Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Working on Airheads

On Saturday evening, I went to visit out local Air Marshall, the organizer of our BMW Airheads chapter. He had some maintenance to do on his bike and I was more than willing to help especially since it is the same year and model as my bike. It's even the same color though less than half the mileage. Pulled both wheels to check the wheel bearings and to take a look at the rear splines. The splines are another common wear point on these old machines as they usually don't get greased often enough and if they do, it is usually with the wrong type of grease. His looked like they were in great shape. The tires had quite a few miles on them and included a round trip to the BMWMOA rally in Redmond last summer. The pavement material used on the Alaska Highway is very rough and I hear it is pretty hard on tires. New tires on order. On Sunday afternoon, another small group of Airheads met to adjust the headset bearings on an R100GS-PD. I think the main reason for getting together is to just talk and have a beverage. George Rahn, the local Airhead guru, also showed up later to take a look at the adjustment. He talked about some of the differences between the newer GS and the older models that most of us owned and brought a special BMW tool for doing the same task in a more "production" manner using a torque wrench instead of just by feel. Unfortunately, the took was for another model. I also learned that there was an old factory bulletin out regarding transmission oil changes for the R100 models. They changed not only the type of oil but also the amount. They recommend overfilling the transmission by 50cc by tipping the bike to the side. My Clymer manual makes no mention of anything like that.

All of this activity motivated me to finally remove the heads from my R100RT. The first step is separating the carbs from the head. Since I don't intend to work on them, I'm choosing to simply leave them attached to the bike. The carbs are simply supported by their plumbing and it is a simple task to loosen the rubber sleeves. The carb is now hanging from the fuel line and the choke and throttle cables.

The more challenging task was removing the exhaust system from the exhaust port. This involved removing the mufflers, crossover, Brown side stand and these large aluminum finned nuts threaded into the exhaust port. A special tool is needed for the large nut but fortunately, they are readily available on the aftermarket. It's recommended to remove the exhaust nuts yearly to keep them from seizing up. (aluminum on aluminum). Plenty of high temperature anti-seize simplifies this task.

The valve covers and spark plugs are removed followed by the six head bolts. Four of these are holding on the rocker arms. The pushrods are pulled out then the head is simply pulled off of the studs. The cylinders look to be in good condition so there is no reason to continue removing parts. The cylinder will be covered by a large plastic bag to keep dust and dirt from entering the engine.

This is the left head and the exhaust valve is on the left. If you compare the intake and exhaust valves, you can see that the edge of the intake is sitting above the valve seat. The upper edge of the exhaust valve is actually below the top of the valve seat, enough so that you can actually see a thin sliver of the valve seat. This is the side that I noticed the very thin edges of the exhaust valve last spring which indicated that I have a problem.

For comparison, this is the right cylinder head and the exhaust valve is on the right. You can see the edges of both of the valves. This side looks fine but I will have both heads done at the same time. Now I just need to contact the shop. From the color of the deposits on the valves, it looks like the left side may be running a little leaner than the right...

All of the parts have been bagged and labeled to simplify reassembly.

This morning, it was -33°F. The weather is trying to make up for the unseasonably warm temperatures of last week.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Full Moon

This weekend, we drove down to Anchorage for the All-State music concerts. On the way back, the full moon put on a nice display against the mountains. I was planning on taking a picture of Denali just north of Talkeetna but there were no turnouts at the same time as a good view. This picture was taken about ten miles south of Cantwell in a wide open, usually very windy area south of Denali National Park. Again, the only camera I had was my phone. I am playing with a new photo sharing app/service called Instagram and this was one of the canned effects.

Today, we woke up to warm temperatures and rain. The weather guessers are projecting up to an inch of rain before Thanksgiving. Rain on top of very cold surfaces means very icy conditions with both school and city busses shutting down by 10:00 am. Only about ten percent of the staff made it in and the university decided to shut down at noon. Schools are shut down tomorrow as well. Someone mentioned that we are so wimpy here in the interior that schools are shut down because a little bit of rain.

Maybe I'll be able to work on the bike this weekend. I still need to pull the heads to get a good look at the exhaust valves. And the fork boots need replacing.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I'm in Anchorage for a couple of days for some meetings and on the flight down from Fairbanks, there was a great view of Mt. McKinley from the plane. Even though the light is fairly low angle, it is just a bit after noon. I like the shadows and the clouds. Not a great shot as all I had was my phone.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

ZeroG Flight

This morning, I headed to the Space Coast Regional Airport near Titusville, FL, for a flight on the ZeroG plane. This is a modified Boeing 727 with 7 rows of seats in the back and the rest of the compartment has padded floors, walls and ceiling.

After a short briefing, they broke us up into groups, took some group photos and led us onto the plane. The video emphasized things like no "facilities" on board, what to do if you start to feel nauseous but mostly what to expect and some things to try. The plane achieves zero G by flying up and down between 24,000 ft and 32,000 ft in a block of airspace reserved for the flight roughly 10 miles wide and 100 miles long over the Atlantic. During the top, they fly a parabolic path and you have 20-30 seconds of weightlessness. On the downhill portion, gravity returns and they have everyone lay down on the floor for the lower parabola where you experience a couple of G's. They don't have to tell you when you are weightless since you just start floating up off of the floor. For the first parabola, they do it so you experience martian gravity or about 1/3 G. During this time we tried pushups (easy one handed pushups!) then walking around. On the second parabola, they simulated lunar gravity or 1/6 G (easy one finger pushups!). The next twelve parabolas were zero G maneuvers. I don't think I've ever felt so out of control as the slightest push will send you barreling across the plane spinning wildly. By extending your arms and legs, you can slow down the spinning. I only tried to video for the first couple of parabolas. After that, I agreed with their recommendation that it is a waste of effort and to just let them handle the photography. They had a bunch of HD cameras mounted on board as well as a professional photographer. The "official" pictures and videos will be out in a week or so. We got to do the traditional things such as trying to grab candies and globs of water mid-air (I wasn't too successful). There was a BBC camera crew on board filming a different group as part of some show and our group had a Discovery Channel reporter (no camera crew). I ended up sitting out the last three parabolas due to queasiness but I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone.

At the completion of the trip, there were some more pictures, presentation of certificates and they flipped your name tag around to indicate that you have completed at least one trip and we got to keep the flight suit. After the trip, I think I ended up sleeping for hours as it was very draining and never made it back to KSC....

Some of the pictures got posted...

Friday, November 5, 2010

On My Way to Florida

No pictures yet and I'm finally getting around to posting a bit more on the I2 Fall Member Meeting. It was a very good conference not only from all of the presentations but also the one on one discussions. After 10 years of participating, you get to know quite a few people. The working group meeting was very lightly attended but I believe we have some new direction. I need to formulate a statement and get it posted to the list to see what others think. Many presentations on topics ranging from IPv6 and security to the Intermedia festival of telematic art at Indiana University. Very interesting presentation covering many of their technical and logistical challenges.

Right now, I'm in Alma, GA, on my way to Titusville, FL. I'll post more on why I'm headed down there in a couple of days but there is also a good chance that I might be able to see a shuttle launch as it is currently scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. I'm told that you could see and hear the launch from over 100 miles away. Earlier in the week, I got to meet fellow moto-blogger and BMW rider Lori. Her regular riding group is heading down for the launch early tomorrow morning so I may get to meet some of them as well. Getting out of Atlanta was almost as bad a going through Seattle and even after you get out, everyone wants to drive really fast and they seem to like to tailgate even when given the opportunity to pass. What's that all about. The smaller roads are much more pleasant except for the animals that like to run out into the road (both domestic and wild).

Next post on Saturday evening....

Friday afternoon - STS-133 (the last flight of Discovery) was scrubbed this morning and the next launch window is November 30th. I did spend the afternoon at the Kennedy Space Center visitors center. It was pretty crowded as there were crowds here for the launch. Since the launch was scrubbed, they still stuck around the visitors center. There is a pretty decent IMAX 3d movie of the ISS and lots of old rockets. But this isn't why I came down here...

This isn't the reason either but it was parked in the hotel parking lot, it looked immaculate!