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1976 BMW R75/6

The Light of Day

Classic Velocity

The /6 has spent a lot of time in storage, in the back of the garage, on the side of the garage, and on the lift. Most recently, the turn signals went back on so that the last trace of the fairing was gone. However, only a pair of /5 signals could be found, so they went on for now. Finally, with the valve timing complete, and oil changed, it was time to get it fired up. Surprisingly, it fired right up with just a little choke. 

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Seating Solution

Classic Velocity

While seats for the /5 to /7 may look the same, there are a variety of options from short wheel base to long wheel base to fuel tank type to accessories to markings. The combination of hump tank and long wheel base made the seats that I had laying around non-starters. The interwebs had more of what I had, so I decided to use a local upholsterer. He did a fairly good job of replicating the style but nobody will mistake this for a stock seat. At some point, I will find a correct stock seat. 

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Progress of a sort

Classic Velocity

The excuse is that the /6 was in a variety of places in the garage and elsewhere where work was inconvenient at best, impossible at worst. With the fairing off, there was really no other barrier to beginning the work of restoring it to “normal” configuration. Finally, it got onto the lift and the fun began. First, I discovered that the PO had converted to a fairing in a completely reversible way. Turn signal wires were in the stalks, connections to the main board were via spade plugs, and a whole separate harness had been pushed up into the headlight nacelle. The original headlight harness was used inside the fairing. Thanks. However, I also discovered that the entire harness used the same color wires for every connection !! Not Thanks !! He obviously had a spool of this wire and decided to use it. The only other possibility is that there were stripes of color on these wires which have long since faded away. I think the former as even the areas not exposed to light show no trace of color. More on that in a future post. 

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the battery was suspect, and the battery frame was very rusted in comparison to everything else. It suggested that battery acid had made its way outside of the battery at some point. Those familiar with the slash series will know that the structure is relatively unchanged from the earliest models. It sits in the middle of the bike above the swing arm pivot, and below the seat. It uses rubber standoff’s to isolate vibration a bit. The studs for those standoff’s sit in a nice little depression so that they do not protrude into the bottom of your battery. In this case, the rusting chemicals got to ferment in these depressions, fusing the stud and the nut into a single glob of iron oxide! Ok, some penetrant soaking overnight and some heat should tackle this, you say to yourself. If you are lucky, which I was with two of them, they just snap off when you try to do anything and free the frame. If you are not, which I was with the last one (of course, see Disablers), It remains strong, and just spins within the head or within the rubber standoff. If the bottom stud/nut does the same (it did), and it is the least accessible of the three (it was), you get to turn a quick simple job into wrist and hacksaw gymnastics.   

In an explicable law of chemistry and physics, the acid, which combines with air to turn metal into dust, did little to impact the strength and pliability of the rubber in the standoffs, which normally disintegrates just due to interaction with air (see your old tire sidewalls)! How is this possible? But I digress. Once the last stubborn standoff was cut away and removed, I discovered that the OEM is readily available but costs over $25 each ! The Interwebs came to the rescue and I found a pack of 4 for a Honda for $10. They are the same except for the length of the stud. Next there was sanding and painting of the frame, chasing of the threads, and decorroding of the terminal connections. Once reinstalled, it was combined with a replacement sealed battery to complete the job.  

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The Little Things

Classic Velocity

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Sometimes, when the arctic tundra has covered the landscape, and temperatures struggle to rise into the double digits, you need a mental victory. The garage is way too cold to do any work, but you can walk in there, do a couple of things, and say you made progress. In this case, the shift lever rubber had been sitting since purchase, and it was an easy thing to slip it onto its rightful perch. Also, the plastic steering damper knob, and the triple tree bridge got a good cleaning. Very small minor things, but enough to say I was in the garage......

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Inviting Corrosion

Classic Velocity

Rust is an unwelcome intruder that needs no invitation.  In fact, the mere absence of something to block rust leads to it permeating your metal. First, it is on the outside surfaces as light oxidation and it does not seem too threatening. However,  I have seen plenty of metal rust from the inside out only to be discovered when it is far too late.  In this case, it is the fairing that is to blame. It attaches to the frame using hose clamps, but ultimately the supports are mild steel.  Add dirt and wind and rain, and it does not take long for that corrosion to work its way in between the fairing supports and your frame. The fasteners between fairing and supports were also non-stainless, so they needed a shot of penetrant and a brief soak in order to come loose. You can see how rusty the connection points were in the photo.

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Positive Discoveries

Classic Velocity

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It is safe to say that in all my years of searching, purchasing, owning, and looking at Airheads, I have never found one that included the owners manual and the toolkit essentially complete. This was a first. Now the owners manual was not in good shape, and the toolkit had a few items added, but they were both all there. Other pleasant surprises included new plugs and a new battery. Lastly, despite having the fairing, the turn signal stalks were not hacksawed, bent, or otherwise distorted. It was clearly setup to return to stock if needed. And it is needed. In the not so pleasant department is the seat which has a number of small tears consistent with the leather being exposed to the elements and high wear. Not an issue as this will return to stock as well. 

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The biggest positive is that I got it to start. It took a while with some ether and sanding of the points, and it ran poorly on one cylinder for a while, but it ran. We are off to a fairly good start.

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Completing The Trilogy

Classic Velocity

The /6 now means that all three R75 machines are now in the stable. This one (vin 4947328) comes from halfway across the USA in Kansas. It needs many things removed and a thorough going over, but it is complete. It arrives via U-Ship, so that will be only the 2nd time for this service. Hopefully all goes well.

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