A dilemma

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by Milkjug, Apr 14, 2013.

  1. Milkjug

    Milkjug Antifriction

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    Hi airheads,

    I need input on what to keep and what to sell. I need a totally unbiased opinion if possible.

    I have a '75 R90/6 with an unknown service history and in need of timing chain and rear main seal. Other than that the bike is in great shape cosmetically for its age and has 67k on the odo. I need to decide between keeping the bike or selling my slightly modified 1985 Toyota 4runner that I just did a full engine rebuild on and put a good used trans in. I need to sell one in order to complete my purchase of a 1965 VW Kombi I have been trying to buy for the past six months.
    The main deterrent is the price of BMW parts combined with lack of availability and the need for expensive special tools when rebuilding engines/trans. These two items will inevitably needs attention sooner or later and to have them done would cost as much as the bike is worth. Should I have more faith in my bike or am I just a pessimist? There is rtv at the bases of the jugs and I have been told my trans has been rebuilt due to it having a different color cover gasket and also from the way it cycles gears. I am not worried about the trans and I am very nice to it and it had no "sand" on the plug despite the p/o being a total clown and running Dino oil not preloading etc... With a new timing set and rear main this bike is ready to rock.
    4runner is dead reliable, almost boring and will go almost anywhere plus it's not that slow because I have some work done to the ports and it has a mild cam. I can fix anything that breaks with basic tools including rebuilds which rarely occur. Needs nothing but gasoline at this point and oil every 3k.
    Kombi needs major rust repair and potentially an engine..air cooled type 1 vw simple reliable and extremely easy to maintain but....almost 50 years old.
    I love both my 4runner and Beemer and want to keep both but can't so one has to go sadly so help me decide...
    #1
  2. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

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    A rustbucket VW is worth neither a 90/6 or a 4 runner. I've owned many and while they are amusing in their way, and one of the more capable 2wd vehicles in deep snow, putting a lot of money in one is a waste IMNSHO. Better to start with one that has a solid body and build a nice motor for it. Rusted out bugs often have have decent donor engines.

    You need no special tools to work on the /6 engine. It's half of a VW Type 1 and easier to service and repair. For the tranny you want some stuff but you need it so seldom (maybe once, ever) that it's simpler to take it to a pro that stays in practice. Ditto the rear drive. Rest of the thing is a no brainer. Special rigs for doing weird stuff like replacing headset bearings are available on the aftermarket for not a lot. It will outlast the 4-runner.

    Other than that, there are so many other factors in the decision that making it, without being you, is a fools errand.
    #2
  3. RobboJ

    RobboJ Adventurer

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    My 4runner was the best and most reliable car that took me all over Western Australia, on and off road, and only ever needed a bit of tape on the air inlet pipe and an oil seal in the diff. If I could have shipped it back to the UK I would have!

    My BMW is the most fun, reliable and charming bike I have, and I would sell that last out of all my bikes. My favourite by a country mile, and a 90/6 is a real fine machine that will go on for miles with a little bit of love and service.

    VW kombis are an absolute money pit. I sold mine very quickly. Horrible to drive, uneconomical, broke down once a week or so but looked rad, a charm which soon wore off. I sold it an bought a VW T4 combi, I'm now on my 3rd T4 and it's one of the best vehicles I have ever owned, bikes fit in the back, seats come out so I can sleep in it and its fast and economical... Probably half the price of an old kombi!

    Keep the bike, keep the reliable Toyota, screw the kombi!
    #3
  4. disston

    disston ShadeTreeExpert

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    I love other peoples VWs. I don't have enough money too through away on one. The construction of a VW usually means that when the rust is that bad you need another one with no rust to fix the one you got so you fix the second one and throw the first one away.

    Timing chain and rear seal on an Airhead are nothing. A couple hundred in tools. If you are going to complain about 2 or 3 hundred in tools you better find a new hobby.
    #4
  5. Milkjug

    Milkjug Antifriction

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    Already committed to the Kombi, I can handle it. They are very reliable if you know what your doing, very much like an airhead. A well made engine will last for 100k with regular maintenance and give minimal trouble. Comfortable, no, and they're sluggishness is legendary and part of the charm. I have a 74 Westfalia with a type 4 and it's been a nightmare. And it's getting sold too.

    I've had my R90 about a year and rode solid for seven months till my idle and and engine vibes progressively got worse as well as the main seal developed a leak. I had a new Chinese BMW condensor go bad and strand me at ocean beach in sf in a windstorm and am still finding sand. I have all necessary tools and parts to do both items I just wish I had a stand. My idle also drops when I pull in the clutch so If I find crank end play this bike is history. 4runners are a dime a dozen, Kombis are not.
    #5
  6. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

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    Lose the R90. If you rode for 7 months and didn't check the carb tuning when it got off...not the bike for you.

    Kombis are actually pretty common too. Buy in Arizona, not SF or near any other large salty body of water. You'll get bad paint and rubber and solid steel.

    I sold my '61 when I actually needed a vehicle with enough power to tow a trailer. I got an old Land Rover. Slow as frozen mud but would pull anything. Aluminum body. Only the doorposts rust out. Had the safari package with the double roof and the top windows like some old VWs. Also had a starter crank so you could crank start it. I sometimes did for amusement.
    #6
  7. disston

    disston ShadeTreeExpert

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    It sounds like LOVE. :freaky Can't argue with Love.
    #7
  8. Milkjug

    Milkjug Antifriction

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    Plaka, I forgot to say I rebuilt and unisyn'd the carbs thinking that was the issue as well as checking run out of the cam nose which was off by .003" but still had dual timing marks after and over advanced timing at idle. Plus a rattle upon decel from high speeds indicated chain as did the og gasket.
    Bings are very nice carbs and I really enjoy how smooth they are as well as being easy to tune. My current vw has webers...which are a nightmare to tune. The Kombi has a single 34 pic 3 Solex. If I keep the bike I plan on joining airheads and attending tech days to learn more. The German stuff always seems more rudimentary than it actually is. They are simple in appearance only the one exception is early vw stuff!!
    #8
  9. squish

    squish Out of the office.

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    100K mile aircooled engine in a bus...

    I guess if you only drive the thing on weekends, with no load.

    In the real world, unless there has been some massive shift in backyard engineering is around 60K miles
    Thankfully if your good and it's an early bus you can get an engine out in a couple of hours of relaxed wrenching.

    There's no way I'd get another bus, none, I don't think I would even take one if one was offered to me for free that needed little to no work.

    I think you are too worried about the bike. Fix it when it breaks, borrow the special tools when you need to and give the loaner of the tools something special.

    German engineering is a joke of the first order. I think it's the Germans way of getting back at us after the war.
    #9
  10. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

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    I wouldn't use a Uni-Syn on the carbs. You can vacuum balance them but not with one of those. Power balancing them works better IMNSHO. Lots of reasons for strange vibrations. If the motor is smooth (mostly carbs.) then look at the wheels and tires. Lose a wheel weight and you can be hatin' life.
    #10
  11. Milkjug

    Milkjug Antifriction

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    It's also the draw to German machines. Airheads are sewing machine meets FW-190. Supposedly, BMW radial aircraft engines were notoriously leaky but dead reliable. I love my bike, the similarity to aircraft is the first thing I see. I like the fix as you go theory. What year bus did you have? 60k is if it's a bay window fat chick camper lugging gears, it's a matter of technique and care and quality parts.

    It makes sense that unisyns don't work well because the ball or needle are meant to run vertical which makes it hard to use on our bings. My friend has a vac unit with a happy face that lights up when well its happy! I lost a wheel weight after cleaning my rims so I know this is engine related the indications necessitating a timing set are all there and so if the crank measures out or even if not I will probably keep the bike. I can perform a rebuild if need be its just done differently than most engines...very German :*sip*:*sip*:bubba:*sip*:norton
    #11
  12. Milkjug

    Milkjug Antifriction

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    Got a hold of the p/o who happened to be with a guy who knew some of my R90's history. I spoke with him and was told the engine was checked out at a shop in Oregon and has never been apart. 69k and change on the odo. Priced out parts from Motobins at $800 for a top end rebuild. Not bad. BMW top end kit too. What do the main bearings usually look like in airheads after nearly 40 years?
    #12
  13. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

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    If the oil was changed, they look fine.
    #13
  14. Milkjug

    Milkjug Antifriction

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    I'm under the impression that airhead bottom ends last indefinitely or almost. Gonna do leak down and take it from there. Anyone wanna loan me the puller/installer for a rear main?
    #14
  15. bmwhacker

    bmwhacker Still on 3 wheels

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    There are folks around here that have forgot more than I know. I'd say I know just enough to be dangerous...with that said:
    I've changed a number of rear main seals and didn't need a special "puller" or "installer".
    All I needed was the tool (actually 3 bolts / nuts... $10.00 or so) to slowly "de-tension" the clutch spring and a torque wrench to reinstall the flywheel. Renewing the flywheel bolts is recommended but some folks don't. I have an old transmission input shaft that I use for a clutch alignment tool.
    As a rule of thumb you should replace the oil pump cover o-ring too. Often it is leaking rather than the rear main seal.
    DON'T forget to block the crankshaft from forward movement before removing the flywheel.
    #15
  16. Milkjug

    Milkjug Antifriction

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    I found an Engine from a '93 R100 with 60k on it according to the place that has it. They want a thousand and said it ran nice. It has late ignition and I want to know what I'd need to run it and if 1k is fair for an engine with 60k and unknown history.
    #16
  17. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

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    No picture, no engine.

    Realistically, price depends on what's included. it is a fully complete operating engine with starter, carbs, good clutch, all other electrics, air cleaner and all covers? Can it actually be run? (and a complete engine can be clamped down and fired up, or at least spun enought o check the compression).


    A bike can "run nice" with worn pistons and valves, crappy compression, etc. You don't ride words, I wouldn't pay for them either. If they want to offer a warrenty that might be different.

    This engine doesn't "run nice", it "ran nice". Then it sat out in the woodshed for 4 years under some firewood under a chainsaw and two torn rattan lawn chairs under a torn tarp under the leaky spot in the roof...
    #17
  18. Milkjug

    Milkjug Antifriction

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    Plaka that's a pretty specific description of the engine. It came off a wrecked Rt and yeah I'm gonna ask about a warranty and also hear it run. The later engines have nickies, simplex chain and electronic ign. I won't buy it till I see comp, leak down and get a warranty. I want to be able to put it in and not worry about it for 60k. Also, the hipster who works at the front jammed a screwdriver in between the valve cover and head and took a chunk out then said it was no big deal. I guess nothing is a big deal...:norton
    #18
  19. Voltaire

    Voltaire Bored Of The Rings

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    Last few Kombis I have seen here in NZ sold for over 30K ( 25k US) even rusty ones can be brought back from the dead thanks to Funky Green Panels.
    Very few still have the 1200/1500 motors and the swingaxle/reduction hub trannies. Nice to look at, but not the nicest to drive in std form....I have a 71 Westy with a 1776, took it to Europe and did 25k on it.
    Currently have a beetle in bits on the shed floor....cars take up too much quality bike space.:rofl
    #19
  20. Milkjug

    Milkjug Antifriction

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    Like flying a German bomber....mines got a 1776/ big nut rgb's and a lot of rust but it treat me well. Prime real estate to steal!!
    #20