Silver Ghost Restoration-Part 7 You Want HOW MUCH !!!

I’ve been scoping out the painting and have a couple estimates from shops who do motorcycle painting.  I’ve also been combing the web for information on painting, preparation and do it yourself painting.

I’m debating if I want to add an R90S bullet faring and also if I want to add a new cafe racer style seat with tail cone.  Part of that decision is controlled by the budget.  Adding these parts includes adding the cost of painting as well.

R90S Bullet Faring

R90S Seat w/ Tail Cone


I talked with a local shop about my ideas for the paint scheme and spent some time discussing how to prepare the parts prior to painting as I’m certainly able to strip and sand with the best of them 🙂   I also provided a description of the paint project to a nationally well respected motorcycle restoration painting company to see what they would estimate.

My reaction after I got the estimates:  YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING !!!!  Nope, they aren’t.

When I had the Silver Ghost painted in 1981 in an approximation to the R90S Smoked Silver paint scheme, I think it cost me less the $500 to have have the tank, fenders and side covers stripped, painted and hand pin stripped.  It’s north of $1,000 for that if I do all the paint stripping and also sand the primer and color coats at the local shop. Adding the tail cone and fairing pushes their estimates north of $2,000.   The nationally respected paint shop is also north of $2000 if I provide stripped parts ready to prime and paint 🙁

That’s a budget buster.

It turns out I have an acquaintance who restores Trimuph motorcycles and cars and is a professional gear head as well as machinest, Brian House.  I figured I’d call him up and see what he could suggest for options.  Well, one thing lead to another pretty quickly.  He does his own painting, has the compressor and guns and offered to show me how “to do it yourself”.  That’s cool because I’ve had a hankering to try my hand at painting, but didn’t feel qualified nor did I have access to guns, compressors, etc.

This afternoon I brought the parts over to his place so we could talk about the process.  In the meantime, he  showed me the 1968 Ford pickup he is restoring and some pictures of two of his Triumph restorations.  Drool … very nice.

We are going to paint with laquer as its a “forgiving” media compared to the currently popular urethane two part paint systems a lot of the shops use today.  Based on the pictures of the Triumph he restored, the laquer work he produced was awesome.

The conclusion from inspecting the parts is I need to strip the tank to bare metal as the almost 30 years I got out of the last paint job has resulted in paint cracking down to the primer.  We will hand sand the fiber glass parts down to the gel coat and fix the cracks at the bolt holes with fiber glass resin and cloth for strength.

Stay tuned for the adventures of Brook and Branden as we learn our way around “DIY” motorcycle painting.  I’ll be providing detailed descriptions of the preparation and painting process as we work away under Brian’s tutlege.

Silver Ghost Restoration-Part 6 Paint Schemes

I’ve been looking on-line for pictures of cafe-racer restorations, typically those for BMW models. When I started, I thought I would follow an R90-S style. Here are some pictures of what I had in mind.

Here are some very nice cafe racer models I found.


Silver Ghost Restoration-Part 5 Battery, Ignition, Exhaust, Carbs, Misc Parts

I’ve been busy using Max BMW’s parts finder to look up parts and retail prices.  I put together a spreadsheet to collect all that information and to let me do some “what if” scenarios on options.  I’ve also been visiting eBay regularly for their motorcycle parts listings.   It’s amazing what and how much for old BMW’s is there.  It’s a great resource.

Battery Box

I’ve decided to replace the modified battery box that I cut the sides off to fit a lawn tractor battery, with a stock box.  eBay has quite a few of them as good prices.

Battery Box

Instrument Cluster

The instrument cluster has a cracked back where the cable harness plugs in.  I also suspect the circuit board wiring has a break as some of the lights don’t illuminate.  I found this set on eBay.  The exterior plastic housing is pretty scratehed, but he parts I really want are in good shape.

Instrument Cluster Parts

Exhaust System

I had kept the original header pipes and mufflers with the intent of using them again.  But upon finding them and looking at them, they are dented, scuffed and pretty used up.  So, new exhaust and mufflers from an after market supplier (stock BMW is just too $$$$)

Niche Supply – R75-6 Complete Exhaust System

Ignition System

The points ingnition system needs to be upgraded.  The breaker plate has problems and I’m not sure the points cam doesn’t need to be replaced.  I had the heads bored for dual plugs and used an Accel amplifier and dual ignition coil set back in 1980, but it was diagnosed as faulty several years ago.  I pulled the second plug wires, bought new coils and went back to the stock ignition.  Okay, let’s do the DynaTeck electronic ignition with dual port coils and a new set of dual plug wires in YELLLLLOOOOWWWW  ….

Dyanteck D35-1 Electronic Ignition

DyanTeck DC2-1 Dual Port Coils

YELLLOOWW Dual Ignition Wires


I broke the float hinge post on one of my carbs many years ago.  I had epoxed it together, but that really wasn’t working.  Several years ago, to get on top rough running problems, I found a carb body from an R75/5 and used that.  I still have the orignal carb body.  You can see the left pin is shorter than the right.

Bing Carb - Broken Float Hinge Casting

The Bing Agency offers parts and repairs for all Bing carbs used on BMW motorcycles since 1926.  They can fix this broken pin.  It’s about $35.00, so I’m going to send it to them and let them do their magic.  I wish I had known about them back when I decided to buy the used R75/5 carb body.  No worries.  Either I’ll put it on eBay or use it when I rebuild Rochelle’s R75/5.  I’ve been looking at their rebuild kits, and am going to go with the #6 kit.  That provides all new gaskets, o-rings, diaphrams, jet needles, needle jets, float needles, new floats and the throttle plate screws.  As my carbs are 35 years old w/ 100,000+ miles, I think they deserve a complete rebuild.


I also stumbled on some R90-S bar end mirrors the other day, and decided to go with them.  I’m either going to restore this as a naked bike, or budget permitting, put an R90-S style bullet faring with screen on the front.

R90-S Bar End MirrorsR90-S Faring

Font Turn Signals

I lost the front turn signal stalks when I put the Windjammer on.   I picked up front stalks, turn signals and lens on eBay. Shortly thereafter, as I was cleaning up the garage and going through my various part stashes, I found my orignal signals and lens.  Eventually, something will go back on eBay.

R75-6 Front Signal stalk, signals, lens

 R90S Style Faring

I’d like to put this on the bike as it has a cool 1970 cafe racer style to it.  Budget is the issue.

R90-S Faring

I found that Boxer Cafe has some reproduction R90-S faring with dash at a very good price.  They advertize windscreens from Gustafson that are pretty inexpensive as well.  When I get the paint estimate, I’ll decide what I can afford.

So, most of the parts are identified and many ordered from suppliers.  Clem hopes to complete checking out the top end of the engine by the end of next week.

Silver Ghost Restoration-Part 4 Getting Ready for Paint Shop

I’ve bumped into a fellow, Dave Porter,  in town who owns a bycycle shop (Arvada Bicycle Company) and who also has a business selling used, new and NOS Triumph parts and does Triumph restorations.  It turns out, his son and my son have been friends throughout their school years.

Dave gave me a couple of leads on folks in the Denver area (one in Arvada) who do paint work.  Today, I pulled the rear fender, side covers and tank off the Silver Ghost in preparation for getting some painting estimates.

The first step was to remove the tail light bracket & turn signal bracket along with the license plate holder

Tail Light Bracket Remove

Next, I removed the four bolts that attach the fender to the subframe and carefully rotated the fender toward the rear around the tire.  I kept all the bolts and steel straps on the rear subframe so I don’t loose them.  I’ll be removing the subframe and replacing with a used one since the original subframe has cracked and broken through.

Rear Fender

Last, I removed the gas tank and drained the fuel into a gas can.  Remember that each pet cock has a reserve setting, so you have to drain the reserve fuel from each side.  Then, with all the gas out, remove the pet cocks from the tank.  The nut next to the tank takes a 24mm open end and pet cock body takes a 17 mm open end.

Here’s the end result.  Total time was about 45 mins.

Rear Fender Removed Fenders & Tank off

Silver Ghost Restoration-Part 3 Engine

First, a quick update on the frame straightening.  I got the Ghost back in December after dropping it off on Halloween.   I was in South Africa most of November.  As the fork tubes were bent and on back order, it took a few more weeks to get them and complete the front end work.  Replaced parts included the upper and lower triple clamps, but fortunately, I secured a used lower clamp at $250 which was a good savings over the $460 retail.

Today, my youngest son, Branden, came over and he took apart the the top end with some instructions from me.  I’ll take the parts over to BMW of Denver so Clem can check them out.  I suspect the valve seats will need replacing and the valves lapped.   I’ll also install new ring sets.

Here’s the sequence of steps Branden followed to take apart the top end.

Remove Carbs & Plugs

This is pretty straight forward.  Removing the cables and the air tubes securing the carbs is simple.   Remove the air tubes then detach the throttle and choke cables from the body.  Branden is holding the carberator showing where the throttle and choke cables attach to on the back side of the carberator.

Carb removed

When Branden pulled the plugs, it was clear the right side (top plug in the picture) was running pretty lean.  We’ll be doing a carb rebuild and will balance the carbs when we reassemble the bike.  I tagged the plugs with the side they came from so I can keep track of things like this.

Plugs - Top is Right, too lean

As Branden removed parts, we put the parts we are keeping in the garage in one box, and the parts to take to BMW of Denver in a second box.  It’s good to label parts for which side they were on and take pictures during disassembly.  You don’t know how long it will be before you put things back together and you will forget small details.  Labels and pictures save a lot of time and mistakes.

Parts box

Here’s the bike when Branden got the carbs and plumbing removed.

Carberator and pipes removed

Remove Exhaust

We used the BMW supplied wrench to remove the exhaust nuts securing the headers to the heads.  Since these nuts are cast aluminum, banging on them with a mallet is a great way to break them.  The wrench ensures this won’t happen.  Be careful fitting it to the nut and make sure its inserted all the way or you can break a fin on the nut. You can use a cheater tube on the end of the wrench to get them loose, or you can use a mallet on the wrench handle to get the nuts to loosen up.  Then, you can spin them off by hand.  Branden used the mallet.

Exhaust pipe nut wrench

Next Branden removed the bolts securing the muffler to the right exhaust hanger.  I had installed an after market Lueftmeister 2 into 1 exhaust back in 1980.  You have to remove the pipes from the right and left hangers if you have the standard exhaust.  I’ll be installing the stock muffler and exhaust pipes on this rebuild.  The Lueftmeister has a crack. so I’ll like scrape it or sell the headers on Ebay.

Bolts securing exhast

There are steel rings inside the exhaust nut that seal the exhaust pipe to the head.  These nest into each other to create a seal preventing exhaust gas from blowing by the exhaust pipe.  The outer ring is solid with a square profile and curved inside radius.  The other ring is split and has a beveled profile.  These fit together as shown. I taped them together the way they are assembled so we won’t have to think about how they go together when we reassemble the exhaust.

Exhaust head nut and seal reing Exhaust pipe seal rings

Here’s the bike with carberator and exhaust plumbing removed.  We found we had to also remove the rear brake peddle to allow Branden to remove the exhaust.

Exhaust off the bike

Remove Valve Covers

There is a chrome nut in the center of the cover and also two small nuts behind the valve cover near the intake and exhaust pipes.   You can see the stud on the cover here.

Back side of valve cover-stud w/ nut

It’s a good idea to put a pan under the cover as oil will drip out from the bottom of the valve covers when they are removed.  You can see the oil stream as Branden pulls the cover off.

Pulling valve cover loose

Remove Cylinder Heads

The cylinder studs extend through the head and are used to secure the rocker arm assemble of the valve train.  These are torqued in a cross-wise pattern, so I like to loosen them in a cross-wise pattern and then remove them.

Removing rocker arm nuts - cross pattern Removing rocker arm nuts - cross pattern

The rocker arm assembly has two square steel blocks, pillow blocks, on top and bottom of the rocker arm assembly.  There is also a shaft that the rocker arm rotates on.  Inside the rocker arm are needle bearings.  Branden has his thumb on the rocker arm. The pillow blocks are visible with the slot cut through one side and the shaft the rocker arm rotates on can be seen at the center of the pillow blocks.  The nuts on the cylinder head studs have been loosened.

 Rocker nuts loosened

To avoid dropping various parts, its a good idea to pinch the pillow blocks as you slide the rocker assemble off the cylinder head studs.  Branden is squeezing the pillow blocks together as he slides it off the cylinder studs.

Pulling rocker arm assembly off

Next Branden pulled the push rod out and labeled the parts showing the side, and if the rocker was the intake or the exhaust so we can assemble them correctly. Note that my push rods are not the standard steel ones.  They are titanium racing rods.  See Part 1 about how those got there 🙂

Rocker arm with pillow blocks & Push Rod

Branden then removed the nut that is above the spark plug hole.  There is a second one on the bottom of the cylinder head directly beneath the top one.   Although I haven’t dropped one into the spark plug hole, be cautious when removing it.  If you do drop it inside the engine, no worries because in another minute, the heads come off anyway so you can retrieve the nut.

Top nut securing head

It’s time to remove the heads.  There is a head gasket and sometimes the head does not want to slide back right away.  Working it back and forth will loosen it enough for it to slide back.  Be careful you don’t pull too hard, or when it comes loose, you can end up on your butt or drop the head.  Be patient.  It took Branden a couple of wiggles to get it loose.

Pull head off

Remove Cylinders

I like to position the pistons at top dead center before removing the cylinders.  This leaves the connecting rod extended as you pull the cylinder back.  I don’t want the rod to fall onto the engine case when the piston comes out of the cylinder, so once enough of the connecting rod is exposed, I stuff some shop rags between the connecting rod and the engine housing to support it.  The base gasket can also be a bit stubborn, so you may have to rock the cylinder a bit to break it loose.  Branden didn’t have that problem on either cylinder.

Head off, piston fully extented Rags supporting connecting rod

Gently pull the cylinder back and catch the piston with one hand and gently let it rest on the cylinder studs.  It is a good idea to wrap it in some shop rags so you don’t harm the rings.  We’re going to replace them, so we didn’t worry about that.

Head off some cross hatching still visible

Once the cylinder is off, you can remove the head gasket.

Head gasket & piston

And you can remove the push rod tube boots.  I knew they were leaking, so likely they were split.  As you can see, that’s the case.

Push-rod tube seals - cracked

Remove Pistons

To remove the pistons, there is a C-clip on each side of the wrist pin that has to be removed.  There is a slot at the top of the wrist pin hole in the piston.  Use an awl in the slot to pry the C-clip loose.

C-clip removed - note recess

Branden is using the awl to pry one of the C-clips loose.

Awl in recess removing C-clip

Now, we have to remove the wrist pin.  You need a drift to help tap the pin out.  I use an appropriate sized socket with an extension as the drift.  Be careful that the diameter isn’t too large or too small.  The socket should rest on the shoulder of the wrist pin.  Use a rubber/plastic mallet and tap gently increasing the force a bit until the pin starts to slide out the other side.  The mallet ensures you don’t ding the piston or rings should you miss hitting the drift.

Using drift to remove wrist pin Wrist pin coming out

We labeled the pistons and wrist pins so we know which is from the right and left cylinders.  Here’s a picture of the pistons, wrist pins and tools used to remove the wrist pin.

Pistons, wrist pins, tools

We completed the top end disassembly in about 2 and 1/2 hours working at a leisurely pace.

Here’s the heads and cylinders after removal.

Cylinder and head removed Cylinder and head removed

Next week, I’ll take the box of top end parts to Clem at BMW of Denver to inspect them and we’ll see what needs to be worked on or replaced.  In the meantime, I’ll be looking for more parts on eBay, inspecting the stock exhaust that I had stashed back in 1980 when I put the Luftmeister 2 into 1 on to see if I need to replace some of the components.  I also am on the hunt for a good local motorcycle paint shop.  I’ve finalized the color to be R90/S smoke silver similar to what is on the Ghost now.  However, that paint job was not done correctly, so I’ll be looking to get this one right.