April 2014
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Paul's Thing is a
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Motorcycle Maintenance, Messy

Yesterday I decided to change the oil in the Ducati.  All the work I did getting it ready to ride again, I never got around to replacing the oil and filter.  It looked like an easy task, but it turns out there’s a trick to it.

I drain dirty oil into one of those squarish containers you see for sale in auto parts stores.  Mine’s six inches deep, a foot and a half square, and holds maybe two gallons.  It has a recessed top that slopes down to a hole; the idea is that oil will pool in the recess and then drain into the container through the hole, which is about an inch in diameter.  Other used oil containers I’ve seen have a larger hole on top, more like six inches in diameter, with a plastic grid to keep bolts and washers from falling through.

When I change the oil in the Honda Goldwing, I slide the used oil container under the engine, then remove the oil filler cap on top of the crankcase before removing the drain plug from the bottom.  The oil, once I remove the drain plug, comes out slowly, pouring into the recessed area and then draining into the container.

Things worked differently with the Ducati.  When I removed the drain plug, the oil came gushing out so fast it overflowed the recessed part of the container and slopped over the sides onto the garage floor, where it spread out in a black pool.  Nothing I could do to stop it.

The trick?  Leave the filler cap on so that the oil won’t come out so fast.  Or just get the other kind of used oil container, the one with the larger hole on top.  One lives and learns.

It was huge mess.  I used an entire roll of paper towels and half a spray bottle of grease remover to clean it all up.  Luckily the oil spill didn’t spread so far that it got under the Ducati’s tires.  I was able to leave the bike where it was while I cleaned up underneath; I hate to think what a mess it would have made otherwise.

Other than that the oil change was a piece of cake; this morning I rode the Ducati up Mount Lemon and back down again by way of celebration.

Two hours ago on Mount Lemon

This was my first longish ride on the Ducati, about 60 miles in all.  The riding position, leaning forward and down, is surprisingly easy on the back, but having my legs and feet tucked up tight under my butt got a little uncomfortable (I experienced the same problem, though to a far lesser degree, riding BMW’s fancy new six-cylinder superbike last year).  Today, I stopped two or three times on the way up the mountain to take photos, and stopped twice on the way down just to get off the bike and stretch.  I felt totally in control of the bike at all times, able to go into curves and hairpins considerably faster than on the Goldwing.  If Polly doesn’t get off her ass and take that motorcycle safety class pretty soon, she’s going to have a hard time prying this fun little scooter out of my hands.

© 2012, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.