The Recreation and Restoration of Carl's 1966 Ducati Mach 1

The Restoration Saga

        1995                                    2002
> 7 years >
(Click on any picture to download. Each is between 250KB - 400KB.)

January 1995
This is the bike right after I purchased it in January 1995 from a friend and well known Ducati expert named Godfrey. Godfrey gave me a great deal with the agreement that I must actually complete the project. I was in love with the bike and thus I assured him; it would get done. It also came with most of the parts for a scrambler from the same period and bags and boxes of parts from a third engine. It was the legendary 'basket case'. You can see that it was a Mark 3. But Godfrey had many of the cool bits that are very hard to obtain: the 140 mph speedometer, the tach and bevel drive for it, the clip-ons, the toolboxes, the over-and-under brake lever and kick start pair. These are all made of unobtainium now as many of these bikes were raced and these parts discarded or destroyed. Godfrey found the bike sometime in the 70's. The original engine cases were cracked and Godfrey discarded them. Thus, I don't have the properly labeled "M1" engine. Also, the frame bracket that held the brake light switch had been sawed off. So this bike was never going to be concours original, but so many of the right parts were there! So I decided to make it into my dream bike, a Mach 1. But I would make deviations as I saw fit to make the bike ridable and good looking. My advice, if you are going to put your heart and time into a project like this, build whatever you want!

I immediately started reading everything I could find. I bought rare books. I searched the web. I sought out experts and grilled them. I went to shows and studied them. Everything! Shortly I disassembled the bike and investigated in detail what I had. I made long lists of every bit that was missing. I made a detailed plan for the restoration. Over the next 7 years I would stumble on the right pieces and buy them. Critical missing parts were the Mach 1 shift pedal and linkages, a smooth top triple clamp to match the clip-ons that Godfrey provided for the bike, the correct tail lamp, a megaphone exhaust and a better looking seat. Over the next 7 years I searched and discovered these parts, sometimes paying foolish prices for them. I found a smooth top triple clamp in England, and a friend visited and bought it for me. I found the shifter pedal and linkages from another person parting out a basket case. These two parts alone cost far more than I paid for the bike! Another lesson: bikes like this cost FAR more to build than they are worth. But I said to myself, "I am resurrecting this bike, bringing a rarity back to life for my own personal enjoyment. This is worth it!" Hah!

June 1995
After disassembly, I sent the engine off to Sid's for a complete rebuild in June 1995 and I sent the wheels to Buchanan's in July 1995. The wheels came back beautifully done in about a week, but the engine took much longer. I didn't see it again till December 1995. Here you can see the disassembled parts and the wheels before and after. Also here is the engine before I sent it to Sid's.

Sometime in 1995
Here are some pictures that Sid's took during the rebuild.

Sometime in late 1995
I studied a couple other Mark 3 and Mach 1 bikes I found that still had the brake light switch bracket on the frame. I took many photos. And then I brought the frame and photos to a welder, who fabricated and welded on a replacement bracket.

December 1995
The engine comes home! And here are some shots of the rebuilt and restored engine. In my excitement, I took pictures as I unwrapped it.

March 1996
I found a premier bike painter, referred to me by the famous Italian bike restorer, Todd Millar. A lot of the image of a bike depends on its paint, and so I wanted the best. I also decided to ignore the original black frame and orange-red paint scheme. I reverted to a paint scheme used several years earlier on anothe Ducati model that I much prefered. It looks stock, but isn't quite. I dropped off the parts with Rick Baddon to be painted in the beginning March of 1996... And 9 months later I received back the fabulously painted parts!

January 1997
In January of 1997 the instruments went to Palo Alto Speedometer for a complete rebuild and came back looking fabulous. I kept the original markings on the dial as well as the original mileage, I liked the cool old/new look.

November 1997
In November of 1997 I had the forks rebuilt and I won't say were... I was unhappy with the work. Years later I had this redone by a well known shop: Lindemann.

1998 - 2002
Around this time the project slowed. I was busy at work and I had a problem... I was afraid to bring the bits to be plated and chromed. Platers are notorious for losing parts and I just couldn't risk losing them. Most of the parts were put in storage. But the beautifully finished gas tank sat of my dresser for years as an object of art and a reminder of the mission that needed to be finished!

And over the years I spent many hours pouring through the Domiracer catalog and ordering dozens of bits and pieces from the taillight and headlamp rim to little bolts switches and lamps. And some big items were ordered from Phil at Road and Race in Australia. Both Domiracer and Road and Race are highly recommended.

Mid 2002... The project continues!
Then in 2002, I found I had some time again, and I dove back in and unpacked everything. I forced a solution to the plating problem: I bought a bead blasting cabinet on eBay, a giant compressor from Costco (a local store) and a zinc plating kit from Cadwell! I decided to plate this stuff myself!  And by September, I was ready to start finally assembly. I set the big goal. I would ride the bike 40 miles (80 miles round trip!) to a show, the "All Italian Day" in Alameda California, on October 13...

September 10, 2002: Starting final assembly!
Put on the swing arm and new shocks.

September 11, 2002
Put in the special steering head roller bearings from Sid's. See the cool press I built with threaded rod.

September 13, 2002
Time to start risking scratching those nice painted parts. This was the real emotional point; I was now committing myself to really assemble the bike. Those perfect parts stay perfect forever wrapped up in the boxes, but you can't ride them! So not much really happened that day, but my mindset really changed to be: GET IT DONE! The center stand went on and the fender went in.

September 15, 2002
Triple clamp, front forks, clip-ones!
Here is some interesting info on the clip-ons from Godfrey:
[Speaking about meeting Franco Farne and Ing. Taglioni at the Ducati factory] "He (Farne!) was the one who personally fished my Ducati 250 Mark 3 clip-ons out of a dusty bin in 1979, at Taglioni's behest, polished them up, and air-freighted them to the US for me. For the princely sum of $14 delivered!" - Godfrey

September 16-20, 2002
The wheels! Sent them out to have new tires mounted, the brand new (1995) but now old Avons had become greasy in storage, so I purchased a new set of Brazilian made Pirellis from Road and Race in Australia. I also had to polish the hub cover and plate the axels and stuff. Here, as like the engine, I just polished till everything was clean and crisp. No mirror finish stuff here: my Mach 1 is a rider! You can see a shot of the plated parts and a shot that shows some parts before and after polishing. Installed the rear wheel and front fender.

September 20, 2002
One thing you can't see here is the dozens of trips I made to the hardware store for bolts and widgets. I was often there 3 times a day! And hours bead blasting and plating parts with my plating kit. Many of these were full 8 hour days just to strip and plate parts and buy bolts just to assemble a small bit. Here is a series of shots of me at 11PM working in the garage. You can see the bead blasting cabinet on the left. And in the front on the right there's a handy grinding and polishing wheel. And you can just make out a big white bucket behind the front forks of the Mach1... that's the plating bucket!

September 21, 2002
Front wheel goes on and now the engine! You can see the jack stand holding the engine up, and all the frame padding!

September 22, 2002
WooHoo! It’s starting to look like a bike! I test fit the stainless exhaust (nice! - another Road and Race goodie). Fit the chain. Finished rebuilding and modifying the brake switch. Note the freshly plated cover!

September 24, 2002
Cables and ignition wiring. Big day. I had spent many, many, many hours figuring out the wiring and getting the right ignition parts. You can see a Dyna coil and a modern regulator placed in a spot that will be hidden under the seat. I fabricated and crackle painted a mounting plate in the days before this. And put on that air filter! (I've since replaced this ugly filter with a velocity stack).

September 25, 2002 The moment of truth.
I've put oil in the engine. Hooked up gas lines. Fabricated a temporary gas tank that I have place on a cardboard box, above the level of the carb. Talk about a fire hazard! I did place a fire extinguisher a few steps away. You can see the bike has a true magneto system, there is no battery in the picture yet as the engine doesn't need it to run. I have also installed a regular kick starter as opposed to the proper one you see later (the proper one doesn't really have enough rotation to start the engine when cold> Looks good, but doesn't work! I push start the bike when cold now.) Also note the color of the exhaust in these pictures. Brand new silver color with no blueing.... yet. I carefully cleaned the exhaust with alcohol to insure that no greasy fingerprints would be burned into the finish. (This is an issue with polished stainless steal exhausts).

Kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, bumble!, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick rumble, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, pop!, kick, kick, kick, backfire!, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, Almost! , kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick... really I fiddled and kicked for about 40 minutes and then: VROOOM! It runs!
See below, the freshly, blue'd exhaust header! And the whole exhaust is starting to turn that fabulous golden color! Excellent! Forza Italia!

September 28, 2002
Back to work on the electrics. Note the battery... it a real 3 cell wet battery. This proves to be a problem later as it does spit up a little acid probably due to the crude 'charging' system that only has a diode as a rectifier and regulator!. Since then, I have replaced the battery with a shell obtained from Domiracer that looks absolutely correct but is hollow and has a small modern permanently sealed glass matt lead acid battery hidden inside. I charge the modern battery with a Battery Tender after rides. Remember, the battery is only used for the lights on this bike.

September 30, 2002
Test fit the gas tank and design some padding for it. Headlamp shell goes in. More electrical work. Rear tail lamp goes on. And the tach drive goes on! (The tach drive was cracked inside when I received it. I had this fabulous aluminum piece welded at a local shop.)

October 1, 2002
Petcocks go on. Finding the right gaskets for these seems impossible until I give up and use o-rings instead. Not exactly proper, but it looks fine and works. Headlamp lens goes on, and the front looks great!

October 2, 2002
Another 10 hour day in the garage. Really starting to push to get the bike completed. I know I need to get done well in advance of the Oct 13 show, as I will need a lot of time to debug and tune the bike before riding it 40 miles to Alameda. Started with the corroded parts you see below and by the end of the day had newly plated parts installed. The shift pedal and linkage, brake pedal and foot pegs were all zinc plated in my bucket! Also mounted the tachometer and brake light switch, with a little bootie made from a bicycle tire tube.

October 3-4, 2002
Two more long days working on the electrics and final assembly. The electrics end up requiring significant thought and work to assemble solidly and fit into the headlamp shell. You can see it's packed in there. And everything needs to be solid, as I intend to really ride this bike; it's NOT a trailer queen. Lots of work checking circuits with the multimeter! I check everything twice. And then a little past midnight on October 4, 2002 I finish the bike! See the picture of me, proudly drinking a celebratory scotch in the garage with my new 1966 Ducati Mach 1! Hurray!

... But then moments after this picture, I turn the ignition on. I had tested everything twice, but had never done it completely assembled... and this time a fuse blows! At 1AM the ignition switch is all apart, and I see it is a 'make before break' design and this shorts out the system for a moment. An hour of filing and modifying and it's fixed and reassembled! DONE! ... Again!

October 4, 2002
The first ride. Kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick. Forget it; kick starting is impossible with the proper lever. But I learned to push start when I raced a two stroke.
 Push, run, bounce on the seat, dump clutch, coast to stop. Walk back.
 Push, run, bounce on the seat, dump clutch, coast to stop. Walk back.
 Push, run, bounce on the seat, dump clutch, coast to stop. Walk back.
 Push, run, bounce on the seat, dump clutch, coast to stop. Walk back.
 Push, run, bounce on the seat, dump clutch, coast to stop. Walk back.
 Push, run, bounce on the seat, dump clutch, coast to stop. Walk back.
 Push, run, bounce on the seat, dump clutch, coast to stop. Walk back.
 Push, run, bounce on the seat, dump clutch...VROOM!
And I'm off around the block!
I can't even begin to describe this. Concern for the bike, how is it running, excitement! Here are pictures from that happy day!

October 5-12, 2002
Tuning and timing. I frantically work on the carb jetting and the timing. The bike looks great but runs horribly. This is a period of endless carb changes. Little do I realize, but the real problem is that the timing is way off. But in the last days, I check it and figure out the problem and get the bike running. Poorly, but rideable. And it sounds great! I enlist the help of a very good friend, Ralph, who will follow me to the show with his pickup, just in case of disaster. But to myself, I swear that I will get there without his help.

October 13, 2002 All Italian Day, Alameda, California
 Push, run, bounce on the seat, dump clutch, coast to stop. Walk back.
 Push, run, bounce on the seat, dump clutch, coast to stop. Walk back. Push, run, bounce on the seat, dump clutch, VROOM!
I'm off on the 40 mile trip to Alameda. Grinning like an idiot! Ralph following behind in his pickup blocking traffic as I learn how to ride the bike. Reach about 70 MPH! Runs poorly, but runs (it should make it above 100). I pull into the show in Alameda, feeling like a hero to myself, and really just so self satisfied I could burst. I spend a couple hours there, bantering with old friends. But I leave early, as getting there was only half the mission. I replace the spark plug as it is almost fouled. I put my gear back on. And then I walk the bike to end of the parking lot. I'm concentrating. I really don’t want to mess this up in front of the crowd! Petcocks ON. Ignition ON. Twist the throttle pumping fuel into the carburetor 3 times. Put the bike in neutral. Push... RUN...RUN... Jump on, bounce on the seat while dumping the clutch, VROOOOOOOM! It starts! Blip throttle... VROOOOOOM! Woohoo! I'm off! Afterwards, Ralph tells me it looked great. Running through the crowd and push starting the bike was apparently a highlight of the show! I feel great! SUCCESS!
Picture below of the bike and I at the show and another showing my tiny bike hidden in the lineup between a Ducati 748 and a Moto Guzzi.

It's now April 2003. Shortly after the show, my clutch failed. This made push starts impossible. I garaged the bike through the holidays and relaxed. A couple weeks ago I received a new clutch, installed it and am now tweaking the timing and jetting. The bike runs much better, and will soon be a zoomer, I'm confident. As I mentioned earlier, I changed the battery to a sealed unit and replaced the air filter with a velocity stack.
See you on the road! 

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