Restoring a 1973 BMW R75/5 Motorcycle

April 21, 2007

Big pains and small cars

Filed under: 1973, airhead, BMW R75/5, motorcycle, motorcycle restoration, R75/5 — Penforhire @ 3:08 pm

Here’s one of the seat hinge plates that you might have seen in a much earlier post. The screws were frozen and I decided to put this off until another day. Today is that day.


As you can tell, I already started to smear the phillips head pan heads. Joe told me they commonly seize because they get wet and corrode.


Right tools for the job, right? Well, the larger extractors bit in nicely and maxed out my drill’s torque. Still stuck. Mind you, I soaked these in Liquid Wrench weeks ago, and again today, and tapped them, and heated them. Still stuck. Well, that meant I had to get down into the screw. The largest extractor managed to chew off the pan heads enough to remove the hinge plate. This was then an opportunity to get more Liquid Wrench right down the threads.


Next step is to use the reverse-thread drills to make a hole down into the screw.


Yeah, I know, the hole is supposed to be dead centered. Next time you can come over and show me how to do it. Now you reverse the bit and you get a perfect extractor size for that hole. Yep. Perfect size. Locked up tight. Drill complained and I even got a little smoke from the motor. I’m leaning hard onto it and all-of-a-sudden. SNAP!


And here’s the rest of the bit.


Bummer! Another tool bites the dust. These aren’t cheap either. I wonder if the Craftsman guarantee applies to extractors? Doubt it but I’ll ask next time I’m at Sears.

Okay, you know my philosophy at times like this. Stick and move. Or more like, get stuck and move. Here’s another part you saw much earlier whose time has come.


This is the bearing at the bottom of the steering yoke. Also note the dust cap under it. I managed to pry off the top part of the bearing but the bottom race is being most stubborn.


The shaft is not scratched or otherwise damaged but the fit is too tight. I had to hammer wedges, and a lot of effort, to move it this far. I set it aside because I’m thinking to use a cut-off wheel and chisel to snap this thing in half. I’m just sweating how to get the replacement bearing in place. This might be where I take the alternate-but-hazardous path of heating the yoke and sliding the shaft out completely. Yeah, that’s another lousy BMW press fit. That way I get to load the bearing and dust cap without having to slide down the whole shaft. The hazard is getting the shaft back into the yoke correctly.

About that dust cap.


I don’t feel too bad because I’ve read that nobody can get that bearing out without damaging it. I just know how to do the Full Monty with regard to damage.

So today was not a huge success in the garage. I’m feeling old and bitter. But there was also a unique small old car show in West Covina that Brad told me about. He knows a fellow who drives a Messerschmitt. Hmm. I thought they only made airplanes but apparently they also made a weird car around 1960. I didn’t see it at the free show but I saw about fifty other odd-duck small cars. Here’s one of two parking lots full of cars.


I’m sure some of you would pick different cars than my favorites but here’s a sampling. A small sampling.


A supercharged Alpine. This almost doesn’t qualify as strange enough to be in this show.


How about the first car Mazda made, the R360? Too bad nobody is standing next to it for scale. This guy is a real midget.


There must be a Metropolitan club. They had the largest single group, followed by early Hondas and BMW Isettas. Just about the only place you can say “nice hood ornaments” in mixed company these days. I wonder why clever hood ornaments faded from the automotive scene? They sure were common in this vintage (50’s to early 60’s).


This new-looking Honda S600 might be the most lust-worthy machine at this show for me. I’m a big fan of the English roadsters (Triumphs, Sunbeams, Jensens, E-types). But just a hair more vintage and right next to it was …


A Honda S500 ! Uber-rare. Not my favorite but I appreciate the rarity.

Seeing as you guys are reading BMW restoration log I’m sure some of you will drool over this…


A BMW Isetta, one of a half-dozen or so at the show. This one had most of the available factory options. You have to like owner’s sense of humor (see the wind-up key sticking on the back window?).

Now here is something you just don’t see every day. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I saw one of these…


The NSU Spider. It has a rotary engine stuck in the back! How wonderfully strange is that? But I get the willies just thinking about where the owner finds parts for it.

Okay, even though this was a car show you cannot completely repress the classic two-wheelers from showing up —


I believe this is a Honda Dream but I didn’t see any badges and I think the displacement was marked 300, not 305? I just hit the wall on my knowledge of old Hondas. My dad had a Dream I helped him rebuild when I was a teen and it looked a lot like this one.


I’m thinking this is a modern incarnation of the original Whizzer (see but who knows? It is not as if the originals are out-of-reach for price. I didn’t chat with the owner to find out.

I know, all these vintage machines look like more fun than they probably are to own and drive. But damn, don’t they look enticing?



  1. Hi Eric,
    I’m just starting a restoration of a 1971 R75/5 that I acquired last Sunday and appreciate the effort and information that you put into your blog. Have you sold or are you planning to sell any of your left over parts or tools? Just thought that I’d ask. I work in LA and live near Corona, BTW. You sound like you’re around here somewhere.
    I have to mention that the photo that you caption a supercharged Alpine is actually an Austin-Healey Sprite. Just thought that I’d mention that.
    Thanks again, Jon

    Comment by Jon Harting — April 2, 2009 @ 12:38 pm

    • Hi Jon, I haven’t sold anything yet. I am planning to give my parts and repair manuals to whoever buys the bike (still for sale). I haven’t thought about getting rid of any of the specialty tools. Seems like a mistake to do that even if I don’t intend on working on this exact bike again. There is always a use for an almost-correct tool!

      Comment by Penforhire — April 2, 2009 @ 3:42 pm

  2. Do you still have the /5 lots of groups none seem to be in los angeles I have 3 /5’s I must be nut’s would love to ride with other /5 enthusiust that live local.

    Comment by Bob McFarlane — September 24, 2010 @ 8:35 pm

    • Sorry Bob. Not only do I no longer have this bike but it is riding the roads around San Francisco these days! I know what you mean. I think I saw more earlier bikes on local roads than /5’s, even at BMW gatherings.

      Comment by Penforhire — September 27, 2010 @ 9:54 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: