I finally got back down to Florida to see my Ducati. I have been shipping parts to my parent's house and there was quite a pile when I got there. Basically everything I talked about ordering on this blog was stacked neatly in their guest room. I picked up the parts and loaded them into my girlfriend's Nissan Xterra
I needed to register the bike and transfer my license to the state of Florida so my dad drove me and my girlfriend over to the St. Johns County DMV
. It was an amazing place with no long lines and very organized. I went to get my license and they said I needed more ID than I had with me to transfer my NYC license. I was worried that I couldn't get a plate for my bike and my first ride would be thwarted. Strike 1...
Low and behold the gods of vehicle registration shined on me, and the agent told me I could register the bike as long as I had Florida insurance (I did). I would be able to ride the bike as long as I had my motorcycle endorsement on my current NYC license (I do). I got my tag and left the building excited. My first real ride will happen soon I thought - OK a hit!
I wanted to get to work but I had my class reunion mixer (1983) to go to that evening so the parts would have to wait. The reunion as fun yet somewhat melancholy for me. Everybody seemed to have nice families and great jobs, and here I was still figuring out what to do with my life now that I realized I will never be a rock star. I feel lucky though, as I have done a lot of great things in my life. I am also starting a new relationship with a great woman after a very tough divorce and losing touch with my step daughter. It was very bizarre seeing these people from high school, many of which I have not seen in 25 years.
I woke up very early on Saturday and headed to the garage. The bike looked great from a distance but up close were the signs of neglect and sitting in the hot Florida sun. I didn't have the oil yet for my oil change so I decided to fit any parts I could before heading over to Big Bike
to get some Mobil 1 V-Twin oil
I unboxed my Cycle Cat
front stand that I got a killer deal on from oncycles.com
and propped the bike up on it's front wheel. I have to admit it looked pretty cool as if it were in the paddock of some MotoGP
race about to begin. I shook this fantasies of Mugello and Assen race tracks out of my head realizing I had work to do...
I started with the mufflers. As a teenager I had worked as a muffler installer and pipe fitter at my father's Meineke Muffler
shop. We moved to Jacksonville in 1977 from New Jersey so my dad could pursue his dream to own his own shop. He was always a gear head as was my older brother John. We worked side by side for many years at that shop so anytime I do anything remotely related to exhaust work, I flash back to the days in the muffler shop. It was the location of many good times and hard times. It was where I learned to work with my hands and understand what it means to have a work ethic. My bands would even practice there after hours, blasting punk music as loud as we could in the cinder block building, undisturbed on University Boulevard on the Southside of Jax. I spent many an hour in that shop with my first bike, a 1980 Honda Hawk, polishing it and bolting on cafe racer style parts. I thought how strange it was to be changing a muffler in Jacksonville after all of these year - something I thought I would never do again...
The swap was incredibly easy for the mufflers. Just a hanger bracket to loosen and the thunderously loud D&D
carbon fiber pipes slid right off. As a younger man I would have loved the racket these things produce but I am older, calmer, and certainly more peaceful than my angst filled youth. I slipped the factory pipes on that I purchased off of a forum member at Ducati.ms
and slipped the bolt into the hanger. Easy right? Well hold on, the muffler was almost touching the swing arm. There was only 1/16" of clearance and that did not seem right. The bike was obviously involved in a left side crash. I knew this when I bought it, but did not know the extent of the damage. The hanger, which is also the bracket for the rear passenger peg, was bent and possibly the mounting points on the frame - or maybe both. I didn't feel good about this clearance and I did not have a pry bar to "adjust" the bracket and frame so I reinstalled the D&D carbon fiber can. Strike one again...
I cleaned up a little and headed over to Pep boys
to pick up supplies. I got shop rags, screwdrivers, a bleeder bottle, brake fluid, oil catch pan, metric wrenches, degreaser, Goop hand cleaner, WD40, an oil filter wrench, and some other things. I then went to Big Bike
and got some Mobil 1 Full Synthetic oil
specifically engineered for V-Twins. This place is a chopper shop so I am sure the guy thinks I have some hog and not a Ducati. The oil is expensive with 4 quarts ringing up at a princely $60! But I want the engine to be as protected as possible, so it's worth it. I headed back to the house to resume the wrenching.
I noticed when I tried to move the bike the clutch would not engage. I knew the clutch slave cylinder was leaking, but I did not know how bad the damage was. I decided I would tackle the clutch slave replacement next. I originally ordered an upgraded piston for the stock slave, but I later saw a deal on an Evoluzione
aluminum billet slave and purchased that. I pulled off the sprocket guard and I was horrified at what I saw. There was a mound of gunk around the counter-shaft sprocket. I scooped some of it out and set the cover aside. I will deal with that later, one step at a time. I unbolted the slave and pulled it away from the engine case and there was a great deal of leakage . I wiped it away the mess and went to install the new slave. I looked at my instructions and realized that Wounded Duc
where I bought the used part from, did not send me all of the parts for the slave. There was no way to install it without these 2 rubber rings that should have come with it so I would have to wait on installing the part. Strike two...
It was a good thing I ordered the Evoluzione
updated piston. I tapped the old slave on a piece of cardboard to get the old piston out and finally had to resort to using pliers to extract it. It was totally gunked up and ruined. I cleaned the slave housing thoroughly, lubed the new piston with some Castrol GTLMA
brake fluid, and pressed it in. I bolted it back on the bike, filled the reservoir, and started to try and bleed it conventionally out the bottom bleeder valve. I was not getting any feel in the lever because there was so much air in the line, but I recalled reading about a trick on the Ducati.ms board
. Instead of using the bleeder valve at the slave, the tip stated to just loosen the banjo bolt at the top by the master cylinder and let the air out. Once I did this, the lever tightened up and the clutch now worked. I pumped it up a few more times to be sure all of the bubbles were out. I was happy that I would be able to ride today and also ecstatic that I actually fixed something on the first vehicle I have owned in 9 years. Another hit!
I changed the oil next and that went smoothly. I pulled out the drain plug and examined it as the used black oil dumped into the oil pan. There were no metal shavings or engine chunks on the magnet of the plug so I felt good about that. I twisted off the oil filter with the new oil filter pliers and let it clunk into the oil pan. The oil was definitely used as it looked very black and worn. I filled the bike up with 3 quarts of the golden expensive lubricant and started the bike and let it cycle for a little while. I topped off the oil being sure it was just slightly below the maximum fill line on the sight glass on the side of the engine case. I bolted the fairings back on and cleaned the bike up a little with some spray wax. It was now ready for a spin. I took a few gulps of water and washed my hands.
There are moments in our lives we never forget and this was surely going to be one of them - my first real ride on a bike in over 17 years. I pulled on my Agostini helmet, cranked the bike, and wheeled out of the drive way. I turned onto San Jose Boulevard and gassed the bike, shifting well before the redline. I recalled the many rides on all of my previous bikes and remembered how great it was to be out on two wheels. I passed many landmarks of my youth. The movie theater in San Marco, and the now defunct club Applejacks where we used to sneak in under age and get drinks and watch blues. It was a great flood of emotion and I was stunned how life can come full circle. I never thought I would be riding a bike in Jacksonville again as I first did some 26 years ago, and yet here I am. The bike is in a bad state of tune and needs a ton of more work, but I take pleasure that I have a purpose. With the repairs and maintenance comes a zen like peace. I didn't go very far on my ride, probably 10 miles. But it was a beautiful beginning in the journey of being not only a motorcyclist but a happy person.
Is a front pit stand cool or what?
A little too close for comfort.
Pass the degreaser.