A week or so back I was having a yarn with a couple of people online who are associated with a "real" BMW club that I am also a member of. The topic of discussion was where to send people to find information to do repair/rebuild tasks. Obviously the varions oline forums got a mention, along with Snowbum, ABMW list etc.
But the question was posed, "if you were going to buy reference books, what would you buy?". That discussion started with Clymer, Haynes etc. and moved quickly to the genuine BMW workshop manual and then to other books in the marketplace. At this point I fessed up tohaving books covering the electrics, gearbox rebuilding and carb rebuilding. I was then made an offer I couldn't refuse, put some thoughts in writing and I would be given an engine building manual. Now that was a deal I could refuse.
The books are:
Classic Boxer Charging - "Self Help fr the electrically Challenged" by Rick Jones. I bought my copy some years ago from Motor Works judging by their imprint on the Contensts Page.
How to Strip, rebuild and Improve BMW's 5 Speed Unit, by SJ Scriminger and sold by Motobins
How to Strip & Rebuild Bing CV Carburettors, by SJ Scriminger and sold by Motobins
How to Strip, Rebuild and Improve BMW's Airhead Engine, by SJ Scriminger and sold by Motobins.
As many here will know I am not a fan of the factory manual, my reasons for disliking it are essentially:
It assumes a level of BMW specific technical knowledge that could only be acquired within the dealership network attending manufacturer run "schools", at various points it calls for the use of special tools by their Matra No. Most home mechanics will netierh have or have access to Matra tools and the factory manual in many cases gives no clue as towhat the tool looks like in actual use or offers alternatives to that tool, and lastly the factiory manual presupposes that the user/reader is a qualified mechanic or engine builder.
So, not a fan.
In the past I have been a user and contributor to online forums but the simple truth is now the "signal to nolse" ration in mny of those forums is fairly dismal and there seems to be an ethos that everyone is entitled to and in fact should contribute, even if they have not the slightest clue what they are talking about. Only this week I have been perplexed by an odd fault with my Oilhead and in desperation I asked in the appropriate forum. I explained in detail the problem and what I had done so far. The response was entirely underwhelming with most reponses banging on about things I had already tested and discarded.
The very best reponse was the guy who suggested I park the bike on a rubber mat. When I asked him why he respoded that I should try it and get back to him. I managed to hold my usual acerbic self in chack and merely responded that I was too tired, what with scattering goat entrails and relieving rabbits of their feet. I am not at all sure he picked up on a sarcasm....
Anyway, back to the books.
Lets deal first with the charging manual. This book is an absolute GEM, written so that a complete novice can understand it, provides details of how to test and interpret the results. I cannot praise this book more highly, if you are going to do your own electrical work on an airhead, you should have this book.
Now let's move to Mr Scriminger's offerings.
They are all well written, they detail how to adapt commonly available engineering tools and they are crystal clear. Mr Scriminger knows his stuff and it shows.
BUT, these are not "The Idiot's guide to......" books, they require a reasonable level of knowledge and the ability to usesome quite complex measuring tools. To use the gearbox book as an example, you will NOT learn how to rebuild a gearbox from this book, but if you already have some familarity of how a gearbox works and own and can use things like depth micrometers, outside micrometers etc then it is a great resource to have. Best of all, like all of Mr Scriminger's books he tells you how to adapt tools and the text is chock full of useful tips and tricks.
Similar comments apply to the engine building book. I really wish I had this book when I rebuilt my first BMW engine in the early 1980s, I used the factory manual and I pestered the use of specia tools from the local dealer and it all took too damn long.
Lastly the Carb book. This is the only one of Mr Scriminger's books i feel comfortable in saying that a complete novice could use this book to rebuild their carbs, it is an excellent book and is a little cheaper than the also excellent publication put out by the USA Bing Agency.
In conclusion, if Mr Scriminger ever publishes a book on final drive rebuilding I will buy it, even though I have already rebuilt a number of them.