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E46 Convertible
The E46 vert forum. Talk about dropping your E46 top here.

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Old 03-31-2013, 01:17 PM   #21
taylor192
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TopHydraulicsInc.com View Post
It's too bad that you have to take the top off again to get access to that particular spot. Look at the bright side: you are able to figure this out by yourself, and you can help out many future readers by documenting how to do the job perfectly!
My buddy and I have gotten so good at this that it took about an hour to get the top off, line removed and top reinstalled.

There was so much hydraulic fluid that we didn't take pictures. Now that its cleaned up we'll take pictures when reinstalling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TopHydraulicsInc.com View Post
Also, if your car were a Bentley Azure or a Rolls-Royce made in the late 90s, you would now have to replace all 26 (!) hydraulic lines, because they were made of a material that disintegrates about as quickly as the cylinder seals...
If I owned a Bentley or RR I would probably not be DIYing to save a few $$$ Holy crap, $4K for hoses! http://www.tophydraulicsinc.com/en/33-rolls-royce I'm going to buy some lottery tickets!
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Old 03-31-2013, 01:40 PM   #22
taylor192
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Updated: line 21 was not the issue, just a victim of reinstalling the cylinder without double checking everything. Line 23 was split.

Found line 21 was pinched between the cylinder and frame. It bent the line at the fitting (not pictured, straightened out), and bent the fitting too.


Last edited by taylor192; 04-23-2013 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 04-18-2013, 11:06 AM   #23
ErdeM3
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hey guys, I got a similar issue on my 06 e46- m3 vert.
there is a cut on one of the small lines going from the valve block to a cylinder on driver side.



I can not see the number on the line but it is the middle one on valve block. I talked to Klaus earlier and I will order the line once I am sure which one it is but then the toughest thing, how to replace the line?

taylor192, did you take the pictures while reinstalling?
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Old 04-18-2013, 11:36 AM   #24
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Question How do the hydraulic lines get damaged?

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Originally Posted by ErdeM3 View Post
there is a cut on one of the small lines going from the valve block to a cylinder on driver side.

I can not see the number on the line but it is the middle one on valve block. I talked to Klaus earlier and I will order the line once I am sure which one it is but then the toughest thing, how to replace the line?
ErdeM3,

since I don't have access to an E46, I cannot tell which line is cut. I hope that taylor192 can already tell from the photo.

After taylor192 posted about his problems with a cut line, we have had a number of inquiries about replacement lines for E46 convertible systems. See also http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=966815 and http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=979101. I am trying to gather some statistics on how these lines get damaged - whether they simply wear from repeated strain near the mounting points, whether they get cut by sharp foreign objects like glass, or whether this happens almost exclusively after people replace their leaking hydraulic cylinders and accidentally pull too hard on the lines or accidentally cut them with a sharp tool. I actually have a hard time believing that tempered glass falling onto the lines would cut them, but it could happen if a sharp object was temporarily wedged in the wrong place and the line kept on rubbing on a sharp edge.

Has anyone worked on the hydraulic system of your car before, or has there been shattered glass falling into this area?

Klaus

www.tophydraulicsinc.com
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Some BMW E46 hydraulic cylinders, pumps, and valves that we rebuild and upgrade at Top Hydraulics:
54347025593
54347025600
54347025599
54348236956
54348243269
5434-8234530 (hydro-unit)
54347025592 (control unit)
54347025598 (improved hoses manufactured at Top Hydraulics)
http://www.tophydraulicsinc.com/en/56-bmw-e46
www.tophydraulicsinc.com

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Old 04-18-2013, 11:53 AM   #25
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Quote:
Has anyone worked on the hydraulic system of your car before, or has there been shattered glass falling into this area?

Klaus
I don`t have that information but dont think so. the line looks messy just because i tried to seal it, patch it which of course didn`t work.
Also, It cant be the glass falling etc cause, area where the cut is, covered by a metal frame.
I guess, this one is simply wear from repeated strain near the mounting points...
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Old 04-18-2013, 12:03 PM   #26
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Update:

Tested line #21 and it did not leak despite being bent. Damn, that would have been an easy fix.
Found line #23 was split at the first bend. Looks like it doesn't have enough slack from the valve body to the first bend, so over time it eventually splits along the outside. Line #24 has lots of slack and is fine (line #23 and 24 run beside each other from the valve block to the passenger main lift cylinder).

I took photos of where line #23 routes at the valve block and first bend, yet after that it runs along one of the tension bars so it is next to impossible to take a photo in places I could barely reach. It is fairly easy to remove except for 2 spots.

Starting at the valve block with the top down and storage lid propped up:
- Disconnect line #23 as all other lines are disconnected: Pull the plastic retainer, turn the metal retaining, pull line out. This can be done with bent pliers without removing the top from the car.
- Remove 4 #20 torque screws holding on a plate that protects lines #23/24 and the harness at the first bend. Remove the plate. Note one of the screws is shorter than the rest.
- Put the top up at this point. Helps to have the window portion on an angle, and the top bent back from the windshield to allow the fabric top and headliner to be loose. I'll take a picture to demonstrate.
- Follow the line around the bend and up the tension bar. From the "c-pillar" the 2 zipties will be visible and must be cut.
- This is where I ran into difficulty. The lines pass under a plastic cover (circled in red) that is riveted to the tension bar. The opening is barely big enough to get the lines through, nevermind the 90 degree bend fittings on the end of the lines. I am going to experiment this weekend with how to either run the line under the tension bar (risking getting pinched at the joint) or over the tension bar (visible through the fabric when the roof is closed) or try a fitting with 30-45 degree bent to see if it'll fit. I think a slightly bent fitting can be routed under the cover.

Removing the plastic cover is out of the question. It would require pealing back the fabric top to drill out the rivets. Removing the fabric top is a 10hr+ job, so even pealing it back would be more than a few hours.



- Follow the line across the horizontal portion of tension bar. The lines are clipped in 3 places, all visible by moving around the fabric top and headliner.
- Repeat on the other side until the line terminates at the main lift cylinder. Disconnect from cylinder (see my DIY).

Again, all of this can be done with the top in the car. It is actually easier since the top has to be articulated in different positions to remove line #23.

Last edited by taylor192; 04-18-2013 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 04-18-2013, 12:11 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ErdeM3 View Post
hey guys, I got a similar issue on my 06 e46- m3 vert.
there is a cut on one of the small lines going from the valve block to a cylinder on driver side.

I can not see the number on the line but it is the middle one on valve block. I talked to Klaus earlier and I will order the line once I am sure which one it is but then the toughest thing, how to replace the line?

taylor192, did you take the pictures while reinstalling?
None of my lines run where your line is... is the line disconnected in your photo? I have photos at home, will upload tonight.

"middle on valve block" does not help since there are 6 lines attached to the valve block, 3 on each "bank". Find the number, it should be close to the fittings. Or follow the line and see where it goes to.

Lines 21/22 are the short lines that go from the valve block to the drivers side main lift cylinder. They essentially do a loop from the valve block to the cylinder so they have lots of slack, and little to bind on. I screw up installing line 21, that how mine got bent.

To replace line 21 or 22 you're going to have to follow virtually all the steps in my DIY sticky about replacing the main lift cylinders. It is a tedious long job, yet relatively easy since you're not replacing the main lift cylinders.

Last edited by taylor192; 04-18-2013 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 04-18-2013, 12:18 PM   #28
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Klaus, do you know of any shops that replace the fabric top on the e46? I would really appreciate high quality photos of the area circled in red so I can get a better idea of how the lines are routed in this area.

I'm going to ask around Vancouver, maybe a shop here is in the process of replacing the fabric and I could sneak in to grab some photos of the frame.
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Old 04-18-2013, 12:44 PM   #29
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Finding the least labor intense solution for installation of hydraulic line # 23?

taylor192,

thanks for the update. I'm looking forward to learning how your experiments turn out this weekend - this could save many E46 owners a lot of money. Hope that just (very carefully) bending the 90-degree fitting to an almost straight shape will work out. You are bending a steel tube with pretty thin walls, but the bending part is possible. I just hope that it will be easy enough to pull it through the plastic cover at that point. One of the problems might be that the connector will be pretty long once it is straightened out. It will certainly help to have a slightly longer line than the original.

We could also make a totally custom part that might save a lot of labor upon installation and be worth the extra production cost: Split the line into two sections with short, straight connectors that both plug and clip into a custom made union of about 5/8" diameter and 1" length. There should be room for such a union somewhere. Check out the picture below for what that union could look like (and imagine lines clipping in from both sides). The union would be the aluminum block on the left side of the photo. Mirror image the photo, attach it to the left of the current photo, and you see the intended setup.

Klaus

www.tophydraulicsinc.com
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	custom union for BMW lines.jpg
Views:	21
Size:	46.3 KB
ID:	501195  
__________________
Some BMW E46 hydraulic cylinders, pumps, and valves that we rebuild and upgrade at Top Hydraulics:
54347025593
54347025600
54347025599
54348236956
54348243269
5434-8234530 (hydro-unit)
54347025592 (control unit)
54347025598 (improved hoses manufactured at Top Hydraulics)
http://www.tophydraulicsinc.com/en/56-bmw-e46
www.tophydraulicsinc.com


Last edited by TopHydraulicsInc.com; 04-19-2013 at 09:38 AM. Reason: clarifying which part is the union
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Old 04-18-2013, 12:56 PM   #30
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Quote:
None of my lines run where your line is... is the line disconnected in your photo? I have photos at home, will upload tonight.
I will find out the number this weekend and let you guys know...


Thanks
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Old 04-18-2013, 01:49 PM   #31
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While you are replacing the line, have Top Hydraulics upgrade all hydraulic cylinders

Quote:
Originally Posted by ErdeM3 View Post
I don`t have that information but dont think so. the line looks messy just because i tried to seal it, patch it which of course didn`t work.
Also, It cant be the glass falling etc cause, area where the cut is, covered by a metal frame.
I guess, this one is simply wear from repeated strain near the mounting points...
ErdeM3,

strain near the mounting points is indeed my suspicion for most E46 hydraulic line failures. We have seen that repeatedly for the bow tension cylinders and for line #23 going from the valve block to the main lift cylinder on the right side.

I would suggest that you have us upgrade all six of your hydraulic cylinders before they fail, which could be any time soon. The original seals in the hydraulic cylinders decay with time - they even have a limited shelf life when they are not installed in a cylinder. That decay gets accelerated by heat, which you have plenty of in Texas. All six cylinders use the same seal material, and all of them will fail eventually. It's a shame that the OEM saved a little money on the seals and didn't pick the proper material. Attached find a picture that shows the seal decay progress. Even the first stage of decay will leads to the cylinders leaking slowly, and you certainly don't want to have any hydraulic fluid dripping onto the tonneau cover.

Klaus
Attached Thumbnails
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Name:	decay.jpg
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Size:	54.5 KB
ID:	501213  
__________________
Some BMW E46 hydraulic cylinders, pumps, and valves that we rebuild and upgrade at Top Hydraulics:
54347025593
54347025600
54347025599
54348236956
54348243269
5434-8234530 (hydro-unit)
54347025592 (control unit)
54347025598 (improved hoses manufactured at Top Hydraulics)
http://www.tophydraulicsinc.com/en/56-bmw-e46
www.tophydraulicsinc.com

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Old 04-18-2013, 01:54 PM   #32
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Updated: The union solution proposed by Klaus will not work. Even short straight fittings cannot fit under the plate ontop of the tension bar. The lines curve under the plate in a channel, and even a short straight fitting will not make the curve.

Last edited by taylor192; 04-23-2013 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 04-18-2013, 02:24 PM   #33
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Quote:
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That would make this a really easy repair. Cause of the design of the "c-pillars" that angle out at the bottom, there is a lot of room for that union to be ziptied along the vertical section of the tension bar without interfering with anything, and be mounted in a spot that does not bend, so little chance of fatigue/failure.

The extra cost would be well worth it! This goes from a job requiring removing the fabric from the top and removing the top from the car... or rerouting the line in a way that may eventually fatigue and fail... to a DIY in about an hour (after removing the rear interior, which would be required to access the valve block from the top).

Very interested! You just made my day!!! I was feeling down this past week as this repair was becoming a nightmare. Thanks for the motivation to keep going!
taylor192,

the forum is very lucky to have you doing this, and I'm glad to hear that the custom union might be solving a huge problem.

May I suggest that you leave the old line routed through the bracket, so that you can tie the new one to it and pull it through?

I just need to know how much longer the new line assembly should be than the original line #23, and how far from the shorter end the union should be placed.

Keep your eye on the ball - you're almost done, and you saved a boatload of money! :-)

Klaus

www.tophydraulicsinc.com
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Some BMW E46 hydraulic cylinders, pumps, and valves that we rebuild and upgrade at Top Hydraulics:
54347025593
54347025600
54347025599
54348236956
54348243269
5434-8234530 (hydro-unit)
54347025592 (control unit)
54347025598 (improved hoses manufactured at Top Hydraulics)
http://www.tophydraulicsinc.com/en/56-bmw-e46
www.tophydraulicsinc.com

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Old 04-18-2013, 03:13 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by TopHydraulicsInc.com View Post
taylor192,

the forum is very lucky to have you doing this, and I'm glad to hear that the custom union might be solving a huge problem.

May I suggest that you leave the old line routed through the bracket, so that you can tie the new one to it and pull it through?

I just need to know how much longer the new line assembly should be than the original line #23, and how far from the shorter end the union should be placed.

Keep your eye on the ball - you're almost done, and you saved a boatload of money! :-)

Klaus

www.tophydraulicsinc.com
I'd say the forum and I are lucky to have you here. Much appreciated! Without your services I'd be SOL.

Unfortunately I already yanked line #23 out so I could measure it.

Last edited by taylor192; 04-23-2013 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 04-19-2013, 09:26 AM   #35
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Find the number, it should be close to the fittings. Or follow the line and see where it goes to.
I checked it, the cut is on line #23... ??? from what I have read, installing the new one is going to be a little problem?
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Old 04-19-2013, 11:16 AM   #36
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I checked it, the cut is on line #23... ??? from what I have read, installing the new one is going to be a little problem?
I've covered the issue with line #23 in this post: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showpos...0&postcount=26

Klaus and I are working on a solution, I should have a definitive answer this weekend of which direction to go, and have the solution installed within a couple weeks.

Can you take a pic of where line #23 is cut/split. Use the macro mode of your camera and get a really close high detailed picture of the cut/split. Without removing the line, could you confirm the split/cut is at the location shown in this photo (photo is of the passenger side, the driver side is exactly the same). The lines turning the first bend are visible just above the cylinder. The photo is taken with the rear window held in the highest position (stressing the lines the most at the first bend).



My line #23 was split right where the lines turn the corner. It was split vertically (using the picture as a reference), ie long the length of the line (not across the line).

If yours is similarly split then I think we can assume this is a weak point of the e46 top.
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Old 04-19-2013, 03:01 PM   #37
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Can you take a pic of where line #23 is cut/split.
I will do this weekend.
Fyi the cut/split is just 2 inch away from the valve block...this one looks little bit different that yours...
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Old 04-19-2013, 03:31 PM   #38
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I will do this weekend.
Fyi the cut/split is just 2 inch away from the valve block...this one looks little bit different that yours...
With the top down, the metal cover that protects line #23 at the first bend is about 2-3" from the valve block. Did you have to remove the metal cover with 4 #20 torque screws to see the split?
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Old 04-19-2013, 03:51 PM   #39
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With the top down, the metal cover that protects line #23 at the first bend is about 2-3" from the valve block. Did you have to remove the metal cover with 4 #20 torque screws to see the split?
yeap, I did take out the metal cover.Then I was able to see the leak, actually the cut is inside that metal cover . Also, there is a slight damage before the line goes into the that metal cover... I will send you the picture tomorrow...

I am still trying to figure out the route of line #23. Can you draw a diagram on a picture?
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Old 04-19-2013, 03:57 PM   #40
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Oh man Taylor.. SO sorry to hear about the new troubles with the top!! Best of luck my friend and while the rest of us will learn from your DIY pain, still just sucks!! Sorry dude.
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