Monday, May 21, 2007

20MAY07 - A Few Good Miles

After replacing the carb float bowl gaskets with I tore into the issue of the choke lever. After an hour of fiddling around and learning more than I wanted to about how the bike is assembled, it was out for a ride. A beautiful Sunday in the 80s. I had just started out when I saw my friend Jim in his driveway and we decided to take a short ride together.

If one BMW on the road looks good, 2 are better. Jim is 'borrowing' his son's bike, a beautiful 96 R1100R. One of the more serious things we want to do is some speedometer checks. It looks as though mine is indicating about 5-7 miles per hour under actual - assuming that Jim's is probably more accurate.

That evening it was over to our friends house with my wife Beth on the back. Great little ride, just about a mile through the neighborhoods. The look on our friends faces were priceless - and approving. Not only was it 'cool bike' but the husband immediately pointed out that it was a BMW. Nice to have a bike with a good reputation.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

13 MAY 07 Toe Warmers

A little cold today so it was great to have the fairing and the 'toe warmers'. The opposed cylinders on the BMW have always been a mixed blessing. There are the basis of the wonderful balance and low vibration for which the bike is famous. They are also two huge things sticking out of the side of the bike that naturally tend to be the first thing to hit the road in a slide. Then again, they also keep the frame from resting completely on the ground and may offer some advantages to keeping a riders legs from being pinned. Last but not least, as long as you live above the 43rd parallel, it is nice to have some warm air to keep the toes warm on a cool ride through the Black Forest on a crisp fall day. It is not so nice to feel your feet bake on a nice warm day at the Virginia Beach oceanfront.

Today I had my first rider-rider compliment while on the road. A fully dressed Gold Wing the size of an aircraft carrier pulled up and the rider complimented me on the nice old bike. Okay, that was nice, but I am really waiting to hear that from some young kid on a GSX-R. That will be even better. Hey, it could happen.

12 MAY 07 - Beer and Friends

I think the idea of getting a bike predates my son's interest. My wife and I have a passion for good German food, beer and friends.

There are only a couple of places in the area that offer that and each is wonderful in its own way. Foremost for an energetic evening in a wonderful crowd is the Biergarten in Portsmouth Virginia. It is located in the historic downtown area and has been open for about 10 years under the ownership of the Osfolk family. If you are new to the area, have not met any friends yet or only one evening to have some fun, this is the place. May I suggest an Aventinus doppelbock and some schnitzel (made with pork, not veal). Aventinus and the Biergarten enjoy a wonderful relationship. The Biergarten has the distinction of being the 43rd best place in America to drink beer according to the Beer Advocate. But it is the #1 place to drink Aventinus. This wonderful family restaurant serves more Aventinus than any other place in the world. That could be the reason that Aventinus has been spotted in the last few years showing up on shelves around town. Just remember, if you buy one, you had better buy two. And you had darn well better stop at three. One note on Aventinus etiquette - never buy the last bottle, in case someone else needs one real bad. If you don't feel like being adventurous you might find you favorite on their Beer List.

So, back to it. The Biergarten has a wonderful mix of people including some that ride motorcycles. Just like the rest of America these tend to be Harley-Davidsons. Since most of the people you are going to meet at the Biergarten are professionals, these bikes tend to be 'real nice' - just like their owners. As it happened about a year ago I was talking with Kevin, the owner's son, and the conversation turned to bikes. He rides a H-D and was trying to convince me of their virtues. I will admit that I considered one, but at the same time admitted that I wanted something different. That led to the discussion turning to 'old bikes that are cool'.

Kevin suggested that there are two bikes you can't go wrong with if you want to make a statement. A Ducati and a BMW. Both speak to 'out of the box' engineering and exclusivity. I had to agree since I always thought BMW was a cool bike. Maybe because the Boxer engine seemed so different, and by different I meant practical.

Well, today I finally had a chance to show Kevin pictures of the bike and I know he approved. What surprised me more was the reaction of his father who immediately told me how much he admired the /7 series. It was all good. Now I can show up to my favorite watering hole and hold my head up a little higher because "I have a BMW". (Actually all those who helped me come to this decision have a bit of that bike since I was able to achieve this only through them.

Friday, May 11, 2007

11 MAY 07 Test Driving a Side Stand

I guess it is an excuse to take it out, but after I put on the BROWN SIDE STAND in about 10 minutes I felt I needed to celebrate. So a quick trip to Advance Auto Parts to get some carb cleaner. Noticed that I had some leakage from the carb but could not see quite where it was coming from. I think it may have been the float bowl overflow tube. Anyway, a nice day for a ride. Later in the evening tried to get out on it with my wife, but I had a serious fuel leak on the right side that posponed the ride until I can figure it out.

Friday, May 4, 2007

04 MAY 07 Bonding is a Poor Excuse For Fun

Went down to the local BMW dealership - Adventure BMW in Chesapeake Virginia and picked up some gear. Got to have a few things like a t-shirt and hat. Looked at the very nice new bikes and spoke a bit with the maintenance folks. Shared some thoughts on maintaining an old airhead and in general felt pretty good.

Picked up some things at Advance Auto for the bike. Any excuse to ride. Had a man complement me on the bike. He said he always liked BMWs, and that they were the only bike with a 300K miles club. That's nice to hear from a very unassuming looking individual. I mean really unassuming. Okay, he's in line with his son and they both look like extras from Deliverance, but hell, he probably spent the last 6 hours under his truck pulling the tranny and still had a moment to say something nice.

Had a great opportunity this afternoon to do a little riding. Went out with my son Carson. He has a very nice 2006 Honda 919 and we rode for about 10 miles around the area. The old R100 sounds pretty good at 55, better at 65 and well, Carson said he had me clocked about 70. Point made, the bike goes, and smooths out, really picking a groove at about 65. We call that bonding.

My neighbor and his son are on their way to Ashville NC this evening. Will likely pick up a 96 R1100R tomorrow and trailer it back. Next weekend should see some good riding.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

2007 MAY Maintenance Log

Last Log Mileage: 94327
Current Mileage: 94327
Cumulative Miles:0

01MAY07 Noted that the bike had a little play in the steering, and found that nut was loose enough to budge by hand. Not good. Tightened steering head nut. May put a dab of whiteout on it so I can see if it is loose. At that check to the Pre-Flight inspection.

02 MAY 07 Bought a 2in wide plain black belt and have placed it around the seat to form a simple auxiliary hand hold for my wife. Seat does not have hinges. Originals gone so must think of a temporary work around. Perhaps thick zip ties.

03 MAY 07 Started repair to ignition kill switch. Used Quik Plastik putty to build up a small piece that had snapped off a long time ago. As of 2300 this evening still has not completely set but it appears that it will be strong enough to shape tomorrow morning. The stem of the kill switch is very thin and had snapped. I masked around the base of the switch and slipped tape up underneath the edge so any repair would not foul the switch. I then used a piece of thin plastic from the Kwik Plastik box to slide under there as well. this would form a flat surface and keep the plastic from drooping while it cured. Molded the putty around and over the switch base and out to form a switch stem.

04 MAY 07 Carved the kill switch to approximately the same shape as original. Actually made it a little larger so I can get to it in a hurry. A little paint and it should be okay. Found a nice belt at WalMart to wrap over and around the seat. Okay, it's a little basic.

05 MAY 07 Painted the kill switch with a little Krylon red. Okay, I feel better knowing its there.

08 MAY 07 Thinking about getting a key made

11 MAY 07 Installed BROWN SIDE STAND. Thank you loving, caring, supportive wife for this additional expenditure. $130 later from Adventure BMW in Cheasapeke VA I am in business. By the looks of the side stand bolts, not a moment too soon. Getting some serious gasoline leakage from right carb. Not sure, but I think I may have damaged the gasket when I cleaned it today with carb cleaner. I pulled the float bowl and did see that the gasket was cracked. For now I just fixed it up with some Permatex 2 stay soft gasket. Had so much fun I did the other side for good measure. This winter I'll pull and rebuild both carbs. Will see tomorrow if that is the trick or if I have a leak at the hose inlet.

12 MAY 07 It looks as though the gasket was the answer. No leaks. This winter I'll rebuild the cabs and clean off the permatex, but for now I can ride.

14 MAY 07 Okay, the gremlin is back. This time the left side-'downhill' on the side stand- is leaking a little bit. I wonder if it is a case of putting the bike away hot and having the fuel in the float bowl expand due to the proximity to the cylinder head. There is what appears to be a float bowl overflow pipe in the bowl. I will have to monitor this one.

20 MAY 07 Victory on two fronts! Ordered silicone gaskets from and they are wonderful. $7 and never another worry. Also fixed the choke issue. Symptom: choke lever feels under tension - acts like a spring in there that needs to be screwed down with a few more cranks on the center screw. Don't do it! First check that the lever is activating both chokes. My right side choke was basically frozen. A little work and some Liquid Wrench and we are over that problem. Tips about working this problem:
  1. There is a lot that can be done without disassembling the choke assembly. I could have avoided some grief had I first checked for operation.
  2. Do not remove the choke assembly by unscrewing it from the engine housing without first removing the air cleaner housing cover. The choke is held on by a little screw that is on the back of that cover. Loosening the assembly can cause that nut to fall withing the engine housing. Not too serious around the air cleaner area, but there is a slim possibility that dinking around trying to pick it up could cause it to fall into a carb intake.
  3. Take care removing the air cleaner housings. They are thin aluminum and if you twist them too much they might be damaged. I snapped a very small piece off the inside of mine. This was due to the alignment of the engine badges I put on a while back, which incorrectly overlap the seam by about 1/8 inch (3mm) on that side. What was I thinking?

Noted that shaft was low on oil. Topped it up and discovered that the drainplug is probably stripped. UNRESOLVED ISSUE: Re-tap drive shaft drain plug.

23 MAY 07 May have been a little premature on the gaskets. Although clearly the new gaskets were needed since the flood of fuel was clearly coming from the old cork gasket...there remains a leak. A very small one, but persistent.

29 MAY 07 I think the leak is in the fuel petcocks. I turned them the opposite way and that seems to help. In the long run they will need to be rebuilt.

03 MAY 07 - It's a Movement

The old saying went something like this. If one person protests, it doesn't matter. If 10 people protest it's an event. If thousands of people do, it's a movement. The bug is spreading.

My friend's son Josh, who accompanied us on the trip to pick up the bike is now looking at a 1996 BMWR1100R. Not a bad choice for a young man. I mean, you can go out an get a GJCR (Generic Japanese Crotch Rocket) or you can make a statement. Why look like just another plastic encased 600cc back-cracker when you can have a bike that says it all in those three little words we love to hear: Bayerische Motoren Werke.

I like the R1100. You knew I was going to say that but the reason I like it is that it is essentially my R100/7 brought up another 20 years. Still the same basic layout with lots of innovation and improvements. The neighborhood might eventually have an exhibit of the Evolution of the Airhead.

My antique plate arrived yesterday in the mail. It looks great and sends a good message. Let's do some math. Which is the larger number: How many GJCRs are on the road in 30 years or how many former riders will need back surgery in 3o years?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

02 MAY 07 Points of Supply

My thanks this morning to John from Abeline TX who I ran across on the internet while looking for front turn signal housings. My 30APR07 maintenance log chronicles the joy of replacing a fuse behind the fairing. If I get rid of the fairing I am going to need some front turn signals. John is advertising some parts on in their marketplace. As well he kindly provided me with the following list of BMW part suppliers. Please check John's listings first of course out of courtesy.

Parts Haus
723 W 14th St
Long Beach, CA 90813
(562) 590-4851

Re-Psycle BMW Parts
240 W Columbus St
Lithopolis, OH 43136
(614) 837-1160

Cycles Recycled
4754 NC Highway 18 S
Morganton, NC 28655
(828) 433-1067

Duncan's Beemers
13C Brown Street (Rte 27)
Maynard, MA
(978) 897-1562

BMW Airhead Salvage & Sales
105 Moccasin Canyon
Cedar Creek, TX 78612

66 Brookside Rd
Randolph, NJ 07869
* Focusing on both "K"-bikes and "Oilheads", with some crossover parts for the late "Airheads".

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

2007 APRIL Maintenance Log

Original Mileage: 94272
Current Mileage: 94327
Cumulative Miles:55
Miles this Log: 55

This log begins 21APR07

  1. 21 APR 07 General inspection. Tested current to signals.
  2. 22 APR 07 General cleaning, degreasing and preservation.
  3. 23 APR 07 No Turn Signals, brake light or horn. I had burned out fuse during inspection. NORMALLY...this would be a 5 min job but the fuse is in the headlamp nacelle. This leaves about 2 inches between the nacelle and the fairing which if you have arms as long as a gibbon, you could reach around the fairing windshield and still get into the headlamp nacelle. My loving, caring and supportive wife assisted with the operation by holding back the nacelle to tilt it upward while simultaneously holding a flashlight directing the beam through the windscreen to an unseen point that I directed. The girl's got skills. Despite herculean efforts I just kept missing it getting the fuse in or dropping it. My gibbon arms were not up to the challenge. Now feeling higher on the evolutionary ladder, I resorted to tool use. I removed instrument cluster...easy job...tilted back the nacelle easily and using a flashlight made my first attempt. I used every set of pliers I could to get a fuse into that holder, until I went and got a pair of hemostats. These are long nosed pliers that surgeons use to snap closed over vessels and stuff with long latin names. Sometimes confused for a very high quality roach clip by those given to reefer madness. (Note: I'm a retired Naval Officer. I've only know these things because I did go to a real school, not the academy which has had just about every scandal imaginable. My school still has them beat. We got an HBO mini-series. Can you guess?) With the skill of a heart surgeon I clamp a fuse into the jaws of the hemostat and usin one hand I spread back the wiring inside the headlamp and gently snapped the fuse into place with the other. Bingo..done. Well, not quite. Now I had to release the hemostat - one handed. POinngggg - out flies the fuse on the floor...somewhere under the 79 Camero. Forget that. Get another. Try again. Another 5 minutes of maneuver followed by failure. this time the fuse is somewhere in the headlamp nacelle. Ouch, the idea of a little conductor rattling around in there is a disaster waiting to happen. Finally I locate the little monster hiding under a wire bundle. This would be so much easier if it was a naked bike...I am beginning to resent that fairing. One more try...and this time I concentrate all my strength on slowly releasing the hemostat without moving it. Finally, I am free. I have won. In retrospect, I probably could have removed the fairing in less time and effort to at least replace the fuse.
  4. 24 APR 07 Disassembled instrument housing to look at lamps. UNRESOLVED ISSUE: Neutral lamp does not light. Element looks pretty good and did not have a voltmeter to test. Will do that another day, or pick up a couple of spare bulbs at the dealer. Will take a half hour to fix, but not today. FIRST INJURY: I brushed past the fairing and felt a sting on my ear lobe! The fairing has a bead of plastic that wraps over the edge. Inside that beading is apparantly little clips. Well one had been exposed some time ago during a 'horizontal session' and protruded about 1/4 inch out from the fairing. A little knife. Now I understood how it defended itself in the hood. I now have a little scar inside my ear. Nice, trend setting. Maybe I can start something for those not satified with piercings and plugs. Ear scarification. Kewl. Okay, so I bend it back down and for get about it. But its not over yet. During first night ride, the beading on the other side of the bike comes loose at about 55mph and is just flapping there like a flag. I grab the whole mess tear it off and sit on it until I can stop on a side street and stick it in my pocket. That night I run a bead of GOOP along the edge of the fairing and secure the beading.
  5. Re-painted the little letters on the instrument cluster. Easy job but you need the right tools. Get a new pencil. Spray a little white paint (whiteout will work as well, but probably less permanent in wet climates) on a paper plate and dab the eraser in white spray paint. WIPE it off on a Lint Free rag. Not lint, dust or dog hair should be on the eraser. Repeat until you've got a nice little 'stamp' that only has a hint of paint on it. You are not going to do this job in one sitting. Now gently, one letter at a time tap your way across the letter of the guage. Let completely dry so you don't pull up the paint diring the next pass. Do it all again, slowly building up a layer that is even. If any gets down inside the letters, you can gently get it out with a pin.
  6. Used graphite to lubricate speedo and tach cable
  7. UNRESOLVED ISSUE: Choke assembly slips into a partially closed position. Attempted to tighten screw but this did not help. Temporarily fixed by using a zip tie to create a noose that slips over the choke assy and holds the choke arm in the upright, open, position. Not pretty, but it works. Cannot figure out why the default position of a choke should be closed instead of open. What were those guys with the pocket protectors thinking.
  8. 30 APR 07 Repaired torn vinyl seat cover. Cut out a piece of spare Naugahyde to slip under original covering to provide support and gluing surface. Checked fluid levels. All at normal levels and appear clean.
  9. Removed engine badges, the little signs that say BMW R100/7 that are on the tank, because I noticed one was loose. If one is loose the other is going to be loose eventually. These are probably a pain to find and replace. I pull them and repainted them. Just wipe paint off top surfaces of letters using a lint free cloth that is damp with mineral spirits. Damp, not wet. Used KB Weld 2-part adhesive to replace. Stuff is rated to 600F. It it gets that hot underneath my fuel tank I stand a chance of doing my 'performance art' interpretation of Led Zepplin's first album.

01 MAY 07 - If One Is Good - Two Up Is Better

I've had the bike just over a week and it was time to stretch. First I let my son ride it around the block. He was impressed, but still it is hard to compare a 2006 Honda 919 and a 30 year old BMW R100/7. I guess in 30 years we'll see what bikes look like.

Now for the fun part. My wife donned my son's gear and hopped on the back of the BMW! We took a few trips around our street then ventured our a bit more into the neighborhood. You couldn't even tell she was there. The bike was beautifully balanced - even turned around in the width of the road without putting feet down. Not bad considering I haven't ridden a passenger on a bike since I was probably 18 and she hasn't been on a bike in 30 years.

At the end of our brief ride I decided that there is a simple distinction to be made Bikers ride Harley-Davidsons. Motorcyclists ride BMWs.