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Dave P

Vague oil sight glass

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Dave P

Sometimes I wish my R1100RT just used a dipstick like my old airhead.

 

Last weekend I checked my oil. Bike cold and on center stand. About 1/3 of the window showed oil. Cool, lets ride.

 

So I've been commuting this week on the bike- about 7 easy miles each way to work. Last night I pulled into the garage. Neutral on the center stand. This morning (engine cold) got down with a flashlight to peek at the sight glass. No oil visible. Wha?

 

So I added some oil, maybe a pint, till I saw some oil in the window. Waited about 10 minutes. Rode to work, rode home for lunch, parked on the center stand on level spot. Came out after a sandwich and looked in the window- Solid window of oil! Like it now is overfilled. Going on a club ride after work today I guess I'll try to drain out a little oil. I seem to trust the oil sight glass as much as I trust CNN. 

 

After owning the bike for 7 years, now I ask, "What is the CORRECT" way to check my oil? Thanks, Dave

 

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9Mary7

I was taught that, after you finish riding for the day and park the bike, go get out of your gear and after 5 to 10 minutes go check your oil. Do not start the bike after your hot shut down (to move it into garage etc). Wait for the oil to settle in the crankcase and then check it on the centerstand. 

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Charlie P

Exactly. Watch the Chris Harris video on this.

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Dave P

Ok, I'll watch the CH video.

 

But I rode it into the garage, shut it down, put it on the centerstand and waited all night to look at the sight glass. Didn't restart it, it was cold. Maybe it is better to check it after 10 minutes  rather than waiting all night? Seems like the colder the better for an oil level check. D

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Jim Moore

There are a lot of opinions on this topic, but I've found that putting the bike on the sidestand for a few minutes, then checking it on the centerstand gives me the most consistent readings. 

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Charlie P

Yes, Jim is correct. Side stand first for 10 min (my wait time) then on to the center stand and then I wait 10-15 min to read the sight glass. I made the same mistake when I bought my bike and had to drain 2+ quarts out.  

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dirtrider
1 hour ago, Dave P said:

Sometimes I wish my R1100RT just used a dipstick like my old airhead.

 

Last weekend I checked my oil. Bike cold and on center stand. About 1/3 of the window showed oil. Cool, lets ride.

 

So I've been commuting this week on the bike- about 7 easy miles each way to work. Last night I pulled into the garage. Neutral on the center stand. This morning (engine cold) got down with a flashlight to peek at the sight glass. No oil visible. Wha?

 

So I added some oil, maybe a pint, till I saw some oil in the window. Waited about 10 minutes. Rode to work, rode home for lunch, parked on the center stand on level spot. Came out after a sandwich and looked in the window- Solid window of oil! Like it now is overfilled. Going on a club ride after work today I guess I'll try to drain out a little oil. I seem to trust the oil sight glass as much as I trust CNN. 

 

After owning the bike for 7 years, now I ask, "What is the CORRECT" way to check my oil? Thanks, Dave

 

Afternoon Dave

 

What year 1100RT?, early 1100 bikes (prior to late 1997) are a real pain to get consistent oil level reading as that external oil thermostat doesn't always allow complete oil drain back.   

 

The proper way to read the oil level is on a hot engine (riding long enough to get the oil HOT enough to open the oil thermostat), then place the motorcycle directly the center stand on  LEVEL GROUND, then wait about 5-10 minutes, then check sight glass. (this is about the most accurate as far as actual oil level goes) 

 

The other way is to do like Jim suggests, after a hot engine ride, place bike on side stand for about 5 minutes, then put on center stand (level ground) then read oil level in sight glass (this is probably the most consistent but will show the oil level slightly higher  in the sight glass as the side stand position oil cooler drain back will be more than the riders manual suggestion of just on the center stand after a hot engine ride.  

 

BTW, a dip stick would be no better as it would STILL show the oil level in the crankcase same as the sight glass. The erratic oil level reading has more to do with oil/oil cooler oil drain back than what you use to check the oil level. 

 

Added:  If you have a pre December 1997 built 1100RT then there was a BMW service bulletin addressing erratic oil level readings & oil overfilling issues. The bulletin stated to install a new p/n- 11511342248 oil drain back valve in black 1100 engines prior to engine number  41956271. (this is not vehicle serial number but is the ENGINE number stamped on the engine case).

 

 

 

 

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Dave P

DR- yeah she's an early RT- 96 vintage. So I just went outside and dripped enough oil out that now the oil in the sight glass is right in the middle.  :-)

 

I always thought a cold engine was the way to check oil level (on all engines I own) but I'll try the 10 minute cool down and check technique.

 

My commute is about 10 minutes (6 miles) through the country with no stop lights (doesn't everyone wish their commute had no stop lights!). Used all 5 gears and all 5 bars were lit on the RID, but maybe I hadn't run it long enough for the thermostat to open completely. Would that cause oil to be "held" in the oil cooler and not drain fully into he sump? or is it the other way around?

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dirtrider
13 minutes ago, Dave P said:

DR- yeah she's an early RT- 96 vintage. So I just went outside and dripped enough oil out that now the oil in the sight glass is right in the middle.  :-)

 

I always thought a cold engine was the way to check oil level (on all engines I own) but I'll try the 10 minute cool down and check technique.

 

My commute is about 10 minutes (6 miles) through the country with no stop lights (doesn't everyone wish their commute had no stop lights!). Used all 5 gears and all 5 bars were lit on the RID, but maybe I hadn't run it long enough for the thermostat to open completely. Would that cause oil to be "held" in the oil cooler and not drain fully into he sump? or is it the other way around?

Afternoon Dave

 

The cold engine is not workable on the alloy case BMW boxer as the alloy case expands when hot (there was an old BMW service bulletin that mentioned something like 10mm oil level difference just in the hot engine case vs cold engine case. 

 

If you are serious about correct oil level (or more constant oil level readings) then on the pre December 1997 built 1100RT there was a BMW service bulletin addressing erratic oil level readings & oil overfilling issues.

You might consider installing a new p/n- 11511342248 oil drain back valve in your early  1100 engine as it is more then likely prior to engine number  41956271. (this is not vehicle serial number but is the ENGINE number stamped on the engine case).

 

This valve greatly improves after-ride oil cooler oil drain-back giving more consistent oil level readings. 

 

What I used to do on my early 1996 1100 bike (for a quick check) was to put bike on SIDE stand cold, then look at sight glass, if oil level was at or above top of sight glass it had enough oil to ride. Then every 1000 miles or so do the hot engine, center stand 5-10 minutes for a more accurate indication on oil level. 

 

   

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Dave P

DR- I would have never guessed that oil should be checked warm / hot (or after a simple 10 minute cool down.) I'll try the 10 minute cool down and check from now on.

 

If installing a 11511342248 is an easy task I might consider it, but I wouldn't go into the engine very deep, or spend a bunch of $$ to do it.

 

I think (after 7 years of ownership and 30k miles) I finally understand R1100 oil level checking. Dave

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dirtrider
Just now, Dave P said:

DR- I would have never guessed that oil should be checked warm / hot (or after a simple 10 minute cool down.) I'll try the 10 minute cool down and check from now on.

 

If installing a 11511342248 is an easy task I might consider it, but I wouldn't go into the engine very deep, or spend a bunch of $$ to do it.

 

I think (after 7 years of ownership and 30k miles) I finally understand R1100 oil level checking. Dave

Afternoon Dave

 

Proper oil level check procedure is in your motorcycle's  owners manual. 

 

That valve is not too difficult to install but is well under the Tupperware so is best left to when you have the thing partially disassembled. 

 

See if you can get consistent oil level readings as once you get the  darn thing figured out you might not need that valve. 

 

You can check it cold but you need to base the correct cold level on a correct hot oil level then adjust for the hot to cold height difference, plus it will vary  slightly based on the ambient temperature (across normal riding weather is probably pretty close).  

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dirtrider
47 minutes ago, Dave P said:

 

My commute is about 10 minutes (6 miles) through the country with no stop lights (doesn't everyone wish their commute had no stop lights!). Used all 5 gears and all 5 bars were lit on the RID, but maybe I hadn't run it long enough for the thermostat to open completely. Would that cause oil to be "held" in the oil cooler and not drain fully into he sump? or is it the other way around?

Afternoon Dave 

 

I missed the above so here is my comment__

 

How cold was the ambient temperature during that ride? If it was in the high 70's or above then 6 miles should have heated it enough. 

 

If it was a cool 40°f-50°f morning then maybe not far enough as those alloy crankcases allow air flow cooling in cool weather.   

 

 

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Miguel!
5 hours ago, Jim Moore said:

There are a lot of opinions on this topic, but I've found that putting the bike on the sidestand for a few minutes, then checking it on the centerstand gives me the most consistent readings. 

This is how I do it too. When I finish a ride, I put the bike on the sidestand, then remove and put away my riding gear: glasses, helmet, gloves, mesh retroreflective vest, jacket, mesh overpants, riding boots. Then I put the bike on the centerstand and give it a couple minutes to settle. If the oil level is just below the sight-glass center, I add about an ounce of oil, not paying too much attention to the exact quantity. If I check it when it's cold  before the next ride, it always reads just a bit lower. I've always assumed this is because volume of liquids decreases as it cools. (Tri750 gave me this advice about a year ago and I've followed it ever since.)

 

Now I never check the oil before I ride but always glance under the bike to see if there's any fluids on the floor under the bike (never is). I use Spectro 4 20W50 mineral oil and find I go through about a quart/3K miles, which is pretty typical based on comments on this forum. 

 

Best

Miguel

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Bluenoser

I have a 1999 1100 RT.  I find that when oil is added it does not register on the sight glass accurately until after a ride.  I get what I consider an accurate level by adding a small amount, 100 ml or so, ride then check.  If still low, repeat.  If I add until I see it come up on the sight glass it will show overfilled after a ride.

 

Regards.

Derrick.

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RPG
On 9/16/2020 at 1:27 PM, Dave P said:

Sometimes I wish my R1100RT just used a dipstick like my old airhead.

 

Last weekend I checked my oil. Bike cold and on center stand. About 1/3 of the window showed oil. Cool, lets ride.

 

So I've been commuting this week on the bike- about 7 easy miles each way to work. Last night I pulled into the garage. Neutral on the center stand. This morning (engine cold) got down with a flashlight to peek at the sight glass. No oil visible. Wha?

 

So I added some oil, maybe a pint, till I saw some oil in the window. Waited about 10 minutes. Rode to work, rode home for lunch, parked on the center stand on level spot. Came out after a sandwich and looked in the window- Solid window of oil! Like it now is overfilled. Going on a club ride after work today I guess I'll try to drain out a little oil. I seem to trust the oil sight glass as much as I trust CNN. 

 

After owning the bike for 7 years, now I ask, "What is the CORRECT" way to check my oil? Thanks, Dave

 

Longtime RT owner here with both a 2002 and 2004 RT bought new.

 

My '04 RT has 110k and this is the most consistent approach I've found.

After riding, leave the bike on the sidestand for about 20 min. It can take all that time for most of the oil to drain to the sump. Then I'll put it on the center-stand to check. Back in 2008, I rode it to Nevada (from MI) and at the campground each night, I would do this procedure and throughout the whole 5k trip, the oil level was consistently at the center mark of the window.

 

Once you establish that the bike isn't using oil, you'll be less and less worried about the sight glass. I doubt I check mine twice a month anymore, with the adage, "if there's oil showing anywhere in the glass, it's fine".

 

RPGR90s

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Dave P

RPG- Yesterday I did the 10 minute sidestand and then 10 minutes on the centerstand and my oil was right in the middle. I'll be using this technique from now on.

 

I don't think the bike burns (or leaks) oil, it doesn't smoke, but it has 125k for miles so I guess I'm expecting just based on mileage, that it could be burning some oil. I might even say it's entitled to!

 

But for today, I'm good to go! Mornings are getting chilly here in Syracuse.  Dave

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West_Coaster

I've only had my RT for a short time and I find this and the service reminder very inconvenient design issues.

 

With my bike sitting in the garage on the center stand I cannot check the oil level without riding the bike for 5-10 minutes, putting it on the kickstand for 20 minutes and then on the center stand. And then hope to get a reading on the sight glass which may be a reading of not seeing an oil level where I don't know if it's over full or under full. Maybe they should have asked Harley how to do it. :4317:

 

"I laugh at the superior intellect" (Kirk)

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Hosstage

I have to say I'm not a fan of checking oil by sight glass.

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Miguel!
3 hours ago, West_Coaster said:

I've only had my RT for a short time and I find this and the service reminder very inconvenient design issues.

 

With my bike sitting in the garage on the center stand I cannot check the oil level without riding the bike for 5-10 minutes, putting it on the kickstand for 20 minutes and then on the center stand. And then hope to get a reading on the sight glass which may be a reading of not seeing an oil level where I don't know if it's over full or under full. Maybe they should have asked Harley how to do it. :4317:

 

"I laugh at the superior intellect" (Kirk)

West Coaster: Just follow the procedures outlined from several riders above by checking the oil at the end of your ride, rather than at the beginning. Then, before your ride, just check there's no oil under the bike. 

 

BTW, I'm in Santa Cruz. Where do you live?

 

Best

Miguel

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West_Coaster
2 hours ago, Miguel! said:

West Coaster: Just follow the procedures outlined from several riders above by checking the oil at the end of your ride, rather than at the beginning. Then, before your ride, just check there's no oil under the bike. 

 

BTW, I'm in Santa Cruz. Where do you live?

 

Best

Miguel

 

San Diego. 

 

/\/\ike

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AndyS
On 9/18/2020 at 5:27 PM, West_Coaster said:

I've only had my RT for a short time and I find this and the service reminder very inconvenient design issues.

 

Are you aware that this is the Oilhead, NOT the Camhead forum?

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RPG
On 9/18/2020 at 9:28 AM, Dave P said:

RPG- Yesterday I did the 10 minute sidestand and then 10 minutes on the centerstand and my oil was right in the middle. I'll be using this technique from now on.

 

I don't think the bike burns (or leaks) oil, it doesn't smoke, but it has 125k for miles so I guess I'm expecting just based on mileage, that it could be burning some oil. I might even say it's entitled to!

 

But for today, I'm good to go! Mornings are getting chilly here in Syracuse.  Dave

Glad to hear it Dave.

 

I give proper credit to D.R. as he pointed out this procedure to many of us years ago.

 

As far as mileage and oil use, sounds like yours was broken in well, like mine. I haven't had the heads off and figure I'll only do that if it starts using oil, hopefully way, way down the road.

 

Pretty remarkable for an air cooled motor IMHO.

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MarinPhil
On 9/18/2020 at 9:48 AM, Hosstage said:

I have to say I'm not a fan of checking oil by sight glass.

No none is but there is no choice. 

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