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Old 07-31-2013, 06:44 AM   #1
FredRydr OP
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Vario top case mechanism repair

My Vario top case has been very difficult to expand, and even worse to retract. I have removed the two side mechanisms and found that a couple of teeth were broken off the center main drive gear on one side. I'll be looking for a "totaled" top case for parts, since I strongly doubt I can buy the gear separately from BMW.

I will try to copy the placement of the gears from the good side. I would appreciate advice on how/where to align the gears before reassembly. I plan to clean the gears and spray some silicone on them, without any grease-type lubrication. They appear to have been assembled dry.

The issue applies to the R1200GS Vario cases as well, and they've been around longer, so I will post in the GSBoxer forum, too.

Fred
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Old 07-31-2013, 07:54 AM   #2
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If you can't find anything used, you might try asking your dealer, just in case. I was able to buy the inner half of one of the side cases, after an unfortunate 'incident'

Edit: Oh yeah, and it seems to me that when I disassembled my side case, there were marks on the cogs indicating proper alignment. But it's been a while.
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sturgeon screwed with this post 07-31-2013 at 08:33 AM
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:15 AM   #3
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I don't have any part failure, but I haven't been able to do anything to make mine expand smoothly. I've taken them apart, cleaned, lubed, and tweaked the crap out of them.

I've just accepted it and leave them expanded. If anyone knows of a fix, I would love to know it.
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:24 AM   #4
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Yes, I just came back from the dealer with the answers. (He's only five miles away!)

Each side mechanism can be bought new from BMW, currently $53.50 in the USA. So, I ordered one. Note that the part number on the plate is NOT the part number for what can be bought: the mechanism.

By the way, mark each side left and right before you remove the mechanisms. Otherwise, you'll need to see another case to determine that.

The Boxer mechanisms probably have the same gears if the length of travel of the extension is the same, and they looked the same on the outside of the plate. The Boxer top case is deeper than the F800 top case and therefore the plate onto which the gears mount is taller; it would have a different part number.

I don't see anything on the current mechanism to line up the gears. I hope there will be on the new unit.

Fred

FredRydr screwed with this post 07-31-2013 at 07:37 PM Reason: spelling
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRose View Post
I don't have any part failure, but I haven't been able to do anything to make mine expand smoothly. I've taken them apart, cleaned, lubed, and tweaked the crap out of them.
I plan to use DuPont dry silicon lube on all the sliding side panels. I already stuck a screwdriver and rag between the side panels and cleaned out the dirt. I'll report back after I get the new mechanism and reassemble the case.

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Old 08-01-2013, 06:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
... Each side mechanism can be bought new from BMW, currently $53.50 in the USA. So, I ordered one. Note that the part number on the plate is NOT the part number for what can be bought: the mechanism....
...
Looking on the Max page it appears there is a front and rear "adjuster plate" in both left and right hand styles ... so four pieces total per bag @ about $50 each?

I think I should take mine apart and lube them now!

I'm pretty sure they have expanded the range of service parts that are available ... which is nice...
IIRC ... When I bought mine back in late 2008 the only part you could buy was the big c-clip to attach the bike to the rail....

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Old 08-01-2013, 08:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRWooden View Post
Looking on the Max page it appears there is a front and rear "adjuster plate" in both left and right hand styles ... so four pieces total per bag @ about $50 each?
Well, I've been dealing with the top case, and those "adjuster plates" are denoted "left" and "right." For the side cases, "front" and "rear" makes sense, but like the top case, you'd need two adjuster plates per case, not four.

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Old 08-01-2013, 09:07 AM   #8
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I decided to go to the garage and pull the two halves of the case apart to take photos for a better inmate understanding of our Vario cases.

Here is the moving part of the case. This is the top of the top case which would correspond with the outer part of side cases. The lid is still attached at the hinges.







Next is the stationary part of the case. This is the base of the top case, which corresponds with the inner part of side cases.







Next are the gear mechanisms, which JRWooden indicated above are denoted "adjuster plates" in the BMW parts fiche. The first photo shows how the adjuster plates are positioned in the top case, with the right adjuster plate at the right and the bar positioned halfway to expansion of the case. (The bar was removed first and reinstalled last during the repair, and inserted into the adjuster plates here for illustration purposes.)





The innards; right on right and left on left. The right's main drive gear connected to the bar broke off two teeth. The gears are easy to remove from the adjuster plate, so used parts could be swapped in, if you had them. The alternative is to order the entire plate with gears new from BMW. The gears are no longer in proper alignment on both of these plates. I hope that's not going to become a problem. The final gears only have teeth partway around their circumference (hidden by the round plates), so that may result in the gears aligning themselves. We shall see.





Maintenance: Note how the stationary part of the case slides into the entire perimeter of the moving part of the case. That is where the friction originates that puts pressure on the gears. Based on wear points (no longer visible to this camera since I cleaned and lubricated the case), it is important to keep the sliding surfaces between the stationary and moving parts as friction-free as possible to reduce stress on the gears. Simply lubricating the gears won't do much.

Since I've owned the bike, I've always used the top case with plenty of dirt exposure without ever taking the case apart to clean it. This is why the gear was under so much stress to lose teeth. In hindsight, a pressure washer against the crack between the two parts when expanded (still assembled) followed by spray lube would probably have been enough to avoid undue stress on the gears.

I'm waiting for the replacement right adjuster plate from my BMW dealer.

See assembly procedure in post #11, below.

Fred

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Old 08-01-2013, 10:38 AM   #9
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Thanks Fred!

I have sprayed my "sliding frame" with silicon spray from time to time ... but never disassembled the gear/lever mechanism to lube it ... or clean out the grime...

I'll put that on the to-do list for winter maintenance!
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Old 08-01-2013, 03:09 PM   #10
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I know I sat and stared at my side case mechanism for a long time before I saw how to align it. It's very similar to yours. But I can't for the life of me remember what it was exactly. Old-timer's disease :-)

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Old 08-02-2013, 06:57 AM   #11
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It's all back together.

As suspected, the gears will align themselves because of the gap in the teeth of the outer gears. Rotate the gears so that the outside gears appear the same.

For reassembly, know this:

- You first have to slide the two main parts back together. Put the moving part on a table (see photos above). Join the red plastic shafts for the lock by tipping the stationary base into the moving part of the case at a corner adjacent to the side with the lock. Reach inside the case and push the red plastic shafts together, and only then proceed to push the remaining perimeter of the stationary part into the moving part.

- Before you install the adjustment plates, position the outside gears so that the metal arms are in the outside quadrants of those gears, 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock respectively, NOT the inside quadrants. Otherwise, the mechanism will not work. I was helping JRWooden with this step, and came up with the following to line up the gears for the cross bar:
1. Swing the two metal arms over the center of the outer gears so that the arms do not extend over the circumference of those gears. This makes it much easier to turn all the gears.
2. Position the outer gears so the middle of the blank areas of the teeth on each face towards the other two gears. On the adjuster plate I have in my hands, the metal arms are at 2:00 and 10:00, respectively. This frees up the remaining two gears.
3. Rotate the big gear for the cross bar bar so that the opening for the cross bar is at 4:00.
4. Rotate the outer gears until the metal arms are at 9:00 and 3:00 respectively.
5. The opening for the cross bar should now be at 12:00. If not, try step 3. again but start with the opening for the cross bar at 8:00.
Also see JRWooden's illustrated post later in this thread for an alternative description.

- Snap those metal arms over the two lugs as you press the adjuster plate into place. Keep your fingers on those arms and reinstall the washers and stainless self-threading cap screws before proceeding further with the bottom screws (three on each plate). Otherwise, those metal arms will fall down behind the adjuster plate and you'll curse yourself as you remove the bottom screws again and again before finally wising-up.

- Drive home the bottom three black anodized self-tapping screws only after the foregoing steps. (On disassembly of the top case, not the side cases, watch for those six little black plastic trapezoidal "nuts" that will drop out of the bottom of the case. If you bought a new adjuster plate, it comes with that hardware.)

- Do not confuse the four stainless self-tapping screws for the arms of the adjuster plates with the pair of stainless self-tapping screws for the cross bar. They have different threads.

I expanded the the case, turned it upside down and sprayed the lube around the perimeter outside and (holding it above my head with the lid swinging at me) the inside so it ran down between the sliding parts. Now the expansion mechanism works better than it has in a long time.

Fred

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Old 08-02-2013, 07:37 AM   #12
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Excellent DIY write up. Thank you very much.
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Old 08-02-2013, 08:19 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
- Snap those metal arms over the two lugs as you press the adjuster plate into place. Keep your fingers on those arms and reinstall the washers and stainless self-threading cap screws before proceeding further with the six bottom screws (three on each plate). Otherwise, those metal arms will fall down behind the adjuster plate and you'll curse yourself as you remove the bottom screws again and again before finally wising-up.
Reading that is like one of those bad dreams that you keep re-living

Good write-up
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Old 08-02-2013, 08:36 AM   #14
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Excellent DIY write up. Thank you very much.
Yeah... what he said!

THANKS!
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Old 08-04-2013, 09:02 PM   #15
JRose
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I might have to take mine apart and try one more salvage attempt at making them work properly.
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