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Simplifying

Some time before the move I ordered up an Exhaust Plumbiing Alternative (EPA) Kit from Bob’s BMW and promptly tossed the kit in Strix’s tank bag and forgot about it. On the way back from the BMW MOA rally in Springfield, MO I felt like the bike ran poorly and the fuel economy was worse than I was used to with Otus. When I got home I tucked the bike into the shop and went about recuperating from the heat. A few days later I was unpacking the bike and rediscovered the EPA kit in the tank bag. It was time to get to work!

The “pollution control” stuff installed at the factory consisted of pipes that connect the cylinder heads to the airbox. Removing these pipes and installing the kit itself was easy enough but to get everything cleaned up I had to get into the airbox to remove and plug some vacuum hoses. Once I was inside the airbox I realized that the fuel delivery plumbing was also overly-complicated so I decided to simplify that as well. Under the starter cover there were two “solenoids” of some kind that the fuel passed through. These were connected to the fuel tank and carburetors through a maze of fuel hose. With the starter cover off I was able to remove the solenoids and sinmplify the top of the fuel delivery plumbing. The most challenging part of the reconfiguration though was adding a crossover fuel line like on Otus. To get the crossover fuel line added I had to remove the airbox entirely. This proved to be a challenge until I figure out how to get crankcase vent tube. With that, and the associated pieces out of the way I was able to remove the airbox, add the crossover fuel line, and button everything back up. I even used the appropriate Airhead braided fuel line when re-plumbing the entire setup! Now it looks like a proper Airhead. A turn of the key and a press of the starter button and Strix came alive, and sounded much better!

While I was able to execute this project to near completion with the parts I had on-hand (the EPA kit, Airhead fuel line, and fuel tees) the EPA kit provided screws to plug the vacuum ports on the carburetors. Unfortunately the vacuum ports on Strix’s carburetors were not threaded so I had to order up a vacuum plug kit from my friends at Amazon to complete the project.

As the saying goes, pictures or it didn’t happen. Unfortunately I’m a bit rusty and I didn’t get any before picture. I do, however, have a couple of after pictures that show what got removed and the neat and clean fuel line plumbing that makes Strix look like a proper Airhead!

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Oil Spill

Oil Cooler Failure

At the conclusion of this year’s Airtoberfest Otus’ oil cooler failed. Fortunately the failure was very noisy and I was able to shut him down before all the oil sprayed out. Unfortunately I was 125 miles away from home and no way to repair or bypass the oil cooler on the spot. The get home solution was AAA. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere AAA Premier RV service has been a lifesaver more than once and they came to the rescue yet again! The only constraint was that I was not allowed to ride in the cab of the tow truck due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately a friend was willing to drive me home so all was well and I was home not much later than I would have been had the oil cooler cooperated.

I added the oil cooler at a point in time where I was all about accessorizing Otus. I stumbled upon the oil cooler, thought it would make sense to cool the oil even more and add a little capacity to the oil system. Now that it stranded me I decided to remove it and put Otus’ oil system back to stock. Unfortunately this meant I needed to order a part as the addition of the oil cooler required the replacement of the stock oil filter tube with a much longer tube. This longer oil filter tube prevents the stock oil filter cover from fitting so I once again turned to my friends at Bob’s BMW for the part I needed to get Otus back on the road.

I spent some time reviewing the microfische and decided the part I needed was labeled “pipe” and cost $8.68. Unfortunately I wasn’t 100% certain I had found the correct part due to the vague description so I called Bob’s. They double-checked for me, confirmed it was the correct part, and I added it to my shopping cart. I also bought another oil change kit as I like to have one on-hand for the next oil change. I removed the long pipe, installed the short pipe, buttoned everything up, and Otus started right up with no leaks! While having the oil cooler might have helped in some situations not having it repaired and reinstalled makes Otus less complex and, dare I say – simple by choice.

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TWINMAX

Balancing Otus’ Carburetors

The sun was shining, the temperature was perfect, but Otus’ carburetors needed balancing before taking a ride. Last year I bought a TWINMAX Carburetor Balancer, but ran out of riding season before using it. Now that Winter is giving way to Spring, and it was finally dry on a non-work day, the time for balancing the carburetors seemed right.

There are so many explanations of how to balance carbs with or without a balancing tool I really don’t have a lot to add to the discussion. That said, the first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with the tool you’re going to use, so read the instructions! I also recommend that the process be performed after the machine is warmed up and has been put through its paces. Oh, and you should also wear gloves because the exhaust gets hot!

So, warm up the motorcycle, read the manual, and wear your gloves! With the carburetors balanced Otus was a happy Airhead. He ran great and that made me happy too!

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Hella Lights on the GS

Hella Lights for the GS

See Me!

You can go a couple of ways with "hella." You could go the way the young people use the word or you could simply accept this as the brand name. I think I'm going to ride the fence on this one and say that the Hella lights on the GS are hella cool and hella bright. And to be clear, these lights aren't just for me to see better but also for me to be seen better. The number of people turning left in front of me has gone down since adding these lights to Otus so the GS needed a set as well. I attempted to install these lights as I did on Otus but there are a few significant differences - I don't have crash bars on the GS and the wiring is quite a bit different. I was, however, able to put together a gadget bar much like the one on Otus, but with one difference.

Here's how this went down. The GS has a bar under the headlight that is threaded on the ends. Amazingly enough the bolts for the Hella light mounts were threaded the same as that bar. Good planning by the BMW Engineers? Good planning by the Hella Engineers? Blind shit-house luck? Hard to say but mounting the lights was a snap. Next was the wiring. I'd done this before on Otus so the installation of the relay and wiring was similarly easy. The instructions provided with the kit are OK but I'm not an electrical engineer so they could have been a bit more explicit. Having installed this kit before on another bike made this a straight-forward process.

The only challenge with this installation was coming up with power behind the ignition. Fortunately there are two fuses inline and the local auto parts store had spare fuses in stock! This part of the installation was different, and honestly I'm still not sure why. I'm sure someone out there will read this and know why right off the bat but again, I'm not an electrical engineer so I'm figuring this out as I go.

The relay in the kit comes with a wiring loom and simple instructions - connect the red lead to the battery and the ground goes to the frame (and there are plenty of places on the frame where the paint is scratched off so the frame ground is solid). Send power to the lights and ground the lights to the frame also (same comment on this frame ground as well). The tricky part here turned out to be the power and ground behind the ignition. I grabbed power from the marker light in the headlight bucket and ran that ground to frame also (just like I did on Otus) but when I turned on the bike the light fuse popped. I then moved the ground to the ground tab on the marker light, replaced the fuse, and there was light. The lesson for me is that, on the GS anyway, grounding the switch to the frame is a no-no.

I now have some spare fuses in my tool kit and really, really bright lights! I've started a mental count of left-turners that don't turn left in front of me. The current count is 3.

Pictures or it Didn't Happen

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Givi, not Luftmeister, Top Case

Something unexpected happened today. I got an email from the seller of the Luftmeister top case. He told me the hasp on the case was broken and asked if I still wanted it. I asked for a refund and he gave me a refund. I knew he didn't have a key for the lock but I don't think he knew the hasp was broken. Honestly prevailed and he told me about it BEFORE he shipped it. That's just awesome and very much appreciated.

But I Still Need a Top Case

Need might be a little strong but having a top case makes it easier to get where I'm going with my stuff. When I got the R1150R it didn't have a top case so I ordered up a Givi top case. I also got a universal mounting bracket to install on Otus but decided I liked the vintage look of the Luftmeister top case. The Givi case went with the R1150R when I traded for the GS. My Luftmeister case didn't survive my accident. I've wanted to replace it for some time, and hoped this was going to work out, but it was not to be. Because I still have the universal mounting plate I decided to give up on the quest for a replacement Luftmeister top case and I ordered up a new Givi top case. The last one I had was an enormous 57 liter case. This time I decided to go with a slightly smaller 47 liter case. This should keep my stuff from being scattered when I head to the upcoming rally.

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Luftmeister Top Case

I finally committed to a replacement Luftmeister case for Otus. My Luftmeister case was a casualty of my accident and was replaced with a Givi top case. While the Givi case was really nice, it was also the top case for my R1150R. When the R1150R was traded for the GS, the Givi top case went along with the R1150R. Since that time Otus has been without a top case. He looks good without it, but with rally season upon us a top case would be a nice-to-have. My friends at eBay facilitated the transaction and a new-to-me Luftmeister top case will be here in about a week.

It's Old

Part of the joy and challenge of a 1977 motorcycle is being period-correct yet functional. I never had a problem with the Luftmeister top case (until it exploded on impact). It looked correct on Otus and was just roomy enough to hold some light weight gear for making camping more comfortable. I have a bag of things I consider essential for life on the road and they fit well in a Luftmeister top case. I'm happy to have a replacement Luftmeister top case on the way. This is the final piece to restore Otus to rally configuration.

I'll add pictures during and after the installation.

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Airhead Revival

Airhead Revival

Slowly but surely I'm making progress on the Project Bike - the 1982 R100 RT. I decided to start from the back of the bike and work my way forward. I started by removing and disposing of the Luftmeister top case. The previous owner had a motorcycle riding friend get rear-ended once upon a time. As he didn't want to get rear ended either he decided to install lights in the top case. The cuts were too large to patch so the top case went into the bin. I am hoping to find a more usable Luftmeister top case of the appropriate vintage to install on this bike (or, possibly, install on Otus?).

With the top case out of the way, and because the back-to-front work requires I make some room, I decided the next course of action was removing the tractor battery. The problem with the tractor battery was that I couldn't get it out without removing the air box. With the air box out of the way the battery finally came out (thanks Garrett!). I also drained and removed the fuel tank so I could get a better look at what lies ahead.

The next step is going to be to drain the final drive and drive shaft so I can replace the shaft boot and check the final drive for wear. I'll also give the bike a good spline lube while I'm in there. We'll see where this all takes me.

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The RT - Featured

BMW R100 RT – Reise-Tourer

Not As Vintage as Otus Airhead

I love my Airhead. People who know me know this. I try not to talk too much about Otus but sometimes I can't help myself. I've also come to understand that a 42 year old motorcycle, like a veteran ball player, needs some time off during the season. With these thoughts rolling around in my head I stumbled upon a 1982 R100 RT - Reise-Tourer - hiding in a garage in Manhattan, KS. The seller had retired from riding in 2016 but made it official when I bought this machine.

The motorcycle has been sitting since at least 2016 as that's the most recent renewal sticker on the license plate. It appears this was a soft retirement as the fuel tank is nearly full of vintage gasoline and the top case and panniers are also full of the bits and pieces a rider collects over years of riding. The bike is rough around the edges and needs a bit of love, but the bones are good.

There are, at least right now, two possible outcomes for this machine:

  1. clean it up, catch it up on all service and fluids, makes sure it runs right, and I re-sell it.
  2. do everything in #1 but I replace the BMW RT fairing with my Don Vesco Rabid Transit fairing and keep the bike as Otus' understudy

There's also the crazy notion of making this a sidecar rig. Regardless of the final outcome I'm focused on #1 right now.

P.S. - the helmet came home with me too!

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Jesse Top Case - Featured

Installing a Jesse Top Case

Getting Started

Installing a Jesse Top Case isn't difficult, but the complete lack of instructions means you have to think about how you're going to make it happen. There were a couple of challenges for me with this installation. The first issue is the baggage porter (the official term for the luggage rack according to the BMW microfiche) on the GS. It appears the baggage porter is a stock BMW part but it had several cracks. A quick trip to Bob's BMW revealed a price tag I didn't like ($326.28) so I found a local welder to make repairs. Dave's Welding & Restoration repaired the cracks for a fraction of the cost of the new part. YaY! Dave!

Top Case Mounting Plate

Vintage Bits

The second issue is the plate that was the top case mounting bits already installed on the GS. As far as I can tell these are "vintage" Jesse Luggage bits but neither the compartment nor the plate had any markings to help me be sure. Anyway, I like the lockable compartment - and it was keyed to the side cases - but the plate itself has been cut to fit in spite of the handle bolted to the baggage porter. I sat the top case on the plate and saw that the turned up edges would prevent the top case from mounting flush to the lockable compartment, so the plate would have to go, but it definitely had a role to play in completing the installation.

Measure Lots, Drill Once

I drilled holes in my brand new $340 top case. I hate drilling holes in stuff - especially new, expensive stuff. I knew that I needed to install the top case directly on the locking compartment so I had to figure out how to transfer the mounting hole dimensions to the bottom of the top case. Then it hit me - I could use the legacy mounting plate as a template. I grabbed a roll of one of my favorite substances - double-faced foam tape - to help me in this quest. I put a couple of small pieces of tape on the locking compartment to hold the plate in place - curved edges pointed down. I then used several pieces of tape to keep it stuck to the top case when I had it in the position I wanted. Being able to easily remove the plate from the locking compartment was what was going to make or break this approach. The plate remained stuck to the bottom of the top case without a big fight removing it from the locking compartment. A red sharpie and a sharp twist drill is all I needed to drill the holes. A quick eyeball check showed that my plan had worked!

When I originally separated the plate from the locking compartment there was a foam tape sandwiched between. I wandered the aisles of my local hardware store and settled on the Loctite mounting tape for my top case installation. I wasn't sure about the foam tape I found and thought the Loctite product would be more durable. Only time will tell.

Wrapping Up

After getting everything installed and the workbench cleaned up I cracked a beer and reflected on the installation. I was pretty happy with how things turned out but when I looked at the mounting job I decided that I needed to do a couple of final things to be really satisfied with the project. I decided that I needed to add fender washers and blue Loctite to the bolts. The only challenge was the placement of the bolts at the front of the top case base. I wouldn't be able to use a full-size fender washer so, rather than using a smaller washer I decided to square off one side of the front fender washers using my Dremel tool. While I'm not sure any of this actually matters in a practical sense this did make me feel better about the installation so there's that...

This is not a hard project but I was hesitant to get started because I had a blank of a top case and no instructions from the manufacturer. Once I got over having to improvise the installation it was fine but I had to jump over that issue to get this done. My issues getting this done have to do with the motorcycle being 20+ years old and the existing hardware being a mix of BMW and what appears to be vintage Jesse bits. The saving grace was the plate installed on the locking compartment. That ended up being the template I needed so I could drill holes. I really like the way the kit looks and am happy with where I ended up!

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