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Monday, August 20, 2018

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Drip Molding Update

The much anticipated March 24th delivery date for my drip moldings came and went without so much as a peep from BMW so I emailed my parts rep and asked for an update. The rep told me that BMW recently removed the ability to view delivery dates from the parts system (that's transparency for you!) so he had to make a special request to receive this information. A few days later they got back to him and he forwarded the email he received, which read:

Resolution: Hello, please notice that the reproduction of 1977681 and 1977682 from the new manufacturer earliest will arrive in September 2018. - best regards Your BMW Classic Team

This told me two things. First, the original manufacturer was rightly discarded in favor of a company that should (hopefully) be able to deliver the parts. Second, the fulfillment of these parts is now being managed by the BMW Classic organization, which recently delivered a part I ordered last summer during my engine overhaul. At the time I thought the delivery estimate for that part (then about 9 months) was laughable but they did ultimately deliver it. All I can hope is that BMW Classic will come through again and deliver the drip moldings this fall. After all, I'm merely one among hundreds of people waiting for these parts.

As I have no intention of running my car for the entire summer without these moldings the plan is now to install my existing moldings and just tolerate the small bends and other irregularities on one side until the new parts come in, as it's fair to say my old moldings will look a lot better than no moldings.

Summer Tires Installed

This winter turned out to be a bit snowier than the long range forecasts indicated, but one thing was consistent with a La Nina -- generally warmer weather with shorter periods of sharp cold. We had a couple of those periods in December and January and neither were particularly fun.

As the probability of a significant snowfall drops quite a bit after April 1 here in NJ I typically try to install the summer tires around this time. Unfortunately April arrived still mostly cold, rainy and windy with a hint of snow in the forecast so I decided to wait until the middle of the month to to swap the tires. The process is old hat at this point so it went exactly as planned.

As I leveraged the Pilot Super Sport rubber to straighten all the curves on the way home I reflected on another email I received recently asking a very common question regarding which vehicle (E36 or E46) I prefer to drive. I naturally answered "the E36 of course". It is smaller, lighter, more nimble and -- most importantly -- connected to the road in a way the E46 is not. I've said it before but I'll say it again: the E46 is objectively the better vehicle (meaning it has better performance numbers) but the E36 is far more fun and rewarding to drive. It is one of the last great BMWs. The E46 and E39 5 series are the other two.

Overhaul Vendor Reveal

As it's been nearly 6 months since I completed my E36 drivetrain overhaul and the 4L30E is performing as expected I figured I'd reveal the vendor used for my transmission overhaul: In Gear Transmission, located in Manasquan, NJ (732-722-7387). I found the owner, Dean, extremely knowledgeable and accommodating in general. This was in sharp contrast to every other shop I spoke to in my area. Naturally, this explains why Dean got my business.

Just in case a search engine sent you here and you have not read my many blog entries on this subject, I must reiterate that I R&R'd the transmission and brought it to Dean in the back of a pickup truck strapped to a pallet. I did not evaluate his knowledge of BMWs, his ability to R&R the transmission, or his ability to diagnose any issues with the transmission installed in the vehicle. To my knowledge, like most transmission shops, he does not have access to the factory BMW diagnostic tools. However, based on the services rendered I can say that he met my expectations and I can definitely recommend him for GM 4L30E transmission overhauls.

For those wondering about the name of my machinist, I'm going to keep that to myself. While he eventually got the job done I was not entirely happy with the quality and consistency of his work or the time he took to get it done (over double his original estimate) so I can't recommend him with a clear conscience.