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Old 10-19-2003, 03:23 PM   #1
UnixGuy OP
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Location: Langley, Washington USA
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Cry GS stripped clutch splines

Ribbed for her pleasure! That's how it goes, isn't it? It follows that men like to have a shaft with splines, doesn't it? Well, I'm splineless in Seattle. Will anyone still want to ride my shaftie?

Let me 'splain (smutty allusions are not my forte). My trusty R1150GS, Dynamo Hummmm, let me down yesterday. It's the first time that it's ever failed to get me where I needed to go when I needed it. And it failed quite expen$ively, too. It's a fairly rare failure mode for an BMW oilhead, even one with 74,000 miles on it. However, there was some astoundingly good karma involved which made me thankful.

As this group no doubt already knows, the BMW transmission (except F bikes) is separate from the engine and uses a single-plate dry clutch similar to an automobile. On older "airhead" BMWs and on K-bikes prior to the K1200, performing a lubrication of the clutch splines and driveshaft splines is a normal part of the maintenance cycle. It's called for in the service schedule, and the consequences of not doing so are premature wear and failure of the driveshaft splines or the clutch hub splines and the transmission input shaft splines. With the advent of the "oilhead" (R1100) BMW series in 1993 BMW changed the design a bit and began using harder metals in these areas so that spline lubrication is no longer a regular maintenance item. Spline lubrication is not even described in the oilhead manual except to say "if you have the transmission off it would probably be a good idea to lube the clutch splines" (or something to that effect).

Thursday evening, as I was proceeding to proceed home, I rolled on the throttle at around 70mph and was greeted by what sounded like the bike popping out of gear and a loss of drive to the rear wheel. WTF? I pulled in the clutch, shifted down a gear and let the clutch out. Shit, there's no drive going on here! Shifted back up and tried again, still no drive happ'nin'. Something is BFU (badly fucked up).

Here's the amazing karma part of the story. When this all happened I was in the northbound I-5 express lanes about 300 yards away from the Lake City Way exit. It's a steeply uphill, left hand exit that bends up and over the freeway to the right. It also just so happens that my usual dealer, Ride West BMW, is located on Lake City way about 1/2 mile from this exit. I coasted up the exit ramp and came to rest just before the merge with the mainline (non-express lanes) exit to Lake City Way.

Here's the other amazing Karma part of the story. This all happened at about 6:30pm, 30 minutes before Ride West BMW (my shop of choice) closes for the day. I called them up, and within fifteen minutes several guys arrived with a bike trailer. The three of us pushed the bike up the hill to the exit ramp merge, over a curbed median and across the other exit lane to get it to the safely parked bike trailer on the nearby city street.

Ride West was extremely kind to me. Sean Siem (from whom I've purchased two bikes over the years) let me ride the shops demo Rockster home for the night (no loaners available) after we checked my dead bike into the shop queue. The Rockster is a damn fun bike, by the way.

The shop got into the bike and by Friday afternoon we had a diagnosis. The clutch disk splines were completely rounded off, as were the matching splines on the transmission input shaft (requiring a complete transmission disassembly to repair). Can you $ay expen$ive repair$? I knew that you could. This would hurt a lot more if I had not (with the foresight of knowing that I put on a huge number of miles annually) spent a large wad of extra money when I bought the bike to purchase an unlimited mileage, six-year extended warranty. The warranty just paid for itself times two.

I would just like to mention again the outstanding and extraordinary service rendered by Ride West's people. Sean, Bill (from parts) and Grady (assistant service manager) really went out of their way to assist me Thursday night. Folks, there's a reason that Ride West is now regularly one of the top three BMW dealers in the US and it's not the (usually) reliable German qualities of their motorcycles. The owners have hired great people and both enabled and encouraged them to give something that's in short supply today: superb customer service. Thanks, guys, I really owe you one. http://www.ridewest.com/

If the transmission input shaft is in a US warehouse I'll have the bike back by the middle of this coming week. If it's not in the US it'll probably be a week or so before the part can be shipped from Germany. Good motivation in any case to finish the much procrastinated reassembly of my Vanagon engine!

If I can get some pictures on Tuesday I'll post them here. I've seen the parts on the workbench and they're not pretty. The good news is that the gears and other moving parts in the transmission show absolutely no wear. I'll get a new clutch, transmission input shaft and bearings, and new transmission seals as a result of the breakage.

Cheers.
Rob
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Old 10-19-2003, 08:17 PM   #2
Rad
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Re: GS stripped clutch splines

Quote:
Said UnixGuy:
It's a fairly rare failure mode for an BMW oilhead,
My 991100S spun 3 clutch shafts
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Old 10-19-2003, 08:56 PM   #3
Rubber Cow
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Bummer and kudos

Wow!
Talk about luck...in a yingy/yangy sort of way!
Ride West Rocks!
Grady and the rest of the staff have been great to me and my wife as well.
I wish BMW NA could find a way of encouraging/promoting this kind of customer service and integrity throughout their dealer network.
I also bought the extended warranty. Glad to hear yours paid for itself.
Cheers,
Jorge
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Old 10-19-2003, 09:13 PM   #4
UnixGuy OP
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Re: Re: GS stripped clutch splines

Quote:
Said Rad:
My 991100S spun 3 clutch shafts
After conversations with a few friends who are long time Beemerphiles and observers of the species, I can glean from them that you probably had a misalignment in the input shaft. This is almost always caused by a miscast or improperly machined transmission case or rear side of the engine case. Sometimes a new transmission cures it because it's a new case, but sometimes it doesn't.

Since mine made it so many miles, I doubt that there is any gross misalignment involved. However, there's always the possiblity that I'll have this happen again in another 60-70K miles and that would be conclusive evidence of a problem. Frankly, I don't plan on keeping the bike that long so it's likely the next owner will probably not put that many miles on so quickly.
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Old 10-20-2003, 12:42 PM   #5
Terry
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I got the shaft too.

I'm going through the same thing. My 2002 GS only has 28,000 miles on it, but when I removed the tranny to lube those splines, I found I was too late. The splines on the clutch were almost gone and would have left me stranded in another couple thousand miles. The splines on the tranny shaft are damaged to the point that replacement is required.

The damned shaft is on back-order. Been over two weeks already and still no part.

I was paranoid enough about the splines to pull the tranny out at 28,000 miles because I had a K75 eat the splines leaving me stranded at less than 20,000 miles. I'm told there's been some improvements since '88, but my BMW wrench told me the splines should be lubed every 40,000 miles. I thought I'd play it safe and lube them early, but too late.

I'm not buying the misalignment story. If the input shaft wasn't perpedicular to the flywheel, I'd be willing to bet you'd know it. It would shake like an off balance washing mashine on spin cycle.

These splines need lubed. I'm not sure how often, but in my case 28,000 miles was too late. Maybe they weren't lubed properly at the factory, but there was enough lube left on mine to make me believe they were. I've got pictures if anyone cares to see...

Let me know if they find you a new shaft soon. I'm still sitting at home in some of the best fall riding weather this part of the country has ever seen. Damn.
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Old 10-20-2003, 09:07 PM   #6
North"wet"
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Heat treating as one possibility

The splines went out on my R100 Mystic at 7,162 miles. Took three weeks to repair, but that's another story about a multi-brand shop with only one BMW wrench.
The prognosis was that the heat treating wasn't done properly. Never had any problems with the replacement splines or clutch through the 74,000 miles that I had it.
North"wet"
'03 GS Sport @ 10K miles
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Old 10-21-2003, 06:52 AM   #7
Terry
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Re: Heat treating as one possibility

Quote:
Said North"wet":
The splines went out on my R100 Mystic at 7,162 miles. Took three weeks to repair, but that's another story about a multi-brand shop with only one BMW wrench.
The prognosis was that the heat treating wasn't done properly. Never had any problems with the replacement splines or clutch through the 74,000 miles that I had it.
North"wet"
'03 GS Sport @ 10K miles
Improper heat treating? That's one I hadn't heard before. It should be easy to identify. It should only affect either the clutch splines or the input shaft splines, whichever wasn't treated properly. Mine got both, although the clutch splines seem to go first, hopefully by design, since that is by far the cheaper of the two pieces to change.

At any rate, stripped clutch/transmission shaft splines are far from unusual in BMWs. A little searching on the various boards will show that.
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