Friday, November 01, 2013

Halloween and Formerly Scary Beemer Maintenance

Another Halloween has come and gone, a holiday I don't participate in or particularly enjoy.  Whatever reasons aside, it is something Martha and Miles, my younger son, enjoy to some extent.  Martha did spot and buy me this Halloween-themed knick-knack.

Any resemblance by this rig's riders and bloggers known to you is purely coincidental.

Foggy conditions in Downtown Denver....just a bit spooky perhaps?

Now, as to the formerly scary maintenance task.  BMW Airhead motorcycles, have varied maintenance tasks required at certain intervals, just like any other motorcycle.  I'd done most of the basic ones with no issues, tasks such as fluid changes, replacing components, etc.  

The one major task, of which I learned of the hard way when I lost my transmission on a ride with Brigitta, my '87 R80 Beemer, is that you have to lube the splines on the transmission input spline every 10,000 miles or so. 

As Brigitta recently went over 100,000 miles on her odometer, it was time for the spline lube, as I'd had Clem, the local Airhead Guru, do it at 90,000 miles.  The cost?  $350, mostly labor costs.

Today, thanks to this guide: LINK and really helpful advice and guidance from RichardM, I decided to undertake this previously scary task.  Scary you wonder?  Well, it involves, removing several components such as gas tank, air box, carburetor tubes, separating the transmission from the engine, freeing the swing arm to allow backwards movement; all this without breaking rubber/plastic components that are over 26 years old!

I am happy to report the task was as easy as the guide and RichardM made it out to be.  A bit onerous due to all the components that have to be removed to get at the input spline.  The guide above illustrates the steps involved perfectly, so I skipped taking pictures of my own motorcycle except for these:

 Here's the 3/4" gap I ended up with, showing the input spline.

 As you can see, not a trace of lube on the input spline!  
But, also no discernible wear on the splines!

Using a long-handled paint brush, I brushed on Honda Moly 60 Grease.
Taking care not to overdo it on applying the grease, otherwise it
gets flung out into the clutch plates, causing slippage.

Lubing done, re-assembly was the reverse of what I'd done.  The task which had been most worrisome was lining up the swing arm so that the gap between swing arm and frame was the same on both sides.  Thanks to RichardM's patient emails, I managed to line things up and torque things done with no hassle.  I must check the lock nuts in about 50 miles to ensure they don't come loose as the guide's author notes.

The hardest part?  The bloody bolts that are in the air box, and secure the top half of the transmission to the engine!  There's rubber air tubes inside the air box which are in the way and one must be patient and a long handled 6mm Allen wrench!  

All in all, about four hours of fun filled wrenching, one small cut, some minor cursing at the air box mounting bolts, and I was done.  This recurring task no longer engenders any fear or worry in me.  It's really not complicated, but now I must research a better tool for those bloody mounting bolts within the air box!  :)

Oh, I also had to replace the battery on my URAL Sidecar Rig, less than three years old and it had been struggling to power the starter and cranking the engine.  I'm glad it wasn't the starter, and it gave me a chance to tidy things up in the battery compartment in terms of wiring.

Previously: Riding with Brady of Behind Bars


Unknown said...


I don't think I would have tackled that on my own. Mine is much simpler and it was just easier to have someone else do it while I looked over his shoulder.

I'm sure it must have felt good to have done this by yourself and it was easier than you thought.

I am not a fan of Hallowe'en either

Riding the Wet Coast

redlegsrides said...

Bob, if I can do it, you can do it. Take not counsel of your fears....a man I once admired said.

And yes, it felt really good, especially after the test ride when nothing came off the bike! :)

RichardM said...

The rubber air horns (or whatever they are called) come out easily once you remove the air pipes to the carbs and the aluminum insert that the plastic air pipes clamp onto. Once the aluminum stiffener or insert is pulled out, the rubber horns pop right out and it's easy access to the allen head bolts.

Did you mix the Honda Moly with something else? We've found that it's way too thin and doesn't stick to the input shaft very well without some other really sticky grease mixed in.

Good job! Next time only 2 hours...

redlegsrides said...

Thanks for the info RichardM, it'll come in handy for next time. I didn't mix the moly, it should last me hopefully.

Spat said...

Congrats Dom your turning into quite the experienced back yard wrench. Also glad to hear you only had to replaced the battery in the Patrol. 3 yrs ain't bad for the abuse you put it thru on the cold troublesome Alaska trip.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Spat (John), like you I suspect that Alaska didn't do the old battery any favors.

VStar Lady said...

Dom - your ability and eagerness to tackle the mechanics is far scarier than the spookiest Halloween story I know, except those that Richard tells!

redlegsrides said...

VStar Lady, at the beginning I as going to let the dealership do all the work, but when I discovered the work wasn't done, I determined to do things myself so I would know it got done! The money saved is of course spent on gas and tires.....