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Thread: vintage road trip

  1. #1
    OldAndBusted
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    Question vintage road trip

    i'm considering riding a 1955 R50 out to the wisconsin rally (from vermont) and wondered what technical issues i ought to be aware of here (or if it's just a bad idea). maintenance i should do before i go? tools/parts to pack for the trip? things to watch out for? for example, i wondered if, being the middle of summer, i would be in danger of overheating it, if i ended up stuck in traffic somewhere. it's the first air cooled vehicle i've owned

    i'm currently in the middle of stripping the engine down to clean the oil slingers. also, i plan to do the obvious stuff like new brake liners, clutch plate, tires, etc. as well as packing extra spark plugs, oil, maybe extra light bulbs, bunch of generic tools (no original tool kit came with it sadly)...

  2. #2
    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    I've heard people suggest carrying extra floats for the carbs and a magneto coil. If for any reason you would need to remove the generator rotor, you'll need a hardened bolt affair to pop if off. I believe Ed Korn sells a bolt for this purpose...I bought one for my R69S when I did the same bottom/top end job on it.

    I wouldn't think you would need to worry about over heating. I'd start early in the day and finish early, staying off main thoroughfares. Do whatever you could to avoid getting stuck in traffice, /2 or otherwise. Any kind of long idling wouldn't be good for an air-cooled engine. I'd feel uncomfortable if I had to idle for more than a couple of minutes without moving. If that was the case, I'd shut it down and restart. Of course, you'll build your kick start muscles if that were to happen!!

    I see by the avatar, the bike has a solo seat...not much room to move around. At the speeds you'd be traveling, I'm guessing you might get 300-350 miles a day?? On my /7 and my old butt, I figure 10 hours a day and 45-50 miles an hour average over the day. I'd think it would be well below that on a /2...for me...

    Kurt in S.A.

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    Registered User 37071's Avatar
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    Biggest Problem - SEAT!!

    I have a 65 R60/2 sidecar rig. I rode it to Montreal PQ and to DeQuoin IL with my dog in the chair. A number of 300 mile days on both trips. It was amasingly trouble free and comfortable. Since them I have taken off the large Schorsch Meyer seat, and put on the stylish rubber Pagaso seat. About 2 hours is all the abuse the back of my lap can handle with that seat. YMMV
    Gar

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    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 37071 View Post
    I have a 65 R60/2 sidecar rig. I rode it to Montreal PQ and to DeQuoin IL with my dog in the chair. A number of 300 mile days on both trips. It was amasingly trouble free and comfortable. Since them I have taken off the large Schorsch Meyer seat, and put on the stylish rubber Pagaso seat. About 2 hours is all the abuse the back of my lap can handle with that seat. YMMV
    One must suffer for one's art.
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  5. #5
    Cage Rattler wezul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldAndBusted View Post
    i'm considering riding a 1955 R50 out to the wisconsin rally (from vermont) and wondered what technical issues i ought to be aware of here (or if it's just a bad idea). maintenance i should do before i go? tools/parts to pack for the trip? things to watch out for? for example, i wondered if, being the middle of summer, i would be in danger of overheating it, if i ended up stuck in traffic somewhere. it's the first air cooled vehicle i've owned

    i'm currently in the middle of stripping the engine down to clean the oil slingers. also, i plan to do the obvious stuff like new brake liners, clutch plate, tires, etc. as well as packing extra spark plugs, oil, maybe extra light bulbs, bunch of generic tools (no original tool kit came with it sadly)...
    You've got stones, I admire you for that. I cannot help you as far as preparation but I look forward to meeting you at West Bend. Best of luck and good riding!

    Peace.

    Wez

  6. #6
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flash412 View Post
    Unlike a modern BMW, if something breaks on a /2 YOU can actually fix it instead of using a cell phone to call roadside assistance to get a tow truck to take it to a dealer so that they can hook it up to a MoDuhTec to see how deep a walletectomy needs to be performed.
    I'm as much of a vintage booster as anyone, but that's ridiculous, Flash. If your /2 has nearly any kind of a parts failure, you'll be on the cell to Craig Vechorik or Blue Moon or Bob's, and then waiting for Greyhound to show up.

    You can't get points or condensors for these at a regular auto parts store. If your coil goes out, you'll have to get a rewound one from somewhere exotic. Even the Bosch plugs are hard to come by. Carbon brushes for the generator?
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
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  7. #7
    OldAndBusted
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    well that's why i plan to take some extra points, plugs, condensor and brushes with me

    although i think mine is technically not a /2... i don't go for those new fangled /2 contraptions with all their "turn signals" and whatnot.

  8. #8
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldAndBusted View Post
    well that's why i plan to take some extra points, plugs, condensor and brushes with me

    although i think mine is technically not a /2... i don't go for those new fangled /2 contraptions with all their "turn signals" and whatnot.
    Well, those "ox eye" turn signals were always just an option. If you've really got a '55, then it's a first year bike and has a few things that BMW changed, like the spoke pattern and the tail light. And you're right, it's not technically a /2, which didn't come about until the '61 model year.

    It sounds like your bike should be in sound condition by the time you're ready to head to WI. I'm sure it goes without saying that it would be wise to rack up some mileage closer to home, if nothing else than to instill a bit of confidence in the bike's roadworthiness and experience in what to expect from it.

    I didn't mean to sound like a worry wart, but you are pretty much on your own when you ride a pre-70s bike around. It's difficult to come by tires for them, especially if you want to run the original size 3.50x18 in the back (which makes my R60/2 a much better performer).

    I took my R60/2 on a 6 day camping trip to Death Valley a year ago and had a great time with it, even if it looked like a rented mule. You should have a good time with your R50 as well!

    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
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    Quote Originally Posted by flash412 View Post
    Other than normal stuff like inner tubes, I'd take along a pair of carb floats and a "wall-wart" 6V battery charger.
    don't need the battery charger . . . you can pull the battery out and ride across country if you wanted to.

  10. #10
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flash412 View Post
    Oh please. First of all, almost no BMW dealers stock any parts anymore. Try buying so much as a throttle cable for an R1200 at your local dealer.
    I've never had a problem getting routine wear parts at the dealer. Maybe there's a good reason after all for some dealers closing, but my experiences with west coast dealers is that they stock all the maintenance parts, even for Airheads. BMW of Santa Cruz had Spiegler brake lines for my R90S in stock a couple years back.

    Darryl, you pointed out the resources to contact to get parts. When something on a modern bike fails, any dealer will ORDER it for you from one of two places... BMW's west coast warehouse or their east coast warehouse.
    The difference is that -- in my experience, any way -- the parts will likely be at the nearest BMW dealer, rather than across the country.

    No, you can't get /2 points at your local cage bits place. But anyone with any sense doesn't set out on a trip with failing points. They don't fail all of a sudden without any warning.
    Points can fail suddenly, if for example, the rubbing block comes off. That will stop you dead on a /2, because you can't adjust the points far enough to continue working in that situation. (Might also be bad for the cam on the advance, which is a very pricey piece to replace if it should be ruined. And the repro pieces have a very bad reputation.)

    Read some of the horror stories about R12 rear ends burning up or alternator belts breaking and tell me again how wonderful it is to tour on a modern BMW.
    Actually, my R1150RS had a bad ball bearing in the final drive. It went out in Alturas, CA (this is in the far upper right hand corner of the state, far away from anything). I rented a truck and drove the bike to Ozzie's BMW in Chico. Ozzie had the upgraded ball bearing in stock, and got me on my way the next morning. When I got home, there was a check waiting for me from Ozzie's for the cost of the bearing, which they had gotten out of BMW NA even though my bike was long out of warranty.

    The alternator belt on the Oilheads is a routine auto part. A friend broke a belt in Baja California. He was able to buy a new one for about $3 at an auto parts store in Mexicali, and we repaired his bike in used car lot and he rode home on it. In the meantime, the used car salesman treated four of us to lunch.

    Flash, you are so down on the modern bikes that you can't see their reliability. They don't leave you stranded with a burnt up diode board or an open rotor any more. They use a standard spin on oil filter so you can't suffer from the "$2000 O-ring". I've got nearly 300k miles on oilheads and have another one on order. They're not perfect, but neither have the previous generations of bikes. What's good is that they all have had a limited number of foibles and a relatively long production run, so what problems there are become well known, as do their solutions.

    I'm far from a talented mechanic, but it just doesn't seem very much different doing routine maintenance on an oilhead, airhead or an older BMW. The only real difference seems to be the length of the service intervals.
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
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  11. #11
    OldAndBusted
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    Quote Originally Posted by wuli959 View Post
    don't need the battery charger . . . you can pull the battery out and ride across country if you wanted to.
    just don't do it at night

  12. #12
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldAndBusted View Post
    just don't do it at night
    Well, Wuli is right, you can go all day (and all night) without a battery.

    The ignition is magneto fired, and is an entirely separate circuit from the charging system and the battery. And if the battery is dead, the generator will still run the lights.

    But... the lights will get brighter and dimmer with the engine revs. Don't expect a lot of light at idle. And this is hard on the bulbs, so they will tend to burn out sooner.
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
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  13. #13
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flash412 View Post
    Fear of having something go wrong is paralyzing to some people. The others? We just go ahead and do whatever it is we were gonna do and deal with what MIGHT happen when and if it actually does happen.
    This is exactly! my point! In your posts you sound like you're afraid of things that statistically never happen with modern bikes! You tell everyone that their modern bike is going to strand them and they're going to be eaten by wolves! (Ok, I'm exaggerating.)

    If you have a problem with a bike, you've got to find a solution to it. The specific problems may have changed over time, but it's the resourcefulness of the rider that makes it an adventure when it happens.
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  14. #14
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    BTW, just to make it clear, I am not advocating that a vintage bike should not be toured upon. I've done plenty of touring on my /2 and /3 bikes and not had a problem. They are perfectly capable of doing many hundreds of miles in a day, if you are. It's an enjoyable trip and I love doing it.

    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarrylRi View Post
    Well, Wuli is right, you can go all day (and all night) without a battery.

    The ignition is magneto fired, and is an entirely separate circuit from the charging system and the battery. And if the battery is dead, the generator will still run the lights.

    But... the lights will get brighter and dimmer with the engine revs. Don't expect a lot of light at idle. And this is hard on the bulbs, so they will tend to burn out sooner.

    you saved me a bunch of typing
    thanks

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