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Old 01-18-2013, 11:15 PM   #1
mudmullet OP
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Clacking drivetrain

A couple of days ago, the drivetrain on my 2004 R1150GSA began making an odd clacking sound. It didn't clack much when it was under a moderate load, but it would make the noise while idling or slowly decelerating. It clacked going up an incline as well as down, and the noised didn't go away when the clutch was pulled in. Here's a video I took with my cellphone resting on my tank bag while driving along flat ground.



I couldn't feel any binding or grittiness rotating the wheel on the centerstand, and it wouldn't make the noise when I moved the wheel by hand. In gear on the center stand with the motor running it did make the noise like in the video.

This evening I pulled the driveshaft and all fo the splines look good. Try as I might, I can't readily discern any looseness or binding in any of the universal joints. I THINK the forward universal joint MIGHT have an almost imperceptible amount of looseness to it (forcibly twisting each side of the shaft next to the universal joints), but I can't be certain. I can, however, feel a few thousandths of play in the pinion gear when I grab hold of the splines and start wiggling it side to side in the final drive.

Two questions:
1. can a driveshaft be in need of repair even though it feels solid?
2. Is slight loosness at the pinion gear splines normal?

I've driven it only about 5 miles, all under 30 mph, since it started making the noise. The bike has about 17,500 miles on it. The seal in the final drive is starting to fail, so there will be some work needed there, but there have never been any flakes of metal stuck to the drain plug in the final drive.
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:41 PM   #2
Multiplicity
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U-Joints
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:14 AM   #3
holckster
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Chain too loose?

Sorry couldn't resist.

Sure sounds like driveshaft rubbing the inside of the swingarm tube.
Did you inspect the inside for shiny spots or debri ?
Are there no marks on the driveshaft or U-joints ?

Regarding FD seal leakage, try replacing the big O-ring as yours may be aged ( getting hard).
My 04 FD bearing failed at 56K.so hopefully you have awhile to go (check for play,should be none).
BTW, be sure to replace the O-rings (2) on the ABS sensor where it passes thru the FD as well.
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:18 PM   #4
mudmullet OP
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Originally Posted by holckster View Post
Chain too loose?
No. I checked for that first. There is no damage or debris inside the swingarm nor are there any marks anywhere. Also, there was no play when moving the wheel at 3 and 9 and 6 and 12 before I took everything apart. Good call on the o-rings. I hadn't thought about that.

Multiplicity. I have pulled, pushed, and twisted the driveshaft as hard as I can and I can't find any slack. Would I not be able to feel a worn U-joint by hand? There is a miniscule amount of play between the driveshafts when the splines are at their extremes (pushed all the way in and pulled almost all the way out), but not when they're in the middle. The splines look fine, though.

There is play at the pinion/bevel gear. I can feel a few thousandths of play when I hold onto the splines and rack the shaft back and forth inside the final drive housing. I verified that the nut and the threaded ring were appropriately torqued down (had to use two heat guns for the threaded ring) and when things cooled a bit, I split the final drive. Things look ok in there. I checked the play on the pinion gear and it was more--maybe .010"

Here's a video. I'm moving the pinion gear side to side. It sounds louder on the video than it is.



Everything on the driveshaft side of the final drive are in place and torqued down properly. I can't imagine that the design allows for the slop that is there. I got out the heat guns again, and removed the pinion gear and nothing looks bad there. Perhaps I need to replace the bearings, items 5 and 7 in the image below. Thoughts?

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Old 01-19-2013, 08:50 PM   #5
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My Guess

I'm no super wrencher but ....
There are very limited places for that noise to come from: either the driveshaft or the final drive.
My driveshaft made similar noises prior to it's demise. (front yoke broke) However, I knew it was on its way prior to the explosion as the rear wheel would "pause" slightly when turned in neutral on the centre stand. The driveshaft never made contact with the housing, at least until the yoke broke. The needle bearings in the universal joint were the issue.
When the big bearing on the final drive started to go, I would hear a different pitch when cornering. The wheel shake test at 3 and 9 and 6 and 12 wasn't really definitive. I couldn't really tell if the wheel had play or if the bike was just twisting slightly on the centre stand. When my final drive started to look sweaty on both the inner and outer seal, I knew it was time.
My driveshaft and big bearing bit the dust at about the same time (within 4K kms). Was one the cause of the other? I have no idea. Both happened between 94K and 98k kms.
If you feel good about the driveshaft, the culprit is likely the big bearing in the final drive.
Perhaps not helpful, but my bike sounded a lot like your bike. Fresh driveshaft and new big bearing and it is silent again.
Best of luck getting it sorted.
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:11 PM   #6
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Sounds like a classic case of worn muffler bearings. You can get a new set for only $33.95 here.

Well, let's think about this. If you had to say, is the sound based on engine load (you stated it wasn't bad under moderate load, but was present slowing down and at idle (and other stuff, but I don't recall at the moment))? Without me re-listening to the YouTube, is the sound RPM-dependent, speed-dependent, or neither? Let's look in the correct place.

Am I correct in stating the u-joint only moves when your rear tire moves and is speed-dependent. It doesn't sound like it's speed-dependent, but you are the one present.
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by everycredit View Post

is the sound RPM-dependent, speed-dependent, or neither?
It is not RPM dependent. It is speed dependent, but irregular. It is not cyclical like a rock stuck in a tire tread. It exists idling down an incline as well as climbing an incline at higher speeds. It is present more while at a constant speed than when accelerating, but under load the periods of silence get longer. It is easiest to reproduce at idle speeds.

I did not make any observations under hard acceleration or engine braking.

mudmullet screwed with this post 01-20-2013 at 05:26 AM Reason: fix the quote
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:16 AM   #8
bemiiten
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Sounds like a transmission bearing may be on it's way. If that's the case. It should sound much worse under load and less so with the clutch pulled in. Here is the sound my trans was making at about 50 miles after I could here it with ear plugs in while riding. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CShKkyGnLGY
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:34 AM   #9
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Ride it

Am I the only one who simply rides the beast until it will not go any more?

The worst time for my R1100RT is AFTER I have ridden the K100. The K is so quiet that the R sounds like it is falling apart. I just press on and ignore all the new sounds.
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Old 01-20-2013, 05:44 AM   #10
Jim Moore
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Man, that sure as hell sounds like a u-joint to me. You checked the front u-joint too?
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Old 01-20-2013, 05:47 AM   #11
mudmullet OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bemiiten View Post
Sounds like a transmission bearing may be on it's way. If that's the case. It should sound much worse under load and less so with the clutch pulled in. Here is the sound my trans was making at about 50 miles after I could here it with ear plugs in while riding. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CShKkyGnLGY
Thanks for the link. A new idea to consider! The sound at the beginning does sound very similar. You moved the camera along the length of the swingarm. Did it appear to you that the sound was centered upon the transmission or did it rattle all the way back to the final drive? I, too, pressed the brake but the engine would stall. Perhaps I was pushing too hard, since I used my foot instead of my hand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDoc View Post
Am I the only one who simply rides the beast until it will not go any more?

The worst time for my R1100RT is AFTER I have ridden the K100. The K is so quiet that the R sounds like it is falling apart. I just press on and ignore all the new sounds.
It is very easy to get everything completely disassembled from the swingarm back through the final drive, so it won't be much to reassemble everything and wear the worn part a bit more. The trepidation comes from being stranded on the side of the road and difference between repair costs and replacement costs. The other reason, I must confess, is simply vanity: it clacks out of synch with the throttle bodies, especially the right one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Moore View Post
Man, that sure as hell sounds like a u-joint to me. You checked the front u-joint too?
Yes. I twisted and pulled and pushed and can't really find any looseness. I think that I feel play if I push the u-joint together and twist the front half in one direction (I think clockwise). My brother didn't feel this though. The joints aren't floppy. They rotate smoothly and without any binding or grittiness. Driveshaft is clean, without corrosion. It really looks nice. Using a stethoscope, while on the centerstand, idling in first gear, the noise was louder at the front half of the swingarm than at the final drive.

EDIT: The front u-joint is worn more than the rear one. When it set the ends of the driveshaft straight and shake the driveshaft up and down, the front u-joint falls down while the rear stays in place.

mudmullet screwed with this post 01-20-2013 at 06:50 AM
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:06 PM   #12
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Update.

I've sent the driveshaft to Machine Services Inc. to rebuild, and I've got some parts coming from Max BMW. Fortunately, my good friends in Houston filled my order timely and got my Guard Dog GD-525 to me, yesterday. so I decided a little preventative maintenance was in order.

I didn't have the guide pins the manual called for to support the transmission during removal, so I made some out of 1/4" round bar. A little heat and a solid whack on the end of the rod upset the rod enough to cut some threads with the appropriate sized die.


It took a while to get everything apart (air cleaner assembly was finnicky) , but I'm glad I did it. What I uncovered was much different from the driveshaft, which was maybe a little dry, but well lubed. These splines had none. The rust cleaned up with liberal use of a dental pick, a tiny wire brush, and my dremel with the nifty plastic brush for the transmission splines. That Guard Dog grease is thick and sticky. I like it!


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Old 01-27-2013, 04:56 AM   #13
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Question for ya. It's a little hard to tell from the pics, are the transmission splines worn? Do the clutch splines have a ridge on them?
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Old 01-27-2013, 05:33 AM   #14
mudmullet OP
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Not worn

No ridges or pitting anywhere, just surface rust. Couldn't feel anything with my finger or my nail, or with the dental pick. It cleaned up well, leaving only stains.
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Old 01-27-2013, 05:34 AM   #15
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Outstanding news!
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