16 October 2014

Oil Analysis - BMW Performance 20W50 vs. Porsche Classic Motor Oil 20w50 (PART 2) - Conclusion

Well, results are in. I'm very surprised.

Besides just getting a test on the Porsche oil, I wanted to compare the new BMW formulation (blended by Castrol/BP), with the old BMW blend by Spectro and the Castrol 4T conventional oil (to see if all the BMW oil is now is just re-badged Castrol 4T - a theory I was pretty certain was going to prove true). Here are the old results Kurt got for BMW and Castrol a few years ago for the BMWMOA (approximates based of his charts).

BMW Conventional 20w50 (Spectro Blend)
Zinc: 1375ppm
Phosphorus: 1100ppm
Viscosity at 100C: 18
TBN: 7.5

Castrol 4T Conventional 20w50
Zinc: 950 ppm
Phosphorus: 750ppm
Viscosity at 100C: 20
TBN: 8

Here's the new results. NOTE: Although TBN was requested for the testing, I can only find the TAN on my test results, so for now that will be omitted...

New BMW Conventional 20w50 (Castrol Blend)
Zinc: 1207ppm
Phosphorus: 1014ppm
Viscosity at 100C: 18 .7
TBN: n/a

Porsche Classic Motoroil 20w50
Zinc: 883ppm
Phosphorus: 927ppm
Viscosity at 100C: 19.1
TBN: n/a

Based on these results, it appears that BMW does indeed have a different formula than Castrol 4T, which I was pretty surprised about. It also appears that the Porsche is lacking in the ZDDP area - so maybe the Germans really do believe Americans are the only ones concerned with ZDDP. The one thing Porsche had going for it was the Calcium level - 2026ppm compared with 636ppm in the BMW oil. BMW oil was also full of Magnesium and Porsche had almost none. That being said, I will not be using the Porsche in my airhead.

Attached are the full analysis results for the new BMW oil:

And the Porsche oil:

11 October 2014

Attack of the Spaghetti monster, i.e. new headlight switch, projects, and Autumn Skies

After 40 years of service, the headlight switch on the R90/6 bit the dust. As far as I could tell, the contacts were just completely worn out. I retained the switch in hopes of trying to rebuild it someday as the new switch BMW makes is a little different (also, if anyone knows the diameter of the ball bearing used in the headlight switch to hold positions let me know, after dropping it during it five times, I finally lost it). For one, it has 8 wires instead of 9. The red wire is now omitted which means that you can no longer flash the high-beam when the keys are out of the bike. This was a feature I never used, unless hitting it by accident, but was kinda neat, Max BMW described it as being there to give a signal to a submarine like in an old war movie and I'd like to think that's what it was actually intended for. Something else a little different is the absence of a brown ground wire, instead the green/black wire goes to the ground - I don't know why they did this, but I'm glad I heard about that before installing the new switch as there was an open green/black terminal on the board.

When you go to mess with the /6 electrics this is what you're presented with

Needlenose pliers are essential when working in this area. The wires coming into the headlight at 1 o'clock are the ones related to the headlight switch.

Old switch - note the red wire which is absent from the new switch and the brown ground wire which on the new switch is green/black

New switch. Glad to see it's still being made in Germany by Hella. I was fully expecting to see Made in China or India stamped on it like other new parts bought from BMW.

The new switch is actually designed for low bars (and was $30 cheaper), which is nice. The PO had euro bars on the bike when I bought it, but retained the long, high-bar electrics. Then when I went to even lower clip-ons, I also kept the high-bar electrics which forced me to loop the wiring from the switches back and around the SJ triple clamp. It looked a little weird, but it worked, now I have the smaller headlight switch with great looking wiring and the high-bar ignition/kill switch on the right with the long wiring, even weirder. Hopefully that's it for electrics for awhile on this bike, they are the bane of my existence and so far the only problems I've had with this bike.

Kacie Marie knows how to approach working with electrical gremlins

As far as the 1957 R60 goes, I attempted to order new bearings and spacers for the bottom end so I can start getting ready for the engine build. Turns out just about everything I had to order is NLA, not just for North America, but also Germany. I also noticed that BMW now provides a parts search, similar to the microfiche Max BMW offers, but unfortunately only goes back to 1967. I'm hoping this doesn't mean they are going to discontinue making parts for the older bikes. As it stands now I'm faced with hoping Max BMW or Blue Moon Cycles can find me the parts I need, or actually just buying a completely different engine to swap into my case. Either way, I'm not really that psyched. In the meantime, I think I'll start some work on the frame. For one, I have to re-weld the center stand lugs as one has a stress crack and the other is broken off. Once that's out of the way I can take the frame for powdercoat, then get the adapters and new bearings to use a telescopic front end and begin to assemble as somewhat rolling chassis.

Now that fall has reached the northeast there will be plenty of time to work on all these things. The R90 will go back to commuting duties and I'll have more time to dig into the projects. Including fixing my wife's 1954 Chrysler.

Music for the season

03 October 2014

VAG-COM services in Central NJ

I just picked up a VAG-COM (for VW/Audi cars) and can now provide VAG-COM services in the Central NJ area. Message me for info.

29 September 2014

Classic Cycles Picnic 28 September 2014

I think the ride over to Classic Cycles' picnic in Kingwood, NJ yesterday is going to be the last long riding day before the weather changes and I go back into full commuting mode with the bike. Weather was sunny and dry, albeit a little bit too warm for my tastes, but all in all a great day. The Classic Cycle guys really can throw a good party.

Obligatory pics

First stop, Bayhead - Surf Swap Meet. I don't know anything about boards, but it was a nice ride down. Dave is looking suave and Chris is talking shop. For the first time in history some guys were interested in my bike. One guy used to have an R51/3 Polizei bike, R75/5 toaster, and '74 R90/6, another has an Isetta and an R65. I spent about the whole time at the swap meet talking BMWs which was nice, because about all I could comment on the surfboards was their shape and color.

Vintage surf car, with hot rodded engine. I'm so used to seeing Nomads this was kinda nice.

Arriving in style and taking the VIP parking by the Pirate Cupcake truck. I really should have gotten a Maple Bacon cupcake before leaving, but I still have tons of cake from my daughter's birthday party that needs finishing.

Pretty good turnout, and about 8 guys left upon arriving.

Complete with rockabilly band. These guys were pretty excellent, but no one seemed to care. 

Race winning flat/dirt trackers. Other than the Norton and Velocette pictured next, these were getting the most attention at the show.

This Velocette (rear) was awesome. Apparently the guy who bought it found it in Europe and was a pilot. The whole bike was said to be too heavy to stow in cargo, so he took the engine out, loaded the everything else, and then took the engine on as carry-on luggage. When confronted about it he claimed that it's his plane, so either they let him get on with his carry-on or the plane doesn't leave. Whether or not this is myth or fact, it's a great story.

exposed rockers and carb detail

Italian bikes were also present. Excellent MV Agusta 750GT (w/drive shaft) and MG V7 Sport. There were actually a few more Guzzis, a 70's El Dorado and a brand new California that took off before I could get pictures. I wound up talking a bit to the owner of the BMW R90S behind the Guzzi. Years ago I remembered seeing that at the local BMW dealership and finding out that they had just took it in as a trade and immediately sold it off. I wasn't interested in buying it at the time, but the green tint and pinstriping left an impression.

Factory accessorized H-D shovelhead. The big license plate bracket on the back is actually a vintage factory alarm system. Apparently it had weights that sensed when the bike was taken off the side stand and put in a vertical position which then triggered a switch and engaged the alarm. Other than looking like ass it's not a bad idea.

A number of Enfields were present, but I dug this one.

This BSA is supposedly bone-stock and super-rare. I don't know enough about BSAs, but what separates this one from more common ones was the white-frame. I guess this is sorta like finding a /2 in the US with original factory paint other than black.

I always appreciate seeing an R69S

26 September 2014

Oil Analysis - BMW Performance 20W50 vs. Porsche Classic Motor Oil 20w50 (PART 1)

If you ever get bored and want to witness an epic battle between old BMW enthusiasts, bring up oil.

The crux of the argument really stems from this mysterious compound called ZDDP (Zinc dialyldithiophosphate). In a nutshell, ZDDP protects the internals in our flat tappet engines and modern oils lack it.

As far as BMWs are concerned, I used to use BMW conventional 20w50 (SG/SH) rated when it was blended by Spectro, then I switched to Liqui Moly Racing 4T, and then back to BMW as a result of Kurt from the BMWMOA's excellent Oil Analysis Project. While Airhead gurus recommend Golden Spectro 20w50, the test results actually showed that BMW and Spectro 4 were excellent conventionals (no surprise since they were blended by the same company) concerning ZDDP levels, and Mobil 1 V-Twin and Redline topped the synthetic list, Golden Spectro was actually fairly consistent with the conventional Spectro oils which was disappointing considering it's semi-synthetic. All this being said, every oil tested met minimum BMW specs and unless you are extremely anal, like most BMW owners, any oil would get the job done.

Since the testing was done back in 2012, BMW has dropped Spectro as a blender for BP/Castrol, and Porsche has come out with their own "Classic Motor Oil," intentionally designed for old, flat tappet boxers. This is unique because all of the oils tested in Kurt's run were one-size-fits-all concerning motorcycle use. The BMW bottle (when it was Spectro and even now) says it's OK for "all" R-bikes - a very bold statement given the various engine configurations over the years. So who cares?

Well, back when Kurt got his test results, Castrol 4T SG rated conventional was on the lower end (but still meeting BMW specs) of the spectrum concerning ZDDP, although quite good concerning TBN and viscosity. Coincidentally, when BMW changed from Spectro to Castrol oil, the API rating went from SG/SH to just straight SG which matches the Castrol 4T rating. The question concerning this oil is whether or not the new BMW oil is a unique formulation or just a rebadge of Castrol 4T; if found to be the latter then it could save people some money since Castrol is about half the price of BMW oil. But what about the Porsche oil?

Porsche oil tells you nothing about it except that it's designed for old engines. You won't find any API rating and as far as I can tell, no ZDDP levels. It also seems that no one has yet had this oil analyzed (based on extensive google searches), so there are no proof for BMW (or Porsche for that matter) owners that this oil is any good other than Porsche's word. If their word is good, and since this oil is priced similarly to BMW's oil, this may prove to be an attractive oil to use for our old classic boxers.

So let the analysis begin.

Kurt used Bently Tribology (now Cashman Fluid Analysis) back in 2012 for his Oil Analysis project. I opted to use the same labs, with the same equipment, so my test results could be directly comparable to his. The cost was exactly the same as Blackstone Labs, and like Blackstone, their services include a free kit that they mail you.

Here's the two oils being analyzed.

And here's the sample kit.

Pouring out the oils into the kit revealed quite different appearances, but what this means I really don't know.

When Kurt had his testing done it took about 2-weeks to get results. As I sent mine out today, I should be expecting results sometime around 10 October. Will update with the results on here and the BMWMOA once they come in.

22 September 2014

BMW Fender Eliminator

Way back in March 2013, when my 2nd stock BMW taillight bit the dust, I decided to go aftermarket, lost the stock fiberglass fender, and make my own bracket with painted mild steel. This would have been all well and good, but since I ride all year, a few things became readily apparent.

The first was that although my Giuliari replica blocked all the wash from the rear tire from getting on me, its seat pan was suffering. I don't know why I waited this long to correct the issue as I was constantly cleaning off dust and dirt from it. The second was that lightly painted mild steel doesn't last very long once NJ road salt gets at it.

This is what is left of the homemade carbon steel bracket, besides all the lost paint and rust notice the stress crack near the larger hole (for wiring). This was 16 gauge steel.

The solution was to make a hidden fender + built in bracket out of stainless. This has been done a million times by others, so no biggie. I used 14 gauge 304 stainless, which was probably overkill. I didn't realize that stainless hardens with heat until I melted 2 regular steel drill bits - forcing me to go buy titanium ones which cut through it like butter. The finished product.

It's still a little rough around the edges, but only in the places you can't see when the seat it down. The taillight area benefited quite a bit with the 14 ga. as it no longer vibrates during riding. I still have 2' of stainless sheet left, I may make up another one (a finer one) and put it up on eBay or something or maybe I'll try my hand at hammering out a stainless fender for the 57 R60.

20 September 2014

Ocean Grove Brits on the Beach 20 September 2014

My wife and I have been going to Brits on the Beach in Ocean Grove, NJ for the last 4-5 years or so and every year the weather seems to be perfect, the amount of interesting cars plentiful, and the atmosphere fantastic. This year, barring a light scuffle prior to the show, was probably one of the better ones of the bunch. Although much of the usual cast from prior years was present, there were still some interesting cars I hadn't seen at prior shows. I'll let the pics speak for themselves:

beautiful OG, NJ

A more intesting 3-wheeler than the more commonly known Morgan. This is powered by a front mounted boxer-twin. Didn't get much information on it, but I doubt the displacement could have been any greater than 650cc.
V12 Power!

I think this is my favorite little detail from the car show. If you don't get it, you haven't known enough people with English built cars/bikes. See HERE

 Note the Supercharger ^