Thursday, September 06, 2007

An Unintended Dress Rehearsal for the Alternator Belt Replacement Operation

Today I received the dual-horn relay wiring kit from EasternBeaver, manufacturer of specialty wiring kits and other items for motorcycles. This way I know for sure the full 12 volts from the battery are reaching the Fiamm Horns. While they'd been sounding much louder than the stock horns from BMW, a couple of uses under dicey conditions had left some doubts I was getting every single available decibel of noise out of the rated 132db.

The horns seem a bit louder now, did not do any extensive blowing of the horns since I am pretty sure they could be heard in the next neighborhood over!

No way to know for sure of course until I get hold of a decibel meter but at least know I know the stock wiring is not going to attenuate the voltage reaching the horns! Installation was a snap, took me longer to get the dang fairings of Maria than it did to install the relay kit. Highly recommended piece of safety farkle for your bike! Easterbeaver makes good kits, very professional looking, well made and clean.

So, having finished the wiring up the relay kit, I decided that since I had to take both side fairings off, might as well replace the alternator belt at same time! It had been due at the 36k mark but it had looked good then so I decided to wait for the 42k mark.

So I took the cover off, right-side shark fin, loosened the bolts and with very little trouble removed the old belt. The belt still looked fine by the way. I went to put on the new belt I had been carrying with me since before the July trip to Wisconsin and it was too small! Yep, with the alternator in the fully down position, I could not get the dang new belt onto the grooves on both the alternator and the flywheel!

Much cursing and trying later, I gave up. I sent an email to the dealer asking him to confirm part numbers since I noticed they don't match! Go figure. Damn.

So I put the old belt back on, raised the alternator with a long screwdriver acting as a lever, secured the bolts, put the cover back on, shark fin back on, fairings back on. Trying to look on the bright side of things, it was a good dress rehearsal/practice for changing out the alternator belt. I learned a few things:

1. You can't really do this operation with just the tools in the stock toolkit!

a. The 13mm wrench enclosed in the kit does not give me the leverage needed to loosen the mounting bolts holding the alternator. Easy way to scrape your knuckles if you try. I used a longer 13mm wrench from the old toolbox instead!

b. No pry bar with the toolkit so I don't know what I would have used to lever the alternator back into position to secure it once the belt was replaced if I was on the road. I ended up using a long flat tip screwdriver.

c. There is no 4mm allen wrench for the bolts that secure the cover. I knew this from postings on the forums so I was forewarned. I added one to the toolkit but used a 4mm hex bit socket for ease/speed.

d. Maintenance is best done in the comfort of one's garage with all your tools at your disposal.

2. Doing the alternator belt replacement is not hard at all! I lost all my hesitation about this particular maintenance operation. I'll be trying it again at the 42k mark when Maria will be due an oil change, valve check, tbs and now alternator belt replacement.

3. If possible, compare the part numbers involved before removing the old part.

For those who also own a 2004 R1150RT, here's the P/N's involved.

The old belt which is back on Maria and working fine:
bmw 11.28-1341779-692337 4PK611SR
The new belt which I b ought from the dealer which I believe is the wrong one:
bmw 11.28-7681841-692637 4PK592.

Yes, I had noticed the p/n's were different before I tried the new one. I did not think to compare numbers until AFTER I had removed the old belt. Lesson learned.

Update: 07SEP07: Dealer confirmed I had the wrong belt sold to me. Turns out Maria was built on 07/2003. Engines built from 07/2003 onwards required the belt that was sold to me but does not work for bikes prior to 07/2003. Go figure.

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