Monday, May 11, 2020
Saturday, February 22, 2020
|Joachim "Joe" Groeger 1920-2020.|
It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Joachim "Joe" Groeger, just three weeks shy of his 100th birthday.
In the paragraphs below, I will attempt to relay a bit of Joe's life story which I gathered from stories he told me over countless breakfasts, and hours in his shop "Groeger Special Tooling".
|Joe's father and sister on the R11. Mid 1930's, Germany.|
|A young Joe Groeger working on a watch lathe.|
|Rolleiflex camera film transport mechanism.|
|Franke and Heidecke, Braunschweig ca. 1959|
|Inside the Franke and Heidecke factory, Braunschweig.|
For nearly seventy years, Groeger Special Tooling was the the go-to place for anyone in the silicon valley who needed specialty die work. Joe was fond of telling stories of customers seeking his advice when everyone else said a job couldn't be done. He relished in accomplishing what others couldn't.
|A machine fabricated from scratch by Joe Groeger. The collet holds a small metal can and a pneumatically controlled roller folds over the end to close it. This was designed for manufacturing specialty batteries.|
|In the below video, Joe demonstrates the action of the machine.|
|Joe Groeger astride his 1939 R71. To the left is long time friend Paul Seibert. 1986|
|My R69S on the stand in the "engine room" at Groeger Special Tooling.|
|Joe and the regular Saturday crew heading to breakfast in Redwood City.|
|A spry 85 year old Joe Groeger received the award for "oldest rider" at a BMW club event.|
|Machining the case of a rare BMW R5 racing gearbox to accept a modern seal.|
A funny memory I have from years of working in Joe's shop was his fondness for classical music. He often had Chopin, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc. playing in the background. I once asked Joe's cousin Volkhard if he thought Joe would mind if we played some classic country music like Willie Nelson. Volkhard told me that Joe absolutely forbaid the playing of Willie Nelson in the shop. I asked why, and he told me that Willie Nelson once smoked pot on the steps of the state capitol, and since that day Willie's music was "verboten"!
Sunday, November 24, 2019
Sunday, June 2, 2019
Since the R7 was debuted again to the public, an enterprising company named NMOTO has designed a kit that can transform a modern R9T into an R7 Hommage bike. I have to say that seeing the two bikes side by side really shows the extent to which NMOTO went to get the details right. There's no hiding its a modern bike with disk brakes, modern shaped cylinder heads, etc. However the overall form and major styling cues are there. Impressive indeed. NMOTO is still taking orders, and I'm told that the bike can be custom made to fit the owner, in terms of height, seat position, etc.
Friday, May 31, 2019
However, many people, enthusiast or not, are unaware that motorcycle production preceded car production by several years. Furthermore, prior to the production of the first in-house BMW motorcycle, the R32, BMW was an engine manufacturer supplying motors to companies such as Victoria, Bison and Flink.
Below is a nice example of a Victoria, outfitted with a BMW M2B15 motor. This is from BMW's collection and was on display at the Concorso d'Eleganza this year (2019).
Sunday, May 12, 2019
For the second year in a row, an R90S took top honors in the "Other European" class.
Also on hand in the "Custom" category was the tremendously popular, and much disussed, Revival Cycles "Birdcage" bike. A titanium trellised frame cradles the impossibly large 1800cc prototype BMW boxer motor. An intelligently crafted design exercise, the "Birdcage" evokes the land speed record machines of the 1930's piloted by Ernst Henne.
Can't wait for BMW to be the featured Marque at the Quail. 2023 would seem an appropriate year, as this will represent 100 years of BMW motorcyles. We'll have to wait and see.
|Ernst Henne on a land speed record attempt. Most likely on the road between Munich and Ingolstadt, a common location for record attempts at the time as the road was flat and straight.|
Monday, March 25, 2019
I subscribe to a few BMW motorcycle groups on Facebook. The other day, a fellow on FB posted about a silversmith friend of his who was casting mens rings in the form an R68/R69S valve cover.
The castings were spot on, and I had to have one. Despite originally being made in up to a size 12, Bruce agreed to fabricate one for my fat finger in a 13.
So it's in production now. If it looks half as good as the pics on his site, I'll be very pleased. I opted for the oxide version as it gives a sort of aged, worn look and I liked the contrast. Much like the valve covers on my bikes. Check them out, or order one for yourself at www.keisersterling.com
Update: My ring arrived and it's awesome! Very cool piece that doubles as a weapon in pinch!
Saturday, March 2, 2019
Splendidly captured in sepia tone is a BMW salesroom in Berlin, 1929.
Lets take a closer look. Huge glass windows really open the space up to the outside. Minimalist lit signage letters proudly display the brand name, flanked by the classic and iconic BMW roundel. The room is brightly lit by an enormous panel of lights. The internal decor is sparse other than strategically placed flowers. The emphasis here is clearly on the product. The sleek tiled walls with a classic stylized art deco motif complete the classic art deco look of the day, elegant, understated, exceptional.
Fast forward 90 years and we can see the same theme at work in your local shopping mall. TESLA has taken what BMW did nearly a century ago, and modernized it slightly. However you can see that the concept is nearly identical. In 1929 you would have likely left the showroom with a nice paper brochure listing the models and specifications. Today you simply access those details on your phone or at the wall kiosk. Otherwise not much has changed!
Thursday, February 28, 2019
I have recently created a web page as a tribute to a very interesting, and famous racing BMW from here in the US, the OL Special.
As you'll learn from the site, the OL Special was a BMW Rennsport based racebike crafted by Oscar Liebmann of AMOL Precision in Dumont, New Jersey. The bike was campaigned for over 3 decades by Kurt Liebmann in the US, Canada and Europe.
The website showcases from very cool period photos by Stuart Davis and Ed Cunningham. Take a look around, and enjoy.
Sunday, January 6, 2019