Red Smoke Revival: Bringing an Airhead Heirloom Back to Life

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by Mikepotter86, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. Mikepotter86

    Mikepotter86 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    190
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    Washington, DC
    All done, all look good except speedometer boot, which I have a replacement for.

    With the warm weather the steering bearing issue does not exhibit itself, so it is tempting to go for a ride, but I know that needs fixed, and I need one, if not two new tires.


    The front tire is toast, and from 06, but the rear is a like new, 2 year old conti-twin RB2 with only 900 miles on it. I would like to save the money, but I am hesitant to match the front tire because I've read the conti-twins are bad in the rain. I'd hate to order one just to match it and be stuck with a front I don't like for another years worth of riding. I think I will do my research this week to find a front that is better in the rain and wouldn't be a horrible match with the conti on the rear.

    I'm ordering new brake pads all around, which I hope to install during the week, but due to some family obligations I am putting off tackling the major repairs (leaky pushrods and steering head bearings) until mid-may.
    #61
  2. Mikepotter86

    Mikepotter86 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
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    After some research, and some good input here on ADVrider, I was able to bleed the rear brakes and get the whole bike stopping. I loosened the rear caliper, rotated caliper so that the bleeder was pointed upward, and attached a "speed bleeder", within a matter of minutes, I had brake pressure, and was on a parking lot test ride. It was good to feel the brake pressure, but it brought to my attention another needed repair.

    The brakes felt like wood! I'd ridden the bike before, for a short period of time, but in 2010 I only had only ridden an 81 KZ 750 and a 1972 BMW with drum brakes. After the last few years on a V-Strom and a Versys, the stopping power left something to be desired.

    I took the calipers apart and checked the brake pads, and although they were "in spec" they were practically falling apart. I ordered some new pads to swap out, and waited for delivery.

    With time on my hands waiting for the parts, and a few weeks before I would have the opportunity to perform to the major repairs under the eyes of a more experienced airhead, I started my search for tires, which I hope to be in need of in just a few weeks. I settled on Michelin Pilot Activs, which seem to be the best tube tire available in the 3.25" width for the front. I started by ordering the front, but plan to order the rear (in less dire need of replacement when more funds become available.

    The tire and brakes came in during the week, and over the weekend I pulled the front wheel off, replaced all three sets of brake pads.


    <a href="http://s380.photobucket.com/user/Mikepotter86/media/wheelofffront.jpeg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i380.photobucket.com/albums/oo248/Mikepotter86/wheelofffront.jpeg" border="0" alt=" photo wheelofffront.jpeg"/></a>

    For what I hope to be the last time, I took the front wheel to my local BMW mechanic, George. He showed me how to mount the tube and tire on the wheel, and hooked me up with some switches for my optimistically soon to be complete touring bike. One for heated grips, and one for auxiliary lights, two items at the end of a long list of touring accessories I hope to mount in preparation for a long trip next year. Hopefully these gifts will be encouragement to get there.

    <a href="http://s380.photobucket.com/user/Mikepotter86/media/swtches.jpeg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i380.photobucket.com/albums/oo248/Mikepotter86/swtches.jpeg" border="0" alt=" photo swtches.jpeg"/></a>

    Even though I've owned an R75/5 for three years, I'd never mounted my own tube tire, I'd always had a new bike with tubeless tires to rely on. It was really quite simple. By lunch, I was home, and the front tire was back on, so I took her for the spin around the parking lot.

    <a href="http://s380.photobucket.com/user/Mikepotter86/media/newtire.jpeg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i380.photobucket.com/albums/oo248/Mikepotter86/newtire.jpeg" border="0" alt=" photo newtire.jpeg"/></a>

    A couple of notes at this time:

    The brakes are vastly improved, they now stop almost as well as my Versys, and much better than my /5.

    There is a lot of vibration coming from the fairing. I hope to disassemble the fairing to find the source of the vibration next weekend.

    After running the bike for 10-15 minutes, I realize the pushrod seals are getting worse, not better. They'll need to be done before I can ride the bike regularly.


    I hope my next update will come soon. I plan to tackle at least the steering head bearings this weekend.
    #62
  3. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    4,629
    It can be wise to manually scrub in a new tire, esp. a front. A random orbit sander and some 100 grit works fine. Just get the shine (and mold release) off. The center is unimportant, get the sides.
    #63
  4. Mikepotter86

    Mikepotter86 Been here awhile

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    190
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    In the last month of this project, I have been absolutely amazed at the generosity and support I have received from the local and national airhead community. Based on my past experience working on classic motorcycles, I started this project aware that the support of the vast BMW community, including club members, parts suppliers, dealers, and online forums would be critical to my ability to put the bike back on the road, but it wasn’t until now that I realized how profoundly generous this network can be. Since this project’s inception, I have been extremely fortunate to rely on friends for technical advice, loaner tools, loading and unloading help, and work space, but in recent weeks it has gone far beyond that.

    I sat down at my computer a few weeks ago and checked my messages in the forums and groups that I regularly post, and while checking my spam folder I noticed a message that seemed too good to be true... maybe it was in the spam folder for a reason? A gentleman named Ben from Ohio had read my story and sent me this message:

    “Touching story. I have a stock seat from my '81 RS. If you want it tell me tell me where to ship it. Gratis.”

    I had to read it through a few times to really believe it. There was no wire transfer requested, he wasn’t a deposed Nigerian prince, and this was exactly the seat I needed to replace the ugly and uncomfortable for me “King and Queen” style seat that my parents had used. I was budgeting a few hundred dollars for a replacement, if I could even find one! I sent him my address, and about a week later it arrived, in absolutely perfect condition. I practically had to beg him for a PayPal account to send the shipping costs to.

    [​IMG]

    When I went to mount the seat, I noticed that he had even included original hardware, which was in perfect condition; unfortunately, the same could not be said for the seat that was mounted. The screws were rusted, stuck, and stripped out, so I had to take a dremel tool to them to free the cowl from the old seat.

    The seat was the first of two major acts of generosity. The second came from a local airhead, who offered to help out with garage space, specialized tools, and a whole lot of know-how on the steering head bearing job. I had met Mark and his wife Christina on the road to a rally a year before, and it became immediately apparent that he knew airheads inside and out. The steering head bearing task had been daunting since the project began in February, but with Mark’s help, it became a lot more manageable. We quickly disassembled and removed the front wheel, forks, handlebars, instruments steering stabilizer, and got to the bearings, removing the bearing races, however proved to be a bit more challenging. We looked for the special bearing puller tool, but with no luck, we turned to more invasive methods, welding a piece of metal across each of the old races in order to pop them out.

    [​IMG]

    Outer Race with metal welded across

    [​IMG]

    We cut the inner race off of the steering stem just in time to put it in the freezer for lunch… no, we weren’t planning on eating it on another day, cooling the stem makes it easier to slide on the new bearing race. After we ate a delicious meal of Mexican food, slid on the new lower bearing with ease, and gently tapped in the upper and lower races. We installed the new upper bearing and began the re-assembly process. After about 30 minutes of assembly and some quick adjustments, the bike was ready to be ridden home. With this dangerous problem fixed and a break in what had been a day of rain, I took the old RT out for a quick ride to Mt. Vernon.

    [​IMG]


    Although it was my goal to get the bike on the road with minimal professional help, with a little extra freedom in my project budget, and a rally the coming weekend, I “copped out” and opted to have a local airhead mechanic take care of the pushrod seals in the interest of time. I dropped the bike off on Monday, and 48 hours later I had a roadworthy motorcycle, just in time for rally season.

    [​IMG]
    #64
  5. camgregus

    camgregus riding gently now

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2006
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    on the banks of the mighty mississippi, AR side
    Nice.
    #65
  6. Beezer Josh

    Beezer Josh Moto-Amish

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2013
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    1,620
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    15.6 miles from the U.S. Capitol
    Mike-that is indeed a great story! If you need any help, I have a few tools up here, but no garage as yet. Please message me if I can be of any assistance. I also have a /5, so when you decide to approach that, I hope I can also be of assistance...it's one of the easiest bikes I've worked on. Did you make the rally, or has it come around yet?
    #66
  7. Mikepotter86

    Mikepotter86 Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the offer, Josh. The /5 is running pretty well, or at least it was when I put it away in November. It will come out the weekend after next in preparation for the "Festival of Fives" Un-Rally at Seneca Rocks over father's day weekend.

    I made it to my first Rally on the bike, and will be at the BMWBMW rally this coming weekend on the RT, is anyone else going?


    I am a little behind on writing about it, but the RT is almost done. I'll definitely be in touch if anything comes up.
    #67
  8. Beezer Josh

    Beezer Josh Moto-Amish

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    Cool-maybe we'll meet up at Seneca Rocks then.
    #68
  9. Mikepotter86

    Mikepotter86 Been here awhile

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    Washington, DC
    It's been a long time since my last update, for the very best reasons! I've been riding and riding and riding.

    Since the last update I've done about 7,000 miles. I rode to the Morton's Spring Fling Rally, used the bike for commuting, and rode to our local BMW club Rally in June, after which I really started stacking up the miles.

    Taking the long way to Asheville and back for the RA added another thousand miles, and although the bike performed admirably, considering it had been sitting, by the end of the trip I was sure something wasn't quite right. At high speed, I started experiencing a bit of a wobble. I replaced the rear tire, but the wobble persisted. Again I leaned on my local mechanic George, who replaced the fork oil and did a much better job lining things up than me, because after less than an hour of work, the bike was riding true.

    The rest of the summer was relatively problem free, except for a few minor snares. I rode to Michigan, all around the state, and back, for a total of around 2000 miles problem free, with the exception of needing to adjust the floats on the roadside a few times before getting it just right.

    With concerns about popping at idle, and valve life, I decided to remove the pulse air system, and following the instructions here it was quite easy. http://www.webbikeworld.com/Motorcycle-technical-articles/pulse-air/

    At the same time, I added the fuel line crossover that was missing, and in-line fuel filters, and started feeling like I was almost done.

    I finally got around to sending the speedometer out to Overseas speedometer to have the odometer reworked, getting it back just in time to ride to motoGP, after an easy install I ran into my first problem, my windshield cracked near the left mounting point and hit me in the helmet as it dropped to the lowest angle.

    With a quick Gorilla tape fix, I was back on the road:
    <a href="http://s380.photobucket.com/user/Mikepotter86/media/brokenwinshield.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i380.photobucket.com/albums/oo248/Mikepotter86/brokenwinshield.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo brokenwinshield.jpg"/></a>

    I decided to go all out with the replacement windshield, opting for a clear view windshield, 21.5" smoke, with vent, and recurve at a total cost of $320!

    As I made my way into Pennsylvania, about 200 miles from home my voltmeter started dropping from 12.2, to 11.8, to 11.0, and below. I knew I had a problem. I stopped on the side of the road, and disconnected the headlight, and found a truck stop on the toll road with some shade... ready for a charging system failure I unrolled my tool kit.

    After some advice from a more informed airhead than I, I realized that the gen light was not going on, even with the bike at a dead stop. What did this mean? Bad, good? Was the gen light just dead, did that matter? I didn't know, but I set about finding out, removing the instrument cluster, I realized the electrical connections to were loose. The screw holding the connections in place had past through the rubber boot and I was able to pull the pin connections out. Eureka, an easy problem to fix!

    With a roadside washer provided by my riding buddy, I was back on the road:

    <a href="http://s380.photobucket.com/user/Mikepotter86/media/Motorcycle%20Photos/bottlecap.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i380.photobucket.com/albums/oo248/Mikepotter86/Motorcycle%20Photos/bottlecap.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo bottlecap.jpg"/></a>

    While I was in there, I somehow managed to disconnect the ever-important high beam indicator, but regardless, the bike rode strong for the 1000 miles left on the trip.


    At present, my costs for the project are as follows:

    Item Cost
    Westco Gel Battery $97.00
    Fork Gaiters $46.90
    Fork Boots $37.60
    Fork Seals $15.58
    Bottom bump and crush $25.00
    Fork Oil $10.00
    Steering Head Bearings $33.95
    Front Master Cylinder $203.00
    Steel Brake Kits $225.00
    Brake Pads 3 sets $132.14
    Push rod tube seals $8.2
    Head gaskets $33.64
    Valve cover gaskets $10.52
    O-rings $14.87
    Labor $442
    Replacement Fairing Lowers $62
    Fairing Hardware,seat latch $20
    Fuel Line $8
    Speedo Boot $8
    Stock Seat wih 20k $0
    Right side bag latch $33.79
    Latch Repair for Luftmeister $25
    Hand Grips $21.91
    Front Tire- Michelin Pilot Acti $101.58
    Rear Tire- Michelin Pilot Act $120
    Tire Tube $13.5975
    Front Tire Mounting $25
    Carb Kits $41.51
    Emissions Removal Plugs $21.61
    Oil Change, Valves Filter, Fork
    Oil Replacement and Align $208.95
    Shifter Boot $23
    Case Lock Replacement $33.79
    Stop Light Switch $12.74
    Speed Bleeder $18.95
    Crash Bars Used $75
    Replacement Windshield $329
    Total Costs to date: $2538

    Still on my to-do list in hopes of making a major trip next year:

    Fix High Beam and Oil Pressure indicator issue
    Intall replacement windshield
    Bar risers or some sort
    Possible a high end touring seat so I don't have to use my airhawk all the time
    Heated Grips
    Auxiliary Lights
    Fork Seal and Spring Replacement
    Upgraded Charging and Ignition System


    I am sure I will have more updates soon!
    #69
  10. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
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    4,629
    $62 for a pair of lowers? SCORE!
    #70
  11. Mikepotter86

    Mikepotter86 Been here awhile

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    Sep 21, 2010
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    Ebay! And they're not perfect, but they're better than the cracked up ones I had.
    #71
  12. ME 109

    ME 109 Long timer

    Joined:
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    Albury Australia
    I recently bought two 'very good' complete RS fairings off German ebay. Right color for my bike too.
    One was $80 The other was just over 100.
    Postage? about 100 bucks.
    #72
  13. Mikepotter86

    Mikepotter86 Been here awhile

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    Washington, DC
    Complete fairings or complete lowers?

    If fairings, my mind is blown.
    #73
  14. Mikepotter86

    Mikepotter86 Been here awhile

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    <a href="http://s380.photobucket.com/user/Mikepotter86/media/RTatWillville.jpeg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i380.photobucket.com/albums/oo248/Mikepotter86/RTatWillville.jpeg" border="0" alt=" photo RTatWillville.jpeg"/></a>
    #74
  15. ME 109

    ME 109 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    5,675
    Location:
    Albury Australia
    For my RS, lowers, uppers, lower centre, upper centre, headlight surround, headlight rubber boot, mounting brackets.

    There was no dash or screen in the deal tho.

    I saw a minimum of 6 RT fairings with the same (RT) parts. from $50 Average price was about 70 bucks.
    There were a couple of the 'special edition' two tone brown? one was over 200 bucks in very good condition.

    No-one was buying the rt fairings, week after week after week. The guy doesn't seem to put complete fairings up any more.
    #75
  16. boxerboy81

    boxerboy81 Stay Horizontal

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2009
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    Location:
    Melbourne, Oz
    I'm with ME109. I also scored a complete RS fairing, in excellent order. We know another ex RS rider that got one too.

    All connecting points were good and strong. Brackets included, no screen or dash.

    The whole lot was less than OZ$200 delivered to me from the Faterland.

    The RT stuff seemed to move slowly.

    I've not looked lately as the wallet was taking a pounding. :D
    #76
  17. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Mike,
    A most excellent tale, and it's great to have such a touchstone to your dad. But you've left one pressing question un-answered. What was mom's reaction to losing her 'queen's' perch? :D.

    A pleasure meeting you and if the need for a quasi mid-point stopover arises again, I'm more than happy to accommodate you. If I'm home :lol3

    MapMaster
    #77
  18. Lornce

    Lornce Lost In Place

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    Aug 17, 2003
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    Very excellent result.

    :thumb

    <a href="http://s380.photobucket.com/user/Mikepotter86/media/RTatWillville.jpeg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i380.photobucket.com/albums/oo248/Mikepotter86/RTatWillville.jpeg" border="0" alt=" photo RTatWillville.jpeg"/></a>


    Reminder to self: Find a nice, unmolested R100RT or R80RT.

    :1drink
    #78
  19. Gooner

    Gooner DC 43

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    May 31, 2012
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    Rocket City
    Great story and a real beauty!
    #79
  20. Mikepotter86

    Mikepotter86 Been here awhile

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    She actually says she feels safer close to the ground, but says that she misses being able to see over my head, in reality, she couldn't have seen over me on the other seat, I'm 5" taller than my dad was.
    #80