BMW R2 - Getting it running!

Begonnen von David Grenfell, 23 Juli 2023, 17:07:25

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David Grenfell

Hi single cylinder gurus,
I have a R2 series 4 from 1935, and having just reassembled the engine I have filled it with oil and some petrol and attached a battery. Pre oiled the bore, attached a battery and kicked it over for possibly the first time since the early 1950's. After a few kicks it back fired, adjusted the ignition, kicked again and it starts! Much fetteling to do before it runs smoothly but I noticed that no oil was making it to the top of the engine. I have only run the engine for about 2 minutes at any one time.
Question: does the oil riser pipe need to be primed?
          how much oil should be visible in the rocker-box?

After two minutes running it was difficult to tell if there was any additional oil at the top of the engine.(I had lubricated the rockers and valve stems manually before attempting a start)

Any advice would be graetly appreciated.

David Grenfell


If you go to BMW R35 (1938) - Part 41 on youtube and forward to 8.30 mins (of a 9.30 film), you'll see him start a rebuilt R 35 and wait for the oil to appear.

Hope it's some reassurance.


David Grenfell

Hi Charlie,
Thanks for that. I have checked the video, and will have another ttempt after ai have cleaned the head so I can see any fresh oil.

David Grenfell

Hi Charlie,
Using a pump oil-can I attached a tube to the oil line from the crnkcase and primed it with 40 weight oil. I then attached the tube to the cylinder head and primed the oilways until I could see freshoil seeping from the rockers. Reconnected everything and started the engine. Oil now seeps from the rockers. Hooray, another step closer!
Thanks for your help and interest.


Hello David,

I'm glad you've seen the evidence - an important point. Coincidentally, I'm just coming to the end of my R 35 rebuild and I was glad to see a spark. Next up is try and start and check my oil circulation.

On an R 35, the oil is directed from the rockers towards the pushrod tubes and down to the sump by two little cranked oil pipes. Otherwise, the oil just floats around the head and tends to go down the breather tube to the back of the crankcase. Is that the same with the R 2?


David Grenfell

Hi Charlie,
Apologies for not responding sooner.
The R2 sounds a little more primitive. I have an oil feeder pipe to the head which lubricates the exhaust rocker first, then via a cast oil-way, the inlet rocker. Valve stems benefit from any oil in the rocker box before it finds its way to the exhaust pushrod tube and returns to the crank case.
My wiring was fried, so I purchased a wiring lume on-line (has most of the connections) and attached a 6v battery. Replaced the HT lead and plug cap, and kicked it over a few times. Low and behold I got a good spark using the original points, condensor and coil!
Once the engine was back together and oiled, I filled the carb with fuel, tipped a bit into the combustion chamber for luck, advanced the ignition and started to kick it over. 10 or so kicks later it back-fired with a big puff of smoke from the carb. I retarded the ignition and kicked a couple more times and it fired up and ran for a few minutes until the carb was empty. Hooray, she lives!
Now concentrating on cleaning the tank (ugh! filthy inside - trying the 'mollasses' solution rather than chemicals), new tyres and brakes, control cables etc and then ...
Mine is a barn-find survivor bike from before the war that mysteriously made its way to the UK, so I am hoping to keep it original as much as poss.
Good luck with yours!


Hello Dave,

Great news, to hear it running after months/years of ups and downs is good. Mine ran long enough for the oil to start seeping from the rockers. I'm not going to worry about the two little pipes that are missing. After asking on the emw-r35 blog (in German) most seem to ignore them too.
I think the run of 1930s singles, R2, R3, R4 and R35 were all just slow developments of the same idea, the biggest change other than the position of the dynamo from down to up, was telescopics on the 35.
Mine will start but not run. Since I don't know if the carb is correct for the model, I suspect that is the problem, then I need to get it registered for the road. I tried once and DVLA said no, so the BMW club are having a go.
Do you know of any other R2s in running order?


Kurt in S.A.

Does this website give enough details to figure out what carb is supposed to be on the bike?

Kurt in S.A.


Thanks Kurt, it gives me a type number to start on. However, the years of manufacture are given as 1938-1940, which refers to those built in Munich. All parts and machinery were moved to Eisenach when the Munich factory was needed for war production. After the war Eisenach fell into the Soviet zone and production of the R35 continued, first as BMW, then after 1949 as EMW. Mine is 46/7, so still accepted by BMW today as a BMW. But of course development had continued and in any case, mine was a box of bits, some of which have turned out to be R4.

I'll get there and there will be another story to tell.



Even under the Sowjet Awtowelo AG the R35 was labelt as BMw until 1951/1952 and for the R35/3 there are several export models labels as BMW, but non of them were allowed to export into the BRD due to a law process between BMW Munich and the EMW Eisenach.
Geht nicht, gibt's nicht. Einfach kann ja jeder 😁.


Dusseldorf Regional Court, November 17, 1950 was the date of the decision against Eisenach and in favour of Munich, with the threat of withheld foreign earnings, so change probably came quickly.

The change of name from the BMW plant in Eisenach to Eisenacher Motoren Werk was in June 1952.

The plant was incorporated into the SAG (Sowjetische Aktien Gesellschaft) Awtowelo on September 15th 1946.

From July 1952, it became a (DDR) state-owned company 'VEB (Volkseigenen Betrieb) IFA Automobilfabrik EMW Eisenach.'

In December 1955 the plant was renamed VEB Automobilwerk Eisenach and the last 35/3 was delivered in 1956. (dates from Andy Schwietzer's book)


Yes, that's exactly why my father's '51 R35 is labelled as BMW but has the Awtowelo type Plate.

Even several parts for the R35 came from West Germany companies until they closed officially the inner German border.
Geht nicht, gibt's nicht. Einfach kann ja jeder 😁.


Plenty of night time trading? On that subject, I've been reading about the links between the R 71 and the Soviet M72. I asked someone at the British Ural Club, who had done some research in Soviet archives years ago. He sent me copies of the Soviet assessment of the R 71 but it's in Russian. Do you speak/read Russian?



Sorry Charly,
I am not that expert in Russian language, main problems are the different letters.
I have a 2cylinder russian 4stroke mobile generator with russian manual and for translation I used the online translator.
It works quite well when going from Russian to English.
Translating from Russian to German Leeds to no proper result as this was an technical text and the online translator uses the most common translation.
I typed each word with a virtual keyboard, but I think today it's easy to use your mobile phone with camera and text recognition.

Kind regards
Geht nicht, gibt's nicht. Einfach kann ja jeder 😁.


Hello Charlie.

Been following this, you may have, but cannot trace so far any contact ref the R2

"I tried once and DVLA said no, so the BMW club are having a go"

email me if you wish?

The BMW Club is Ken Buchanan 1980 - last week.
1923 - 1980  is myself



Thanks Eppo, I'll try and find someone who understands the technology, I still have a dinosaur phone. (I was born when you could still buy a new 35/3.)

And Robert, it's an R 35, not R 2. I sent you a mail on 20th July and you replied next day.

I hope you have better luck than me.


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