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Hi all,

I would like to know if anyone in the group has experienced this.

Just the other day I was out on my 2009 K1200LT for a ride which I have had for 2 years. I stopped to have a coffee and visit a friend. Shortly after I fired her up and I heard a loud chain sound coming from the front of the engine, close to the front wheel. I turned off the engine thinking what is this sound. The first thing I did was to check the engin oil level and to my surprise the oil level was very low in fact if I put the bike on its centre stand you can see the oil level through the circular glass oil window. So I bought some oil and topped it up thinking that this will cure the rattling chain noise. So I started her up and the chain noise was still there. This chain noise does not affect the engine performance as I had to drive her home. Can anybody tell me what has happened or has anyone had this experience. Could it be the cam chain tensioner?

Many thanks
Doug

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The K1200LT is inherently a noisy engine. First time I rode my 2006 without a full face helmet on I thought there was something wrong with the engine also. But that was many thousands of miles ago and many very long trips to other states. Others will chime in on this subject I'm sure. That's not to say your noise is other than that but I suspect it's the normal sound you're hearing...
 

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I would have to ask were you wearing your helmet at the time you heard the noise? Like Rob said this is a very noisy bike. Yes the tensioner is fed by oil but in all the years I have been around LTs I have never seen a tensioner fail. Yours would be the first in 15 years if it has.

If the bike was hot when you started it you would need to wait 15 minutes before checking the oil as when the engine is running the sight glass is empty and it takes a few minutes for it to re-appear. But as long as there is oil showing in the glass you are OK on level.
 

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I would have to ask were you wearing your helmet at the time you heard the noise? Like Rob said this is a very noisy bike. Yes the tensioner is fed by oil but in all the years I have been around LTs I have never seen a tensioner fail. Yours would be the first in 15 years if it has.



If the bike was hot when you started it you would need to wait 15 minutes before checking the oil as when the engine is running the sight glass is empty and it takes a few minutes for it to re-appear. But as long as there is oil showing in the glass you are OK on level.
Hi,

Thanks for your reply ...to be honest my LT was nice and smooth not noisy at all, then all of a sudden, it sounds like tractor. I only have 17000 miles on the clock. There is something not right here I'm sure of it. I will book my LT in for a service and ask them to see what this rattling chain noise is. I hope I have not damaged the engine due to too running the engine with little oil ...having said that no oil warning lights have come on during use....I'm a bit confused.....

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Hi,

Thanks for your reply ...to be honest my LT was nice and smooth not noisy at all, then all of a sudden, it sounds like tractor. I only have 17000 miles on the clock. There is something not right here I'm sure of it. I will book my LT in for a service and ask them to see what this rattling chain noise is. I hope I have not damaged the engine due to too running the engine with little oil ...having said that no oil warning lights have come on during use....I'm a bit confused.....

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Your first post confused me. Proper checking of oil is done with the bike on the center stand. You wrote: "The first thing I did was to check the engine oil level and to my surprise the oil level was very low in fact if I put the bike on its centre stand you can see the oil level through the circular glass oil window." You SHOULD be able to see the oil level in the sight glass with the bike on the centerstand.

If I am reading your post correctly and you have been checking/adding oil with the bike on the side stand, you may have had too much oil, not too little. Too much oil can be bad; the crankshaft froths the oil, air bubbles get mixed into the oil and the oil stops lubricating properly.
 

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Your first post confused me. Proper checking of oil is done with the bike on the center stand. You wrote: "The first thing I did was to check the engine oil level and to my surprise the oil level was very low in fact if I put the bike on its centre stand you can see the oil level through the circular glass oil window." You SHOULD be able to see the oil level in the sight glass with the bike on the centerstand.

If I am reading your post correctly and you have been checking/adding oil with the bike on the side stand, you may have had too much oil, not too little. Too much oil can be bad; the crankshaft froths the oil, air bubbles get mixed into the oil and the oil stops lubricating properly.
I had the same thought and then figured maybe he made a typo and meant to say “can’t” rather than “can” in regard to the oil level.

I am not sure what triggers the idiot light on an LT, but on most cars it is when the pressure is extremely low as in 5 psi or less. This generally only occurs if the oil is so low that air is being sucked in as well as oil. Often, the engine is already being damaged when the light comes on, particularly if you don’t shut down quickly.

If you have overfilled the LT substantially as Charlie wrote, then frothed oil may well not actuate the tensioner piston adequately given the air in it being compressible.

So, I guess the question is: Do you really have the correct oil level now? The LT should be checked on a level surface on the centerstand and the oil should be within the sight glass, neither above it nor below it. Although, those who have had the LT engine apart say that the crank is well above the normal oil level so it sounds like it would take a gross overfill to cause an issue with frothing of the oil.
 

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...If you have overfilled, then frothed oil may well not actuate the tensioner piston adequately given the air in it being compressible...
Exactly what I had been thinking. Cam chain noise due to tensioner not working properly, secondary to air in the oil.
Highly speculative to be sure, but might actually explain the symptoms.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I had the same thought and then figured maybe he made a typo and meant to say “can’t” rather than “can” in regard to the oil level.



I am not sure what triggers the idiot light on an LT, but on most cars it is when the pressure is extremely low as in 5 psi or less. This generally only occurs if the oil is so low that air is being sucked in as well as oil. Often, the engine is already being damaged when the light comes on, particularly if you don’t shut down quickly.



If you have overfilled the LT substantially as Charlie wrote, then frothed oil may well not actuate the tensioner piston adequately given the air in it being compressible.



So, I guess the question is: Do you really have the correct oil level now? The LT should be checked on a level surface on the centerstand and the oil should be within the sight glass, neither above it nor below it. Although, those who have had the LT engine apart say that the crank is well above the normal oil level so it sounds like it would take a gross overfill to cause an issue with frothing of the oil.
Hi guys,

Ok I'm sorry if I have not explained my situation properly so here goes.

I have been riding my k1200lt for approximately 1.5 years now and the engine has been a smooth as silk with no sounds,bangs or tractor sounds until the other day. I went for a ride, stopped the bike and when I started her up I heard this horrible clunky chain sound. I switched of the engine and placed the bike on its centre stand to check the oil level through the roumd oil level viewer . The oil level was not showing on the glass so I tilted the bike over with the help of my friend to see if I could see the oil level appear. At this point with the bike tilted over a good 15 degrees the oil level did appear but just on the bottom on the oil glass viewer. So I added some more oil hopping that this would fix that horrible clunky, chain sound. But I am afraid the sound is still there.... So I am wondering if because I had very little oil in the engine I have some how damaged something ? However saying that when i drove my bike home approximatly 50 miles the handling and performance of the bike is not affected at all...

I hope this description paints a better picture.

Cheers
Doug

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Hi guys,

Ok I'm sorry if I have not explained my situation properly so here goes....
Ok, Doug, that paints a better picture.
Let me gently put in a word for rereading one's posts and using the edit function to correct typos.
Were you "hoping" or "hopping"? Okay, context can fix that one for you by the reader.
"Can" vs "can't" is a little more problematic. I held off reply to your first post because I suspected a typo but as the thread progressed, I started to wonder.

If it were my bike, I'd listen around with a mechanic's stethoscope and try to localize the "rattle".
Your idea of having a professional BMW tech look at it is a good idea too.
Let us know what you find. As John Z. stated, cam chain problems are rare (unheard of?) on this site. (Did I miss one?)
 

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Hi guys,

Ok I'm sorry if I have not explained my situation properly so here goes.

I have been riding my k1200lt for approximately 1.5 years now and the engine has been a smooth as silk with no sounds,bangs or tractor sounds until the other day. I went for a ride, stopped the bike and when I started her up I heard this horrible clunky chain sound. I switched of the engine and placed the bike on its centre stand to check the oil level through the roumd oil level viewer . The oil level was not showing on the glass so I tilted the bike over with the help of my friend to see if I could see the oil level appear. At this point with the bike tilted over a good 15 degrees the oil level did appear but just on the bottom on the oil glass viewer. So I added some more oil hopping that this would fix that horrible clunky, chain sound. But I am afraid the sound is still there.... So I am wondering if because I had very little oil in the engine I have some how damaged something ? However saying that when i drove my bike home approximatly 50 miles the handling and performance of the bike is not affected at all...

I hope this description paints a better picture.

Cheers
Doug

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I have no idea how low on oil a 15 degree tilt indicates. How much oil did you have to add to get the level back to the middle of the sight glass? That is the best measure of how low the oil actually was.

I am not sure how the cam chain is lubricated. It may be simply splash lubricated or it may have a small hole that directs pressurized oil onto the chain. Most engines I have had apart had splash lubricated timing chains, but I suspect there are engines with oil ports that direct an oil stream onto the chain.

If you got the oil low enough that the cam chain was not running in oil or getting adequate splash oiling, it is possible that the chain suffered from high wear and is now “stretched” to the point that the tensioner can no longer keep it properly tensioned. That does seem like a long shot. I am curious to see what the shop finds when they take a look.
 

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I have no idea how low on oil a 15 degree tilt indicates. How much oil did you have to add to get the level back to the middle of the sight glass? That is the best measure of how low the oil actually was.



I am not sure how the cam chain is lubricated. It may be simply splash lubricated or it may have a small hole that directs pressurized oil onto the chain. Most engines I have had apart had splash lubricated timing chains, but I suspect there are engines with oil ports that direct an oil stream onto the chain.



If you got the oil low enough that the cam chain was not running in oil or getting adequate splash oiling, it is possible that the chain suffered from high wear and is now “stretched” to the point that the tensioner can no longer keep it properly tensioned. That does seem like a long shot. I am curious to see what the shop finds when they take a look.
Hi all,

I'm curious myself so I will book it in next week not at a BMW garage but at a certified BMW mechanic who I use (an ex BMW mechanic). I will keep you all posted on the outcome ....thanks a lot to all of you for taking the time to read and reply.

Speak soon
Doug

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Again if the bike was hot and you started it up and ran it a few minutes then shut it off you need to wait 15 minutes for the oil to become visible in the sight glass again.

In the diagram below the yellow line is where normal oil level is with the engine running and the red line (going through the center of the sight glass) is where the oil will settle to after 15 minutes. There is no way even an oil overfill to above the sight glass will ever get hit by the crank.
 

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Again if the bike was hot and you started it up and ran it a few minutes then shut it off you need to wait 15 minutes for the oil to become visible in the sight glass again.

In the diagram below the yellow line is where normal oil level is with the engine running and the red line (going through the center of the sight glass) is where the oil will settle to after 15 minutes. There is no way even an oil overfill to above the sight glass will ever get hit by the crank.
You must use really thick oil if it takes 15 minutes to drain back when hot. >:)

Mine is typically pretty near the final level after a minute or two when hot. If started cold and then shut down before it warms up, it can take a little longer, but I can’t imagine needing 15 minutes.
 

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MY Bad. 5 minutes is what is specified in the manual. And I use 20W 50. Don't know where I got 15 from.

Yes I tell people that think their sight glass is black to look at it while the engine is running (warm) and see how the glass looks. Then shut off the engine and watch the oil re-appear over then next few minutes.
 

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MY Bad. 5 minutes is what is specified in the manual. And I use 20W 50. Don't know where I got 15 from.

Yes I tell people that think their sight glass is black to look at it while the engine is running (warm) and see how the glass looks. Then shut off the engine and watch the oil re-appear over then next few minutes.
For a minute there I thought you were using that 200W-500 oil. :grin:
 
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Hi all,

I'm curious myself so I will book it in next week not at a BMW garage but at a certified BMW mechanic who I use (an ex BMW mechanic). I will keep you all posted on the outcome ....thanks a lot to all of you for taking the time to read and reply.

Speak soon
Doug

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Hi all,

I thought I would give you all the low down on the diagnostics and repair to the rattling sound on my 2009 BMW K1200lt with 17000 miles on the clock. If you read the thread I had a very noisy chain sound coming from the front end of the engine all of a sudden and I could not make heads or tails to why and where this sound was coming from. It turns out that the cam chain tensioner was seized and the spring was not releasing the tensioner rod thus the cam chain was not under tension and flapping about making a noise. The cam chain was stretched by a couple of mill as a result. Now, you are probably wondering how this happened....well I was told by the machanic it's due to very low engine oil and to honest I really never checked my engine oil that much so a expensive lesson has been learnt here.



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Hi all,

I thought I would give you all the low down on the diagnostics and repair to the rattling sound on my 2009 BMW K1200lt with 17000 miles on the clock. If you read the thread I had a very noisy chain sound coming from the front end of the engine all of a sudden and I could not make heads or tails to why and where this sound was coming from. It turns out that the cam chain tensioner was seized and the spring was not releasing the tensioner rod thus the cam chain was not under tension and flapping about making a noise. The cam chain was stretched by a couple of mill as a result. Now, you are probably wondering how this happened....well I was told by the machanic it's due to very low engine oil and to honest I really never checked my engine oil that much so a expensive lesson has been learnt here.



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Ouch. Yes, a good idea to check your oil fairly often. Many LTs seem to use at least some oil. Mine isn’t too bad, but it almost always requires make-up oil in between oil changes. I would guess I use about 1 quart in 6,000 miles. I generally need to add half a quart at the 3-4,000 mile point and then am in the bottom third of the sight glass when I change oil at 5-6,000 miles. Mine has been this way since new.

I hope nothing else has suffered too much from lack of oil. Usually cams suffer first so you may want to look them over carefully at your next valve check.

Thanks for the update. It is always good to hear the resolution to file away for future reference.
 

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Hi all,

I thought I would give you all the low down on the diagnostics and repair to the rattling sound on my 2009 BMW K1200lt with 17000 miles on the clock. If you read the thread I had a very noisy chain sound coming from the front end of the engine all of a sudden and I could not make heads or tails to why and where this sound was coming from. It turns out that the cam chain tensioner was seized and the spring was not releasing the tensioner rod thus the cam chain was not under tension and flapping about making a noise. The cam chain was stretched by a couple of mill as a result. Now, you are probably wondering how this happened....well I was told by the machanic it's due to very low engine oil and to honest I really never checked my engine oil that much so a expensive lesson has been learnt here.



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That is interesting as the tensioner is hydraulic by engine oil pressure and if the oil was low enough for oil pressure to drop and cause the tensioner to fail, I would think you would get an alert light on the dash for no oil pressure. I don't doubt that is was not functioning but the mentioned cause is suspect. The spring is just to hold things in place when the engine is not running and not supposed to provide chain tension while running, that is the oil pressures job. Now, if your mechanic had said very low engine oil pressure, it would make more sense to have a chain rattle but I would expect an engine alert light if it ever got that low and possible engine damage as well.
 

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I hope that they checked the front of the crank for journal damage. During oil starvation the front of the engine suffers first. I have a friend that lost oil pressure and the front crank main bearing was destroyed as well as the #1 rod big end bearing. But then his son was trying to retrieve the bike from Texas and tried running it quite a while with low oil level. Sounds like you may have escaped the same fate.
 

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I hope that they checked the front of the crank for journal damage. During oil starvation the front of the engine suffers first. I have a friend that lost oil pressure and the front crank main bearing was destroyed as well as the #1 rod big end bearing. But then his son was trying to retrieve the bike from Texas and tried running it quite a while with low oil level. Sounds like you may have escaped the same fate.
I thought I would post pictures of the cam chain tensioner locked in closed position when removed from the bike....


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