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Thread: First-time valve adjustment on ‘04 K1200GT

  1. #1
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    First-time valve adjustment on ‘04 K1200GT

    I’m in the midst of a first-time (for me) valve check/adjustment on my ‘04 K1200GT. It’s at 23.7k miles and the valves were done by the dealer once - years ago - at 12k mi. Figured it would be better to do it now (long story) rather than wait for another 6k miles.

    So... in I go, and I discover 4 of the 8 intake valves are loose. All of the exhaust valves’ gaps in spec.

    Taking my measurements to my helpful local dealer, the tech there told me that two of them are close enough that, were he to contact BMW, they would suggest leaving them alone. For anyone interested, here’s my measurements with a good (verified) set of feeler gauges. All numbers are millimeters:

    GO NO-GO
    ———— ————-
    0.20 0.23
    0.20 0.23
    0.23 0.25
    0.23 0.25

    Spec on the intake valves is 0.15-0.20 mm. The first two above are the ones that I was told would be ok to leave as is. The last two are definitely out.

    So... another new learning experience: removing the intake camshaft. So far, so good, thanks to the Clymer and an online YouTube video. Turns out one of the two buckets that are out can be swapped in to the other that’s out.

    So that leaves me buying only one bucket - at $35.

    Now the frustrating part: The dealership doesn’t have it in stock. In fact, it seems that they run a very lean inventory and don’t have most of the common shim thicknesses in stock. At least for the K-brick engines that used those buckets.

    They have to order it, and good news, it’s coming from Stockton, CA which isn’t too far away. My guess is that BMW America has a warehouse there. Bad news: I order it on Wednesday, order gets placed on Thursday with two-day delivery. BUT... they ship FedEx and won’t authorize Saturday delivery - so says the parts guy. So that means Monday. Oh, wait - dealership closed on Monday. So, Tuesday.

    Bottom line: 5 day wait for crucial part, with the guts of my bike’s engine exposed for the duration and my significant other annoyed at the delay in reclaiming her garage, where I’m doing the work.

    Punch line: Is there a better, faster way to get these parts? I’ve been told that some of the forums have members who save old buckets (they apparently really don’t wear out) and sell/swap them. Does BMW MOA have such an “exchange”? I’m particularly miffed at the dealer since (I’m told) the valve job is ultimately iterative: you measure, calculate what you need, and swap it in. But the only way you really know it’s good is to re-measure. And (according to the dealership tech), sometimes you have to repeat. As in, re-remove the camshaft, etc. Now we’re talking weeks, not days...

    Editorial comment: I read post after post on this and other forums about how rarely the K-brick engines’ valves need actual adjustment. I was such a believer (having read it on good forums such as this one) that I was shocked that FOUR of eight intake valves were out. So much so that I wondered if my feeler-gauge technique was wrong - and I shot a little two-minute video of myself inserting the gauges and showed it to the very patient and helpful dealership service guys. Who said no, I wasn’t doing it incorrectly.

    They also told me something interesting: The intake valves are loose because the engine is running a bit rich and there are carbon deposits building up on the valve seats. Such deposits don’t form on exhaust valves. That’s consistent with my visual read of the spark plugs, which also indicate rich combustion (dark brown color rather than tan).

    Final thought: I bought this bike in 2006 from the original owner, who’d had a “performance chip” installed. As many of you know, those devices re-map the engine controller’s algorithm for fuel/air ratio and they negate the lean-burning, power-sapping, emissions-meeting ratios of today’s engines. Wondering: is that the reason that my valves and plugs point to rich combustion? And, if so, at the end of the day, is a few more horsepower worth it?

    ~ Corey

  2. #2
    Registered User AntonLargiader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by del59803518_coreyd View Post
    Bad news: I order it on Wednesday, order gets placed on Thursday with two-day delivery. BUT... they ship FedEx and won’t authorize Saturday delivery - so says the parts guy. So that means Monday. Oh, wait - dealership closed on Monday. So, Tuesday.
    Or ask them to VOR it on Wednesday, they have it Thursday. Costs a few bucks more. Some dealerships don't like to do this because VORs are counted differently in their parts sales figures, but ask them to do that.

    Or you can just button your bike up again and go ride for a week. It worked fine before, right?

    If you think the clearance is wider due to carbon buildup, do an Italian tune-up and see if that changes anything. If nothing else, you'll have some fun!
    Anton Largiader 72724
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    Virginia Motorrad Werkstatt BMW motorcycle service and repair in central Virginia

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    Anton,

    Thanks for your thoughts. Having never heard of a VOR nor an Italian Tuneup, I naturally checked them both out. I gather that a VOR on such an order would be simply a request to overnight ship it? And for me to pay the higher shipping cost, I’d suppose. Is there something else, specifically, that a VOR is all about?

    As for an Italian tuneup... All I can say is:
    Yeeh... HAW!!!
    That would be either loads of fun on a track or a very expensive, possibly lose-your-license moving violation. Or maybe both. My insurance premiums would be off the charts, even though I’m a gray-hair who’s been riding for 40 years. I’ve only opened her up like that once, years ago. Red line, chest flat on the tank, straight rural road with several-mile forward visibility, no intersections. 153 mph indicated on this bike. I swore I’d never do that again.

    You’re right that I could button her up and go ride. But as a newbie mechanic, I’m nervous enough as it is, slapping the camshaft in and out, and only want to do that as few times as necessary. I’m learning a lot from this experience, but I don’t want to push my luck!

    Next time will be easier - and quicker - I’m sure.

    Cheers.

  4. #4
    Registered User AntonLargiader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by del59803518_coreyd View Post
    ..I gather that a VOR on such an order would be simply a request to overnight ship it? And for me to pay the higher shipping cost, I’d suppose. Is there something else, specifically, that a VOR is all about?
    From the customer's perspective, yes. Behind the scenes, I'm sure it's a bit more complicated than some dude in a BMW warehouse saying, "Sure, I'll drop that in overnight for you." The upcharge is a relatively small percentage of the part price; definitely not enough to cover the shipping in most cases. There's an early-day VOR (place the order by early to mid-afternoon or something) and a late-day one (6:00 PM or maybe even later depending on time zones) with different upcharges. Some dealerships do most of their repair work with VOR parts so they don't have to inventory as much and can still get bikes out the door. Cam buckets and shims are great candidates for this approach. But there's an administrative downside; for instance at one point I know VORs were not counted toward total sales when it came to how much inventory a parts department could return at the end of a year.
    Anton Largiader 72724
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    Virginia Motorrad Werkstatt BMW motorcycle service and repair in central Virginia

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    <>

    The stock bike makes 130 HP at just under 9000 RPM and fully wide open throttle. If you operate there often enough to find the power lacking, then an aftermarket chip might be worth it.
    If you are operating primarily at lower RPM and less than WOT, you are not utilizing all the power a stock bike can produce. More HP is available to you for free just up the torque curve.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by AntonLargiader View Post
    From the customer's perspective, yes. Behind the scenes, I'm sure it's a bit more complicated than some dude in a BMW warehouse saying, "Sure, I'll drop that in overnight for you." The upcharge is a relatively small percentage of the part price; definitely not enough to cover the shipping in most cases. There's an early-day VOR (place the order by early to mid-afternoon or something) and a late-day one (6:00 PM or maybe even later depending on time zones) with different upcharges. Some dealerships do most of their repair work with VOR parts so they don't have to inventory as much and can still get bikes out the door. Cam buckets and shims are great candidates for this approach. But there's an administrative downside; for instance at one point I know VORs were not counted toward total sales when it came to how much inventory a parts department could return at the end of a year.
    Anton, thanks for the inside tips. Next time I need a part 'fast' from my local dealer, I'll see if they will do the VOR. Probably not, though: I've gotten pretty friendly with them in the course of this first-time-DIY 24k service and they've griped to me about how their 25% re-stocking fee often doesn't even cover the cost of them return-shipping the part to the regional warehouse. That's particularly true for small, heavy metal parts: the shipping box is small, but the shipping weight isn't.

    They've also told me a thing or two about how difficult it is to stay profitable in a high-cost-of-doing-business locale like here in Silicon Valley, since they have to compete with the likes of Amazon for many, many (non-OEM) parts and accessories.

    They are a super great shop in terms of their service and support - have been incredibly helpful in guiding me through this first-timer experience. But their parts business is running on razor-thin margins.

    There's probably a lot of that going around in major US metro areas.

    Cheers,
    Corey

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffDiCarlo View Post
    <>

    The stock bike makes 130 HP at just under 9000 RPM and fully wide open throttle. If you operate there often enough to find the power lacking, then an aftermarket chip might be worth it.
    If you are operating primarily at lower RPM and less than WOT, you are not utilizing all the power a stock bike can produce. More HP is available to you for free just up the torque curve.
    Right, makes total sense.

    That said, I'm not familiar enough with the inner workings of the aftermarket chips to have a sense of any difference they make in terms of throttle RESPONSE, not top-end HP. Any thoughts on that?

    ~ Corey

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    Update... and another question or two

    Update: The valve bucket finally arrived Tuesday and today I buttoned up the valve cover, having re-installed the intake camshaft, both cam sprockets, and the cam chain guide rail.

    I had a lot of trouble yesterday getting enough slack in the cam timing chain to get both sprockets onto the ends of the camshafts. The technique of inserting a pin in the screw hole for the cam chain tensioner (I used a 1/8" drill bit) apparently didn't work when I first did it. I'd wondered about it when I did it, about 10 days ago: how do you know that the pin has actually engaged the shoulder in the cam chain tensioner shaft, thereby retracting it and slackening the chain sufficiently? Turns out, I hadn't gotten it engaged. And when I removed the two sprockets (about 8 days ago) I noticed that the chain tension relaxed, and thought.... hmmm... this could get interesting.

    And yesterday, it did, indeed.

    A much more experienced buddy came over last night to help me struggle with it, and struggle we did. Finally, after over an hour of wrestling, tugging, leveraging on non-critical surfaces - all to no avail - he fiddled again with that little pin and felt it seat itself more deeply. And, BOOM, just like that the chain was slack and the 2nd sprocket lined up with the exhaust camshaft with no effort, no wrestling or tugging.

    So... that bit of mischief: finally managed.

    Question is, how do I avoid this NEXT time I do the valves (which will be sooner than another 12k miles, due to what's a separate and long story)? How do I know when the pin is actually seated down far enough that it's really taking the tension out of the cam chain? Does it simply take repeated experience with this operation, or is there some trick to it? Anyone...?

    Lastly: after re-installing the camshaft (intake only; exhaust valves were all originally in spec), I manually turned over the engine a number of times (as instructed by the Clymer: bike in 6th gear, rotating the rear wheel by pushing on it with my foot) to seat the buckets, and re-measured the gaps. They were all in spec now, but every one of them was a little smaller (roughly one feeler-gauge size, or 0.001") than they had been when I first went in there. That makes sense to me: the valve buckets were probably not yet as firmly/fully seated as they will be after the engine really spins for a while).

    Question on this: is this experience (i.e., smaller gaps after removing and re-installing all the buckets and the camshaft) the rule, or is it something to note as an exception?

    Thanks,
    Corey

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    Quote Originally Posted by del59803518_coreyd View Post
    ..
    ...
    I had a lot of trouble yesterday getting enough slack in the cam timing chain to get both sprockets onto the ends of the camshafts. The technique of inserting a pin in the screw hole for the cam chain tensioner (I used a 1/8" drill bit) apparently didn't work when I first did it. I'd wondered about it when I did it, about 10 days ago: how do you know that the pin has actually engaged the shoulder in the cam chain tensioner shaft, thereby retracting it and slackening the chain sufficiently? Turns out, I hadn't gotten it engaged. And when I removed the two sprockets (about 8 days ago) I noticed that the chain tension relaxed, and thought.... hmmm... this could get interesting.
    ...
    ....
    Question is, how do I avoid this NEXT time I do the valves (which will be sooner than another 12k miles, due to what's a separate and long story)? How do I know when the pin is actually seated down far enough that it's really taking the tension out of the cam chain? Does it simply take repeated experience with this operation, or is there some trick to it? Anyone...?
    ..
    ...
    You are not the first one to struggle with the cam-chain tensioner to get enough slack. The K1200 "brick-engine" tensioner design is different than previous "brick-engines" like K100-K75-K1100.

    ON the "now closed" I-BMW.com forum and also on other K1200 forums, this struggle has been posted many times during last 15 years. Although, in general most will check clearance BUT will let the dealer do the hard job when/if any buckets need to be replaced.

    1) 1st common issue is that some have not used a 1/8 inch pin or drill bit. Based on your description above you seem OK on this.

    2) the slack need to be taken out from top, so as to allow all chain slack to be at bottom before you try to insert the pin ( or drill bit). This is often done by gently using a 19mm wrench on top camshaft , turning clockwise view from front of engine. Then repeat same for lower camshaft so chain does not bundle up in between both camshafts.

    3) the 3rd issue is not seeing from the outside how far you need to insert this pin / drill-bit. If you are not at least 35 mm inside (1.38 inch) then the pin can move sideway a bit , and the tensioner piston will slip thru (see 1st and 2nd photos attached)

    Because the tensioner assy is attached to cover (unlike previous "brick") you are allowed to insert pin deeper than length specified above. This design will allow at least 1/4 inch (6 mm) further until the pin hit the crankcase / cylinder wall behind. So you should take advantage of this fact to make sure you are deep enough (see last photo)

    4) finally, do NOT remove or loosen the camshafts sprockets before you are sure the tensioner is really locked down -AND- the pistons are all at 90 BTDC (middle of travel from top to bottom of stroke). CLYMER manual gives you a good hint at what to look (for camshafts position) without having to remove the spark-plugs to check 90 BTDC (not recommended to remove spark-plugs for carbon drop outs as specified in BMW shop manual for most "bricks").

    5) When working on pushing the tensioner and lower guide down, keep in mind there is a fairly good spring under this piston. Futhermore, if bike has not been parked for many days after a ride, there is still some remaining oil pressure under piston. See last attached photo...


    If you care to read more about this, there was a good (a bit long) tread on the same issue on the K1200LT forum last year - this is on another web site. In this K1200LT thread my alias as a member is "Sailor":
    https://www.bmwlt.com/forums/k1200lt...tensioner.html


    K1200LT-RS Cam chain tensionner step 1.jpg

    K1200LT-RS Cam chain tensionner step 2.JPG

    K1200Rs_TimingChain_Cover_with-Tensioner.JPG

    K1200RS_Cam-chain-tensionner spring.jpg
    Last edited by myK1200rs; 09-20-2019 at 05:20 PM.
    JEAN
    Montreal (CANADA)
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    Current: K1200RS (2002) with 96,000 miles (155,000 KM)

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    Quote Originally Posted by myK1200rs View Post
    You are not the first one to struggle with the cam-chain tensioner to get enough slack. The K1200 "brick-engine" tensioner design is different than previous "brick-engines" like K100-K75-K1100.

    ON the "now closed" I-BMW.com forum and also on other K1200 forums, this struggle has been posted many times during last 15 years. Although, in general most will check clearance BUT will let the dealer do the hard job when/if any buckets need to be replaced.

    1) 1st common issue is that some have not used a 1/8 inch pin or drill bit. Based on your description above you seem OK on this.

    2) the slack need to be taken out from top, so as to allow all chain slack to be at bottom before you try to insert the pin ( or drill bit). This is often done by gently using a 19mm wrench on top camshaft , turning clockwise view from front of engine. Then repeat same for lower camshaft so chain does not bundle up in between both camshafts.

    3) the 3rd issue is not seeing from the outside how far you need to insert this pin / drill-bit. If you are not at least 35 mm inside (1.38 inch) then the pin can move sideway a bit , and the tensioner piston will slip thru (see 1st and 2nd photos attached)

    Because the tensioner assy is attached to cover (unlike previous "brick") you are allowed to insert pin deeper than length specified above. This design will allow at least 1/4 inch (6 mm) further until the pin hit the crankcase / cylinder wall behind. So you should take advantage of this fact to make sure you are deep enough (see last photo)

    4) finally, do NOT remove or loosen the camshafts sprockets before you are sure the tensioner is really locked down -AND- the pistons are all at 90 BTDC (middle of travel from top to bottom of stroke). CLYMER manual gives you a good hint at what to look (for camshafts position) without having to remove the spark-plugs to check 90 BTDC (not recommended to remove spark-plugs for carbon drop outs as specified in BMW shop manual for most "bricks").

    5) When working on pushing the tensioner and lower guide down, keep in mind there is a fairly good spring under this piston. Futhermore, if bike has not been parked for many days after a ride, there is still some remaining oil pressure under piston. See last attached photo...

    Wow, Jean!

    Je suis très impressionné par votre réponse détaillée. C'est très utile à ma compréhension!

    Thank you so very much. I’d figured I wasn’t the first one to struggle with this, and I appreciate your help. Your comments and photos make things clearer, for sure!

    I’ll definitely have a look at the other forum thread you mentioned. You know how this goes: once you struggle with something, you want to know everything there is to know about how people do it right!

    Meanwhile, a few quick responses to your comments:

    1). Correct; I used a drill bit.

    2). Yes, my more-experienced buddy showed me this, but at that point I had already blown it and failed to seat the pin far enough so that the cam tensioner was really retracted.

    3). This is the gist of it. If I’d known your guidance about how deep the pin should go, minimum, I’d have realized I didn’t have it seated and would have continued to fiddle with it before removing the cam sprockets.

    4). Yep - that was indeed my mistake! The Clymer shows you a technique for finding 90 BTDC that involves removing the spark plugs and inserting a wooden dowel in the plug holes until it contacts the piston crown. You then make marks on the dowel at BDC and TDC and split the difference to define the point where the pistons are halfway up their stroke. I didn’t know that removing the plugs was not recommended. Doesn’t that make it hard to turn over the engine manually? Maybe you don’t really need to do that if you’ve located 90 BTDC another way and only need to make small movements of the camshaft w/ the 19mm wrench.

    5). Yes, the Clymer mentions the residual oil pressure inside the tensioner piston and tells you to manually rotate the rear wheel with the bike in 6th gear to turn over the engine and ‘pump’ that oil out of the weep hole in the top of the piston. I did that (before removing the cam sprockets) but it wasn’t sufficient to retract the piston.

    It’s not clear to me at all how that piston actually gets retracted against the spring force, which as your picture shows, is fairly substantial. Certainly, inserting the pin doesn’t, by itself, depress the piston. This is something I still don't get; maybe the other forum thread will have details.

    Thanks again!

    ~ Corey

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    Quote Originally Posted by del59803518_coreyd View Post
    Wow, Jean!
    ...
    ....
    4). Yep - that was indeed my mistake! The Clymer shows you a technique for finding 90 BTDC that involves removing the spark plugs and inserting a wooden dowel in the plug holes until it contacts the piston crown. You then make marks on the dowel at BDC and TDC and split the difference to define the point where the pistons are halfway up their stroke. I didn’t know that removing the plugs was not recommended. Doesn’t that make it hard to turn over the engine manually? Maybe you don’t really need to do that if you’ve located 90 BTDC another way and only need to make small movements of the camshaft w/ the 19mm wrench.
    ...
    ....
    It’s not clear to me at all how that piston actually gets retracted against the spring force, which as your picture shows, is fairly substantial. Certainly, inserting the pin doesn’t, by itself, depress the piston. This is something I still don't get; maybe the other forum thread will have details.

    ~ Corey

    Ok... I only quoted the part of message that required further clarifications:

    1) Engine can be turned over in 6th gear on center-stand - fighting compression in 6th using rear wheel is not so bad considering I am NOT a very heavy or muscular guy. In addition to wooden dowel technique, CLYMER also explains how to double check the camshafts lobe position - so you do not really need to remove spark plugs. I have been doing this many times in last 15 years without touching spark-plugs - not until I am done with all measurements and bucket change (if changes were needed).

    2) About this question "It’s not clear to me at all how that piston actually gets retracted against the spring force"
    re-reading my last post, I realize my mistake in one section - let me correct what I wrote and also clarify further:

    - the part about using 19 mm wrench on both camshaft should have said "turning counter clockwise as view from front". What you are attempting to do is to tighten the bottom part of the cam chain without jamming it between the 2 camshafts. By going slowly (about 3 or 4 times) from lower camshafts to upper camshaft, you are sending some of the "looseness" of the chain in the upper part of the chain (between inlet cam and crankshaft sprocket).

    - the above 19mm wrench movements will tighten the lower part of the chain and push the lower guide / rail down. This lower rail will in turn push down on piston - as the top of the tensioner piston is touching the lower part of this rail at YELLOW arrow in my photo. CLYMER has photo of this (with cover removed), but I have attached one just in case to make my point clear.

    - In some difficult cases, you can also try to push down on lower guide / rail using a long thin tool / screwdriver just as you attempt to push your drill bit into tensioner (follow RED arrow in photo). HOWEVER, with timing cover in place there is very little room to work in this area and if you slip you could damage either (1) plastic guide or (2) one link of the chain. So this technique is not as safe as the long process of turning both camshafts slowly to get the lower part of chain tight.


    P.S.:
    In this sentence "Je suis très impressionné par votre réponse détaillée. C'est très utile à ma compréhension!"
    did you use a translator software or can you actually write / speak french ? Of course except for a very small group here, my French has little value. Although English is my 2nd language, I have spent the last 25 years of my life either: teaching in English as a civil aviation Instructor (5 years) OR been doing software programming + support + technical manuals in English (about 20 years but only half time in English). I always use / read Shop-manual for anything only in English. So... although I still have an occasional brain fart when explaining something in English (as you saw), I am getting better at it slowly ;-)

    k1200rs_TimingChain_tensionner (where to push).JPG
    Last edited by myK1200rs; 09-20-2019 at 11:08 PM.
    JEAN
    Montreal (CANADA)
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    Current: K1200RS (2002) with 96,000 miles (155,000 KM)

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