Thursday, November 27, 2008

Maintenance on Thanksgiving Day

Greetings and Happy Turkey Day!

A cold and blustery day here in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. I spent part of the morning doing the annual clutch circuit bleed on Maria, my '87 1150RT Beemer. No issues arose as I was using the speedbleeder I'd installed last year around this time. Here's some pics for ya:

Pretty important to have a paper towel as shown above, to catch the occasional spurt of brake fluid which will happen, no matter how slowly you press on the handle to drain the fluid out.

I put most of a new bottle of DOT4 Brake Fluid through the circuit

A Closeup of the SpeedBleeder, what a great device!

Afterwards, I put her left-side fairing back on which had been removed to check the freeplay on the shift pedal. (I ended up putting back on the stock shift pedal until I resolve the issues I discovered with the extended shift lever from which I bought on Ebay a while ago).

The test ride with the stock shift lever, freshly-bled clutch circuit went fine and she's shifting a whole lot better now. The gears did not pop out of first into neutral at all on the 12 mile or so test ride and it was a nice and firm engagement of the gears each time.

On my return home, I switched motorcycles and headed out on pretty much the same route I'd just ridden, except reversed, on Brigitta to warm her up for a different check.

Apparently during the years 1984-1995, BMW had foolishly tried to save a few pennies by not installing what is known as a circlip on the end of the shaft on which the transmission gears ride and rotate. After a lot of miles, the gears would sometimes "fall or shift forward" I believe, and cause damage within the transmission and lots of expensive repairs.

Left: Without Groove for Circlip Right: Grooved for Circlip
(Photo courtesy of Anton Largiadier's Website)

My Brigitta, being a 1987 motorcycle, falls squarely in the above year bracket. An article by Matt Parkhouse in the DEC 2008 BMWMOA Owner News detailed some checks one can do to see if one's transmission is having this "issue".

It involved warming up the motorcycle, hence the ride I took her out on this morning in some chilly weather, and then placing her on the centerstand upon returning to the garage. Make sure the rear wheel is in the air and transmission is in neutral. Spin the wheel forward while placing a hand on the transmission cover nearest the output shaft and feel for "notchiness or lumpiness" which is indicative of a gear having fallen forward on the shaft and working on causing damage by shedding metal parts and having said parts float about the transmission causing more damage!

I am happy to report I felt nothing as I rotated the wheel forward. I even used a mechanic's stethoscope to listen for any rubbing noises and the only sound was the rear wheel rotating on the final drive assembly. I hope this is a good check on my part. The other check I'd done was when I changed out the transmission's fluid at 63,769 miles, as expected there was dark grey metallic fuzz on the magnetic plug which is normal. No metal shards in evidence which is a good thing.

Lots of great info on Snowbum's Site: LINK


Anonymous said...

Did you put an extension ont the normal brake bleedsrew on the caliper? or does that come with a speedbleeder? I assume with speedbleeder a blocking valve in the bleederscrew is meant? Thanks for the info, like your blog, good stuff!


Allen Madding said...

aren't magnetic drain plugs a great idea!


redlegsrides said...


no extension, in fact I removed the filler tube used by the factory. It was a bit of a pain to install. See link:


Yes, the speedbleeder has a small ball bearing which acts to seal things when fluid is not being pumped out.

more details at

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

The most useful tool in my bag for working on the clutch is a Visa Card. You have no idea how many things this will fix. It fits nearly all applications and makes no fuss over metric measurements.

Now you can argue that my motorcycling experience is sadly lacking in that I do not really understand the machine that transports me back to my adolescence... And that this level of ignorance could get me stuck from time to time...

My response is that I know a lot of guys like you -- and do not hesitate to pick up the tab in the bar from time to time -- and so find myself the recipient of incredible experience.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

redlegsrides said...


to be truthful, I can do basic services/maintenance....however cracking gearboxes or engines open I leave to real mechanics.

My R80 will be scheduled for a gearbox replacement this spring. Being proactive vs reactive re the circlip issue I mentioned.