Do you want to see the ST2, 848 or 250?

As many people know we have bike visitors for most of the year apart from the very cold winter. Some of the visitors love to camp at the St Leon campsite . It is a great place to be, in the middle of a medieval village but next to the river Vezere. The campsite is owned by the village and is very well looked after and cheap. There are toilet and shower facilities and loads of bars and restaurants in the village, and also within a few miles.
This year some of the bikers will probably be here in the second week of September travelling from the Republic of Ireland. So I thought that it might be a good idea to open this up a little and see how many others would like to visit for a week or two.
Jude and I will be available each day, as usual, to guide rideouts to local attractions, while fitting in a cheap but enjoyable lunch, showing people the places that locals want to see.
The cost for anyone who wishes to participate will be the cost of your camping, very cheap, the cost of your own fuel and food. On the subject of food, locals always eat at lunchtime and a 4 course meal with a glass of wine costs in the region of €12 to €14. We do not run this as any sort of business, so our time and fuel is at no cost to anyone else.
I may ride a sporty looking Ducati, but the pace of the rideouts is, within reason, governed by the group. Jude and I are on intercom and she will generally bring up the rear. If you have an intercom in your helmet then we can also discuss the various sights of the area as we pass them.
The main attractions are: Weather, food, history, a BBQ at the campsite and canoeing on the river if you wish. I speak A little French and fluent German as well as English if that is any help to visitors.
My house is about 8 kms away with a well stocked garage should anyone need any technical assistance. There are also local hotels around if anyone is a non camper.

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The picture shows the campsite in red. Jude took the photo from the back of our microlight a couple of years ago.

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Two Irishmen and an Australian packing up to leave St Leon.

Electrics – charging system

The Ducati 250 has does not have the correct regulator/rectifier fitted. The original probably gave up at some time over the last 50 years of its life and a previous owner fitted what looks like a British bike system that might even be older than the bike itself! The two parts are separate and are shown in the next picture by two green arrows.

oneThe other thing that can be seen from the picture above is the amateur wiring using any old bits of car and household cable with Lucar connectors crimped onto them. That will all need to be changed to look more original. While this old system was fitted I checked the voltages, Battery was 12.83 volts without engine running, I have a feeling that my voltmeter is over reading by about 0.3 volts. With the engine running it went up to 15.4 volts, so it is charging the battery, but even if that is 15.1 after deducting the assumed voltmeter error, it is too high for my liking. with the puny 35 watt headlight on it dropped to 13.7 volts, indicating that the 40 watt alternator is getting near its limit.

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I bought this regulator/rectifier from ebay for the grand sum of £17 from China. It claims to be a Mosfet RR, but I am not so sure for that sort of money. Mosfet is a new type of RR that is bang up to date, it generates less heat and is supposed to be more efficient. Read about it on Google if you are are an electronics buff. The fact that it has three alternator inputs (I have marked them in yellow) say that it can be used on a more modern 3 phase generator, but in this single phase application it is fine to use just two inputs as that is all that comes from the generator. The other two connectors are for battery positive and earth.

threeThis is the new one fitted. There is plenty of space under the seat so it will get plenty of cool air.

The voltages are a bit different, the battery was still around 12.8 volts, but the running was now at a much more controlled 14.4 to 14.5 volts. Switching the light on still dragged that down to 13.7, so the battery is still charging.

On an old bike with no electronics the original 15+ volts would probably do little harm. It might shorten the life of the battery a bit, but you may never notice. I intend to fit an electronic ignition system made by Elektronik Sachse in Germany, but having spoken to the company it seems that there have been a couple of failures of their electronic boxes (I understand that the rate is miniscule, about 2 to 3%), and that may be due to the users bikes charging system producing an over voltage. There website is CLICK HERE.

This regulator will also fit my wife’s Ducati ST2, a bike that is known for weak electrics and a bike that is also fitted as standard with a single phase generator.

The ultimate headlight for the ST2

Please note that the videos in this post have a narrative so please turn on your speakers.

The ultimate headlight because there have been many ideas and a few mock ups so far. The headlight that has been running till now has a HID bi-xenon projector with a 35 watt ballast and a blue tinge bulb in it. As a bi-xenon supplies both a dip and a main beam from the single HiD bulb there was no need to have a separate main beam bulb so I put a cheap LED bulb in there instead. So rather than the standard setup of using a 55 watt halogen bulb for dip and then another 55 watt halogen for main, consuming 110 watts on main beam, the system used 35 watts for about 3 times the amount of light.

Since that was fitted my wife has taken a liking to the ST2 as I have been riding the 848. Most of the time she is behind and one thing has become apparent, the headlight is not very noticeable from the front. Due to the huge amount of light coming out of a HID xenon it has to be in a projector as the shield stops any stray light while on dip beam. This is a disadvantage as maximum visibility is needed at all times for other drivers. French law requires bikes to be ridden with lights on at all times. What was needed was a bright LED that would switch off when the main lights are on for good visibility during daylight  but no dazzle at night. I then found these on ebay:

They have two functions but the 30 watt LED is far too bright even for a daytime running light.

This is what has been in the main beam position up to this week. As can be seen the cheap H1 LED in the main beam has fallen apart due to the vibration on the bike.

The following video shows how to take the headlight apart:

Once you are at this stage there are four screws on the back of the projector mounting plate that need to be removed to change the projector. Even if you leave the standard projector in there, it is worth dismantling just to clean the inside of the glass as can be seen in the video, I would guess that the light output from your standard bulb will increase enough to notice even it, if this is all that you do.

Once the ebay light is fitted into the main beam side of the Ducati headlight, the 30 watt LED is wired into the same circuit as the cut off shutter in the projector. This means that it will illuminate as a flasher even when the headlights are switched off. The “angel eye” wires are a bit more tricky, the red wire (+) is wired into the bikes fuse box to a supply that is live with the ignition on, but dead with ignition off. I have fitted extra fuses into my fuse box to supply this and the voltmeter, and have fitted a 1 amp fuse (12 watts). The earth wire from the “angle eye” is wired to the supply side of the sidelight bulb. By doing this the “angle eye” will earth through that bulb as long as it is switched off, but should that bulb be switched on the “angel eye” will extinguish.

So what you see now is as follows:

Ignition on – Angel eye on, 5 watts consumption, everything else off.

Headlight switch in park, first position – parking light on, rear light on, about 8 watts consumption, angel eye off.

Headlight switch in dip, second position – HID xenon comes on 35 watts consumption.

Main beam selected – same 35 watt HID xenon, cut off shutter open, plus 30 watt LED on the other side.

The 30 watt LED is also the head light flasher at all times.

Here is the end result, the larger picture shows beam patterns on the wall while the smaller shows what the headlight looks like to oncoming traffic.

And there it is, the ultimate headlight using modern technology in a late ’90s designed headlight. It now fulfils all the functions that it should whilst using the minimum electrical power that it can and puts out huge amounts of light compared with the standard setup.

Back to the ST2 electrics and headlight

My wife has taken ownership of the ST2 while I use the 848. The ST2 is a much nicer bike to ride than her much newer BMW F800ST anyway. On trips out she has the HID bi-xenon headlight switched on as is the rule here in France. A couple of times she has told me over the intercom that the voltmeter is only reading 12.6 volts, so I know that there is not much charge going into the battery. As I always ride at the front (women can’t navigate) I have noticed that the sharp dip beam cut off in the headlight does not really do much for visibility. Both problems have been sorted with yet another headlight design.

In this design there is a circular LED “angel eye” as a daytime running light, A conventional side light for parking with the headlight switch in the first position and the HID dip on the second position. When the parking light or headlight is switched off the “angel eye” switches off. This way it can throw more light in all directions for the daytime to make the bike more noticeable and does not stay on with the lights at night so as to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers.  A 30 watt LED light is fitted inside the ring to provide a headlight flash function. as there would be none without the dip beam being on otherwise.

The ST2 is now very noticeable during the daytime from the front. The voltmeter is showing 13.9 volts at tick-over so we know that the battery is charging, and the daytime running light is only consuming about 5 watts. It is wired through a 1 amp fuse in a spare position in the standard fuse box.

I am not sure if I should make videos and take photos as it is some effort when I am not sure that there are many ST2s and ST4s out there with owners wanting to modify the lights, if I am wrong and there is someone then let me know and I’ll go and document it.

Hydraulic bike lift.

As we own a number of bikes, and I do all the servicing and work on them myself, A hydraulic bike lift has been one of the best things that I have invested in. It was a standard lift with some minor modifications. The first mod was to drill a hole on each side of the platform and insert a long bolt so that I can strap any bike to the lift before elevating. The second mod was to remove the very poor design of front wheel holder and fit my Constand wheel chock. This makes positioning a bike very simple and a one man job. Here is the standard lift.

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I have a pair of magnetic screw trays at the front for placing fairing screws in.

When I was working on the Ducati ST2 starter the other day I found that the biggest problem with working under a bike is the light. There are florescent tubes on the garage ceiling, but that is not much use. I could fit the same to the lift, but they break easily and they need 230 volts, which I don’t want in my work area.

I ordered a 5 metre strip of waterproof, self stick, 5050 LEDs from ebay for less than £8, LINK HERE.  These can be cut to any length and I stuck 1.8 metres on each side of the bike lift.

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These are connected to a small 2 amp 12v wall transformer, but will eventually be powered by a small battery fitted under the front of the lift, with switches to switch either or both sides on.

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Some of the pictures look very poor quality, that is due to the camera trying to compensate for the brightness of the LEDs.

Thank you Will in Ireland for giving me the idea!

 

Working on the starter – ST2

After the last post I decided that it was worth ordering and fitting a new set of brushes to the starter on the ST2. At less than £10 a set and only an hours job to change them, it made no sense not to. The standard procedure is to remove the starter motor from the bike, but this involves a huge amount of work and special tools. Access for removal is from the left side of the bike and after dropping oil, removing engine casings and finding special tools for removing the flywheel, gaskets would then need to be sorted to rebuild afterwards, no way!

I am lucky to have a hydraulic bike ramp in my garage, and have fitted a front chock stand to that, so one man operation is simple. When the ST was ready I removed the lower right fairing panel, six allen screws, which gave all the access that I needed for the starter motor.

pic1

The cable from the solenoid is removed (10mm spanner) from the terminal with the blue arrow and stowed out of the way. I used a ruler to draw a red line with a marker pen from one end of the starter to the other, so that everything is easily lined up on reassembly. The two 8mm screws (marked with green arrows) can then be removed. The forward one can be pulled completely out of the motor. and the rear one, with the spanner on it, just undone so that it is not engaged in the threads any more.

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At this stage rotate the whole motor 90 degrees anti-clockwise.

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And remove the second screw. Note that both of the long bolts have a small o-ring on them.

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This will allow the whole motor to move forward enough to remove the end cap complete with the brush plate and the brushes, marked with green arrows. Note the shims marked with red dots, that can be removed for fitment later. Put the end cap to one side for now and concentrate on the commutator, marked with orange arrows, which is made from copper. This one has a bit of black on it from the wearing of the carbon brushes. I used 600 grade wet and dry paper to remove the black and then went over the copper with much finer paper (8000 grade) to give it a smooth polished finish with as little resistance to the brushes as possible. If you don’t get this smooth the the brushes will wear again. I cleaned out the grooves between the copper parts with the corner of a ruler and then blew out any dust with the air gun.

Changing the brushes for new ones involves nothing more than fitting a new plate into the end cap after removing the terminal for the starter cable.

Refitting is the reverse of the above procedure, but remember to refit the shims (with the red dots in the picture above), and lining up the red lines on the components. The brush plate has a small tab that only fits in one position as does the end cap.

tools

Tools: 8mm ring spanner, 10 mm box spanner, ruler and allen keys to remove the lower fairing panel. If you are working under the bike then I can highly recommend a 10watt LED floodlight, as sold on ebay, as it pushes out loads of light with plenty of spread and is cool to touch so it will not burn you or set light to the rags and tissues that any mechanic has laying all over the place when he is working.

Total time for this job was less than one hour. If the starter button is pressed now the bike almost starts itself before your finger get to that button! 🙂

The starter brush plate is a universal item and is fitted to many Jap bikes and I would suspect that just about all Ducatis are the same.

 

Starter motor blues

The Ducati ST2 has been a strange starter since the day that I bought it. When the starter button was pressed there was a 1 to 2 second delay before anything happened at the starter motor. I had changed the battery on the bike from the almost new lead acid to a gel for other reasons and that had made no difference. I fitted a voltmeter to the bike to make sure that it was charging at all times and it was. The thing was that I did not trust it!

My wifes BMW F800ST was also playing up in that it was very sluggish to start despite a newish battery, and that would sometimes not start at all. Because of this she had started using the ST2 and found that she preferred it to the BMW. So the F800ST will be put up for sale.

While I had the BMW up on the ramp I removed the starter motor from the front of the engine, just two bolts and a power lead. On stripping it I found that the surface of the commutator (the copper bit where the brushes touch) was a bit black rather than copper coloured. A quick rub over with some very fine wet and dry, then a wipe with acetone to clean it had it looking like copper again. After refitting it (5 minute job) the bike sprang into life with a weak battery. It would probably now start on a watch battery!

That got me thinking about the ST2. The only problem is that the lower fairings have to come off, the left hand engine casing has to be removed and the flywheel has to come off just to remove the starter! Someone at Ducati needs a new job. I found that instead of all that work, I could get to the back of the starter from the right side of the bike and with the use of some bent 8mm spanners, I could remove the rear plate with the brushes on it. The commutator stays hanging on the bike, but there is enough room to clean it up in the same away as I had the BMW. It took quite a while to refit everything as it was not designed to come apart like that.

The ST2 was on the ramp, but I pressed the button anyway, I would not normally start a bike that is over a meter of the ground on a ramp, but it was just pure music. A mere touch of the button had the motor burbling away through the sweet sounding GPR exhausts. 30 seconds later my wife was at the garage door with a cup of tea for me and a huge smile at the sound of what has become her bike.