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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Front Suspension Overhaul - Day 1

With a couple extra days off due to the Memorial Day holiday I decided to put the E36 up on a pair of jackstands and get to work on the long-awaited front suspension overhaul. I began by pulling the wheels off and taking "before" pictures I could use during the reassembly process.

I decided to break the ice by drilling the subframe for the X-brace nutserts. My new Bosch lithium battery drill allowed me to quickly enlarge the existing holes to 17/32 of an inch. That produced a few burrs that I quickly removed using my air powered IR die grinder equipped with a medium grit roloc disc. To protect the bare metal created by both drilling and deburring I decided to shoot a couple thin coats of black paint I found left over from the rear suspension overhaul. The paint took a bit longer than expected to dry due to high humidity but it was soon dry enough to continue.

I quickly installed the conversion kit in the AVK nutsert installation tool, screwed on a nutsert and then compressed it for test purposes (without installing it in the subframe). To say that this tool required a lot of force to compress the nutsert is an understatement. To be completely honest I think the tool is almost completely inadequate for the job. I say "almost" because I was ultimately able to install all four nutserts but not without getting under the car and contorting myself such that I could grip the tool handles with my hands, put my hands between my legs and use both hands and legs to compress the tool.

This is every bit ridiculous as it sounds. The tool handles are too short for the force required and probably should be at least double their current length. Good luck getting AVK to fix that design blunder. Given the force required to compress the nutserts relative to the test I performed, however, I think I can say that I installed them correctly and they are very tightly bonded with the subframe. For anyone considering this job I'd recommend the one-time use installation tools for this task as I think those will require a lot less physical effort due to their design. The only dowside is they're $4 each as I recall.

Several people suggested putting a couple of drops of red loctite on the nutserts before installing them in the subframe. Although I will need red loctite later in this project I didn't have any at this time. I decded not to run out for it given that the nutserts don't require it and my belief that loctite is not a fix for improper installation technique. And then there's the little fact that loctite reflows when subjected to temperatures typical of a powder coating oven. I did, however, decide to throw a pinch of salt over my shoulder and use some blue loctite I had on hand.


Next up: Disassembly.

Mileage: 222600