I started appraising my Ducati Multistrada 1000ds so I could decide whether to fix it or if I would be better of breaking it - parts on these bikes fetch good money. I knew the immobiliser is stopping the thing from starting at the moment but wanted to know if it was worth the money to get it sorted - I can't sell the engine without testing it first anyway. So, after having checked the oil, I put the bike in gear and rocked it to see if the engine was seized - it wasn't so it was time to try it on the starter. Because it's immobilised pressing the starter button didn't do anything so I resorted to shorting out the starter solenoid terminals. Usually at this point you see a big spark and the engine will start turning over. All I got was a pathetic squeak and a tiny spark - not good news. I tried jumping the live direct to the terminal on the starter - same result. I gave the body of the starter a gentle tap with a bit of wood - it sort of freed it enough to turn the engine half a rev then gave up again. This is really not good news for two reasons - the first is that it is an absolute pig to changes and the second is that a new starter is over 200 quid.
On most Japanese bikes the starter sits on top of the engine beneath the carbs and is pretty easy to get at although sometimes you need to remove the carbs. The good thing about it being tucked away up there is that it's in a fairly well protected position. On the Ducati it's at the front of the engine right at the bottom where any rain or snow or whatever will mercilessly attack it without any provocation. On yer average Jap bike two bolts hols the starter in place, they are usually fairly easy to get at so changing a starter is not a big job. Things are somewhat different on this masterful piece of Italian mechanical marvel - you have to strip half the engine down to get at them.
OK, I may be exaggerating a bit, you have to remove the left hand side engine cover but to get at that you have to first remove the clutch slave cylinder and drain the oil. You also have to remove the gear shift assembly, a small plastic rim and the heel guard. One video I saw suggests you have to remove the side stand spring but it looks different to my bike so I will see how that works out. Another video showed the pipes being removed from the clutch slave cylinder, which seems daft - the clutch will need refilling and bleeding if you do that, my plan was to remove the whole cylinder with the pipes still attached. I intended to drain the oil anyway as I don't know how long the stuff that is in there has been in there. This is all money I have to spend without having a clue as to whether the bike will be a viable project or not.
Getting the side panel off is a joy all in itself - it turns out you have no choice but to remove the clutch slave as behind it is a hidden bolt that holds the side panel on, failure to know this little gem could result in breaking the panel. I didn't count how many bolts there are - it's a lot - they are 5mm headed allen bolts - 3 of which rounded off. Fortunately a t27 torx bit is a very good hammer fit in to 5mm allen heads, all 3 came out by this method.
With all the bolts out you have to use a puller - the small access panel for the crank turning tool has to be removed and you use the two threaded holes for a standard multi purpose puller, it came off quite easily, mine did not have a gasket fitted but there was no sign of leaking. It will get a smear of instant gasket when it goes back on.
you still can't get the starter off though, no the lower oil cooler pipe has t be removed first - what an absolute nightmare for such a small job.
Anyway, with the side panel off you can at last access the remaining 2 bolts that hold the starter in place, although you may only see one to begin with. The large cog behind the stator has a hole in it, you need to turn the engine to the point where you can see the last mounting screw through that hole. To turn the engine you need a Ducati specific tool - you will also need this tool to replace the cam belts. Half of me wishes I hadn't bought this thing, every 5 minute job turns in to a 2 hour marathon. I was hoping I could rebuild the starter motor rather than having to replace it, sadly once I got it off the bike and took it apart I realised its beyond saving. The brush plate assemblies are only 15 quid and are quite easy to change but my starter also had a broken magnet and a very tired looking commutator - it has obviously had a very hard life and should have been changed a long time ago.
To my mind these starters have a critical design error. The body is in 3 parts - the front part that bolts to the engine, the middle part that houses the commutator and armature and the back part that houses the brushes. The earth is picked up from the front part and the earth brush being in the rear most part has to have good connectivity with the front part. As the starter is right where the weather can get at it the joints between the 3 parts corrode and a resistance forms making the motor weak and inefficient. Part of any Multistrada owner's maintenance schedule should be a regular application of silicone spray to the case of the motor.
luckily I know a man that had a newly refurbished one that he sold me at a generous discount, all I now have to do is install and test.