Wednesday, May 27, 2020

[M3] Drilling the Sport Evo wing carbon flap, alignment, Memorial Day drive

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 


Car went for an alignment, or should I say an expensive front toe adjustment. I have to say, it feels really good right now to drive. It all just gels. The short shifter is taking things to the next level, and I hate to say it but I'm loving the stock 15s for look (from some angles) and feel on the road.

I went out for a drive on Sunday with Jon - starting from Alice's, the old 84-Pescadero-PCH-84 loop. This is apparently the only photo I took. I should have known better than to go out that way on Memorial Day weekend, it was a total zoo. Jon and I were shooed from the Alice's restaurant parking lot - no loitering if we weren't ordering anything. On the way out on 84 we were stuck behind Subarus and CRVs with bike racks, lollygagging out to the trails. We had Pescadero to ourselves all the way out to the coast, but highway 1 was slammed with people trying to escape cabin fever. The beaches are closed, and the off-road parking near them is closed, but some of the higher lookout pull-offs remain open. So there were cars strewn all about, people crossing where they pleased, and walking on the small shoulder of the (50mph) road all the way down to the closed beaches. We saw motorcycles, groups of all kinds - the BMW GS touring kind of guys, the Japanese sport bike guys, the Ducati guys, the Harley guys, packs and packs of them. As we got back to the Skyline/84 junction there were car clubs ripping in every direction, dozens more motorcycles, bicyclists. Alice's entire parking lot was motorcycles, I've never seen so many. Cars were parked along Skyline wherever they could fit and three police cars were there, I learned later from Facebook that they were handing out no-front-plate tickets and running a speed trap. I got out of there quick.

I am planning to visit body shops this week to get quotes for the Evo wing job. I thought before that, I would take a crack at drilling the mounting holes on the carbon flap, since none are present (like the CF replica front splitter). The problem is that the holes are blind so I needed a way to transfer the hole pattern to the flap. I tried a lick of paint on the holes but the surfaces are not line-to-line so that wasn't successful. I considered measuring carefully from one piece to the other, no way. I had seen someone turn a screw down to a point before, on a different application, but I don't have the means to fabricate that at home. Enter this wonderful M8x1.25 transfer screw set. $15 shipped to my door in two days.

They thread into the wing base and have little points. Line up the flap and press them together, you've got your pattern.

The bolts are M8, I ended up drilling all of the holes to 10mm to open up the tolerance a bit and get a good fit. The bolts are not on the same plane, and the parts don't have the identical contour, so it makes the whole thing a bit easier.

Nailed it. Very pleased with myself.

And that's that... it's a big empty Bay Area out there right now. I expected to be home for a while, but as I enter week 10 of working from home it's kind of amazing to know that I'll be here another 7-9 weeks at least based on my employer's return plan.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

[M3] Suspension bushing refurb, short shifter, Sport Evo wing mock-up

[note: this post, like an air-cooled 911, is back-dated to when these events occurred] 

[also note: I have condensed multiple forum posts into this entry, please forgive awkward transitions]

I'm in the middle of my bushing job over here. On Saturday I pulled the front control arms, sway bar, and tie rods. I wasn't going to do the tie rods originally but you know what they say... while you're in there... I order my parts from Pelican because they are nearby and shipping typically takes two days, the only thing they didn't have in stock was the front sway bushing and ECS has taken their sweet time getting it to me. It's just as well I guess, because I have my control arm bushings at the machine shop to get the new ones pushed in and I forgot the little locking tab plates for the tie rods anyway. Aiming to reassemble this weekend.

The ball joints really put up a fight. I rented a fork-type tool to bang them apart - worked last time - but it wasn't enough for three of the joints at the hub. I had to go rent the other tool, the "non-destructive" ball joint tool. This one was successful with some hammer convincing. Top tip, try that one first. The fork destroys your ball joint boots.

I've got a list of awesome parts and projects I'd like to do on this car, unfortunately the big remaining items are quite expensive. KW V3s, Alpha-N and carbon airbox, some really awesome 17" wheels. However, there are still some relatively low-cost things that will deliver maximum bang for the buck. One of those is the wheel refinishing project, if that guy ever gets back to me... another is a short shifter. I have a Rogue Octane kit in the mail. One more is the replica Evo wing I have been lugging around for 5+ years.

There has been some commotion over on the Facebook group about aftermarket wings and the quality of fitment. I received this wing when I bought my first M3, and I was told it was from Markus. Like my Sport Evo splitter, I have moved it from house to house and shed to garage across the years and I think now's as good a time as any to mount it. Before doing that of course, I fitted it up to the trunk. One of the studs is a bit off-kilter, which makes fitment look dodgy as you first start to insert studs to holes, but when inserted with a little squeeze it lands home. I've never had aftermarket body parts on a car so I'm not 100% sure what they 'usually' look like. This one will need a little bit of refinishing but it looks within the realm of normal paint shop stuff. Seems someone was a bit over-eager with the grinder when removing the parting line. The fitment to the trunk lid is good overall and I think it will come out really nicely.

I am very picky so I have anxiety about getting this wing to match the rest of the car. I'm going to take the car to a couple of body shops next week once it's back together for a quote. Tips and guidance appreciated... are there certain things I should look for, or ask about? I'm not up on the latest body shop tech. I also welcome input on what I should expect to pay, as I have no benchmark.

[one week later...]

Bushing job finally completed. I hit a huge snag when I realized that it is NOT possible to push the control arm bushings onto the control arm by hand in situ under the car. I'm not sure why I didn't catch on earlier, considering I did this job on my old car back in 2015 and called out in my old notes that I had used a tool for the task... in any case, I lucked out and a local member had the tool and I was back on track without too much delay.

It appears that I didn't take many photos.

This job is simple, but not easy. There are not many fasteners to remove, but access is restricted and it's a lot of short wrench strokes and ball joints that don't want to pop free. I didn't have a blast, but it's done. I set front toe "by eye" and must have not have gotten very close - it drove a bit wonky on the test drive - but it will receive an alignment before I do any more driving. Summary of suspension work completed:
  • Front control arms replaced
  • Front control arm bushings replaced
  • Front sway bar bushings replaced
  • Rear sway bar bushings replaced
  • Rear sway bar end links replaced
  • Rear lower spring pads replaced (10 > 15mm to increase ride height/decrease camber)

I received the Rogue Engineering Octane short shift kit and installed it while the car was in the air. I only have test drive miles under my belt but it feels really nice, short stroke and very solid. Fitment was spot-on and quality excellent. I've only driven my M3s with the long and notchy stock shifter so this is going to take some getting used to.

Next up: alignment, and visiting paint shops to see about this wing.