©Copyright, R. Fleischer
INTRODUCTION & HINTS, OIL PAN & GASKET; ENGINE CASE HOLES & THREADS FOR THE PAN:
HINT #1: A VERY high percentage of the time when a pan gasket seems to be leaking, it is NOT the pan gasket, but the leak is from someplace else. When the gasket does leak, it is usually due to OVER-tightening and/or IMPROPER tightening (sequence) or damaged sealing surfaces. Leaks from the timing chest, head gasket, cylinder base area, and pushrod seals, ETC. are often found to be the cause with careful inspection.
HINT #2: If you DO need to replace the pan gasket:
The early cork gaskets are no longer available and tended to leak anyway. The presently available gaskets are a fiber material, and are much better. Supposedly they have a side with writing on it, that is SUPPOSEDLY coated with a heat-activated glue. That side is normally UPwards.
HINT #3: Gaskets have apparently been seen that do not conform....so just install the gasket in the correct fitment direction.
HINT #4: Stuck pans can usually be released by a wood or plastic mallet, do NOT break fins!, after you HEAT a corner. I usually try to remove a pan after a ride, so the entire engine and, of course, the pan, are HOT. DO NOT PRY WITH A SCREWDRIVER!
Clean the pan and engine surfaces VERY THOROUGHLY. You may need to use chemical cleaners to remove whatever glue, adhesives, etc., are there. Use a fine file if you have to on the EDGES, on an angle, if any have metal nicks sticking up proud of the surface ...I have seen people use screwdrivers to get a stuck pan off, and gouge the metal, so
clean it up if need-be. If any deep gouges are found that are really BAD, clean them and apply a two-part epoxy and when fully cured, file very carefully to be flat. This is particularly important if any of the gouges are over 50% across the surface. If you have serious nicks, you can clean them up, fill them with high temperature epoxy, and after that stuff cures, file/scrape/sand, etc....until dead flat. Use a mechanics flat rule, on edge, if needed, or other means to ensure flatness. Flatness and no nicks is critical. You only want to do this job once.
HINT #6: I am NOT a believer in the aftermarket-available soft silicon rubber gaskets ...too many problems ...although SOMETIMES they do work. I do not use silicone pan gaskets ...nor ANY type of sealant, silicone or otherwise, on the pan gasket surfaces (that means engine and pan metal surfaces), unless absolutely necessary. I make sure the pan is flat, nick-free, and I install a STOCK STANDARD BMW pan gasket.
HINT #7: There have been instances of annoying leaks from the bolts below the oil canister area. Use NON-hardening Permatex Form-A-Gasket on the bolt threads and on the bolt washer.
HINT #8:I suggest the pan gasket work be done at the same time you do a regular oil change, with or without an oil filter, A/R. HINT #9: Do NOT!! use a big torque wrench like used for swing arm locknuts or for the cylinder stud nuts. BE SURE you do not confuse foot-pounds, inch-pounds, Nm, etc.
HINT #10: Read HINT at #13 in the next section.
1. At the next oil change, drain the hot oil. If the drain plug is frozen and cannot be removed, try heating it and CAREFULLY using a Vice-Grip pliers. If no luck, find a Torx bit that is just a bit bigger than the hex hole. Hammer it into place and then unscrew. A hot pan can help here. AVOID any type of screw extractor, they are hard, brittle, and will cause a considerable problem if they break in the drain plug.
2. Check that all of the 14 bolts CAN BE tightened to 78 INCH POUNDS (maximum, in my opinion, is 85 for this test); if any are stripped, fix with Helicoils after pan is removed. If your FEEL is OK, using a SMALL offset 10 mm box end wrench (4 inch length?); or ...better ...a SMALL square drive wrench with a 10 mm socket on a torque wrench, try tightening the 14 pan bolts, but not over 85 INCH-pounds. If any of the bolts have bad threads, note which ones, mark the case (felt tip pen or pencil, or make sketch?), so you can fix them after the pan is off. You don't want to replace the pan gasket and then find you have bad threads at any of the 14 threaded holes.
3. Put a large and soft towel or other item on the floor, as the pan MAY fly off the engine. The pan may have been put on with a sealant, which is WRONG! The pan may be difficult to remove. Occasionally even a pan that does not have sealant applied will prove difficult to remove.Check that every pan bolt is removed! There are 14. HEAT a corner area of the pan if not already hot from riding. Use a block of wood and a substantial hammer & give the well-placed piece of wood a substantial whack from the hammer. Do NOT bust fins, ETC. DO NOT allow the pan to fly across the area & be damaged. I usually have an assistant, wearing gloves (Pan is HOT!) grab the pan so it cannot fly. DO NOT use a screwdriver to try to pry the pan off. You will leave nicks and depressions that are difficult to seal against leaks.
4. With the pan removed, VERY thoroughly clean everything. Some gasket remover products work pretty well. I suggest you be VERY careful about using sharp tools, including safety razor blades, in cleaning off any old gasket and sealant residues.
It is critical that you do not nick the pan and engine mounting surfaces. Any projected nicks you find should be dressed flat. Rarely you may find a nick that needs filling, you can use one of the metal epoxies for that, then after curing,
make it dead-flat. To remove the old gasket, if need-be, use a sharp blade on a very flat angle (nearly flat to the surface) to remove any old sealant or other substance found. Use a strong commercial gasket remover, if you wish.
The crankcase surface absolutely must not have ANY old gasket material and no nicks that have metal proud of the surface nor below the surface that could cause leaks. Clean the area very well! Final cleaning of the crankcase surface should be by a good solvent that does not leave residue. I am particularly fond of acetone or MEK for
this. If you have gouges and nicks that are serious, repair them.
Metal-containing epoxy will work OK!
5. Bad threads are best fixed by installing Helicoils. You will want the M6 x 10 Helicoil kit. You will need a 1/4" drill bit, unless your kit comes with the drill bit. YOU MUST drill and tap at 90 degrees to the surface. USE A DRILL GUIDE AND a TAP GUIDE. If you drill and tap on an angle the results often are 'It leaks forever...'. Check the threaded holes in the engine case ...any been drilled through into the oil area and Helicoiled...or? Is the bottom engine area FLAT? ...not been dinged by someone? ...looks good around the threaded holes? Are any Helicoils (or?) BELOW the surface ...they ALL should be! Are the internal Helicoil tangs, used when installing the Helicoil, removed? They should be!
6. Look upwards with a strong light and SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY inspect the oil pickup, etc. Be sure it looks OK & the bolts tight. This is a VERY good time to inspect that pickup, tube, & casting area, for CRACKS! ...some have been seen on extended pickup models. Early models with the "plastic" adaptor may loosen over the years ...you can update with the aluminum version. If you wish, remove the metal screen and clean it. If the two bolts for the pickup are even slightly loose, remove, clean with solvent, use new gasket(s) and apply Loctite BLUE to the threads before tightening (evenly!). If you absolutely INSIST on reusing the gaskets, and they look OK ...that is, not torn, you can install them with a FAINT, but thorough, coating of NON-hardening Permatex form-a-gasket (type #2). It is HIGHLY preferable to install new gaskets, no goop. The reason to install fresh gasket(s) is that the gasket will not go back onto the assembly in EXACTLY the same position, and you might even have it reversed or upside down, as they fit both ways. These things mean that the raised area and non-raised areas no longer match-up, and you can get AIR sucking-in at that point; AND, oil leaking. Using an old gasket is a BAD idea, unless it is mandatory in some field situation.
7. Check the pan for ACTUAL flatness. Use #1 eyeball with the pan on a piece of glass or a surface plate, and a strong light ...or a feeler gauge or both. Any sanding of pan surfaces MUST be done on a
FLAT surface, such as an old piece of window glass or a real Surface Plate. I use even pressure, and figure-eights, varying my hand position, etc. DO NOT use spot sanding....you are unlikely to gain a really flat surface.
You can use a lamp or flashlight at the pan-to-flat-plate surface to see any problems ...or, as I do, with a very thin feeler gauge (.002" happens to be the one I use). More details on sanding, etc., later in this article. If necessary, place the pan on a flat piece of glass or machine-shop flat plate, with a large piece of upside-down sandpaper, perhaps grit 320. Do careful
figure eights, with evenly spread hands pressure. If you are good at it, use a long flat mill file carefully covering adjacent and cross-surfaces ...otherwise do the eights. Do just enough to be sure the pan is flat, smooth, and NO dinged edges that have protruding bits, etc. DO NOT round the pan edges, flatten unevenly, etc. It is NOT necessary to try to flatten the pan to remove every irregularity, but you want it quite decent.
BMW has shown various specifications for the pan mounting bolts. Some literature shows 8.7 FOOTpounds (don't!!!); some 6.5-8.0. Use MY figures: For the final torque, 65 inch-pounds minimum to maximum 74 inch-pounds.
OVERTIGHTENING or failure to do tightening in several stages, cross-patterning ...will cause LEAKS!
11. Install a FRESH drain plug crush washer (or the later solid aluminum washer BMW now sells), and refill the crankcase. DO NOT FORGET TO INSTALL OIL!!! ...yes, folks HAVE done that!
12. After a few heat-cool riding cycles, touch up the torque on the bolts again; again a cross-pattern. Again, it should be 65 inch-pounds minimum to maximum 74 inch-pounds.
13. HINTS! If you find any leaks at any bolt, you can remove the bolt & apply some common NON-permanent sealant at the BOLT threads & under the bolt head and washer. I use Permatex NON-hardening Form-A-Gasket #2. This is what I have mentioned above. DO NOT use #1, it is much too hard & permanent. ANY decent non-permanent sealant will probably be OK. The most common THREADS leaking problem (but can be at other areas) is at the pan bolt holes below the oil filter area. Use a flashlight and/or stiff solid wire to investigate those holes, before you button-up the pan and gasket. Such THROUGH-HOLES are always suspect for leaks.
Torque Wrench Conversion Factors:
While there are articles on this website with full information about torque readings, wrenches, conversions, values, etc. ...here are some conversion factors.
ONE Inch-Pound is the same as 1.1525 CmKg and also same as 0.1129 Nm ...and 1/12th of a Foot-Pound. Use an inch-ounce torque wrench if that is what you have. DO CONVERT PROPERLY IF YOU NEED TO CONVERT.Common torque wrenches with maximum's of 75 or 100 foot-pounds are NOT ACCURATE ENOUGH for the pan bolts.
PERSISTENT OIL LEAKS:IF... and only IF ... you have oil leaks that you have been unable to fix by replacing a pan gaskets and after paying careful attention to the surfaces, including checking for old gasket, nicks, flatness, etc.:
Apply Permatex NON-HARDENING form of Form-a-Gasket onto CLEAN, NON-OILY surfaces. Use a very thin coating, coat 100% all the surfaces. I use my fingertip to apply.
If the leaks are at the bolts, and especially if the bolts that are below the oil canister area, COAT bolt threads & washer with the same Permatex goop, before installing them.
Wash the area so it is clean and dry. Go for a 10 mile ride. BLOW a bit of talcum powder onto the areas. No leaks? GOOD! Now, with engine still hot, check the torques, and then again when the bike is cooled.
The oil pans were not the same over the years, and some aftermarket ones were also available, supposedly to improve cooling, which they really do not do much of ...just a small amount.
Early pans were flat. In 1976 the pan was lowered a bit, it was a bit deeper, which gave more room for crankcase pressure and reduced oil consumption from oil mist through the breather due to the extra air space. The breather area was also modified a bit later ....it was still the round disc at that time, but added in 1978 was a tiny hole in the bottom of the oil condensation chamber in front of the breather ...to drain oil back into the engine. That teeny hole MUST be clean and clear, if not, you will use oil more rapidly. When the pan was lowered half an inch or so in 1976, BMW had to add a 2 bolt spacer in the oil strainer pickup tube. In the /6 era, the spacer was phenolic (bolts tended to loosen on those), then later aluminum. Two paper gaskets are used when the spacer is used. I prefer to use a tiny amount of evenly spread sealant like Form-A-Gasket non-hardening #2 on both sides of the paper gaskets, using my fingertip ...remember, THINLY ...and Loctite BLUE on the threads of both bolts. The spacer surfaces need to be flat and nick-free, and the two bolts need to be evenly tightened back and forth. Some folks have used red Loctite, and I am OK with that.
You can't use the one piece cast pickup on the early pans; that part is used only with the 1981+ pans. The one-piece casting versions eliminated the need for the spacer and the extra gaskets.
In 1981, BMW made the pan a fair amount deeper, adding more oil capacity, and a slosh baffle in the pan construction, so the engine would not momentarily run out of oil on very hard braking. Also in 1981, the pickup became a cast aluminum item, no longer was a sheet metal steel pressing, and was changed slightly on size.
There were 3 types of oil pickup assembly bolts used, all M6, but of various lengths depending on the bike's oil pickup items. There may have been 4 types, not sure, I seem to remember one of the bolts had two head styles ...one had more taper under the head. My memory might be faulty in this matter. This is hardly anything critical ...the bolt must simply be long enough to fit the items properly.
Mystic, Roadster, G/S, and GS models use a shallower pan. The pans have threaded holes for mounting a bash plate. These shallow pans will also replace the original NLA /5 pans. The GS pans were slightly deeper from 1991; and GS pans have a rear wall drain. There were special pans for the GS in, I think, 1988 ...with a large capacity.
1970-1975 center-stands do not work with deep oil pans, unless you modify the center-stand (or, change the stand).
There is even more confusion with what dipstick to use, see below.
I am NOT in favor of NON-BMW aftermarket 'oil cooling' extension items, that give a larger oil capacity and have tubes in them running for and aft. Rare, but they have been known to give serious problems. They don't add much cooling.
Anton Largiader has a considerable amount of information with photos of pans and dipsticks. He also covers some aftermarket pans at the end of his article.
Dipsticks........and.....the confusion over measuring them:
BMW has used two 'styles' of dipsticks on the airheads. The early style had a silvery metal top, and used a metal crush-ring type of gasket (which was not tightened so tight as to crush it! ...just snug). The later style has a black top, which stays cooler to the touch, and uses a rubber O-ring in a groove in the top.
One way to identify a dipstick is by the top style AND by the measured distance from the bottom flat area of the top part, to the minimum and maximum marks. However, many (including myself, early-on), did such measurements from the underside of the threaded area. For all of us, this makes those measurements ~3/8" shorter than from where we SHOULD measure from. Why the "SHOULD" ?? Well... it does not account for the possibility of the threaded portion possibly being different, as, frankly, that threaded portion is not important, it needs to only be enough for the dipstick to properly tighten to the engine case. THUS, there has been confusion, between numerous parties, as to dipstick dimensions, because folks, INCLUDING ME, back then, did not measure from the sealing surface, which is the only truly proper point. In my later measurements, see below, I did it properly.
NOTE ALSO that the later dipsticks have an identifying LETTER, such as A, B, or C, molded into the finger-turning area. This is identified in Anton's article photo, a link to his website article is well below.
HINT: When removing or replacing the dipstick, AVOID bending the left carburetor throttle cable!
These measurements apply only to stock dipsticks.
|YEAR and model||
to min. mark
to max. mark
|1975 R60/6, R90/6||11-5/16"||11-3/16"||10-5/16"||Note where measured from|
|1979 R100RT, 1982 R100RS||10-15/16"||10-3/4"||9-3/4"||"|
|1983, 1984 R100RT||11-3/8"||11-1/4"||10-3/8"||>>> done by Snowbum|
The 1982 R100RS and the 1983-4 bikes really should be identical. I have figured out why the differences:
Not being taken into account is that the PROPER measuring point is the underside of the dipstick where the gasket or O-ring fits. The threaded area end base should NOT be used for measuring, as it possibly could vary (although I have not studied that). The important distance is from the engine case flat top opening area for the dipstick. That is the same as the original metal dipstick PLUS its metal gasket; and, for the black plastic head dipstick of later models, it is the same as the dipstick flat area the rubber O-ring fits into. I tried to prove that this was the problem, and so I measured the dipstick from a stock 1995 R100RT, measurements were from the sealing lip area. This dipstick has a molded-in "A" on the handle.
From sealing area to tip is 11-13/16". This is not an important measurement.
From sealing area to the MIN mark is 11-5/8".
From sealing area to the MAX mark is 10-3/4".
The threaded area, for the curious, was 3/8"....but was not used in the measurements.
See: http://www.largiader.com/tech/oilpan/. Note that Anton Largiader's site measures the dipstick from the underside of the threaded area, and NOT the underside of the lip (equivalent to the crankcase dipstick area).
Thus, measurements by Anton, ETC., should have 3/8" (9.5 mm) ADDED, for the measurement to the sealing surface, that Anton did not show. If you do this, then Anton's figures and mine are the same. This same thing should be applied to measurements in the above TABLE.
BMW offered a temperature gauge dipstick for late models. AFAIK, there is only one length, ~290 mm, so it won't work with every pan. $$$ too. 11-43-1-337-542
Engine oil quantities: WINDAGE........ETC. 1. Review Anton's website article:
There is sometimes confusion about how much oil an engine takes during an oil change. Your owner's booklet has the figures. Here are some guidelines, for stock oil pans:
Without oil coolers, up to 1980: 2.25 liters.
With oil coolers to 1980: 2.50 liters.
From 1981 without cooler: 2.50 liters.
From 1981 with cooler: 2.75 liters.
R80GS to 1990: 2.25 liters.
GS from 1991: 2.50 liters.
To fill the engine from the MIN to the MAX will take nearly a full liter ...~ a quart U.S., except that after 1980 it was a bit less ...about .85 Liter or .9 quart, approximately.
Unless leaving on a long tour, I suggest you have the oil level at 1/3 quart lower than the maximum line on the dipstick, this is to reduce oil consumption.
This section was prompted by a lengthy thread on the Airheads List in mid-February, 2014. I have edited my original reply, and put it here:
2. My own work, my own measurements, has proven that a deeper oil pan DOES give a FEW degrees of extra cooling. That is not very important, although slightly helpful if cruising at quite high speeds for long distances, as every degree lengthens oil life (esp. dino), especially once the oil is above roughly 230°F, and oil temperature also has an effect on consumption. The oil-tubes type of aftermarket oil pans do little for cooling, although 'common sense' would seem to say otherwise. The over-all effect of cooling tubes AND larger oil pan is somewhat effective, but more-so is just a stock BMW oil cooler setup.
3. Windage has TWO meanings, in common usage, regarding oil pans and engines:
(a) There is the sudden fore-aft movement of oil upon acceleration and deceleration; and if severe enough, and it CAN BE under hard braking (especially if headed downhill), to cause the oil pickup in the oil pan to momentarily run out of oil and suck air. There is also a movement of oil to the left, or right, leaning the bike in a turn. Note the photos in Anton's article, showing the early side baffles, and the much later cast-in forward baffle. These baffles help control the part of "windage" meaning that is involved with possible UNcovering of the oil pickup from inertia, during sudden movement of the bike.
(b) The other part of 'windage', ......is the churning of the oil in the oil pan and in the air above it. The crankshaft is the prime producer. The camshaft, rod and piston movements have effects too, and the effects are 'funny' due to the cam rotating at half speed and the reciprocating rod motion..... of the huge amount of swirling mixed-up vortexes of air ...call it WIND! ...inside the crankcase area. This "wind" is simply HUGE; very fast rotating too, but rotation is NOT entirely at crank speed, it varies with distance from the crank and various friction effects of items in the vicinity. That makes it hard to control. JUST this ROTATING wind, alone, is enough to SCOOP UP OIL from the oil pan oil surface, and somewhat below the surface of the oil ...and the crankshaft need NOT dip into the oil for this (if it did, that would be BAD for several reasons)! The crankshaft movement whips-up the air, the rotating AND SPIRALING air is in contact with the the oil surface in the pan, and the oil is whipped into a frothing spinning cloud. If that cloud of oil was smooth and even, it would be easier to control. NOT SO, and not only is it rotating and spiraling, but you have the pistons moving in together and out together. The pistons movement create a varying pressure, even slight vacuum is possible, in the crankcase. Poor quality oil may froth worse, and cause all sorts of oiling problems.
4. There is a breather valve to help control, moderate, and release, excessive pressure from the crankcase. The breather system must be quite carefully designed, to avoid releasing much oil-laden air.
5. Can you imagine this swirling rotating mass of oily cloud that is also being moved about by piston and piston rod movement?
6. As in many things, distances have a big effect. In the case of the rotating crankshaft, and the oil level in the pan, the bad effects are a mathematically squared function. Thus, lowering the oil level a modest amount has a considerable effect. There are volume and irregular surfaces effects, and some other things, that would make this long response much longer, that I will avoid here.
7. There are BIG REASONS for some engines to have their oil in a separate tank, and not in an oil pan. That is called the Dry Sump system. It can be done for enabling the engine to sit lower for various reasons, ....and it can also be done for reducing, very considerably, "windage losses". Usually dry-sumping is done for both reasons.
1. Review Anton's website article:http://largiader.com/tech/oilpan/
Excessive windage causes more than just problems with the breather and oil loss, it also causes horsepower losses from all sorts of frictional effects. There are various types of friction happenings with the oil cloud. Just one one is that the oil at the surface of the crankshaft parts is moving at a different speed than the oil a bit away from the crank surfaces. That in itself is a power-robbing bit of friction, much more than you may think! Think of it as multiple friction layers. Additionally, the oil flow piles-up at various places on the crankshaft, and thus creates FRICTION, which additionally ROBS THE ENGINE OF HORSEPOWER ...and UNbalances the crankshaft, if not compensated-for. Besides oil piling up here and there, the oil is not regular and smooth at the crankshaft surfaces, and so there is even more friction, with multiple layers of clouds.
9. Frothy pan oil does not pump and distribute nicely. The PUMP finds it harder to deal with frothy oil, with is full of air bubbles, which compress, and the oil pump does not like compressible air. Put simply, lubrication CAN BE MUCH LESS. The pump was designed to suck up & distribute OIL as a liquid, not an aerated froth. An aerated froth is also compressible, and just that alone reduces volume in circulation, quite considerably actually; and the cooling provided by the oil, let alone the lubrication, can suffer. Quality oils contain anti-frothing additives, but there are limits to their effectiveness.
10. A small amount of lowering of the oil level in the pan has a goodly effect on all these problems. Theory ...or, common knowledge ...and 'common knowledge' is always suspect :-) ...has it that BMW added a forward baffle (1981?...see Anton's article), because under some circumstances the oil pickup 'unports', which means it isn't in the oil and so doesn't pick up oil, ...if you brake quite hard. Some have said that happens more easily on quite steep downhill's. All of this is not really fully accurate, that is, it is not the full story, but IS adequate-enough for here.
11. It is 'common knowledge' that if you fill to the max fill line on the dipstick, you will 'burn off' (dumped through the breather mostly unless engine wear is enough) ~1/3 quart (approximately), much faster than the rest of the oil. There are multiple reasons for this, including the mentioned things; but also there are changes in the oil itself over time/miles. Note also that the size of the engine determines crankcase pressures, and that the early bikes, with a round breather disc, had two positions possible on a breather post clip, and so were adjustable for the engine size. The adjustment controlled the pressure of the spring above the breather disc, and more pressure (lower clip setting) was used with the larger engines which had more air movement with the pistons movements. Poor quality oil contributes to faster use.
12. There is a quite small condensed oil return hole in the breather area on later models ...which should be checked for being open and not obstructed. Photos/sketches: http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/oilsketch.htm which will clear up confusion over where that hole is.
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Last check/edit: Friday, September 30, 2016