• Best BMW, Hocking Valley Vingtage BMW Rally, Athens, OH, 2003
  • Winner, 1955-1969 Twins, RA International Rally, Birmingham, AL, 2003
  • Exhibited, BMW Mobile Tradition Display, Mid-Ohio Vintage Days, 2004

1960's Avonaire Fairing

"Poetry in Motion"

I had restored an Avonaire in the mid-1980's when new hardware was still available. When I went looking a couple of years ago, all the Avonaires had had lost their hardware and many had their lower parts cut off. Finally I found a complete Avonaire in Canada that needed almost no work.

History of the Avonaire

The Avonaire fairing was made in England, first by Mitchenall Bros.Co. and then the Sprint Manufacturing Co. It was distinquished from Sprint's line of Avon handlebar fairings by being a full coverage frame-mounted fairing. Sprint made the Avonaire fairing from the 1960's through the 1980's to fit Triumphs, BSAs, Vincents and BMWs through the /6 series. As late as 1987 Avonaire fairings were available at a US dealer, Street Cycles of Falmouth, Maine, for a price of about $900 installed. In that year I was able to restore an Avonaire shell with all new brackets, hardware and windshield from Sprint in England. Sprint stopped making Avonaire fairings around 1990, but the demand for the fairing continued. Around 1995 a Vincent restorer, Phil Primmer of West Country Sidecars in Hampshire, England, repaired a wrecked Vincent Avonaire for a customer by making a mold of it and creating a new fairing. Subsequently Primmer obtained the manufacturing rights from Sprint Mfg. to make new Avonaire fairings for Vincents. In 2001, Mark Huggett GmbH in Zurich, Switzerland bought the /2 BMW mold from Sprint Mfg. with the intention of selling that fairing in the future. In 2002, Avonaire owner and fiberglass craftsman John Swift of Anniston, Alabama, said he would make /2 Avonaires on request. In 2003 Jim Reinert of Owosso, Michigan begun making a similar Peel fairing from the original mold, but after a couple of prototypes he sold the mold to Craig Vechorik of Bench Mark Works in Alabama. The Bench Mark Works Peel fairing is expected to be on the market in 2006.

Searching for an Avonaire

When I went looking for a used Avonaire for my BMW R69US, all the fairings for sale had lost their brackets, and many had been cut so that they could be installed and removed without removing the exhaust headers. Sellers claimed that it was easy to make brackets, and some offered drawings, but I remembered the brackets as engineered and manufactured tubes that could not be duplicated. I doubted that anyone who had not seen the hardware and actually installed an Avonaire could really know whether all the peices were there and how they fitted, and so I shied away from the bracketless Avonaires. It seemed I would have to find a mounted Avonaire whose owner was willing to separate it from the bike. Eventually I found a gentleman in Canada who had a restored and unmounted Avonaire that he had bought and never mounted. I could tell from photos that all the pieces were there, and after awhile he agreed to sell it. Crating the fairing and getting it out of US Customs were a major effort for both of us. The original glossy black gel coat exterior and dashboard had been painted, with flat black on the dash,and there was evidence that the wings had split from the sides of the dashboard and been repaired. This commonly happens when the wings are spread to go over the valve covers during installation and removal. After fixing a few fiberglass chips in the dashboard, painting the dashboard and the brackets, and chroming the clamps, the fairing looked like new.


Installing the Brackets

The Avonaire uses a system of tubular brackets attached to the frame to form a triangulated structural support that carries the weight of the fairing. A large U-bracket attaches to the frame under the tank and runs forward and upward to bolt to metal plates that are attached to the fairing shell.

The U-bracket is attached to the frame by placing its tabs on either side of the clamp, and inserting a metal spacer on each side of the clamp to take up the space so that tightening the bolt will tighten the clampon the frame. The clamp for the U-bracket must be located within 1/4 inch of the clamp for the motor mount. The upper ends of the U-bracket are clamped to smaller tube brackets that extend down to the downtubes of the frame. The small clamps must be located about 1 inch from the end of the U-bracket. Any further than this and their lower end clamps will prevent removal of the front engine cover, and any closer than this will put the little clamp bolts so close to the plate in the fairing that they cannot be tightened.

The lower end of each tube bracket is clamped to the downtube on each side of the front engine cover. Those two clamps must be high enough so that the engine cover can be removed, and at that height, they will also raise the fairing off the headlight shell high enough to allow removal of the ignition key. Two more clamps go on the frame under the cylnders, to catch the bottom of the fairing. I used a rubber auto suspension bushing between the clamp and the fairing, as shown in a later photo.

The headlight wires must be extended to reach the new location of the headlight in the fairing. I used a plastic terminal block from Radio Shack with a slit corrugated plastic sheath. The headlight is mounted in a fiberglass ring to which are bolted little metal tabs to duplicate the tabs of the bike's headlight shell.

Two of the five metal tabs are shown here. There are three tabs which have bolts pressed into them, and which are which are spring-mounted to the fairing to allow aiming of the headlight. I got the springs and wing nuts at a hardware store.

Windshield gaskets are no longer available. After much searching on the Internet, I found a material and profile that matched the original item, made by Elasto Proxy in Canada. I copied the item from their catalog and added the address and stock number above.Elastro Proxy sells wholesale to rubber suppliers, with a minimum quantity of 50 feet. They contacted a local supplier to sell through, and I bought a lifetime's length of gasket material. It fit the Avonaire's lip perfectly. I slipped it on, cut it to length, poked a pointed marker pen through the fairing holes to mark the bolt locations, and used a paper punch to make the holes.

The windshield that came with the fairing was cut out of thin flat plexiglass, while a thicker pre-curved acrilic material from a windshield manufacturer is better. Avonaire windshields are available in any height from Gustafsson Fairing Screen in St Augustine, Florida and from West Country Sidecars in Hampshire, England. The original heights were 19-1/2 inch (standard) and 22 inches (tall). I am 6'-2" in height and had gotten the 22 inch windshield in 1987 and thought it was too short, so this time I ordered 23 inches.

I first ordered a windshield from Gustafsson. It had a flared bottom edge that did not fit the curve of the dash, because it was for another model of Avonaire, and it was very difficult to get a replacement from Gustafsson that did fit. Gustafsson also does not drill the windshield for the nine mounting bolts, citing the risk of matching the hole locations. While dealing with Gustafsson, I ordered another windshield f rom West Country Sidecars and found them to be very pleasant by email and phone, the windshield was pre-drilled, and it cost less than Gustafsson's even with shipping. It was a true Avonaire part.

Installing the Fairing

Preparations for installing the Avonaire include removing the exhaust system, wrapping the cylinders and supporting the front of the fairing.The fairing goes inside the header pipes, so they must be removed. The fairing will slip over the cylinders easier and with less scraping of the shell if each cylinder is first wrapped with an old undershirt covered with a plastic bag. If this is not done, then it may take a second person to spread the wings of the fairing over the cylinder heads, which may produce faint cracking fiberglass sounds and may visibly delaminate the shell from the wings of the dash. The front of the fairing must be supported so that your hands are free for guiding it past the forks and pushing it over the heads. One way of supporting is to loop insulated 12 guage house wire through two of the windshield holes and attach the wire to a rope that is wound around an overhead pipe several times, but the windshield must be off to use this method. This fairing had a hole drilled in the nose, and I finally discovered its purpose. A knotted rope can be drawn up through the hole and wrapped over a pipe, to support the fairing without removing the windshield. I covered the hole with a plastic auto trim plug. The fairing was soon installed, with these views from the front, three-quarter, side and rear.

Mounting Details

The fairing that I installed in 1987 had fitted over the Earles forks of my R69S, but this fairing fitted the telescopic forks of my R69US too tightly to allow them to turn without chafing the rubber fork boots. I used the cutting drill of a Dremel tool to enlarge the fork opening to each side, which also required cutting the flat front cover peice.

It is amazing how little the fairing interferes with maintenance. After removal of the flat front fiberglass cover, the front cover of the engine comes right off. There is not enough room to use a socket wrench on the spark plugs, but an open end wrench on the socket works fine. A home-made variation of Ed Korn's tuning pegs can still be used for shorting the spark plugs, if they are bent and pointed upward. The idle mixture screw cannot be reached by a straight screwdriver on one side, but a right angle screwdriver works (the same one used for changing the coil). The wide base of the valve cover on one side does not come out of the hole in the fairing on one side, but the trick is just to push the fairing inward an inch to clear the valve cover.

I remember the original lower mounting used a stack of washers or a section of tubing between the clamp and the fairing, but after a year this solid connection was beginning to chafe and crack the fiberglass. This time I used rubber auto suspension bushings betwen the clamp and the fairing, although it looks like I should maybe add some fender washers because the bushing has compressed enough to allow the fairing to touch the frame. On the bottom side, a wide flat rubber washer and a fender washer protect the fiberglass.

The windshield is attached by nine 4 mm tapered-head stainless bolts that fit into the countersunk holes in the fairing. The front of the windshield gasket covers and hides the bolt heads from view, while the back of the gasket cushions the windshield in rubber. Rubber washers, stainless washers, and stainless nylon lock nuts compress the assembly. I have added Stealth Edging to raise and widen the air pocket. The handlebar levers swing nicely into the fairing pockets to allow maximum turning, but the fairing was never designed to be used with Euro bars on US forks which carry the bars in front of the damper. The rider is too close to the windshield, leaning too heavily on the bars, and the mirror hits. I have since changed to Earles fork risers which place the bars behind the damper, and will be getting Albert bar end mirrors with turnsignal adapters.

 

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