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Old 04-25-2012, 02:48 PM   #1
fishkens OP
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Airhead lifters?

I need new lifters (cam followers) for my '88 GS. They're ~$60 apiece from BMW ($62.53 at Max). Does anyone know of a magic source where I can find them cheaper (perhaps you have some in a bin that you'd like to sell, etc. ). I'm trolling eBay, IBMWR, the FM, etc.

I'm open to ideas, including thoughts on if this cam is probably shot too.

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Old 04-25-2012, 04:06 PM   #2
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I've seen worst. The lifters often go but the cam is still usable. Look for pitting on the cam lobes. I don't think there is any kind of a measurement that will tell you if the cam is good. Just look for visible damage. If there's is some other standard to use I'd love to hear about it.
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:10 PM   #3
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cycleworks will grind, re-finish, and machine down on an exchange basis for much much less.
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:18 PM   #4
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Chances are real good that the cam is perfect. They almost always have to get a lot worse than that to get into the cam. I just had my engine apart at 101,000 miles and all four lifter were perfect. I took it apart years back mostly to fix a ton of oil leaks at around 30,000 miles and it had a lifter chewing up the cam. That's when I put my sport cam in. I replaced two of the lifters back then. I have had real good luck replacing only the bad lifters versus all of them.

I am all for finding a cheaper source. We got spoiled. Tons of parts prices barely budged in 25 years and all of a sudden some of them have doubled or tripled. Plus some of them are no longer being made right. I think in some cases BMW AG went to the same crap suppliers that have been offering the crappy stuff for decades. It didn't work right then and it doesn't work right now. It's kinda like BMW AG is now getting some of their parts from Capital Cycle.

supershaft screwed with this post 04-25-2012 at 05:00 PM
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:56 PM   #5
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Have you tried MotoBins? I got some from them last year and they were cheaper.
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by datchew View Post
cycleworks will grind, re-finish, and machine down on an exchange basis for much much less.
Wow! I wonder how they hold up? The design suffers the same type failure in many a different engine. From what I have read about it in books there is an almost impossible fine line between too hard and too soft.

From what I have seen these cams don't pit near as much as they just wear down. Feel with your finger nail for a ridge at the tip of the cam between where the lifter rides and where it doesn't. Let me warn you that they can look like there is a ridge there when in fact there is not. Keep that in mind.
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:45 PM   #7
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I was just reading about a similar, although much worse, situation recently. Couldn't find it here. I've never even had a look at mine, makes me think I should !
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:56 PM   #8
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Make sure there is lots of zzdp in your oil when you break in the new followers.
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:05 PM   #9
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I was just reading about a similar, although much worse, situation recently. Couldn't find it here. I've never even had a look at mine, makes me think I should !
My advise is to always pull them for a look when you have the cylinders off. Chances are very good you are going to need a couple.
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:08 PM   #10
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So what engine lubricants are you guys using? I'm not asking for an oil thread but if some of you are having superior results with lifter life, I'd like to know.

I've gotten big miles with my Airheads runing Castrol GTX but always, sooner or later, the lifters start pitting and it's back to square one.

I also know that Chris H. swears by Mobil-1 but when I used it some years ago, the engine leaked like crazy! Is there a different formulation these days? Anything to protect those lifters!
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:19 PM   #11
supershaft
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I use BMW 20/50. I think it's the best deal out there but I have had real good luck with Spectro oils since I was a kid. Plus it's about $2 a quart less because it says BMW on the bottle.
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:12 PM   #12
fishkens OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xcuvator View Post
Have you tried MotoBins? I got some from them last year and they were cheaper.
I looked earlier and missed them. $44 USD so with freight I'm guessing they'd come under $63 if I buy 4 or add other needed items.



Quote:
Originally Posted by datchew View Post
cycleworks will grind, re-finish, and machine down on an exchange basis for much much less.
Quote:
Originally Posted by supershaft View Post
Wow! I wonder how they hold up? The design suffers the same type failure in many a different engine. From what I have read about it in books there is an almost impossible fine line between too hard and too soft.

From what I have seen these cams don't pit near as much as they just wear down. Feel with your finger nail for a ridge at the tip of the cam between where the lifter rides and where it doesn't. Let me warn you that they can look like there is a ridge there when in fact there is not. Keep that in mind.

I've e-mailed Dan at Cyclewerks to see if he's exchanging post 1969 airheads lifters. He advertises the exchange service ($30 per) for /2 bikes bit isn't clear if it's available for later bikes.
http://www.cycleworks.net/index.php?...roducts_id=315

Thanks everyone.
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:16 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by mymindsok View Post
So what engine lubricants are you guys using? I'm not asking for an oil thread but if some of you are having superior results with lifter life, I'd like to know.
For most of the first 60K-70K of this bike I used Castrol GTX 20w-50, mixed in with BMW 20w-50 and occasionally some Golden Spectro. Lately it's been nearly all BMW 20w-50. (I considered Rotella but found it wasn't available in 20-50 so I passed.) It now has 90K miles on it.
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:57 PM   #14
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I just want to make clear fishkens that I personally think you are better off just replacing the two. The other two are time tested now and didn't flake. I think your chances are better with a time tested lifter than they are with a new one. Over the years I think I have seen it is what works best.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:55 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supershaft View Post
I just want to make clear fishkens that I personally think you are better off just replacing the two. The other two are time tested now and didn't flake. I think your chances are better with a time tested lifter than they are with a new one. Over the years I think I have seen it is what works best.
I agree.

Replace the bad ones and leave the time-tested parts in place.
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