Nightowl 12k Service On-the-Road

I could have waited until I got home, but I wanted to see just how hard it was to perform this service while on the road.

The Challenge

The main bits of the 12k-mile service on a BMW K1600GTL are:

  • Engine oil and filter change.
  • Final drive fluid change.
  • Air filter change.
  • All the other checks of brakes, clutch, condensate hose, yada, yada, yada…

I had already installed a K&N air filter at the last 12k service interval, so I planned to clean and re-oil that filter. All the supplies to do that part of the service are another 700 miles away at home. I’m sure that the Nightowl can survive another 700 miles on the current condition of the air filter, so I’m going to ignore that for the moment.

I brought brake pads for the entire Bike on this trip, just in case I needed them. They’re waiting if called upon.

I also brought an oil filter and a crush washer for the main sump plug. Those would get used for sure.

That leaves the engine oil and the final drive gear oil.

Obtaining supplies

The engine oil I use is Shell Rotella T6 synthetic. The good news is that you can get this oil at just about any Walmart in both gallon and quart quantities. The Nightowl takes just under 5 quarts for a full change with a new filter, so one gallon jug and one quart bottle unusually do the trick.

Like several others on the k1600forum, I like to use the Amsoil Severe Gear 75W-140 gear oil. You only need 180-200ml of it for a drive fluid change, so if you think ahead, you can pack a small container of it before you leave.

I didn’t think to do that.

Amsoil distributors are all over the country but it’s a bit random as to which towns they’re in. For example, there weren’t any in Grand Island, NE, but there were a couple in Lincoln, NE and a few more in the Omaha, NE / Council Bluffs, IA Metromess. If you’re searching for an Amsoil dealer, search for retail outlets. There’s fewer of them, but the independent distributors are often private individuals and they only stock the main engine oils; they rarely carry the gear lubes.

After poking around the Amsoil dealer locator, I finally found a retail outlet that sold the Severe Gear lube: 275 Truck Service in Council Bluffs, IA, just off the I80/I29 interchange.


I brought up their location in the Maps app and looked around the region off that same exit. No even a half-mile away from 275 Truck Service was a Walmart.


The Walmart was also surrounded by several eating establishments. If I was lucky, I would find a shading spot in the parking lot of one of the eateries and could let the bike cool during lunch and then dig into the service.

After the ride from Grand Island to Council Bluffs, I went directly to 275 Truck Service to get my gear lube. The had it sitting out waiting for me and had me in-and-out in five minutes.

A quick drive over to the Walmart and I was off to shop for the rest of the supplies. The individual (as opposed to pairs) of aluminum baking pans (to use as a drain pan) were in the Housewares department with the kitchen supplies (pots and pans). In the Automotive department, I found the engine oil and a small adjustable funnel. I checked out for about $35.

Where to Work?

I spent the next few minutes winding around the huge mall and minimall parking lot(s), looking for a shady spot to perform my work. I found the perfect spot behind a Red Lobster restaurant. A good sized tree was casting a nice shadow over an adjacent parking spot. Since this was behind the restaurant, the spot was empty and had no cars immediately next to it.

Victory is mine!

I put the Nightowl up on it’s center stand and went inside to grab some lunch while the bike cooled down a little before I drained the life blood out of it.

Just before paying my bill for lunch, I used the restroom and loaded up on paper towels for the messy job to come.

Doing the Service

I could tell you all about it… or I could show you.


It went pretty smoothly. The difficulties were as follows:

  • The paper towels from Red Lobster were very wimpy. I should have just bought a bag of rags or a roll of cheap paper towels from Walmart and throw out the unused portions.
  • The aluminum baking pan was just big enough to hold the engine oil from both sumps. I should have moved the plastic top under the oil drain before opening the internal sump.
  • I think I’ll add a 100ml syringe and tubing to my permanent toolkit. Walmart didn’t have anything like this in their pharmacy and it would have been much easier to fill the drain with this simple piece of equipment. Naturally, I already have one of these at home.
  • I forgot to open the personal hotspot on my iPhone to non-Apple products. That’s why I couldn’t reset the service indicator.

Geek Stuff

I captured the video and the time-lapse imagery with my iPhone 7 on a miniature tripod. I then transferred the video to my iPad (Airdrop over the hotel wifi). Finally, I used the iMovie app on the iPad to arrange the individual videos and time-lapse videos, along with adding titles. I then exported the iMovie project as a completed video, which I subsequently uploaded to my YouTube channel. Voila.

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