It always comes as a pleasant surprise to find out that some of the immaculate machinery seen at shows is in regular use. This Ducati Pantah is one such machine and gets a run out when ever the fancy takes owner, John Lamb. Even more impressive is that fact that John is still a very active biker at the age of 65, only recently he toured Switzerland on his 1990 Ducati 750 sport. John is retired now but started his working life as a mechanic for his fathers firm; he still carries out his own maintenance and cosmetic work on his impressive collection as well as machinery belonging to friends.
Among Johns collection sits several Ducati Sebring singles and a brace of 250cc Benellis, all of which get an airing. Johns first machine, back in 1957, was a 1936 BSA 150, complete with a tank mounted hand gear shift, this led him into competitive scrambling on a 250 Greeves, before falling in love with the BSA Goldstar, a type he still has a soft spot for. During the early 70’s a Ducati 350 single came his way and since then John has owned many variants of the type including a rare, in the UK at least, 350cc twin. Over the Years, John’s preparation has netted him many awards at shows up and down the UK, he is a regular at the annual CMM show where his machinery is often to be found vying for top honours.
The machine seen here came into Johns possession as part of a deal in the later 80’s with another 350 Single, the 500 Pantah was in used condition and has since been through a nut and bolt rebuild resulting in the pristine example we see today. The early Pantah engines are prone to gearbox troubles. The gear wheels use six locating dogs that are weak and breakages are very common often resulting in major gearbox damage should a broken dog make its way into the wrong place. Later models feature gears that have just three dogs that are much thicker and consequently are much stronger. At the present time John’s 500 Pantah is undergoing some extensive gearbox rebuilding following a broken main shaft that resulted in a damaged crankcase. Replacement parts have been sourced, both new and used, while the casing has been welded and machined back to its original state. At the time of publication, the engine is reported to be going back together nicely.
As for the future, another Pantah, this time a UK built, 627cc version has recently joined the fold. It was one of a run of specials built during the 80’s by the Essex based Rayner brothers and features a twin headlight fairing and a sportier NCR style fuel tank. The engine has a healthy increase in capacity thanks to a big bore job using Yamaha XV750 pistons. With around six months work still required to get this machine show ready; expect to see it appearing at venues up and down the UK early next year.