Inspecting Dell’Orto Carburetors

If you are thinking of changing to Dell’Orto carbs, there are a few inspection items that you want to be aware of. These are:

Head Spigots and Connections to Carbs

1. Be aware that you must have the appropriate sized head spigots in order to mount the 38mm Dell’Ortos. Most R-bike heads either have 32mm or 40mm intake spigots threaded into the intake side of the cylinder head. In order to mount the 38mm Dell’Ortos you must replace these spigots with the appropriate sized 38mm spigots, which were used on the R90S bikes and are still available from BMW. Remove the existing spigots with a spanner wrench after soaking them with good penetrating oil and leaving them overnight.

2. Sometimes the airbox connections need to be modified in order to securely fasten the Dell’Orto carbs. For an inexpensive custom fit, go to your local Napa auto parts store or hydraulic hose supplier and purchase a 6″ section of reinforced rubber hose (2 or 2 1/4″ I think but measure yours to be sure). Cost is cheap and you can get several sections cut from 6″ of the rubber hose.

Fuel Connections

3. When you get the Dell’Ortos, remove the fuel connection on the outside of each carb and inspect/replace the fuel filter inside. Filters normally cost $1.20 each, which is cheap insurance. Also, don’t forget to check and clean the BOTTOM fuel filters on your straight BMW petcocks, if you have them. This can be done without removing the fuel tank by simply turning off both petcocks and unscrewing the lower connection. Inside you will find a fine mesh screen that captures most of the contaminants in the fuel tank feeding to the carbs.

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Carburetors

Some time ago a very embarrassed Airhead owner contacted me about how to ‘fix’ his carburetors. He has Bing CV carbs, and replaced the diaphragms, floats, etc. himself. Frankly, he is a bit ham-fisted. He also hates to ask for advice. He proceeded to nearly destroy his carburetors. The many e-mails with him prompted this article. There is a LOT of information in this article, and lots more on the author’s website. Carburetor work is not very difficult, easy to learn, and once you have worked on your carburetors, perhaps at such at an Airhead TechDay, you will wonder what all the fuss was about and you will find that it is easy the second time, and you might hardly need to refer to this article …or one of my others on carburetors…again.

I have my own ideas about when one should consider working on your Bing CV carburetors (and fuel tank and petcocks!):

YEARLY: depending on mileage and use: clean/dump float bowl contents, check corner bowl jet to be sure it is clear/open, possibly replace float bowl gasket if poor; empty gas tank, remove petcock(s), clean tank, dry it, clean petcock screen(s), possibly service petcocks internally if they are getting quite stiff to turn; or, if leaking.   Inspect fuel hoses. I consider these things part of carburetor servicing.  Failure to service the fuel tank will eventually be costly.

5,000 mile intervals: synchronize the carburetors, but ONLY AFTER the valve adjustment and ignition timing adjustments are checked FIRST.

30,000 mile intervals: replace float assembly (if original one piece assembly).  Always also replace the float needle and clean out the central jet assembly.  Replacing the float assembly is UNlikely if you have the alcohol-proof separate floats that Bing now offers.  However, if you have those, be sure to replace the float needle and 

{mprestriction ids=”4,5,6,8,9,10,11,12″} check the adjustment of the flimsy brass floats bridge, info on the Snowbum website in its own article on these independent float kits:
http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/bingindependent.htm

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Carburetor Rebuild Tips

“”My Bing rebuild kit arrived and I am having trouble removing the old slide needles from my 83 R100RT. Any advice on this and other Bing carb rebuild tips?””

There are two basic types of needle mountings. One type uses a captive hidden clip, and the other type has a screw that has to be loosened.

If you have to, use a pair of pliers and protect the needles with something like thin leather at the pliers jaws. BUT you might be able to remove the needles with clean and dry fingers or try soft thin leather gloves or kitchen plastic gloves. ROTATE the needle 90 degrees as you pull slightly downward, then repeat, until needle is removed. When replacing the needles, the same 90 degree rotation, with small upward pressure, is needed for each notch of needle adjustment/replacement. When done replacing the needles to what you think is the ‘correct notch’, be SURE the needles stick out of the bottom of the slides exactly the same amount…use a vernier caliper.    I like to record that value. Mention of needle position is very commonly done by ‘notch’ number. The uppermost notch on the needle is

#1, and as the needle is adjusted to be higher and higher in the slide, the numbers increase, per notch, to #4.

Some needles, probably from about 1985,  were made out of aluminum and the needle grooves (notches) tend to wear rather quickly. If the wear is high, that will allow the needle to be in the wrong position vertically; it can move up and down a LOT. All needles, aluminum or steel, will also wear on their sides, as does the associated needle jet.    The needles are purposely free to move a bit angularly sideways, so normal vibration wears them, and their associated jet. Always replace needle and jet together when overhauling.

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Early R75/5 Bing CV Carburetors

This article deals with problems with early versions of CV carburetors used on the R75/5. This includes getting the bike to start and to idle correctly as best possible.

A basic mini-overhaul can be done with the carburetors in place on the engine. This may be enough. Three articles, the one you are reading, and http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/bingcv.htm  ….and http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/bingcv-2.htm are not just about how to overhaul Bing CV carburetors. These articles are specifically designed to fully inform you what you need to know, as an Airhead owner/rider, about Bing CV carburetors.

While it may appear that the information in the below article does not apply to the later carburetors (except for information as to how the /9 & /10 and later carburetors are different from these /1, /2, /3 and /4), that is not so! The information in this article should be read by anyone that also works on later model CV carbs …as some things are good to know ….such as about the springs that might be added, changes in parts, and problem area.

Before working on the R75/5 carburetors to cure what might seem to be carburetor problems, such as high or irregular idle rpm or inability to properly adjust the carburetors, it is important that the engine valves be set correctly, & the ignition timing be correct. Be sure there are no vacuum leaks at the throttle shafts.  Be sure the hoses between carburetor & cylinder head are tight & not leaking vacuum (spray with any volatile solvent …must not be idle rpm changes). Never work on carburetors unless you are sure all else is OK!

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Bing CV Carburetors – Part 2

A basic MINI-overhaul can be done with the carburetors in place on the engine. This is often quite enough. Two articles, the one you are reading, AND http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/bingcv.htm are not just about how to overhaul a Bing CV carburetor. These two articles are specifically designed to fully inform you what you need to know, as an Airhead owner/rider, about these carburetors.

The one exception is if you have an R75/5, which came with a particularly troublesome version of the Bing CV carburetor. For those R75/5 carburetors, you should review the above linked articles; AND, in particular, review  http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/earlybingR75CV.htm

1. Starting problems:

It was in November of 1971 that BMW first …and almost lastly….recommended OPENING the throttle during cold or very cold starts. We all know that this can be a necessity depending on the bike, temperature (does NOT have to be very cold), & how the carburetors are adjusted. That is still true for later models, but BMW has dropped the recommendation of an opening throttle. SHAME.   While SOME Airheads will start OK with throttle shut off and enrichener turned on or fully on, many need a bit of throttle playing AS THE ENGINE BEGINS TO START.

If your Airhead starts OK, enrichener (choke) in use, ….then seems to run out of fuel, after perhaps 15-30 seconds:  
Inspect for a partially clogged jet at the bottom of the corner of the bowl well.  If OK, check the  bowl gasket and also the enrichener gasket/screws problem.  The gasket may get sucked inwards a bit, check all 4 sides; check the 4 screws too, they tend to loosen.  There is also the possibility of a wrongly assembled enrichener. If the bowl corner jets is clogged badly enough, bike might not start at all. Both situations are often much worse on cold days. Check the tube for cracks…this tube leads downwards from the carburetor body into the bowl well. Very early Bing CV carburetors have pressed-in float bowl enrichener jets, not screwed-in. THE enrichener jet in the float bowl MUST BE CLEAR, NOT CLOGGED!   Check all these items for BOTH carburetors.

WHY does the float bowl gasket make a difference in starting?  Because sealing of the float bowl is involved in how the enrichener in the body of the carburetor is able to lift the fuel from the float bowl well.

Check if you might have installed the enrichener parts backwards, or mixed-up left and right parts. NOTE that the punch prick mark on the enrichener shafts have been seen Bing-factory-installed 180° off! That is, the punch prick marks are WRONGLY DONE for the shafts of the enrichener as installed by Bing. See http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/bingcv.htm; or Part 1 of my two Bing articles on this airheads.org website.

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Bing CV Carburetors – Part 1

For a well-done overhaul article…step by step…with 44 pictures….see BMWMOA magazine, BMW-ON (BMW Owners News), March 2003, for an article in great depth by Gary L. Smith. You can probably get that back issue at http://www.bmwmoa.org. From that main page, click on left side for Country Store, and then on the Country Store page, go to Back Issues.

I have SOME nitpicking on that article:
1. See my notes in the article you are reading.
2. Use faint amount of silicone grease on all O-rings & on enrichener parts (do NOT overdo this, you do NOT want to plug jet holes).
3. If doing a complete overhaul, which involves removing the butterfly to replace the throttle shaft O-ring (be sure to silicone grease that one & be SURE to MARK the butterfly for correct refitting: something like TOP, OUTER; or TOP, facing REAR…or something of that sort….BEFORE you remove the old one. HOPE that the previous workman did not install yours backwards, because it can be fun to figure out unless you know what it is supposed to look like. In the article you are now reading I have photos of what it IS supposed to look like….. & NOT look like.
4. The article you are reading, below, has considerably more complete information about orienting the enrichener parts.

A basic MINI-overhaul can be done with the carburetors in place on the engine. This is often quite enough. Two articles, the one you are reading….and http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/bingcv-2.htm (which is article 3B) are not just about how to overhaul a Bing CV carburetor. These two articles are specifically designed to fully inform you what you need to know, as an Airhead owner/rider, about these carburetors. The one exception is if you have an R75/5, which, if stock, has a particularly troublesome version of the Bing CV carburetor, as it was the first generation of these carburetors. For these carburetors, you should review both of these above two linked articles AND, in particular, review myarticle #6:   http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/earlybingR75CV.htm

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Bing Carburetor Floats and Float Needles

Bing carburetors FLOAT NEEDLES, whether the pure slide type carburetor, or the CV type carburetor, both as used on BMW Airhead motorcycles, come in several varieties. In general, TWO present-day available versions will fit all the Airheads carburetors. Very early carburetors had a solid metal needle. That needle was available in more than one ‘style’, but for all, there was NO rubber tip nor a Viton tip, tip was simply part of the float needle. The later type of needle, that most of Airhead owners have, is similar to the photograph below. The needle shown in this photograph has a spring loaded plunger with a hole in it, with the easy-to-lose wire clip, and RED tip material. GRAY-BLACK tipped material will also be seen. I suggest purchasing the stock type needles from your BMW parts supplier, and not Bing themselves.

The all-metal needle used on early models is a different size, and will not properly fit later carburetors, and, vice-versa. Be sure to get the correct needle. If you want to install a Viton-tipped needle in a carburetor that used the Bing all-metal needle, you can, per Bud Provin (TheNickwackettGarage.com), who says to use the very common float needle used on many old Amal carburetors, as used on old British bikes. The part can be found on a simple internet search, for float needle 622/197; or, as 013, 622/197.

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Poor Fuel Mileage, horsepower, etc.

Why do motorcycles get such poor fuel mileage compared
to many cars, which are vastly bigger and heavier?
How much horsepower and/or torque increase does it take
to improve performance? What about RAM AIR?
What is the best cruising RPM?
Premium fuels versus mileage and combustion temperatures.

All objects …..cars, motorcycles, bicycles …..and you! …..when moving through air …..create friction and drag. On Earth, the weight of the atmosphere, held to the Earth by gravity, causes a higher pressure at sea level, than it does on a mountain top. The higher you go with your motorcycle, the faster you should be able to go, theoretically, due to less friction with the air ….or; conversely, the less power from your engine you would need for the same speed as at sea level; due to the reduced air drag. While friction and drag are not the same, you can regard them as the same for this particular bit of reasoning, which, other things not considered, is true about the speed, etc. If your motorcycle (and you!) are not moving, but if you are exposed to the wind, that creates friction and drag. Of course, if the wind is moving towards you while you are riding, that effectively also creates drag.

As you ride higher in altitude, the oxygen content of the air is less (by weight), and your engine will have less power as you go up in altitude, which will reduce performance increases from less air drag and less friction. In some instances, fuel mileage will increase with an altitude increase, especially so on fuel mixture compensating engines, such as those with fuel-injection. Mileage may decrease or increase, especially in hilly or mountainous riding. Sometimes supercharging or turbocharging can improve fuel mileage, particularly with small engines with smaller combustion areas (cylinders and heads). Mileage can also go down, if you use more and more throttle. Many factors enter into fuel mileage.

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Petcocks, Fuel Filters, Choke, etc.

Each petcock is fastened to the tank by both right hand and left hand threads. As you rotate the large “nut” CW (facing from below), that tightens the nut to the tank while at the same time it brings up the petcock. The petcock large nut has to be FIRST engaged the proper amount onto the petcock BEFORE screwing it upwards to begin to engage the proper amount of tank threads. If you have never done this before you will have to fiddle with this until you get the right amount of petcock and nut threads assembled …to start …and finish…the petcock-to-tank fastening process. Once you learn, it is easy. You want approximately the same number of threads engaged on both the petcock and the tank after fully tightening.

BMW has used numerous petcocks over the Airhead production years. There are five types of petcocks normally seen on our Airhead motorcycles. All except the /5 bullet types are easily re-buildable. Usually this means that you unscrew some knurled or slot “nut” at the handle area (after removing a black trim cup, if it is there on your version), and you can replace a gasket that might be bad, or clean and very-faintly-lightly silicon grease the moving parts. You then have a much smoother operating petcock. On some there are one or two dimpled discs, which can be repaired with a shaped punch, lightly hit, for a better detent action; I usually don’t bother. These discs have a locating tab. They can confuse, so take notice of how they were assembled as you take things apart. You cam figure it out, if you forgot to take notice.

Our petcocks have a Reserve function. Except for the bullet type, photo below, the handle long portion upwards towards the tank is the reserve position. Horizontal (either way) is always off. German “AUF” printed on the body/cap means on, not off. Handle lever downwards means on for the main part of the tank.

Early /5 Bullet Style Everbest Petcocks were different in how the handle indicated fuel flow, & the rotating handle affecting gas flow from was in the opposite way from standard piping flow.

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Fuel Caps

Removing/replacing/rekeying other locks in the later Airhead (and Classic K bike), luggage, etc., will be found in Snowbum’s article 75A on his website, http://bmwmotorcycletech.info.

WARNING! ….BMW SCREW CAPS SHOULD NOT BE OPERATED LIKE AUTOMOTIVE CAPS!  AVOID spinning these motorcycle fuel caps to the ratcheting point when tightening them! The ratcheting parts WILL eventually wear out, and WILL eventually cause you problems in trying to remove the cap.   BMW Airhead fuel caps are not constructed like car caps. On most modern car fuel caps, the cap is designed to be rotated to the ratcheting point. That is done because the car caps must fully seal a complicated fuel fumes venting system; if a car cap is not rotated enough, the cap can leak fumes, which will likely be detected by the car’s computer monitoring system, and a “Check Engine” light will illuminate on the car’s dashboard. On our Airhead BMW’s, the cap for the earliest Airheads is simply designed to keep liquid fuel from sloshing out. Later models had cap vents and even later ones had simple venting to direct fumes to the crankcase. These last versions had a more complicated fuel cap, called a SHED cap, but it is best not to rotate them to the ratcheting position; even though that is often done by those locking their caps. If you do tighten to the ratcheting point, try to ratchet only one notch.  Much more on these various caps with the ratcheting mechanisms further down this article!

Fuel caps and venting methods for the BMW fuel tanks vary by year & model. For information on the Pulse-Air system, the fuel tank venting system, & other associated items, please read: http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/pulseair.htm

It is common to hear about an Airhead “running out of fuel”….stumbling, loses power, etc. The problem will often be the tank vent …or the fuel cap. Both problems can be identified by loosening the fuel cap and usually hearing a whoosh of air entering.  Within 15 seconds, the engine will then run OK. Engine stumbling from this venting problem usually happens much more quickly with a more-filled tank and also from high speeds.  While this fuel delivery problem can occur on the models with the fuel solenoid mounted on the underside of the starter motor cover, that is less likely.

There can be other types of problems, such as fuel leaks at the caps, etc.

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