View original topic: VW-powered BMW motorcycle (not trike) Page: 1, 2  Next
JLeather Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:09 pm

When I was looking for info on this bike I came across the thread on this site, but since it's been bumped back up every few years and a lot of the pictures seem to be dead I thought I'd start my own. I need some help with the VW portion of the resurrection of my latest "toy". Just for everyone's amusement I'll repost the story of the unearthing.

This all started about 3 years ago when I was catching up with a long-time friend of my Dad's. He collects tractors, cars, radios, pipe organs, cameras, etc but I never knew before that he was into motorcycles. He was checking out my bike at the time and telling me about all the places he had been on his BMW bikes over the years. While we kicked around stories he mentioned an odd bike in his stash. A BMW with a volkswagen engine in it. The story was that he'd bought it about the time he stopped riding bikes, some 15-20 years ago. He ran it around his property a few times, but never bothered to tag it, and it was relegated to the barn fairly shortly never to be touched/started again. I was intrigued and told him I'd catch up and come over sometime and see it.

A year and a half went by and we hadn't seen each other again until I randomly caught up with him. He asked if I was still interested in seeing the bike. I hadn't forgotten about it, but I didn't have a garage at the time and wasn't going to take on a project like that, but I told him I'd see him soon. I got his number that time, though, and his eMail address. About 8 weeks ago I finally got a meeting set up to dig through his stuff and see this bike. It was in the back of an unlit barn, covered in boxes and blocked in by other bikes, but from what I could see I knew I needed a better look atleast. So 3 weeks ago I spent a good chunk of a Saturday helping him extricate the bike for pictures. Here's what I found.

As a child his family fled Estonia from the Nazis, so he has a fascination with European cars/bikes/engineering. Check out his yard (just one small section of it):

In addition to the 15 or so VW's left he parted out and scrapped another 21 he said. There's a shed full of VW engines and parts. There are also a number of Mercedes cars piled up and a building full of Mercedes engines and parts. Parts everywhere. My kinda guy.

I'll skip over the chronicle of the BMW bikes in the buildings, but for anyone interested in seeing it there is a picture of his 37 Mercedes in the tractor shed.

JLeather Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:17 pm

So that more or less sets the tone of the place, but it is one of those hordes you'd have to see to understand. The bike I came looking for was in this unassuming barn:

Opening the sliding doors that don't have sliders yet (he's only been there for like 30 years) I found this collection:

My camera decided to turn-off the antishake and I didn't know it until I got home, but you can't see the bike in this shot anyway. It's behind the silverwing on the left, under some boxes and a sheet. The bike on the right is his special bike. A 1960's R69S that he rode everywhere. We pulled it out first to make room to work in there (it's not for sale, I tried):

After we dragged the silverwing, stuck calipers and all, from the shed we revealed the BMVW for the first time in well over a decade. Had to clean the boxes off of it first.

To the far right, past the never-been-run Motobecane moped, are shelves packed with VW parts and complete engines. Here's the BMVW out in the daylight:

I was kind of blown away with the quality of the work done on this conversion. The frame was stretched atleast 4" to fit the extra two cylinders, and BMW's don't use round frame tubes (oval) but I couldn't find any evidence of the work. They must have used pieces of another BMW frame to do it. Too cool. I know car-engine'd bikes aren't everyone's thing, but this is the classiest one I've seen. I had to have it.

Dealing on the bike went on for a couple more weeks, but in the mean time I did get to bring her home on Labor Day. Here she is about to be unloaded from the trailer:

JLeather Mon Sep 20, 2010 7:23 pm

I'm not changing hardly anything on the bike. The 80's aircleaners have to go, in favor of something older, and I'd like to make the turn signals a bit less obtrusive, but other than that all I want to do is make it run.

That's where I'm hoping I can get some help here on the forum. The carbs are 28 PCI Solex's I believe. I need to come up with a source for decent rebuild kits.

What can you guys tell me about the motor/carb setup? I believe it's a 36 hp motor (what VW's did that originally come in)? The carbs are set on what look like home-made intakes, although I suppose they could be some sort of early aftermarket setup. These motors didn't come stock with dual carbs, did they?

I don't know yet what's been done to the engine, if anything. I know it turns over and has good compression. Is it a 6-volt or 12-volt system? It's using the stock generator with a relocated bracket, and I believe it's the stock VW voltage regulator as well. The stock oil cooler is under the tank also, but it has been modified to lay sideways instead of vertically.

I'm really looking forward to getting it running/riding again. Any help and information you guys can give me would be great.


aircooled74 Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:14 pm

Whoa! :o
That is cool. What a find! Im diggin it.

busfreak_71 Tue Sep 21, 2010 10:51 pm

That is a very interesting bike. Keep us updated!

Zeitgeist 13 Tue Oct 12, 2010 11:54 pm

I'm a little rusty on my old VW T1 engine trivia, but I think that's a 1200cc 40hp engine, rather than a 36hp. Very cool find!

JLeather Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:17 pm

Yeah, it is a 40hp because it has a separate alternator mount (I'm learning something new every day about VW's). Haven't made much progress, other projects have gotten in the way, but atleast it's where I can see it every day now.

Ariats Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:44 pm

this is an awesome find!!! wow I cant wait to see what you do with this! I agree the aircleaners need to go but everything else looks awesome great find my friend

JasonBaker Wed Nov 03, 2010 11:21 am

That's pretty cool. His place looks like a playground for adults!

ANSAracingb Mon Nov 15, 2010 2:52 pm

That's a sweet bike. Never seen anything like that before. I couldn't tell from the pictures, but how is it cooled (besides air)? Obviously there's no fan, but is there an oil cooler hidden somewhere? Maybe its not needed as long as you don't idle for long periods of time I guess.

Congrats on the find and the buy! Keep us updated :D

JLeather Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:00 pm

Finally found some time to get back to work on this. Like to have it running this spring, and I'm sure I'll have a few motor questions. I've got other threads on other boards regarding the bike-specific issues. The motor, as near as I can tell, is a '62 1200cc 40hp. The number on the front left under the generator pad is 6419243. That sound about right to y'all?

The engine has a pair of 28PCI Solex's on it. I ordered rebuild kits from CB Performance and opened up the carbs. I started in at the accelerator pump and found this:

Had me a little worried. No gummy fuel, but for some reason it seems to have picked up a good bit of water there some time. I started in on the rest of the body and was pretty pleased with what I found. Here's a shot of the butterfly. Looks to have been replaced at some point. This bike was put away for somewhere between 10-15 years minimum, so these look like they might have been rebuilt not long before it was put away.

The bowls were actually very nice inside. Obviously replaced internals (plastic floats and such). I'll replace the needle valves again just to be on the safe side, and of course all new gaskets.

JLeather Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:15 pm

Another question, there was no gasket between the carb adapters and the head. There are gaskets between the carbs and the adapters, flat paper gaskets, but nothing against the head itself. What should be there?



BL3Manx Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:05 am

Probably a Butterfield-Willis 4

Here's a group for those type conversions. There was also a motorcycle made in Brazil called the Amazona.

You could swap the Type 1 engine for a 1700 Type 4 with downward pointing exhaust ports, use a small Geo Metro alternator, aluminum cylinders and a center mounted 2bbl carb.

JasonBaker Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:30 am

Found this one over the weekend and it made me think of yours. I have a few more pics, If you want to see them.

Letterman7 Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:16 am

These conversions have always intrigued me. What is the adapter housing/gearbox from? They look the same between those two bikes.

BL3Manx Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:06 am

The gearbox/swingarm/drive shaft and even most of the frame are from a /2 BMW (1955-1969). The adapters were made by a company called Butterfield then later Willis.

BL3Manx Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:49 pm

Here's another

Johnnybentwrench Sat Apr 30, 2011 4:54 pm

Nice. does it say webley vicker?
I have a R69S and have seen and sold these conversions. They are pretty rare and the quaiity is always good remember it is still a BMW

HRVW Thu May 12, 2011 9:11 pm

:) Yes, there is a copper gasket that fits into the round hole of the head for the manifold to seal. There were about three different size ones used. I should have a bunch of them if you need some. The sharp edge of the gskt goes down...let me know. VW mechanic of 28 YRS. Steve

[email protected]

morymob Fri May 13, 2011 10:57 am

At 2000 Knoxville vw show a guy rode his BMW with a VW engine adapted. Had special, maybe hand made intake that curve up and under tank with a sidedraft from a Harley, very well done and a cooler front rt side and alt front/left side bottom. He said it had some very tall gearing and rarely run in top gear.

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