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///M3 Forum
The BMW E46 ///M3 is the M version E46 and puts out an amazing 333 HP and 262 lb-ft of torque at stock specs! There are an amazing amount of modifications for both the coupe and convertible models so read up and get started modifying your cars today!

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Old 08-19-2012, 03:38 PM   #1
Thekingarthur
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Refinishing the SMG shift knob - DIY

Since the shift knob on my SMG M3 vert was in awful condition, and not being a fan of chrome anyway, I decided to refinish it to match the silver trim. Replacement knobs are pricey ~$90, and other options can cost even more. So while I save up for a brushed aluminum knob, I think this mod works pretty well. It definitely looks and feels a lot better. Here's a before and after picture:




To start remove the knob by pulling hard, careful not to injure yourself or your car, and then disassemble it. The leather trim pieces can be removed with a screwdriver and the plastic insert pops out with an exacto blade. You can then scrape out the double sided tape and remove the screw.







The shift boot plate pops right out by lifting up on it. The shift boot and trim ring both snap into the plate, as well at the SMG switch. The glue holding the trim ring plastic "hex nuts" and the chrome SMG lettering is easily removed with pliers.










The next step is to sand down the chrome surface for better adhesion of Bondo, and completely remove it in areas that it is peeling. It would be ideal to remove all traces of the chrome surface, but that proved to be very difficult. The problem is the chrome is actually a thin layer of metal so it takes an enormous amount of sanding to remove. It will not peel off areas that it isn't already peeling and when sanding begins to reveal the plastic underneath, it is very easy to remove large chunks of plastic when aggressively sanding the metal surface. So take your time with this step. The image below you can see where I melted the plastic in a ring around the center when sanding too fast. (I had the knob mounted on a Dremel tool which rotated WAY too fast. Moved it to a battery powered drill and that worked great.)


After you prep the surface, add your layers of Bondo. Applying Bondo to the entire surface rather than in patches where needed works better for the same reason as the sanding problem above. If you only apply it where it's needed, then when you sand it down to shape you will also remove material from the section that has no Bondo or not enough. So just apply a bit more Bondo than you think you should and sand away until your fingers bleed. Mounting the knob on a drill made sanding it to a perfect round shape very easy. For the SMG plate, be sure to apply Bondo to the underside and not just the top to fill the holes. That will prevent the filled holes from simply popping out.





After sanding to a smooth surface with finer and finer sandpaper, then it's time to paint. I painted the SMG plate black to match the majority of the interior plastic trim, altnating between a matte black paint and satin paint then finishing with 1500 grit light sanding. The knob and trim ring were painted silver with a polished clear coat on top. As with painting ANYTHING, multiple thin layers of paint with drying time in between is the best way to do it. Yes it takes a long time, but the quality is worth it. After finishing the silver paint and wet sanding it smooth add your layers of clear coat. Again, thin layers are the key to building up a solid paint job without drips and runs. After the clear coat, wet sand until it is completely smooth then buff and polish it.





Finally reassemble the SMG plate and glue the leather trim pieces back on the knob and put it all back in your car.



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Old 08-19-2012, 04:06 PM   #2
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not sure if its my computer, but the pictures are not working
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Old 08-19-2012, 04:14 PM   #3
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Yeah I'm trying to figure that out as well. Not sure what's going on. I've verified the links twice now. I can load them up in a browser separately just fine.

Last edited by Thekingarthur; 08-19-2012 at 04:18 PM.
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Old 08-19-2012, 04:18 PM   #4
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I really want to do this, please fix the pics!!
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Old 08-19-2012, 04:28 PM   #5
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Ah, it's forbidden on the server to direct link. Let me play with some settings on my website...
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Old 08-19-2012, 04:34 PM   #6
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Ok, fixed the images.
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Old 08-20-2012, 08:19 AM   #7
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Great write-up. Thanks for giving me a little "after work" project.
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Old 08-20-2012, 09:31 AM   #8
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Great write-up. Thanks for giving me a little "after work" project.
No problem.
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Old 08-20-2012, 01:02 PM   #9
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Nice job, If u don't mind me asking, what is that red thing by the tray above the shift knob?
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Old 08-20-2012, 02:02 PM   #10
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It's the little things that really make a difference. What wouldn't necessarily seem like a big project still makes a world of difference, I think it looks great, nice job!
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Old 08-20-2012, 02:06 PM   #11
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Dude, that looks great!
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Old 08-20-2012, 02:37 PM   #12
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Nice job, If u don't mind me asking, what is that red thing by the tray above the shift knob?
That's the display for my Whistler Pro 3600 Radar/Laser Detector. I customized the ash tray for that install. Working on a write up for that too, possibly a video as well.
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Old 08-20-2012, 02:42 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by VMRWheels View Post
It's the little things that really make a difference. What wouldn't necessarily seem like a big project still makes a world of difference, I think it looks great, nice job!
Indeed. After general maintenance I wanted to start modding the stuff that makes the most difference first, the things I interact with and use the most. stereo, shift knob, radar detector, and steering wheel next.
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Old 08-20-2012, 05:00 PM   #14
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This is going to come in handy. Thanks.
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Old 08-20-2012, 09:31 PM   #15
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Good work looks awesome
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:31 PM   #16
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Good painting skills. Definitely looks tons better.
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:00 AM   #17
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Thanks guys! I used to airbrush a lot so I have a bit of practice spraying paint around.
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Old 09-30-2013, 12:48 PM   #18
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Hey still any way we can get these pictures up? I went to pry the leather inserts out and it seemed like they were breaking
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Old 09-30-2013, 02:46 PM   #19
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gentle heat gun action will loosen the PSA that holds them on.
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Old 09-30-2013, 04:09 PM   #20
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Re: Refinishing the SMG shift knob - DIY

Alright will do. And I did pry the top logo off. Just painted black under and it went back perfectly

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