The Sump Plug FAQ
compiled & edited by Kristian #562
Please read the Disclaimer before attempting any work in this FAQ.
Classic Oil Change:
GS Oil Change:
So far, this only afflicts the Classics ...!
Don't Over-Tighten That
Sump Plug !
by Steve#001,Flash#412 & Kristian #562
Created 11/28/99, Updated 03/03/02
This is MAINLY a Classic Problem! OK, so you recently did your Oil Change and now your sump plug is leaking? Well there a few causes of the problem, but fear not, there is repair kit for this if you have stripped the threads. The best thing however is to avoid stripping it all altogether.
According to a few dealers, when the original tap was done for the drain, they were not done correctly in many bikes. Combined with a steel plug and aluminium casings, and too few threads in the casing, this compounds even worse when you tighten the plug to the specified 40 Nm of torque. The tapping problem has supposedly been corrected on the newer bikes, but there are still many instances of this happening.
As some Inmates have pointed out, 40 Nm of torque on an oiled thread is actually more than 40 Nm. Steel being tougher than aluminium doesn't help, and a bad tapping causes the threads to break or shear off.
Interestingly the PDF Manual for F's sister bike (with the same Rotax Engine), Aprilia's Pegaso, Aprilia Pegaso Manual specifies a Torque of just 25Nm (See the pages marked 19 and 21 for photos, and the page marked 23 for their torque table). On this Aprilia site, their Tech page uses the same 40Nm, but I believe it's a dealer site.
This Photo shows the left half of the crank case for a Classic F650. The stock drain plug is in place, off to the left. In the fingers is another drain plug that Harl made out of a fill plug for a K75 transmission, to which he epoxied some rare earth magnets, being held up next to the case edge. You see that white plastic thing held in by the bolts? That is the edge of the filter screen that occupies the space ABOVE the drain area, which is the space between the screen and the bottom of the sump where the plug goes. (Those bolts also hold a little "windage" deflector in place.). I had thought that the screen was to protect the intake of the primary oil pump. It appears that it ONLY covers the crankcase drain, keeping the big chunks inside the crank sump. I believe ALL the screen does is keep the stripped sump threads out of the rest of the motor.! Flash# 412
This (slightly focus-challenged) picture, shows WHY Harl made the other plug.
The BMW Repair Kit
The BMW Sump Plug Repair Kit (11 11 2 343 436) is needed to fix this. It involves putting a steel insert into the current tapping with Red Loctite and installation of a new plug that uses an Allen head and a different size of crush washer.
It has been reported by owners from around the world that the kit and installation is covered under warranty if the bike is still under warranty. Otherwise the kit runs about US$150.
Q. What is IN the BMW Sump Plug Repair Kit &
How do I get out the Old Plug?
A. The BMW repair kit ($110 when I bought it) is a slightly oversized 18 mm bolt with self tapping threads. In the center is a threaded hole and a much smaller bolt with an Allen head. The smaller bolt has a matching crush washer. That's it.
No instructions, no words of wisdom, and no words of encouragement (second hand) from the techs at the dealership. I did the installation myself spread out over an evening, preceded by letting the oil drain during the day. Is it overpriced? Yeah. I have found nearly the same at hardware and auto parts stores for maybe 10 USD. The BMW version looked like it had slightly deeper and better formed threads. I was relieved to have something that other people had successfully installed, and thought of it as paying the extra $100 or so for peace of mind. As for a helicoil, when I looked it seemed that it would be necessary to buy one a bit too long and cut it down. Most of the people I spoke to suggested splitting the engine to do the job, although one guy said not necessary and recounted his tale of installing a coil in every hole in the engine of a KLR without any such measures. Most of the threads were reduced to waves. I could feel them (barely), I could see them (or so I convinced myself), but they wouldn't hold the bolt in. That is after I pulled it out with vise grips. Before that it would spin in either direction indefinitely. There was perhaps a turn and a half of pristine thread at the top of the hole, where the OEM bolt doesn't reach. It was hard driving the bolt through the wavy zone, to the point where I was worried the bike would turn with the bolt once it was in a few turns. When I got to the portion where there was still threads left, the bike DID turn if I didn't brace my weight against the center stand. I'm guessing the plug would work even if the hole were completely smooth, at the size of the thread trough. No leaks so far after 4000 miles. Jeremy #1087
The kit does not have a drill bit included. I comes as a unit that is slightly oversized that threads into the stripped threads. It has a smaller steel plug with magnet and many threads. This is a good permanent repair. Steve#417(IN,USA)
Mine did the same thing only without the mess. I used good vice grips with downward pressure. It took a few minutes but it came out. The fix 'kit' has no instructions and is not a helicoil, by the way. Its just a self tapping bolt with a hexbolt insert drain plug. Make sure to have everything nice and de-oiled as you will need to use red LocTite when you install the fix kit. My repair took me about 10 minutes tops plus I let the bike sit for several hours before refilling the oil. Good Luck! Windhunter
At long last, the alien space craft from another galaxy has made it to my country and delivered me the Sump Plug Repair Kit and Washer I had ordered just before the last ice age. Mark Bishop, Isles of Malta.
The kit is self explanatory. Just drop the oil as normal, let the engine cool and fit the kit. You will need a small tube of LocTite permanent thread lock and a decent length Tommy bar to turn the new sump thread into the metal, it sort of self taps so the bar gives a nice steady force. Make sure it goes in straight and make sure everything is clean and degreased round the hole. Leave the LocTite to set then fit and torque the new plug and refill. Whole job takes about 30 minutes work and a couple of hours waiting. You may want to change the oil again in say 1000 km to try and get any swarf out that the kit made, but I didn't bother and there was nothing strange at the next oil change. Andy Leeds UK #982
Removing a stripped sump plug? Sometimes you can slip a flat-blade screwdriver between the engine and the sump plug and put some outward pressure on it as you turn it with a wrench. Dick #420.
Removing a stripped sump plug? Mine did the same thing only without the mess. I used good vice grips with downward pressure. It took a few minutes but it came out. The fix 'kit' has no instructions and is not a helicoil, by the way. Its just a self tapping bolt with a hexbolt insert drain plug. Make sure to have everything nice and de-oiled as you will need to use red LocTite when you install the fix kit. My repair took me about 10 minutes tops plus I let the bike sit for several hours before refilling the oil. Good Luck! Windhunter
Torque for sump plug repair? Wouldn't you think for over $100 for a friggin' self-tapping bolt that BMW could include three sentences of installation instruction? I just replaced my sump plug with the 'kit' on my last oil change and was amazed that nothing was included but the part itself. I was pretty nervous installing it (I hope this thing is straight! Sure hope I don't FUBAR the case! etc). I had let the bike sit for about a week before I got the part so all the oil drips were gone - that allowed me a nice dry surface. I used red LocTite and a pretty large (1/2" drive) torque wrench to install the outer plug. I went in pretty far but stopped short of really cranking the bolt down. Mine was plenty snug at about 40-50 ft lbs and with the red LocTite, I figured it was good to go. I wanted to get the outer portion of the nut up snug with the bottom of the case but when I got close, I decided not to twist too much and end up in a world of pain. The outer portion of the plug's nut is just touching the case. The Allen drain bolt got about 30 ft lbs at the most but I was pretty conservative (didn't measure the torque value). I made sure it was snug but no reason to over crank it. I never had any drips, oozing or leaks of any kind since installation. So, even though I was nervous and thought the fix kit was way way overpriced, it did do its job well. Windhunter
Some things you can do prevent this: ignore the 40 Nm torque setting, just get it snug; use RTV Silicone Sealant or plumber's pipe tape or put a wire in the hole in the sump plug, just Snug-Tighten the Plug it and tie it back with wire. Let you dealer know about this problem when you take it in for a service or do it yourself.
If you use Plumbers Tape, this allows me to use the standard tool kit wrench to torque the plug AND be able to undo it with same at the next oil change. No leaks at all and will not vibrate loose. Be careful to not cover the copper washer with tape and about 4 turns will do it fine, be sure to remove old tape at each oil change. Having put together several chemical pilot plants using the tape (among other stuff), I warn you to be careful of that little bit of tape sticking above the start of the threads (leave the 1st thread or so uncovered). Reason being, if the threads cut it loose as you're twisting it in, that little tiny piece of tape can cut free and able to migrate to some very annoying places. Doesn't take much to plug a needle valve in a pilot plant, not sure what havoc it could wreak on a Rotax engine. Jack in Oz, Marty #436
In most shops the technician with the least seniority gets the routine service and will more than likely use the 40 Nm of torque setting. So keep this in mind, but note not all shops are like this.
I use clear silicone on threads, for 20+ years now without any failures and much less torque...The silicone or pipe thread material will keep plug in place. Randy748/Calif.
I use pipe thread tape on my plug, this means I do not have to torque it as much, never leaks and is easier to undo.....less chance of rounding it off. Jack, F650GS, Australia
I would also get a hole drilled in the plug so that you can wire it to the frame or something. That way you can get away with a lower torque value, maybe 80% of recommended. I don't torque mine to spec, just to when the washer has crushed a little. Chris in Santa Cruz, CA #782
Big thanks to Todd#389
there Alternative Plugs ?
by Todd#389 & Flash #412
Q. Are there unused threads in the case
when the stock plug is screwed in? i.e. Would a longer plug really work?
A. Absolutely. There are three or four unused threads in the case when the stock plug is screwed in. And CLEARLY there is lots of room, maybe 6-8 mm, between where the screw emerges from the case before it hits the screen.
M18x1.5, max 10mm thread intrusion, max 24mm shoulder - for the Classic, not for the GS. My OEM plug has 4 threads on a 9mm shank and a magnet.
K-Bike Sump Plugs - These Work Well
Homemade Plugs: Details of the OEM Plug
The other (socket hex - R tranny?) BMW plug has 6 threads on a 12mm shank and no magnet. Can't drill it (much) for a magnet because of the socket hole.
My crankcase wall is 9-10mm thick, and fully threaded. With the 1.5 thread pitch that means 6-6.5 threads worth.
There's 9mm of clearance between the screen and the inside of the crankcase. In my case, you can find $3 poor quality non-magnetized metric 18Mx1.5 drain plugs at NAPA and Western Auto. In what I found available, the WA had better quality threads. (I don't have an 18Mx1.5 thread die, but I can measure the threads.) BUT (Important!) the aftermarket plug was not magnetized, too long (16mm shank) and the shoulder was too large a diameter to seat the seal washer properly. (The OEM plugs have a 23mm diameter shoulder, the crankcase lip the seal washer must fit inside is 25mm ID, the $3 plug was 27mm, the OEM washer is 24mm OD.)
So I threw the $3 plug on a lathe and shortened the threaded shank to 11.5 mm (7-8 threads - to fully thread into the crankcase WITH the offset of the washer thickness, so all available threads are engaged, with maybe .5 thread excess intruding into the crank), and narrowed the shoulder to 23mm so it would fit properly onto the washer in the recess on the bottom of the crankcase. Then I partially drilled into the top of the plug to install (aircraft epoxy) a $6 gold plated 3/8" diameter rare earth (eBay) super magnet fully recessed into the top. Then I angle drilled every corner of the hex head for safety wire. Voila! The perfect drain plug! Magnetized, uses ALL threads, safety wired. Probably worth about $900 of my time to put together the first one... So instead of a stripped drain plug, my curse is the only set of receding intake valves that anyone has heard of.
Quick Changer Oil Change Plug:
I thought this product looked especially interesting, given the annoying F650 sump plug. http://www.cyclegadgets.com/Products/QuickChanger/. I emailed cyclegadgets.com (highly recommended btw, they have very good service) and confirmed that the K plug is 18 x 1.5, and therefore should fit the F (although I did not confirm the shoulder measurement).
Quick Changer Oil Change Plug: The mounting on the F650 would point DOWNWARD (unlike the picture), and I would have a concern about how FAR downward it would protrude (certainly more than the stock bolt), and if it might get "dislodged" by hitting something on the road/trail, since the stock skid pan is poor or no protection for it. Strictly road, I would say it might be feasible; off-road, one rock hit and you're stranded far from home. I haven't needed it yet (so haven't checked further), but I think the local auto part stores sell a rubber plug that you can install in stripped out oil pan threads on cars. Marty #436-Chicago-97 F650F
This a universal sump plug. Since it is too long, I will shorten the rubber by 0.5 cm. The instructions say that it is not recommended to reuse. The final plug after a little trimming is shown in the RH pic. It fits perfectly and (so far) no oil leaks. I've tied one of the wings to the frame, but it is not going to be sufficient if it bumps into something serious. To tell the truth, I didn't even remember that the plug was exposed and not covered by the plastic. This is the reason I opened the wings, to make it shorter in case it was. At the present, I am not planning any off road. gim '97 F650, Waltham, MA. gim'97 F650, Waltham, MA.
I bought my 1997 ST used a couple of month ago and it arrived with a rubber plug in it. The type with a bolt inserted into the centreline. When you tighten the bolt it increases the diameter of the plug filling up the already mostly ruined threads. After my first oil change and 2k miles it is still holds drip-free. Maybe I am willing to invest the sum of $10 for a new one.
You can get those things at any auto parts place. They're called freeze plugs. I think Ace Hardware Stores carry them, too. Flash #412
I use a FEMCO drain plug on my truck and it works great. Fast and no mess. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have one to fit the F650. http://www.femco.nl/engels/html/e_producten.htm. DH #920 SLC, UT
Having noted the frequency of stripped drain plug fittings it dawned on me that someone might have thought to install a permanent fitting that includes a drain valve at the end of a tube or hose. Common on some aircraft engine installations it allows for the drain to be located in a place easy to reach without removing cowlings. In the case of the 650 it would eliminate the need to mess with a fragile fitting. Just cut a piece of safety wire, turn the valve and away she goes. Here is a valve I found while searching the web for drain valves. This one comes in an 18x1.5 configuration. It looks a bit large. Would have to fit in between the case and the skid plate. The part # is F104. It also comes in a version with a nipple for attaching a hose but that is going to make it stick out further. Fumotovalve http://www.fumotovalve.com/ This could be used if a 90 degree fitting was installed in the case with bit of SS tubing and a union to attach the valve. That would probably be the slimmest combination but would require fabricating some parts. The 90 fitting and union should be available as standard parts. The Femco drain valve suggested by DH#920 in the message above might be better if it could be had in the right size. They have a low profile model. BradG 1002, N, CA '01GS
Hope you don't drag those "wings" on the rubber sump plug over some off-road obstacles...I can see it getting "popped out" much easier than the OEM version and leaving you "oil-less" at the end of a short oil trail. Marty#436
If you DO go with a Helicoil instead of the egregiously perniciously priced BMW alternative and it DOES happen to come loose, it does NOT go into the sump. I have a picture (that Harl took) (above) showing that there is a filter screen between the sump-proper and the drain plug. Said screen WILL keep the Helicoil on the outside of where the heavy bits are flailing around. The only concern is that when the Helicoil is installed, the tap must NOT penetrate the screen or else... what I just said will be bogus. Flash #412
K-Bike Sump Plugs
I'm using a K-bike plug on my '99 F, too, because it has more threads. Did you epoxy on a magnet? I haven't yet because I have visions of the magnet coming loose and knocking around in the crankcase. But I do like the idea of a magnet grabbing all those little filings! Bob#550 (Olympia WA)
My BMW shop sells K and R-bike drain plugs with a magnet already installed for about $10. In fact, they recommended it to replace the drain plug in my new R-bike. Richard #230, Pacifica, CA
I have the same problem on my '97 when I switched to Mobile 1. It has a new crush washer, and I'm using the longer drain plug off a K bike. Next time I'll use a bit of Teflon tape. I am being very careful not to overtighten. I'll take a few drips to avoid stripping the threads. Scott S in WA
Lets discuss magnetic oil drain plugs for the classic with enough threads for full engagement. I have heard that the k-bike drain plugs will fit and has more threads. A&S has them with magnets. Does anyone have experience with these? Still haven't got my clutch nut off and its been to cold to work in the garage. Someone call my wife and explain to her that motorbikes belong in the living room! XtreemLEE#1188, 00' R1100RT, 99' F650, Milwaukee, WI.
The oil drain plug for the K's is also used on most (if not all) the BMW cars and R- bikes. It is M18x 1,5 mm, just the same as the classic plug. The length is not given in the ETK. So, the thread size is identical to the original one. Magnetic drain plugs of all sorts can be bought cheap from a lot of machine part firms. (in Norway and also in the US- just do not remember the name of the brand I got "over there".) What I bought in USA and Norway was the same brand, some Italian firm. I will check it out and post the name. haakon#626 (Norway,12-1999- F650GS)
I took my Classic plug to the dealer, where we looked at several K bike plugs. Ended up with something they called a 'transmission plug' that was several threads longer than the Classic plug. Took it home, and JB Welded onto it a pair of rare earth magnets (Radio Shack). It's been several thousand miles now, lots of heating & cooling cycles, and looks fine. The rare earth magnets are very powerful, and very small. Scott S in WA
Magnets for Sump Plugs
I looked at radio shacks rare earth magnets, and you are right they are tiny. Anyone have a fast/good source for magnets like the ones that are in the stock plug? #1188, 00' R1100RT, 99' F650, Milwaukee, WI. XtreemLEE
Why? The Radio Shack are undoubtedly stronger, smaller, and readily available. Harl #380 Fort Collins, CO.
Radio Shack. Flash#412
Any (broken) 3.5" Hard Disk drive. Look for the magnets that are used for the arm. Usually 4, 1cm2, you can reshape them easily. gim '97 F650, Waltham, MA.
What gim said! I have one of those hard drive magnets stuck to some metal on my cubicle wall. I hang my riding pants off of it to dry them when I ride to work in the rain! Those little buggers are incredibly strong. Seacuke, #1214, F650GS, California, East of the Bay Area.
is the Oil Pickup ?
There is a little screen in a plastic frame that is about two inches (~5 cm) square. See picture above. This screen sits in a horizontal plane in the center of a void. The drain plug pokes up into the void below. The oil pickup occupies the void above. There is a little sheet metal piece that serves three purposes bolted to the case half there. First, it keeps the screen in place. Next, it serves to close off the upper void, effectively requiring all oil sucked into the pickup to come THROUGH the screen. And finally, it has an appendage that serves to control oil slosh in the bottom of the crankcase. The mating area on the other half case is... non-existent, except for the outside perimeter. This allows oil in the bottom of the case to freely flow into the void above which is the screen and below which is the drain plug.
The first photo shows the pickup parts in a state of disassembly.
This shows the bits all assembled. I put a red mark on the case for reference.
This red mark more or less mates with the red mark on the case opposite the pickup.
Stripped Sump Plug Feedback
Newly added Section so not many Cases Reported here, but it is fairly common on the Classic
Also be very careful changing your oil as the main drainplug screws into the engine (aluminum? beer can soft) its easy to strip out. I had to take my bike to an auto mechanic to have a heli-coil installed. not fun cleaning up oil on concrete either. Thomas Stewart 97 f650st orange.