Darryl.Richman's picture

A Little Boxer Music...

Here's a bit of video of the 1928 BMW R52 we're entering in the cannonball.


Love the video! Best of luck

beemererik's picture

Love the video! Bike is sounding great. Best of luck with your adventure


Looking for a "stecktank" BMW to restore!

Stop at Anamosa, IA

James Shaw's picture

Hope to see you at the National M/C museum in Anamosa, Iowa.
Best of Luck
Jim Shaw, Gateway Riders BMW club


Rudolph's picture

Hey Daryl,
Great video,If you need anything passing by WI give a shout!!

That video was so cool I jsut

guest's picture

That video was so cool I jsut got into the industry and didn't know they went back that far! It's crazy how much motorcycles have changed.

Have a great ride!

brown3459's picture

Your bike looks and sounds superb. Well done.

Looking good. We'll be

Jim Hansen's picture

Looking good. We'll be following you on your blog. It should be quite an adventure. Good Luck!

P.S. Remember to drink lots of water!

Hey Darryl

jeff dean's picture

Your journey in the R52 should be enjoyable and challenging. I hope you complete your dream of riding every mile and I admire what you are doing.

Why do you need a chase van? Isn't it a BMW? Smile

When do you think bikes up to 1956 might be allowed? I await the opportunity.

Jeff Dean
Friend of the Marque

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Darryl.Richman's picture

The Sprinter is Finally Ready!

I finally finished all of the mods I've been trying to get to in my van, and I think it's ready to go.

I started this final push yesterday. I had to screw up some courage, because the first thing I had to do was dismantle the cab. I needed to remove the plastic covers over the B pillars, with their entanglement in the seat belts. This was needed so I could run extension cords up the B pillar and through the small opening at the top, hidden behind the roof liner, that provides wiring access behind the bulkhead to the cargo area.

And I had to remove both seats: in the pedestal of the driver's seat is the entry point for all of the interior electrics. The passenger seat had to come out in order to mount the right side wheel chock (and, it turned out, the inverter, too).

I created mounting points for the two wheel chocks I have just had floating around in the back for the last year and a half. This was pretty easy: I bought two big U bolts, drilled two holes on either side of the bulkhead near the floor, and put the Us through from the cab side. Each U then captures the upright square tube near its base. I can unscrew two nuts and remove the chock when I don't need it, so it's very quick and easy.

The bigger — much bigger — project was installing the inverter and extension cords. I bought an inverter installation kit, which is basically three 8 foot lengths of wire; two are 4 AWG (for the positive and negative sides of the battery) and one is 8 AWG as a chassis ground. I also got some cable protector tubing.

I planned to mount the inverter on the bulkhead wall, partly behind the passenger seat. This gives a good view to the input and output LEDs and provides easy access to the USB charger it also has. The input is in VDC, showing the state of the battery and/or alternator if the van is running. The output is in Watts @115 VAC. As this is a 1500 Watt nominal inverter, it is the equivalent of a regular 15 Amp house circuit.

I duct taped the two big cables together and to a length of steel rod, which I used to thread the cables down through the engine compartment and under the van, following the path of the main wiring harness. From under the van I was able to then use the rod to push the cables into the cab, past the rubber seal. I carefully measured to get enough cable to reach where I wanted to mount the inverter. Eight feet turned out to be just the right length for the whole job — glad I didn't need a few more inches!

The wiring kit comes with a couple extra lugs for the 4 gauge wire, which one is supposed to crimp on. I have a crimping tool... for electronics work... which is good all the way down to 12 gauge (it claims). Not enough for the 4 or 8 gauge I needed to crimp. I searched at 3 hardware stores, an electronics store and finally, at the second auto parts store, they had a crimping tool. Claims to be able to crimp 0000 gauge wire! This is not a pliers-like tool; it's more like a vise. You put your wire with its lug in place into the base, which has a rounded form, and then you lower a ram that has a truncated cone on the business end against the other side of the lug. Then you hit the thing with a hammer, and if you do that hard enough, then the little scale on the side of the ram will show that the crimp is good.

I have a handy 4 lb. sledge, and that hardly budged the ram. I ended up putting the whole shebang into a vise, and, abetted with a cheater!, cranked it down. That worked well.

At the end of Saturday, I finally had the power end wired up to the inverter, and the inverter mounted. I turned it on, the blue light glowed and the fans ran briefly. The voltage showed as over 12.5V, and when I ran the engine, the voltage was at 13.5V. I plugged my new Horror Fright flourescent drop light in and it turned on. Yay!

Today I needed to face the hassle of installing the extension cords. I already knew that the openings in the bulkhead were not big enough for either plug end of the cords. So, I cut them in half, threaded them through the bulkhead openings and then put them back together with butt connectors on each wire, with shrink tubing around the whole thing. To test each one, I actually plugged my heat gun into the extension cord and used it to shrink the tubing on the cord.

I also did a load test, running the air compressor, the overhead light and the drop light, all at once. It showed a load of only 400 Watts, so I have plenty of reserve.

About 2pm I was just buttoning things up — still time to take the R52 out for a spin. I installed the plastic cover back on the B pillar on the driver's side, which is a pain to get all of the locking tabs lined up, as well as getting the seat belt height adjuster connected correctly, then popped it home and reinstalled the door weatherstripping. As I was working on doing the same thing on the passenger side, I noticed that there was something wrong with the height adjuster mechanism. The release lever was not catching on the track to hold the belt loop at different heights.

I could have just put it back together, and the passenger would have to deal with the belt always being at its lowest position...

...but I disassembled the adjuster mechanism instead. There were only three pieces: a spring, the plastic lever, and a small, stamped piece of steel about 2" x 1" x 1/8" thick and shaped roughly like Italy. As they were already loose, it didn't appear that there was a particular orientation. You might think that it couldn't be very difficult to figure out how to put three pieces back together again, but I played with the pieces for about 45 minutes and could not make it work!

So I went inside and had a look at the Sprinter forum. (Isn't that what you do when you can't figure out the solution to some problem?) But no joy there. More useless was the parts manual. It's difficult for me to believe, but true nonetheless, that Mercedes' drawings have less detail, and less assembly information, than BMW's recent parts fiche drawings. In this case, the entire height adjuster, track and all, is one assembly. It made me think that it would be good not to lose any of the little pieces.

I had only one choice left. I procrastinated for another hour, but I didn't have one of those rare flashes of brilliance. The sun was beginning to descend in the sky. There was nothing for it: I went back out and openned up the driver's side B pillar and then disassembled the good height adjuster.

It turned out that Italy was installed upside down, with the toe of the boot point out. In the same way that enzymes have pockets that match up to a small stretch of the proteins they operate on, the plastic lever has a pocket that accepts the toe of the boot. The top of the boot, which has a slight step across it, is the part that catches in the rail.

I carefully reassembled the driver's side adjuster, then the passenger's side unit. Then I put the plastic pillar covers back on, getting the fussy adjuster covers lined up on each one.



The run

Bob Straubinger's picture

I found out thru Voni that you were going to be in the Run and I know you will have a ball doing this. I'm going to be in Monterey until the 13th but will have to leave for Arizona then. It would have been serious fun to be there when you roll in but won't be able to make it.
Have fun!!!

Sorry to miss you, Bob. I'm

Darryl.Richman's picture

Sorry to miss you, Bob. I'm here in Santa Cruz until August 31st. Paul is going to be here on the 30th. Then we're driving back in the Sprinter. I'm afraid that the northern route we're taking is never going to get close to AZ...

--Darryl Richman
"Bling is not made in Germany" --OTL, 12/05

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Darryl.Richman's picture

Boxer Rebellion Gets Some Media!

A month ago, while I was at the annual BMW Motorrad Days in the ski resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Bavarian Alps, Fred Jakobs introduced me to Andy Dukes. Andy is a freelance writer who often creates pieces for BMW's press club highlighting interesting stories around BMW. Fred (BMW's head archivist) wanted to make sure that our little endeavor got wider notice within BMW's ranks. I spent about 45 minutes chatting with Andy.

Then last week, Andy sent me a proof of the story. As of today it must have gone into BMW's press feed -- although I can't find it myself. (I will edit this and add a link when I find it.)
Edit: here it is: http://www.bmw-motorradnews.de/49/index.html
Edit II: BMW has put it up here, as well: http://www.bmw-motorrad.com/com/en/individual/news/2011/news.jsp?id=1888

But until then, you can read edited versions of it on the BMW MOA and BMW Motorcycle Magazine websites (they're each slightly different from the original).

Thanks also to Anastasia Keriotis, Ian Schmeisser and Lars Swartz for letting me use their photos.


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Darryl.Richman's picture

Team Boxer Rebellion - An Introduction

I can't believe I haven't done this before. Thanks to Marc St. Pierre, who reminded me.

  • Chief Mechanic: Paul Glaves, Alpine, TX. Paul has been writing the Bench Wrenching column in the BMW MOA Owners News for ages. What really makes him stand out as a mechanic, however, is that he has kept Voni's bikes on the road long enough for her to rack up 1,000,000 BMW miles! However, this may be a new challenge for Paul, as I think his wrenching experience only goes back to Airheads and Flying Bricks. Paul will also be piloting the Sprinter van.
  • Assistant Mechanic #1: Don Cameron, Deming, NM. Don is the former owner of Deming Cycle Center and a very handy fellow. He once repaired an F650 single that had lost it's drive sprocket nut somewhere in the general vicinity of the Pecos River with a piece of barbed wire, which was sufficient to get the bike into a Napa store, where he was able to get a counterman there to find a 22mm nut (which was for the front suspension of a small Ford, I believe). It's this kind of out of the box thinking that I hope I will not need but want to have at my disposal.
  • Assistant Mechanic #2 and Gopher: Steve Woodward, Deming, NM. Steve and I have been riding buddies for about two decades. I recall we were riding with two other guys in Mexico, and we came into Oaxaca behind them, and didn't know where the hotel was. Steve hired a taxi to lead us to the hotel. I know he has my back!
  • Videographer: Jeff Wu, San Francisco, CA. Jeff is a model maker to the movies and a talented graphic artist. The Team Boxer Rebellion logo was his design.
  • On Call Machinist: Brent Hansen, Sebastopol, CA. Brent has been through a lot of this bike and is experienced with vintage BMWs in general, as he runs an independent vintage BMW shop.

While Paul will drive the van, the other team members will be riding their own bikes. In particular, Jeff will be shooting video from his bike.


Fellow Cannonballer Support

Buck Carson's picture

Hi Darryl,

Been following along with the adventures of Team Boxer Rebellion on the long road to the Cannonball. My team, Carson Classic Motors, would be interested in helping out by donating some money. If you would, can you give me a call? My number is 936-239-6615.


Buck Carson
Cannonballer #3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team


Rick Griffith's picture

Hi Darryl, is the Cannonball route coming through Michigan?

Rick Griffith

Your route

guest's picture

What is your route from Sandusky to the ferry across lake Michigan? It would be fun to ride along a ways with you all. Best of luck, Kevin Sugg. Motor City Beemers.

Ohio and Michigan

Darryl.Richman's picture

Yes, the Cannonball is coming through Michigan. We will arrive in Sandusky, OH on Sunday, September 9th and on the 10th we will travel across Michigan to Muskegon, where we will board a late afternoon ferry across to Milwaukee. There we will be at the Harley Davidson Museum to display our bikes and for a hosted dinner.

We welcome any rider that wants to come along for any part of the ride. If for no other reason than I'm more than a little concerned about traffic coming up quickly on me, I wouldn't mind the company!

However, we won't know any of the actual routes until evening before we ride them, when the route sheets for the next day are handed out. The only real specific that we've been told is that we will be travelling 62 miles through Cleveland and on to Sandusky on an interstate, which I presume means I-90. Otherwise, based on the locations we're travelling, I can only guess at what the route will be right now. In fact, as a local, you probably have a much better idea of where we will go than I do.

We will be in Muskegon to catch the 4:45pm Lake Express ferry.

--Darryl Richman
"Bling is not made in Germany" --OTL, 12/05

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Darryl.Richman's picture

Working on the Sprinter

Below is a photo of where I am with the Sprinter today. I laid the vinyl flooring and put down the coving and bullnose that covers the edges. That was a lot of work, there must be an easier way than how I did it. It took me all day to lay a paper drop cloth, make a template, cut out the rough from the flooring, place it, make it fit, lift one half and roll out the glue, let it set, put that half down and lift the other half, glue, set and replace the second half. Then I had to figure out how to get the coving to go around the wheel wells reasonably (I cut big Vs in it where it goes around a curve and the seams mostly came together right.

I've built the fold out table with its fold out legs, and put a sheet of flashing on top. I still need to cut of the edge hanging down and screw it in place there.

I made my visit to Harbor Freight and bought the air compressor (lower right), a vise and a roller stool to outfit the back. I also bought a bag of shop rags, a magnetic parts dish and a flourescent work light.

I got word that the inverter has shipped. I think I will run two 15 foot extension cords from the cab to the top of either side of the cargo area and mount power strips up there. On the right side it will be over the work table, which should be convenient.

I haven't yet mounted the wheel chock in place. I figure I'll do that when the inverter shows up, since I'll have to tear the cab apart at that time and cut holes in the bulkhead.

p7300586_sm_resize.jpg160.99 KB


Sprinter mods

David Brick's picture

Nice work, Darryl. I've done some flooring in my life, and I'm glad it was you and not me this time.

I like the workbench; it'll be useful, especially with better lighting. I write to suggest that you consider mounting at least the right-side extension cord so that its power strip is at the height of the workbench, or below, but not above. In the last four garages I've outfitted for myself, I put the power strips or electrical sockets under the front edge of the bench surface. That way, the cords are always out of my way, and never cross the bench or hang in my visual field.

It may be a challenge to do this in the Sprinter, because the bench folds. But I think putting electricity up above the bench is the wrong approach.

Consider too that you may wish to work on something outside the van, and that it would be good to be able to easily access power out beyond the rear bumper, or outside the side door(s).


Darryl.Richman's picture

Thanks for the suggestions, Dave!

My idea was that the power strip would be up far enough to be entirely out of the way of the folding table. Power cords for tools could then drape off to one side or the other of the deployed table. Having the power strip up like that would make it possible for one person to work at the table and yet let someone else plug in the compressor (outside the van to keep the noise down).

If the power strip was on or under the table, then access from either the left or right sides (front or back of the cargo area) would be limited. If it was on the wall just above the table surface, it would be blocked when the table was folded away and the cords might get hung up in whatever was being worked on, on the table.

The power strip on the left side of the cargo area will be for plugging in the overhead lights, the work light (you can see that clipped to the frame rail near the right side door in the photo) and the battery charger.

--Darryl Richman
"Bling is not made in Germany" --OTL, 12/05

Power Strips

David Brick's picture

Makes sense on the left side of the van.

On the right side, power should be available at the table when it's open, or when it's closed, as well as available out both doors. I understand not putting power on or under the table, but I think mounting the strips to the side of the van, on each side of the table, would be superior to mounting above it: the cords won't be in the way, the outlets can be used whether the table is up or down, and power will be available at the doors. Splurge and put a power strip on each side of the table (go ahead risk it: plug one into the other...the fire marshal will never see it). The forward one can be screwed to the rib just aft of the side door. Following my earlier comments, I think that mounting at table height, or slightly lower, will actually be more user-friendly than putting them up high.

Who's Your 'Chase' Crew?

Marc St-Pierre's picture

Just curious as to who you've got lined up to follow you in the TBR Chase vehicle. I think they're also worthy of mention in your blog. A little bio on each one would be nice, too. Is Heather one of them?

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