Great luck is often just great timing and if you happen to be George Betzhold, you are a very lucky guy…..
When George saw a post in the Ducati.net discussion group that his friend *Darrell Thurmond had posted from Austin Texas about a Craig’s List ad for a 1968 “Ducatti” George jumped right on it and called the seller, who was shopping at Home Depot but just happened to catch the call. Sight unseen, and just trusting his instincts, George made a deal on the spot, sent the full asking price by PayPal, and a month later, it was time to see what he bought when George arrived in Austin, his anticipation high. With him was a short, intriguing history of the bike the seller had sent:
“What I know about this motorcycle is that it was purchased by my father (Jerome Berti) right after he graduated from college and got his first job as an engineer at Allis Chalmers. As far as I can remember, he kept it covered in the garage and I did not see him ride it too much, just every once and a while to start it to keep it in good shape. He purchased it because:
1) his mother would never let him have a motorcycle, shotguns seemed to be ok though which does not make sense (they lived in a remote town in Wyoming) and
2) it has some unique engine design he was impressed with. My father worked on engines all his life and has over 10 patents on various engines. Google search for his patents… http://www.google.com/patents?q=jerome+berti+-Ventera+-bioavailability I think he even still has patents pending, one on a chain saw that does not run on oil. I unfortunately am an executive at a software company and know nothing about engines but I do lead a team that designs very complex software. I have attached some additional pictures. The only issue I see on it is the back tail light cover is broken off. He put something on the wheels to maintain the chrome and if you rub it off there is shiny chrome underneath. Best of luck w/this motorcycle. Let me know how to arrange getting this to your friend in Bastrop or getting it shipped to you. “
Incredibly, he found the little Ducati just as described. George brought it home to North Carolina and began the business of figuring out what he was working with. First order was to do an oil change and cleanup. It turned out that Joe’s father had used spray grease over almost all of the exposed surfaces on the bike. That included the wheels. Needless to say, removing all of that grease was a time consuming task, almost like an archaeological dig. But Jerome Berti had known what he was doing when he covered the bike in grease – it kept the bike well preserved and as George scrubbed off the decades, the beauty of the bike emerged. George had promised his friend vintage Ducati guru Rich Lambrechts that he would try keeping the bike in as found condition, avoiding any “restoration” steps until he had a full evaluation of the overall patina of his time warp machine. What was emerging was just what Rich was describing – an all original example in lovely condition. $1500 had bought George a “looking glass” Ducati.
George started on his check list of “new, used bike basics”. He started with the dipstick, and noticed that the oil looked brand new. Hmmmm. The crankcase was totally full of “fresh” oil from many years ago? Next, he pulled the sparkplug and poked a bore scope into the barrel. Damn…. the cylinder walls were beautifully cross hatched and looked perfect. A couple of squirts of engine oil into the cylinder and George slowly kicked the bike over by hand. It rotated effortlessly. He kicked it over a few more times. Then he pulled the valve covers. Plenty of fresh oil. So he buttoned it all back up, put some gas in the tank and gave it a couple of kicks. On the third kick that it fired. He took a compression reading and it had a whopping 180 psi. By now he was certain – George had won the little old bike lottery.
Since then, George has done a few things to the Scrambler. Jerome had brazed a “muffler” to the original open pipe. George preferred the look and sound of the OEM which he sourced, re-chromed and installed. With plans to ride the bike he decided to install an MZB dyno and self generating magneto ignition system to improve spark and lighting. The conversion to 12v and electronic ignition was fairly easy and transformed the bike, making it start reliably and run flawlessly. He looked thru the OEM spares that came with the Scrambler and installed the tallest gearing Ducati had supplied in the standard kit.
These days, 150 mile rides are the norm for George and his Scrambler, and he says it has never let him down. At Barber Vintage Festival (where these photos were taken) George had a chance to follow Cook Neilson on the Rich Lambrechts special build “C31” on a 12 mile twisty ride from hotel to track – He say’s it was one of his favorite rides on the bike so far, even though “I really had to wring that little 250 in order to keep up!”
For more photos of George’s Scrambler click HERE
Ducati.net has chosen to place this 250 Scrambler in it’s online “museum” of photos of bikes we consider to be good examples for use as restoration references. That permanent link can be found HERE
Now where’s that Craigs List app………..
*Special thanks to our friend Darrell Thurmond who passed away while riding his Ducati not long after he helped George buy this bike. His generosity, kindness and endless willingness to help his friends will continue to be missed by the Ducati.net group every day.