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Old 04-20-2012, 05:13 PM   #1
lloydunknown OP
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Average Price for a Head Restoration

Greetings,

What is the average price airhead owners have paid for a head restoration?

I know there are many factors that play into what the final cost will be. Assume that the heads were working when pulled, not abused, and have not been modified from their stock configuration. Also assume that they need four new seats, four new valves, four new valve guides, threads are in usable condition, and they need a good cleaning and possibly a deck skimming.

What would you charge or pay for the work listed above?

I am curious because there are shops that will restore an automotive BMW head including twenty four (24) valve seats for $625 and the airhead guys are charging $600 for four (4) valve seats. The auto head is complete and ready to install just like the finished airhead head would be.

Is this supply, demand, or capitalism? Is this because the other head shops will not work on airhead heads?





Thanks,
Lloyd
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Old 04-20-2012, 05:38 PM   #2
ericrat
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Volume

BMW has produced a bit over 2 million motorcycles, total, in the history of the company. They produce a little over 1 million cars every year in recent history and about 100k bikes.

The equipement required to do the head work is essentially the same for each. Probably more for the vise, taking into account development of the process. I am sure you can call Sunnen or whoever makes such things and say, I need jigs and cutters and whatever to a BMW xyz car. They will send you everything you need (for a price) and can probably provide a little tech support to get you set up. An airhead, no so much.

Lastly, most of the time/money is in doing the setup. Once you are set up, doing 4 or 24 isn't a huge delta.

Face it, we are niche specialty. Only those similarly affected (infected?) bother to service old bike or even motorcycles in general. There is more money in cars for a good wrench and it isn't so seasonal.

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Old 04-20-2012, 05:59 PM   #3
robtg
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Go to Max BMW website and price just the parts that you would replace.
Using BMW parts at retail price you would pay over $700. That does not include labor--- Degrease and abrasive blast heads, remove seats by Tig and reinstall, remove guides and hone to size, check new valves for true, cut and grind seats, reclean heads, measure and shim spring assembled height, surface cylinder top, reassemble heads. Probably missed a few details but at $700 the labor would have to be free.----Good luck.
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Old 04-20-2012, 06:51 PM   #4
villageidiot
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it was just over $1000 dollars including labor for my head "restoration" it got

valve guides, with seals
seats
exhaust valves
valve job
head gaskets
base o rings
stud o rings
valve cover gaskets

im sure there are more little parts or whatever, but i felt it was fair.

i do vintage mercedes for work, and just the cylinder head machine work runs about 1500 dollars if it doesnt need seats.
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Old 04-20-2012, 07:05 PM   #5
lloydunknown OP
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304 exhaust valves
180 intake valves
30.52 valve pockets
37.84 springs
10.16 more pockets
18.24 valve collet
22.58 intake seats
56.82 ex seats
94.32 guides

754.48 total for all bmw new parts to recondition a pair of heads with no labor

a pair of new heads 1641.34

about 600 bucks to have your pair of heads reconditioned

What parts are being installed in the heads that allows the machinist to make a profit off of a price of 600 bucks since the bmw retail price is over 700 for parts and no labor?
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Old 04-20-2012, 07:16 PM   #6
lloydunknown OP
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"Lastly, most of the time/money is in doing the setup. Once you are set up, doing 4 or 24 isn't a huge delta."

Why is so expensive after the shop is setup then? We're talking about less then ten shops in the USA that do airhead heads. If they are already setup and not using retail price bmw parts....why not pass the savings along to the customer?

I would really like the guys that actually do this work to explain the costs.
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Old 04-20-2012, 07:20 PM   #7
Beemerguru
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I just had 4 sets of heads rebuilt. New seats, valves, guides, springs, bead blasted, valves ground, threads reconditioned,..and paid $550 per set.

Course I do anywhere from 2-4 sets of head a month so maybe I get a discount. I just know they look like new and none have ever come back even 50K miles later.
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Old 04-20-2012, 07:48 PM   #8
lloydunknown OP
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I'm not complaining about the price. I am interested in the economics behind it and other niche services. Very interesting replies..keep em coming!
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:11 PM   #9
Biebs
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Do it all!!!

I'm looking at $1400 for heads redone new valves, seats, guides plus while you have it apart new piston rings, rod bearings.

1989 R100GS 50k miles - told I was lucky to get that many miles out of exhaust valve guides they were only good for 20k max according to mine expert.

Bike was blowing oil out of the case due to compression leak into cylinder head. I had vale cover off and a nice brown spot by the exhaust valve. Plus on running with valve cover removed puff of air on each compression stroke.
This just happened after a couple 200 mile rides no other problems before this.
Yes I was surprised by the cost but once done 50k or more miles to go.
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Old 04-21-2012, 08:21 AM   #10
batoutoflahonda
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Hill Machine in Seattle did mine for the R80. All he does is machine and install the parts, you supply the parts. The machine work with my supplied valve sets installed in the heads was $250.00 for both heads. Because where and what kind of valve sets you get, the price can very greatly.
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Old 04-21-2012, 08:47 AM   #11
Airhead Wrangler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by batoutoflahonda View Post
Hill Machine in Seattle did mine for the R80. All he does is machine and install the parts, you supply the parts. The machine work with my supplied valve sets installed in the heads was $250.00 for both heads. Because where and what kind of valve sets you get, the price can very greatly.
I've never worked with them, but have heard good things from those that have. I think they did solo's heads as well. Ridewest (the local beemer dealership) farms all their head work out to them and has for ages.
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Old 04-21-2012, 09:29 AM   #12
One Less Harley
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Hone cylinders, install guides, grind seats, seat valves, balance rods and pistons, and clean the parts for $200 in labor.

Sourced my parts through MotoBins parts were $400, for valves, guides, valve springs, keepers, gaskets, rod bolts and rings and rod bearings. Those weren't BMW valves, as those things are like hens teeth.

I just can't imagine paying $1,000 and thinking that's not too much. $1,400 damn that makes me choke. I realize a guy needs to make money...but come on let's be reasonable about it.
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Old 04-21-2012, 09:41 AM   #13
Airhead Wrangler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by One Less Harley View Post
Those weren't BMW valves, as those things are like hens teeth.
From what I've read you're best off sticking with the BMW two piece exhaust valves. Intakes and guides you're better off buying cheaper aftermarket stuff to save money. From what I've read a huge number of failures on rebuilt heads were due to use of one piece exhaust valves. Either the keeper slots would wear or the stems would snap. Anyone who actually knows what they're talking about (unlike me) care to comment?
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Airhead Wrangler screwed with this post 04-21-2012 at 10:07 AM
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:03 AM   #14
SOLO LOBO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by batoutoflahonda View Post
Hill Machine in Seattle did mine for the R80. All he does is machine and install the parts, you supply the parts. The machine work with my supplied valve sets installed in the heads was $250.00 for both heads. Because where and what kind of valve sets you get, the price can very greatly.
Same for me. Hill has been doing airhead heads since Buckingham BMW (now Ride West) opened.

I bought Swiss "Intervalve" valves and high temp guides from motobins in the UK. the parts cost less than two BMW exhaust valves and have good reviews in the UK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stagehand
your bike is suitably dirty. Well done.
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:32 AM   #15
One Less Harley
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I've got something like 20K on my head job w/ the Swiss intervalves, no problems.


I have seen something about the stems at the keepers mushrooming, not sure if that wasn't due to a batch of bad ones or what.

Choices are, Black Diamond, Intervalves, or BMW
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