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Thread: Earls Fork frustrations

  1. #1
    Dewayne
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    Earls Fork frustrations

    Hello All,

    I recently sold my beloved R69US and bought a 68 R60 with an Earles Fork. I'm not familiar with these frontends and need feedback as to what my problem is..
    I had a bad case of 'tank slap' (Very scary) not long after I got the bike and replaced the steering head bearings with updated tapered roller bearings. But the bike felt like it was riding on marbles, so I loosened up on the bearings and now it has a different feel... It doesn't want to lean into a turn and it feels like the front wheel is 'tuked' under the bars a bit too far.
    Is it possible to get the forks out of alignment on an Earles frontend? Visibly, I don't see how... but that is what it feels like.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks, Dewayne

  2. #2
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    for info I would

    check out duane aushermans website

    join the yahoo /2 group

    and post on the boxerworks.com /2 forum

    hope that helps

  3. #3
    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    Other than the forks being bent, it's difficult to get them out of align AFAIK. Give it a close visual and see if you seen anything.

    You might need to first try greasing the bearings. My '69 has a grease fitting on the back portion of the horizontal member of the fork. It'll take a special rubber tipped fitting to seal...supposedly some chainsaws have such a grease gun adapter. I found a steel fitting, something like you might use to fill a basketball or football with air. It's conical shaped at the end. If I hold it tightly onto the small ball of the fitting, I can get grease pushed through.

    The problem will be that the grease will run to one side but not get to the other. I believe Duane's site talks about using some rope or such to hold the grease in the bearings on the close side while the rest of the grease is pumped across to the otherside. That worked for me.

    Beyond that, you might have to remove the bearings for servicing. I've heard they can be a bear to get out. Again, Duane discusses that.

    As for the setup of the steering bearings, I too replaced the old ball bearings with tapered roller bearings. I tightened the bearings such that when I move the handlebars off center, the front forks kind of settle gently to the stop. They shouldn't bounce of the stop...too loose. And they're too tight if you move the bars off the stop and they stay where you move them.

    Another possibility is that the forks are set up for sidecar use. Actually, this might be what your problem is. There are sets of holes on the forks that you must use for solo use. Sidecar use tends to reduce the rake (make it steeper) and it's a bear to ride solo in this setting. Take a look at Duane's site

    http://w6rec.com/duane/bmw/index.htm

    He's got a mid '60s owners manual on-line. On page 127 of that manual, it says "For sidecar operation, the front wheel swinging arm pivot bearing is transferred from the rear position to the front position in the fork, which results in a smaller trail angle and hence is easier steering."

    Check that out for sure...
    Kurt -- Forum Administrator ---> Resources and Links Thread <---
    '78 R100/7 & '69 R69S & '52 R25/2
    mine-ineye-deatheah-pielayah-jooa-kalayus. oolah-minane-hay-meeriah-kal-oyus-algay-a-thaykin', buddy!

  4. #4
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    I'm moving this discussion to the vintage forum, where I think it will get more attention from the people who know these machines.
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
    http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

  5. #5
    Rally Rat
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    Per Kurt, above: first thing is to make sure the Earle's fork is set for solo: the cross brace goes into the aft-most position. The bearings in there should be well-greased, they are not under a lot of stress, so they last forever, but they may be stiff?

    Does the front end compress easily? Mine has amazingly smooth ride, has a very light steering feel (you DO have the lovely chrome steering damper set at virtually no resistance, I hope...?). I am amazed at how "nimble" the front end feels when I want to do some swervies.....

  6. #6
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    Did you check swing arm berings?
    What was your speed when having Tankslapper?
    Are you using damper?

    I also notice that with a modern tyre you get a lot of movement because the sidewalls are weaker than the tyres from the 60s and 70s. I have simular wobble only at low speed (parking lot/driveway speeds) but did not have with old tyres (my /2 had a rear only fittment on the front, weather rotted but no wobble until newer front only tyre was installed) On mine you can shake handlebars sitting still and see movement in sidewall give. Handles great over 10 MPH up to top speed.

  7. #7
    Dewayne
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    Well, I think I might need to loosen the steering head a bit more... I haven't greased the pivot bearings due to not knowing how... but will work on that. The front pivot is in the rear position, so that's not it.

    I just pulled the rear wheel off to replace the tire and found that the splines on the final drive are in real bad shape. Is it easier to find a good used unit or have this one rebuilt?

    Thanks for all your responses!

    Dewayne

  8. #8
    Dewayne
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    By the way, I'm not using the damper.. it's non functional.

    And I had the tank slapper on the expressway going 65mph... not fun... it didn't stop until I managed to get the bike down to a crawl. Believe me, you don't ever wnat to go through that experience.. !

    Dewayne

  9. #9
    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dewayne View Post
    I just pulled the rear wheel off to replace the tire and found that the splines on the final drive are in real bad shape. Is it easier to find a good used unit or have this one rebuilt?
    I've not really looked for final drives, but I believe they show up from time to time. If you were to look at getting it repaired, Hansen's in Oregon is the way to go, especially for the /5 on bikes. You could see what they could do for a /2:

    http://www.hansensmc.com/

    Quote Originally Posted by Dewayne View Post
    By the way, I'm not using the damper.. it's non functional.
    The hydraulic damper is non-functional on my R69S but I don't have any real problems with looseness. I do have a Wixom handlebar fairing which might contributed to "weirdness" in handling if I'm in really buffeting crosswinds. You shouldn't need to rely on a damper to solve this problem. But if you want to replace your damper, Vech in Mississippi can help you out.

    http://members.aol.com/vechbmw/index.html

    If you continue to have problems you might want to give him a call...if you haven't contacted him yet. He's more than willing to talk you through things on the phone...and then some!! He definitely knows /2 machines...

    BTW...what part of the country are you in? Maybe there's some shop that's near you that can provide some assistance.
    Kurt -- Forum Administrator ---> Resources and Links Thread <---
    '78 R100/7 & '69 R69S & '52 R25/2
    mine-ineye-deatheah-pielayah-jooa-kalayus. oolah-minane-hay-meeriah-kal-oyus-algay-a-thaykin', buddy!

  10. #10
    Dewayne
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    Thanks for the responses... I've called Vech in the past, and you're right, he is always more than willing to help. I just hate to bug him too often. Besides, half the fun is tearing into your bike and finding out what kind of condition it is really in..

    I live in Tulsa OK and our dealership closed last year. We have a local BMW club and I know a couple of people in it... may have to call them tonight.

    Anyway... Thanks again,

    Dewayne

  11. #11
    Rally Rat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dewayne View Post
    Well, I think I might need to loosen the steering head a bit more... I haven't greased the pivot bearings due to not knowing how... but will work on that. The front pivot is in the rear position, so that's not it.

    Dewayne
    I would be VERY careful about loosening the steering head... it may be TOO LOOSE. What you want is absolutely NO PLAY. I found that when I put a load on it, it was too loose, in spite of having felt perfect while it was on the stand. You may have to tighten it down enough to seat the bearings (light press fit) and then back off enough so you dont feel any notchiness.

    Try this: put a couple of pieces of slippery-something (wax paper?) between two pieces of plywood. Then roll the front wheel onto the plywood, and try to turn it. First, turn with the bars, then go up front and move the wheel back and forth with your hands. You should feel no clicking, jerking, etc, from side to side. You said you had new head bearings, so there should not be any worn spots.... I am guessing that you have the bearings too loose.

    Regarding grease on the fork tube: probably not critical to steering so much as bump-absorption..... when you roll forward and slam on the front brake, does the suspension operate, etc. I can hear my springs "groan" as the front end works it's "up" magic!

  12. #12
    Dewayne
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    Thanks bpeckm for your response..

    I suspect the bearings to be a little tight still because when I turn the bars slightly off center without weight on the front, they stay in place, not dropping off to the side at all.

    As far as I can tell the front suspension is working fine.. up and down. I'm going to replace the front tire tomorrow ( it is like new but is around 8 yrs old ) and see if that helps too...

    Dewayne

  13. #13
    BOKRIJDER
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    If you strike out finding any problems with the front of the bike, take a very close look at the rear - swing arm bearings, wheel bearings, spokes, tire.

    Recalling old flat tracking days -- if the front was misbehaving, the problem was generally in the rear. Fine tuning of the rear would have a huge impact on the behavior of the front of the bike.

    Motard

  14. #14
    Dewayne
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    Ok.. Thanks Motard... I'm getting a new rear tire tomorrow also and I'm replacing the bearings tonite... they weren't that bad...

    How do I check the rear swing arm??

    Dewayne

  15. #15
    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dewayne View Post
    How do I check the rear swing arm??
    Here's a starting point:

    http://w6rec.com/duane/bmw/swingarm/index.htm
    Kurt -- Forum Administrator ---> Resources and Links Thread <---
    '78 R100/7 & '69 R69S & '52 R25/2
    mine-ineye-deatheah-pielayah-jooa-kalayus. oolah-minane-hay-meeriah-kal-oyus-algay-a-thaykin', buddy!

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