900GTS build...

Vacant Possession

Elite Member
This is what I bought, Exhibit A...

This is what I am building, Exhibit B...

This thread is about going from A->B

I hope you like it.
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New member
caught a glimpse of the dark side of the moon paintwork in the other thread... not re-doing that then?? :p saw it advertised at madeintaly a while back???

Vacant Possession

Elite Member
caught a glimpse of the dark side of the moon paintwork in the other thread... not re-doing that then?? :p saw it advertised at madeintaly a while back???

Errr... No. If you saw the quality of the work...

You wouldn't, either. As to the damage caused by fitting Lucas Rita...

Yes, it was advertised in February on madeintaly - I didn't feel I had the spare cash and sadly watched it go to someone else. It came back on in May and I had one of those very foolish moments...

Vacant Possession

Elite Member
Audit - what have I bought?

Having bought what was effectively a basket case which happened to be connected together in some cases and not at all in others, I needed to see what I had bought. So here is a non comprehensive walk around the bike...

Front wheel...

RH Side view with jiggered side panel...

LH Side view...

Looking up to the front steering damper/bottom yoke...

Front nearside stanchion & headlight...

Under the tank...

Front carb...

Front Head...

Dash & Laverda bars...

Close up of the dash - yes, that reads 60,000 miles...

Rear carb...

Under the engine...

Delightful Lucas Rita, which caused the owner to terminate part of the RH sidepanel with a blunt object with extreme prejudice...

Under seat tray - you can't see it here, but don't worry! It has bits chopped out of it to fit the Lucas Rita...

And inside the battery compartment...

The rear offside, showing the non original loosely attached by a couple of bolts rear mudguard.

It came with an also non-original non-matching front mudguard - in nearly new condition.

The next instalment is where the true horror begins:-

(FX: Dah doh Daaahh!)

To think I asked if it would start! I was even wondering if I could nurse it home.

That's what happens when the heart rules the head, I probably would have bought it even if I had gone up and seen all this - but I didn't even do that. Hey Ho.
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Vacant Possession

Elite Member

Time to get the thing into boxes - and discover the worst WRT the rolling chassis.

Off comes the bodywork, out comes the engine & rear wheel...

Engine out!

Engine, clutch/starter side...

Engine rear...

The exhaust flange nuts were so corroded into the head the exhaust downtubes had to be cut off.

Just the bare frame...

And a sad pile of the rest of it...

Close up of the tank...

I think the pickies say it all, what we have here is an end of life motorcycle, corroded and utterly worn out. Every part needs attention and in truth it was such a mess it might well have stayed in boxes ad infinitum.

Time to reflect, accept it for what it is, pick up the pieces and make something of it.

Next: Engine teardown.


New member
Yer a glutten for punishment...:) The best way to buy is in one piece that way nothing has been forgotten or lost before handover easier to see if something is missing.

Vacant Possession

Elite Member
Yer a glutten for punishment...:) The best way to buy is in one piece that way nothing has been forgotten or lost before handover easier to see if something is missing.

Definitely a numpty moment, that's why I have said nothing about it; I was embarrassed!

I justified the purchase by reasoning that rebuilding this would be cheaper than building 'Old Green' for which I have most of the parts. Absolute nonsense, of course; I'll come to that when I address the engine build.

However I am a long way down the road and I will be satisfied with the end result. I'd really like some Öhlins at the rear to complete my bling, but something exceptionally good needs to happen first.

I have a few catching up posts to do, then I'll post where I am now.


New member
It looks very much in the same state as Eelco's Darmah when I collected it, butchered side panel et al. I think that there must be a Narnialike place where these old seventies bikes are sleeping, sending out a low-frequency siren-call that is in effect 'Money' from Dark Side.
You know that is true.
In any case, when were any of these Ducati purchases rational? They've built an entire company based on the exact opposite of rational purchasing.

Vacant Possession

Elite Member
Hidden Ducati sirens...

Yes, I do have a weakness for the valve spring Dukes, my first was a truly awful GT that was a hoot to ride for two weeks - until it blew up.

I never really got usd to the GTS styling but now really like it, most cool retro.

Yes, it did call to me and I am sure I have done the wrong thing which will be most enjoyable.

Vacant Possession

Elite Member
In addition, looking back on the amazing amount of work you have done on Eelco's (now Martin's) Darmah I can see some similarity; However I have cheated (again) in that I took one look at it and made no attempt to repair what was there, I just tore it down straight away.

Looking forward to its reassembly!


New member
All the best with this one, you certainly have your work cut out, but, once it's finished it'll be a damned fine machine I'm sure. Hopefully you'll keep the forum informed with plenty of photos. :thumbs:

Vacant Possession

Elite Member
I'll do my best and thanks, I am currently suffering from 'running on empty' problems caused both by my own activities and voracious kids.

Vacant Possession

Elite Member
That's a very neat through-the-sidepanel carb mod!

I've been thinking how best to fit one of these without making a hole, but have no idea if they will fit behind the GTS side panel.
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Vacant Possession

Elite Member
Engine teardown...

Tearing down the engine was not easy; Bolts & flanges were corroded in place and it was in a disgusting state. The first part of the teardown was done when the bike was stripped, thanks to Russell for his hard work. I transported the engine & carbs to Biggelaar in the Netherlands when I picked up my rebuilt SS motor; Jan Biggelaar has carried out the main engine teardown.

Check out the starter ring gear...

and the inside of the e/start clutch cover...


Blocks & pistons - those are 87mm high compression Omega's - with a standard GTS bottom end! Other oddities found were the vertical cylinder was running a 750GT camshaft!

Fin damage on the vertical cylinder which I hadn't noticed...

Yuk! Inside the RH crankcase...

LH crankcase...

Front head...

Lower bevel support plate & bevels - thankfully the gear faces stayed lubed and are in really good condition...


And the whole caboodle. There is some good news, according to Biggelaar, the gearbox is in sic 'excellent' condition.

Update from Jan Biggelaar: 'I dont aspect any problem with building the engine,but I never saw such a dirty and bad engine to recover .It takes so much time to bring it in a good and clean condition,and time is money like you know!!'

It's official! The Dark side of the moon has the worst engine Jan Biggelaar has ever seen - this is a career spanning 50 years!

Now I feel vindicated, I have achieved something :D.

Next: Frame additions/repairs & getting started.
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Vacant Possession

Elite Member
Frame & Bodywork...

The bike and frame seemed to be in excellent condition if you ignore the corrosion; No tell tale bent steering stops or ground footrests.

It had a missing seat mount where I presume the weld had failed and it had just 'dropped off'. That was fixed immediately.

As it is a 900GTS it no longer has the handy pillion handle extension to the frame enjoyed by GT's and some GTS's. However it does have an aid to pulling the bike onto its stand in the form of a handle. I duplicated the mount to the opposite side so my bike will have two of these chrome handles which make nifty bungee attachment points and might be useful as pillion handles.

I had already decided what I wanted to do which was to only make additions that can be removed. Here is the plan:-
  1. convert to rear disc brake which means adding a rear master cylinder mount
  2. add pillion handles (explained above)
  3. add mounts for SS rearsets.

All done.

Oh yes! I wanted a silver frame. I am so bored of black everything, so without further ado here she is now:-

And the rear disc conversion mod & SS rearset mounts...

Now we get to the side panels; One was trashed as a previous owner had installed Lucas Rita. Eagle eyed readers will have noticed that the original Ducati Elettronica was still present in the engine in the last teardown picture.

So one side panel was history. Neither had been drilled for the IMHO rather naff plastic badges so FX: Phew! It will be receiving the correct 900GTS side panel decals.

On to the tank.

It was a mess, so bad, so corroded, so encrusted and so smelly we didn't think it would seal. So I took a decision to whip off the top and have it blasted; It seemed I had nothing to lose.

A close up before blasting...

Blasting and leak checking revealed a perfect tank. That was a complete surprise! GT's and GTS's are gifted with the most horrid fuel taps which incorporate an under-tank balance tube; The boss's were removed and replacements which accept Darmah, SS & MHR style taps were fitted. This is one GTS where the tank can be removed without jiggery pokery or draining the tank and reserve works properly. Tank work courtesy of Russell at RB Kustoms, Billingshurst. They are difficult to find but Russell is one skilled up dude - and good to deal with, 01403 741037.

The inside of the tank has been treated with Fertan and is likely to get a Caswell sealant inside as well.


Fuel tap conversion...

Close up of replacement boss...

Had some NZ friends pop in tonight, we haven't seen them for about seven years so I popped my birthday present Gevrey Chambertin from my wife which means I am no longer able to continue ;-) Have a nice weekend, everyone.

Vacant Possession

Elite Member
It's in the details...

I can't help myself, some of the good stuff has arrived and I wanted to share it (FX: Blush!)

Some of the small but very significant bits...

The worn looking ally panel to the left is the original dash fascia, the new one is shown but still under wraps. Included are seat mounts & catch, clock mount, brake balancer mounting plate, tail light mount, oil filter cover and dash casting - notably in matt black.



New member
I've been following your resto with some interested - and it's just ramped up since I did a deal on the 900GTS just highlighted by MartinW.
I saw the bike today and it sure is a bit rough, but the guy also had a spare engine and we agreed a deal on the lot. I'm picking it up on Friday.
My wife thought it was a right pig until I showed her the pictures of yours!
Anyway I had a 900GTS in 1978 - bought brand new for the princely sum of £1299. Special discount from the list price of £1699 as it was the last Ducati in JK Hirst (Bradford) shop.
I'd like to keep in email contact with you if possible to share information. If you don't object, please send me a mail at wardellderek@googlemail.com
I look forward to the next installment.
Best regards,

Vacant Possession

Elite Member
Hello Derek,

Congratulations! I hope it hasn't been such a mad decision as mine was; I think I would have driven a harder bargain for what was a non-running box case that happened to resemble a bike, but caveat emptor. I think your spare engine is a huge boon. Mine was so bad I never considered 'getting it running' and smartening it up. Lucky really, now I know what I know about the engine.

Unfortunately I was too skint to buy one new, also I suffered from desmoitis from which I have only recently recovered, so I have new 900GTS envy. My battered GT was a great bike had I accepted it for what it was and not tried to make it something it wasn't, I probably would have had far less trouble, hence fast forwarding to my past with the 900GTS.

My plan for my GTS has been to put it on a diet, hence skipping the starter motor, putting in a minuscule battery and magnesium wheels.

The GTS build is slightly on hold whilst I finish off my SS in time for the V Twin rally. Things are happening; The instruments are with Speedograph Richfield and my forks are now re-hard chromed and have had the titanium nitride finish applied; Which should make the forks more slippy and hence supple and quicker to respond and well bling to match the Speedlines. The tank is ready but needs to go off for dent removal as I have had yet another numpty moment and I have found the paint I want to use, as per the picture at the start of the blog.

The stupendously bright LED's have arrived for the dash and I may have to make up a new circuit board which takes into account ambient conditions so the dashboard lights don't blind me at night.

I have enjoyed sharing & learning from the up North community - it's both busy and friendly and although I am a DOCGB member, I don't post there as it seems... well, dead. They also have restrictions on posting ads/requests IIRC whrereas here they have taken the sensible approach of giving us somewhere to put that stuff.
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New member
JK Hirsts in Bradford? Aah the nostalgia. I once bought an NVT kids bike from them, sent the engine back to the factory and swapped it for a three-speed. That was a lot of fun, even though I never legally got it on the road. A mate beadblasted the frame (which taught me about fuel filters since the frame was also the tank) and Tony from the Chopper club painted the seat unit black metalflake. My top engine mounts made from bits of chrome luggage rack were not really up to his standard but we all start somewhere.
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New member
Well I picked up my GTS today and....oh dear!
What superficially looks like a reasonably straight running bike is certainly anything but. Every nut and bolt seems to be botched in some way! OK - so I'm up for a complete rebuild so this is not really a problem, but it's just indicative of the way it's been looked after.
The promise of a "spare" engine actually transpires to be the original engine which has clearly dropped a valve. See the pic for the results! Never seen a cam lobe completely wiped out before...
The replacement engine is an early GT and my immediate problem is that despite reassurances from the previous owner and his neighbour who assured me they had recently started it (it has a dead battery), I can't get it to run. I have fuel and a weak looking spark, but not a glimmer of firing either with starter motor or kick start. I tried spraying Easystart down the carbs but without success. I'll have to give this some thought as I really wanted to get it running to assess the engine before stripping the bike down. Any comments appreciated! How strong a spark should I expect? Maybe I should first clean the carbs, but it didn't fire even with Easystart spraying.
Ah well, I think this is start of a long project...

Vacant Possession

Elite Member
Reasons to be cheerful, part 1...

Looking at it, it looks like a nice complete bike with a spare engine, albeit knackered. Seat cover looks standard and still has it's strap, forks look good, the front master cylinder started life intended for 'something else'. Looks like you might have yourself a set of Koni rear shocks there.

Yes, it is cheaper to buy a runner but you'll never know what is behind those covers till she blows. When you have done this bike you'll know exactly the condition of the engine; Dave at Ducati Technical Services reckons you should get 20,000 miles out of each bottom end as long as you strictly follow oil & filter change guidelines and warm the thing up for 10 miles minimum before getting excited.

I don't find 20,000 miles between complete strip downs that exciting a proposition which is why I, MartinW and others have pursued various reliability rather than performance enhancements to our bikes.

I would recommend you get *something* oily on the gears/internal parts of that spare engine. You may have a complete good condition six dog gearbox thar.

WRT the carbs, I would absolutely suggest you clean them, with great thoroughness! Mine were *disgusting* after standing for twenty years and I really didn't want that nonsense going through my engine even if it did elect to start.

You may find no petrol is getting through from the tank; I'd suggest flushing the tank, removing & cleaning the taps & filters as well.

If you have a spark, then you have a good start.

I don't know how much you know about the bike and how long it has been left standing, but whatever passes for oil in that sump may be a hint of its former self, as will be the filter.

You might want to think about the air filters, too. Andrew @ Mdina Italia has them.
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New member
Thanks for the very wise counsel guys, particularly Martin's pithy comment!
I've just been fitting a new throttle cable to my 250 this morning so I've left the glowering Black Pig (my wife's tribute) alone today.
I've emptied the tank, which is in surprising good condition compared to VPs. I think I'll get the carbs Ultrasonic cleaned and maybe give it another try.
Yes - I need to drop the oil and have a good look at it. Do these bikes have a magnetic sump plug? Problem with the oil is that I can't refill through the regular filler as I think the only tool used on it is a pair of Stillsons. Probably I can put some new oil in through the starter motor cover? Or maybe I just admit defeat and take the motor out.

Very perceptive VP with your comments.
- Shocks are Konis and look good
- Seat has original cover but is shot. RK Leighton did a great job on my 250 so I'll try them first.
- It actually has K&N's attached to the standard inlet manifolds. I do have the standard metal airboxes though.
- Forks do look in good nick. no corrosion.
- God knows what the master cylinder is from - but the front brake doesn't work.
- The bike was last used in 2000. The last owner's had it since 1984 and claims the spare (original) engine came with it. It's probably not had any oil in for 30 years, so I guess the damage is done now. It does turn over OK though and there's no play in the big ends.

Is Mdina Italia the only UK parts supplier? I know Nigel Lacey does twins and he was very helpful with my 250. It's good to know all the supply options.

The original colour is listed as Red. I'm not sure what colours to have it repainted - probably I'll go for the blue / silver, but I seem to recall this model was also available in black / gold. Any comments on this? Anyone know the pantone references?

I might also post it on the Ducati MS board to see what advice I can get on there.

Best regards,

Vacant Possession

Elite Member
This did it for me. I lurve the green.

These are the colours I have listed for the bike:-

Bodywork Colour - Stripe Colour
Pearl Orange - Black
Red/Orange - Silver
Black - Gold
Pearl Light Blue - Silver
Amaranth - Black (Colour used for Glacé Cherries)
Green Scotland - Silver
Blue - Silver
Pearl Green - Silver

I have never seen a colour/chart/images of bikes in each colourway.


Elite Member
A friend of mine had a 900GTS in a horrible metallic brown colour! Mine was blue & silver.