(Image: Header Graphic)

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

Like what you see?

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

Tools, Equipment, and Supplies
for the DIY BMW Technician

Page 2 of 3

(Image: Top-down view of AFF 2 Ton jack)
The best job begins with the right tools

Shop Equipment

Description Source Cost
(Image: Rhino Ramps) Low Profile Ramps

Traditional metal ramps won't work with BMWs or other lowered vehicles because the slope of the ramp is too great and the body skirts hit the ramps before the tires do. The Rhino Ramps are at least as light as metal ramps I've used, yet better equipped to handle the load because of the honeycomb style of construction. The other perk is that these actually work nicely on gravel due to the increased surface area. Don't try that with metal ramps!

Wal*Fart $40
(Image: Large Metal Wheel Chocks) Large Wheel Chocks

I picked these up primarily so I could do brake jobs one axle at a time and jack the rear axle without fear of the car moving forward and falling off the jack stands (clarification for the noob reader: the parking brakes are on the rear axle so the front wheels are free to turn when the rear is jacked up).

While in the neighborhood, I also picked up a smaller, pocket-sized version of these and put them in the spare tire well of the E36 to enhance safety when jacking on the side of the road.

Pep Boys $14
(Image: AFT200 2 Ton Floor Jack) 2 Ton Low-Profile Floor Jack
(American Forge and Foundry AFT200)

This is an inexpensive jack, but at least it's rebuildable in the event the seals go bad. Wish that were the case with the cheaper Sears and Pep Boys jacks...which explains why I didn't buy them. As you can tell from the picture, this jack has a two pump system, which helps raise the jack more quickly.

Eppys $140
(Image: 4 Piece Miniature Pick Set) 3 Ton Jack Stands

Jackstands are absolutely critical for any serious DIY work. For most work you can get away with one axle in the air, or one pair of stands. For more advanced and critical work such as automatic transmission fluid replacement, you need the entire vehicle elevated and level, which means four jack stands. I bought 3 Ton stands over lower-capacity units simply because the 3 Ton units are more likely to keep the car off of me on a bad day. I settled on the Hein Werner units because they had a reasonable minimum height (12") and because I wanted the top of the jack arm to be as flat as possible for use with the BMW jack pads.

Eppys $54 per set
(Image: Motive Black Label Bleeder) Motive Black Label Pressure Bleeder

Brakes need to be flushed every two years per BMW's maintenance schedule, but every year is better. There are three basic ways to bleed brakes -- the manual method (pumping the pedal with a helper), vacuum, and pressure. I read a bunch about each process and concluded that pressure bleeding was the best choice for me. I could have built my own pressure bleeder out of various parts, but figured that at $65 the Motive Black Label Bleeder with machined aluminum adapter and swivel attachment was worth the money.

Bimmertools $65
(Image: Tire Inflator Nozzle) Tire inflator nozzle

If you have a compressor, this is the first accessory you buy. I looked for one with a trigger handle and a flexible hose for comfort. This particular unit has a gauge built in, but they're known not to be reliable. I use a cheaper (yet more accurate) digital pressure gauge.

Eppys $35
(Image: Compressed Air Blower Nozzle) Compressed Air Blower Nozzle

Helpful for blowing out the spark plug holes before you remove the plugs. Prevents dirt from getting into the cylinders.

Eppys $8

(Image: 50' 300 PSI Air Hose with Fittings) 50 Feet of 3/8 300PSI hose (1/4 ID) + fittings

When using air tools it's important to have a solid high pressure hose with leak-free fittings. Note that if you have an inline oiler for the tools it's a good idea to use one hose for the tools and another host for servicing the tires or using air to clean up an area. If you paint with the same compressor, a dedicated clean hose is not just a good idea -- it's required. I only have one hose at this time because I'm not using air tools yet. The hose itself was $35, and the two fittings were $3.

Home Depot $38
Shop Light

Fluorescent lamps produce a good "flood" of light, while the newer LED lights provide a lot more light, but in a narrow pattern. Tubes tend to fail if dropped, while LEDs are more reliable. If you're thinking of just using one of those 500 Watt halogen lamps you might see on a construction site or use to paint your house, don't. The quartz lamps put out a lot of harmful UV radiation and the glass lenses are not filtered. You can actually get a sunburn by working too close to them.

(Image: Sears Professional 19541 Twin Cylinder Oil Lube Compressor) Compressor (> 6CFM @ 90PSI)

After a bunch of research I settled on a Sears 25 gallon professional unit (19541). I'm not a big fan of Sears equipment, but this unit is actually made by DeVilbiss, a company that has OEM'd equipment for several well-respected brands. Due in large part to its twin-cylinder design, it exceeds the CFM requirements of all my air tools, and because it's oil lubricated it runs quietly. I have it connected to a dedicated 110V 20A circuit (with a 15A receptacle), but the GE 2 HP motor can be easily converted to run on 240V power if necessary. This unit is somewhat overkill for my application, but my old compressor was on its way out and I didn't want to buy a throw-away.

Sears $400
Milton Compressed Air Particulate Filter / Moisture Trap

Nothing destroys air tools faster than dirt and moisture, so these must be filtered out if you have any hope of using your air tools for their intended lifespan. I originally bought a filter with a polycarbonate dome so I could see what was going on in there, but as I later discovered the plastic can be attacked by certain oils and I have an oil-lube compressor. I therefore returned the plastic trap and bought the more expensive metal one. The one additional perk is that the plastic was rated to 150PSI while the metal is rated to 250PSI. I have no intension of running regulated pressures that high, but it's nice to know it has a higher tolerance to failure. For a picture, click on the one for the compressor -- it's the black and gray item connected between the onboard regulator gauges and the red air hose.

Eppys $48

Continued on the next page.