Twin-cylinder four-stroke air-cooled rebirth of a Ducati 500SL

Setup (do this first)

The first thing you should do is to get your work areas setup and ready for action. This sounds like an obsessive detail, but as i am writing this after going through the dismantling part, I wish I had taken more time to get ready before starting. So, this short list of things should be on-hand and easily-accessible before starting.

The reason this is important to do before starting to do anything is that whatever you choose to start with, it inevitably involves some form of disassembly. Even with the best of workshop manuals, it can be hard to figure out if that tiny “clink” you hear in the corner of the shop was a mouse, or the tiny spring loaded ball that engages the clutch cylinder you just disassembled. I found this works pretty well:

  1. Think about what you are about to do
  2. Use the right tool to remove the part. Take your time!
  3. Document the parts and their proper location with a digital camera
  4. Make notes on shim, bearing, and special screw locations in a notebook
  5. Place the parts in a common plastic bag
  6. Label the bag immediately with the permanent marker
  7. Move the bag to the disassembled cardboard box for later

Once you have this setup ready, you can move on to the degreasing and minor disassembly phase below. I realized part of the way in that I would have benefited from being more organized at the beginning. Trust me, you only label the bag if you can find the damn Sharpie. I have about 15 bags with parts that are unlabeled. Keep everything organized at the beginning and it will all make sense at the end.
Initial degreasing and cleaning

One of the first things you need to do when starting out is to get everything as clean as possible. It helps keep everything organized as you disassemble. It helps prevent scratching your tolerance surfaces with dirt. And overall it helps you force yourself to stay organized, clean, and methodical. It is easy at this stage to start dismantling everything your socket will fit on. Trust me. This comes from hindsight.

Clean the exposed surfaces of the engine, taking care not to drop dirt or grime into the piston openings if they are open, and give the engine a once-over before undertaking your first steps in degreasing. You can view my page on degreasing here.

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