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Repairing and reaming the BMW wristpin bushings

by Duane Ausherman

This page applies to the models of BMW that have a wristpin bushing in the end of the rod.  That would include the entire /3, /2, /5, /6, /7 and later. 

The wristpin bushing for the /3 and /2 BMW motorcycle

The rod(s) of all BMW's made after the war have a bushing pressed into the small end of the rod.  Over time, with the stress of the pushing and pulling on the rod, the actual hole in the rod will become elongated.  It is common for the hole to be .002" out of round.  I have seen it be far larger due to an accident, but I would never trust that rod again.  It is also common for the rod to be a bit bent.  By using two parallel bars between the wristpin and the case, one can see the bend.  By moving the rod up or down and performing the same test, one can often see a twist in the rod.  The twist isn't important at all.  If the bushing is bored evenly with the hole in the rod, then the piston will be cocked to one side.  That is not good. 

It is common to find the BMW motorcycle wristpin loose in the bushing, or the bushing loose in the rod.  The subject of replacing the bushing is one of some misunderstanding.  One rebuilder presses in a new bushing and to size it he pushes a ball bearing through the wrist pin.  That is a very poor procedure and here is why. 

As a ball goes through the newly pressed in bushing, it will follow the path of least resistance.  The "new" hole may be perfectly sized and the pin may fit it well.  The customer will find that all seems well and be content.  However, the ball will follow the bushing hole that is already there.  If the rod is bent, the new hole will allow the wristpin to be out of alignment, same as the rod.  That crooked hole will allow the piston to be cocked in the cylinder and may cause less than a smooth movement. 

If the hole in the rod is more than a little bit "out of round", it should be reamed out to get it back to round.  Then, press in the new bushing.  With the crankshaft in the case, one must mount up a fixture that bolts to the case.  The fixture will hold the reamer parallel to the case.  This is very important, as the cylinder mounts to the case, that controls the piston travel path.  With the wristpin bushing bored parallel to the case, the rod can be slightly bent and it matters none.  In effect, the wristpin bushing may end up thicker on one side and thinner on the other side.  It matters none, as the wristpin is now parallel with the case.  It is not likely for a ball going through the bushing to be parallel to anything. 

All of this assumes that the case is still aligned.  In some accidents, the face where the cylinder mounts can become distorted and out of parallel with the crankshaft.  That must be corrected before the wristpin bushing is reamed.  Other issues may exist too. 

It is impossible to accurately install and size a wristpin bushing on a used or rebuilt crankshaft that is out of the case.  It must be mounted in a case.  A "test case" can be used to make this a faster procedure.  Take an old case that has a good cylinder mounting surface and cut it in half vertically with a band saw.  The crank can now be quickly mounted up and the fixture bolted to the case for reaming. 

The /5 and later BMW motorcycle wristpin bushings

The same things apply to the later engine design.  However, it is far less likely that a bent rod will occur.  The case is different enough that it will take a different fixture to fit the larger base design.  Otherwise it is about the same procedure. 


An owner that isn't interested in things being exact, may get away with using a ball to size the wristpin bushing.  An engine rebuild is so much work and expense, why get cheap with any part of it? It is up to the informed owner to make that decision.  This page is only to inform. 


If I get questions about this subject, I will take photos of a typical fixture and set up for reaming the bushing and post them here.  This page was initially written up a long time ago and forgotten.  A recent question on the slash2 list reminded me and I loaded it onto my website. 

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This page was last edited: 04/08/2006 - copyright Duane Ausherman
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