After an 8 year “retirement” from the hobby, I decided I’d try my hand at modeling once again. My specific inspiration was to make an exacting replica of my own motorcycle, a 1997 Ducati 916. I’ve had the bike for over two years now, and it’s bar-none my favorite motorcycle of all time, and the best bike I’ve owned. It’s also drop dead gorgeous and a good subject for a scale model. But my bike is slightly different; it has many unique features, as well as a unique paint scheme, so I wanted to replicate it down to the last detail, including the “flaws” (the eagle eyed will notice there is no oil cooler; my bike doesn’t have one due to damage sustained in an accident before I bought it).
I chose Tamiya’s excellent 916 kit in 1/12 scale. While very well detailed and reasonably accurate, I wouldn’t be satisfied with a box-stock build. I loaded up my credit card with a number of aftermarket purchases – a Dexter Models “Senna” conversion (which includes photo etch and some resin corrections/detail pieces), a Model Factory Hiro PE chain kit and white metal sprockets, Detail Master braided steel line for the hydraulic lines, and a variety of Top Studio detail parts (rivets, exhaust springs, wiring connectors and miniature wire kit).
Work began on the engine; using my experience with my bike (I’ve rebuilt the heads and done extensive maintenance on the bike since I bought it), I super detailed everything and corrected the kit errors. The clutch cover was corrected (the Tamiya item is dished out, but this was only on prototype models), the throttle bodies were completely redone (the kit uses a leftover from the 888 kit, which is incorrect for the 916), and the engine was fully plumbed and wired. Ignition coils were swiped from a Minichamps model I have. Electrical components (fuse box, relay pack, solenoids) were scratch built using wire, lead foil and bits of styrene.
To detail the forks and rear suspension, I cut out the plastic stanchions and replaced them with pieces of polished steel. In the case of the forks, I happened to have a leftover motorcycle spoke that was the perfect diameter – this model has real motorcycle parts! In fact, I put a piece of the real bike into the model – the metal mesh on the cooling vent below the radiator is cut from the intake grilles (which I don’t use) of my bike.
I should note that while I was working on this model, I didn’t have an airbrush. Almost everything was painted by hand, with the wheels/frames/ and bodywork painted using rattle can paint. Subtle weathering (mainly washes and dry brushing, as well as the heat staining on the exhausts) was done to mimic the wear and tear on my own machine; being an armor modeler, nothing I build ever stays clean!
All the wiring harnesses were replicated, down to the individual wires running to the specific components (controls, battery, fuses, relays, lights, even the brake light switches). If it’s on the real thing, it’s on the model. Most of this was done with copper wire taken from electrical wiring, with additional bits coming from the Top Studio electrical connector kit.
Custom decals were printed using a Testor's decal kit, specifically my nameplates on the windscreen, the correct registration plate, and the AGIP decals on the fairings. I omitted the Fast By Ferraci decals, mainly because I don’t like them (they were clear coated in place by the previous owner). Decal placement was done according to photos of my own bike, with a few changes to represent my own details (notice the tiny Italian flag on the gas tank?). Carbon fiber decals from Studio 27 were used for the pipes and various aftermarket bits on my bike.
Overall I am very pleased with the result. It perfectly replicates my own bike, and it was a fun project. The only problem I have is that I flubbed the masking of the white number plates on the tail section, and the gold piping is too heavy. Maybe someday I’ll get another kit to redo the tail section from scratch. But for my first model in 8 years, working without an airbrush, I think it turned out pretty well.