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Now in amongst a sea of shiny new bikes getting their ECUs attended to there’s always room for a bit of nostalgia. This lovely bit of air-cooled architecture is a 600cc Ducati Pantah engine, out of a TT2 chassis and came through our workshop some time ago. The owner races a Honda CB450 at classic events and wants to move on and, having seen one owned by our Dick fancied something a bit more exotic.

Now Ducatis – and these things in particular – are a private passion of ours (we’re on with a beautiful 888 SP4 right now) and we don’t often treat them as work, which is what Dick told the owner: “He won’t build you an engine…” Or words to that effect. So, he came to us anyway with what can only be described as boxes of scrap.

We gave in. Now these engines are not 5 minute jobs to create. In your shed, after tea you’ve got plenty of time to actually enjoy the process – which is our approach. But when it’s work… that’s a different matter.

Anyway, he had some specific asks; fancy pulley wheels for his belts which on the face of it was a bolt-on. In 1983 however, when belts used to run off (due to er, indifferent manufacturing tolerances) the wheels had flanges to stop ‘em – these modern ones don’t. So we had to re-machine them. We also had to rebuild the crankshaft, gearbox and re-bearing the entire engine.

He also wanted a different ignition system, which meant re-machining the ignition plate to take the new pickups and an oil cooler, so we had to make a scavenger to get the oil to the cooler.

To be honest, if it wasn’t for the love of these bits of metal, we wouldn’t do this. And the next bloke that comes in with the same request is going to get a shock at what it costs to do it properly!

The moral of this story? Don't bring your air-cooled Ducati engine here if 1) you've got a box of scrap to rebuild it with and 2) you want it done on the cheap! We love 'em, but it's a labour of love...

The moral of this story? Don’t bring your air-cooled Ducati engine here if 1) you’ve got a box of scrap to rebuild it with and 2) you want it done on the cheap. We love ’em, but it’s a labour of love…