The battle of jutland recreated.

I got the 450RT out this morning to prep it for its MOT. Truth is it had not been started since september. Started 3rd Kick with full choke and I left her running on choke while I went to the shed in the garden to get some tools.

As I turned round when leaving the shed I thought the house was on fire - there was smoke coming out the windows and through the conservatory, I ran through the house and realised the smoke was coming from the RT whose exhaust was pointing towards the garage door from outside.

The smoke had filled the Garage House and conservatory and was billowing out the back.



PS. Now it wont start!!!

That’s cos Ducatis NEED two cylinders, arranged in an ‘L’ shape…not next to each other - it’s the law! Yours’ is all wrong… :laughing:

Its a bevel single, silly. As built by Ducati since 1957. Its also one of the first Desmo bikes. Yup BEFORE any twins!!!

Anyway, I drained the tank and filled it with fresh petrol incase the old stuff had gone off. Checked the valve clearences, A little loose on the front openers, (0.15mm) but a loose rocker is a happy one!

When I took the front valve cover off about half a pint of oil shot out, which explains the burning oil if the exhaust valve has been sat in that for 6 months (Side stand only probably caused it all to collect there.

Fitted new spark plug, and checked for spark

Changed the oil for good measure.

Still not starting. Plug is getting slightly damp but not what you would call wet. So next step is to rebuild the carb.

Time for bed now as on night shift…

built by Ducati since 1957 - that’s ok then, at least it’s not a new one :laughing:

…as for ‘loose rockers being happy ones’ - yeh, I can dig that, and why not - anyway, I can’t hear my rockers over the noise of the clutch plates :astonished:

I’ll ask the obvious question.

The oil is draining back down the bevel tube isn’t it?



Supposed to be in bed sleeping, but lying there thinking about the 450!!

Took the carb off (a VHB29 A with the flat slide) and gave it a quick clean, had a look at the Bosche to see if it had slipped, seemed OK. Still not starting. Having been kicking it over for two days and being over tired I walked away in discust.

About 10 mins later gave it a half hearted kick and away she went. Smoke died off once warmed up, but you do get a puff when revved. Rode her around the block a few times, stopped and started OK. All seemed fine. (always an easy starter before this)

I’ve put her away and will see how she performs tomorrow when cold again.

I would go back to bed but now I’ll never sleep…

Hi Roger,
If the bike is only left on the side stand then there will always be oil left in the rockerbox, as the drain down holes and the bevel tube are on the righthand side of the topend.
This bike being an RT/off road model will only have a side stand, with the longer suspension fitted it probably has quite a lean when on the stand.


Which is exactly the conclusion I reached while coming home on the train this morning. It also means I’m not going to let it warm up on its side stand anymore as it really does lean over a long way!

I rushed in this morning and turned on the PC to say that too, only to find that mr R has got in first, still you know what they say, great minds think alike…or is it fools seldom differ, I can never remember?

I think the side stand theory is proven.

Just started her up, lent her against a wall, leaning slightly to the right and no smoke at all!

Guess a combination of a slightly weepy valve seal and it being engulfed in oil was the cause of the smoke screen.

Still at least I know what to do now if i come round a corner and find the German home fleet bearing down on me lobbing 16" shells at me from 20 miles - turn sharp left and go round in circles!

Sounds like having leaky valve seals should be sold as a feature.

  1. If you lean the bike to the left overnight and it smokes then you know you’ve been getting oil flow to the head.
  2. If you lean it to the right and it doesn’t smoke then you know it’s draining OK (not that it’s very likely not to).

Conclusion - the perfect test for oil supply without the expense of a gear gazer! :wink:



Well she’s starting OK every time now. I’ve even fitted an ignition switch for the first time in her 37 year life! MOT booked for Tuesday at 14.00hrs.

The valve seals in the Desmo’s are inside the guides, so its a head off job to change them.
Some run exhaust without a seal though.

Problem could be worn guides as well (not to mention rings etc). Does the bike smoke under normal thrashing/running?

Having said that I think most of these bikes have done little in the way of miles, but things perish and get gummed up over time…

  1. If you lean the bike to the left overnight and it smokes then you know you’ve been getting oil flow to the head.

Will this also indicate that a new Pope has been selected? After all, the bike is Italian you know… :slight_smile:

Welcome back Mr Sqeegie, how was the Giro?


An unmitigated disaster :cry: The weather was miserable most of the time, the engine blew up on the forth day and I lost my wallet with my passport, all my cash and credit cards. I’m now broke (the whole Giro thing has left me about £7k in debt) and can’t afford to fix the scrambler this year. That said, there were some bits I really enjoyed and I met a lot of fun interesting people. :slight_smile:

Which “Giro” did you do? Dream Engine or Club Terni?

Bloody hell Graham,
After all of the trouble I had getting over to the TT carbs, valve seat, sparkplug thread etc (and buying Paul Smarts crash helmet) I came home from the holiday just over £1,200 in debt which’s an awful lot to us! More than a months wages.
But £7,000 :open_mouth:
Nessie (Mrs R) has just said “7 Grand that’d be a bloody mortgage for us”!!!
OUCH I feel your pain mate.
Wasn’t the motor rebuilt by ‘he who shall not be named’, what let go?
IIRC you said that it was sewing machine smooth, which I thought suprising as it’s a 450, the only time I’ve heard of a 450 being that smooth was said about a Nigel Lacey full race motor £££££££’s.

Steve R (very poor Southern version)

here starteth the lesson in how to get in debt to £7K without meaning to…

  1. Borrow £3.5k off your dad to buy a bike with no tax and MOT that needs a bit of TLC for £2.8k.
  2. Plan to spend £700 on said bike to get it on the road for the Giro (the Dream Engine one BTW).
  3. Plan to flog off bike after Giro for circa £3.5k and repay loan - so far so good, now we move out of the planning stage into reality :unamused:
  4. Strip bike down and list all the jobs / parts needed - this turns out to cost £1.6k not £700 :open_mouth:
  5. Take engine to Tony B for strip and inspection, find a main crank bearing bearing has died plus a number of other engine issues. Also find out that this is a very early widecase engine which needs a different con rod /piston and crankcase gasket. Cost of rebuild reusing old big end and con rod £2.4 :astonished:
  6. Borrow £3.5k off mum to fund the above.
  7. £7k in debt to the bank of mum and dad (god bless 'em)
  8. No way of flogging off the bike to recoup the debt until more money is spent…

here endeth the lesson.

Hi luigi, sorry to hear the giro was such a disaster for you!!
not sure if you will rember me after all your problems out there, we spoke breifly at a petrol forecourt stop, as i wes also rebuilding a 450 Scr, and again in the van on the last day back to the hotel from the centre of rome, my 125 made it but only had 1 gear for the last few hours i circumnavigated rome totaly lost !!!
just made the finish on time due to a friendly biker showing me the way, i could have kissd him!!
What did you think to the event ? I quite fancy the terni one next year as i have heard good reports back.
I will be interested in any ones view of the dreamengine event this year as I was not too impressed, WHY the centre of Rome for 50 year old bikes ??
If you want a superb cheap event try colombres in october, excellent riding very cheap,
DOC member 8561


that was the bit that sparked the memory (I’m finding my memory patchier and patchier as I get older …)

As I’ve been round Europe a few times in the last few years I don’t need an event like the Giro as a safety net if things go wrong - that said it was nice to have the net there when I needed it! What I gained from the Giro was the people I met on the event who were all charming and good company to a man (and woman). As a sporting event it was a bit of a joke unless you’re into all that 7 seconds stuff. I hear the Club Terni event had better weather but the organisation was still… Italian :wink:

Colombres sounds good as its closer and cheaper but not this year for me as I’m stony broke now

Anyway, have you found out what was causing your gearbox problem?