It has been some time since our last installment, so here’s the latest with our Ducati 350 vintage race project. We’ve had fun exploring our new project bike and speculating on it’s performance-but now it’s time to get to work.
The entire bike was completely disassembled down to the frame. When dealing with a retired race bike, every detail should be gone over-and we are doing just that. The frame, swing arm, exhaust, and a ratty old Ducati 125 Sport tank (our aesthetic improvement) were sent to our local media blaster and brought back to clean, gray metal. Now that we could see what we really had, we could begin putting things back together-with a few improvements.
We added new seat brackets as well as a swing arm bracing kit. The bracing kit uses a longer swing arm pivot and braces it against the rear down tubes. We also added a bit more substantial fork stops to go with our upgraded aluminum 35mm triple clamps we found on eBay (originally for a Ducati RT450). We decided on a black frame (easier to touch up scratches and track damage) and decided on Por 15 due to its robust nature and tendency to blend well when repainted. This is where things got a bit frustrating. Though we’ve used Por 15 with success before, the finish on our frame came out less than satisfactory. Perhaps it was the high heat when we applied it, or maybe we got too enthusiastic with the coats, but our perfectly blasted frame now looked drippy and well, not so great. We sanded some sections, re-applied the Gloss Black Por 15 and settled for a paint job we just weren’t too happy with unfortunately.
Moving on to the engine, we took the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy with the top end. We disassembled the head and replaced the cam bearing for the MegaCycle Camshaft (though it looked fine in all honesty). The oversized valves were lapped and re-installed with the original upgraded coil springs. The piston also looked like it had minimal use, and the bore was perfect. We re-installed the teflon buttons and buttoned the top end back up with a new high-temp Viton o-ring and paper base gasket.
Though total-loss ignition systems have been working flawlessly for decades, we decided on a self-generating system with integrated electronic ignition by Electret-World. Hopefully, this will provide worry free sparks, sans battery, for years to come. Installing the kit gave us a good opportunity to totally overhaul the lightened clutch basket and drive gear. We replaced the plates with new Surflex parts. We opted for another classic Ducati single racing mod and re-routed the top end oil feed to an external line that drops directly onto the cam bearing. The stock routing has the oil traveling through tiny passageways through the insanely hot barrel. Our external system provides better flow and some cooling as the oil is traveling outside of the motor catching some much needed breeze. Now we just re-plumbed the oil drain lines gave everything a good cleaning and the motor was pronounced done.
Though this bike was originally campaigned with the Ducati Scrambler tank and TT style aftermarket seat it came with, we decided to go with bodywork more fitting of a Ducati racer of the 60’s. We had a very rough 125 Sport tank hanging on the wall and thought it looked pretty darn good. It was quite a mess under the crusty blue paint, and the throttle cable made contact right next the petcock tap on our shapely new race tank. We did a little redesign on the bottom of the tank to give the throttle cable a kink-free route from the throttle to carb. We used a replica fiberglass seat and cover, after we realized the original seat had been reinforced by two sections of 2×2 wood, affixed with wood screws, fiberglassed in, and painted over!
All we did to the rear wheel was cleaned it up, but the front will be replaced with something more fitting on a vintage Italian road racer. We found a 180mm Grimeca front hub with a Ceriani style four leading shoe braking plates, and laced it to a WM3-18 rim, same size as on the back. The 4ls front brake will look good on the 35mm Ceriani GP forks, NOS Magura levers and throttle, and aluminum Woodcraft clipons.
As you can tell, the Ducati 350 Road Race Project Bike is coming together. We still have quite a bit of work to do before it hits the track, but it sure has been a pleasure to work on so far.
Check back soon for the next installment. If all goes well, it’ll be a loud one…as in barking megaphone loud.
As always, we welcome your comments below.