Friday, July 15, 2016

Pinstriping 101

The paint job is finally over. It was not just the large parts, but every single metal part (maybe 25-30 of them in total) now has a beautiful glossy deep black. Furthermore, all the chromed parts are newly plated and shining like a mirror.

But the most important part of the entire project (I hate calling this restoration work a project) is still not done: the pinstripes on the tank and the fenders. I had made a thorough research in the net, there is a lot of material and information. Interesting to learn, the original pinstripes are drawn as the last step, without any additional layer on top. Even more exciting was that they used to be drawn freehand, without any support. I find it so special, perhaps the final defense line against process automation. Therefore, the width of the lines were never the same, no two BMW's were ever identical. What makes them flawless is the little human flaws in them. I am definitely not that insane to draw them freehand, I'll use masking tape!

Nevertheless, I do not have the tiniest talent for such fine work. Yet, I was determined to do it for whatever it takes. A good quality masking tape for parallel lines with the right size, and a special pinstripe brush that I bought online from England have been waiting for their turn for a long time anyway. I found a good car paint retailer to mix the correct colour called creme white, code RAL 9001. I already have paint thinner. So the last step is to persuade the wifey to draw the lines. It was much easier than I expected, I guess she was way fed up with this mess and hoping to complete this mess as soon as possible. Anyway, I don't question how, but she accepted to take over the trickiest yet the most precious step of the entire restoration work.

Here we start with the masking. I really liked the tape a lot. It's very strong yet elastic enough, the adhesive is also very fine and durable. I was wise enough to order two rolls of 17 meters each, so I've got enough material for trial and error until I get used to it. The rear fender is the right place to start, after all, only here the pinstripes end at the edges.

The tape has two layers to deal with. First you peel off the bottom layer and with a careful tension proceed all the way. The trick is to maintain a slow but steady "peel-pull-stick" rythm, then it becomes very easy to follow the nice curvature of the fender.

Once that's done, you remove the top layer. A blade tip comes pretty handy to peel it off.

What remains is the middle layer, that is, the three lines of masking tape with fairly homogenous distance in between. Straightforward...

Hell no, it's anything but straightforward! The real trouble comes with the front fender. Rear was rather easy, but here it's almost impossible to follow the tight corners while keeping an eye on the overall alignment. It took us some creativity, a bit of dexterity and just a small pinch of lousiness to get it done. It was not easy at all!


This is the way the front fender ended up. We were so focused that I didn't even think of taking a photo of the tank during the work. It was perhaps even harder than the front fender, especially the rear curve was very sharp, there are no reference points to align the stripes and it's the most open and eye catching part of the bike, so no room for carelessness.

Time for the actual paint job now.

You should consider yourself lucky for not seeing my Neanderthal hands instead. Apparently, my full time wife and part time photographer/assistant is a natural born painter! We mix some paint with just enough thinner in a small jar. It's important to gain a good feeling here, as the thinner evaporates very quickly and all of a sudden the mixture thickens and needs some more thinner. If it's too thin, you cannot feed the right amount of paint onto the brush. Too thick and it leaves tiny little bubbles on the surface as you draw. You should keep the right thickness and maintain a steady speed with the brush. It's all about patience and precision.

The tape saves you if you lose control of the width, but the thickness of the paint layer must be as consistent as possible. That translates to a constant angle and distance of the brush against the surface. We apply two rounds of rather thin layers on all of the stripes. Here you can also see my painting desk is not less messy than the rest of the entire place.

Here is how the painted rear fender looks...

And last but not least, the tank.

The only thing remaining to do is to wait for about half an hour to allow the stripes to dry and peel off the three masking tapes. Voilá - your brand new pinstripes.

All right, I admit that if you take a close look, you can figure out both edge and paint thickness faults here and there. So what, we attempted the most challenging work of the entire restoration together and the result is just perfect! Any objections?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Wheels...

It's been quite a while since I did this but I can only now find the opportunity to write as in the meantime we moved to Germany. Isn't it funny, the old Beemer, born here in Germany, is sitting in Ankara, where I, born in Ankara, am living now in Germany, only about 400 kilometers away from its home town...  

Anyway, so with the transmission, I'm done with all the significant work on the bike. Still, the wheels haven't been touched yet. I must overhaul them and clean up the dirt - and what a mess indeed! Here we go, as usual, with plenty of WD-40, brake cleaner, sheets, sandpaper and much more...

I begin by removing the four bolts holding the aluminum hub cap and look at the mess! And look at the poor old roller bearing. No surprise, some of the bearing balls were scattered already when I first removed the wheel. And not a big deal, I've got brand new bearings waiting for the duty.

I am not able to name every single substance gathered here over years to become this slimy dirty layer here. How can I get rid of that! 

Removing the bearings out of the wheel hub was pretty straightforward using the hammer and drift. We've got two bearings, one of them is a ball bearing, and the other is a "needle" bearing. Both are dead, you can see the needles in the previous photo, they should have been sitting in their seat in the bearing. Between the two bearings, there are two metal spacers to keep the distance between them. In the photo you can hardly see them because of the greasy dirt.

Here you can see better. From left to right, needle bearing, spacers, one inside the other, ball bearing and the hub cover. And next to them, the brand new bearings still waiting.

This is the best I could do. Steel wool, brake cleaner, sandpaper, even some gasoline, over and over and over... No, I can't make it any better.

The real issue is the spokes. Normally, I should have removed them all, either sanded and cleaned them, or even better, used a new set to mount. Unfortunately, spoke adjustment is a very difficult precision work, requiring special equipment and experience. Neither can I do that on my own, nor is there any specialist here that I know of. Therefore I only sanded them in place, as good as my poor and now wounded and aching fingers fit.

For some reason the other wheel looks much worse. Same operation for it, too...

Then it's time for the new bearings. Easy work, heating up the hub, I simply drop the first bearing inside. Just a couple careful hits with the hammer over a socket with the same outer diameter (never hammer the loose end of a bearing, in this case the inner ring, otherwise you risk damaging it.) and it sits into its slot.

You can see a lot of grease in the hub, around and between the bearings and spacers. These two bearings carry the entire weight of the bike and the rider by themselves, and they are always moving. Grease is never more than enough...

Here comes the second bearing.

Look at the "before and after" photo I took after cleaning up the first wheel, not bad, eh? Not perfect but the difference is significant and looks good enough if you don't examine too closely. And even this much cleaning took me numerous hours over several days. On top of that, of course I replaced the tyres and tubes with a cheapo set.
Frankly, I don't have much left to tell after this, just a few notes about painting and that's it, really. The Beemer is in a much better shape now, I think I shared a few photos on Instagram (lazy man's social media) about the progress. Bringing all the parts back together took almost no time at all, and obviously I was so stunned with the progress that I hardly took any photos of it. But the real question is not answered yet: Can the 62 year old machine wake up from its long sleep and walk again?