“Next update may be a good few weeks away then – and before I go any further with the 750 I need to fit new tyres to the 748” – or so I wrote only a week ago. I’m such a colossal bell-end at times. Of course, after the bike ran last week I did the only sensible thing and celebrated with a G&T. Or two. And some smoky Islay single malt. And a superb Orvieto. I was obviously in just the right frame of mind to fire up a web browser and start hunting through eBay.
That’s a pair of 1999 Ducati 900SS forks. And yokes. And clip-ons. And spindle. And they turned up in my garage yesterday. Now, in my defence, they were advertised stupidly cheaply.
Postage was a non-trivial affair, at forty quid. So I chucked an offer in at £40 off the asking price, knowing that it would obviously be rejected. Next morning I woke up with a slightly muffly head, to an email saying that my offer had been accepted, and would I like to pay now? Well, as it happens, about two weeks ago I finally paid off a credit card bill that had taken three years, so yeah, why not, what’s the worst that could happen?
And then yesterday the parcel turned up (full marks to the seller by the way – they were impeccably packaged, and to turn up in less than a week was brilliant) so I pottered out to the garage to see how close they were to fitting.
The good news… The yokes look spot on. The gap between the top and bottom yoke matches the 750 frame perfectly, and the offset to the fork tubes is also, absolutely bob-on. I reckon that with some new bearings, those yokes will just fit straight in. If they don’t, it should be easy enough to press the stem out of the 750 yokes and pop it into the 900 yokes. Brilliant. And the forks – no rust that I could see, no leaks from the seals, and good damping. They are non-adjustable, but that’s OK by me, as I won’t be pushing this bike hard enough to need anything other than a change of oil and preload. Oh, actually, there’s no preload adjusters either – so some spacers may the order of the day if it needs. Anyhow, I spent a couple of hours in the garage cleaning things up, and noticed that things just didn’t seem quite perfectly in line.
No matter how much I twiddled with things, when I sighted down from the top yoke to the spindle, things just didn’t quite line up. Sometimes it would be close, then I’d tighten things up, and it would all shift again. I was starting to get an uneasy feeling…
I took the fork legs out of the yokes again, and sighted along them – everything looked fine, so I tried just bouncing each leg up and down individually. The left fork leg was perfect. The right one, however, definitely had a bit of a tight spot. I tried rotating the lower leg in the stanchion, and it immediately bound solid.
Dammit. That’s a classic case of a bent fork – if there’s a slight kink in the fork outer, it makes a tiny high spot on the inside of the tube, and it binds solid as the inner bush slides over it. With a sigh, I stripped the fork leg. I hate doing this at the best of times, as fork oil is smelly and foul stuff. And no matter how long I leave the inners to drain, I still end up with it covering my hands, the bench, my clothes and normally most of my face. Anyhow, once I’d cleaned up the fork outer, I held it to the light, and sure enough there was a high spot in there – and when I put a straight edge up the inside it showed a definite kink.
Hey ho. I’m not unduly upset. The seller really wouldn’t have noticed, as externally, there’s the slightest indent that just looks like where the lower yoke clamps. And when everything was bolted together it all looked straight at first glance. I’ve written back, seeing if I can get a couple of quid off, to go towards the purchase of another r/h fork leg, but in all honesty, I’m not too worried. I mean, when you buy things sight unseen from a breakers, stuff like this just happens.
Anyway – it’s ultimately a positive update, as it looks very much like a 900SS front end will fit quite easily, which as well as giving me a 17″ wheel, will also give me much better brakes. So yeah, all in all, it’s a Good Thing.
Right then – as soon as I confirm that the yokes will fit I’ll grab a fork leg. And then *really* the bike will take a bit of a hiatus while I concentrate on the 748 and the Dart. Oh yes, the Dart – a new rear tyre is on the cards for this, as I’ve just requested a place on the Morini owners annual trackday at Cadwell Park. I’m still getting the odd attack of the heebie-jeebies when I remember how bad the existing rear tyre was last time out there.
Plans are afoot then. And absolutely none of them involve a drunken eBay odyssey. Yet.
Postscript: I dropped a note to the seller – they refunded practically half of the purchase price. Which I think is remarkably generous.