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Wrenching: How to get started


zbassman

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Hi All,

 

I have a 2000 R1100RT. I've never been particularly mechanically inclined but it may be time to start.

 

I blew out the brake lines about 10 days ago. I was coming to a stop when the front brake lever went all soft and mushy. Then smoke started coming up from the engine, when I looked down I could see brake fluid on the ground.

 

So, I took the bike to the local BMW shop. They've had the bike for 10 days now and haven't touched it. They said they MIGHT get to it this week.

 

This is the only bike I have and I can't stand not riding for this long.

 

So, this all got me started thinking I need to learn how to do at least some repairs myself. I just started thinking 'how hard could it be to replace a couple of brake lines?'.

 

So, my question is: What's a good way to get started wrenching for someone with Zero mechanical experience/knowledge?

 

Thanks.

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Hi Dan,

 

Probably one of the best ways to get started is to attend one of the tech sessions that are held at various member homes throughout the country. There was one in Austin last year and perhaps another before too long.

 

With regard to your specific (and not uncommon) problem, the last thing you want to do is replace the brake lines (and if one failed then they all should be replaced) with another set of rubber OEM parts. These will be both more expensive and inferior to a set of aftermarket stainless steel braided Teflon lines. These are available for your bike from both Spiegler and Galfer. SS lines will greatly improve your braking performance and last just about forever, and be less expensive to boot. Perhaps the dealer can order a set of these for you (if they ever get to your bike) or alternatively they are not all that difficult to install yourself, and there are plenty of folks here who will be happy to talk you through the steps.

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JerryMather

+1

It's always better to upgrade to braided lines IMO.

That was the first thing we suggested to a friend on Sat when we took a look at his new '07 R-1. With a 6 piston set up, that thing will only need one finger to stop with those lines changed out.

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ShovelStrokeEd

Ordinarily, I would not recommend brake line replacement as a job for a first time wrench. Banjo bolts into aluminum housings, the bleeding process, probably lack of the tools that turn this from a time consuming job to a relative piece of cake. However, with a good manual, Tool #1, and a little help from your friends, you might be able to tackle this job. Certainly, circumstance has provided you with the opportunity to try and you can do no worse than having to bring the darn thing back to the dealer, although I doubt things will get that bad.

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You might check out HEL brake lines. They are a little more $, but they use stainless banjo bolts. Spiegler and Galfer use aluminum, which is softer and therefore more easily broken.

 

Also, both Spiegler and Galfer had the lengths and bends wrong when my 98 1100GS did the same thing as your RT (although I lost rear brakes - while heading down a boulder strewn dirt trail w/ the ABS off....)

 

As for how to start? Get a shop manual and dive in. The hardest part on your bike will be bleeding, and it's not that hard - just remember you have to pull the calipers to bleed them 100%, they hide pockets of air, and in order to do this you have to make/ fab a spacer for between the pads- I found a scrap of wood trim the right thickness in the corner of my garage.

 

You have any bike mechanically inclined friends who can assist for pizza and beer?

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Les is more

Invite some of the Texas crew from her to your place for a little techdaze by posting something in Ride Planning.

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...<snip>...You have any bike mechanically inclined friends who can assist for pizza and beer?

 

Well, I have friends who can assist me with pizza and beer, but alas no friends who are mechanically inclined. Most of my friends don't even ride.

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Invite some of the Texas crew from her to your place for a little techdaze by posting something in Ride Planning.
What Leslie said. You'll probably get more help than you want... grin.gif
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...<snip>...You have any bike mechanically inclined friends who can assist for pizza and beer?

 

Well, I have friends who can assist me with pizza and beer, but alas no friends who are mechanically inclined. Most of my friends don't even ride.

 

 

Dan, if you have a local Beemer club you might join that.. Usually LOTS of helpful people there & most will go way out of their way to assist a fellow Club/BMW member..

 

Twisty

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ShovelStrokeEd

Hell, order the parts, I have to be in Baton Rouge on the 25th and Austin is more or less on the way there, right?

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You need to get yourself some friends that can wrench (hee, hee). I would take Ed up on his latest offer to come over. Baton Rouge to Austin, piece of cake. Come on Texas, help a brother out in Austin. Keep watching the board for a tech day in your area. You will learn a ton about your bike and meet some great people from the board. You will also see it is very easy to work on your bike. Good luck.

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Dan: 1)Start accumulating metric tools and regular hand tools-screwdrivers, pliers (needle-nose, slip-joint (regular pliers), arc-joint (brand name, Channel-locks), diagonal cutters (dykes), wrenches, sockets, etc. Craftsman will do for ya'. Get the 7 piece set of Craftsmen metric allen socket wrenches- they are 3/8" drive sockets with a metric allen sticking out of them. Plus, you will need a set of L-shaped hand metric allen wrenches. I would get a quart of dot 4 brake fluid and some home depot wooden door shims ($1.00). Some folks will probably get by with a pint by why take the chance of running out. Call up local BMW dealer and see if there is a local riding club. Lastly, take up Ed and his kind offer to help you out if he is able to- he's a busy man; if he can help I am sure he will. You could probably benefit from some tech assistance if you are planning on swapping out brake lines.

1)Does anyone have a list of metric tools and commonly-used hand tools you should have on hand to work on a metric bike? Something that would give him a list to work off of?

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So, my question is: What's a good way to get started wrenching for someone with Zero mechanical experience/knowledge?

 

Thanks.

Here's the best way. Go to the Ride and Event Planning Section. Post something like this. "Hi. I live in the Austin area. I'd like to learn how to work on my 2000 RT. I'd be happy to buy someone lunch if I could watch him do an oil change and a tune-up the next time he works on his bike. I don't mind riding a few hours, so anywhere within 200 miles is fine." That's all the bait you need. These guys will do anything for a free lunch.

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Joe Frickin' Friday
1)Does anyone have a list of metric tools and commonly-used hand tools you should have on hand to work on a metric bike? Something that would give him a list to work off of?

 

Try the Tech Daze Manual I wrote up for our first Motown Tech Daze back in '03. List of (nearly) all the tools you'll need to work on an R1100RT starts on page 2.

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Hell, order the parts, I have to be in Baton Rouge on the 25th and Austin is more or less on the way there, right?

 

That is a VERY generous offer. However from my doorstep to Baton Rouge is about 440 miles. Not exactly on the way. But I appreciate the offer.

 

 

Also appreciate all the excellent suggestions.

 

There is a local BMW Riders group. Per suggestions last night I sent in my application for membership.

 

A trip to Sears is planned for this weekend to purchase some metric tools.

 

Right now the shop still has my bike and is theoritically going to do the brakes this week. At this point I think I'll just let them do the brakes.

 

For my first foray in to wrenching I think I'd like to start with something less critical; like an oil change.

 

I've picked up a book on basic motorcycle mechanics and I'm going to get the Clymer book for my bike.

 

Thanks y'all.

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That is a VERY generous offer. However from my doorstep to Baton Rouge is about 440 miles. Not exactly on the way. But I appreciate the offer.

Me thinks you underestimate Ed a bit. That's barely a good morning's ride for that guy!
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For my first foray in to wrenching I think I'd like to start with something less critical; like an oil change.

 

It's not that hard, really - and as for safety, the brake job will give you instant feedback on the quality of your work. ANYTHING but a firm (rock hard) feel in the pedal or lever and you have air in the system, keep bleeding.

 

Just make sure to use closed end wrenches loosening banjos and bleeders, they can stick and round off. Penetrating oil and patience may be required.

 

Remember when tightening them to modulate fastener torque with hand position- let your fingers do more of the work when it doesn't need to be super tight.

 

Remember brake connections need to be clean. Keep a bag of clean shop rags for wiping stuff off - banjo bolt mating surfaces and the like. Remember you should replace the bolts and the washers at the banjos (Hel will include these w/ your lines).

 

You need to have some vessels for containing old fluid and hoses for from bleeders to the vessels- put the end under the fluid surface so you don't pull air back into the system.

 

Remember to not crack bleeders open so far that air leaks in around their threads- I like the more time consuming approach - pressure on pedal, THEN crack bleeder, allow fluid to escape, close bleeder while it's still escaping - this way the bleeder is closed while the brake cylinder refills and you can't suck air into it that way. Keep the reservoirs full.

 

Remember brake fluid eats paint.

 

It also tastes nasty so wash your hands before you eat your lunch.

 

Beer bottles hung with coat hanger wire make great bleed bottles by the way.

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Yeeha! Stephen

You might send a PM to Limecreek to see if he's gonna host another "Hotter Than Hell Tech Day" sometime soon.

 

He's another central Texas guy that know what's what on these BMW beasties. If you can keep the sweat out of your eyes long enough, there's good things to learn at his house thumbsup.gif

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Hell, order the parts, I have to be in Baton Rouge on the 25th and Austin is more or less on the way there, right?

 

That is a VERY generous offer. However from my doorstep to Baton Rouge is about 440 miles. Not exactly on the way. But I appreciate the offer.

 

 

Also appreciate all the excellent suggestions.

 

There is a local BMW Riders group. Per suggestions last night I sent in my application for membership.

 

A trip to Sears is planned for this weekend to purchase some metric tools.

 

Right now the shop still has my bike and is theoritically going to do the brakes this week. At this point I think I'll just let them do the brakes.

 

For my first foray in to wrenching I think I'd like to start with something less critical; like an oil change.

 

I've picked up a book on basic motorcycle mechanics and I'm going to get the Clymer book for my bike.

 

Thanks y'all.

 

Dan: Have you thought about just getting a local guy with a bike trailer and telling the bike shop thanks but you want your bike back? I know you are anxious to get riding, but with the money you could save and the experience you would gain would be great. 1)You could have the bike towed back. 2)you could order either all new brake lines in braided stainless steel or just the new front brake line(s). 3)go to sears and get a basic metric tool kit- sockets, metric wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, hex keys, etc. 4) take up ed's offer or 5)throw a BMW tech day at your house with BBQ and strippers... and invite local BMW riders over. You could inquire ahead of time, who knows how to replace the front master cylinder, and/or front brake lines.

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ShovelStrokeEd

That is a VERY generous offer. However from my doorstep to Baton Rouge is about 440 miles. Not exactly on the way. But I appreciate the offer.

 

Izzat supposed to be a deterrent? confused.gif

 

I'm riding to BR anyway and will be there from Monday thru Thursday. No big deal to run over in that direction of Friday, spend Saturday morning/afternoon on the bike and then do a little Iron Butt ride (1300 miles) back home on Sunday. Been wanting to do a BBG one of these days anyway so I might get a little lost on the way home.

 

There are others here who live closer, of course. You might think about hosting a tech daze and just see who shows up.

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Well, I have friends who can assist me with pizza and beer, but alas no friends who are mechanically inclined. Most of my friends don't even ride.

 

HMMM...You might want to find some new friends. dopeslap.gif

 

I'm right with you in the "new to wrenching" class. I've been fortunate to have met Keith a couple weeks ago. He lives about 200 miles from me but has a garage and all the BMW specific tools and manuals! I'm headed up to his house in two weeks to do a complete tear down on my bike. Good luck to you, I'm sure there is someone on here close to you who would be glad to help! thumbsup.gif

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