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Thread: Steering Head Bearing Clean and Lub

  1. #1
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    Steering Head Bearing Clean and Lub

    OK, so I'vd read all the instructions form the experts and they say this is not a major undertaking....What do I need to know that I don't know. There's always a trick or two or a piece of equipment that turns out to be critical to completing a task like this.....how do I tie down the bike and get the front end up to slide the forks down....etc. etc.

    Help, I'm about to step off the edge and would like to be riding again without hauling all the parts to a BMW dealer 200 miles away to put it right.

    Long Distance Rider

  2. #2
    Liaison 20774's Avatar
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    When I did mine, I read these two articles several times. I had no real problems.

    http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/steering.htm

    http://www.ibmwr.org/r-tech/airheads...overhaul.shtml

    Only go as far as you need to in order to pull down the steering stem and lower yoke. In my case, the grease was original and dried up. I cleaned the lower bearing in place and relubed.
    Kurt -- Forum Liaison ---> Resources and Links Thread <---
    '78 R100/7 & '69 R69S & '52 R25/2
    mine-ineye-deatheah-pielayah-jooa-kalayus. oolah-minane-hay-meeriah-kal-oyus-algay-a-thaykin', buddy!

  3. #3
    From MARS
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    It really is a simple job. I was able to do it on my GSPD, and I don't have a lot of fancy tools. The only thing I would tell you is to go ahead and have the bearings handy. I thought the bearings were good before I took the bike apart, but after cleaning and regreasing, when I got the pre-load set, I could feel the notchiness.

    Tom

  4. #4
    Mine were never touched since new, but at only 21K miles they were still very sound. The grease was really nasty and hard - very waxy. I think by using modern synthetic grease I would never even bother doing this job again for another 32 years unless I road in a lot of dust or rain.

    It takes a little more time than you may think - especially putting it back together and getting the "tension" just right. I over did mine a bit thinking it would loosen up as the grease compressed a bit more - and it worked.

    If I had the time or inclination I would have figured out a way to put some zirk fittings in there, although it probably would not come even close to doing as good a job of distributing the grease by hand.

  5. #5
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    All Done

    Well, I finally got after it at about 0830 this morning.....removed the seat, tank, speedometer, bars, disconnected the battery and strapped every thing up and away from the top of the tripletree. Of course the nuts were bigger than the 1 1/16 that the procedure stated but no problemo, I happen to own a 18" Crescent wrench....which actually worked out pretty well to break the torque on the fork tubes.

    What I found was the top bearing was in excellent shape, with good grease and clean as a whistle......the bottom bearing was another story. It was completely crudded up with waxey grease....I used triclorethlene to clean out the bearing as best I could and had it spinning freely within a short time. I packed new Lithium waterproof grease in the bearings, top and bottom and reassembled the forks and tripletree.....three times as I didn't pay close enough attention to the stackup of the components when I took at apart.

    I talked to a friend of mine in Tucson who is a BMW Master Mechanic and he told me about stiction and what to do adjustment wise...which I did....and there you have it.

    The biggest problem was getting the front tire off and back on with the dual disks brakes....which I probably didn't need to do anyway, but there must be an easier way to remove a front tire with dual disks, and tieing down the bike to make myself confident that it wouldn't take a dive on me while I was jerking around front end components.

    The main Lesson Learned.....Just get after it, these bikes are not that tough to work on after all....total time including putting the top of the tripletree on wrong twice 4 hours....My friend had told me probably about 3 hours should do it....

    Long Distance Rider

  6. #6
    From MARS
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    I made a wooden stand that fits under the engine.

  7. #7
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    I just use an old scissorjack and a bit of wood under the oil pan. I prefer the scissor to the bottle jacks, as those can "relax" . Especially if you are called away, or need to buy another bike bit.

  8. #8
    From MARS
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    I just realized you didn't do anything else while you had the front end apart. You may be the only airhead around that doesn't suffer from the terribly expensive and time consuming "Might As Well" syndrome. You're really lucky!

    Tom

  9. #9
    --Tony AnnapolisAirhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 45889 View Post
    Well, I finally got after it at about 0830 this morning.....removed the seat, tank, speedometer, bars, disconnected the battery and strapped every thing up and away from the top of the tripletree. Of course the nuts were bigger than the 1 1/16 that the procedure stated but no problemo, I happen to own a 18" Crescent wrench....which actually worked out pretty well to break the torque on the fork tubes.
    Excellent!

    Er, 1 1/16 on a metric bike? Invest in metric and it all gets easier on these old bikes. You can probably safely lose the crescent wrench then too. I've always found them (and substituting SAE for metric sizes) all to easy to gnarl up the end of a nut or bolt and they can be downright dangerous loosening a high torque fastener. A correctly sized, 6 sided metric tool is your best bet on these old rides, IMO.

    Glad you got it all sorted out though.
    1971 BMW R75/5 | 1975 Moto Guzzi 850T Cafe | 1983 BMW R100RS | 1988 BMW R100GS
    1988 BMW K75 | 1998 BWM R1100RT | 2000 Moto Guzzi Quota 1100ES |2002 Moto Guzzi V11 LeMans

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by 45889 View Post
    Well, I finally got after it at about 0830 this morning.....removed the seat, tank, speedometer, bars, disconnected the battery and strapped every thing up and away from the top of the tripletree. Of course the nuts were bigger than the 1 1/16 that the procedure stated but no problemo, I happen to own a 18" Crescent wrench....which actually worked out pretty well to break the torque on the fork tubes.

    What I found was the top bearing was in excellent shape, with good grease and clean as a whistle......the bottom bearing was another story. It was completely crudded up with waxey grease....I used triclorethlene to clean out the bearing as best I could and had it spinning freely within a short time. I packed new Lithium waterproof grease in the bearings, top and bottom and reassembled the forks and tripletree.....three times as I didn't pay close enough attention to the stackup of the components when I took at apart.

    I talked to a friend of mine in Tucson who is a BMW Master Mechanic and he told me about stiction and what to do adjustment wise...which I did....and there you have it.

    The biggest problem was getting the front tire off and back on with the dual disks brakes....which I probably didn't need to do anyway, but there must be an easier way to remove a front tire with dual disks, and tieing down the bike to make myself confident that it wouldn't take a dive on me while I was jerking around front end components.

    The main Lesson Learned.....Just get after it, these bikes are not that tough to work on after all....total time including putting the top of the tripletree on wrong twice 4 hours....My friend had told me probably about 3 hours should do it....

    Long Distance Rider
    We may have a mutual friend - was it Roy in Tucson?

  11. #11
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    No, it's a guy named Ernie. He used to be the Master Technician for BMW Tri-State in Cincinnatti, a gone out of business BMW dealer. He is an old time millwright, back when millwright's could build or repair practically anything, and took up wrenching BMW's as a hobby. But as with most things he gets involved in, he ended up being the best....

    I first met him and his wife, Alice, after I transferred to Cincinnati in 1995. I saw his bike at the Rally in Durango and was blown away with what he had. He rode a red K75S and pulled a matching a little red trailer he had built from scratch with air suspension and a whole bunch of trick stuff that he had incorporated. He was so unimpressed with the commercially available wheels that he turned his own aluminum wheels on his lathe....hell of a Mechanic, hell of a guy. When I got to Cincinnati a year later I finally got to meet the guy with the cool trailer set up.

    He ended up retiring in Tucson, got tired of the snow and rain in the midwest, and took up wrenching on his expirmental airplane.

    Long distance Rider

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by 45889 View Post
    No, it's a guy named Ernie. He used to be the Master Technician for BMW Tri-State in Cincinnatti, a gone out of business BMW dealer. He is an old time millwright, back when millwright's could build or repair practically anything, and took up wrenching BMW's as a hobby. But as with most things he gets involved in, he ended up being the best....

    I first met him and his wife, Alice, after I transferred to Cincinnati in 1995. I saw his bike at the Rally in Durango and was blown away with what he had. He rode a red K75S and pulled a matching a little red trailer he had built from scratch with air suspension and a whole bunch of trick stuff that he had incorporated. He was so unimpressed with the commercially available wheels that he turned his own aluminum wheels on his lathe....hell of a Mechanic, hell of a guy. When I got to Cincinnati a year later I finally got to meet the guy with the cool trailer set up.

    He ended up retiring in Tucson, got tired of the snow and rain in the midwest, and took up wrenching on his expirmental airplane.

    Long distance Rider
    Sounds like a very cool guy. I've spent some time building my own stuff too - from motorcycle trailers to helping build a Long EZE (canard wing experimental plane) Here's my "BMW trailer": (picture attached - a rather -cough- worked up Harbor Freight and Sears topper special)

    We've sure got a wealth of airhead knowledge here in Tucson - from my friend Roy who has been wrenching on BMW's for 30 years (and a fellow pilot) - to my most recent friend, Anthony. He's REALLY old school and a German - what a cool guy.
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