BMWs in the Cannonball

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Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The 2012 running of the Motorcycle with it’s extension to bikes built through is a great boon to we aficionados of the and Blue roundel. In the inaugural run, the limit of 1915 or simply precluded running any of a BMW, as the company itself exist until 1917.

BMW was from the preceding Rapp Werke, based in the Munich of Oberwiesenfeld. Rapp had been engines under license other manufacturers for the German and war effort, and they had developed own design that they trying to sell to the authorities. The change accompanied the conversion a private firm to a public company, and in 1918 a new logo was registered that mimicked the Rapp logo with its border, but replaced the chess with the Bavarian state of White and Blue.

(It was 11 years on the cover of a publicity booklet, an imaginative marketer dreamed up the that the BMW logo represented a propeller against the sky.)

the BMW Type III motor was a success – after the war, BMW smashed the record with a Fokker aircraft and their new engine and high altitude carburetor – the were not pleased and the terms of the treaty essentially prevented the from developing new aircraft, so BMW had to other lines of work.

the avenues they followed, BMW building a small utility the M2B15. It was successful not only as a engine, used as an agricultural and even as a water pump on trucks, but the company sold of them to be built into A nearby company, Bayrische Werke (Bavarian Aircraft had taken up motorcycle production as and produced a luxurious but ultimately model called the Helios employed the M2B15 motor.

In a merger in 1922, BFW became a of BMW and BMW turned their efforts to complete motorcycles.

Near the end of BMW introduced their R32 model to the It was a complete redesign that a modified version of the M2B15, now the and placed it crossways in a dual tube framed motorcycle, a 3 speed unit gearbox and a leading to bevel gears, the rear wheel. Front was by trailing link dual spring.

BMW built their own but ignition was via a Robert Bosch or, if optional electric lights included, by a Bosch mag/dyno. The like the preceding M2B15, was a sidevalve boxer twin, 8.5 hp, which could propel the R32 to

Development continued apace, and BMW an OHV model, the R37, in 1925 and winning a lot of trophies with it. In the next generation of bikes introduced, the R42 (SV) and R47 (OHV). Two later, BMW widened their line with the introduction of the R52 and R57 (OHV) 500cc models and the R62 and R63 (OHV) 750cc models.

BMW engineers Rudolph Schleicher and Henne (pictured) began a of chasing World Land records. The WR750, based on the of the R63 but completely custom built, a streak of records with aboard, starting with a run of in 1929. In 1937 Henne set a record of 280kmh/174mph on a supercharged bike that would until 1951.

BMW entered production in 1928 when purchased the Dixi company, in Eisenach, an industrial city in Germany. Dixi was producing the 7 under license, so BMW got into the with a running start. The included heavy presses for body parts, and BMW used equipment imaginatively to overcome problems with their tube frames, which had difficulty dealing with the of a sidecar.

In 1929, BMW replaced the R62 with the R11. The R11 had no tubes and no its frame and forks were with twin C-channel and riveted cross braces. heavy looking, the new frame essentially the same as the old tube but was significantly stronger.

The first R11 had an identical drivetrain with the R62 – so in fact that BMW’s can’t distinguish which a particular engine went

This year’s Cannonball three BMW entries, two from and one from California. Entry chosen to represent the 1923 of BMW into motorcycle production, is Nelson and Team HMS (Historical Society, a loose knit of vintage bike fans). Nelson is a retired fighter and pilot who is not only a vintage collector, but last year his 1958 Harley Sportster to and back.

They will be employing a R11 owned by Jack Wells. has an extensive collection of BMWs, all of the air cooled singles BMW has produced. just recently won the Prof. Dr. Knöchlein BMW Classic Award for and sharing BMW’s history the public.

Jack will pilot the team’s support an 18 wheeler that Jack to transport his bikes to shows up and the east coast and points when the interest strikes.

HMS has nine members in total. Norm and Jack, there is manager Bill Robinson. He is a of the Iron Butt Assoc. as as the BMW club of North East (BMWNEF), the AMCA and a founding and past president of Riding History. Larry Meeker is the manager and another Iron member.

Webmaster Alan an IT specialist and amateur car racer, oversee the website.


Chief Chris Alley and Tech Fogelberg are charged with the R11 on the road. Alley is a retired Benz mechanic who did the wrenching on a Triumph Trident that the 2011 Iron Butt Fogelberg has spent over 30 working on Porsches and BMWs. Advisor Ed Miller and Legal John Duss round out HMS. Handy with a mill and a multimeter, the most bikes to Miller are those do not (yet) run.

Although his day job is as an attorney, Duss is involved in the vintage scene, at events like Amelia Concours d’Elegance or judging at into History.

On the other end of the from Team HMS, is #62, Joe Gimpel, Jr. Joe was fascinated by the event and, when the event was announced, determined to in the fun. He is a capable guy who retired after developing and patenting a of quick closing valves for and steam turbine applications, has many vintage autos, as an air cooled 1929 Franklin, of the driven by “Cannonball” Baker in a against the 20th Century passenger train on its run from NY to a 1925 Bentley GP and a 1934 Joe is the current president of the AMCA Chapter.

In order to participate in the Motorcycle Cannonball, Joe started for a suitable mount. He found it in the of well-known BMW collector and dealer Landstrom, owner of Blue Cycles in Norcross, GA. The 1928 R62 had in John’s private museum for after he bought it from one of Dr. von Braun’s team members in AL.

Now it is apart and soon it will be and ready. Joe has done extensive work, to ensure he has every one of the 18hp available, including new and main bearings, and he has updated to seals from the original items. The magneto has been and he turned a new driveshaft.

Joe has long experience with the Airhead BMWs from the but those are very modern especially in comparison to the R62, their overhead valves, and five speed foot transmissions and modern niceties 12V electrics with electric and centrifugal spark advances. of that will be on the R62. Its speed hand shift requires the same right which must also the air and throttle thumb levers, to the ball end of the shift lever and gears.

The final BMW entrant, #52 – the R52 model number – is Darryl of Santa Cruz, California. has assembled four others to the rolling part of Team Rebellion. Chief Mechanic is Glaves, who writes a mechanical for the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America and, more importantly, has keeping his wife Voni on the for decades as she finally amassed BMW miles last year.

Woodward will drive bright yellow Sprinter van as the vehicle and Don Cameron, former of Deming Cycle, will be mechanic. Jeff Wu is the team’s In addition, Darryl has Brent a certified BMW mechanic and independent owner, on call should be some specialized work during the rally.

While not in Voni’s league, Darryl is 600,000 miles of touring and on BMW boxer twins. Until 17 ago, he rode only bikes, but in 1995 he put together a R60/2 and was hooked. Restoring an old does not come as naturally to who is a computer programmer by trade and only previous wrenching was limited to working on his VW Beetle. He now has a BMW each decade they made excepting the current one and the (He’s looking for a late 30s in case you know of one.)

Darryl purchased his 1928 R52 S. Meyer in Germany, in 2004. The bike started and ran ok, but a variety of problems required the bike be and, while it was apart, took the opportunity to have motor work done – rebuild, bore job, new rings, valves and main The magneto was rebuilt as well.

The with a documented history three previous owners, to its first registration after in 1954, came to California in and was seen at the Legends of the Motorcycle in Half Moon Bay in 2008 was by far the oldest bike on the Sunday following the show). With 12hp, the R52 tops out at about

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