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Monday, May 27, 2024

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Items Sent to Powdercoating

I discovered a local powdercoating shop called Coast2Coast Powdercoating last year during my rear brake overhaul. The owner, Chris, handled that transaction very fairly and the caliper brackets still look like new, so after surveying several items that I wanted to have refinished I couldn't help but bring them to Chris and ask what he could do for me. There's something to be learned here so I'll itemize:

Total price for all of this work? $80. That's less than the cost of a single engine support. Money well spent I think.

Before I left I also spoke to Chris about blasting the rust off the front support so I can bring that to a local body shop for finishing. He said he could handle that with his larger blasting cabinets so provided the rust damage isn't too severe I should be able to save the original front support and avoid a $200+ charge for a new part. The body shop will have to use paint codes for this so it won't match the body color perfectly but frankly it doesn't have to, as the part is out of sight under the hood.

Assembly Parts Order Arrived

Today I visited the dealer to pick up a bulk of the parts I ordered.

The only parts that were deemed unavailable, at least for now, were the cruise control actuator mounting flange and the guide tube for the oil dipstick. When my parts rep queried BMW on availability BMW Classic responded and suggested that the parts would be available sometime around the start of 2018 -- unfortunately a bit too late for my project. As a result I'm planning to have the cruise control flange restored and zinc plated. Why can't I just sand and paint the flange, you ask? The flange is zinc plated from the factory and common spray paint, which has an alkyd base, will not adhere to it. If you're curious about this use your favorite search engine to look up "saponification". The guide tube rust is minimal, so I plan to take that to Chris and have him blast the small area of consequence, and then I'll touch it up with some VHT satin black.

I am particularly happy that the coolant distribution tube, which mounts to the intake side of the block, was delivered. The original had rust in all the wrong places, including the T-joint from which I could envision coolant beginning to seep and then eventually gush, all mostly hidden from view under the intake manifold. The new part looks as nice as one would expect and should look great installed on the newly refinished engine.

My starter's part number had ended, but in this case it meant that the original factory new Bosch starter has been replaced with a Bosch reman. The starter motor on the unit I received is a bit smaller than the original, particularly in depth. It's probably a bit lighter as a result too, but I didn't weigh it prior to returning the original for $85 in core credit. For what it's worth, the starter on my 98 model year vehicle is the one with the threaded mounting holes.

Thankfully I received the "covering plate", which is that oddly shaped piece of thin metal that goes between the engine and transmission, as the original really looked like shit. The downside is the new part isn't plated, which means it will likely rust almost immediately, so I'm planning to send that out along with the flywheel to be plated via an electroless nickel (EN) process. Although it's more expensive, nickel has far superior corrosion resistance than zinc for a given thickness, and generally doesn't fail as quickly under equivalent environmental conditions. The other perk of EN plating is that the process deposits the plating metals evenly across the entire surface, which is essential for a balanced part like the flywheel. Why am I bothering to plate the flywheel rather than replace it? It's about $450 -- my cost -- and despite the money I'm throwing at this project I have to "pull the ripcord" at some point, as skydivers say.

I'm still waiting on two items from this order: the "guide plate" that mounts to the back of the cylinder head to securely route the O2 sensor wires around the back of the engine, and the tunnel heat shield. In the meantime I am also planning to add a few more items to the order, including a new refrigerant hose that connects the compressor to the condenser, as mine is looking quite crusty, as well as a couple o-rings for the coolant distribution pipe since I discovered today the pipe doesn't come with them.

Next Up

The new cylinder head should be arriving tomorrow. I've heard a lot about this head and can't wait to see if it meets with my high expectations. And yea, one of these days I'll actually get back to the hood release work. I'm simply dragging my heels since I now know I'll need to dismantle the entire front end to remove the front support. I'm really not looking forward to aligning those f*cking headlights again.