Oil and Filter Change
Procedures and Technical information
Your /5 and later BMW Airhead motorcycle lower-end has a well-deserved reputation for reliability and exceptional long life. This remains so if it is kept properly lubricated. Regular oil and filter changes based on both time and mileage are required. Over the years of airhead production there were a fairly large number of different filter numbers, filter styles, and 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, models, situations. This is a very 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 to 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.
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. Your drain plug can have a magnetic
center, if you are as anal as I am....you can get one from a F650, or
other BMW. Having a magnetic plug is not critical for the
engine, like it is for the transmission.
HINT: AVOID bending the left throttle cable when checking the oil level at the dipstick.
If you are also changing the oil filter, things are more complicated, particularly if you have an oil cooler. Once the old oil filter is removed and the new one installed, you have an oil chamber area that is empty of oil. All the oil from your engine's oil pump must pass through that oil chamber (called the filter canister) first, before the engine parts that need it get any oiling. You want to fill that chamber with oil, and pressurize the system, putting the least amount of load on the engine while doing that. It is not necessary to go overboard to do this. QUITE frankly, it perhaps is not REALLY necessary to go through the oil filter chamber filling method I outline below...and that BMW wanted you to do. BUT, I do think it FAR BETTER to fill the chamber (and cooler if you have one) properly, than not to.
IF you changed the filter, ALWAYS use some large dikes or pliers, and pry off the metal ends, and remove the outer wrapper, and then unroll the filter. Look for metal or other particles, in every pleat, both sides. By looking carefully at any particles, all sides (and 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. 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 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:
1. 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 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 to
move upwards with any special bolt. Still, you want
to crank the engine to fill the oil canister but your oil
cooler will fill 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 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.
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! The oil filter has
a LOT of working surface area. Likewise, it
likely 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, 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.
17. Very roughly from about 1988, and this is not a dead certain date, and it was phased into production, and some very late models might still NOT have this......the canister got a LIP at the right 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. READ IT!!
18. Tightening the 17 mm banjo bolts to over 14.5 foot-pounds is likely to result in shearing them off, the proper torque is 13 footpounds.
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 overtighten. These do NOT have to be tightened very much. JUST moderately SNUG.
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, and I have no complaints about this, will use common cheap car oil the first 50 miles of break-in, then change to a quality oil, ....again, not a full synthetic. However, I like to use Rotella or Delo diesel oils, the NON-full-synthetic ones. They have a LOT of 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 so with VERY vigorous braking and worn engine bearings. It would be a good idea to turn the engine off and let it cool down.
NOTE: Idling the engine at low rpm, ESPECIALLY with a fully heated up oil/engine, is NOT a good idea for long periods of time. 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; possibly even the camshaft sprocket. This is a good reason to not set the idle rpm too low. I think that /5 and later 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 R100 bikes, but 900 on the /5.
22. The oil pressure lamp is there for several purposes:
23. It has always been my feeling that BMW should have used a sender switch that closed its circuit at perhaps 20 or 30 psi. However, BMW may have thought that the lamp coming on in quite hot riding and braking; perhaps with thin oils, and so on, might be confusing. Probably aftermarket switches are available with such a higher calibration. 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. In my own use, and my own opinion, is that one should use the STOCK BMW MOTORCYCLE oil sender switch. The BMW switch is about ten bucks...use it!
24. The thermostat seldom fails. 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, being 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 the oil.
Everything you wanted to know (or didn't)---and then some:
OAK (Orlando Okleshen) wrote articles over the years covering some, if not most of the subject matter. This was published in the magazine of the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America called BMWNEWS, now BMWMOA-ON. These 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 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.
Some folks understand the measuring better from that article, some understand it better in MY article you are reading. My method works, and is simple.
Information published in the popular Haynes and Clymer's manuals MAY be wrong. Certainly some of it is confusing, not the least of which are errors in sketches in one version of the Haynes manual on the parts fitment in the oil canister area. BMW themselves have published some information that is also misleading, to say the least. Some BMW sketches show parts that are not to be used...like the outer paper gasket with cooler's (usually). It is sometimes what is NOT published that causes problems.
NOTE!......BMW provides filters and filter kits, in which there may well be EXTRA parts that you will NOT be using on YOUR bike!!
25. The earliest airheads, such as the /5 and /6 series, up to a change in 1976, had a 3 bolt outer cover, but inside the engine was a metal cap cover, held onto the end of the oil filter canister by a single large bolt that screwed into threads in the center of the central pipe, which was not the same length pipe as the later models, thermostat type or not. NO inner cap-cover sealing method (no gasket of any type) was used to seal that early inner cap-cover to the metal canister. No gasket or washer was used under the bolt head. On early airheads, with this metal INNER CAP-COVER, the OUTER 3 bolt cover MUST have a paper gasket. NO sealant is used on that paper gasket. None of the problems with the later models with cover O-rings, coolers, and so on, are had with this early simple system. For this early system, I like to replace the paper gasket each time the outer cover is removed. Be very careful not to nick the metal, or the gasket won't seal well. The original /5 filters were sealed to the metal cap cover and to the far inner end of the canister, via small round black O-rings, that lightly push fit over the central oil tube. These O-rings were normally replaced at each filter change, and removing the innermost one was done with a bent end of a straightened coat hangar. Later, these small O-rings were eliminated, in favor of bonded-to-the-filter rubber seals. At one time filters were available that had the bonded rubber only for the far INNER end, and one small O-ring was still used at the OUTER end of the filter. Do NOT confuse these words with the much larger separate O-rings now used, which do NOT grip the central tube. Note also that modern filters may have bonded rubber at both ends for the early bikes.
On the cooler equipped 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 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 word '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 always stock a few spare white -098 O-rings. 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 don't believe
this;..NOT AT ALL! I have NEVER seen a early 1980's
rolled edge (flat/lipped) canister....but, BMW did make a
machining difference on the lip....perhaps that is what
they mean. 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, or in the case of some 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 GS cover does not have a thermostat. It uses that specific internal hole size to ALWAYS allow some oil to flow, and as the oil thins from heating up, more oil flows. As noted above, 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 area.... the frame on the GS models is high, and the thermostat unit would NOT FIT those frames. Take a look at a GS sometime.
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 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 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.
***Do 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 is a nominal 44 mm outside diameter and 4.0 mm thickness. The metal shim is 0.3 mm thick (0.012"). The paper gasket is 0.5 mm thick. The metal shims seems to measure .011" give or take a bit. 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).
Here is what you must know!
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 never personally seen that, but it is
theoretically possible...so, maybe 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
NOTE: A few
fairly rare situations, supposedly on some R45/R65 models,
but has been reported
order of installation of parts is ALWAYS:
Filter, shim, cover with the two O-rings,
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, 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 has been eliminating filters, and is probably going to go to just 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. I would not be surprised to see BMW go to just two filters, both hinged. IN MY opinion, the hinged filters are best. It is my personal belief that the hinged filters are stronger, and less likely to exhibit a VERY RARE situation, a crushed filter. I suspect that filters will only be available as kits, with extra parts, so the kits will be universal in use.
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 are 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.
NOTE: 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.
There are quite a few part numbers for the filters. Some of the earliest filter part numbers are still seen now and then on someone's shelf. After someone visits a 'knowledgeable' dealership it is not rare to find out that he/she has purchased the wrong filter for their motorcycle. In an effort to confuse! the issue as much as possible!, I offer the following.
NOTE that the filters used with the 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. 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. 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.
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. There is no information, AFAIK, as to why all this nonsense is listed here and there, and differently too! 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), 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: This filter, which MAY be marked OX36, is for use with the cooler equipped airheads, it is the LONGER & HINGED (two piece joined) filter, 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 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, 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. Note carefully: The filter INNERmost end has a bonded rubber tube/sleeve or you can if you wish call it a square O-ring. 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 rubber O-ring that is or should be loose in the KIT box; which is a 11-42-1-337-098.
NOTE: Purolator made a PL-17 filter, and this is a good one.
11-42-1-337-570 (also used in kit 11-009-9-056-145): This filter is for non-cooler airheads, it is the SHORTER, hinged, comes with 2 square O-rings, and is OK to use to replace the 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, two small metal seal rings,
and...get this...ONLY ONE...of the needed 4 of the banjo
bolt washers...and in some cases it is not that, but only
one DRAIN plug washer. 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. 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 cover...right???
The square O-ring used on
Cooler-equipped bikes was originally not square, rather it
was round, and was 11-42-1-337-097; that is obsolete.
The square type does not...or, rather, did not, have a part
number. It may well STILL not have a part number. It
is normally located in the -575 filter's own box. The
-575 filter does not have bonded rubber at the right
(outer) end. That was continued on with when BMW
brought out the filter KITS. The square O-ring was IN
the filter box, which was inside the KIT box.
However, that square O-ring is NOT in the -570 box, since
that is the NON-cooler filter, and that square O-ring is
not needed, as the -570 filter has bonded rubber at both
The cooler type of outside cover plate has two threaded holes for the hoses/banjo nuts. The cover was made in TWO styles, one had a thermostat. The GS bikes had a NO-thermostat
cover. Both of these COOLER types of covers require the square O-ring, which CAME in the -575 filter's box, at one end of that small box. That filter had rubber bonded at ONE end ONLY. That end went into the canister first. When assembling the area, first went in the
rubber end of the filter (the other end has NO rubber bonded), then came the shim, then came the cover with the square O-ring and the WHITE -098 O-ring. A paper gasket is only to be used when necessary, see much earlier in this article. The purpose of the square O-ring (on the cooler-equipped models); or the bonded outer end on the non-cooler models, is simply to provide a LIGHT sealing to the COVER. The oil pressure is low at the junction. The large WHITE -098 O-ring, on the other hand....has HIGH pressure, and is a critical part. It is very important that the proper setup be used as far as shim (if needed), paper gasket (if needed), and -098 O-ring. THOSE are the critical area parts,and what is what with THEM, depends on the depth measurement
The NON-cooler covers have NO threaded ports for the two banjo bolts. I have seen thermostat covers and also GS style covers that had the two ports plugged, and the bike's cooler removed. Use the -575 with the black square O-ring.
You will PROBABLY find that you need one metal shim, and no outer paper gasket. Only if the canister itself was changed, highly UNlikely, to the very latest lipped type, is the shim POSSIBLY not needed. Looking and measuring will tell the story.
Your PROBABLE order of parts is:
Hinged filter, bonded rubber tube end of it INwards.
Square rubber O-ring and Large White O-ring on the cover.
Three deeper head allen bolts, with locking star or waverly washers. BMW has been changing filter stuff for some time. The hinged filters of the proper length (are two lengths) are stronger and better and easier to R/R than the non-hinged. BMW has been selling oil change KITS, and some kits are MISSING some items....such as the black square sectioned O-ring or a shim. I expect the filter designs MIGHT even be changed in the future so that the square sectioned black O-ring is not needed on the cooler models. This could be done with a special bonded rubber to the outer filter flat metal, whilst a bonded inner tube type is on the filter that goes inwards. You can not depend on the shim and gasket situation from the previous owner, whether owner-maintained, or shop maintained; unless you personally KNOW that the shop person DID the measurements;...THUS, you NEED to, ONCE, measure that approx. 3 mm distance from canister end to engine outer surface, and do it accurately. Also check the central pipe, should be about 3 mm proud of the engine surface....not all that critical though. Here is what I found, looking at just what is in stock on my shelves, this morning:
Kit 11-009-056-146: This has the longer hinged filter, that filter is the 11-42-1-337-575. The filter is in its own box, and comes with the black square-sectioned O-ring that fits into the outer cover. One end of the filter, no bonded rubber, goes OUTward, the end with the bonded rubber tube-like thing goes INward. This kit comes with the WHITE high pressure round O-ring, which, if you are curious, ends in part number -098, if you were to order some separately. The kit has a three hole gasket, a drain crushwasher of the newer solid type, and TWO coppery-looking washers, that one might think fit the thermostat bottom bolt. I have found no use for them.
There are NO crush washers for the banjo fittings, and you will need 4 of those if you loosen those banjo nuts during the oil change of a model with the oil cooler....and... this kit 'IS' FOR THE COOLER MODELS. Kit 11-009-056-145: This kit is very similar to the above kit. The coppery washers are missing (fine by me). The filter is hinged, but is the SHORTER filter, for use with NON-cooler bikes. NOTE that the filter has bonded rubber tube thing at BOTH ends. The rest is the same. You don't need the banjo washers, of course, since there is no cooler.
There is a oil pressure bypass valve located at the innermost end of the oil filter metal canister. The purpose of this spring-loaded ball-check valve device is to allow oil, unfiltered, to pass into the engine from the pump and canister, if the filter somehow is blocked from oil flow. This ball-check valve has VERY rarely come loose, and you find parts in the canister area. Somewhat more often, but still quite rarely, the spring has broken, and bits of it gets into the oiling system....bad news, as considerable damage is possible. If you have to replace the valve or otherwise repair it, clean the threads with a good evaporating spray solvent, and then apply BLUE (medium strength) Loctite or equivalent, in a SMALL AMOUNT to the threads. DO NOT get any on the ball and where it seats. There is no specification on how deep to install the slotted holding part, so you will have to just estimate it....do NOT screw it in way too far, you will change pressure characteristics. This caution paragraph is repeated elsewhere's in this website, and you can get a better idea of the oiling system by going to: oilsketch.htm
has good illustrated information of the oil filter canister setups (some)
on his website:
Note: A RARE event, but has been seen now and then, is an engine with the front main bearing having rotated, which cuts off oil to the rocker arms, and lowers oil pressure. You will usually find a steel pin, of about 4 mm diameter, about 11 mm long, in the oil pan. Whilst the main bearing is a press-fit, if the pin, which is supposed to be pressed-in and staked, comes out (big oil pressure is there, helping to push out the pin), then the bearing MIGHT rotate. The pin is 11-11-1-253-184. This is a SERIOUS event, and requires the entire front of the engine to be disassembled.
11-12-2001: clarity, adding some explanations in
© Copyright, 2012, R. Fleischer