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Page Title - Restoration of an R60/2
Restoration photo

For our virtual restoration we have chosen an R60/2 because this particular bike is a perfect candidate for restoration. This bike is cosmetically challenged but very complete and original. The sheet medal is straight and only showing surface rust on its factory original paint job. Most importantly, the bike's engine still has good compression. Furthermore, on this particular motorcycle the frame number and the engine number match. This is very important for getting the maximum amount of value out of a restored vintage BMW.

Restoration photo

At the start of the restoration the speedo shows 20,870 miles. Since the foot peg rubbers and kick start lever show very little wear we believe it could be all the miles this bike has seen. Once we open up the engine we'll know more; if the pistons are the standard 72mm size then the mileage is probably correct. The previous owners could have shown this bike a little more care simply by keeping the bike out of the weather. The speedo only needs to be lubricated and cleaned.

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The standard 4 gallon gas tank has only a few slight dents and some surface rust. Inside the fuel tank the original red oxide coating is still in great shape. Even the porcelain BMW roundel survives chip free. At first look, this bike looks to be very rough but when you look at each of the components separately you see that it's mostly paint and plating that brings the bike back to life.

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The rear fender is rust free, straight, and not drilled with extra holes. The hinge area of the fenders on these BMWs are often a problem and can be very difficult to repair. Luckily this fender is in excellent condition and the same goes for the tail light. Notice also that the rear shock adjusting handles haven't been cut as is often the case. Paint and plating is all that will be needed here.

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The front fender and shock covers are straight. This indicates that the bike has never been in a crash. The alloy rims are only oxidized, but sorry to say that the Avon Speedmasters have seen better days.

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Here we have the /2 Bosch Magneto. Although this one still works OK, it is our experience that it's more a question of "when" than "if" the 40 year old coil will fail. The old coil feels soft and squishy, indicating that the lacquer insulation is breaking down. A bad coil will make the bike difficult to start, especially when hot. This is one item we will replace with a new one before it lets us down.

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The oil pan was removed and as you can see the oil was old and sludgy. Good news is that we don't see any metallic particles in the oil but it's a good thing we didn't run the bike with this oil. Always remove the oil pan before riding a newly purchased vintage BMW. At the very least you should give the oil pan a good cleaning. The /2's do not have oil filters, when we get to the slingers we will know if they are full of sludge.

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The pistons are still the original 71.95 MM size, which means that this engine has never had an over bore. The pistons are scuffed on the sides and although they would probably work OK we will replace them with a new set of first oversize piston rings.

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Since BMWs do not have a lot of chrome and given that German chrome never was very good, these are the parts we will be reechoing. It's not cost effective to re-chrome some items such as exhaust pipes, mufflers, wheel rims and fender braces. For parts like these it is advisable to simply replace these parts. It's a toss-up about chroming axles, as they are a precision fit part and if the chrome gets to them they will probably be too tight for the wheel bearings. Given this, we will instead replace the originals with a new set of stainless steel axles.

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The bike's aluminum parts are in good condition. Aluminum polishing costs much less than chroming so we will send these parts to the polisher. Don't bother polishing any part that has a dent in it, as the defect will only be magnified when it gets polished.

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Here's a photo of the parts we will be sending out for cad plating. It's basically all the steel parts on the bike that have the dull silver finish. Cadmium plating is very inexpensive if you do the prep work yourself. Each part must be bead blasted and perfectly clean and free of the old plating. Be sure to dress any buggered parts with a file before blasting. If the holes in your wheels' seal nuts are elongated you can drill them oversize and they will look new again. Do not use cad plating that is only acid dipped. If you want the best possible finish it's worth the effort to bead blast the parts first.

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The shocks have leaked some oil so our bike will get new shocks for both the front and rear. These are not easy parts to replace so it's best to replace them with new shocks if you want to do the job right the first time.

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Here's our engine block. As you can see in the picture, the timing gears are perfect and the crank looks like it is in good condition as well. We will know more when we have the motor completely disassembled.

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Today we will be removing the crankshaft and camshaft from the R60/2 engine block. We will start will Ed Korn's ?Many in One Tool?. This tool provides a way to pull the timing gears, gear covers, and main bearings with relative ease. The price of this tool is about $250.

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First, we remove the camshaft with the cam gear attached. We also inspect the lifters and oil pump gear as it is common for the lifters to have small pits on the faces where they contact the cam lobe. If the lifters are pitted or cracked they should be replaced. Also check the side play of the lifter in its bore. If you can wiggle them from side to side you must install new bushings in the lifter bores. For this restoration the engine had four perfect lifters so we won't need to replace any parts here. We also want to check the timing gear teeth for pits or unusual wear. These gears are in matched sets and individually sized to each block so do not mix and match timing gears. If they are bad you will have to replace them as a set and it's expensive! We are happy to see that this set is fine. The round slotted disc is the crank case breather valve. As this disc rotates it opens a passage to allow the crank case gasses to escape, allowing the engine to maintain optimum crankcase pressure as the pistons move up and down in their bore. The face of the breather valve must be smooth to insure a good seal, but luckily this part seldom wears out.

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Now we use our puller tool to remove the crank shaft timing gear from the crank. This gear is a tight press fit so it helps if you heat the gear with a propane torch to about 220 degrees; hot enough to fry spit but not so hot as to damage the temper of the steel.

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The front bearing support is removed after we pulled the timing gear. Next remove the two slinger ring screws and take out the slinger ring. Heat the rear bearing support and lightly tap the crank forward from the rear. The rear main bearing and crank will slide forward and hang loose in the block. Now rotate the crank until the front crank web is facing upward. Now lift up on the front of the crank and pull the crank out of the case. This is a real jig-saw puzzle but it goes easy. It's hard to imagine how they designed this on paper before the advent of computers. The Germans were pretty smart!

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When the crankshaft is removed you are ready to pull the rear main bearing. Again here we use Ed's ?Many in One Tool? by first heating the bearing as you don't want to remove any material from the crank journal. We always replace the main bearings as these parts are relatively inexpensive and they do sometimes fail. Make sure to not just use any bearing from your local bearing supply. This is because although all replacement bearings are the same size, they are all not the same. They have differing types of ball cages and they are made to differing degrees of precision. Buy your main bearings from a reputable source with BMW motorcycle experience, or buy genuine BMW parts.

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If the connecting rods have more than .0004? axial play they will have to be rebuilt with new bearings. Blue Moon provides rebuilt crank shafts for exchange if this is the case.

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Here's a close up of one of the two slinger rings. As you can see it is totally full of hard caked sludge. This material is a combination of aluminum, steel, and bronze from the normal wear and tear of the engine internal parts. It's all packed together with carbon from the combustion gasses and old motor oil. You can pick it out with a sharp metal pick or you can sand blast it out but that takes time. We will throw ours away and replace it with a new slinger ring. How can you tell if your slingers are full? The answer is that you can't. The only way to know is to complete disassembly of the engine. You will save the cost of a crankshaft rebuild if you catch it in time. Wait too long and the clogged passage shuts of the oil supply to the rod bearings causing an audible knock followed by a loud knock, followed by a long walk home.

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Our cylinder heads cleaned up nicely in the bead blaster but one of the exhaust threads is stripped so it goes to our machinist for Heliarc and rethreading.

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We will now perform a 3 angle cut on the valve seats using the Neway valve cutting tool set. I have performed hundreds of valve jobs over the years with this simple set of Neway cutting tools. This kit will do any BMW air head as well as many other motorcycles. I have also used this tool on my 1947 Studebaker and my 1937 Cadillac. The Neway kit consists of various cutting heads, different sized pilot rods, and a T handle.

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Here you can see the cutting head's adjustable carbide teeth set at the desired angle. These teeth are still cutting well after years of use.

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The pilot rod has a very slight taper so it is held firm in the guide.

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After new valve guides are installed the valve seat is cut to 30 degrees, 45 degrees, and 75 degrees. It is important that the valve head contact the seat precisely to insure a good seal and a long lasting cool running motor. When the tool is set up to cut, it only takes a few twists of the wrist to renew the sealing surface.

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The intake seat now has a new three angle cut. Up to now we have only cut the 45 degree angle on the exhaust seat.

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This is the valve after the sealing face has been cut at 45 degrees. Your local auto parts store can do this for just a couple bucks.

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We used special 2 stage 8 mm reamers to size the valve guide. Be sure to use a reamer that is designed to cut the soft bronze valve guides.

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Our R60 motor is now reassembled.

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Next we will build a set of wheels with new chrome rims and spokes. The first thing after removing the tire is to cut the old spokes out of the rim. This is best accomplished by using a bolt cutter. There is no point in saving the old spokes and nipples but do be sure to save the square brass spoke plates as these are expensive and reusable. Chrome shops charge over $200 per wheel to plate a rim so you will save money by simply replacing your rims. Aluminum rims can be polished if they are not heavily pitted, but be sure that your rim is straight before you send it out for polishing.

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Follow the shop manual to inspect your wheel bearings. You can use your axle and a homemade pipe spacer to hold the bearings in alignment while tapping them out. Always use heat when removing wheel bearings. After cleaning, inspect the bearing races for small pits or rust and replace any questionable bearings and pack them with a good quality wheel bearing grease.

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If a bearing is replaced the assembly will have to be re-shimmed as you want minimal free play with no binding when the axle nut is torqued. Test the bearing fit before the bearings are installed in the wheel. You really do not need a full set of bearing shims to do this job but you will need a lathe to cut the spacer to size.

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We have given our wheel hubs the bead blast treatment and they are now ready for the bearings to be installed, along with new seals. Sometimes I will clear coat the freshly blasted hubs with a urethane treatment. The hubs will stay cleaner and will resist oxidization but the look will be somewhat different from original.

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There's a myth about wheel lacing being a "magic" science and a lost art. It's really quite simple. The BMW wheel hub directs the spokes for you, requiring that the wheel can only be assembled one way. If this is your first wheel lacing experience do just one wheel at a time so you always have an assembled wheel to refer to. It is important to note that these rims have a left side and a right side, basically you must put an inside spoke to an inside nipple and outside spoke to an outside nipple. If the spokes interfere with each other where they cross try flipping the rim over. BMW spokes use a 4mm nipple so some aftermarket spokes, such as Buchanan's which use a 5mm nipple and others which also have larger nipples, can present problems when trying to lace them to a stock rim. I suggest you get your rims and your spokes from the same source. It's a good idea to use anti-seize compound on the spoke threads, especially if you are using stainless spokes. I personally prefer chrome plated spokes as they are brighter and more authentic.

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After the wheel is laced and all spokes are finger tight it is time to start the lacing process. First, you want to note the rim offset. You can measure this on the second wheel that you haven't yet dissembled. The rim offset is defined as the sideways distance from the edge of the rim to the edge of the brake drum using a straight edge or a ruler to determine the offset. Now, begin snugging the spokes using a proper spoke wrench. You want to turn each spoke about a quarter turn at a time always adjusting for the "run out" and the "side-to-side" distance. A little practice and you will get the hang of it. Continue this process until all the spokes are tight and the rim spins true. You can tap on each spoke with the wrench to hear if they ring. A dead sound indicates a loose spoke. By the way, a fancy truing stand is actually not necessary for this bike. The earl's fork swing arm will make a fine stand and it is not difficult to lace and true BMW wheels. Anyone can do it with a little patience and practice.

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Use the special wheel nut pin wrench when tightening or loosening the wheel nuts as it will prevent you from causing any damage. I always replace the hub caps with new ones given that they are relatively inexpensive and they look great. Of course I should tell you Blue Moon Cycle sells the parts and tools required to build your wheels right. Or put your crusty wheels in a box and send them to us. In a few days they will come back looking like new.

Restoration photo
Restoration photo

I prefer to powder coat the frame and small parts. Powder coats are much more durable than paint and looks the same as paint if done properly. Our powder coated frame and forks are assembled and the power train is installed but we want to get the engine in the frame first so then we can assemble the rolling chassis but either way works. We will use masking tape to protect the components as they are being assembled. All sheet metal parts get a base clear coat with hand applied pinstripe over the clear coat. If you don't have an original on hand for reference take several photos of the stripes before stripping so your striper will know how to apply the stripes. It's almost guaranteed he won't get them right unless he has a good example to copy.

Restoration photo

Restoration photo

We replace front and rear swing arm bearings and we install a new set of taper roller bearings in the fork neck along with a new set of European low handle bars, all new cables, and all new rubber parts. We are also using our stainless steel bolt kit on this bike. These bolts look great and reduced assembly time but note that if you are going for a concourse 100 point restoration you will want to use all the original bolts with new cad plating.

Since this is not a technical article we will breeze thru the electrical details. The BMW's wire harness is super simple as it only contains about ten wires and that are color coded. Start at the headlight and work your way back. The /2 owner's manual has an excellent wire schematic in case you get lost. It's best to photograph the wire harness before disassembly so you know the correct routing as this is not laid out in any manual. We had a good terminal board but the wire harness is being replaced with a new one. The terminal block for the tail light usually gets rusty and a new one is cheap insurance against future problems. I hate to see nylon wire ties on a vintage bike so all visible wire ties should be like the original metal strap ties. Bar end blinkers by Hella are a nice period accessory and a unique item for German bikes. Your battery should have a removable lid like the original. Stay away from the Yuasa battery. It works fine but looks like crap.

Next, we need to clean and lubricate the speedometer, new chrome bezel rims are available and can be crimped on by hand with a screw driver. I do not recommend you zero the mileage, it's better to preserve the history of bike by keeping the odometer mileage original to the bike.

As you can see below we have now completed assembly of our R60/2 restoration project. As you can see, the bike is stunning. I especially like the solo seat and alloy wheels. We tried to stay as close to stock as possible. The elegance of the BMW design is not enhanced with extra chrome or gaudy accessories and even the small tank looks perfect on this bike. We will paint the battery black so it looks more authentic. After a little more fine tuning the bike purrs like a kitten. We will treat it like a new bike, with 500 easy miles followed by an oil change and a valve adjustment. Steering head bearings should also be snugged and brakes adjusted after some break in miles.

These mid 60's BMW's are truly a pleasure to ride. They are smooth and quiet and the quality is obvious. We have now turned back the clock and erased 40 years of neglect. It is very rewarding to own and ride a motorcycle you restored yourself. I would encourage anyone with the desire to restore a motorcycle to go for it and if the bike you decide to restore happens to be a BMW, keep us in mind. We are always available with parts and technical expertise to help you complete your project.

Restoration photo

Restoration photo

Restoration photo

Restoration photo

Restoration photo

Restoration photo

Happy riding and wrenching, John Landstrom

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