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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a really long post, but it covers some useful info that may help others doing rebuilds and working with dealers in central NJ....

I've just completed a rebuild of my Ducati. Not something I want to do again any time soon. But I've learned quite a bit in the process and wanted to share it with all of you.

Background: In 2007, a family member accidently damaged their Monster 900Sie (2000 model). The chain had broken at high speed, which hit the engine crankcase and engine cover. Both were cracked and broken. To make a long story shorter, the bike was given to me to fix and to keep. After finding out that new cases are ridiculously expensive ($3000+), my best option was to purchase a used engine. After 2 months of looking on eBay, I found a used engine, although it was missing all the external pieces such as the clutch, starter, flywheel, etc., but that wasn't a big deal since I had those on the damaged engine.

After getting the used engine, I spent a number of months swapping good parts from the old engine to the used one. These parts included the starter, timing gears, flywheel, rotor/stator/generator, clutch assembly, engine covers, and a couple of other things. In the process, I learned a lot about the bike and about motorcycle repair. I didn't buy any of the "special tools" that Ducati recomends for pulling gears/covers or for locking assemblies to remove nuts. But I did get some suitable tools off of ebay for the same purpose. Far cheaper than the ones from Ducati. I also ended up spending about $500 on various new parts, including the clutch drum that I broke by improperly bracing it, and a few used parts off of eBay like the Left-side engine cover.

I dealt with 3 different Ducati dealers during the rebuild, each with totally different results. I'm in central New Jersey, and the 3 dealers were Cross-Country in central jersey, Desimone in south jersey, and Ferracci in Willow Grove PA. My experience is as follows:

Cross-Country: When showing up in person, they seemed knowledgeable and helpful. Over the phone, however, I could never get them to return my calls about parts that I needed to order. I never got a chance to spend my $500 for parts with them. As such, I didn't use them later on when I needed service.

Desimone (Parts department): These guys returned all my calls. Their Parts Department was very helpful. Before I had my own parts manual (available online), they worked with me over the phone to identify the parts that I needed and how to install them. I even stopped by a few times when I wasn't sure how to put some things together. All-in-all, their Parts department was terrific. I definitely recommend them. More on these guys later.

After about 12 months of part-time work, I finally finished the bike. Got it all back together, including the replacement parts (new and used), getting all the old gas out, bleeding the clutch and brakes, and replacing the old exhaust pipes that were shoddy. I was thrilled when I put the key in and the engine actually came to life. I couldn't believe that I put everything back together properly. I'm by no means a mechanic, so I was sure that something wouldn't work. Unfortunately, I was right. While the bike would start, it seemed very weak on power. At low RPMs (1000-3000), the bike would mis-fire and stall often. Idling and high RPMs were okay, but any load would cause it to cough and stutter. I don't have any diagnostic equipment, and I didn't want to buy any, so I figured I'd leave this up to the professionals. So I went back to the dealer.

Desimone (Service department): While the Parts Department was outstanding, the Service department wasn't so hot. I dropped the bike off, explained the problem, and they said they'd take care of it. The problem, however, was that they had the bike for 4 weeks. They told me they ran all the tests they could think of, but couldn't actually find the problem. They said some of the harnessing didn't look right, but that they weren't sure. They said the only other option was to start replacing parts, which can get costly. I was surprised that a dealer couldn't find the problem. Really surprised. My conclusion is that while they may be good at the regular services, trouble-shooting an odd problem isn't their strength. But, rather than randomly replacing parts in hopes of fixing the problem, I figured I'd try something else.

I was beginning to think that I had put something together completely wrong and that it was too hard to figure out without tearing it all apart. So I put the bike back in my garage and was prepared to forget about it for a while. I was going to do some parts-swapping with another bike in the family. But then someone suggested taking the bike to Ferracci in Willow Grove, PA. I looked them up, and they are obviously an experienced dealership. Lots of racing experience.

Ferracci: When I dropped the bike off with their service manager, I explained the problems the bike had, including all the work I did, but I didn't mention that it had already seen one dealer without success. Their manager was thorough, said that if they couldn't find the problem, no one could. He also mentioned that the work was non-standard, and that they would charge by the hour. When I asked him if he had any ideas as to what the problem might be, he said that it was obvious that the bike was whole (no missing pieces), and that it could be something as simple as unbalanced throttle bodies or improperly shimmed ignition pickup sensor (goes in through the alternator cover and sits just off the generator). But they conveyed a sense of knowledge and hope, which was important. They started looking at the bike on a Tuesday morning. It took them all of 1 hour to figure out the problem. One hour! After another dealer had it for 4 weeks! As it turns out, it was the ignition pickup sensor. It was improperly shimmed. That's all. And the part was really cheap. They then went on and did a belt replacement and valve adjustment at my request, because it had been a while and the bike needed it.

I now have a properly functioning bike. It's smooth and rides like a gem. This bikes looks and sounds great. After the bike was all repaired, I looked in the shop manual to see what it says about the ignition pickup sensor. It has to be shimmed so that there is 0.6mm to 0.8mm of clearance from the generator. I'd love to turn back the clock to see what the actual clearance was when I was having problems. But as I said, the bike is fixed now. And it's great. So, in hindsight, I missed the shimming step. But then again, so did a dealership.

I can wholly recommend Ferracci as a great place to take your bike. As for Desimone, their Parts department is awesome, but their Service department isn't that great at trouble-shooting a bike. I suspect that Desimone would be fine with general services. And I don't have enough info on Cross-Country other than the fact that if they had returned my calls, I would have spent $500 on parts and several hundred on service with them, since they are the closest to me.

The real key is that the shop manual covered all the important items, including shimming of the sensor. So if you're doing a rebuild, make sure you get one.

I'm glad this saga is now over. It's been a long time. On the plus side, I'm so familiar with the bike now that I feel I can do a lot of repair work on it. Now I just hope the weather stays nice so I can get some rides in. I have to admit that after all the work that I did, I'm a little afraid to touch the bike because I don't want it to break. But that will pass. I just need some nice weather to go out on some rides.

Hopefully this info helps someone else if they have to go through the same process.
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