Tools and working facilities

The first priority when undertaking maintenance or repair work of any sort on a motorcycle is to have a clean, dry, well-lit working area. Work carried out in peace and quiet in the well-ordered atmosphere of a good workshop will give more satisfaction and much better results than can usually be achieved in poor working conditions. A good workshop must have a clean flat workbench or a solidly constructed table of convenient working height. The workbench or table should be equipped with a vice which has a jaw opening of at least 4 in (100 mm). A set of jaw covers should be made from soft metal such as aluminium alloy or copper, or from wood. These covers will minimise the marking or damaging of soft or delicate components which may be clamped in the vice. Same clean, dry, storage space will be required for tools, lubricants and dismantled components. It will be necessary during a major overhaul to lay out engine/gearbox components for examination and to keep them where they will remain undisturbed for as long as is necessary. To this end it is recommended that a supply of metal or plastic containers of suitable size is collected. A supply of clean, lint-free, rags for cleaning purposes and some newspapers, other rags, or paper towels for mopping up spillages should also be kept. If working on a hard concrete floor note that bath the floor and one's knees can be protected from oil spillages and wear by cutting open a large cardboard box and spreading it flat on the floor under the machine or workbench. This also helps to provide some warmth in winter and to prevent the loss of nuts, washers, and other tiny components which have a tendency to disappear when dropped on anything other than a perfectly clean, flat. surface.

Unfortunately, such working conditions are not always available to the home mechanic. When working in poor conditions it is essential to take extra time and care to ensure that the components beinq worked on are kept scrupulously clean and to ensure that no components or tools are lost or damaged.

A selection of good tools is a fundamental requirement for anyone contemplating the maintenance and repair of a motor vehicle. For the owner who does not possess any, their purchase will prove a considerable expense, offsetting some of the savings made by doing-it-yourself. However, provided that the tools purchased are of good quality, they will last for many years and prove an extremely worthwhile investment.

To help the average owner to decide which tools are needed to carry out the various tasks detailed in this manual. we have compiled three lists of tools under the following headings: Maintenance and minor repair, Repair and overhaul, and Specialized. The newcomer to practical mechanics should start off with the simpler jobs around the vehicle, using the BMW tool kit, which is sufficient for all normal maintenance tasks. Then, as his confidence and experience grow, he can undertake more difficult tasks, buying extra tools as and when they are needed. In this way, a Maintenance and minor repair tool kit can be built-up into a Repair and overhaul tool kit over a considerable period of time without any major cash outlays. The experienced home mechanic will have a tool kit good enough for most repair and overhaul procedures and will add tools from the specialized category when he feels the expense is justified by the amount of use these tools will be put to.

It is obviously not possible to cover the subject of tools fully here. For those who wish to learn more about tools and their use there is a book entitled: How to Choose and Use Car Tools available from the publishers of this manual. Although, as its title implies, this publication is directed at car owners, the information given is equally applicable to motorcycle owners. It also provides an introduction to basic workshop practice which will be of interest to a home mechanic working on any type of motor vehicle.

As a general rule, it is better to buy the more expensive, good quality tools. Given reasonable use, such tools will last for a very long time, whereas the cheaper, poor quality, item will wear out faster and need to be renewed more after, thus nullifying the original saving. There is also the risk of a poor quality tool breaking while in use, causing personal injury or expensive damage to the component being worked on. It should be noted, however, that many car accessory shops and the large department stores sell tools of reasonable quality at competitive prices. The best example of this is found with socket sets, where a medium-priced socket set will be quite adequate for the home owner and yet prove less expensive than a selection of individual sockets and accessories. This is because individual pieces are usually only available from expensive, top quality, ranges and whilst they are undeniably good, it should be remembered that they are intended for professional use.

The basis of any toolkit is a set of spanners. While open-ended spanners with their slim jaws, are useful for working on awkwardly-positioned nuts, ring spanners have advantages in that they grip the nut far more positively. There is less risk of the spanner slipping off the nut and damaging it. for this reason alone ring spanners are to be preferred. Ideally, the home mechanic should acquire a set of each, but if expense rules this out a set of combination spanners (open-ended at one end and with a ring of the same size at the other) will provide a good compromise. Another item which is so useful it should be considered an essential requirement for any home mechanic is a set of socket spanners. These are available in a variety of drive sizes. It is recommended that the 1/2-inch drive type is purchased to begin with as although bulkier and more expensive than the 3/8-inch type, the larger size is far more common and will accept a greater variety of torque wrenches. extension pieces and socket sizes. The socket set should comprise sockets of sizes between 8 and 24 mm, a reversible ratchet drive, an extension bar of about 10 inches in length, a spark plug socket with a rubber insert, and a universal joint. Other attachments can be added to the set at a later date.

Maintenance and minor repair tool kit

  • Set of spanners 8 - 24 mm
  • Set of sockets and attachments
  • Spark plug spanner with rubber insert - 12 mm (thread size)
  • Adjustable spanner
  • C-spanner / pin spanner
  • Torque wrench (same size drive as sockets)
  • Set of screwdrivers (flat blade)
  • Set of screwdrivers (cross-head)
  • Set of Allen keys 4 - 10 mm
  • Impact screwdriver and bits
  • Ball pein hammer - 2 lb
  • Hacksaw (junior)
  • Self-locking pliers - Mole grips or vice grips
  • Pliers - combination
  • Pliers - needle nose
  • Wire brush (small)
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Tyre pump
  • Tyre pressure gauge
  • Tyre tread depth gauge
  • Oil can
  • Fine emery cloth
  • Funnel (medium size)
  • Drip tray
  • Set of feeler gauges
  • Brake bleeding kit
  • Continuity tester (dry battery and bulb) - see relevant text tor possible uses
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Wire stripper or craft knife
  • PVC insulating tape
  • Assortment of split pins, nuts, bolts, and washers

Repair and overhaul toolkit

The tools in this list are virtually essential for anyone undertaking major repairs to a motorcycle and are additional to the tools listed above. Concerning Torx driver bits, Torx screws are encountered in two places inside the engine unit. lt is therefore recommended that if Torx bits cannot be borrowed from a local dealer, they are purchased individually as the need arises. They are in regular use in the motor trade and will therefore only be available in specialist tool shops or auto accessory shops.

  • Plastic or rubber soft-faced mallet
  • Torx driver bits
  • Pliers - electrician's side cutters
  • Circlip pliers - internal (straight or right-angled tips are available)
  • Circlip pliers - external
  • Cold chisel
  • Centre punch
  • Pin punch
  • Scriber
  • Scraper (made from soft metal such as aluminium or copper)
  • Soft metal drift
  • Steel rule/straight edge
  • Assortment of files
  • Electric drill and bits
  • Wire brush (large)
  • Soft wire brush (similar to those used tor cleaning suede shoes)
  • Sheet of plate glass
  • Hacksaw (large)
  • Valve grinding tool
  • Valve grinding compound (coarse and fine)
  • Stud extractor set (E-Z out)

Specialized tools

This is nota list of the tools made by the machine's manufacturer to carry out a specific task on a limited range of models. Occasional references are made to such tools in the text of this manual and, in general, an alternative method of carrying out the task without the manufacturer's tool is given where possible. The tools mentioned in this list are those which are not used regularly and are expensive to buy in view of their infrequent use. Where this is the case it may be possible to hire or borrow the tools against a deposit from a local dealer or tool hire shop. An alternative is for a group of friends or a motorcycle club to join in the purchase.

  • Valve spring compressor
  • Piston ring compressors - car type (see text)
  • Universal bearing puller
  • Micrometer set
  • Vernier calipers
  • Dial gauge set
  • Cylinder compression gauge
  • Vacuum gauge set
  • Multimeter - must be used with great care (see text)

Care and maintenance of tools

Whatever the quality of the tools purchased, they will last much longer if cared for. This means in practice ensuring that a tool is used for its intended purpose; for example screwdrivers should not be used as a substitute for a centre punch, or as chisels. Always remove dirt or grease and any metal particles but remember that a light film of oil will prevent rusting if the tools are infrequently used. The common tools can be kept together in a large box or tray but the more delicate, and more expensive, items should be stored separately where they cannot be damaged. When a tool is damaged or worn out, be sure to renew it immediately. It is false economy to continue to use a worn spanner or screwdriver which may slip and cause expensive damage to the component being worked on.

Fastening systems

Fasteners, basically, are nuts, bolts and screws used to hold two or more parts together. There are a few things to keep in mind when working with fasteners. Almost all of them use a locking device of some type; either a lock washer, locknut, locking tab or thread adhesive. All threaded fasteners should be clean, straight, have undamaged threads and undamaged corners on the hexagon head where the spanner fits. Develop the habit of replacing all damaged nuts and bolts with new ones.

Rusted nuts and bolts should be treated with a rust penetrating fluid to ease removal and prevent breakage. After applying the rust penetrant, let it 'work' for a few minutes before trying to loosen the nut or bolt. Badly rusted fasteners may have to be chiseled off or removed with a special nut breaker, available at tool shops

Flat washers and lock washers, when removed from an assembly should always be replaced exactly as removed. Replace any damaged washers with new ones. Always use a flat washer between a lock washer and any soft metal surface (such as aluminium), thin sheet metal or plastic. Special locknuts can only be used once or twice before they lose their locking ability and must be renewed.

If a bolt or stud breaks off in an assembly, it can be drilled out and removed with a special tool called an E-Z out. Most dealer service departments and motorcycle repair shops can perform this task, as well as others (such as the repair of threaded holes that have been stripped out).