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A cheap, useful, hydraulic jack
for use in servicing your BMW
© Copyright, 2012, R. Fleischer
Note the 12" square in the center, and the ruler below.
Both here to give you an idea of size. Jack tops are screwed down and pistons are down. Another type, not shown here, is very similar, made from a piece of iron pipe, cut with a hacksaw, to get a half round. Nicer than the bent metal type in the right side of the above photo; and is described in this article.To make a very useful jack for all sorts of work on your BMW Airhead motorcycle:
Purchase the smallest, cheapest, hydraulic bottle jack at your nearest auto-parts store, WalMart, etc. For the best versatility, if you have a choice, get a short one, and the screw top types that extend upwards are a bit more useful. The boxes these come packaged-in typically list an approximate 6 inches of possible lift movement. In actuality, for the one's I have seen, the hydraulic piston will move a bit under 5 inches. These jacks sell for $15 or so, and every one I have seen is made in China. I have yet to see any of them leak or otherwise fail.
Unscrew the top threaded part to its upper limit, if it has such a threaded top part.
Obtain a piece, perhaps 2 or 3 inches long, of iron pipe (but, read whole article here...you might want another material). I suggest the inside diameter of that pipe to be such that after you cut it, it fits under and slightly around, but NOT AT ALL SNUGLY, at any frame round tubing area that you might use it at. In particular, the crossover at the forward area of the swing arm seems a good size to have it fit loosely around. A couple of inches or slightly larger pipe diameter seems OK. Cut the pipe LENGTHWISE to make two halves. I usually do this in the middle, or with a slight bias towards one side. Clean one of these halves up...that means clean up and round the sharp edges. Weld or bolt, or?....this half to the top of the jack, keeping the top threaded part of the jack cooled with a wrapped water-soaked rag if welding.....weld such that the curved piece will be SQUARELY welded to the top. Again...be SURE it is squarely welded, and don't just tack weld it, weld it all around. Some jacks can be drilled and tapped and an aluminum pipe or other piece used, so read onwards....
Just one use for this jack would be to jack up the round tubing rear cross-member, to enable you to move the rear tire a bit off the floor. Very handy when wanting to rotate the rear tire such as to rotate the engine when setting valves, ........and many other chores.
You may need a sturdy piece of wood to have the jack high enough. I have found a 1 inch piece of plywood, and a piece of 4 x 6, to be just right for most airheads. On one of these many jacks I have modified, I put holes in the corners to enable sturdy mounting of the jack to studs sticking up from various pieces of wood. Let your imagination work for you.
Some may prefer to use a taller jack to begin with, with a larger base to the jack (or, make a base).
The picture contains two recently made jacks. Neither one has the iron pipe as described, because after some begging, I gave away my last of the iron pipe ones.
The one on the left has a undercut (spot faced depression, hidden from view here) under the milled aluminum piece, and a central hole, and I drilled and tapped the jack top piece. It is way overly-fancy. The jack on the right was one I made up in about 10 minutes, crude, and functional. If you make up some sort of jack like these, consider if you need a much larger base, perhaps of heavy metal or maybe a foot square piece of plywood, if so, bolt the jack to it.
You can also use a conventional low floor jack, ETC., depending on your bike.
For a late model Airhead with the exhaust collector chamber, that chamber is going to prevent you from using the frame cross piece. A jack under the exhaust collector, with a piece of wood, works fine.
One item not shown is that I have pieces of wood that fit the top of these jacks...and make the top of the jack a flat surface...so the jack can be used at places like the oil pan, ETC....and not damage the bike.
04/13/2003: add .htm title; clarifications
09/06/2003: add photo of two types of these jacks; minor text changes.
02/25/2005: final editing and release.
10/04/2012: Add QR code; add language button; update Google Ad-Sense code; move photo to top, edit article slightly.
2013: Remove language button script, was causing problems with some browsers. Update article.
03/05/2016: Metacodes and layout.
07/16/2016: Minor updates on metacodes, scripts, layout, fonts.
Copyright, 2012, R. Fleischer
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Saturday, July 16, 2016