In memory of Jim Adams - an R60/5 build diary

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by backdrifter, Aug 8, 2010.

  1. backdrifter

    backdrifter Wannabe rider

    Joined:
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    I've been patiently waiting for this for almost two years now.

    A little over two years ago, my wife's grandpa, Jim ("Papa" to us), moved back home from Florida. He brought with him, among other things, his 1973 BMW R60/5 toaster. He admitted that he was too old to ride it anymore, and said he wanted a family member to take it. My wife has a rather large family, and it seemed that everybody wanted the bike. In fact, it became the point of a few arguments. So, I backed off and stayed away from the entire issue. Papa didn't like the bickering, so he said he was going to put everyone's names in a hat and draw one name, to whom the bike would go. Papa was a great man and treated me like one of his own, and made a point of telling me on the side that he wanted my name in the hat. I politely declined, telling him that I would love to have the bike, but not if other closer family members wanted it.

    I think there was a part of Papa that wanted me to have the bike. At the time, I was the only family member that rode bikes, and Papa and I used to talk about motorcycles and trips that we had gone on.

    Unfortunately, Papa passed from cancer a few short months after moving home. The bike was brought to my wife's Aunt's house, where it has sat in the back yard ever since. It made me cringe that the poor old bike was sitting outside in the elements when I had a nice garage spot for it, but I knew I had to play the waiting game. I knew if I gave it enough time, the other family members would realize that they were never going to do anything with the poor old bike. This weekend, I felt the old girl had been neglected enough. I borrowed a trailer, swung by the Aunt's house and told them I would be happy to take that eyesore off of their hands. They were actually excited to get rid of it. Funny how time changes things.

    So, here she is as I unloaded her in my driveway earlier today.

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    I immediately grabbed a wrench and removed the windscreen. The bike already looks ten times nicer!

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    Hard to read here, but Papa put 43,000 miles on her:

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    The purpose of this thread it threefold. One is to bring this old girl back to as-new condition, probably with a few tasteful mods. The second is to honor the life of Papa. The third is a kind of therapy - I've done one other build diary (on KTM Talk) and found it very relaxing and rewarding. Plus, the forums are a great place to turn when I need help, as I know I will!

    Fair warning, this will probably be long and drawn out. I'm on no time schedule and this could end up taking quite a while to complete. My last build thread took almost two years from start to finish, but I was quite happy with the results, which is all that matters to me. My last project transformed my 1994 KTM 550 MX/C from this (when I bought it):

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    To this:

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    I plan to be far more anal and detailed with this R60.

    That's all for now, thanks for reading my introduction, and hopefully I'll have some updates and new photos soon.

    Happy riding!
    #1
  2. nella

    nella Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2010
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    403
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Glad you got it and it wasn't allowed to rot or ebay'ed by another family member. I'll follow the restoration.

    Scott
    #2
  3. Cordless

    Cordless Two Wheel Addict

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    Spangle WA
    I know those /5 restorations can be expensive, but do you really have to sell your nice house?

    I look forward to your (sentimental) resurrection.
    #3
  4. Wirespokes

    Wirespokes Beemerholics Anonymous

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    Jackson's Bottom Oregon
    She doesn't look too bad as-is. Of course, the handlebar will need to be replaced or cleaned up and painted. But it doesn't look all that bad for being out in the weather for two years.

    One question: What happened with the pulling a name out of a hat? Did that not happen? Finish that story!
    #4
  5. backdrifter

    backdrifter Wannabe rider

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    Good eye, cordless! :D Actually, the wife and I are building a new house. I was going to wait until we moved into it to grab the BMW because I'll have a 3 car garage, but I got too antsy and grabbed the bike today.

    Wirespokes - truth be told, I'm not sure what happened. I bowed out of it after I heard about it. I think the bike initially went to my wife's aunt's house because it was easiest to get to. Shortly after that, his condition worsened and I think everyone probably stopped worrying about the bike. Whatever happened, it sat there untouched since I helped unload it almost two years ago. A shame, but it's in my hands now! :clap

    The pictures actually make her look in a bit better shape than she is. I'll replace the bars and the silencers, but everything else should be salvageable once painted, chromed, powder coated, or sand blasted. Should be a fun ride!
    #5
  6. datchew

    datchew Don't buy from Brad

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    Remember the Alamo!
    Fantastic story. I respect your approach and I'm sure when you get finished with the bike, you'll love it and think of him every time you ride it.

    :lurk
    #6
  7. Bill Harris

    Bill Harris Confirmed Curmudgeon

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    backwoods Alabama
    Great project. We'll be following it with interest.
    #7
  8. Lokey

    Lokey redneck

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    Sep 28, 2009
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    252
    Location:
    Susanville, CA
    Did you get the title? If not, I could see one of the deadbeat relatives waiting until you have restored it and then say that they want it.
    #8
  9. DesmoDog

    DesmoDog Desmo's my dog

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    881
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    The time has come.

    No, really... Transfer the title before you have any money/time into it. If things are as hunky dory as you say it won't be a problem. If you do get blindsided, and it happens, then you haven't lost much.


    Good luck with the bike. Sounds like a very special project.
    #9
  10. Hawk Medicine

    Hawk Medicine Coyote's Brother

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    I enough to know that you'll do as you lease but I agree with DDog. If things are so cozy and friendly now, then nows the time to get the title put into your name.

    Families are full of wonderful people but sometimes, especially when theres something of value to argue abut, things can get weird and unpleasant in a hurry.
    #10
  11. Bill Harris

    Bill Harris Confirmed Curmudgeon

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    Agree with 'Ok and DDog, too. This is business and tactfully get the title in your hands.

    Unless the muffs are rusted out, I'd run them until I found out all what other parts it needs (you'll spend a small fortune just replacing rubber parts). The /6 mufflers work/look fine on my /5.

    Hucky has a lot of obscure parts for /5's.

    First off, check the speedo cable boot and change the tranny oil. A bad boot there can dribble water into the tranny on an outside-stored bike.
    #11
  12. backdrifter

    backdrifter Wannabe rider

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    Belleville, IL
    Well, I said this would probably be a slow build in the first post, didn't I? Almost six months since the last post, yeah I would say that counts as slow!

    Between a move to a new house and cleaning and painting the old house in an effort to sell it, I've had very little free time. The good news is that things are starting to slow down, and with a nice roomy three car garage in the new house, I've got plenty of room to play with the R60. It was a relatively warm weekend and seemed like the perfect time to jump back into the project.

    I didn't post the update at the time, but I took the tank to a radiator shop a few months ago to have it cleaned and coated. It was fairly rusted, but it cleaned up well.

    I spent today disassembling, cleaning and reinstalling the carbs. One of the carbs had been pouring gas everywhere every time I opened the petcock. I thought it was a stuck float and that I had fixed it today, but no such luck. I've done some reading since and it looks like it could be a problem with the floats themselves, or the float valves. Either way, the result was that I did NOT get it running today like I wanted. But, I got a lot done and it shouldn't take much more to get there.

    Sorry for the lack of pictures, I'll some in the the next day or so. More soon (not in another six months!). :D
    #12
  13. fishkens

    fishkens Long timer

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    Seattle, WA
    Keep up the good work!
    #13
  14. Wirespokes

    Wirespokes Beemerholics Anonymous

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    Oddometer:
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    Jackson's Bottom Oregon
    Don't forget to check the fuel line where it attaches to the carb! I've had it crack and leak down the side (where you can't see it) and drip off the bottom of the float bowl.
    #14
  15. Zagando

    Zagando BMW uber alles!

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2007
    Oddometer:
    981
    Location:
    EL18 Rockport, TX
    Subscribed. :lurk This is going to be another fun thread to follow. Best of luck getting her in tip-top shape again.
    #15
  16. grizz

    grizz Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2004
    Oddometer:
    899
    Location:
    Rochester, KENT, UK.
    Watching this one too.
    #16
  17. backdrifter

    backdrifter Wannabe rider

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    Belleville, IL
    Thanks to all for the support! This is going to be fun for me. As I get older, I'm finding that I really only value things that have sentimental value. I usually take the long road to realizing this though. Case in point, my other bad habit is guitars. I've bought and sold over 25 guitars in the last couple of years. I've just recently slimmed the herd down to just a few special instruments. My favorite is still my first electric - a 1991 Fender Strat that my dad surprised me with for my 13th birthday. The BMW will be similar. It means more to me than any other motorcycle could. I'm looking forward to making the bike pristine again and then enjoying it until I go the way of Papa, and then leaving it for my kids. I'll be honest, I kind of wish Papa had gone for an R75/5, but I'm certainly not going to look a gift horse in the mouth!

    I have a few more photos. When I gave it more thought I realized that I done more to the bike than I had previously indicated or recorded here. Certainly nothing major, but still worth documenting. I bought a new air filter, European low handlebars, a new steering dampener knob, new throttle cables, new clutch cable, and of course carb rebuild kits.

    Here she sits in her new garage. She now has a whole garage bay dedicated to her. Don't mind the mess - I'm still slowly moving in and unpacking.

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    Here are the new bars and the new (still uninstalled) steering dampener knob.

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    I'm still on the fence about the European low bars. I like the overall shape and look, but I think they're too narrow for me. I'm used to dirt bikes and supermotos and I like flat, low, and wide bars. I'm open to suggestions if anyone has any. I made my first mistake almost instantly out of the gate - I bought a pair of 7/8" drag bars off of eBay for the bike. I of course then learned about the 22mm controls on BMW bars. It was a cheap mistake ($20) and now I know to research or ask before buying something I'm unsure about. I'm tempted to try to make custom bars like the ones I bought, because they looked and felt perfect for the bike.

    Certain lines of this bike really grab me. I love the view from the back rear corner, and viewing the tank from behind. Nice, clean lines! I actually have a great example to work with too. Sure it needs paint, chrome, and tons of other little details, but it will not need body work. I couldn't even find one small dent in the tank.

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    I also polished/brushed the brake and clutch levers. They had some pitting that I got rid of. Before and after:

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    And here's the carb that's giving me problems. Everything seems to be OK upon inspection. I'll tear it down further in the next few days. Those floats are pretty rough looking, I'm wondering if they don't quite float like they used to. I'll also check the float valve. Thanks to forum members for helping me determine what to look for!

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    That's all for now, hopefully more soon...
    #17
  18. bpeckm

    bpeckm Grin!

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    Location:
    Road Island
    About those cheapo 3/4" bars... you can make them work. There is but a very slight difference: you may have to sand down the bars, or sand out the perches (do NOT try to "expand" them...), but many have had success adapting 3/4" bars to the BMW controls.

    :D
    #18
  19. backdrifter

    backdrifter Wannabe rider

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    I actually tried, and it seemed like it was going to take a lot of work so I gave up. Before I gave up, I took the bars to a few machine shops hoping they could do something, but since the bars already bends in them, they couldn't be placed in a lathe. I'm thinking of getting some aluminum tubing, having the ends cut down to 22mm, and then bending them myself.

    If I still had those cheapo drag bars I'd give it another shot, but I got so frustrated (and tore them up trying to reduce the size just a bit in multiple interesting but not so effective ways) that I through them out.
    #19
  20. crazydrummerdude

    crazydrummerdude Wacky Bongo Boy

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    El Segundo, CA
    I don't know much about /5's, but I'm in St Charles, MO if you ever need someone to swing by and turn a wrench.
    #20