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Old 10-19-2012, 09:08 PM   #359
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Springfield OH
Posts: 740
My Ride: '00 323i + '75 2002
Got a couple new goodies in the mail today. First up was an order from Summit Racing. Gotta love being in Ohio, one day shipping for the price of ground. This order included the radiator fan so I can get the radiator mounted and ensure I have enough clearance between it and the front of the engine.

I also got my Earls Performance Oil Cooler. This will let me ditch the stock E30 cooler, which doesn't really work very well to begin with. It will also let me relocate the assembly up higher, away from rocks and other road debris. The cooler is 13"w x 7.75"h x 2"t, which give almost double the effective surface area as the stock cooler.

Here you can see the radiator, fan and cooler in place. The cooler fits in the nose panel directly behind the kidney grills, then the radiator sits on the bottom cross member angled forward slightly. The fan has a minimum 3/4" clearance between it and the engine all the way around.

Here's the business end of the coolers. In retrospect I kinda wish I'd gone with the black one, but I'm sure it will look fine once everything else is in there. On another note, I wonder if anybody has ever left the diving board mounting holes and just used that to run charge piping to a huge front mount intercooler... I suppose that would kinda kill the 'sleeper' theme though.

And here's the position the Oil Cooler without the radiator in place. While the zip tie is a very high tech solution, I will be fabbing up some tabs off of the inner tubing structure for it to mount to.

The next set of parts that came in were my E12 front strut assemblies. Now why on earth would I want those some people may be asking. The 'short' answer is as follows:

1) Big Brakes on the cheap - even larger than the 'volvo' bbk (280mm vs. 272mm) and 100% OEM BMW
2) Larger Strut Tube - The strut tube I.D. is larger than that of the '02, which means you have MANY more choices for strut inserts, including the Koni Adjustable Race pieces (hint hint). And the O.D. is still small enough that the GC Coilover Kit for an '02 will still work with them.
3) Tii Bearings for non-Tii Prices - The E12 shares the same larger bearings as the much sought after Tii spindles, only they don't cost and arm and a leg to buy. I was able to find the entire strut assemblies (including brakes and hubs) for under $200. To get even close to the same outfit with Tii bits would normally run upwards of $600.
4) 5 x 120 Bolt Pattern - Now this may seem very unnecessary to some, and to each his own. Personally, the switch from 4 to 5 lug is worth it for the options in wheels alone (as you'll see next week). There are many old classic 5x120 wheels in 15" and 16" from the big coupes and sedans that sell for a fraction of what the 4 lug version do. It also opens up a lot of newer modern BMW wheels (if your into that kind of thing). I will also say the decision was easier for me due to my E30 rear subframe, you can swap Z3 hubs and brakes back there and your done.

Here you can see the regular '02 strut on the left with the 'volvo bbk' and the e12 strut on the right with it's standard size brakes (cross drilled/vented not std):

Now when trying to fit the E12 struts to an '02 there are two places that they need to connect to the car, the upper strut bearing and the pitman arm/lower ball joint. Since I'm running coilovers the upper strut bearing will be simple enough, just a set of '02 camber plates. However the pitman arm is a bit more tricky, or so I thought. The pitman arms on 2002's mount with three bolts (M8) and are aligned by a groove that is machined into the center of the arm. A matching lip on the bottom of the strut housing keeps the pitman arm where it needs to be. The E12 uses the same system, however it's held in place with three M10 bolts. Luckily, the groove and lip on the E12 parts is the same width and depth as the ones on the 2002 parts, and on closer inspection the top two bolt holes line up perfectly between the two struts. The third mounting hole is actually a couple of mm further down on the E12 part, but a couple of minutes on the mill and I was able to drill out the M8 holes to fit M10 bolts, as well as space the third hole down to where it needed to be. This left me with an E12 strut assembly with the 2002 pitman arm, ready to bolt onto any 2002 front subframe!

The pitman arm in the above picture is one of the shortened arms I have for the e21 steering rack swap. Which brings up another benefit of the E12 setup. On the 2002, the brake caliper hangs off the back of the strut, while on the E12 it hangs off the front. When shortening the pitman arms for use on the 2002 strut, the tie rod end mounting point was moved very close to the brake caliper body. You can see in the above pic how the pitman arm and caliper are on opposite sides of the E12 strut housing. While the location on the '02 strut isn't a harmful issue, it is much nicer to have more room to get to the tie rod ends and brake calipers for maintenance.

Here you can see the modified pitman arm on the left and a stock arm on the right. As you can see there is still plenty of material around the edges of the arm considering the types of loading it will see.

Here are my GC coilover sleeves slid over top of the E12 tube (yea I still have to cut off the stock spring perch). A nice thing to note is that the sleeves actually fit perfectly around the E12 spindle tubes with very little slop (maybe 0.03"). The '02 spindle tubes are much skinnier, and so they would require a spacer to be very secure on the tube.

I will also be making/buying a bump steer spacer for between the strut housing and the pitman arm. This will help to return the front suspension to the proper geometry on a lowered car.

Tinker Engineering - 2014

Mica - 2000 BMW 323i - The one that started it all
Fiona - 1975 BMW 2002 - The Definition of Project Creep
Heidi - 1988 BMW M5 - The piece of BMW history
Silvia - 2013 Subaru WRX - Stock, for now
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