Oil & Filter Change Procedures.
This is a VERY comprehensive article.
Your /5 and later BMW Airhead motorcycle has a well-deserved reputation for reliability & exceptionally long life.......if the engine is kept properly lubricated. Regular oil & filter changes based on both oil quality, time, & mileage, are required. Regular oil changes are much more important on the Airheads than it is on modern cars.
I suggest you first read through the rest of my article, below, and when done, read the two by Anton, completely, just above.
OAK (Orlando Okleshen) an Airhead Guru of quite some well-deserved reputation, wrote articles over many years covering much of the subject matter. Much of it was published in the magazine of the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America called BMWNEWS, now BMWMOA-ON. Those older issues may be difficult to find. OAK treated the subject in depth, in AIRMAIL, the publication of the Airheads Beemer Club, in the June 1997 issue, with follow-ups in the July 1997 & August 1997 issues. Most postings made after the June 1997 article will refer to this SUBJECT as the $2000 O-ring. Oak wrote an article in AIRMAIL for the August 2004 & September 2004 issues, with a somewhat different approach to explaining the problems, making the measurements. If you have them or can obtain them, these are good articles to look at. The January 2008 issue of AIRMAIL has a good summary of Oak's approach & that issue is recommended by me, as it is the latest AIRMAIL that has all the information you basically need.
MY article you are now reading is very comprehensive & covers everything. Sometimes it is helpful to folks to read the same or similar type of information when it is said differently. You can read such articles on such as the Technical Tips area of www.airheads.org, etc.
I suggest you first read through the rest of my article, below, and when done, read the two, completely, just above.
If just changing the engine oil, and
NOT the filter, take a 10 mile minimum ride to warm the
oil. On the center stand, remove the engine pan drain plug, drain the oil,
replace the oil drain plug using a new crush washer (yes, even if it is the solid aluminum type), top up
the oil to the proper mark (NOT screwing in the dipstick
when taking a reading, WHICH IS STANDARD FOR BMW AIRHEADS).
Early Airheads have shallower
oil pans, and you may want to keep the oil level a bit
lower than the maximum marking on the dipstick....otherwise
the first half-quart or so might disappear too quickly. This is actually so for all the Airheads, just more important on the earliest ones with those shallower oil pans. That early "burn-off" (actually, it is mostly, but not all, loss through the engine breather valve) effect is worse with 'cheap' oils. Using up the first ~1/2 quart relatively quickly is particularly so on the earliest models with round disc breathers that do NOT have the breather drain-back hole in the bottom of the breather valve chamber. SEE: http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/oilsketch.htm
AVOID bending the left throttle cable when checking the oil level at the dipstick. The dipstick reading is ALWAYS taken by removing the dipstick, wiping it, then inserting it, but NOT screwing it in before looking at the oil level reading.
If you are also changing the oil
filter I suggest you first drain the engine oil as above; then, put the bike on the SIDE-stand, which tilts the right side up for easier work on the oil canister area.
Getting into the DETAILS....in great depth!
4. If you are only changing oil, and not the filter too, you do NOT need to drain the cooler, if you have a cooler.
Crank the engine until the OIL
lamp goes OUT, this will take ~10seconds.
Do NOT confuse the OIL lamp indicator and the GEN lamp
this special bolt together with the old washer, finger tight (or,
VERY LIGHTLY with 10 mm wrench), in place of the much shorter 10 mm bolt, at the bottom of the thermostat. Again crank
the engine until the OIL lamp goes OUT, this will take a
few seconds at most. Again, don't confuse the
lamps. Re-install the proper short 10 mm bolt and
washer; very little torque is needed on that bolt.
If your bike is a GS model without the thermostat, you
don't have this procedure, as there is no thermostat, nor need for the special bolt.
14. Oils of somewhat questionable properties tend
to 'burn up' rather quickly, particularly the first 1/3 to
1/2 liter; even more so on the shallower oil pans that tend to have
more blowby through the breather valves and oil burning via the carburetors. It
is usually a matter of the additive package, but can also
be due to lower grades of crude oil base
stock. Airheads with the smaller volume
crankcases, especially pre-1980 (a pan size change was made
in 1977), tend to make the situation worse. Engine
condition, in particular the rings, valve guides and
style/condition of the breather valve, also have quite an
effect on oil usage. The early style round disc breather
valve is prone to making gobbling noises, and may get
chipped or otherwise damaged with age....and there is a
drain back hole in the cavity (except earliest models) that
is a bit hard to find and it needs to be kept clear. You
can install the later reed valve in place of the round
disc. The round disc, if damaged, is NLA from BMW, although there are aftermarket sources. It can also be
duplicated out of printed circuit board material (a type of
glass fiber and resin material).
15. It is usually OK to change the filter and any
canister area O-rings, at every other oil change. NEVER EVER reuse the -098 white
high pressure O-ring! It is OK to extend the oil drain period, mileage-wise,
if you are on a long tour. Those doing stop and go
city commuting, and especially those who do mostly short
rides of under 15 miles, and especially in high humidity areas, should change the oil MORE
often. Generally speaking, under average use with
non-premium oils, my recommended change is every few months
and 3000 miles, whichever comes first. Premium oils usually
can go UP TO twice that. SOME premium oils are fine
at 6000....it really depends on how the engine is being
used, the base stock, quality of the
additive package in the oil, and the amount of blowby.
17. Very roughly from about 1988, and this is not an absolute date, as it was phased into production, and some very late models might still NOT have this, the canister got a LIP at the outer edge. This lip was supposed to eliminate the need for the thin (0.011") metal shim....the purpose of which was to keep the non-lipped canister edge from cutting the large white O-ring. These so-called LIPPED canisters may, or may not, exist in your later Airhead. You still should measure the distance between canister and the outer engine face...see information much later in this article....as you MIGHT need to use one OR MORE metal shims, ETC. The lips seem to be of two types, rolled and swaged, one is a bit bigger (wider).
18. HISTORICAL INFORMATION!! There is a lot of WRONG information floating around the Internet. Besides those "sources", there is wrong information published by BMW, re-published and further 'interpreted' by such as Haynes and Clymers, etc. The real truth and real information is on the website you are reading. Much oiling system information, particularly dealing with the oil filter canister area, can be misinterpreted, or is just plain wrong, or, misleading, etc. MUCH of this information came from wrongly interpreting BMW Service Information Bulletins. ...and, those bulletins were not complete, nor fully accurate either. This is a very serious situation, and it is extremely important that you, an Airhead Owner, understand all the ramifications, and be able to separate correct information from that which is not correct. Here is a link to an English language document from Germany, but was not issued by BMWNA, they had their own version....which is somewhat similar. I have the German document here for you in PDF format. See my added comment near the top of it. Use this document, of several pages, ONLY FOR REFERENCE PURPOSES. Remember: There are errors in this sketch and text. It has not only sketches of the oil filter chamber and outer area, but information on some filters.
19. Re: The three outer cover screws:
20. Do not use single weight oils, unless you have a problem breaking in the rings on a newly ringed engine. Do NOT try to break in an engine on full-synthetic oils. Engines will usually, NOT 100% ALWAYS, break in OK on semi-synthetic oils. Some folks will use a common cheap car oil the first 50 miles of break-in, then change to a quality oil, ....again, not a full synthetic. I think that is dangerous to engine life, due to lack of ZDDP. I have safely used Rotella or Delo diesel oils, the NON-full-synthetic ones. They have ZDDP in them, and are much easier on the engine...at cams and followers as an example. I haven't looked into the ZDDP content of those oils in some time....if you want to use those oils, I suggest you find out. I suggest Golden Spectro 4, semi-synthetic, in 20W50 or 10W40.
21. The OIL light must NEVER come on ANY time the engine is at idle or above...UNLESS you have a faulty oil sender switch. HOWEVER, on some Airheads a VERY vigorous stop can cause the light to flicker MOMENTARILY...and this is OK...usually. If the oil light otherwise comes on at idle or above...stop the engine right now...no waiting!!! The problem is likely the switch...or a sliced/cut 11-42-1-337-098 large white O-ring at the filter canister. It really takes very little time for low oil pressure to damage your engine. NOTE: In a few rare instances, especially with thinner oils in very hot weather and/or with extreme stop and go traffic conditions, the engine, and oil, may heat up enough to cause the oil pressure to drop enough to activate the OIL lamp. This can be more likely with VERY vigorous braking and worn engine bearings.
NOTE: the part number of the 11-42-1-337-098 O-ring was, a long time ago, 11-42-1-264-160. It is 44 mm x 4 mm.
NOTE: The stock oil pressure switch activates at an oil pressure of approximately 3 to 8 psi. Generally speaking, even with very hot and thin oil, the oil pressure will not fall under 15 psi.
NOTE: Idling the engine for long periods of time at low rpm, ESPECIALLY with a fully heated up oil/engine, is NOT a good idea. This WILL greatly reduce the output from the oil pressure relief plunger valve located in the timing chest, and thereby INcrease wear on the timing chain and crankshaft sprocket and the camshaft sprocket. That is a good reason NOT to set the idle rpm too low. I think airheads should NOT be idled under 800 rpm, and probably better at 900-1100. This also helps with synchronizing the CV carburetors...they are less touchy at 1000. I use 1025 rpm on my own bikes, but 900 on bikes prior to 1980....as they have a heavy flywheel. You can use 1025 for all Airheads. Excessive idle can also increase wear on the camshaft and followers.
22. The oil pressure lamp is there for several purposes:
23. BMW could have used an oil pressure sender switch that closed its circuit at perhaps 20 or 30 psi. However, BMW may have thought that the lamp then coming on in hot riding and braking, or even at normal idle; perhaps with thin oils, and so on, might be confusing/annoying. Aftermarket switches are available with a higher set point. Unconfirmed information given to me is that a switch sender used in water-cooled Volkswagens at their filter, part number 056-919-081E is rated at 1.8 BAR, which is approximately 27 psi. I do not know if the threads are straight or tapered, so as to fit the airhead engine threads (EARLY airheads used a different thread!). Note that part number as above but ending in C is rated at 0.3 BAR, and I have no information at this time on part number as above but ending in B. Information straightening this out will be appreciated. I SUGGEST YOU use the STOCK BMW MOTORCYCLE oil sender switch. The BMW switch is only about ten bucks...use it! You probably won't need to replace it unless it fails, or starts to leak.
24. The thermostat seldom fails; unless abused by use of the wrong length and tip of the special cooler refill bolt. They have been known, RARELY, to stick. This does not have any bad
effects on engine oil flow. The thermostat is NOT
simply an on-off valve. The valve inside it
determines what percentage of oil is routed to the
cooler. The thermostat is specified to begin to
open at 80°C (176°F) and be fully open at 110°C
(230°F). GS models without the thermostat use a sized hole to control the temperature to the cooler, it seems adequate, although using a lot of rpm with the engine oil itself, at startup, at very
low temperatures, MIGHT be hard on the cooler
soldered/brazed seams. The GS cooler is also supposed
to be COVERED in really cold weather, to avoid OVERcooling
Use of the special cooler refill bolt is not even mentioned in the later owner's booklets. Its use is not a must. Side note: The last of the Airhead's production models not only did not mention the filling of the oil cooler, but the information on the shim(s) and paper gasket (if used) were VERY skimpy.
On the later bikes: An outer medium-sized O-ring, square sectioned, may be used to 'modestly' seal the right end of the filter metal to the outer cover plate. NOTE that the pipe must be very tight into the engine block itself, and that pipe is longer on the cooler-equipped models. MANY an early model has been converted to use a cooler. Information is later.
The O-rings on the later Airheads are 34 x 3 mm and 44 x 4 mm. I highly suggest you do NOT substitute for the BMW parts.
Later models, cooler or not, eliminated the inner one-bolt metal
cap-cover. Those with the earlier style
inner cap-covers with the large central bolt, are NOT AT
ALL concerned with the $2000 O-ring, because there is none!
27. After the inner metal cap cover was eliminated, all airheads still used an outer 3 bolt cover, although several types were used. Use here of the words ' outer cover' includes both cooler and non-cooler models, thermostat or not. These covers had two different sized O-rings, both are needed. The cover has inner grooves to retain those O-rings. The smaller one WAS that previously mentioned 34 x 3 mm round O-ring...that is, it was round in early production, 11-42-1-337-097, but it is no longer available, and a square sectioned one IS SUPPOSED TO BE a separate part, in the oil filter box. The factory MIGHT have shipped the bike with a paper gasket at this cover....that is, the paper gasket, when and if used, fits between the 'cover' and the engine block, and BMW drawings usually show that gasket. That paper gasket should NOT be used, except in rare circumstances. The factory might have installed a shim at the canister. That shim is almost always to be used. That metal shim is 11-42-1-336-895, it is about 0.010" to 0.012" thick, and its purpose was to prevent the sharp thin edge of the canister from cutting the large -098 O-ring (44 x 4). The shim was installed in all models by 1979. It is a MUST for all the non-rolled edge canisters, which is most canisters, certainly all the early ones, perhaps up to at least 1988. Much more on those items later herein.
OAK's $2000 O-ring articles were originally prompted by an inquiry from someone who did major damage from using a too thick cover gasket (an aftermarket item), when no gasket at all would have been just fine, and preferable. What is often not understood properly is that the metal shim is there to protect the large, usually white, HIGH PRESSURE O-ring from being damaged by the sharp edge of the canister, and ALSO to increase pressure on this large O-ring. That large O-ring is the CRITICAL one, the so-called $2000 O-ring, and its part number is now 11-42-1-337-098. NEVER reuse one of those, and always inspect the new one, never nicking it in the slightest whilst you install it. BMW filter kits are usually sold with that large white O-ring. If your filter does not come with the O-ring, GET ONE. BE SURE to have the proper O-rings, etc., when you are ready to replace an oil filter. You might even need a fresh metal shim, if yours gets deformed. I recommend that you stock a few spare white -098 O-rings and a few shims. INSPECT the filter kit, etc., at the dealership, when you purchase them...be sure the needed parts are there.
right side open end of the canister is NOT
part of the outer engine wall, there is a very small space
between the right outer end of the canister and the inside wall of the engine. The purpose of the large white O-ring is to seal THAT space and ALSO seal the
canister to the outer cover. MIND THOSE TWO
SENTENCES...., RE-READ TWICE! If you still do not understand, keep reading, or, look at the PDF sketches mentioned much earlier. If still confused, look at Anton's articles, noted at the beginning of this article. YOU MUST UNDERSTAND this situation!!
28. METAL SHIM:
29. BMW supposedly manufactured late model canisters with an outer lip, that supposedly do not need the metal shim. ALL literature, price lists, Fiche, etc.... is QUITE confusing on this, and tend to make it APPEAR it was introduced in late model RS bikes; perhaps in 1988. Do NOT 'trust' that you have a lipped canister: LOOK! In any case.....one must be very careful about not using shim(s). In fact, in some not-so rare instances, with the canister depth being too far out of tolerance (read on, later herein), I have installed one or two shims, and rarely three shims, and very seldom any paper gasket. The important thing is that the -098 O-ring is squeezed well, yet not so much that one cannot get the outer cover fully seated onto the engine or that the O-ring be damaged. A complete analysis of the proper dimensions follows later in this article. Even if you have a late lipped canister, you may need the shim, and MANY are like that! NOTE that measuring, to determine if you need the paper gasket or even more than one shim, is necessary for a thorough job. Failure to do the measurement (which should be repeated now and then) can cause engine failure, and this can happen even after many miles and years of no problems.
NOTE that BMW claimed, in a Service Information
Bulletin 11-021-82 (2050) that sometime during the 1982
production year the canister end was changed to a
flat/lip....I have NEVER seen a early 1980's
rolled edge (flat/lipped) canister....but, BMW did make a
machining difference on the lip....that is not really what
they mean, however. The confusion comes because the lipped canister WAS introduced in EUROPE in 1982 (in stages). NO MATTER, it is the dimensions that are
critical, and the metal shim is used in every instance of
the early 1980's canisters that I have ever seen. A
real 'lipped' canister should be easy to see visually.
137.60 mm deep
I suggest you first read through the rest of my article, below, and when done, read the two, completely, just above.
30. Airheads with coolers have either the outer 3 bolt plain cover replaced by a thermostatic controlled cover (Nerdy information: The bypass hole in the THERMOSTAT cover is ~0.316" diameter.), or in the case of later GS models, with a restricted orifices outer cover. On the GS models with oil cooler and the non-thermostat cover, there is a factory bulletin on the early covers. The bulletin says to inspect the small hole in that cover, and if 2.0 mm, to drill it to 5/32" (that is 4 mm for the math challenged). That is the bypass port hole, the function of which is to allow SOME oil to flow, even if cold. Increasing the hole size reduces the amount of oil trying to pass through the cooler. Speculation is that with the original smaller hole, some coolers ruptured with starts in quite cold weather from the VERY high oil pressure when the oil is very cold. I will explain a bit differently: The GS cover does not have a thermostat. It uses that above specific internal hole size to ALWAYS allow some oil to flow through the oil cooler, and as the oil thins from heating up, more oil flows through that oil cooler. The EARLY GS covers had a too-small hole, and it needs drilling....for the reasons outlined. The GS radiator must be COVERED in quite cold weather to avoid OVER-cooling the oil. The advantage of the GS plate is that it is simple, and takes up less room in the canister outer area as the frame on the GS models is high & the thermostat unit would NOT FIT those frames. Take a look at a GS sometime.
The oil cooler system is a bypass system. Only part of the oil flowing into and through the engine goes through the cooler. On the thermostat-controlled system, the cooler gets oil flow when the bike is at speed; that is, when some goodly load is on the engine. Yes, the thermostat probably does not operate in typical busy traffic riding, as BMW engines cool rather well. A cooler is a VERY good idea for a sidecar bike, or a bike ridden in hot weather, especially at speed. You can tell if the cooler thermostat is working by riding at speed for a few minutes after engine warmup....the cooler will get hot. The thermostat unit should not be disabled permanently, that is, there is no reason to keep the 23 mm bolt installed, and I recommend against that, it can cause OVERcooling of the oil, a BAD thing. The only purpose of the special 23 mm bolt is to refill the cooler radiator if it has drained. It WILL drain, when you remove the cover plate...as you will unfasten the banjo bolts (stock the aluminum gasket washers in modest quantity....you need 4 each time). For some reason, BMW sells filter kits withOUT those aluminum banjo bolt washers....maybe they will include them in the future. The REASON for filling the radiator during an oil filter change, which requires that 23 mm bolt on thermostat models to enable refilling, is that if the engine is started when quite cold...how cold is not specified...nor is the oil grade.....then the HUGE oil pump pulse output upon starting MIGHT rupture the oil cooler if the cooler was empty. For anything but really extremely cold conditions, refilling the radiator is probably not necessary (it is not even mentioned in last of the owners booklets)....but many of us do it anyway....heck, it MIGHT protect the cooler. Frankly, I do the cooler refilling, but some say it is not necessary. I am wishy-washy on this. A few of the supposedly and proper 23 mm special bolts were made overly long....be sure yours is 23 mm from tip to under the head, and be sure the tip is a FULL ROUNDED RADIUS; to see a photo and description of the correct and the wrong bolt, see: http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/hardware.htm OR; http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/tools.htm and scan with your mouse to nearly the end of the article.
31. The center pipe in the oil canister area has been known to loosen. Be sure it is very tight. If it is loose, perhaps by 1/8th turn or more, remove it, clean male & female threads with a good solvent, and use RED Loctite sparingly, before replacing, tightly. Use an appropriate sized tool, do not bugger up the right-side end. Some may go so far as to have a special tool made, a mandrel like affair. A very thick, well fitting, very broad, parallel tip screwdriver CAN be used. Grind such a screwdriver or make a tool for yourself. If you do NOT use the proper tool, you will cause BURRS in the pipe end metal, that must be removed, or the pipe will not fit easily into the cover plate, and could even cause too much leaking there. The pipe is sticking out, outward of the engine pad surface, by 3.0 +- .4 mm. It really is not overly critical, the pipe must fit inside the cover some, when bolted up.. There are two basic types of center pipes. The short stubby pipe used with the single-piece filter (and old cap cover models), and the longer pipe used with the cooler and later models. NOTE that if you are installing a center pipe, and at the 3.0 mm distance proud of the engine it is loose, then you MUST use Loctite Red, and hold the pipe centered (by installing the outer cover overnight, or longer...then you can remove the cover).
NOT confuse that 3 mm pipe distance, PROUD of the engine casting....with the CANISTER depth of 3 mm.
32. The Large High Pressure O-ring 11-42-1-337-098 is a nominal 44 mm outside
4.0 mm thickness. The metal shim is nominally ~0.3 mm thick
(~0.0118"), with some small variances in thickness being seen, down to ~0.010 and up to 0.012"". The paper gasket is 0.5 mm
thick and is 11-42-1-338-600. There was an earlier number. These dimensions
are NOT important, unless you are using the method
described by OAK in the August 2004 issue of Airmail.
In MY treatment, herein, you need not calculate anything. Both Oak, and especially Anton Largiader, show detailed calculation methods, and Anton's is quite nerdy, and may confuse you, although he DOES have a chart on what to do, with certain measurement values.
34. VERY IMPORTANT SECTION!!!!
order of installation of parts for NON-internal-cap-cover-models is ALWAYS:
EXTERNAL oil filter conversions:This has been done, & a 'kit' was sold commercially by Suburban Machinery. There was a major article in Airmail in November 1997 by OAK on that specific conversion, his misgivings, the company's reply. There are probably some Airheads around still running those external filters. That type had hoses from the left side oil filter cover plate area, to a remote mounted spin-on filter. A conversion has also been done by individuals in somewhat similar ways, not from Suburban Machinery. I recommend you do not install a Suburban Machinery setup.
The only other commercial type I know of is this one:
That one is engineered nicely. It is also expensive, plus shipping I imagine, plus some more things you will need.
For the above Motoren-Israel product, it is a matter of money, complexity added, & whatever you may think of how your cooler connects, ETC. The link, above, will give you all the information you need to evaluate before purchase (except anecdotal reports, which you can probably find on the Internet easily).
I had a R100RT sidecar rig (with the sidecar on the right side, as is normal in the USA). I left the oil filter & cooler setup absolutely stock; EXCEPT for adding the metal shim and deleting the paper gasket, as was proper for my canister's actual depth measurement. Mine was not changed to the GS type plate either...it was the stock thermostat plate type, which works better than the GS style of no-thermostat, over-all. With the proper tools such as a ball-headed T Allen Wrench, and a 1/4" hole in the fairing which is unnoticeable, I had no problem laying on my back & changing oil filters. I had no leaks, no oiling failures, & a lot of miles, some on forest service rough roads. Nothing hanging. It was more effort to change the oil filter since a sidecar was attached, but not all that much. Unless you are physically handicapped, or have a very specific access reasons, I cannot recommend either of the two types of conversions to external oil filtration.
If money is no matter, the Motoren-Israel modification, done according to their instructions, should work OK. It will be a fair amount of effort and cost to gain the extra liter of oil & the 'convenience' of the screw-on filter. Be sure to look at the website carefully, & read any hints, warnings, advice, etc.
Canister & Filter mania:
BMW, over some time, has eliminated filters, and my guess is that BMW probably will eventually sell only THREE filters, one for the old short pipe non-cooler models; and two different length hinged filters for the cooler (longer filter) and non-cooler filter. IN MY opinion, the hinged filters are best. I believe them to be stronger and less likely to exhibit a VERY RARE situation, a crushed filter. I suspect that filters eventually will be only available as kits, with extra parts, so the kits will be universal in use. I also think that eventually BMW will only sell hinged filters.
The canister part numbers are confusing.....and for you
anal types, here is some information I am not 100% sure of.
The old books show that the canister for the oil cooler
model was 11-11-1-263-343, which obviously must be a
non-lipped type. In the early 1980's, the
microfiche shows that the canister for the oil cooler
models is 11-1-1-337-292. It might be the lipped
canister, but the price book sent you back to the -343
number. In the late 1980's, the microfiche for ONLY the RS
model!!....shows an erroneous (?) number for that canister.
No microfiche before or after shows that part number,
except as the central tube. The parts price book
shows it vastly cheaper. In 1990, the microfiche
shows ALL cooler models using 11-11-1-338-203. If you
go back and now look up the part for the earlier models, it
shows this version. In other words, BMW confused things, and now I have confused YOU!
Quite a few manufacturer's make filters that will fit our Airheads. At one time I obtained filters from Purolator, Fram, BMW dealer, and one other manufacturer. ALL were boxed with information stating that they were for a BMW R-xxx bike. I did not like what I saw on a few, and I went so far as to send OAK some new samples for his eyeballing. Both of us felt that pending laboratory tests which we never did, we would stay with the dealer supplied official part. Note also, that when I had my BMW repair shop we sometimes ordered the Purolator filters in bulk, and same for the Mahle filters. BMW themselves used filters from these manufacturer's, usually putting BMW emblems and/or numbers on them. Purolator filters, and especially Mahle filters, are well-designed and well-made.
Purolator: had 41 paper pleats, paper is of fine grade, proven quality, and the void space between the pleats was maximized. The pleats went deeper, the I.D. size well selected. From end to end on the I.D., the holes in the grating surrounding the center tube existed. The pleats were somewhat spread out, unevenly. The flow rate is proven acceptable.
Fram: 35 paper pleats. Paper is coarse, lessened void space, not as deep, so square area is less, I.D. is larger that the OK Purolator. From end to end on the I.D., the holes in the grating surrounding the center tube go only about 2/3 of the way & the remaining area is closed off solidly. This reduces the flow rate. The pleats are spread out more evenly than the Purolator, a minor plus factor. Paper quality is questionable, fuzzy, & it MIGHT be decayed by the oil. Flow rate unknown. Oak & I both recommended against using this filter.
NOTE: filters may be available in bulk, and are available in kits with O-rings, shim and gasket, etc. Note that I consider replacement of the large white O-ring a MUST if the cover is removed. Be 100.00% sure that any -098 large white O-ring you install is absolutely perfect, without the slightest nick or cut, etc. Once a metal shim deforms much, it must also be replaced.
If a filter should collapse, due to faulty manufacturing...perhaps a lousy central metal tube in the filter itself?...or maybe excessive end pressure in installing (??).....the canister bypass valve should...one hopes...allow engine oiling. NOTE!....most failures come from over-revving the engine with quite cold oil, and higher viscosity oils are even worse in these circumstances. THROTTLE BLIPPING IS A BAD THING TO DO ON COLD OIL. Have been at least TWO reports of filter failures ruining engines. That does NOT mean to keep the rpm quite low. Nothing wrong with starting the engine and keeping rpm under 1500 +- during the start, and idling the engine immediately after starting at ~1000. DO NOT blip the throttle to 2500+ during starting & during initial warmup!!
I suggest using ONLY
BMW filters, or the Purolator or Mahle. I am sorry to say that
FRAM OIL filters...including their car filters...seems to be of
questionable quality these days.
There are quite a few part numbers for the
BMW-sold filters over the years. Some of the earliest filter part numbers are still seen, if very rarely, on someone's shelf....and, once I heard of the very earliest ones found in an engine. My list of filters here is complete.
Filters used with coolers are the
longer filters. There are only two types of canisters, the type used with the ONE central bolt, and all the others (with variances in the LIPS, yes, no, or type of lip...NONE of which details mean anything to the type of filter....just: Short? Long? Hinged?).
11-42-1-253-817: This filter is for NON-cooler airheads, it is rigid & short. Used on /5 & later models. It is replaced by 11-42-1-253-919, which in turn is replaced by 11-42-1-337-198. This is a short filter, around 119 mm long. You will be pleased to find out that the BMW Parts CD says it is replaced by the -572 filter; but it is really the -570 which is the short HINGED filter (same as Mahle OX37). You will also probably not like to hear that the -198 will be seen in some literature to cross to the -575 filter, which is also the 11-42-9-062-495 filter. KONFUZED??...see below for the -198. NOTE that the original type of filter was the Purolator PL-16 and also the Mahle OX-35 was used. From BMW, the straight non-hinged filter is now obsolete.
11-42-1-335-385: This filter is 'listed' for 1979 and later RS/RT models with a cooler. It is rigid, and long. It is obsolete. Confusingly, some listings may not tell you that it is really for /7 and later, but NOT the R65, and NOT the R80GS, R80ST, R80RT, R100GS, and R100PD. THAT is all nonsense. My Parts CD says it is replaced by the -575 filter.
11-42-1-337-198: This filter is for non-cooler airheads, it is rigid (one piece, NOT hinged), ~119 mm long, comes with 2 square O-rings (may be seen originally as having rubber sleeves at both ends), and is OK to use to replace the 11-42-1-253-817, but this -198 is replaced, in turn, with 11-42-337-572; really -570 (hinged, with rubber sleeves at both ends). Are you confused yet, by the -817 short filter being replaced by a long filter? Add to the confusion and see the -572 model. Add even more confusion: find out that the CD says the -919 filter and a -061 filter were in here somehow along the way. Add more confusion, some literature will show the -198 being a -575! However, the more proper literature will show the -198 as being replaced by the 11-42-9-062-464. The -198 filter had rubber bonded at BOTH ends. It is supposedly for 1969 to 1991 models; but obviously you can't use this non-hinged filter on many models as you simply can't install it. This filter is called the 11-42-9-062-464 in some literature. Forget about all these various filters.
11-42-1-337-575 (also used in kit 11-00-9-056-146): This filter, which MAY be marked OX36 (Mahle), or PL-17 (Purolator), is for use with the cooler equipped airheads, it is the LONGER type & HINGED (two piece joined) filter as opposed to the -570. It is about 134 mm compressed in length, about 139 mm when not so compressed, and comes with 1 square O-ring loose in the box. It has a rubber 'tube' or 'sleeve' bonded at ONE end. THAT BONDED RUBBER END IS INSTALLED INWARDS. It supposedly has the same usage as the -385; it will replace the -385. Use it for the cooler equipped models from 1976 onwards. Another number is 11-42-9-062-495, and you might even find BOTH these numbers on a filter box (-575 and -495). This -575 filter, whether you purchase it in a filter change KIT (11-00-9-056-146), or by itself, is the one for the cooler-equipped Airheads. The KIT contains the filter in a separate box, the square O-ring (that is, or should be, in any 11-42-1-337-575 filter box), a paper gasket (for use WHEN needed), a drain plug washer-gasket,..........but NOT the 4 washer-gaskets for the banjo bolts, and YOU WILL LIKELY NEED THEM. Note carefully: The filter INNERmost end has a bonded rubber tube/sleeve. The OUTER end of the filter has NO rubber tube nor sleeve, nor is there a bonded O-ring of any type. The necessary square rubber O-ring is supposed to be supplied in the oil filter box. This O-ring is 34 x 3 mm. This is NOT the larger 44 mm x 4 ROUND WHITE HIGH PRESSURE SEALING rubber O-ring that is or should be loose in the KIT box. That white O-ring is 11-42-1-337-098.
11-42-1-337-570 (also used in kit 11-00-9-056-145): This filter is for non-cooler airheads, it is the SHORTER hinged type, comes with 2 square O-rings, and is OK to use to replace the 11-42-1-337-198. It may be marked OX37, and might measure about 127-1/2 mm long...perhaps 119 mm compressed. It is really the hinged version of the -572, supposedly OK for same usage as -385, plus the R65. OK for most 1976 to 1992 models. The filter now has bonded rubber ends (BOTH ends), and the -145 kit has the -098 high pressure white O-ring, paper gasket, drain plug washer, and the flat metal shim.
11-42-1-337-572: This filter is for
non-cooler airheads, it is the original single piece filter, but it has bonded rubber at both ends.
11-00-9-056-146: This is a filter KIT.
It contains the longer hinged -575 filter (for the cooler
equipped models, and this filter is hinged) and ONE -098
O-ring, one paper gasket, one drain plug washer, two small metal seal rings,
and does NOT, UNfortunately, have the 4 banjo
bolt washers. This kit also contains one of
the large metal shims, 11-42-336-895.
This is probably the filter kit to actually purchase for
the cooler equipped bikes, and then get some more of the
banjo sealing washers. I suggest purchasing separately a few -098 O-rings and for SURE a dozen at least of the banjo bolt washers. Don't use the paper gasket, nor
other items, unless needed, but the kit does have that
white -098 O-ring that you MUST replace each time. Save the shim if not needed. In fact, save any parts not needed (like the two small sealing washers).
Do NOT depend on UNknowledgeable parts people, who may be 'guessing' at the dealership!
The filter part number, if you are lucky, will
remain the same number for a long time. You probably
have a choice of a hinged filter or straight filter...and
the hinged filter can make life easier, IF your airhead
needs it, some surely do. I think them stronger
too. Some folks have been known to drill an
almost unnoticeable small hole, perhaps 1/4" or bit smaller, in a RT fairing, to allow
easier access to one of the outer cover Allen bolts.
The hinged filter WILL allow you to place the filter into
the canister without removing things...like the engine,
exhaust pipe (did you know your right exhaust header pipe
may have a hidden, inside towards the engine flattened
area?), or crash bar. The angle and position of
the hinge is critical to slipping the filter into the
canister, without crushing or otherwise deforming the
filter. You may need to experiment, then write down
the exact angle, hinge position, etc. Understand the description of the various methods of use of
filter, shims, gasket, O-rings. All those filter numbers
are not available. In fact, only a few are
available. This makes it somewhat easier to
find a number that is correct for your
Airhead. Understand that your dealer may
or may not use the parts CD/ETK/Computer to find the latest
part number. Be sure you give the dealer the correct
information on your airhead...year, model, with or without
NOTE: The factory RIGHT SIDE exhaust pipe may have a flattened or dimple type area on it, to more easily enable the filter removal and replacement. I have seen folks try to install the left pipe on the right side.
You should not be overly confused, after all, you NOW
understand just what goes inside that canister and
Amendments, to try to clear up some details:
has good illustrated information of the oil filter canister setups (some)
on his website: http://www.largiader.com/tech/filters/
11-12-2001: clarity, adding some explanations in
© Copyright, 2014, R. Fleischer