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Old 22 Sep 2012
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Sabotaged Brake system on bike.

Over the course of the past year or so, a lot of " faults " have been appearing on an irregular basis on my and other peoples bikes whenever I/they have used them to travel into work. Normally after I have had to leave them unattended when working away or overnight.

This is a secure and guarded military establishment with a large civilian workforce.

BMWR100GSPD....previous problems.

Two occasions when all the bolts holding the rear wheel on loosened off ( four bolts on this BMW ) and in fact I ended up losing 2 bolts out of the wheel hub when traveling home after a night shift with this.

Previously completed a 18,000km ride around Europe without incident, then first night shift a few days later....the bolts loosened.

Second occasion was after doing a weekend of off-roading, bike gets covered in mud and stays dirty until 3 weeks later when after a night shift I decide to wash bike down on way home....2 wheel nuts missing after I had actually re-torqued the nuts the day before.

Also had the bike checked by a main dealer to see if any mechanical problems...none found.


This just happened, I noticed a couple of weeks ago that the oil in my rear remote reservoir had rapidly changed to a dark engine oil colour and the rear master cylinder was sticking.

Finally got around to fixing it after the rear cylinder gave out.

After stripping the reservoir/pipes/master cylinder apart I found a odd substance inside.

1) A very thick residue that looked like axle grease...thick and in solid lumps,and a light tan in colour.

2) What appeared to be shards of very thin brittle plastic or really looked like crystalized sugar in the actual reservoir pot floating around in the oil and further down the remote pipe.

Could this be someone contaminating the oil on my brakes...they are nothing more secure than a plastic lid away from being able to do so?
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Old 22 Sep 2012
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This doesn't sound like a trivial thing. All I'd suggest, going from your description, isn't this a job for the military police?
TTR250 - London to Cape Town
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Old 23 Sep 2012
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The fluid/crystals you describe could be old fluid or mineral oil and brake fluid mixed. The goo is contaminated/old assembly grease.

Brake fluid is hydroscopic, it absorbs water. Old, wet, contaminated fluid has two issues. Any minerals left behind when the water joins the brake fluid form crystals that block and wear components. When heated the water turns to steam which is compressable. The pedal will feel soft. Brake fluid needs changing every 2 years in most service manuals although to be honest when I was doing this full time 5 year old fluid was usually close to acceptable in day to day use.

Oddly, the last system I saw wrecked using hydraulic oil instead of brake fluid was on field guns.

If you heat the drained fluid a lot of the water will boil off. Put the remains in a jar and leave it and oil will separate out. This is really a job for a lab though.

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Old 23 Sep 2012
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Thank you for the info, to put it bluntly it makes you a little paranoid when ever anything goes wrong on your bike....when you have a history of vehicles being tampered with ( not just mine ) I initially thought of it being degraded brake oil, but as the bike is only 2 years old and had a service in January I reckoned that was a bit too rapid for something like that to happen.

I am replacing the master cylinder and flushing the system out as best I can.....Looks like I will have to fit some of those alloy reservoir protectors ( front and rear ) to make it awkward to tamper with them.

The soldiers I work with are all mates so they are now on the case and keeping a very quite and sneaky eye on the bikes and have my full permission to " intervene " if they see the need to.
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Old 23 Sep 2012
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You are right to feel paranoid, in the sense that there have been too many unexplained issues.
Maybe you can park the bike(s) in view of internal CCTV, under security night lights, infra-red security cameras etc etc?
Maybe you can cut a deal with those you work with and bring the bike indoors when parked?- On military bases there are often loads of nooks and cranies; how about the vehicle workshops?
Maybe you can park near the security folks at the main gate - right outside their place; if necessary, tell them you are having a few problems, without going into detail, and enlist their cooperation (it stops them getting too bored with their job!!).

When returning to your bike make obvious, ostentatious checks so that whoever is doing this knows that you are suspicious - they should then realise that they are more likely to be caught and it might just put them off for future activity.
Finally, consider if you have made any enemies recently (or deep in the past) with any one who is also based there?

Jjust a few ideas.
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Old 25 Sep 2012
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I work in security (non-military) and my company has had a few cases of vandalism against both company and employee's property. In every case I knew about it was not a personal grudge but a disgruntled ex-employee who knew the site well, and was just making trouble.

In your situation, I would feel 99% certain that this was vandalism rather then coincidence. And loosening someone's wheels or messing with their brakes is far from a trivial matter. I would be involving the police, military or otherwise, straight away. That person could eaily have killed you.

Sugar in the petrol tank is a well-known way of disabling a vehicle. Funnily enough, the mess you describe was exactly what it looked like when we found an ex-employee had been adding sugar to our diesel tanks in the middle of the night. As you say, the fluid reservoirs are not well protected.
2006 XT660R daily ride, 1994 XT600E about to be reborn, Blog: http://goingfastgettingnowhere.blogspot.com/
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Old 12 Oct 2012
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Can you drill and lockwire the bolts?
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Old 16 Oct 2012
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how about putting one of these somewhere with a view of the bike?

HD Spy Cam Camera DVR Hidden Motion Detection USB VIDEO: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

we used one at work to sort a similar issue, at least you are able to see if someone is messing with the bike.


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