R1150GS Fork seals & oil
Well those pesky potholes on the Carraterra Austral, lovely though it was, finally got both my fork seals and I´m now enjoying fork oil running down my forks onto my brake calipers. I´ve stemmed it by wrapping cloth round the forks but here are my Q´s:
1. I´m in Bariloche, Argentina. Is there anyone here that could fix them (its a holiday today so no bike shops open) or is it a DIY number? I´ve seen a place called Ctork on the net so will try them tomorrow.
2. If DIY, I assume any correctly sized fork seals will do but I am aware of the differences in this BMW fork system and it uses a lubricating oil rather than normal fork oil. Do I really need BMW lubricating oil and if not, will normal fork oil do?
3. If I can´t find any correct oil here, will it make it to San Rafael where I belive there is a BMW guy? It rides fine just now but the oil will eventually stop coming out and I´m not too sure what the implications are for the forks if I run it without lubricating oil for another 1000miles.
In El Bolson yesterday I was quoted 250ps (arg) for labour and 130ps for the seals and some 15w oil. I declined as I´ve read it should be do-able in an hour or two. Plus the mechanic appeared to be asking a teenager at the garage how long he thought it would take so I was out of there!
1. You can do it youtself for sure. Just find a garage where you can get the proper tools. Don't know if there are any other seals that fit, if not order the seals from any BMW dealer. Use fast DHL/Fedex if nesceserry (www.james-sherlock.co.uk and www.motobins.co.uk should work as well, you can use your credit card and they post it ASAP), usually few days everywhere in the World.
2. Regular fork oil. 5W or 10W according to BMW, but i've upt 15W too, not much difference for yer butt feeling since it's for lubricating only :) The forks just work as an directing pipes to the telelever system, dead simple as that - thus you may basically ride forever with the leaking forks w/o difference in bike handling, just make sure there's enough oil in them to lube it's movement. But yeah, it's a pain in the arse with leaking oil to the brake calipers (security issue mainly) and to the wheel that kicks it off everywhere (making the bike miserably messy). If you're a hardcore enough you easily may as well put temporarely simple engine oil in them if it's really about "life or death" you really need to ride :)
3. I'm quite sure you can find fork oil everywhere in the world. Just pop into some car, spares or a scooter shop.
The best way to do it is to completely remove the forks. Note both the fork bridge (2 bolts per fork) and the upper bridge (1 nut per fork) has the bolts locktited. So don't screw them directly off - it may damage the thread, better is first to loosen them about half or one turn, then loosen/tighten with small amplitude few times, then a bit bigger amplitude, so the locktite glue cracks in the thread. Then screw them off. Clean the threads before puting on. You may tighten them w/o the Locktite thread glue too if you haven't got it there, but if you do, prefer to locktiting them again on tightening.
Inspect the dust seals as well, if they're detoriated or have any cracks/bad rubber. Indeed, i recommend buying a new pair of dust seals along with the oil seals. They don't cost much and you'll be having both potential "bottlenecks" eliminated this way, more peace in mind. Usual cause of failing oil seals are the bad dust seals that let the dust/sand inside.
Inspect throughoutly the inner tubes surface once you take them out (just pull them out after you've taken the forks off). See if there's any visible scratches or dents on the working surface, if yes, then better replace them (quite lot of £££ tho...), coz scratched/dented inner tubes will mean you'll be having often oil seal failures. Another way is to let the scratches be professionally burnished out, some offer that service, if the scratches aren't big and deep, but it gives you no guarantee, because the straightness of the inner tubes can be affected this way depening how intensively they were burnished and it means failure for the oil seals sooner or later again.
Once new seals installed - take regular care and keep the inner tubes always clean. Use soft (lightly humid, the best) cloth/tap and do not apply much force (can cause small scratches otherwise) cleaning the dirt off the tubes. It'll expand the seals lifespan considerably. Doing offroad, muddy, rainy or just dirty conditions i wipe the tubes clean almost every day, before or after the ride.
i) Here're my 1100's, taken off (the principle is exacly the same on 1150):
ii) Pull the innter tubes off.
iii) Drain the old oil
iv) Replace the seals
v) Add new oil (can't remember the amount, it was 240ml per shock? Google.com is your friend)
vi) Put tubes back (with the upper ventiles [those very small hex-bolts on the upper inner tubes] loose)
vii) Install them back to bike and on the centre stand on normal maximum position, i.e. front wheel off the ground, tighten the ventile bolts, so then the proper amount of air is left into them.
OK. That got into too long story now... :) Hope this helps!
Take care and good roads, Margus
I´ve changed fork seals on my old Suzuki GS1000 but not on the beemer. I´ve actually found a garage with someone who knows what they´re doing so will be a wuss and get him to do it tomorrow. We need to crack on from here tomorrow so will be a bit quicker and with my recent experience of shearing bolts, would rather let someone else deal with it!
same thing happened to me on Ruta 40.
i have a R850GS so has teh same forks as the 1100GS.
Javier in Dakar motos found that the fork seal for these is the same as many small hondas and yamahas. A honda fork seal is half the price as a BMW one for exactly the same part down here! And a lot easier to get hold of!
I wrote the serial number in my diary, but don´t have it with me now. i can post that tomorrow if you want. I assume it will be the same for teh 1150GS too.
easy enough to change, but i remember teh amount of oil being a lot more than margus said, something like 470ml per fork on an 1100GS. but as he said google it.
The Honda forkseal that fit the 1100GS was
exactly the same but cost 10 or 15 dollars as opposed to 25!
Very easy to change, helps if you've got access to either a small gas torch or even better, a hot air gun to heat up the outside of the fork - allows easier removal of old seal & refitting of the new seal.
One point to note, the forks must be fully compressed & any air bled through the small allen screw at the top of the stanchion. Once the forks are tightly clamped in to the lower fork bridge, you'll have to overcome a fair bit of suction (vacuum effect) to extend the forks fully so that the top stud protrudes trough the top yoke. Have the retaining nut easy to hand or even better, have someone ready to screw the nut on, leavibg you both hands to extend the forks. I didn't fully bleed the forks & popped another two seals before I realised where Iwas going wrong.
I got the work done at Ctork in Bariloche for 240pesos (arg), less than 40 quid and he washed both bikes too. They are filthy again now of course but it helps to spot the bits that are falling off!
Firstly Happy New Year (1st time near a pc since NY)
Well my 40quid seals blew a few days after leaving Bariloche so I ended up buying a new set (ouch) in Mendoza. I have now fitted them here in San Pedro De Atecama but before I go for a test tide tomorrow, could someone please confirm whether bleeding the air out should be done with 1) the front forks off the ground as I have done or 2) should I have the bike sitting on the ground under normal load to prevent them blowing again.
Well I must have done something right (bled with front wheel off ground) as my seals have lasted the last couple of days of the hardest riding I´ve ever done from San Pedro De Atacama to here in Uyuni. Everything from deep gravel and sand to horrendous corrugations.
I have the same problem
Bolivia did my forks seals in! Actually, just the right fork has about 16oz of oil running down into the break caliper. It was worth it, great rides, cheap, with beautiful scenery.
I am in Salta, Argentina on my way to Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires. The local guy, moto something, won`t touch a beemer. Tomorrow I´ll go back to Moto to see if they can get the Honda seals, maybe he will change his mind about helping. If he can get them and won´t help me then I`ll try to do the job myself. Otherwise I`ll run the bike like it is and head straight to BA for repairs.
Will the Honda seals above work in a `04 1150 GS Adventure?
How far can you ride on pavement with leaking seals? 1,500 miles?
Thanks for the help ladies and gentlemen.
Sorry to hear it. If you can get Honda seals, they should fit (35mm?) and do it yourself. You don´t even need to fully remove the legs, just take off the wheel, brakes etc, the lower part should pull off ok and you can then change the seals.
As for how long you can ride like that, I believe as long as there is some oil left in there (it always seems to be more coming out than actually is) it is ok. The oil only acts as lubrication, not like conventional forks. Just make sure you bleed them on the centre stande once everything is installed before you go for a ride as they´ll blow again.
Thanks for the info Mike. I convinced MotoMAx here in Salta to do the job for me on Monday after they get the seals in.
Hopefully I can watch them do the work so I can learn and also to make sure that they bleed the system with the front wheel off of the ground.
I wonder why BMW doesn´t slap on those little accordian mud guards up near the top where the shaft is exposed? As I understand it some dirt or maybe some of the dried cement like mud from the Altiplano got down into the seal from the top and compromised it.
I am actually really lucky to have gotten out of there when I did. Tons of rain has displaced a lot of people. I`m sure the rivers are impassable right now.
Anyway thanks for the help man. Take care!
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