© Copyright, 2014, R. Fleischer
READ ARTICLE 75A !!!!
NOTE!: In order to have a complete knowledge of these systems it is necessary to read the following articles:
and, to a lesser extent, this article: http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/locks-caps-etc.htm
The Pulse Air system, description:
Beginning with the 1980 U.S.A. Airhead motorcycle models, BMW incorporated a system
that "sucks" clean air drawn from the air cleaner area into the exhaust ports. The purpose of this
nearly completely passive system is to reduce emissions (smog). No air pump is used,
the air drawn into the exhaust port helps burn up any residual gasoline mixture at that point by means of venturi
action at that port. Fast-moving exhaust
gases go over a small hole located in the vastly larger exhaust port, act like a whistle, suck in clean air via two metal can 'valves'. The metal can valves are located in the air-cleaner area (underneath the air cleaner element). Since any burning of residual fuel in the exhaust port is not burnt in the combustion chamber, the exhaust port area can have a considerable heat increase....some of which effects the area of the entire exhaust valve, valve guide, valve seat...at least that is the theory.
Carburetor venturi vacuum is transferred via very flexible small diameter rubber hoses to those metal can valves. It is the carburetor vacuum that operates these valves. This transferred vacuum operates those valves upon throttle back-off, at which time carburetor venturi vacuum greatly increases, allowing the exhaust's own venturi action to 'suck' clean air to the exhaust port. Venturi action is roughly equivalent to how a whistle works. The arrangement is simple, works OK, and supposedly the metal can valves system (not all 1980 models had the valves) will prevent back-popping that might be otherwise heard in the mufflers. Back-popping on the over-run, and at idle, is often noticed however.
Why plug & remove the system?:
BMW started to have concerns around 1978 for exhaust emissions. By 1978 only some changes to ignition timing and flywheel markings together with 3° cam advancement (equivalent to 6° crankshaft) had been done. Nerdy point: the 3° advancement was done by re-working the camshaft sprocket keyway position. The 1980's and later airheads carburetors, and helped a bit by the timing change were designed by BMW to operate leaner to meet emissions laws and regulations, and tend run hot, ...in particular, the R100 series, and more-so the faired models. It has been speculated that the Pulse-Air Clean Air System is partly responsible for the head warping that has been noticed.
It has also been speculated that the extra heat in the exhaust port is transferred to the exhaust valve and
to the early
1980's (to ~1985) troublesome exhaust valve seats, possibly warping them as well, and
otherwise contributing to valve problems. Thus, quite a few folks, including professional mechanics and guru's, think that removal/plugging of the pulse air system
might increase exhaust valve and exhaust valve seat life, and also minimize head
warping. These things may be so even after replacing the 1980/81>>1984
faulty valve seats. Removal/plugging of the Pulse Air system is quite commonly done. This will also usually eliminate any tendency for
back-snapping in the exhaust during trailing throttle (if the PulseAir System was causing
Will I have to change jetting or settings of the carburetors or ignition?... NO
Is this a difficult job?... NO
Will it stop the back-snapping in the exhaust (if
due to the PulseAir system):
It is my understanding, and I am NOT an environmental lawyer (nor any other kind of legal expert), that a Dealership COULD NOT legally remove the Pulse Air system, but that in the past a private owner could, and the motorcycle probably would still pass smog inspections, due to how these tests are done. Do this conversion at your own risk. NOTE that the PRESENT laws may prevent YOU from doing this removal for road use, as opposed to closed course racing. I am neither recommending you do this conversion/removal, or not, this is educational material!
There are various methods of removing and plugging the system, totally, or in part:
(1) Methods which I call #1:
This method is very simple & maintains the stock appearance. Unfasten either end of the metal pipe on each cylinder, & insert the proper sized steel ball bearing at one fitting. 5/16" is around the right size. You can get steel ball bearings from your local hardware store, or a hobby crafts store.
(2) Removing/plugging at the
You can cut the pipe close to the fitting at the head, pinch the pipe (I suggest also folding it over) in a vise, and possibly even braze it for 100% sealing. In some respects this is a good way, as the steel fitting adapter that screws into the head is often well seized into the head, and may require a lot of force to remove, and using a lot of force may strip threads, necessitating purchase of a 16 mm x 1.5 mm bottoming or plug tap. ***NOTE!!!!!....the adapter that screws into the cylinder head is steel, and tends to gall/weld (being helped along by combustion byproducts including burnt oil/carbon) to the aluminum threaded hole of the cylinder head. Some have been fitted loosely, and loosen with the pipe fitting, and the steel adapter falls out and is lost on the road. Some remove very easily. Most freeze-up in place. The combustion carbon helps the freezing-up, besides the dissimilar metals which are steel and aluminum. You do not want to force that adapter out of the head, if you do, you may strip the threads, which is, actually, usually not a disaster. Read the rest of this article, there is information on getting that adapter out, etc., in numerous places herein.
(3) Full removal of all the parts:
This is a total removal of all the Pulse Air parts, and you then install a plug into each head. If you get the head hot enough, the aluminum will expand much more than the steel adapter, and make things easier, and help avoid thread damage. Immediately after riding, with the head very hot, is a good time to do this. A socket wrench is used on the steel adapter in removing it; you may get a wee bit of extra 'help' by putting the socket into your freezer, before the ride. Only a moderately high amount of pressure using a socket should be used. Some have tried dry ice against the adapter, then quickly using the socket. If the adapter does not remove right away and relatively easily, then try again, after perhaps a day or week of repeated soakings (engine cool) with a mixture of acetone and automatic transmission fluid (50-50). That is the best mixture; but you can try Liquid Wrench...or Kroil or other favorite penetrant.
If you apply too much force, you will twist the adapter out, injuring the aluminum threads. It takes a fair amount of force, actually, to reach that point, but many have found how much it takes. You can also remove these adapters, this is usually done with the heads off the bike, by heating the steel to red-hot, then splashing water on it. You can try with the head on. If your steel adapter seems quite well frozen, it may be wiser to use the ball bearing plugging method, or find a brass threaded cap to fit over the existing steel adaptor, or cut the tubing and pinch it closed, as mentioned previously. Some have spent the time to find a properly threaded (usually brass) cap, but note that for 3/8" standard pipe caps, the threads are NOT the same! The proper cap is 16 mm x 1.5 mm thread pitch, and the threads are NOT tapered like an American pipe is. Metric specialty stores may carry these caps. I have used the brass ones.
(4) There are other ways of plugging, such as brazing the nut that holds the pipe to the steel fitting, without using the pipe stub.
Another possibility is simply bypassing the vacuum control to the metal can valves in the lower air cleaner area. If the cans do not receive carburetor vacuum, they simply do nothing.
Removing more of the parts:
Removing the parts in the air cleaner housing is optional. Removal of the cans gets obstructions out of the way, simplifies and neatens things, and might even aid carburetion a bit. Remove the air cleaner top, and the air filter. Remove both metal valve cans, and their plumbing. Do NOT remove the breather hoses and fittings. The breather system is separate, and its components easily identified, these connect to a LARGE rubber hose going WELL FORWARD of the air cleaner.
Remove the fittings on the air cleaner lower housing. Remove the flexible rubber hoses that connect from the SMALL plastic T adapter to the vacuum valve cans. PLUG the rearward facing port of that small plastic T. All automotive parts stores carry small black plastic covers that will push over that T and seal it. This will work OK, and you then don't need the carburetor vacuum tap screws listed below. While this 'couples' the two carburetor venturi vacuum takeoffs together via that hose, this works very nicely, with no bad effects. You do not want unfiltered outside air getting to underneath the air cleaner, after you are all done....so, be sure that you do nothing that allows it.
NOTE!!....If you WANT TO, you may remove these flexible
small diameter rubber hoses that went to the carburetors; and, plug each carburetor vacuum port with the tiny screw listed
below. AGAIN: Be SURE that you leave no way for UNfiltered outside air to get under the
air cleaner element. You really don't have to plug those carburetor
holes with the screws, if you leave the hoses connected and plug the plastic T
in the air cleaner area as in the prior paragraph. If you don't want to mess with easy to lose
small screws (and washers, if you add them, which are not really
necessary) when synchronizing the carburetors
(if you use the vacuum methods), then leave the hoses intact at the carbs.....etc.
What about what you will or might install?:
1. If you removed the steel head adapters, then you need two plugs for the heads, these are 16 mm size straight thread (1.5 mm) plugs, similar to the drain plugs used for the R11 series, K bike series, and many European cars, BMW #07-11-9-919-117. Install these with lots of Loctite RED (any of the red Loctites) and a 07-11-9-963-252 crush washer (16 x 20 mm) on each plug. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO USE THESE CRUSH WASHERS, and may well not want to if you had to retap the threads and there are limited number of threads left. It has been reported to me that oil drain plug 07-11-9-902-292 will work, but have not checked on this myself. The 117 part may have been changed or discontinued.
***Oak Okleshen, email@example.com, may still have plugs in stainless steel; they are not cheap.
NOTE!!.....if you install plugs into the aluminum head, be sure to recheck tightening when the head is still HOT from riding....otherwise it MIGHT come loose. USUALLY red Loctite sets-up and you won't be able to tighten more. Check it after a ride or two, and then yearly. I install plugs with the head hot right from the get-go. Torque is about 20-25 footpounds. DO NOT USE ANTISEIZE ON THIS PLUG. While Red Loctite can be used, I am not sure if it is all that effective, as the port gets pretty hot...& most types of Loctite loosens above 300 degrees or so (#263 may be better); but wouldn't hurt. I prefer to install them with Muffler Mender type of cement.
2. Two each black rubber timing plugs, BMW #11-11-1-744-327 to plug the holes at
the air cleaner housing. Clean the holes on outside and inside with a good solvent so the RTV will stick well. Put some black RTV on the sides of the smaller diameter end and then push into the hole from the outside. If you want to, and I do this, add more RTV on the inside. I clean off the excess RTV on the outside with acetone before it hardens. I find that RTV works over the
long term, Crazy Glue does not.
***NOTE: as an option, one could use the Euro airbox, 13-72-1-337-250 which does not have the smog parts holes....this is a $$$ part.
3. If you decide to remove the flexible hoses from the carburetors, you will need either two common vacuum port closed-end rubber or plastic covers (any auto-parts store)....or; two each vacuum port screws, BMW #13-11-1-259-869. These short little round stub pipes at the carburetors are internally threaded. You do not need these screws if you use the covers, or leave the interconnection vacuum hoses intact, either work OK, but do be sure to plug the unused T port facing rearward, as previously described. These screws are often hard to find in hardware stores. They are 3.5 x 0.6 mm, and about 5 or 6 mm long. Try to find steel ones, or just use the BMW ones, noted here.
NOTE: if you are anal enough, you can also obtain two flat washers for
these carburetor port screws, BMW #13-11-1-259-870, but they are not really necessary.
NOTE! This is an edited version of an inquiry...and my reply to the Airheads LIST (edited for this article):
> Hedz, The threads in one of my heads for the emission
plug is bad. The first half of the threads are ripped out. They are 16mm
with 1.50 pitch. Does Helicoil make a kit? Timesert does not. My PC keeps
freezing up when I try a search.
> I don't want to weld them up....yet.
Yes, it is 16 mm 'fine' thread (1.5 mm pitch). I have seen this happen, USUALLY because the fitting that goes into the head is a type of steel, and also combustion carbon gets into the threads and acts like a wonderful glue.....and hardens. I used to recommend that folks only cautiously remove that steel fitting...and try removing it with the head HOT first, and if no luck, try multiple soakings of some sort of penetrant, like 50-50 acetone and automatic transmission fluid, or Liquid Wrench or similar oil to soften the carbon...but often that does not work, even over a week's time. Folks have stripped those threads. I have repaired a number of them...and have never had to use a Helicoil type of insert. BUT... below I will give the information on where to purchase such inserts/kits. NOTE that 16 mm x 1.5 mm straight (not tapered) metric brass caps are available (not easy to find though) that will cap off the steel fitting which need not then be removed. This is NOT as 'neat' as removing the steel fitting from the head, but is totally safe. For fixing typically stripped threads, I have a 16 mm x 1.5 mm 'plug' tap. Actually mine is a cross between a plug and bottoming tap. They are not difficult to find. I purchased mine at a hardware store. PLUG/BOTTOMING means that the working end of the tap is not very tapered....just a small amount. That enables the tap (CAUTION: insert SQUARELY and with some goodly force), to grip onto any remaining threads or partial threads, and re-cut and re-form them. A regular 'starting' tap has so much taper that you can't use it, as the port's hole depth is not enough. Once the threads are reformed, I install the new drain plug, see well above for BMW part numbers;...usually withOUT a gasket, as usually the threads are minimal as reformed;.... and I tighten only modestly tight. I usually recommend that Loctite RED be used (but I use muffler cement!!).
I now mostly recommend that folks leave the steel adapter in the head, and cut off the end of the attaching pipe to a VERY short piece, flatten its end, silver solder or braze it shut, and install it that way. Or find a cap fitting. The drain plug installation is far neater-looking. You can ALSO use the old fitting that was on the PIPE, remove the pipe (cut it), and use a ball bearing in the fitting in place of the pipe. You can also use that fitting and weld or braze up the hole in the fitting that the pipe went through.
*****NOTE!!.....if you install the
plug mentioned in this article into the aluminum head, be sure to re-tighten it
when the head is HOT from riding....otherwise it MIGHT come loose.
The Metric & MultiStandard Corporation carries just about everything in metric fittings. They even carry 52 mm dies to reform the exhaust port threads (VERY pricey, too!). They have an 8140 series of inserts (yes, like Helicoils)....and also the various components such as the special taps, tools, etc. Also kits...yes, in 16 mm x 1.5 mm. $$. They have warehouses and offices all over, but here is the main number: 1-888-966-MMCC
I suggest you look at your threads carefully....see if you can do the repair with a 16 mm bottoming tap (mind the caution about squarely). Maybe $12 total for a bottoming tap....versus a LOT more for doing an insert....unless you find someone with the tools and inserts.
Bottom line: I suggest you NOT remove the steel fitting in the head if moderate force does not allow its removal.
Do NOT modify the engine breather system!....that is the larger black hose that goes far forward into the starter area system!...and has hoses leading to the carburetor outlets of the air box.
While working in the air cleaner area, you may want to remove the starter motor cavity cover (disconnect battery negative wires first!!!)....then tighten the starter motor electrical nuts. Two things to especially look for: one is that the large wire to the solenoid is not in danger of shorting to the cover or case; and secondly see how the starter cover fits. Sometimes the cover fits very tightly against the air cleaner housing....some judicious hand-filing will make things easier. Heck, why not remove the fuel tank and service other things at this time too!...maybe your electronic ignition module needs fresh heat sink grease, or it is time to clean and coat the electrical connections, inspect coils and wires; whatever; ....and...>>>....well, read on....
Here is a link to Scot's article on what he did, and with some good close-up photos. You may want to do something like Scot did, or, just get ideas:
The Evaporative Emissions System:
This system is separate from both the Pulse Air system and from the breather system. Some may want to remove it.
Generally beginning with 1985 models sold in California, and 49-State models sold in 1986 (not the R65), a new system was incorporated. The gas tank now had two ports under the tank, two electrically operated solenoid valves were added, a port into the crankcase was added (with a relief valve), and one port into the air cleaner area. This system is totally independent of the Pulse Air System described in the above section of this long article. The purpose of these new items are to prevent fuel fumes from escaping into the atmosphere and to turn off the fuel via a solenoid. The fuel cap and venting on the fuel tank was now sealed (unless tank pressure or vacuum got high). As heat from the sun or atmospheric or engine heat causes the fuel tank fumes to be pressurized, the fumes were directed to the crankcase through a electric valve that was in the open position with the electrics turned off. There are two vents (or, call them diaphragm type valves) in the fuel tank cap, one opens, allowing in outside air, at a vacuum of about 0.1 Bar (vacuum of 1.5 psi), this is to allow for the fuel being used during engine use. If the pressure in the tank, perhaps from being in the sun, reaches 0.3-0.4 Bar (4.4 to 5.8 psi), the second valve opens as a safety, to prevent tank damage. In addition, the fuel tank is designed with a metal flapper in such a way that the tank can not be overly filled...this reduces tank capacity, but allows for an more than adequate non-liquid area for compressed fumes, and the flap MIGHT prevent spraying fuel if the cap is opened when the tank is a bit pressurized with fumes. The allowed volume is larger than need be.
Below the tank and in the starter motor area are the two solenoid valves which are electrically operated. One of these valves, called the air vent valve, either passes fumes to the carburetor via the air cleaner area (ignition ON), or to the crankcase (ignition OFF). This valve is connected to a port on the fuel tank. The connection to the crankcase is interrupted by a pressure relief valve (not electric), opening at about 0.15 Bar (about 2 psi), and this also prevents reverse flow of fumes from the engine operation. Note that this particular relief valve has an arrow on it, pointing towards the engine, that is, DOWNwards.
The other solenoid is a fuel shut-off device, and it is located in the fuel supply below the manually operated fuel petcock valves. Yes, that is in addition to the petcocks. Idea (well, ONE of them) is to prevent carburetor overflow or dripping from insufficient float needle valve sealing.
Many have removed one or all of these parts. If you do remove parts, BE SURE to cap the short vertical pipe leading into the crankcase; you can use a common automotive type of closed end vacuum cap; just slide it over the pipe. Be sure however you do this, that it is a long lasting affair.
Some remove the flapper valve in the fuel tank, there are two types, keeping them intact prevents filling the tank to capacity. If someone has already modified your system, be sure that vertical crankcase pipe vent is capped and in good condition (see previous paragraph). Modifications done are usually of the type that returns the system to the old way, before these items were added. Be sure, as always in the past, to not to fill the fuel tank without leaving at least a bit of air space below the top surface of the tank. This means you can fill into the cap screw area, but NOT to the actual tank metal top. ~ 1/2" of air space is needed, otherwise the fuel can heat and expand from the engine, sun, etc., and overflow; and if it does so, it will come out the overflow pipe. The existing newer-style fuel cap can be used as is or you can modify it...OR NOT.
You may decide to leave it alone. If you wish to defeat the SHED function, and convert for a vent, you do that by drilling a hole into the bottom of the metal bottom portion of the SHED (so marked) cap. Drill a 1 mm hole, centered, through the first layer of metal, and just through the second layer.
If you have the more common flap, it is built into a welded short section of the tank filler pipe (where the cap screws into). You can use a screwdriver, pushing on the flap at perhaps 8:00 or 4:00, and pry the flap sideways some, and then at the 6:00 position you will see a small rectangular opening in the flap rear part, stick the screwdriver into it, and pry the flapper from its mount. It will fall into the tank. The size of the hole just above where the flapper was, is sized to fit UNleaded fuel dispenser hose nozzles. It will help to drill some holes around the periphery, at the bottom area. Here is a photo of a crude way I did it. This will allow filling as high as you would like, due to the ability of the air to come back in quantity during filling. You can leave the steel filings in the tank, cleaning them out, eventually, through the petcock ports, petcocks removed, perhaps during your annual tank cleaning.
Here, the flapper has been removed,
and 7 holes drilled. The hole/pipe at about 7:30, is the stock water drain hole.
As noted, one electrical valve acts in concert with the fuel petcocks.
You can remove one or both of the valves, as noted, but minor modification of the fuel connections are needed. I regard the fuel solenoid to be a safety improvement.
You remove the electrical harness, and connect the remaining two plugs together, if removing the fuel valve.
Here is a link to Scot's article on what he did, and with some good close-up photos. You may want to do something like Scot did, or, just get ideas:
Tank Flap Valve and the SHED tank cap:
This section is to be used with a section, above, entitled: The Evaporative Emissions System.
Later model fuel tanks may have a flap valve; a simple flat piece of metal, covering the bottom of the filler tube, which is spring loaded. This, and the smaller hole/port where it operates, prevents large fuel nozzles of the old leaded-fuels type, from being inserted into the tank. The valve prevents filling the tank all the way, and, in fact, prevents quite a bit of this. If you are happy with this arrangement, then leave it alone. If not, there are two approaches. One approach, the simplest, is to use tools to bend the flapper back and forth, and eventually break it from its mounts, so you can remove it through the hole. Try to not drop it into the tank....it is removable if you do, by a combination of tools, including, perhaps, a magnetic wand. This will not give you what you probably wanted; the ability to fill the tank a lot higher with the nozzle fully inserted, but if you flow the gasoline somewhat slow, you CAN fill the tank.
The other approach is more difficult, and involves cutting the filler tube BELOW where the 'simple' threads are, that engage the fuel cap.
This has the advantage of much faster filling, AND, you can use any size filler nozzle.
HOW to cut the tube is THE problem. The second problem is how to get the cut tube out of the tank.
This is what I suggest for this:
1. Drain out all the gasoline you can. REMOVE the petcocks.
2. Remove the flapper.
3. Flood the tank with soapy water, several times, so no serious gasoline vapors are present.
4. Using an electric drill motor (OR?), and a metal cutting disc, make a circular horizontal cut, through one wall of the filler, at a point BELOW
where the cap threads are. There is a limit to the diameter of the cutting disc, which is OK. While you could cut the tube all the way around,
you will then be faced with grabbing the fallen tube piece, and then squishing it to allow its removal from the tank. My method MIGHT be easier
5. With a cut through the wall, reasonable wide, you can use a screwdriver to pry the metal towards the center. Be cautious!...you do NOT want to
distort the tube where the cap screws into.
6. Continue the process, and remove the cut piece.
7. Clean up the edges with a round file.
8. Re-clean the tank.
9. Re-install the petcocks (clean the screens if they happen to need it, etc.).
UNDERSTAND the rest!!: The tank CAP is special on these models. So are, slightly, the tank ports.
1. The cap may look like the other models, but it contains TWO valves. The cap itself is not vented to the atmosphere. It is possible to do so, but
you need NOT drill the cap and then have to deal with fumes. A SHED cap says SHED on the bottom surface of the cap.
2. One cap valve opens at a vacuum of 1.5 psi in the tank to admit air to replenish the fuel you are using, and allow fuel to flow to the carburetors.
The other valve opens if the pressure inside the tank exceeds something over 4.4 to 5.8 psi. ...That is a safety feature for the tank construction.
Whether or not these valves in the cap are OK...or not...means nothing with the rest of this modification AS DESCRIBED. The TANK for these
later models is also different, well, perhaps, depending on how you want to think about it. There is still the overflow pipe, a short stub on the left
forward side on this type of tank, that vents the short cavity just at the top overflow area of the tank....you see that area, and its downwards-going
hole, when you remove the cap. That hole is maybe 3/16" or so in diameter, and is at 9:00 approximately, as you sit on the bike. You can leave it
alone, or, run a rubber hose from it to rear of the battery, downwards. It is how water that gets under the cap, etc., is sent to the ground.
3. The other short stub tube at the front left of the tank is the FUMES and FUEL overflow. In the stock version, that tube goes to an electric solenoid
valve. That valve vents fumes to the crankcase. Remove it all, plug the tube coming up from the crankcase, and add a rubber hose, again to the
rear, behind the battery and downwards. See earlier part of this article on the air vent valve, in the section marked The Evaporative Emissions
4. If you wish, you can use just ONE rubber hose to the rear, by using a T fitting....or, something like Scot put in his article:
12/14/2004: incorporate all previous updates, and then revise slightly to be absolutely sure everything is
covered properly, in depth, and that there should be no confusion.
02/17/2005: update, nothing but clarifications.
08/16/2005: clarify the screw threads
09/24/2007: minor typos fixed
04/21/2009: Confirmed 5/16" ball size, fix minor typos and emphasis
04/30/2010: Updated, mostly just clarified and simplified things
07/20/2010: Add 07-11-9-902-292
04/14/2011: Recheck for accuracy, minor cleanup/styling only
04/16/2011: correct wrong 16 mm gasket number.
12/30/2011: add that the plugs use a 1.5 pitch and add that Oak has the plugs in stainless steel.
03/24/2012: check article over, no changes but to add a figure to how much air space is needed in the
tank (at end of article) & copyright year.
07/24/2012: Correct the figures and how described in the Evaporative Emissions section.
10/13/2012: Add QR code; add language button; update Google Ad-Sense code
2013, 3X: : Remove troublesome language button, minor editing for clarity; describe installing the black
rubber plugs better.
12/13/2013: Update article to improve clarity.
03/29/2015: Add note and URL to Scot's article, two places.
05/23/2015: Add more info on the flapper and evap mods; and more info and a photo on 05/24/2015
Copyright, 2014, R. Fleischer
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