Darryl.Richman's picture

Sorry about the long delay in posting. I find it difficult to touch type from a reclining position, which has really been the only comfortable one I can stay in for a reasonable length of time right now. Getting around on crutches is difficult, especially as my house's bedroom and kitchen are on the second floor.

As to my foot, things are good and getting better. I scrunched the #2, 3 and 4 metatarsals, the bones behind the actual toe bones in the front of the foot. I pushed them over against #5, the pinkie. The emergency room doctor in Ukiah said I had to have emergency surgery, and he put them back in place and held them there with two temporary pins. (Temporary is about 4 weeks, but from here that seems like forever.)

On Thursday I went to a local orthopedist, and he agreed that the procedure was exactly the right thing I needed, and the job was well done. Underneath the cast there are about five stitches and two little pinholes, where the pins don't quite stick out anymore. I got a new cast and a return date in three weeks. The pins are slightly problematic; because they are under the skin, they could create an infection source, so I'm also on antibiotics for the next two weeks.

So long as I don't put weight on the foot or twist it, and I let the blood pressure gradually build up before I rise, my foot has no pain. Other than taking a couple Advil at the accident scene, I haven't needed any pain killers for it.

Because my garage is a bit of a hike, I haven't actually seen the bike yet. Everyone tells me that it's in better shape than could be expected, but I know that this can mean very little. The frame or forks could be significantly bent and it wouldn't be obvious from a casual glance, for example.

The van, which had yet more problems in the last couple days of the Cannonball, is at the local shop. They tell me that the Sprinter, which popped its "turbo resonator" (a plastic muffler on the turbo intake) on the way to NY, now has actually openned up the turbo itself. This got oil both into the exhaust header, coating the oxygen sensor, and into the intake tract, covering the temperature sensor. A replacement turbo will take several days to source, and in that time the shop will try to see if these sensors can be saved. I'm looking at about two grand in repairs...

I'm contemplating where to go with the cylinders and pistons on the R52. If you've managed to read through the blog, you might recall that I started with a second set of cylinders/pistons/rings/valves. I didn't realize that the valves in this second cylinder had a different stem diameter and valve keeper configuration than the cylinders I was running at the start.

When I broke the right piston, I wanted to just swap cylinder sets; that had been my plan all along. But I had expected to be able to move the valve spring seats, springs, keepers and collets over from one set to the other. When we discovered the difference with the valve stems, we spent a couple days during the Cannonball trying to figure out what change to make. We thought that a machine shop would be able to change the ends of the valves or the collets to adapt them to each other, but we couldn't find one that would do that. In the end, the original cylinders were bored to match the pistons from the new set, which had a larger diameter than the originals (which were themselves a 3rd overbore).

The new pistons turned out to be poorly made and are not a long term option. I will probably have 2 sets of pistons made for the cylinders at their current diameter. I will also be looking for the seats, springs, keeepers and collets to make the second set of cylinders useful on their own.

I also suspect that the continuing head gasket problems we had probably led to the one piston breaking. It was probably thermally shocked on more than one occasion, and this probably led to its demise. We believe that the head gasket problem itself may have been a result of not torquing down the head nuts several times, each after a thermal cycle. At least, that approach seemed to prevent a gasket failure for the last 2+ days of the Cannonball. As we had failures both with the heads I had on the bike and with the heads that Vech so very kindly overnighted to us from his own R52, I cannot attribute the problem to the heads being warped.

Speaking of Vech, I cannot overemphasize the help and encouragement that I received, and that Team Boxer Rebellion received. Vech was a standout among many people who made the whole thing possible. My teammates, Jeff Wu and Samantha Lucas, who did photography and videoing, were great. I absolutely couldn't have done this without the help of Steve Woodward and Don Cameron, who both spent long hours working on the bike, sourcing parts, fixing the van and dealing with the hotels along the way. They were probably more tired than I was at the end of each night.

I want to again thank my sponsors, who either through parts or cash, helped to defray some of the cost of this adventure.

I also want to heartily thank all of the supporters who bought Team Boxer Rebellion stuff from my website. (You can still buy stuff, btw, if you want to.) Because of a glitch in the webserver, Steve wasn't able to send out any orders after about Sturgis, and now that that is fixed, I find it difficult to put together the mailer boxes. Regardless, those who have orders pending, I will send them out somehow this week. Your generosity is wonderful, and you are all a part of Team Boxer Rebellion.

Last, but certainly not least, I must thank all of you who followed along here, at the Motorcycle Cannonball site, on Facebook, at the Antique Motorcycle Club site or, especially, were able to come out and cheer us on along the route. Believe me, it was great, and I hope we never seemed too busy to chat.



Bruce Williams's picture

When I restored my R-17, after trying several manufacturers, I was able to get pistons from Aries, they matched the gram weight, pin diameter, and valve clearance cutaways. You will have to find a source that has a blank to fit your requirements. For valve guides, I sourced a bar of Meenanite ( a type of self lubricating cast iron) suitable for our motors. Made the valves from SS truck valves and shortened them, cut keeper grooves and flame hardened the stem ends. I was able to use chevy springs and keepers. Sorry to hear of the broken foot, I talked with Jack Wells almost every day and tracked the progress, what a fine adventure to have.

Take care, Bruce

Daryl, Sorry to hear of your

Jay Whyte's picture

Sorry to hear of your mishap. You are a lucky man. Get well soon.
Regards, Jay Whyte
Santa Cruz


Peter Schildhause's picture

Offer a free ride on the back for everyone who donates $200 for the repair. Or perhaps for $500 one could be pilot in command for a 5 mile stretch of quiet road.

A ride on the back would be

Darryl.Richman's picture

A ride on the back would be very uncomfortable. The parcel rack is quite unforgiving and lacks ... support ... in ... important places.

Actually, I'm quite enthusiastic about getting people interested in these very old bikes. But the controls are quite intimidating; little other than the clutch and front brake levers -- which even then pivot from the outside -- are what we modern riders are used to. And now that Peter Nettesheim has taught me how to double clutch and preserve my 2nd gear, it's even more work to ride one of these beasts.

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

Hope you and the R52 are both

mookie58's picture

Hope you and the R52 are both better quickly and back on the road soon.

Curious About Repairs

Jim Hansen's picture


Please keep us informed about the repairs. I'm especially curious about any repairs/mods re. the blown headgaskets and piston seizures, and maybe also about those crazy, solid, non-pivoting, too-low, death-trap floorboards.


P.S. I'll take a short ride on the back on that parcel rack if you pay me $200.

R 17's and riding on luggage racks

R66RODENT's picture

I had an R17 which I bought for $300 in 1966. The kid who sold it to me thought it was very advanced for 1936, because it had a "rigid frame, just like a flat-track racer".We used to ride it around Cambridge with my wife sitting on a sofa pillow on the rack. One afternoon we hit a particularly nasty pot-hole on Mass. Ave, and the second thing that came down after she returned to her perch on the rack, was her fist on the back of my helmet. "Sell this fucking pig", she yelled. Which I did several weeks later, encouraged somewhat by the recent demise of the crankpin. I sold it to Amol Precision for what I had in it. The bike was very original-at least to my untutored eyes. I had no idea when I bought it, that BMW only made 400 R17's. Anyway Darryl, whatever you decide to do about putative passengers on your luggage rack, I hope you heal up fast and well, and that you get the R52 sorted out soon.

So sorry to hear about the

macfly's picture

So sorry to hear about the mishap, I'd been away from the site for a while, and just came back to discover this. Hope that the healing is going well, and you'll be back in the saddle in no time.

All the best, Andrew


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