Posts Tagged ‘BMW’

152 Title piston

Every once and awhile I will cruise through my blog postings just to take stock of what I have posted in the past and therefore I am able to plan for the future. I am the sole editor of all my posts. I review the post before I publish it, I ensure all the links work, the pictures will blow up to full size, and the grammar and spelling are correct. The reason I am telling you this is because I can’t believe how many spelling mistakes I catch when reviewing my work once it has already been published. So in this posting I am offering up an apology in my obvious downfall as an editor. I will continue to try and improve however I suspect I will always miss a certain number of spelling and grammatical errors. I realize it probably does not bother most of you but it bugs me. There…I said it, let’s move on.

As my blog will show I have spent the majority of my garage time working on my 65revive project. There are still times when I fit in side projects and usually it is something that is functional and not worth posting. The other day I was in need of a thank you gift for a friend who helped me out with a few things so I thought I would build one. I wanted something cool but I wasn’t able to commit a weeks’ worth of time to the project. After some pondering I came up with an idea that allowed the task to be accomplished in an evening yet still have a bit of wow factor. The following pictures will run through the 4 hour build process of what turned out to be a thank you for much appreciated help.

152 BMW piston

Started out with an old BMW piston I had laying around.

152 Initial clean up

I performed an initial clean up on the lathe using 320 grit sandpaper and Scotchbite.

152 Starter hole

Next I moved onto the milling machine to center the piston out and drill a starter hole.

152 Milling slot

Next step was to mill out a slot large enough to hold a stack of business cards. I milled just far enough to allow the pin bosses to act as some internal card support.

152 Trimming base

I needed to build a base in order to seal the bottom off that way if the card holder is picked up the cards won’t fall out the bottom. I rough cut a circle out of .375″ plate 6061 aluminum using the plasma torch.

152 Machined to fit

With the disc rough cut I was able to machine it down to final dimensions on the lathe.I made it to be a press fit into the piston base.

152 Bottom blasted

With all the “construction” completed it was time to move onto the finsihing phase. Here the top of the piston got taped off and the bottom half was glass bead blasted.

152 Top polished

Now the bottom section gets taped and the top half gets a 3 stage polishing.

152 Powder coated

It was time to now fog the bottom with matte black powder coating and slide it into the oven for a 15 minute heat soak at 375 degrees.

152 Completed holder

Finished product. It’s not a work of art but it is functional and kind of cool.

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.

It was time to start coming up with a plan to put some lettering on the BMW technician award. The basic components were all cut out but the sign lacked the info that was going to define what the sign is going to represent. In keeping with the German BMW theme I decided to shift from the “M Tech” theme to a “M Tek” theme.

The plan was to cut all the lettering out of the same aluminum sheet I used for the base. Now if I had a CNC plasma then the cutting of the letters would have spared me of some ingenuity. Since I don’t have a CNC plasma, yet, I was faced with having to cut all the lettering by hand.

I decided that multiple steps would be required in order to ensure that the lettering would come out looking that of CNC quality. It all started on the computer tracking down font that was similar to that of the BMW line. The “M” font was not an issue as I was able to AutoCAD the dimensions using an actual “M” emblem as a reference. The issue was with the “TEK” font and after reviewing many different fonts I finally settled on one that was similar. The only concern I had was that the font would eventually be increased by approximately .170” around all the edges. Since the font would be acting as a plasma guide I needed to ensure that the space left between the plasma cutting tip and the plasma cutting tip guide edge (sort of like a kerf) would not alter the look of the font too much.

The “TEK” font then was scaled to size and printed out on multiple sheets of paper. So after a bit of arts and crafts I was able to tape and cut paper that would leave me with a full scale version of my lettering. So with the paper templates in hand I was off to the garage.

So as the second step to the cutting process I traced all the lettering out on 1/8” MDF hardboard. With a jigsaw in hand I trimmed all the letters out. Using multiple sanders, including a drum sander on the drill press, I was able to work all the lettering down to precise dimensions. It was important to ensure that the lines were all straight and the radiuses were all smoothly rounded. Since the templates were going to be the actual guide for the plasma torch any imperfections in their shape would surely transfer through onto the aluminum.

With the MDF templates built the rest of the job was quick and easy. The letters were Vise-Gripped down onto the plate of aluminum and then trimmed out using the plasma torch. The edges only required light touch up with the belt sander and flap wheels. As far as the “M” letter goes there was no MDF template made. The “M” was all measured out and then straight edges used to provide the guide.

With the letters all cut I was able to lay them out onto the rest of the sign and verify that the image I had in my head was the image that was now sitting in front of me. Now that all the components of the sign have been cut the next phase will involve layout and some sort of method to attach all the pieces into unity.

A local BMW dealership that I have done some work for in the past approached me about a potential project. The manager of the service department was developing an internal company technician recognition program and was in need of some “hardware” to hand out. The manager wanted some sort of “Stanley Cup” for the award that would get passed around to each recipient. He wasn’t able to offer much of a suggestion as to what the award was supposed to be. All he knew is that he wanted something unique and he thought that I may be able to come up with an idea.

Well I pondered it over for a day and decided to pitch an idea to him that had been lurking in my mind for sometime. For some unknown reason I have had the urge to build a sign. I really have had no use for a sign and therefore no reason to build one. It’s not that I had any particular type of sign in mind; I just wanted to see what I could come up with. So with paper and pen in hand, along with some colored Hi-liters, I used all the skills I lack as an artist and sketched out a fairly pathetic artists rendering of what I envisioned I could build.

The idea was to build a 4 foot wide by 26 inch high aluminum sign. The shape, and feel, would mimic that of old school garages as well as modern BMW vehicle lines. As I pondered about what the point of the sign was I decided to create an “M Tech” theme award. For those of you who are unaware the “M” style BMWs are the high end performance line of BMW vehicles. Therefore it seemed fitting to provide a high end performance based award to the top technician.

So as I spent time researching and figuring out how to combine old school with M Power and came up with the following design. The overall shape mimicked that of old school garages combined with the features found on the back of an M5. I plan to incorporate some chrome tail pipe tips along with the air vent found on the rear of the M5. The sign would be made out of aluminum and incorporate multiple layers. It would also involve using different finishing such as paint, polishing, brushing, and anodizing.

Well I took my artists rendering to the service manager and pitched him my idea. I was bit shocked that he told me to “go for it” after only seeing my pathetic sketch. I suspect there must be a certain amount of trust involved as I am not much of a salesman.

So with given the green light I spent time getting the basic shape and dimensions finalized in AutoCAD. With some dimensions to work off of, a 4’ x 5’ sheet of utility grade aluminum, and some 6061 flat bar I stepped into the garage, broke out the plasma cutter and started shredding metal.

The backing, or base, that would support the rest of the sign was cut out from the sheet of aluminum using my homemade circle cutter to ensure the lines were uniform. The BMW emblem was designed to be 2 tier and was cut as per the AutoCAD specs to ensure the ratios all remained the same. The border was built from 1” x .125 aluminum 6061 flat bar. The entire border is made up of approximately 6 sections all welded together. The bends were either done with the ring roller or the Hossfeld clone bender.  I had acquired a complete set of 4 M3 chrome tailpipes which I had planned to use for the project. The pipes were too long so they all got trimmed down on the band saw and then cleaned up on the lathe.

So as it sits now the base and basics have all been rough cut and mocked up. Next step in the process will involve designing BMW font lettering and coming up with a technique to accurately cut them out of aluminum.

A friend of mine approached me about doing a small welding project for him. Before we get into the specifics I think some background information is in order. This particular individual of whom I speak of is no ordinary guy. If this guy could under go a heart transplant and get rid of his God given pumper in exchange for a turbocharged straight six he would do it in a heartbeat (I mean a power stroke) This guy eats, breaths, and sleeps horsepower.

His obsessions are not limited to one particular area, I mean if it burns hydrocarbons he either wants to thrust his right foot into it or twist the grip till it falls off. The guy goes from Mustangs, to RX7s, to street bikes, and even to trikes. OK…the trike doesn’t actually run but trust me that thing is freakn’ fast in his own mind. This guy collects turbochargers to make sure he stocks one for every single internal combustion engine he owns including his lawnmower.

1 inch practice weld on housing

From the time I have known him the vast majority of his attention has been given to his 1989 E30 BMW. There is one thing I know for sure about horsepower and that is a person can never have too much. My friend is no exception to this rule. However I have to give him credit for he is willing to work for it. By that I mean he pioneers his way to his wants. He does all his own work and modifications and is willing to accept failure. Once he has had his fun, and failure, it’s time to move on to bigger fun and, possibly, bigger failure. By failure I simply mean pushing an internal combustion engine to it’s “I have given you everything I got” limit and “there is nothing left for me to do but explode”. I think he uses the Edisonian approach to its quintessential core. He does his research, he theorizes, he plans, and he organizes however when he gets to a point where laws of nature can’t be calculated there is nothing left to do but “give it a shot”

OK, I think you get the point. Onto the nitty gritty and more about the welding project. He is looking to upgrade the turbocharger he previously retrofitted onto his M20 2.5 litre 6 cylinder in his BMW E30. He had a smaller one and it had done its time. He is upgrading to a Holset HX-35 turbo and coupling it to a BD Power 16 cm2 housing. Where do I come in? He needs a 3” stainless steel V-band clamp flange welded to the BD Power cast steel housing in order to couple his exhaust to the turbo. My first reaction to his request was hmmmmm…I’m not sure this is possible. Cast steel to stainless steel? I don’t know about that.

Now I know there are people out there that say they can “weld” anything. However in some cases the term “weld” is used pretty loosely. Anyone can point a MIG gun at something and pour molten metal onto it however this, in my mind, does not constitute welding. I needed to know if this was theoretically possible in the professional welding world. By that I mean is it possible to get a scientifically correct weld between the 2 metals. So I did some research and this is what I think I know. Technically, it seems that the process of welding stainless steel to cast steel is not actually possible. The professionals whose opinions I read said that they would not guarantee the weld, most of these professionals had lots of experience and spoke intelligently about the topic. Then there was a whole different group of people who said that the process is totally doable, unfortunately none of this individuals came across having extensive knowledge in regards to the finer aspects of metal fusion. So I decided to follow in my friends foot steps. Let’s take the Edisonian approach. I agreed to give it a go however he would have to be willing to accept my failure. He said he was good with that, I’m unsure I believed him.

The game plan was this. My friend agreed to give up one of his turbos he had stashed away (it was one he was probably going to retrofit onto his washing machine) so that I had something I could practice on. Here’s the set up I used; my Miller Syncrowave 180 SD TIG welder set to 120 amps, a 2% ceriated tungsten, pure argon set at 18 CFH, and a 309L stainless steel filler rod. I set out to make a few practice runs. Before welding the turbo I used a combination of MAPP gas and oxygen to preheat the cast. I used the MAPP gas simply because it was what I had available to me. I was shooting for a preheat temperature of between 300 – 400 degrees Fahrenheit. I could only get the turbo up to 240 degrees. Once it was heated I lay down a test weld. Like butter! It flowed great and the puddle control was fantastic. Only after about an inch of weld I wanted to add in a stainless aspect. I hunted through the metal pile and found a small chunk of 304 stainless steel. I plasma cut out a radius to fit the contour of the turbo housing. Through down another pre heat session and then melted some 309L stainless rod to the two of them. The filler flowed really nicely and the puddle was well maintained between both the cast steel and the stainless scrap. I got this covered, give me the real stuff now.

I reported back to my friend and showed him the test turbo weld, after a couple of blows with a hammer he said he was good. “Do it” he said.

When it came down to the real deal there was nothing to it. I preheated the BD Power housing to 240 degrees and then started laying down the beads. I alternated between 3 different spots in order to keep the heat well distributed. I finally was able come full circle and complete the weld. Upon inspection everything looked great. No slip ups and no warping.

 In the end I am not convinced it is a technically “sound” weld however I am certain his new bigger turbo is going to blow up long before my weld does. I think it worked out well and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

An addition to this post, that is not welding related, is how the extra combustion pressures are dealt with when turbocharging an engine. An area of weakness when increaseing cyinder pressures is the head gasket, they take a beating. A modification that is made to the M20 engine is the insertion of stainless steel wire into the deck of the block circumfrencing each cylinder. The deck is cut “in car” with only the cylinder head removed using a special cutter being driven by manual efforts.  The cutter used was made by Isky Cams model 100 GRM. It is simply a cutter mounted to the outside of a boring bar that allows you to set your depth of cut and circumfrence. Once set you just drop the tool into the cylinder, it’s pins ride on the deck and you manually cut grooves around each cylinder. The width of groove is determined by the cutting blade width and is .035″ which then allows a .040″ Stainless Steel wire to be wedged in.  The inserted wire adds support to the existing steel head gasket and helps to prevent blow outs. Cool hey?

Winter always seems to be the time of year where new equipment gets welcomed into the garage family. For years now the carbide blade DW872 Dewalt chop saw has been earning its shop keep and has been relied on heavily to do the vast majority of the metal cutting. It has done its time and has accomplished tasks that were clearly a challenge for it. It has never once complained or given up, it truly has a “never say die” mentality. Only once and awhile it started feeling the heat and had requested more then 15 amps to accomplish the task at hand. Unfortunately my breaker panel denied his request for a few more electrons and had to shut the show down for a minute. However once the breaker and the saw had a moment to catch their breath they continued to trek through to completion.

Last year I introduced a Hypertherm PowerMax 45 into the family. I was a bit unsure how the chop saw would react to having to share his space and his tasks. It turns out that the 2 are getting along just fine. It took awhile for each of them to settle into their new roles but I think the 2 of them have gained a healthy working respect for one another. The plasma came into the shop with a fairly large head on his shoulders, which I can understand, it had a lot to prove (room and board in the garage ain’t free!). Although the plasma gave the chop saw a run for his money it wasn’t long before the plasma put his ego aside and started to share the tasks. Initially I think the chop saw was really impressed to see what Mr. PowerMax could tear up; however, quick and dirty was never high on the carbides priority list.

Well just as everyone was getting along I brought in a new member, a Craftex CX103 1 HP 7” x 12” coolant fed bandsaw. I think I made a mistake; I didn’t talk to the chop saw or the plasma about this. I had been contemplating the addition for quite some time. A deal came up and I jumped on it. Needless to say the other 2 guys were upset. I don’t think the 2 of them understand just what the band saw is capable of. Chop and plasma thought they had everything handled between the two of them, they each knew their place and they performed with excellence. They were in for a hard lesson. For about a month now the two of them have had to sit in their designated shop area silently. Both of their egos were too big for there cutting capacity. A little down time will hopefully do them some good. I had recently outfitted the chop saw with a new 80 tooth blade however he’s not going to get a chance to grind his teeth quit yet. I tried to explain to them that neither one of them can slice up 4” solid round stock cleanly; they just seemed to pout. I had a cylinder head that needed some cutting; I gave them both an opportunity. When they got a look at the task at hand the talk was no longer so big, ha! Just what I figured. That’s right, why don’t the 2 of you just sit there and observe for awhile.

The real need for the band saw came about as a result of the metal lathe. I have had the lathe for some time now and the metal cutting requirements for lathe stock is different then for welding. Lath and milling have “girth” needs which is where the band saw shines. The main feature I wanted in a saw was coolant feed. I am tired of overheating tooling and material. The cutting capacity of most lower end coolant fed saws start at 7” x 12” which would suit me needs just fine. The rest of the features are fairly standard, it has a hydraulically controlled down feed and the typical 4 speed adjustment range. Some band saws come with gear boxes, which are nice, however mine has the belt and pulley set up. It is a vertical and horizontal saw meaning it can be used in either position. The table it came with, for use in the vertical position, does not scream quality so modifications will be in order down the road.

I picked up, uncrated, and adjusted the saw all in one day. I was happy to have some time to go through all the adjustment. I was careful to set the blade both parallel to the vise and parallel to the table. And with a test cut it showed that the accuracy of the squareness far exceeded my needs and expectations. 

The coolant tank and pump sit in the base of the machine. I filled it with a 20:1 mixture of water to water soluble coolant. And then some plumbing in of the drain was all that was required.

The saw comes with a cheap carbon blade on it; I really didn’t expect anything else. Once the teeth have done their time I will step it up to a bi-metal blade. Tension adjustment is easy from the outside of the machine.

Over the last month the saw has been doing the majority if the cutting in the shop. So far I have no complaints.

A future project of mine includes some foundry work so I have been collecting quality scrap aluminum so when the time comes I’ll have something to melt. I thought I would put the saws capacity to the test. I have a couple of BMW M62 engine V8 heads that I stripped down. I punched out all the steel plugs, removed all the valves and beat out the guides. The size of the head only gave the saw approximately a sixteenth of an inch of clearance. I took three test cuts. The first 2 consisted of a 1.250” cross section and the 3rd cut I shaved off an even 1.003” straight through. The cuts took about 3 and half minutes and came out clean. Overall I have no complaints. I would say that as long as the chop saw and plasma can work out their attitude issues we should all make a great team.


A local automotive dealership was looking for a wheel balancer adapter to use on their Hunter Road Force wheel balancer. They needed an adapter with pegs deep enough to fit the rims on a BMW X5 E70. The available Hunter adapter is an adjustable, universal fit, type adapter that typically falls apart when you try to adjust it.

I started with a wheel hub from a E46 that has a wheel bolt spacing of 5 x 120. I machined out the center hub splines, plus a bit extra, in order for the hub to fit the balancer spindle. I machined off all rough castings in order to balance the hub out. BMW hubs typically use wheel bolts therefore I TIG welded in some studs. I then machined all the fingers from 1″ diameter solid alloy rod then drilled and Helicoiled the holes. I wanted to make the fingers removable in case there was a need for a different set in the future. This way I wouldn’t have to re-machine a new hub.

The new adapter has turned into the full-time adapter since it fits just about every BMW wheel the shop balances.