Tips, tricks and tech

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Tips, tricks and tech

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Don't panic, help is at hand and you'll soon be back on theroad. Here are a few pearls of Elefant maintenance and repair advice. A few modifications you might like to add to yourbike too! If you think I've got something wrong let me know.

Please be aware that these issues apply mostly to Elefants of the same era as mine (E900AC). But some things will be common to older Elefants as well.


Footpeg snapping off
Fork protectors
Oil line damaging frame
Fire! Fire!
Fritzed fusebox
Screens
Instrument panel mountings
Lights and starter
Routing of fuel lines
Back spring/shock absorber
Rear suspension linkages - overhauling
Sidestand/kickstand
Swingarm guide/protector
Chain rollers
Old smokey
Air filter
Plug fouling
Carburettor jetting
Clutch clamour
Exhaust
Air compressor
Centrestand
False neutrals
Play "Count the Elefants"!!!


Footpeg snapping off: EVERYONEshould check this one - highly dangerous, especially when youshift your weight and your foot hits the road at speed.Thankfully I stayed aboard. Check the condition of these bolts regularly - if necessary, replace them, or have the holes tapped out and bigger bolts installed.

Fork protectors: Used on theupside-down-fork models to stop damage to the fork sliders. Theyare only made of plastic and also carry the front guard/fender.Due to weight and vibration the protectors and even the guard/fendercan crack and snap where they are screwed together. I made small"splints" out of galvanised steel which I formed to fitthe back of the fork protector and the guard, where the guard attaches atthe front (two screws). So there are four splints - one on each fork protector and one on the inside of each front mounting point of the guard. I cutthe shape of the splints out with tinsnips and curved them byhand with the aid of a hammer and the shaft of an engine valvemounted in a vice! I marked and drilled holes for the screws.Finally the splints were glued in place with a high-strength long-settingepoxy (not the five-minute or 10-minute variety). I used Aralditeand stuck duct tape over the top to hold the splints in placewhile the glue set. This can be left in place so the glue doesn'tpick up dust while it is still tacky. Once re-assembled the fixis invisible.

Oil line damaging frame: This isa simple one. The braided oil line that runs down from the large single oil coolerlays across the frame cradle at the front. Vibration causes it tosaw away at the crosspiece. Every Elefant I've seen has done this.Simple fix - get a short piece of fuel hose of suitable diameter;cut down the side; spread open and wrap around the line where itcrosses the frame. Problem solved!

Fire! Fire!: At first I thoughtthe funny smell was coming from a nearby McDonald's. Then smokeerupted from the cockpit! Thankfully I was close to a fuelstation and got an extinguisher before major damage was done. Thesource was a faulty regulator/rectifier that had shorted andoverheated. Cagiva and Ducati updated the reg/rec (common to theSupersport range) in their spare parts listing but do notacknowledge there was a "problem" with the old one. I'mpretty sure all Elefants have the pre-update reg/rec. The updatekit code is 699.2.082.1B and it's a Shindengen part. Once it isfitted the battery charge light no longer works. My advice is atthe FIRST SIGN of things not charging or working properly youshould have the reg/rec checked. If the bike's under warrantymake the dealer replace it.

Fritzed fusebox: The back of minestarted melting from heat. Also the fuse casings heat up anddeform, causing them to break contact. I have made a mountingbracket from polycarbonate and mounted two Potter and Brumfieldaircraft-style manual reclose circuit breakers behind the fairing.The part number for these relays is W23-X1A1G-25 and they can beordered through Siemens.

Screens: There are taller screenswith a slightly different angle available to reduce buffetting.In Australia a screen that has shown good results is availablefrom Eagle Screens atUnit 6/8 Royal St, Kenwick, WA 6107. Ph 08 9452 3060, Fax 94523061. Here's a pic. Another screenis made by Ermax and no doubt there are other makers in Europe.

Instrument panel mountings: Thelittle "silent blocks" (pieces of rubber sandwichedbetween two bolts) break. Some people have repaired them withsuper glue, some have spring-mounted their panels, others havefound similar but larger mounting devices from other Ducatimodels and retrofitted them. I have a long bolt that goes all theway through from the instrument panel frame into the dash (whichhad to be drilled out to take larger nuts). I have a rubberstopper either side of the instrument frame to isolate the dash.Plus nuts, washers etc. to hold it all in place.

Lights and starter: Seemsto be a bit of interest in this one so I've set up a separate page.

Routing of fuel lines: RossSamuelson raised concerns about fuel lines running close to thehot engine, especially the line from the right-hand side of thetank to the petcock on the left (this may only be on carburettormodels). Re-route as necessary being careful not to impedesiphoning when the fuel level is low. I've found the vaccuum pumpis not that powerful and I'd be worried that running the linestoo high (i.e. above the low fuel level of the tank) might causean airlock.

Back spring/shock absorber:The spring on the Boge rear shock goes to jelly after heavy use,especially with panniers and/or pillion. My bike used to have aDR-650 spring with a spacer fitted by a previous owner. Thisfirmed things up nicely enough but it's not ideal. An owner fromthe United States has used a spring from a late 80's Honda XR (withouta spacer) but couldn't remember whether it was a 250 or 600. TheID (inside diameter) is 55mm x 55mm. The spring is cut to 215mmto increase the rate. Once modified the rate is 736 pounds. Hehas also had the rebound valving adjusted to cope with the newspring rate. I changed my spring to a heavier Eibach item but now I've got the better Ohlins shock from a 900ie.

A gas/oil reservoir can be attached to the Boge shock foradjustable compression damping. This is done via a banjojoint and bolt at the filling point on the top of the shock.

Rear suspension linkages -overhauling: They're all needle bearings and you need toremove the rear swingarm and shock to do the full job. The manualsays you have to remove the rear frame - you don't. For the job Isupported the bike by tilting it onto the sidestand using atrolley jack on the opposite side - other people have suspendedthe bike by roping the rear frame to a rafter in their workshop,which is a more stable option. As you dismantle everything takenote of where all washers, spacers etc. come from. If you need toreplace bearings see your local bearing shop as they will be ableto supply new ones based on the numbers stamped on the sides. Thelittle dust seals used on the larger bearings are an uncommonsize but my shop ordered them no problems. Clean and check allthe bearings, grease liberally with good waterproof grease andreplace whatever needs replacing. Some of the needle bearingsstay in their races but others don't, so count them as they fallout! It's a fiddly job putting them back in and then, when youpush the shaft through them, if you're not ultra-careful they allget dislodged! After several frustrating attempts I found asocket of a slightly smaller diameter than the shaft; slid itinto the linkage to hold the needles in place (being careful notto displace them); then pushed the shaft in from the other side,allowing it to push the socket out as it went.

Also, there's a trick to the bottom linkage where it connectsinto the frame, behind the bottom of the engine. Once you takeout the odd-shaped rubber plugs either side and remove the boltthere is an inner shaft has to be screwed out using a very wideflat-tipped tool. This is available from Snap-On to fit on asocket wrench and is called a "draglink tool". However on some bikes the shaft is virtually impossible to remove. The diagrams in my manual are just plain wrongwhen it comes to this specific part of my bike ('93 model).

Sidestand/kickstand: Mine has aplate approx. 40mm x 40mm welded on the base to make it morestable on soft ground. GaryJohnson has shortened his stand by about 20mm becausethe bike was standing almost vertical when loaded.

Swingarm guide/protector:This runs around the nose of the swingarm behind the frontsprocket. Check it regularly for wear, especially the undersideif you're carrying a pillion or panniers. Not really a "problem",just something to keep an eye on. I want to make a tougher onebecause I find they wear out too quickly. You can get some rubber sheet or acrylic, take a pattern and make your own.

Chain rollers: I wascontinually destroying the top one when carrying a passenger andluggage. I've made a new set-up that lifts the chainroller about 10mm higher.

Old smokey: My back cylinderused to burn oil and the exhaust occasionally gave a puff of smoke. It turned out the oil rings that came out with my bike were faulty and wore out prematurely, giving an excessive ring gap. I'm told that other Ducatis of the era had the same problem. It was apparently fixed on latermodels.

Air filter: Be careful whenputting the lid on the airbox that the air filter locates andseals properly. I've found the best way is to tilt the lidforward as you put it on so the little air horns tuck into theirplace in the frame - then lower the back of the lid, whilepeering in from the back to make sure the filter is sitting right.Or remove the air horns altogheter as I have - they don't do muchanyway. A friend had a "reputable" workshop fit thefilter incorrectly, causing his Elefant to suck dirt and destroythe top end of the motor! The filter is also common to some MotoGuzzi models and there is a good reusable performance itemsupplied by Unifilter. Anaftermarket item is also avaiable from K&N Filters. Part numberis 33-2682.

Carburettor jetting:Another hot topic for Elefant owners of the non-injected breed.You might want more power or a smoother, less snatchy ride at lowRPM. Exhaust and airbox changes may also make re-jettingdesirable. Check the list archive for lengthy discussions.

One source for jets is http://www.factorypro.com/.According to Dave Bigelow of the US. "These people make ajet kit that I've had good luck with and its supposed to be E900specific."

When I first bought my bike with 27,000km on the clock it wasin a pathetic state of tune. The Ducati serviceman found themixture screws in the Mikuni carbs were seized, the mainatomisers/jets were ovalised inside and the jet needles were worn.These were replaced and the bike was tuned on a CO meter - thedifference was amazing! Unfortunately these parts do wear out over time and need to be replaced.

Clutch clamour: E900 modelsproduce the familiar ack-ack-ack din of a Ducati dry clutch.Annoying, but it doesn't affect performance. To deaden the racketa spacer can be bought from Ducati and fitted between the clutchcover and the engine case. Also, a thin coat of black Silastic orsimilar sealant inside the cover does wonders, I'm told. I've fitted an STM clutch - not their full-house slipper model but just their special alloy basket and plates. The design spreads the load much more evenly around the basket. A web search should turn up an STM dealer in your country.

Exhaust: Many Elefants came witha bulky, heavy catalytic convertor muffler for anti-pollutionpurposes. Some owners might prefer to call it a "cataclysmicconvertor" because the heat it generates has been known todamage body plastics. I can sing the praises of my Staintune muffler which has abeautiful finish and produces a wonderful throaty roar.Staintunes are made in Australia and available through overseasdistributors. Make sure your Staintune has a recess to accommodate the brake caliper on full suspension travel. They have also made a carbon fibre twin system forthe E900 but it requires plastic welding work to remove the toolcompartment from the left side panel.

Air compressor: My bikehas an onboard electric air compressor. I used the internals froma small cheap auto compressor and mounted them behind the right-handside cover. I attached two metres of hose which is coiled underthe seat. When needed I hook the compressor motor straight to thebattery with alligator clips. Best to keep the motor running sothere's a bit of charge going into the battery.

Centrestand: I don't have onebut a lot of people seem to be interested in fitting one. Thereare several different types and people have had mixed experiences.One model is sold from Germany by a mail order company "JFmotorsports". The article number is 2984-0000-0001 and itfits IE, GT and AC models. In German it is called "Hauptständer".Their home page is here.A Swiss rider told me about a stand available from Italy which hesaid was a "big shit" to install and touched the groundin corners.

False neutrals:At the most inconvenient times, like when downshifting as youcome into a downhill corner. Be more definite with your gearchanges??? Remember you are dealing with a straight-cut Ducatigearbox!

Play "Count theElefants"!!! - How many little elephant logos have youcounted on the parts of your bike? They pop up in unexpectedplaces - inside the airbox etc. Another little secret - if youever look at the underside of your lower triple clamp you willfind a Husqvarna logo (on USD fork models at least).


Warren Murrayelefantman@ozemail.com.au
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