Cheerfully Laboring on Labor Day

We’re using Labor Day as a good day to clean up our front storage room; the room has huge picture windows and the view isn’t exactly inspiring … maybe it was in 1937 when the building was erected.

Right now we’re more concerned about people looking in than us looking out. Although the little town where we are located has an ultra-low crime rate, I don’t want 3seriesparts.com to be the exception, and bins full of who-knows-what might be tempting to someone who really, really needs some money for the next shot of heroin or helping of meth. So I’m doing my bit for fighting drugs by keeping druggies from stealing my stuff; very socially responsible of me!

Here’s the north-facing window. It’s huge, and it gets down to single digits in the winter (yes, Fahrenheit), and the north face is the coldest section, so I put shades up for the neighbors and passers-by to not see industrial-strength insulation (what a nice neighbor I am) and then a huge thick panel of insulation.

So when you order parts from us in December, we won’t have to break icicles off your parts before we box and ship.

Here are some pictures.  Can you guess what flavor of BMW these doors are from? (Hint: it’s NOT a 3-series car; yes, we also manage 5seriesparts.com, 7seriesparts.com and 8seriesparts.com).

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Looking at Actual Parts, Carefully

I recall my surprise at analyzing some 3-series E30 glove boxes, and discovering that the glove boxes for cars with the later-than-Motronic-1.0 computer had a shallow notch at the inner front corner, so that the thicker fuel injection cable (three rows of pins vs. the earlier two) doesn’t chafe. It’s a very logical engineering change, and not surprising. The glove box with the notch even has a different part number.

What made this surprising is that the official BMW parts list mentions only one variation. So, by analyzing the parts, physically, carefully, in person, I found out more than if I’d just read about things online.

For a while, I tried to figure out what made some cars have the earlier-style glove box vs. not. The change seemed to center around 1987 but I couldn’t put my finger on it until I realized that cars with the older version of Motronic computer had the older version of glove box, and 1987 was the year when things changed a lot as such — but the 1987 325i cars had the newer-version computer whereas the 1987 eta-engined cars still had the older-version computer.

E30 Glove Compartments Showing the Design DifferenceThis experience really inspired me to go look in person at what’s actually going on. It reminds me of when I worked at an automobile assembly plant (not for BMWs, sadly). The production control folks had recently managed a change by which cars of a particular model would be fitted with chrome tips on their exhausts. The parts were ordered, brought to the production line, and the assembly instructions were changed to tell workers to put the chrome tips on. But, at the end of it all, my job included being the reality-check person, to go see if in fact all of this planning had actually resulted in chromed-tip exhausts on cars exiting the assembly line. For me, there’s nothing as solid and reassuring as seeing something first-hand.

So, today’s project involved Mass Air Flow Meters on the M30 engine. I own a 1980 BMW 633 CSi, a 1992 BMW 735i, and several models in between, including a 1984 BMW 633 CSi and a 1984 BMW 733i. My tech and I inspected the mass air flow meters on all of these cars, and checked the part numbers. Of course, it’s possible that some of these parts were not originally on the car, but I’ve personally driven each of these cars so I know that the part at least works on that car.

Although the 1992 car has a pretty plastic cover on top of the mass air flow meter, when the cover is removed, the part is the same as on all the other models we analyzed. And so, now we have a good handle on mass air flow meters for the M30 engine.

There are still a million things we DON’T know for certain, but it’s nice to have a fairly good handle on at least this tiny part of the puzzle.

That’s the sort of confidence and certainty that we enjoy.

Feeding Fuel Injection Wiring Harness Through Hole in Firewall

On 1987 cars anyway, the fuel injection wiring harness is a complex beast, and it doesn’t much like going through the hole in the firewall and the rubber grommet fitting snugly.

To persuade it to move into position better, BMW fitted some rubber handles to the wiring harness so that you can go inside the car and use these to yank the wiring harness into the car better.

In retrospect, I’d have used some water-based lubricant to ease the way.  Once dry, it would no longer have been slippery.

It helps to have person A shove the wiring into the hole from the outside while person B is inside the car, tugging on the handles.