Dnepr MT-16 refurb/BMW conversion

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by guzzirelic, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    near Espanola Ontario Canada
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    If you arrived here via “My Build(s) – a scratch built frame and chair etc” LINK https://advrider.com/f/threads/my-build-s-a-scratch-built-frame-and-chair-etc.1366490/

    then you’ll know that I tend to over explain things and use far too many words. I do try to add enough photos to make up for the lengthy descriptions and hopefully that helps. This time around I’ll also be adding a few video links to You Tube; I’m not “monetized” but you may have to put up with commercials? I don’t know but if so, I apologize. The videos won’t be long and won’t be at all professional but sometimes a four minute video will save a whole lot of typing.

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    So why do I need another sidecar rig? Well for certain I don’t but practicality never enters into these kind of purchases. The Moto Guzzi Convert outfit is going nowhere. As readers of my other thread will know, it is working awesome and I enjoy driving it very much.

    But it’s not well suited to gravel roads or rough roads of which there are many in my area. The Windjammer fairing rocks and rattles as if trying to shake itself right off the bike and stress cracks are appearing in my fiber-glass sidecar body. Plastic saddle bags and top box are also not sturdy enough for the rough treatment. So last winter I began watching far too many YT videos dealing with Russian sidecars. Although they have a poor reliability reputation there is no denying that they are strong and sturdily built. The seed was planted.

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    The new Urals are cool but far too expensive for me. And I suppose because the new ones are well over twenty grand (here in Canada), the used market has followed suit and the prices have skyrocketed as you all know. But luckily I was able to find someone who had an interest, had accumulated a lot of stuff and then sadly lost the drive and never completed his project. Some back and forth emails resulted in an agreed upon price and our deal was made. In September of this year I acquired a Dnepr MT-16. It’s a complete bike and after some minor work I have had it running.

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    Both of these Dneprs have Ontario titles (now in my name). Along with the two “bikes” was a LOT of parts including two BMW R75/5 engines. It was the previous owner’s plan to replace the MT 16 engine with Beemer power. And that is my plan as well. That and going through the entire rig from end to end will keep me entertained this winter. Also in the deal was a Dnepr 10-36 frame, final drive, rear wheel and not much else. I have long term plans for the 10-36 as well. But for now it is put aside and I’ll be concentrating on the easy project.

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    These are some of the spare parts and bits, plus the manuals including "Weave's" book. The photos posted above the loaded trailer were taken at the seller's. The extra stuff just about filled the floor of Benny the Benz, my '05 Sprinter van.
    Let the fun begin!!!
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  2. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    What the heck is a Dnepr anyway? You may be asking. Or maybe you’ve heard that they are the same as the Ural? There are many myths and misunderstandings surrounding Soviet made motorcycles. Part of the fun I have in playing with old bikes is learning about the companies that made them. The history of the designs and all the models, power plants and performance and the men behind them is interesting to me. So I’ve done some research and read the books and web pages and here’s what I’ve found out.

    The USSR began building their version of the BMW R71 in the late 1930s. The popular tale is that they purchased or stole a couple of these bikes and reverse engineered them. Mike Weaver, (writer of the book “Weave’s Useful Information and Technical Guide to Antique Russian Motorcycles and Sidecars”) along with other researchers, have gathered enough evidence that suggests the German company cooperated with the Russians. And that the first bikes were built from BMW drawings and in fact using outdated BMW tooling. I’m not going to present any of the details here, if you’re interested you can easily find the information to support this claim on the net. Regardless of which version you want to believe the Russians began building what would eventually become, Urals and Dneprs as we know them today.

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    The first bikes were built in a plant in Moscow but as the threat of war escalated, the government decided that the factory should be moved. Moscow was too much of a target so production of these military sidecar motorcycles was moved to the Ural mountains and to a town called Irbit.

    At first the bikes had no name, just a designation, (M72) as they were built for military and police use only but eventually the IMZ, (I for Irbit) bikes became known as Urals. At some point, some of the production for the military bikes was shifted off to a plant in Kiev, (now the capital of the Ukraine). The KMZ (K for Kiev) also began without a product name but again, after some time became known as Dneprs. Named after the river that runs through Kiev.

    Dnepr started building the same model as Ural but as updates and changes were made they began to take on an identity of their own. And in fact by the 1970s and beyond, very few parts will interchange between the two brands. Both companies suffered bad times after the fall of the Iron Curtain and unfortunately Dnepr couldn’t work out its problems and production ended sometime around 2000. Ural survived but only barely and for a time was constantly on the brink of closure. There is an interesting video series currently being released from Ural in which the CEO discusses the history of Ural since he joined the company. Here is the link ---
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzcLMS_sX5sL2sB7dpGF0jw?view_as=subscriber

    Prior to Ural getting serious about updating its bikes, (pre Brembo, Herzog, F.I. days) the Dnepr held a reputation as being somewhat better than its Ural cousin. A sturdier gearbox and full time 2WD with a differential were a couple of reasons. But Dnepr suffered with almost no quality control towards the late 1980s and folks say that if you get a bike that makes it to 4000 kms, it’s a good one and will probably last a long time.
    #2
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  3. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    My “main” project is this MT-16. It’s titled as a 1989 and came to the previous owner via a fellow operating under various names in the U.S. I won’t name him but suffice to say that his reputation for selling quality Russian bikes and parts is not great. I’ve never personally dealt with him so I can’t say but what the previous owner of my bike told me and what I’ve read on the net gives me reason enough to not trust the Dnepr engine or anything else on the rig. Hence, the plan to swap in the BMW 750cc slash five motor and go through everything else.

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    The MT-16 was the 2WD drive version of the MT-11 and the models were built between about 1985 and 1996. Dnepr’s 2WD differs from Ural’s in that it is full time but with a differential action built in. This means that the 2WD is not locked but rather like a normal rear wheel drive car or truck. This means that steering the Dnepr 2WD is no different than steering a single wheel drive rig. Of course if you are doing some serious off roading the Ural locked in 2WD would haul you through rougher stuff than the Dnepr could.

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    The Dnepr gearbox is a four speed with reverse and has an auto clutch feature built in. As the heel/toe shifter is moved in either direction, it activates linkage that slightly disengages the clutch. So the hand lever is only needed for starting off and stopping. All up and down shifts can be made by easing the throttle and pushing the pedal. (another plus over the Ural)


    Even though my plan is to replace the original MT-16, 650cc with the Beemer motor I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see if I could get the KMZ power plant running. This has the added plus in that I’ll have some idea what condition it’s in for my future plans with the 10-36 project. Charging the battery got the engine to crank the day I got it home. (Yes, this one has been fitted with an aftermarket electric start system; they are kick only from the factory) But it wouldn’t fire. I checked for spark and found none. I opened the front cover to inspect the points and found another surprise, electronic ignition had also been fitted. There was no power supplying the system so I jumpered battery positive to the module and the next crank had some encouraging “chuff, chuffing” from the exhaust. The gas in the tank smelled well past its prime so I suspected the carbs might benefit from some attention too.

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    Sure enough they were BAD!!! Once sonic cleaned and with fresh plugs installed, the Dnepr engine fired up and ran fine. I rode around the yard and took a few illegal romps up my rural road and back.

    https://photos.smugmug.com/Dnepr-1989-MT-16/i-FZ5rkvW/0/ed088996/640/IMG_1021-640.mp4


    Thankfully the front brake worked because there is nobody home at the rear or the sidecar brake. Some of the lights worked as did the horn but the turn signals don’t. My MT-16 came with the optional leading link forks which I’m quite please about. Handling on the road was…not too scary. Although I glanced at the speedometer thinking I’d find 80 kph or so but disappointedly saw just less than 60. This not a reflection on the power or anywhere near the outfit’s top speed but rather the sense I had of how fast I was going. I’m sure new tires and a good going over of steering head bearings and such will help. And of course getting used to it. She sure isn’t a Moto Guzzi.

    Sorry about the cheesy background music in this video. My cheap knock-off version of a go-pro had the audio about 4 seconds behind the video which I found too annoying to watch. It's up to you if the free YT music is less annoying.



    Ken
    #3
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  4. RomaDakota

    RomaDakota Experts agree!! Supporter

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    Watching.
    Poor MT16; the PO musta had fun bolting on "accessories".

    The engine is the last type produced with spin-on filter and the tranny with the e-start.
    Just beware - the manuals, diagrams that you commonly find on the internet and even Russian manuals do not show these last "enhancements". The crank and some components in the front gear tower will differ, no mention of e-start and some corresponding wiring.
    #4
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  5. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    Thanks for this info. The PO told me that the seller in the US upgraded this engine with the filter, e-start and says it's an 800cc?
    I'll know more when I dig into it for my next project. Probably not until winter 21/22. ( I try not to do major projects stuff during our short riding season)
    But my thoughts at this time are to rebuild this Dnepr engine and gearbox and fit them into the 10-36 frame at some point.

    I'll be removing the mirrors with the lights...they are cheesy and too short to be functional.

    Ken
    #5
  6. RomaDakota

    RomaDakota Experts agree!! Supporter

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    Both the MT and myself thank you!
    Hopefully the seat covers and the headlight are next :fpalm
    #6
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  7. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    Haha...we think alike. The original headlight assembly is in one of the boxes. And I haven't removed the seat covers yet but I'm hoping the seats are in good condition so they can go. I will be bolting on one of the jerry can holders and I have an ammo box that might go on to hold tools and spare parts. But other than these I like the bike to look as original as possible.
    Ken
    #7
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  8. brstar

    brstar Long timer

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    I like to these old rigs brought back to life.
    Will be watching.
    #8
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  9. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    The start of the project. Even though the Dnepr engine and gearbox currently in the MT-16 seem to work ok, my plan for a BMW conversion is still a go. The 650cc Dnepr motor is rated at 32 HP, the Beemer slash five 750cc, 54HP. The BMW is much easier to get parts for and is a more reliable engine.

    What I know about doing this swap is that the engine will bolt into the frame without modifications. The hard to access oil filter on the BMW (when in a slash five frame) becomes impossible to access when in the Dnepr frame. The answer is to unbolt the engine and raise or lower it slightly when a filter change is necessary. Someone does make a deep sump with a spin on filter but apparently the cost is quite high.

    The main issue in this job is fitting the Dnepr gearbox to the BMW engine. A Beemer gearbox spins the other direction so rather than have four speeds in reverse and one forward using the Dnepr box is the way to go. I’m very lucky in this regard as the previous owner had a gearbox modified to fit. More about the clutch later…

    Before swapping the engines I wanted to (as much as I could) make sure that everything was good. It is much easier to work on while on the bench rather than in the chassis. First up was a compression test. And for that I needed the engine to crank. Connecting cables between a good battery and the starter solenoid and ground had the engine turning over slowly at first. But some oil squirted in the spark plug holes and after some loosening up revolutions it was better. With no carbs on the intakes it was obviously the same as holding the throttles wide open and my first test showed compression on the low side at only 90 – 100PSI. But this is with a cold engine that hasn’t run in a very long time. And the cylinders were equal to each other so I reasoned that after actually running, the test would show better.


    I checked the valve clearances, the point gap and the static timing. All were right on spec. Next I connected the original dual 6volt coils in series and ran a positive feed circuit through a toggle switch to power the coils. I installed a pair of BMW header pipes and then clamped on a pair of Emgo mufflers.
    The PO had included a brand new dual turret coil that he was obviously going to use but it is made in China and has the look of dubious quality. It would be easier to mount I guess but I'm sticking with the Bosch units.
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    With the carbs in place I was ready to run this Beemer engine on the bench.

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    And here is the first start up. You'll note that the engine is not secured to the bench in any way. Testament to the inherent balance of the boxer style engine.
    I filled the carb float bowls with fuel but unfortunately, my phone died before the gas ran out.



    Ken
    #9
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  10. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    I liked that last video because you held the phone sideways so that us guys with bad eyes could expand it up to full screen and see it. Those other vids -- too small even in full screen.
    #10
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  11. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the feedback. Duly noted. There might be some others that way as I'm a couple of weeks behind with this thread but in the future I'll try to remember to keep the phone sideways.

    Ken
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  12. Miggins1

    Miggins1 Been here awhile Supporter

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    While that was trying to start, was anybody else saying to the screen "start,ya bastard"?
    #12
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  13. GotDammitDave

    GotDammitDave Been here awhile

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    Following. I enjoyed your last thread and more than likely will enjoy this one also. You dont write to much! You explain thing much better. Looking forward to see how you make out with it
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  14. iantochips

    iantochips Long timer

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    Me too. I'd like to convert my CJ750, but R80 engines and the like have become very expensive anywhere in Europe. Still, I'll watch yours in a spirit of vicarious pleasure!
    #14
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  15. popov1100

    popov1100 Adventurer

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  16. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Excellent thread Ken. Looking forward to more.

    Nick
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  17. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    Thanks everyone!
    "Start ya Bastard!" :rofl Thanks Miggins1. I'd have been thinking that myself except I was busy trying to work the throttles and not short out my starter solenoid jumper.
    And thank you for the link to your project popov1100. I took a quick spin through all your photos and I'll be referring back to it I'm sure. And might have a question or two for you.
    Update coming soon.

    Ken
    #17
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  18. guzzirelic

    guzzirelic Been here awhile

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    With the BMW engine running reasonably well I moved on to the clutch. With this conversion I've already mentioned that the Dnepr gearbox is used so it must be mated to the Beemer engine. I understand it would be a straight bolt on if using a BMW slash two engine as the Dnepr input shaft splines match. But using the next generation, slash five engine makes things a little more interesting. For the slash five series BMW changed the gearbox design including going to a much finer input shaft spline. And of course the clutch disc spline matches. And doesn't match the Dnepr spline.
    So the answer is to use most of the slash five clutch with a slash two friction disc.

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    The top disc is the slash five, the lower from a slash two I believe. I could have used this one as although used, it measured up close to new thickness.
    But, there are other options that people have found over the years. I've heard, (but can't confirm) that there is a Volvo disc that matches the Dnepr input spine and possibly others. The PO of my Dnepr stash had purchased a brand new clutch disc, (with a spline that matches the Dnepr) that he said is from a British Hillman automobile. I tired searching the numbers I found on the disc to no avail however the manufacture's name is definitely a Brit company and a listing I found for a Hillman sedan turned up a similar looking part.
    The advantage to using this disc for me was that it is brand new; and it has torsion springs that are there to absorb some of the shock and vibrations of engagement.

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    For lack of a better name, I'll refer to this as the Hillman clutch disc. One difference is that the Hillman part's center hub is longer, (deeper?) than the slash five part. I had a coworker friend of mine take both discs home where he machined the Hillman hub to the same length of the original BMW.

    When removing the BMW outer plate to get to the disc you are releasing the diaphragm spring pressure. It's held by six bolts and the recommended method to avoid damage to any of the parts, (or the possibility of having any genuine German made clutch parts leave a nasty imprint on your face), is to use three longer bolts with nuts spun on to their shafts.
    You start by removing three of the six bolts, (the remaining three keep things safely together) and you replace these with the longer bolts. Wind the nuts up snug against the plate and then remove the last three retaining bolts. And you can now slowly and evenly release the diaphragm spring pressure by loosening the nuts on the longer bolts, a little bit at a time.

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    This is actually a photo of assembly using the same method but you get the idea.

    With everything apart here is what you have.
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    I cleaned and scuffed the pressure plate and cover plate surfaces and started to assemble the clutch using my Hillman disc. The first issue I ran into was that the centering tool for the standard slash five had a slight ridge where the diameter changed that stopped the tool from fully inserting into the Hillman disc. One of these days I should invest in a small lathe but I have no room and would need to learn how to use it. It would be handy for the times like this. I reasoned that it wouldn't matter if the diameter of the tool wasn't perfect as long as it fit through the clutch disc.
    Engineers and machinists, please avert your eyes...

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    What you see here is the BMW clutch alignment tool, chucked into my drill press. I've got it spinning and I'm taking down the diameter with a flat file.
    It worked fine.
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    As you can see, the end of the tool is now protruding far enough to engage the hole in the center of the pressure plate. All good...or is it?

    I started to thread the long bolts in through the cover plate, past the Hillman disc, through the pressure plate and into the flywheel. The first one went ok, the second was hard to align and start but it did. The third was a real struggle to get started. Something ain't right I thought to myself.
    Taking it all back apart revealed the problem. The three bolts I got started had left small but noticeable marks in the outer edge of the Hillman disc.

    Don't believe everything you're told. The Hillman part measured 185mm in diameter and of course the BMW discs are 180mm. For a few seconds I thought I'd have to use the slash two part. But I looked closely at the Hillman disc and realized that the excess (for my purpose) diameter was made up only of friction material and thus could easily be removed, bringing the diameter down to the 180mm I needed.
    And further thinking led me to decide that this process wouldn't need to be precise. The friction material weight would be negligible compared to the steel that makes up the hub and central part of the disc and therefore I wouldn't likely upset the balance to any extent.
    This decision was backed up by the fact that the disc would rarely see 5000 rpm.
    But how to accomplish this modification?
    I thought about making a mandrill and chucking it into the drill press. And then I looked at my bench grinder.
    In my stash of such things, I found a pair of plastic shock bushings that were just a bit too big to fit the disc splines. I pressed one in on each side of the Hillman disc and the splines cut into the plastic holding them very securely. The hole in the splines was a hair too big to be a tight enough fit on my bench grinder axle; this was easily solved with three wraps of electrical tape.
    With the disc taking the place of the wire wheel on my grinder I flipped the switch. She spun up fine and confirmed it was true on the axle by using a piece of coat hanger as a marker. From here it was an easy task to hold my belt sander against the edge of the disc as it spun and remove the friction material.
    I took very little off at a time, stopping to measure until I had my 180mm. And I wore a full face respirator and cleaned up the dust as soon as I was done.
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    I knew that the hub of the Hillman disc had lots of clearance against the pressure plate but I wanted to assure myself that the torsion springs and their holders did too.
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    Yes, that is peanut butter spread on the pressure plate. I carefully laid the disc in place. Lifting it off left a perfect imprint of the spring in the P.B and it was an easy measurement to take with a vernier depth micrometer. Clearance will be no problem; the disc will be past metal on metal long before the springs contact the pressure plate.
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    The peanut butter didn't go to waste as it was time to replenish the mouse traps in the garage anyhow. After which I assembled the clutch completely with no further issues. And now it's just a case of bolting the gearbox in place; easy-peasy, right?

    Ken
    #18
  19. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    You had me at "Engineers and machinists, please avert your eyes..." :lol3
    #19
  20. brstar

    brstar Long timer

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    A small lathe is a handy widget.
    Even with rudimentary skills.
    Trouble is I now want a drill mill.
    Oh and the same $ value in cutting bits and accessories.
    #20
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