It's dead Jim!

[ Sunday - January 17, 2010 ]

It's been a little over a week since I've seen my 8GS let alone being on two wheels.  Why?  Because the bike is having some problems.  However, it's alright because everything is coming to a final resolution.  For that fact, I'm thankful to the hard working people at Brown Motor Works (Brown BMW) and BMW NA.  They're doing everything that they can to get my baby back up and running.   All done with extreme civility and professionalism.   But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Am I kissing ass?  No, just extremely appreciative.

[ Wednesday - January 6, 2010 ]

I had just finished pulling a long day's worth of work and I'm ready to head home.  All suited up I head out the door.  I hope the bike cranks over.  It started doing the hard to start and idle sputtering again this morning.  I have about 10,300 miles on the bike and it's been doing this bit on and off now and again.  The bike is almost 1 year old and have been on several long trips.

Attempt 1, attempt 2, attempt 3, ...  the bike refuses to fire.  I can hear the starter motor cranking and the engine turning over but it doesn't fire up.  It's pitch black and I'm sitting here making all kinds of wonderful noises with my starter.  A fellow biker walks to her bike and asked whether I needed help mentioning potential battery problems.  No, it can't be the battery because the bike has been running almost constantly.  I try again.  At this point I'm sure I'm doing a good job running the battery down.  After countless tries, I give up.  Baby is not going anywhere.  I call my wife to let her know my plight and proceeded to call BMW Roadside Assistance.  The dispatcher tries to diagnose the problem over the phone.  He said he'll send a truck out to assist in jumping the bike.  He thinks it's a battery problem.  I don't agree, but OK.  It's worth a try.  I might be wrong.  I'm no mechanic that's for sure.

The truck shows up and the driver hooks up a battery to the battery.  Nope, no joy.  He then kooks up the car battery to the battery.  Still, no joy.  He then checks to see if I have gas.  The bike appears to be empty because I'm down half tank, but I have gas.  The computer show I still have at least half tank.  We leave the gas cap open and guess what, it tries to start.  I try it a second time and there you have it.  Strange.  Is it negative pressure in the gas tank?  Then again, this is an EFI bike.  The fuel pump is suppose to pressurize the fuel to the injectors.  Whatever, at least it's running.  So long as it runs, I'll head home.  On the way, I might as well fuel up.  I stop at a Shell gas station and top off the bike.  It took just 1.6 gallons.  Proof that I had plenty of fuel as this bike takes 4 gallons before reserve.  I start the bike up and it turns over.  There is a bit of idle hesitation but I've become accustom to this behavior after fueling up.  Sure enough I made it home in one piece.  Just as a possibility that I've drained the battery to nearly nothing, I put the battery tender on the bike.  After two hours, before I turn in for the night, I checking the charger.  Look at that, the battery is already full.  This is an indication that the battery is fine.  I leave the tender on the bike over night just to make sure the battery is happy the next morning.

[ Thursday - January 7, 2010 ]

It's the next morning.  I suit up once more to head to work.  Attempt 1, attempt 2, attempt 3 ... Uh oh!  Here we go again.  I don't think it's going to start this morning also.  I try and try until I give up.  I call Brown Motor Works (Pomona) to let the service adviser (Kyle) know that I'm going to drop the bike off if I ever get it started.  Well, it never started.  I guess I get a second chance to calling BMW RA.  The dispatcher asked, "Do you want us to assist in jump-starting the bike again?"  I answered, "No, it's not the battery.  Please go ahead and send out a tow truck."  20 minutes later, the bike is loaded onto a flat bed truck and being hauled to Brown BMW.  The bike gets unloaded from the flat bed and Kyle and Eddie had a quick look at the bike.  The first thing they checked is to see if my tank has gas in it.  Funny.  It turns out there were several incidences of people getting their bike hauled in only to find out it ran out of gas.  In my case, it wasn't so simple.  Then Kyle attempted to start the bike, it doesn't fire even when the throttle is opened.  Oh well, it is what it is.  In this case I'm glad to hand the bike over as it is at its worst.  Plus it does me no good to leave this 400+ lbs dead weight in my garage when it needs service.  It looks like I'll be on four wheels for a while.  That sucks but it can't be helped.

[ Saturday - January 9, 2010 ]

Unfortunately for me, I've been in a queue for a while.  Only on late Friday did the tech get to my bike.  Surprisingly and not surprisingly, the diagnostic computer says there is nothing wrong with my bike.  According to the bike computer my bike checks out with a clean bill of health.  The only minor problem is... it won't start.  The tech is at a loss.  Brown BMW is going to contact BMW NA to see if they can assist in troubleshooting the problem.  As Kyle read all this information to me, I recall that the bike never threw a fault in all the instances where there is starting problem.  Could it be the fuel pump or the charcoal canister vacuum issue that so many people have been talking about?  I can't begin to guess.  After all, these are complicated machines.  I guess I have to wait and see what BMW NA comes up with.

[ Wednesday - January 13, 2010 ]

Eddie tells me that it appears BMW NA know where the problem lies.  In fact, they might have seen this before.  They are directing the tech to look at the fuel injector.  I was glad to hear that BMW NA knows the problem and can assist.

I get a call back from Eddie later in the day saying that it is the fuel injector.  I don't quite know what Eddie means by "Tapping the injector" but when they tapped the injector, the bike fires right up.  It's possible that the fuel injector is clogged.  So they're going to wait for word from BMW NA how to proceed with the fix and maybe clean the injectors.

[ Friday - January 15, 2010 ]

I get a call from Eddie asking me if it's OK to put miles on the bike.  Oh heck yeah!  Eddie mentioned 10-15 miles.  I said, "put 50 miles on it and enjoy it for me as I can't enjoy it yet."  Sure enough, after the fuel injector cleaning and 60 miles worth of testing, the bike is running fine.  Eddie asked whether I wanted to pickup the bike or wait until BMW NA declares  this as a fix.  I gladly said to hold onto the bike until BMW NA gives the green light.  Of course it's late in the day so BMW NA might not respond by the end of today.

[ Saturday - January 16, 2010 ]

Eager to get baby back, I call Brown BMW to see if BMW NA has given the green light.  I talk to Eddie once more and he said that BMW NA hasn't called back.  This means I'll be without baby for another weekend and possibly into the middle of next week.  That's OK.  I rather get the blessing instead of being impatient and finding out I have to take the bike back in again in the near future.  As we talked more about this, that, and the other thing, Eddie mentioned and interesting event to me.  It looks like a F650GS twin with only 300 miles is experiencing the same behavior that is occurring to my bike.  Wow!  That's even more of a bummer than what I have to experience.  I at least got 10K+ miles on my bike before it did the "It's dead Jim" thing.  Like my 8GS, when the tech taps the injector for the 650GS twin, the bike starts right up.  Hmm... it looks like there is a pattern developing here.  Is it possible that all these stalls associated with the 8GS is related with the fuel injector/fuel mapping and not the charcoal canister?  In my case, it's definitely the fuel injector.  The other thing I learned from Eddie is that not all fuel manufacturers' claims are true when it come to the 10% alcohol in the fuel.  In some instances the alcohol concentrations are much higher than 10%.  However, Shell seems to be the only manufacturer that comes closest to that 10% the majority of the time.  Interesting, I've been using Shell gas 80-90% of the time as there is Shell station next to my house.

At this point I'm eager for the return of my 8GS for a good ride in a heavy down pour.

[ Thursday - January 28, 2010 ]

I've gotten my bike back for over a week now.  In fact, baby was back in my hands as of Wednesday the 20th.  What was the first thing I did?  Ride in the rain.  I mean serious rain.  None of this drizzle or "Is that a droplet of water on your suit?" type of rain.  I'm talking a major down pour.  1 inche of water within a couple of hours type of rain.  Oh yeah!  Just the way I like it.  In fact, it literally hurts.  Big drops at fast speeds means big ouches on the mandible, but it is refreshing.  I was a bit concerned about coming back from a week long mandatory riding vacation and heading right into the rain.  Fortunately, the concern wasn't founded.  In fact, the 8GS makes the process so easy that it was confidence inspiring to be on the wet.  Am I still having any problems with the bike?  No.  I did stall the bike a couple times on the second day when riding in the damp no rain setting, but I attribute that to not having proper engine idle levels.  I notice the throttle cable being a tad loose and gave it a quick adjustment.  The bike hasn't stalled since.  I'm very pleased with the FI cleaning fix.  It might not be the ultimate answer but at least it's allowing me to continue my riding adventures.  Basically that translates to commuting to work.  For now.

Some folks on the forums recommend running the bike with fuel stabilizer in every tank of fuel to prevent the possibility of fuel contamination and FI clogging.  I'm not sure I'm ready for such drastic a measure.

[ Saturday - January 30, 2010 ]

I thought I was finished with this topic, but it appears that I'm not.  At long last, I've decided to go ahead and start using fuel stabilizer (Seafoam) to eliminate moisture in my gas.  Considering the price of gas these days, a 16 oz bottle of Seafoam is really not that expensive because I'm using at best one quarter of the 16 oz bottle to stabilize a full tank.  It's actually cheaper than purchasing an extra gallon of gasoline.  Will I be using Seafoam for the rest of the bike's life?  Perhaps.  Now it's a question of how often I use Seafoam.  I don't think it will be every tank of fuel, but it will be more often than before.  I've never had to stabilize fuel before.  Perhaps it will be every other tank of gas.  We'll see.

[ Monday - February 1, 2010 ]

After two days worth of sitting around in the tank collecting moisture from the fuel, the bike is running great with the fuel stabilizer applied.  It might just be my subjectivity, but I'm almost sure the bike runs smoother.  So much for a GS being able to run any type of fuel.  If the 8GS is this sensitive to E85 fuel, I can only wonder how the bike would do out in the middle of Mongolia.  I can only surmize that Mongolian fuel might be better because there is no alcohol in it.  Who knows.  Of course I'll never be the one testing that theory as I don't have the freedom to wonder the Earth looking for those far out gas stations.  For now I have a good temporary fix.  Seafoam should prevent another FI clogging incident.  It's kind of pathetic to implement this type of a fix, but I'll do whatever I need to keep the 8GS running.  After all, it the only bike I have.

Written on: January 17, 2010
Last modified: February 1, 2010