Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monster (S4RS) inexpensive tail mod and cleanup

The Ducati Monster up to 2008 are notorious for having a somewhat ugly rear fender and tail. In fact it is so unappealing that the tail of the bike is lovingly referred to as the "beer tray".
So I have decided to make a small and inexpensive modification by removing the extra plastic license plate holder and fender and using a couple of anodized aluminum strips to put the license plate right under its light, thus cleaning the tail of the bike quite a lot. The mod is somewhat self explanatory if you look at the pictures.


After, close up
After from afar

Monday, October 18, 2010

Replacing front tire of my S4RS

Replacing the front tire is not that hard if you have basic mechanic skills. Do recall you need to remove and securely hold aside the brake calipers before you can remove the wheel. Other than that it is a straightforward matter.
1 loosen the axle bolt and remove the nut along with the spacer
2 loosen the four clamping screws at the bottom of both legs
3 remove and secure the brake calipers to the frame (see photo with the wheel off, can you see where I tie the caliper?)
4 gently tap the axle out, I used a small plastic handle from an old screwdriver and a rubber mallet
5 grab and make a note of the two spacers on each side of the wheel, they are different!

That's it. Note that the spacers are different in width and they can only be installed one way. If you swap them accidentally, the calipers bolts on the right side will not line up and you have to start over. Don't ask me how I know ;-)
Lastly, clean the axle and grease it before you put it back on. Same for all screws aforementioned. Look up the torque settings for all of them, several people have posted them on the web. If you do not know what torque settings are or you think you can just wing it, please take your bike to a dealership :-)

Desmoquattro (4 valve) belts and valves service

This is a short description of how to change the timing belts and how to check the valve clearances. Particularly I will share tips and tricks you need to know.
First, get yourself the following (must have IMHO:

  • 1) guitar tuning or audio analyzer software for your laptop. You will need it to check the tension of the new belts
  • 2) paint marker
  • 3) torque wrench
  • 4) mechanic gloves, several of the tasks require handling or working around objects with sharp edges
  • 5) engine rotating tool
  • 6) belt timing lock for the vertical cylinder. Get the original or, even better, get the after market part for around $20. I used it, it works beautifully.
  • 7) watch the three videos on the topic by California Cycle Work http://www.youtube.com/user/cacycleworksdotcom this will prepare you for the work ahead

Replace belts
I am going to skip the basic and focus on what you need to know. Start by removing the fuel tank and pay attention to the fast disconnect lines and where they go. Once you have the tank out of the way, remove the battery. The battery tray slides right out, just make sure you pull the draining hose gently. You need to remove all of the above so you can remove the screws holding the frame that hold battery, ECU and all electronic.
Note: you do not need to remove everything, just enough so that you can move the battery frame out of the way. I did remove the ECU to give me more free play with the rest of the wiring. I also loosened some of the electronics components for the same reason but I did that without actually unplug anything other than the ECU.

Now you can remove the coil (hold in place with one nut) and remove the spark plug of the vertical cylinder. The horizontal cylinder is a lot easier, just carefully undo the coil and remove the spark plug. Now you can rotate the engine to the TDC of the horizontal cylinder. This is marked on the timing gear on the engine axle (as opposed to the ones on the cams's heads). Just align the markings and you will see that the inside of the timing gears on the head of the vertical cylinder align, they look like two T laying to the side pointing aft. See photo.

Now mark the belts. I suggest you watch the video from California Cycle Work on Youtube for this step. The link again http://www.youtube.com/user/cacycleworksdotcom

Note: the vertical belt is the tricky one, I suggest you make marking on the first visible tooth on both sides of the belt at the engine shaft gear. This will come in handy as you may want to move the engine back and forth a little to allow the new (and stiff) belt to bite where you want them. I aligned those markings first and then I applied tension on the belt as I worked my way to the head.

Note: to install the belt I recommend replacing the movable belt tensioner, install and align all markings on the belt and then put the movable tensioner back. I did this for both belts and it worked like a charm.

Now you are ready to tension the belts, follow the procedure in the video and, for good measure, rotate the engine several times by hands once you are done to make sure everything runs smoothly. Check the TDC of the horizontal cylinder by using the marking on the engine gear axle and the alignment of the T shaped inside of the heads gears.

Check the valves clearances
Remove the head covers. I would do one at the time. Note that once you remove all screws, the head will sit tight. Use a long flat screwdriver and a rubber mullet and gently (I mean gently!) tap the head covers upwards sticking the screwdriver between the head gears. Once the seal is loose, pry the head off by hands carefully. Now the four valves and the two desmodromic cams are visible (see photo). Use a feeler to check the clearances of the opening rockets and the closing rockets. Ducati recommends that you check the opening rocker right where the shim meet the rocker and the closing where the rocker meets the cam.

NOTE: Obviously you have to put the cylinder you are working on on TDC!!!

If the clearances are off, you will need to do the unthinkable, you need to remove the four bolts that hold the cam in place and remove the cam. This will give you access to the shims.

Note: my engine was within tolerances so I actually did not had to do this step. If you do have to do this, obviously you need to remove the belts. Before you do so, do make sure you mark the belt. You need not to worry about the cams rotating since there is not pressure on them when the piston is at TDC.

Note: to remove the horizontal cylinder head cover, you will need to remove the radiator. Simply empty the system, loosen the hoses that connects to it and carefully locate the electrical plug for each fan. They are located one per side and rather hidden. I am showing the left one in the photo, check it out. Once you disconnect the fans and disconnects the hoses, there is only one screw holding the radiator in place. Remove it. Now very carefully remove the radiator. I suggest to remove the air scoop under the lower triple clamp to prevent from scratching the radiator or cutting yourself on it! Not that the radiator is remarkably delicate!!!! I did manage to bent one of the supports just by laying down in a cradle.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tuning valve clearance on rocket arm engine types

check and adjust the clearances of the valve opening on engines with rocker/arm timing.

this is an example based on the Universal Diesel 5416 engine but if you take any other engine that uses this design, the instructions are pretty much the same. For example, Moto Guzzi motorcycle engines can be tuned much the same way.

In a 5416 engine, the first step is to remove the valve cover. This is remarkably easy on this engine since only two bolts keep the cover in place. Remove the bolts and carefully lift the cover. Note: some engine have the optional breather. The breather is hold in place by two more small bolts, simply remove those and lift the breather out of the way before removing the cover.

Then pick one rocker at the time and follow the instructions from the engine manual to rotate the engine to TDC for that rocker. Basically what you need is the camshaft to be at the lowest point for that arm thus giving the rocker the most clearance. You *could* just rotate the engine by hand looking for the TDC. I do not condone this method but I do admit that it works for old engine where finding documentation can be nearly impossible. Once the rocker is at it loose state, use a wrench to loosen the nut while using a flat screw driver to keep the arm from rotating. Once the nut is loose, place a feeler in between the rocker and the top of the valve and screw in/out the arm until the feeler can fit snugly in the gap. Now carefully tighten the nut making sure you hold the screwdriver firmly in place so the arm does not rotate. Repeat for each rocker arm and you are done. Trust me, it sound more complicated than it actually is.

Marine Diesel - replacing the sending unit

old, and I mean old, marine diesel engine inexplicably looses oil pressure at idle when the engine is warm.

check your oil pressure, do not trust your sending unit. Chances are you have no problem at all, the sending unit is simply failing. If the pressure you measure is within range, you just need a new sending unit (oil pressure sensor).

Universal Diesel 5416
If you have one of these very popular marine engines, the sending unit can be purchased at Napa Automotive for nearly 1/3 of the price of the OEM. Here are a few photos of the part you want.

Costant Velocity Joint replacement, Audi A4

clicking noise coming from one of the front wheel (front wheel drive car) upon turning and accelerating from standing still. For example, turning right/left at a stop sign. The car in this post is an Audi A4 (B5 model).

There are tons of sites that already post the instructions on removing the CV boot and the CV joint itself. Please see this one or even better, this one for a full description. Note that replacing the CV boot and replacing the CV joint basically require the same amount of work. Simply replace the old CV joint with the new one when replacing the boot and voila, you saved a ton of money. In my case it was $100 (parts + DIY) Vs. $850 estimate from the local dealer. What I wanted to share here is some tips and tricks:
  1. make an extractor tool out of the bolt you remove from the old CV by simply grinding off the first 1/4 inch of the thread (tip end, of course). I used a Dremel power tool and it works like a charm. Once you prep the bolt this way, you can screw it back in all the way and the CVJ pops right off the axle effortlessly.
  2. turn the wheels all the way to the opposite side you are working on. Say you are working on the right wheel, turn the wheels all the way to the left. This will push the steering arm all the way out. Once you pop the support arms (see photo) this will give you all the room you need to work on the CVJ and CV boot without removing the axle.
  3. do ease all the wheel bolts including the axle bolt before lifting the car. I am talking about 1/2 turn, no more. This will just make life easier once the tire is off the ground and you cannot and should not put torque against the axle/transmission
  4. if you are replacing the CVJ, note that a new one hardly swivel by hand whereas a worn one will easily swivel just by touching it (once removed, of course). The point here is the tolerances are very tight on the new part and they will loosen over time up to the point where you will start hearing the aforementioned ticking noise when turning. The ticking is generated in fact by the excessive clearances in the joint.

A sample of the tools I used for the job. Basically you want to have a basic tool kit of metric sockets and wrenches. For this project you will also need these three tools that are definitely not off the shelf so if you do not have them, please make sure you procure them first:
  1. depending on the specific year of your A4 you may need either a 27mm socket or a 17mm hex. If your car is prior 2001, chances are you need the socket.
  2. a CV boot clamping tool. This is a pain to find but Napa Auto parts actually carries it. Starts there.
  3. long arm torque wrench capable of 120 lb torque. I bough mine at the local Osh.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Boat inboard diesel stalls after few minutes

Inboard diesel engine stalls after few minutes of operation. It restarts right away only to stall again.

Your fuel lines are clogged somewhere. Secure the boat (drop anchor, sail back in if a sailboat, radio for tow etc.). Debug the fuel system. Most diesel inboard engine have at least two pumps and one filter. Start working your way backwards, start from bleeding the high pressure fuel pump. Turn the engine ignition on so that the electric pump will start. This should prime the fuel lines. Locate the priming bolt on the high pressure pump on the engine itself. Loosen it just a little. If the system works all the way to that point, you will see fuel coming out. Tighten back and turn everything off. Your problem is with the injectors. Start cursing and call your favorite marine mechanics, this is out of most people's league.
If no fuel comes out, you are in luck, sort of speak. Start back tracking, tighten the bleeding bolt you just loosen and locate the fuel filter. This too has a bleeding bolt. With the electric pump still going loosen this one and look for fuel coming out. If fuel comes out, the clog is in the hose connecting the fuel filter with the high pressure pump. Remove it and either clean it or replace it. If nothing comes out, tighten the bleeding bolt and move to the electrical fuel pump. Locate the electric fuel pump and loosen the line that goes to the engine. If fuels comes out, that line is clogged. Remove and clean or replace. If no fuels come out (and you can hear the pump running) the clog is on the pick up line from the tank to the electric pump. Remove the hose and try to unclog it or replace it. Note that if you get this far, chances are your fuel tank is full of debriefs and mud. The mud is actually made by bacteria living the suspended water in your diesel. I recommend either cleaning the fuel tank (if you can access it and you can access the inside really well) or replace it with a plastic one so you can keep and eye on think over time. In my case it was the latter so I replaced the whole aluminum tank with a modern polycarbonate tank.

Ducati S4Rs rear wheel replacement

Note: this may apply to any single sided Ducati

The wheel may not align with the traction pins, resulting in permanent damage to the hub and possible danger to the rider. Note that the wheel bolt may loosen as result.

This is a tricky one but with an easy solution. When replacing the wheel, make sure you visually align the four pins with the wheel, then tighten the bolt.

Note: removing the single hub nut will require a lot of torque. I used a long handle torque wrench for both loosening and tightening the nut. Do look up the proper torque for your bike and be aware that different MY S4 will have different values and possibly different nut size. Same for 1098, Multistrada and Streetfigher. Lastly, you may need to remove the lower muffler to remove the wheel without scratching anything. This is relatively simple, there are two bolts on the back of the can that attaches it to the support and one hose clamp that holds it tight on the exhaust pipe. Remove the first two (careful, they have washers) and simply loosen the latter. It will slip right off. This will make removing the wheel much easier.

Boxster top flaps at highway speed

Convertible top flutters at highway speeds.

There is a nylon cable going across the top 2/3 of the way from the front. This map back to where the top frame folds. In my case the cable snapped out of its anchor on the driver side. You will need a T star wrench to loosen the hook/anchor so you can snap the cable back in.