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Old 10-13-2012, 02:11 PM   #1
Ian- OP
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Wink So I bought an airhead... now what?

Howdy everyone. I've been a lurking on here for quite a while now and never posted much, but now I've come to you in search of your wisdom.

So, yesterday I bought a 1973 r60/5 (not the toaster kind) and I think I'm in love. Only thing is, the old girl has some trouble idling. The revs rarely stay above 500 rpms without a little help from its friend, the throttle. It also has this really nasty shake when idling.. is this do to the really low revs? The whole bike could almost walk it was shaking around so much.

I am completely new to mechanics, and know very little about these sorts of problems, so I was hoping you all could help me troubleshoot this. I did some searching and thought it might be a carb thing? maybe out of sync? When I give it some more throttle it stops shaking and ticks along quite nicely.

Thanks! And please pardon me for my ignorance.
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Old 10-13-2012, 02:36 PM   #2
dmftoy1
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There will be smarter people than me chiming in but I think your idle is way low at 500 rpm! Congrats on the new baby. I'm rebuilding an R90/6 from the ground up.
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Old 10-13-2012, 03:03 PM   #3
Clay Spinner
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Look under your carbs... you will notice a 'mix' screw... not the one that removes a screw from a little short sticky out tube (if you new to bike wrenching... this should make sense). So you need to turn this mix screw, a bit at a time, until the engine revs highest... then slightly... like 1/16 or a full turn, tune it back. After you have down this for both sides it is time to sync your carbs. If you have no syncing tools or access to some 2/4, some clear tubing and coloured liquid (I use 2 stroke oil..its green) to make a manometer, look on the top of your carbs and you will notice a small screw near the inside front bit. This should adjust your idle... as I said, if you have no tools you can adjust roughly by feel, and watching your mirrors for vibration. You should notice your idle changing as you do this... have a fiddle and away you go. This should get you started. I'm sure you'll find a thread on how to balance your carbs that will provide you with much more detail.
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Old 10-13-2012, 03:44 PM   #4
disston
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It may be the carbs, it just may be, but don't start there. It's a mistake to start touching any of the settings on this bike until you have an idea of what you are doing and know how to proceed. In no time at all you will be able to advance from a bike that barely runs to one that doesn't run at all. You now have a bike that starts by this time tomorrow you can have a bike that not only won't start but has a bad battery, is out of gas and you have not a clue of what went wrong. I'll repeat this one more time, don't touch the carburetors yet.

Does this bike come with any history, how many miles? Do you know if mileage is correct? Do you know if any major repairs have been done recently, or ever? Please give more instead of less information, now, not later.

When was the engine oil and the other fluids last changed? Start there. Unless you got the bike right after an oil change you change the oil now. New filter too. Do you have a place local to you to buy parts, oil filter and some gaskets and plug washers.

What do you have for tools? The on board tool kit is a good start if it is complete. After the oil and fluid changes you will need feeler gauges for setting the valves. You may need new valve cover gaskets but if it's not leaking now maybe not. There is a small feeler gauge in the tool kit that works for valve adjustments. Do you know when the valves were last set? Then do this after the oil change.

After the valves have been adjusted you will be checking and setting the ignition timing. Your bike originally had a points ignition. Do you know if it still has this or there has been any change to the ignition system such as the addition of a booster?

There are no short cuts. You either learn to do this correctly from the beginning or you will be sitting by the side of the road wondering what went wrong. So we have just briefly covered these things, in this order, oil change, valve adjustment, ignition timing and finally we have arrived at the place where you can adjust the carbs. More on that later.

1...What sort of source do you have for parts? On line or local dealer, not all dealers stock Airhead parts, We'll give you some choices for ordering on line.

2...What kind of tools are with the bike or you have now?

3...Do you have a manual? You will need one. Either the Haynes or Clymers manual will do.

That's just for a start. Welcome to the insanity.
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Old 10-13-2012, 05:02 PM   #5
Kai Ju
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+1, and then some.............

additionally, try and find an airhead inmate in your area. Most of us will be more than happy to help, especially if there is a cold beverage involved.

Don't be intimidated by the complexity of what disston suggested because these bikes are about as simple as it gets, if approached with common sense and respect. In other words, a great way to learn how to wrench.

Have fun learning.
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Old 10-13-2012, 05:09 PM   #6
disston
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This is the feeler gauge in the OEM on board tool kit. You will need this or something equivalent to set the valves.


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Old 10-14-2012, 11:10 AM   #7
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You're in Boston, just get in the regional forums and put the word out. You'll have folks over in no time. It's likely that it's nothing big, but it'll look like a nail if your only tool is a hammer, meaning if all you know to do is tune carbs, you'll think up a way that it would be a carb problem.

However it probably is.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:42 PM   #8
Ian- OP
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Thanks for all the replies guys. Very helpful to someone who's never done this before.

More info on the bike. It has actual mileage of just under 54,000 miles, it's completely stock and has never been in a crash or had any major repairs. As for leaks, it only has one small and slow leak from a cracked pushrod seal on the right side. It has had two owners, the first owner cared for the bike a lot and did all his own maintenance. The previous owner ran out of time to ride and the bike ended up sitting for moderately long periods of time, but never stopped running. The previous owner did however take it to a shop to get the carbs cleaned after the bike would run but not idle. Maybe my problem stems from this problem? Maybe it didn't get completely fixed?

I purchased some manuals a couple days ago and they should arrive within the next week. As for tools and workspace, I'm a college student therefore I don't have much more than a tool kit that was on the bike (more on that later) and the very public workspace of my apartment building's parking garage. Now the tool kit, there was a tool roll that came with the bike, but I'm not sure it's the factory one. It has a bunch of wrenches and allen wrenches, and some pliers that look like they're used to take off the tires? A tube like tool.. I think this is the factory tool kit, just missing some tools. There definitely isn't anything in there that looks like what you posted disston. Where could I find one of those? A quick google search turned up nothing.

I aim to use online suppliers for parts and things. Bmwhucky seems like a good place for this, but I don't have the slightest clue on how to actually order parts... Any other suggestions?

When I get some time this week I plan on doing an oil and filter change while I wait for the manuals to arrive.

Updates to follow! Baby steps...

Thanks again
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:51 PM   #9
assquatch20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian- View Post
Thanks for all the replies guys. Very helpful to someone who's never done this before.

More info on the bike. It has actual mileage of just under 54,000 miles, it's completely stock and has never been in a crash or had any major repairs. As for leaks, it only has one small and slow leak from a cracked pushrod seal on the right side. It has had two owners, the first owner cared for the bike a lot and did all his own maintenance. The previous owner ran out of time to ride and the bike ended up sitting for moderately long periods of time, but never stopped running. The previous owner did however take it to a shop to get the carbs cleaned after the bike would run but not idle. Maybe my problem stems from this problem? Maybe it didn't get completely fixed?

I purchased some manuals a couple days ago and they should arrive within the next week. As for tools and workspace, I'm a college student therefore I don't have much more than a tool kit that was on the bike (more on that later) and the very public workspace of my apartment building's parking garage. Now the tool kit, there was a tool roll that came with the bike, but I'm not sure it's the factory one. It has a bunch of wrenches and allen wrenches, and some pliers that look like they're used to take off the tires? A tube like tool.. I think this is the factory tool kit, just missing some tools. There definitely isn't anything in there that looks like what you posted disston. Where could I find one of those? A quick google search turned up nothing.

I aim to use online suppliers for parts and things. Bmwhucky seems like a good place for this, but I don't have the slightest clue on how to actually order parts... Any other suggestions?

When I get some time this week I plan on doing an oil and filter change while I wait for the manuals to arrive.

Updates to follow! Baby steps...

Thanks again
Carbs have cyclic issues. If they sit a week or two with gas you've tacked a little varnish in there. Tank rust and other things happen as well. It's never fixed or over, really.

There's even a special procedure for oil filters on this thing, so do some reading. There are excessive amounts of BMW owners groups online. It won't take much to get in there and learn. Maybe wait on the manuals before you do much of anything and read forums a lot. Certain bolts are prone to breaking, certain seals need the right installation, etc. The airheads seem very unique to themselves, so your reading to action ratio should be weighted heavily towards reading.
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Old 10-14-2012, 09:12 PM   #10
bmweuro
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Cangrats on your new love. I too have a 73 R60/5 and It's a wonderful machine. Do not do anything to the carburetors until you do a valve adjustment. You could make it worse.
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Old 10-14-2012, 09:54 PM   #11
disston
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If you can live with the leaking push rod tube seal for now. It may slow down as the bike is ridden a little but if it is cracked it probably won't stop.

Hucky's will have the feeler gauge tool. Your kit should also contain two 12mm wrenches, one 13mm wrench and an open end 10mm wrench. These are part of the OEM kit. You may have them already. I think the hex keys needed are 5mm and 6mm to begin with, for tune up. For oil change you will need the 8mm hex key. I believe there is also a 4mm and a 3mm in the kit.

Check the kit you have for these wrenches and hex keys. Tell us which wrenches and which hex keys you have. It may be cheaper to get some of this stuff at Sears but the OEM tools fit in the tool bag so well so you might try to get them.

In the manual you are getting it will explain how to set timing by the static method. You need a "test light" for this. It will also explain how to set timing with a timing light so you can set timing at full advance. This is recommended so you should have a test light and a timing light.



Hucky's may also have the German brass version of this tool. If he does get that one. It's a couple of dollars more than a cheap one but it is smaller and fits in the tool bag or on the bike easier. If not, if he doesn't have the brass one or doesn't have any test light, he might have another.

You need a few parts to start with. A pair of valve cover gaskets. You may not need these right now but when you take the valve cover off if the ones on there get damaged or tear you may not be able to put the cover back on right away till you have some new ones. So always have a spare set of valve cover gaskets.

We have not figured out yet if your bike has ignition points. If you have the 5mm hex key you can look under the timing cover to see if ignition points ar being used or it has an electronic conversion. I think you are going to find points. You are supposed to disconnect the battery ground cable before removing or replacing the front cover. There are three hex socket screws holding the cover on. The ignition points are at the bottom under the cover.



This is what you see under the front cover. The item on the bottom held by the small nut and it has a couple of tiny springs is the advance unit. This is part of the ignition. Under the advance unit are the ignition points.



The arrow is pointing to the gap in the ignition points. Right now we would like to know if this looks like what you find under the front cover?

When removing and replacing the front cover disconnect the battery ground cable, the right side cable to the battery.

A little about your original question. You said you had a low idle. 500 rpm? How short or long a trip are you using this bike on? If you are just going very short trips the bike may not yet be reaching operating temperature. For the first ten minutes of riding usually you will have to judiciously use the throttle to keep the bike running. Blip the throttle when stopped and sometimes just hold it open a hair when at lights. If the bike does actually idle at 500 rpm that is not too low an idle as long as it is firing evenly and holding it's idle. 500 is the bare minimum but not really too low on a /5.
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