Replacing a Clutch plate, BMW R50 1956

My very first few days of riding were not the way I had envisioned myself riding off into the sunset on my ‘new to me’ BMW. The R50 has a very easy clutch to engage but sometimes my hand would let the lever go a bit too fast and the front wheel would rise up and my hands would grip tight as the motorcycle would rapidly accelerate with a POP. Since I had just learned to ride on a very small Kawasaki about two weeks before I had the R50 running, the hand and gas combination had been a bit of a challenge for me.

One day while riding I notice the “slip” of the transmission, I knew I was in gear but it felt as if the clutch was not engaging. I had been riding now for about 5 weeks and had felt comfortable but I knew I would have to figure something out very soon. Coming back from lunch and first gear would not even allow me to roll. I ended up pushing my scooter about 2 blocks off the main road and back to my work. In the hot sun with my helmet and jacket on I was drenched in sweat.

 

My new Allstate insurance paid for itself as the tow truck back to my house was covered. That night I started immediately and had the transmission off and looking at the clutch plate.

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Everything looked fine, but I went ahead (since I was there) and ordered all new clutch plate, clutch plate spring, friction plate and 6 hex bolts to upgrade to the old slot screws. The next weekend, once my parts arrived, I put it all back together, but to my surprise, the scooter still would not go… I removed the transmission and tested in first gear to verify operation of the final drive and check the slinger area.
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Bingo! The woodruff key had been sheared off and the castle nut had not been torqued to the correct foot pounds.

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This is a tapered fitting and required I also purchase a special castle nut socket. Purchasing a new castle nut and woodruff key I waited.

Castle Nut!
Castle Nut!

Reassembly was fast, I could feel the excitement in the air that summer night as I put the R50 all back together. Leaving no bolt, washer, screw and connection checked and rechecked for correct assembly.

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That night I did a test ride and perfection, a new clutch and correctly assembled final drive shaft. My experience was sometimes frustrating, but at the end of the day, with the ‘scooter’ back on the road, I felt a good sense of accomplishment.

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