Oil & Filter Change Procedures. Technical information.
Your /5 and later BMW Airhead motorcycle lower-end 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 all required. Over the years of Airhead production there were a fairly large number of different filter numbers, filter styles, methods of fitting them and associated parts such as O-rings, gaskets, shims, and oil cooler attachments. This article will attempt to cover all versions, all models, all situations. This is an in-depth and lengthy article. It is intended to be THE place you will find ALL the information. I expect you to read it all the way through at least once; then in the future use what parts of it that are pertinent. The only other website I can refer you to that may be of some interest in this area is Anton Largiader's...a very good website.
OAK (Orlando Okleshen) an Airhead Guru of quite some reputation, wrote articles over many years covering some, if not most of this 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, and are no longer needed, as he 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 and the August 1997 issues. Most postings made after the June 1997 article will refer to this SUBJECT as the $2000 O-ring. Oak did an article in AIRMAIL in the August 2004 and September 2004 issues, with a somewhat different approach to explaining the problems and making the measurements, and those, if you have them or obtain them, are good articles to look at. The January 2008 issue of AIRMAIL has a good summary of Oak's approach, and that issue is recommended by me, as it is the latest AIRMAIL that has all the information you basically need. The article you are now reading is very comprehensive, and 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.
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, top up
the oil to the proper mark (NOT screwing in the dipstick
when taking a reading). Yeah, we all know you will
reuse the pan drain plug crush washer, but it really is
best to use a new one, as a used one might leak.
HINT: AVOID bending the left throttle cable when checking the oil level at the dipstick. Note also that the dipstick reading is taken by removing the dipstick, wiping it off, 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 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.
IF you changed the filter, ALWAYS hang it to drain well, and then use some large dikes or pliers, and pry (NOT CUT) off the metal ends. Remove the outer wrapper, and then unroll the filter. Look for metal or other particles, in every pleat, both sides. By looking carefully for any particles, all pleats and sides (we hope you have no substantial metal particles of any note), you could probably determine what area of the engine they came from.
The standard method of filling the oil filter chamber is to use the starter motor to crank the engine, without letting the engine start. Some folks will short out the spark plugs; or, remove them and tie the spark plugs (with caps attached) to the cylinders, perhaps with a sash rod spring to keep the spark plugs in contact with the cylinder metal to protect the ignition parts. I do not believe either method is really necessary. I just turn off the gas, empty the carburetor bowls, replace the bowls, and crank the engine. The battery and starter motor are more than capable of the necessary ~10 seconds of cranking time. You can then ride to recharge the battery, or connect a trickle charger or Smart Charger.
This is what I recommend:
Turn the petcocks off.
4. Some folks like to do a particularly thorough
oil change, and drain the cooler. BMW no longer
says the cooler has to be drained. You will
drain it if you are changing the filter, because the hoses,
disconnected, simply drip, drip, drip.
this special bolt together with the old washer, finger tight (or,
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. Install the proper short 10 mm bolt and
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. Still, you want
to crank the engine to fill the oil canister but your oil
cooler will fill, or partially, at the same time.
15. 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 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 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 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, can also be
duplicated out of printed circuit board material (a type of
glass fiber and resin material). BTW...with the round
disc unit, there is an adjustment. The stiffer spring
position (lower groove) is for the R75 engine. Replacement discs are NLA from BMW, but I have references on where to get them if you do not want to make one, which is a PIA if you have no lathe. oilsketch.htm has sketches, photos, etc.
16. It is usually OK to change the filter and any
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 twice that. SOME premium oils are fine
at 7000+....it really depends on how the engine is being
used and the base stock and also the 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 canister edge from cutting the large white O-ring. These so-called rounded-edge 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 a metal shim, ETC.
19. Deeper than the somewhat shallow original allen head screws are available from your dealer for the three outer cover screws. They tend to round-out far less. Do use locking (for instance, star type or waverly) washers. It is a good idea to use a faint smear of anti-seize compound on the threads and washer...and do NOT over-tighten. These do NOT have to be tightened very much. JUST moderately SNUG. Tighten in stages, evenly.
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 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 this 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.
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. Temper that statement with the fact that on some of the bikes 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 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: 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: 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: 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. This is a good reason to not 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 1982+ R100 bikes, but 900 on bikes prior to 1980....as they have a heavy flywheel. 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 a 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. IMO: use the STOCK BMW MOTORCYCLE oil sender switch. The BMW switch is about ten bucks...use it!
24. The thermostat seldom fails; unless abused by use of the wrong length special cooler drain bolt. They have been
known, RARELY, to stick. This does not have any real
effect 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
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 cooler-equipped bikes are 34 x 3 mm and 44 x 4 mm. You don't need this information, since you WILL, if smart, use the BMW parts.
Later models, cooler or not, eliminated the inner metal
cap-cover, including of course, eliminating the
large central bolt. 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 .010" 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 prompted originally 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 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. Some filters (kits) are sold with those large O-rings. 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 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 small space
between the 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 to seal the
canister to the outer cover. MIND THESE TWO
SENTENCES...., RE-READ TWICE!
28. METAL SHIM:
29. BMW manufactured some very late canisters with an outer lip, that supposedly do not need the metal shim. The literature is QUITE confusing on this, and it APPEARS it was introduced in late model RS bikes; perhaps in 1988;...do NOT trust that you have a lipped canister, so, LOOK! In any case.....one must be very careful about not using the shim. In fact, in some rare instances, with canister depth being too far out of tolerance (read on, later herein), I have installed two shims, and no 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..... not too much pressure....lest the O-ring be damaged, etc. A very complete analysis of the proper dimensions follows later in this article (see Oak's August 2004 AIRMAIL article for a different way of examining the clearances). If you are not sure about the edge of the canister, and the dimension of the canister to the outer surface allows (read later herein), then by all means use the metal shim...it is compatible with rolled edge canisters, if the dimensions allow. Even if you have a late lipped canister, you may need the shim!
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. 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
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.
The oil cooler setup is a bypass system. Only part
of the oil flow 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.
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 and 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 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. NOTE that the cooler models are supposed to have the pipe installed such that 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 use Loctite Red, and hold the pipe centered by installing the outer cover overnight.
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 diameter and 4.0 mm thickness. The metal shim is nominally ~0.3 mm thick (~0.012"), with some small variances in thickness being seen, down to ~0.010". Most of the metal shims seem to measure .011" give or take a bit. 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, if things fall within the tolerances I show here.
33. Once in awhile I am asked about what temperature
the oil is supposed to be at. Now and then come questions
about the use of deeper oil pans and aftermarket cooling-tube
inserts between pan and engine. Questions also arise about
the effectiveness of the oil cooler (the GS type and the
thermostat type are about the same in cooling effect, except the GS type can OVERCOOL in colder weather, without a COVER).
34. With regards to the later models (NO inner
metal single bolt cap-cover), BMW has goofed on occasion in
the installation of the canister. Sometimes it
is set too far in, and in VERY RARE instances, it is set
too far out. Some
folks think it can move, over time, with engine
heating...I've seen that once, ...so, measuring your canister
more than once over the years is not a bad
idea! The depth of the end of
the canister to the outer cover mounting pad surface is
fairly critical, as the O-ring must seal both the canister
to the outer cover, and the canister to the engine casting
wall, preventing oil from escaping the cover to the outside
and in particular from escaping the canister area directly
down to the oil pan. The
actual specification for the distance from the end of the
oil filter canister to the OUTER face of the engine casting
is 3.0 mm (0.118"). You
can use a T style depth gauge, or the end of a vernier
caliper. Use these squarely and accurately.
NOTE: Use of a paper cover gasket, where one
is not needed, can mask some types of
fairly rare situations, supposedly on some R45/R65 models,
but has been reported
order of installation of parts is ALWAYS:
Filter, shim (1 or more usually), cover with
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 Motoren-Israel, it is a matter of money, complexity added, and 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 and cooler setup dead-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. IMO. 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 and changing oil filters. I had no leaks, no oiling failures, and a lot of miles, some on forest service rough roads. Nothing hanging. It was a bit more effort to change the oil filter, but not all that much. Unless you are physically handicapped, or have a very specific access reason, I cannot recommend either of the two types of conversions.
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 and the 'convenience' of the screw-on filter.
Canister and 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. AFAIK, the -203 is the latest, lipped, canister. Now that you know all this, it makes absolutely no difference, as you won't be changing your canister! Well, you COULD, but, why would you REALLY want to deal with what THAT entails?
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.
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, and 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. The paper quality is questionable, seems fuzzy, and it MIGHT be decayed by the oil. Flow rate unknown. Oak recommended against this filter.
NOTE: filters may available in bulk, 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 the 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. Have been at least TWO reports of filter
failures ruining engines. I suggest using ONLY
BMW filters, or the Purolator. I am sorry to say that
FRAM filters...including their car filters...seems to be of
questionable quality these days. I think the
hinged filters are stronger as I have noted, above...
certainly easier to use. Euromotoelectric.com also sells filters, that seem to be not only cheaper than BMW sold ones, but I have never heard of a problem with them.
There are quite a few part numbers for the
BMW-sold filters. Some of the earliest filter part numbers are
still seen now and then on someone's shelf.
Filters used with coolers are the longer filters.
11-42-1-253-817: This filter is for NON-cooler airheads, it is rigid, and short. Used on /5 and 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 119mm 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. This 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 is about 119 mm long. It 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....such as the RT. This filter is called the 11-42-9-062-464 in some literature. Forget about these filters.
11-42-1-337-575 (also used in kit 11-00-9-056-146): This filter, which MAY be marked OX36 (Mahle), is for use with the cooler equipped airheads, it is the LONGER & HINGED (two piece joined) filter as opposed to the -570, see next paragraph. 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; and also 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 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.
NOTE: Purolator made a PL-17 filter, and it is a good one; as is the Mahle OX36.
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. NOTE that this filter is available in a kit, the filter now has bonded rubber ends (BOTH ends), and the kit has the -098 high pressure white O-ring, paper gasket, drain plug washer, and the flat metal shim. The kit is 11-009-9-056-145.
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.
OX35: the short, not for cooler, filter.
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 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 rings. 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.
So...what do you REALLY do about the filters? Your dealer PROBABLY has the correct filter number, which they can determine from year, model, and if you have a cooler or not. BE SURE to get all the parts YOUR bike requires for each filter change. Do NOT depend on UNknowledgeable parts people 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 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. Try to 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 cooler.
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