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Head R&R?

Grey Ghost

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Grey Ghost

I apparently have a leaking head gasket, I will try to R&R it myself, am a decent mechanic but have never taken a BMW head off. Sugestions and guidance would be appreciated. It is an '04 R1150RT, 88K miles otherwise in good shape. Any idea where info may be posted online would be great. Thanks All for any assistance.

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This is a relatively rare occurrence.

Are you absolutely sure you have a leaking gasket?

And how exactly was this ascertained?



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Grey Ghost

rough running, adjusted valves, & tb, throttle cables, tried to adjust big brass screw on throttle body. Right head when shut stops engine, left one shut down no difference. with engine running sprayed carb cleaner on tbs and gaskets looking for leaks, on left head rpms jump every time I spray head gasket-nowhere else. I'm assuming it is sucking it in thru leak in head gasket. Do you know torque for head bolts I will try to check head bolts tomorrow. It is pouring down rain right now.

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"tried to adjust BBS" - did these give any control at all?

Have you removed and cleaned them? (including the tube gallery that feeds away from the screw).

Have you checked the throttle cable seating correctly.

When did this rough running start from?

Have you got a little piece of grit stuck in the TB bellcranks?

Have you swapped your stick coils with a known servicable set?

Have you checked for a failed spark plug?

Have you checked fuel injector delivering sufficient sqirt?

Have you checked for blocked inlet stub.


Not saying it isn't head gasket, but as phil says, it's not an issue that comes up oftem.



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Are you talking about the gasket between the cyl and the engine? The one with the 3 layers? There are severall pictorials over the forums, I cand search them for you if you want.


Did you check the rubber gasket between the TB and the engine? These can crack and allow more air to get in the engine than needed, so check that one first before anything else ;)



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Grey Ghost

bbs-adjusting left one affects engine -right one no- i will pull and clean them to be sure.


throttle cables checked and ok


don't have a good coil to check against.


spark plug ok


good injector squirt


I checked the gasket between the tb and head no leak


the only reaction I get is between the head & cylinder gasket. the left one reacts the right one does not when sprayed in same area. logic says head gasket leak.


anything else I should try? I would like to be sure too. Thanks for input Guys.

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I don't know, man. A head gasket leak is usually accompanied by a significant oil leak. If you don't have an oil leak I'd be thinking about other issues.

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I don't know, man. A head gasket leak is usually accompanied by a significant oil leak. If you don't have an oil leak I'd be thinking about other issues.


I replaced a headgasket last month because of just this... the significant oil leak. The machine was otherwise performing well. If it's not leaking noticable oil I would also suggest looking elsewhere first. BTW, this is one of the many 'known issues' for early 1100's but was resolved with a better gasket, I suspect this results in the reference to 'rare' in this case.

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Morning Grey Ghost


A leaking head gasket acting you are seeing is somewhat strange.


I guess before removing the cyl head you need to verify you actually have a leak problem.


-Look closely for a gasket leak whiteness mark. You will usually see an oil stain and carbon tracking at the leak area as well as see some combustion smoke when that cylinder fires.


-First run a compression check to verify a compression difference between sides.


-Then run a poor mans leak-down test. Buy or make an adapter to insert in a spark plug hole to run compressed air into the cylinder on closed valves. If you have a leaking gasket it will show on this test. Pressure really trumps vacuum when it comes to leaks as you only have atmospheric pressure to deal with on vacuum leaks but have air compressor line pressure (usually 125-175psi) on cylinder pressurization.


-Get a mechanics stethoscope then pull the stinger and diaphragm off the stethoscope (open hose only) then listen around the head gasket area. If you have a leak it should be quite evident with the engine running when you get near the leak.


Remember your air intake is on the left hand side so anything volatile sprayed near the left side might be pulled into the air intake therefore richening the fuel/air mixture.


If you do end up with a head gasket problem a couple of warnings.


Be REAL careful in re-torquing the cyl head nuts as the studs can pull out of the block easily if over-torqued or done incorrectly. If you have a head gasket leaking enough to effect engine idle you probably need more than a re-torque anyway as that would be one big leak and probably a piece missing.


Get a manual on your engine/motorcycle and READ IT before starting the job. Not a difficult task but a lot can go wrong if done incorrectly.


Now a warning from me-- Lock the engine down so you can’t turn the crankshaft and heed ALL the manual warnings about zip tying the cam chain and on cam gear removal. If you accidently turn the engine over (especially backwards) with a loose cam chain you can easily damage a chain tensioner inside the engine. Those take engine dis-assembly and case splitting to replace. (be careful in this area as a little precaution here can save a LOT of problems down the road)




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Another question, when did this start?

Revisit the fueling of that pot and the ignition of same.

As DR says, when you get towards thinking of a head gasket, the work required is much greater. Doing the tests above will confirm if it is Gasket (or burnt valve).


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+1 what jjg3 says. Only the earlier 1100 bikes generally had leaking head gaskets because of poor design. I had to replace mine with the later type a while ago. Symptom was significant and worsening oil leak. I feel Dancata is probably right re defective inlet hose or joint.

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"...Right head when shut stops engine, left one shut down no difference..."

Sounds like an air leak caused by a worn rod that holds the butterfly and bellcrank. Usually the right one is the one that leaks, but on my RS, they both went south.

Try spraying carb cleaner at the base of the throttle bell crank to see if the spray gets sucked in around the rod that the bell crank mounts to.

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Grey Ghost

I definately sprayed around the bellcrank on both sides. There is no oil leak. After reading some of this I am going to back up & completely recheck everything and a few things more. you guys gave me lots to think about & new leads to check out. I'll have to give it a day or so till the weather improves, unfortunately I do not have a garage to work from and have to wait till the rain stops.

Thank one and all for the great tips I'll let you know what I find when I find it. If you think of anything else please pipe up and say so-I'll check that too. I want my Baby fixed for sure. Thank You all.


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I've on this site for years, reading most of the posts, and I can't recall ever hearing about a head gasket going south on a 1150. Like someone said, that would be a rare event.



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