Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Close Enough But Still Fools the Camera

I pulled the rear shelf completely, a chore that requires removing both cushions of the back seat, and spray-painted the thing because I was not satisfied with the touch-up job I had done previously.

To the naked eye the color appears nearly the same as the rest of the upholstery but of course my digital camera thinks differently. Nonetheless, we can put this problem to bed.

I kind of like the two-toned effect.  Too bad only the camera sees it so dramatically.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Like a Beacon, for Those Who Need a Road

Given that I constantly think about what to do next for the car, it was inevitable I would eventually turn my attention to the p/s tail light. There is nothing wrong with the assembly but the piece is older than the d/s unit - which is new.  In the beginning the p/s lights looked better so I changed the older, cracked one on the left. The situation then reversed itself; now the right side fixture looked bad. A relative thing, of course.

I talked to the good folks at my local NAPA store after reading about possible fixes on BMW2002faq.com. They recommended a 3M product.  Apparently you attach this special piece of sandpaper to a grinding pad, have at it, and presto! the tail lights become new again.

I was skeptical.

But I bought the product; it happened to be on sale.  And I do like to grind things.  After years of scouring wooden boats, fiberglass boats, furniture, and what-have-you, I have an affinity for the torturous activity.

To my great surprise, fifteen minutes worth of work made a real difference.

1) Before

2) After

Were every other aspect of life so easy...

Sunday, October 2, 2011


My car has never been better and I wonder today what to do next, or indeed if any projects should be renewed.  The engine doesn't burn or leak oil, doesn't smoke, and idles at a perfect 800 RPMs. The suspension handles the ubiquitous Seattle potholes with aplomb. My seats are far more comfortable than those of any modern vehicle, and I can drive the freeway with hands-free steering, should I wish to tempt the fates (not to mention the horrible condition of Interstate tarmac).  The car corners like the race car so many of its peers were modified to run as.

On the auditory side, the stereo blasts out NPR or old rock music with perfectly-pitched ease, from a variety of speakers. I can even plug in an Ipod, although I've never owned one.  I guess the windows rattle a bit unless fully closed, but so what.  The road noise is muted and barely noticeable.  It's much more fun to listen to the music of the M10 engine.

Okay, the rear of the transmission dribbles the odd drop of oil and the dash cover is an amateur refit.  The original windscreen glows with 45 years worth of pitted use when exposed to direct sunlight.  And I have yet to return the color to its original Tampico.  Again, who cares.

But the feeling of completion is by its very nature illusory. At any time any number of scenarios might arise.  Major mechanical malfunctions always lurk nearby with a vehicle of this age and of course, the plethora of abysmal drivers in Seattle present a constant hazard to its well-being, each and every time I exit the driveway.

Today the car sits in the garage, awaiting fresh orders. What will the next cruise bring?  The future is unfathomable.

Resting quietly on a Sunday

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Pesky Coolant Hose

A coolant leak developed recently in the hose from the water pump to the intake manifold, evidenced by antifreeze leaking on the engine.  Feeling around, I detected what felt like a pinhole underneath the hose.  I was too annoyed to a photo of the old offending piece but did order the replacement, shown here as # 2. 

Parts diagram 

What arrived was a straight piece of hose, not the one pictured above. It seemed to fit but looked awkward. Sure enough, upon installation, the neck began to leak at the manifold.  I wondered at first if the neck had cracked but that wasn't the problem. The hose didn't join to the manifold properly and was sent straight back to BMW.

A second attempt to order the correct hose (#11531266474) brought us an S-shaped item, designed for later manifolds.  Not serviceable either.  So BMW stocks two different hoses with the same part number, neither of them useful.

The mechanics at Eurocar Service custom-cut another piece of hose, a longer one.  That fit nicely and the leak stopped. I should add that they used some sealant as well.  Given that they initially installed the wrong hose I wasn't charged for the work.  A good deal all around.

The new hose; the damned camera flash sure makes the engine look rusty