows - all 16mm MDF:
2 x 600 x 600
2 x 632 x 600
2 x 532 x 632
4 x 600mm bits of pine for bracing

I ended up purchasing some metal flight-case ball corners just for the bottom of the box. It turned out to be easy enough to tilt the box and fasten them. and they make the whole thing a lot more drag-able. And then I also attached metal handles to each end. These are bolted and with washers for safety.

Shipping the item was fairly complex and I found the shipping agent and receiver to be very helpful. The first potential sticking point was a purge certificate. That can be easy or hard depending on who is involved and whether they understand what the specific regulations apply to. Also important is recording the contents of the box and ensure the engine number is on the documentation to prove that it is one's own engine coming back in, and not a new or replacement one.

I also photographed the engine from all sides and angles using a flash to bring out all details in the finish. This is just for good measure in case something is damaged.

The photos show various steps in this process. It all went well and there were no surprises.
 

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Hi Rob,

Hope it all goes OK, let us know of any progress. From my long experience (I'm an old codger) I would not try to fit the engine back into the frame with the side covers in place. They get in the way and get scratched and so does the frame. It is much easier to lift up the rear, push in the bottom rear bolt and then pull the front of the engine up so that the bolt can be pushed through, then fit the side covers. You may find a way but the engine is a hell of a weight and tends to get wedged between the frame rails, making it extremely difficult to hold it straight and at the correct angle.

Good luck.

Colin
 

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Nice job robax. I especially appreciate the support design and in/out info. I haven't been following any other threads you may be doing - are you sending the engine out for a total rebuild?
 

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Good work Rob. A thread that is, for me anyway, more interesting than a lot. It is a pity that the engine had to come out of such a nice looking machine. What went wrong? Also, who is going to do the work on it. Good luck,
Ian
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi Rob,

Hope it all goes OK, let us know of any progress. From my long experience (I'm an old codger) I would not try to fit the engine back into the frame with the side covers in place. They get in the way and get scratched and so does the frame. It is much easier to lift up the rear, push in the bottom rear bolt and then pull the front of the engine up so that the bolt can be pushed through, then fit the side covers. You may find a way but the engine is a hell of a weight and tends to get wedged between the frame rails, making it extremely difficult to hold it straight and at the correct angle.

Good luck.

Colin
Hi colin
Yes, it'll probably go in with sides removed. I'll check it carefully though as it came out quite easily using the straps and could possibly go back in without much drama. But yes, definitely don't want to scratch the cases after all this work!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Nice crate building job. How much does the engine weigh?
I couldn't weigh it in the end because I wasn't able to see the dial on my household scales! However, the guy I'm sending it to has seen many bevels go through the same shipping agent and so he gave them a weight of 110Kg including the crate and bits. My guess is that it was probably just under that. Too heavy for one to lift, but manageable over short distances with two people, not including my wife.
Rob
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Nice job robax. I especially appreciate the support design and in/out info. I haven't been following any other threads you may be doing - are you sending the engine out for a total rebuild?
Thanks and no, not a total rebuild. The motor was rebuilt about a decade ago by a previous owner and had only done a couple of hundred miles before I bought it. There's been a growing list of things I've found wrong with it, and then I topped it off with a fall, so I decided to go mad and restore every part of the bike as best as I could. I did some work on the motor, but there's a vibration issue as well as ignition problems and after some efforts with replacement pickups, I finally decided I haven't got the workshop, nor the capability to do it properly. As well, I've spent nearly 3 years on it now, and I want it to be done for this summer. It's going over to to Brook Henry in Perth and the results will be written up in detail here when it comes back. I wrote up a sizable document with all details and requests for his bedtime reading and we'll be discussing it in the next week or so. Will be interesting.
ROb
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Good work Rob. A thread that is, for me anyway, more interesting than a lot. It is a pity that the engine had to come out of such a nice looking machine. What went wrong? Also, who is going to do the work on it. Good luck,
Ian
Hi Ian
I've got some other threads detailing the dramas I had with it, and in the end I became convinced of deeper problems that I couldn't handle. Apart from rebuilding the rear master cylinder, which I'll do here, it's also the last part of the bike that needs a going-over. Brook Henry in Perth is doing the work. He's already familiar with the issues and so we'll just have to see. When I've got this back in, it should be completely flawless... and then what am I going to do?
 

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Talking about the weight of a bevel engine, many years ago I had the UK's top bevel tuner put an engine together for me. I drove over to his workshop to pick it up and he told me that he couldn't help me carry it out to the car as he'd just had a hernia operation, but the problem was that his workshop was situated on the top floor of a warehouse, accessed by a tiny wooden staircase about fifteen feet high. I struggled down that thing, desperate not to fall and smash my lovely engine. I made it to the car, but God knows how I didn't give myself a hernia in the process.
 

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When I've got this back in, it should be completely flawless... and then what am I going to do?
:laugh::laugh:
My Sport is slowly getting to the end of it's restoration and some people ask me if I'm actually going to ride it! Years ago, a friend of mine had a 1963 Alfa TZ1 that he did a perfect restoration on, then drove on the street and vintage raced with gusto. His attitude was that he brought it back to life to enjoy fully and didn't care if the next guy who bought it would have to restore it again. That always struck me as the right way to approach this hobby.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yes, It's definitely for riding... just not for commuting. That pretty much applied even in their heyday.

I'm no hipster so the 900ss is not really a vintage or classic bike for me... It's more just like having a brand new 900ss, like I always fantasised about, but 35 years late.

I'll mainly be sad if the next owner ruins all the work by trying to convert it into a faux '75 SS as has been done with so many of them. The 80-82 has it's own look and whilst most restorations of them tend to look awkward, this one is spot on. People just can't seem to get the bodywork right and I've been fussy about that. One thing I'm really looking forward to is getting some good photos of it when I'm out riding. After it's gone, I want to have a large framed print of this bike hanging in my workshop... though unlike the Ducati ads, sans bikini babe.

I'm not sure if I'll start another bike. There isn't much that would interest me after this one... other than perhaps a 750 Sport, or an earlier 900ss. Laverda and MV 750's are very appealing, but are far less accessible. I've looked at plenty of Guzzi Le Mans', but find them borderline to me. And earlier, 50s and 60s bikes are not in my head-space as I wasn't around. At the other end of the scale, I really like the Honda Dream 50. Mainly because it fits the same style slot in my brain as does the 900ss, but also because I had a thing for the CB50 way back then. And as for modern street bikes and those SUV bikes that have grown out of the GS800... I often study them out on the street, but I just don't understand them, at least not in a positive way.
Rob
 

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Rob I've been pondering over this very thing in the last 15 years or so. If it's any help ........ I bought a new Guzzi V11 Ballabio in 2004 thinking this is it but then bought a barn find 750 GT to restore but the prices went through the roof so I flicked it and bought a 79 Laverda Jota instead. I had fun with it and modernised it with 4 piston brakes/RS Mikunis/modern ignition/suspension imrovs etc. Then I found a 500 SEI Moto Morini for a price I couldn't resist so I did it up as well before selling all of them to buy my current bevel. I knew I'd made a mistake selling the other GT and bikes were becoming scarce and prices were starting to hit high gear so it was my last chance. When you have a car full of kids to look after, motorbikes start to become the last priority.

The results were pretty clear to me. The Laverda was the most beautiful thing I've ever owned but probably one of the worst to ride because I was comparing it to all the other Ducatis I'd owned. It handled ok, was a big hulk of a machine to throw around but suffered terrible vibration and had the worst fuel consumption I've ever encountered. Looks are not enough to keep the bike you want to ride so it had to go. If you consider a 750 twin it's the same problem, beautiful as well but they vibrate worse than the triples. If you ever get the chance ask Ian Gowanloch about the two Laverdas he's owned.

The Guzzi (I converted it to full Ohlins) handled beautifully, looked good, stopped well, was great fun through high speed corners but vibrated enough to send my hands to sleep so that's the last Guz I'll own. The Morini was just pure fun and I should have kept it but I already owned a 350 so the money came first. The 500's are pretty gutless, have amazing Grimeca brakes, turn suburban corners into GP tracks but it's horsepower that you want on the open road. I compare it to a 75/6 BMW I had when I was a uni student and after I rode a R900S I wondered why I owned the 750.

In the end it's what you get out of owning something. All Ducati bevels have beautiful engines. After owning a few other Italian bikes, a couple of Jap ones and a number of Ducati singles and twins, both parallel and V, all I see is good sense, good design and clever logic. They were the bike you bought back in the 70's because they were a direct product from the race shop and if you wanted to you could race yours out of the crate as well. They used some of the best European components available in the day and usually those components were the best in the world, particularly, frames, headlights, carbies, brakes and suspension. They were the first bikes sold that were intended to out handle everything else and it's true, just about every owner has a miracle story to tell where the bike took over control from the rider. Throw in that they all look beautiful and riding them is still unmatched by anything else I reckon. I know there are hundreds of other bikes that handle better, are way more reliable, cheaper, go faster, louder etc and I've been looking at all of them but in the end is there any other choice? Owning a Ducati is a cult and you're either in it, out of it or regret leaving it. As for MV's, I can't comment about them because I'll never be able to afford one.

Cheers Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi Chris

Yeah I remember when the Morini's arrived on the scene when I was living in Germany in the 70s. They had a really nice style that appealed to my sensibilities... red and matt black and the genuine cafe racer look. The only thing I didn't like at the time was how they used the back of the actual seat pad to form the tail of the bike. MV (that red white and blue model) and a few others also did that and I always found it to be a design flaw. Even the Le Mans had that odd seat that tried to be part of the body work.

I think I've got a thing for seat design. It's the main part that most bike designers fail to get right... and don't get me started on all those shitty cafe conversions people have been doing the last few years.. the ones with just a padded plank because they don't know what do do there... arrgh.

I looked closely at a Morini that was up for sale here last year and also a first series Le Mans in the silver/blue colour. Both nice, but neither is really gaining value so I'd be less likely to spend the necessary money on one. This 900ss I have now is probably it for me.
Rob
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Just to update on the engine here.

Brook has run it on a stand and then after we discussed all known history in great detail he pulled it apart. He said all along that he didn't think the lock-up would cause the crank/vibration issue. He did find the crank is 0.25mm out of true, which is well above the 0.02mm tolerance.

He then found the crank to be a full 300g off balance, which is huge. This is because the pistons and big end that were replaced some time previous are not the same weight as the originals and the crank was obviously not balanced to allow for it. As well, the pistons are a cast replacement type rather than the forged ones that are meant to be in there. One can't just put any old pistons in without re-balancing it.

This does actually fit with the history of the bike as I knew it to be. As I discussed details with the previous owner when I purchased it, he told me that the pistons were found to be in good condition when it was rebuilt and so they didn't replace them. They did replace the liners and many other parts and I have the original worn items in a box, just not the pistons. His mechanic would have assumed them to be correct.

What I'm seeing here is the result of the engine having been rebuilt by a reasonable mechanic, just not one who knew the Ducati bevels inside and out. This fits with all the other minor details I found to be incorrect over the time I've had it. My feeling is that each of the two previous owners spent a lot of time and money on it and then ran out of steam and enthusiasm after finding that things still weren't right.

Everything else inside the block is apparently in good order and so now it's onto the heads. Those have already had new valves, k-liners and custom valve seats fitted and so I'm expecting things to be fine there; we'll see. It'll all be going back together with new bearings and then when it's running again, I'll get into ignition options. I'll be tempted with a Sachs replacement, but it of course has to run perfectly with standard pickups as well.

Next update probably in a week or two.
Rob
 

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Hi Rob,

Sort of good and bad news then.... The problem with aftermarket parts (pistons and big ends) being a different weight is a constant problem. It's alright rebalancing the crank if the guy doing it does it properly, but the next time, unless the same parts are available it will need doing again, that's why I like to keep engines standard, but it's getting harder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Good point. I'll bring that up next discussion. If the crank hasn't been re-balanced at all in previous work then there's an opportunity to use piston replacements that will keep it closer to original spec. I'm not sure what replacements Brook is thinking of yet. We'll see.
Rob
 

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Vee Two have their own pistons, that AFAIK are the same weight to the originals. I fitted their pistons to my 750 and there were no problems.
 
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