With all the key components cut out for the BMW M TEK sign it was time to start piecing it all together. The idea was to layer it all to give it some 3D feel to it. I was also going to have to make it all come apart so that all the individual pieces can be finished appropriately.
Using a felt pen I traced out all the components onto the backing plate so that I was able to determine what overlapped where. Then I went to work building spacers out of 6061 aluminum round bar. I machined all the spacers on the lathe then drilled and tapped all the holes. Eventually all the spacers got TIG welded onto their appropriate sign component. As uneventful as all this is the process was somewhat time consuming. However I am a big believer in that the amount of time invested in the project will be visible with the end project.
So at this point all the components have been mounted and bolted down. I had yet to build the exhaust pipe mounts. My main concern is that I didn’t want the mounts to be too visible. I Vise-Gripped some washers onto a sheet of aluminum and plasma cut out a couple of inconspicuous plates. The plates got aluminum tubes welded onto them that would allow me to slide the M3 exhaust tips onto them. The brackets then both got mounting brackets welded to the back side of the sign.
The only phase left in the actual construction involved welding the 1” aluminum perimeter, previously made, to backing plate. Using an old sheet of plywood and some wood screws I was able to position the perimeter tight up against the backing plate and then join them with some welds. Yes there were a few gaps, yes I find them difficult to cope with, will anyone notice? I doubt it but it still bugs me.
Okay so the actual construction is done and now comes the point of the process that involves spending time finishing all the components. This is where I struggle. I am not a great finisher however I am determined to improve in that department. My original plan was to combine flat black spray bomb, anodizing, polishing, and brushed finishes to create some contrast. I will spare you the vision because the vision had changed. I really had my heart set on anodizing but opted not to for various reasons, I’ll save that technique for another project. My new plan involved seeking out some outside help for part of the process.
I have friend, who has a friend, who knew this guy named Dave. Well it turns out that, because of my friend’s friend, Dave is now a guy I know. Anyway…I went to see Dave cause Dave does vehicle tinting, rock guarding, and vehicle wraps for a living. I went to see him because I wanted to incorporate some carbon fiber look to the sign plus I thought he could help me with the addition of some color. Well it turns out Dave was the guy to see cause he confirmed that what I was looking for was something that he could do.
So with the components prepped I took the pieces to Dave and this is what I got him to do. The backing plate got layered with a carbon fiber look wrap. The outer circle of the BMW roundel was also wrapped with carbon fiber and then was decaled with a white laser cut “BMW”. He wrapped two of the “Propeller” blades with BMW blue and then laid down a custom made M stripe decal on my supplied aluminum support. Fantastic! The wraps totally gave the sign a motorsport look to it. I am a little disappointed that I farmed out some of the work however I consider it a lesson in recognizing, and accepting, ones limitations.
The plan from the start was to polish up the “M” to a mirror finish. I also decided I would polish the circle that provides the background for the BMW emblem. The polishing of the circle will hopefully add another dimension to it all. I sanded the circle and “M” down to a 400 grit and then went to town on the buffing wheel and put the aluminum through a 4 stage buffing process. After that I had Stu, an automotive detailer and friend of mine, help me finish off the mirrored look with a 3 stage polishing compound laid on with a 7” electric polisher.
The rest of the components were all finished in a brushed finish. After sanding the remaining pieces down with 400 grit I took a Scothbrite pad to them and carefully brushed in the final look. The brushing helps the polishing of the “M” and BMW circle really standout.
All the non-visible backs of all the components all got spray bombed with flat black. I wanted to prevent any nasty reflections from occurring as the light creeps in from the backside of all the suspended lettering.
So with a few more minor finishing touches and a bit of detailing I was ready to check this one off my list. And I did however I had some straying thoughts while I built the sign which led me to put the effort in to build a couple of bonus items. So with some extra material on my hands and a little bit of time I came up with a “M-R” sign. It is simply a mini award that was meant to recognize another key player at the dealership who is not a tech but still plays a significant role in the department. Their name starts with a R therefore I turned the “M power” into “R power” The sign is nothing more then a couple sheets of aluminum trimmed to spec. The base was carbon wrapped and then top was half polished and have “M stripe” wrapped.
The second bonus item was a “Pimp My Hoist” kit. I built a hoist control upgrade kit for one of the hoists at the dealership. The kit was all made from 6061 aluminum and machined on the lathe. The 4 key components comprised of a motor button, lock release, hydraulic down release, and an oil tank vented lid. To give it the “M” look I machined 3 separate rings for one of the levers and then anodized them with “M stripe” colors. The lever was then bolted together to give it a 1 piece look. The rest of the components were all polished.
Anyway…there you have it. A completed project that was able to teach me a few things. Hopefully the service manager will be pleased with the result and hopefully the sign will suit the purpose. Time to move on to a bigger project, stay tuned.