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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

dvatp.com has been updated!

June 22, 2016: Donations to dvatp.com are now processed via Stripe. Like this site? It's easier than ever to show your appreciation.

BMW328is: Fall Maintenance Binge

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Some people enjoy getting out and leaf peeping this time of year. BMW owners like me see this as the last chance to get a bunch of long-postponed maintenance done before the snowflakes begin to fall. I tackled an oil service and power steering flush, replaced the failed fan clutch and pre-cat O2 sensors, and more. If any blog entry qualifies as jam packed this one does.

BMW328is: CEL Diagnosed and Cleared

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I got the car in front of my technician to diagnose the recent CEL and it turned out to be another annoyance. With the days getting shorter I finally tested the ZKW headlight performance on a stretch of unlit road out in the sticks and I'm impressed, to say the least. I also managed to do some paint correction on my brother's new C4 Corvette. After all, I'm not the only one in my family that prefers older cars.

BMW328is: Brakes Overhaul Complete

Saturday, September 24, 2016

I wrapped up the last blog entry not knowing exactly what had caused the left rear brakes to remain stuck. Little had changed by the time I decided to go the garage today to perform some additional troubleshooting, but I'm happy to report I managed to fix the problem for no additional cost.

BMW328is: Rear Brakes Overhaul

Saturday, September 17, 2016

During the recent leather overhaul I realized that something wasn't quite right with the left rear brake. That led me to schedule a rear brake overhaul including new calipers and lines to replace the 18 year old pieces. Unfortunately everything didn't go as planned and the car is still out of service.

BMW328is: Foam Repair Experiment

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Although the leather project is complete I had already bought the materials to repair my foam so I decided to perform a small scale repair as an experiment simply to validate the materials and techniques I had planned to use. I also managed to apply leather conditioner to the new leather and it still smells great! Check out the full story here.

BMW328is: New Leather Project Complete

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I refurbished and assembled the passenger seat, installed a new driver side seatbelt, new rear seat belt receptacles, new OE arm rest and finally, the finished front seats. The interior looks (and smells) great! Although I still have work to do on the pillars those are not essential so, as they say, that's a wrap.

BMW328is: Front Seat Refurb and Assembly

Friday, August 19, 2016

The driver's seat is complete and ready for installation. I'm glad I took the time to repaint the seat base as it nicely matches the new leather and overall makes the seat appear brand new. It's clearly ready for another eighteen years of service. Check out the end result.

BMW328is: Front Seat Disassembly

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I managed to complete disassembly of the seat leather and foam, order the foam I'll use for the repair, and order a few more parts needed to restore both the front seats and the vehicle's active restraint system to like-new condition. Check out the latest edition of the new leather project.

BMW328is: Front Seat Prep

Saturday, August 6, 2016

With the rear seats complete the next step was to confirm the correct procedure to remove the front seats. I also managed to buy a few new parts, including some that I didn't think were still available, and managed to arrange with GAHH to return the seat base covers for a small change so they match the factory design. Full story here.

BMW328is: Rear Seat Leather Complete

Thursday, August 4, 2016

I found some time today to install the new leather cover on the rear seat base, install the seat base in the vehicle, and with that wrap up the rear seat leather installation. The end result is better than expected. And yes, if you're wondering, the interior is starting to smell like it's 1998 all over again.

BMW328is: Leather Installation Begins

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The new rear leather seat covers arrived and I managed to install the headrests, bolsters, and back rests. The seat base is up next. Check out the full story here.

Tech: Nuttx for STM32F3 Discovery Board

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Earlier this year I selected an RTOS to assist in bootstrapping an STM32 F3 Discovery development board as a stepping stone to custom hardware. While the documentation provided by the project was adequate I ran into a few issues so I figured I'd document them here.

Tech: STM32 Debug On Linux

Saturday, July 16, 2016

I recently needed to develop some software on the STM32 series of microcontrollers and wanted to debug my application from a Linux host. I managed to select a debug probe and some software to get the job done. If faced with a similar need you may find my STM32 Debug article helpful.

BMW328is: Rear Seat Trim Repair

Sunday, July 10, 2016

I received confirmation from GAHH that my covers arrived in one piece and I breathed a sigh of relief. While I wait for the new covers to be fabricated I decided to attempt repair and restoration of rear seat trim pieces that are no longer available new from BMW. I think the they came out great. See for yourself.

BMW330ci: First Coolant Flush

Saturday, July 2, 2016

I've focused so much on the E36's maintenance requirements lately that I only recently realized I had never performed a coolant flush on the E46 in the 10 years I've owned it. Ooops. I could not let that stand any longer so this week I tackled the job.

BMW328is: Leather Arrives

Friday, June 24, 2016

The leather arrived this week but unfortunately a good portion of it will need to be returned due to improper fit. The plan now is to work with the manufacturer to pattern my seat covers. Unfortunately this will introduce yet another delay into this final stage of my restoration. Full story here.

Site: Stripe Payments Live

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Effective today, all donations to dvatp.com will be processed through Stripe via their slick and secure Checkout process. I have discontinued support for Paypal, checks, and cryptocurrency. If you're curious about the design choices check out my site design update. And if you would care to help offset the costs of running the site by all means please check out the new donations portal.

BMW328is: Leather Ordered

Friday, June 10, 2016

New leather has been on my radar for the better part of a decade but higher priority tasks have always taken precedence -- until now, that is. This week I ordered the new leather from GAHH. Due to lack of local installers I will be doing in this myself. Lots of work to do. Let's get started.

BMW328is: ZKW Install Complete

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Following some tedious adjustments to the driver side headlight assembly the ZKW headlight installation is complete. This project also revealed a need to replace a damaged aux fan low speed relay. Full story here.

Tech: Reflow Oven Update

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I finally got around to testing my DIY reflow oven with real boards and components. I also added a nitrogen inerting capability. If you're thinking of building your own oven you'll likely find this update helpful.

BMW328is: ZKW Install Begins

Sunday, May 29, 2016

I expected to wrap up the ZKW projector headlight installation in a single day but Murphy dropped by for a visit. I'm now waiting for parts and am contemplating how to fix a problem I encountered despite my best effort to avoid it. Check out the full story.

BMW328is: Return from Body Shop

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The E36 is back from the body shop and I have a small souvenir to aid my show and tell. I've reinstalled the summer shoes and started a bit of research to figure out how to align the ZKW projectors slated for installation soon. Lots to talk about so let's go.

BMW328is: Back to Body Shop

Friday, April 29, 2016

The E36 returns to the body shop once again to remedy some rear quarter panel rust, another toybox update, and a welcome change in New Jersey state inspection policy. Catch the full story here.

BMW328is: No Start Issue Fixed

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Despite knowing about the intermittent no-start issue for a couple months my schedule didn't permit me to do anything about it until a couple days ago when the problem reared its ugly head again. This time the starter refused to budge after repeated attempts. I flatbedded the car to my technician for his expert counsel and was ultimately glad I did, as the problem turned out to be something completely unexpected.

Tech: Custom Solder Reflow Oven

Sunday, January 24, 2016

After manually soldering a few too many prototype boards I realized I needed a solder reflow oven. The problem is commercial ovens are expensive. My solution? A custom reflow oven based on a commonly-available convection oven.

BMW328is: Cover Weakness and Starter Issue

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My car cover is now in continuous use and it's doing its job well but it's not without its issues. The starter finally started to act up as well, leading me to consider my options. And for the folks that wondered what happened to my brother's toybox, I provide an update following some serious progress.

BMW330ci: E46 Fan Clutch Adventure

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My brother's friend recently picked up a 2002 325. Turned out it was making strange noises which were ultimately determined to be caused by a failed fan clutch. Naturally, being the good brother that I am, I agreed (or was coerced, depending on how I care to look at it) to take a couple hours out of my day to acquire the parts and replace them.

BMW328is: Winter Tires Installed

Friday, November 27, 2015

Today I reluctantly put the wonderful Pilot Super Sport tires to bed for the winter and replaced them with my existing set of Winter Sport 4D. I also completed a routine oil service and a wash before finding something I hope does not become routine: more rust that will need to be addressed in the spring.

Tech: Installing October CMS

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I recently needed to build a website and ultimately wound up using a relatively new CMS called October on top of Debian 8, Nginx, and PHP5-FPM. But before you follow in my footsteps be sure to read the fine print at the end of the article.

BMW330ci: Winter Prep

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

With the E36 returned to service and the leaves largely gone from the trees I felt the time was right to put the E46 to sleep for the winter. Time for some essential winter prep.