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Shocks n' Struts

Posted: Mon May 07, 2018 4:56 am
by 528i-1981
Gents: Time for suspension upgrade, and I will take any advice. I'm planning on Bilstein B6's all around and keeping the original springs. Personal preference is to keep the car as stock as possible, but I'm not a total zealot.

The cost of the upper strut mounts is about $320 each. That's really steep, it seems to me. It also seems like a good idea to replace them if I'm doing the struts.

I've never used a spring compressor before, and plan to rent one. Any advice here would be appreciated.

I'll probably replace the sway bar end bushings with polyurethane while under there - are there are any other simple/inexpensive upgrades that I can at the same time?

Any experience with strut braces? With stock springs, are they worth it? They're not that expensive and if I'm replacing the strut mounts it's a good time to drop one in.

Thanks!

Re: Shocks n' Struts

Posted: Mon May 07, 2018 12:06 pm
by Mike W.
Only tip on a spring compressor would be, don't crank them down any more than you need to. Upper strut mounts, yeah they got expensive, yowzer. I do see them significantly cheaper, but still no bargain. I have ordered from them before and was happy with the purchase.

http://old.schmiedmann.com/displayprodu ... 63&pty=new

Re: Shocks n' Struts

Posted: Mon May 07, 2018 3:25 pm
by PatinaBeforePolish
528i-1981 wrote:
Mon May 07, 2018 4:56 am
Gents: Time for suspension upgrade, and I will take any advice. I'm planning on Bilstein B6's all around and keeping the original springs. Personal preference is to keep the car as stock as possible, but I'm not a total zealot.

The cost of the upper strut mounts is about $320 each. That's really steep, it seems to me. It also seems like a good idea to replace them if I'm doing the struts.

I've never used a spring compressor before, and plan to rent one. Any advice here would be appreciated.

I'll probably replace the sway bar end bushings with polyurethane while under there - are there are any other simple/inexpensive upgrades that I can at the same time?

Any experience with strut braces? With stock springs, are they worth it? They're not that expensive and if I'm replacing the strut mounts it's a good time to drop one in.

Thanks!
1. Bilstein B6? Aren't they for lowered suspensions? Could be too short for stock springs.
2. Absolutely replace the upper strut mounts - expensive but worth it if the original ones are still on the car because they're pretty crusty by now. I found a set here from another member for less but $320 seems like a good price point if you need them now. The good news is that there doesn't seem to be any cheaply made reproductions on the market. I would also replace the complete sway bar links at the same time as well as all new hardware including nuts and the bump stops. (bump stops may not be needed with the Bilsteins) Replace the rear strut mounts and hardware as well. you'll need to very carefully remove the grey plastic liners inside the trunk to access the rear strut nuts - if the liner's still there. Replace the sway bar bushings and hardware. Replace the rubber spring seats front and rear.
3. Like Mike W. said, compress the springs only as much as needed. Using a few heavy duty zip ties for insurance after compressed doesn't hurt. Wear eye protection, long sleeves, pants and heavy gloves and keep the compressed spring out of the way when you're working on the other parts. I've seen spring compressors break and it's like an explosion. You'll know it's compressed enough when the strut mount gets a little loose and can be turned. Use an air gun to zip off the top mount nut or juggling 2 wrenches gets old fast. You're not supposed to, but I use an air gun to install the new nut as well. The top nut should not be reused and a new one should come with the struts. If all this sounds intimidating, you can always take the complete assembly and parts to a shop and pay them to do it. Better safe than sorry.
4. No experience with a strut brace on these cars. I've used them on more modern BMWs and they did make a difference but then we're talking about cars that will mushroom the strut mount sheet metal if you hit a large enough pothole. e12 sheet metal is a little more stout and it may not make a difference with stock wheels and tire sizes.

Also - The 3 nuts holding the bottom of the front struts to steering knuckle assembly that are wire tied are actually bolts with ends on them for the wire tie. I have not been able to find them new so I use grade 8 bolts with blue Loctite instead - no wire ties. I believe they're torqued to 35 ft. lbs. and are technically a stretch bolt which is why they should be replaced.

Hope this helps!

Re: Shocks n' Struts

Posted: Tue May 08, 2018 9:01 am
by 528i-1981
Great stuff, thank you both. The amount of compression tips are helpful, and the cable ties are a great idea, and thanks for the blue Loctite tip as well. My understanding is that B6's are the heavy duty stock upgrades, B8's are the sport shocks that call for new springs. I have an estimate from a shop that will do everything for $2200, but I can source all the parts myself for far less than half that (hat tip Mike W. on the front mounts) so it's worth the effort to buy the parts and at least do the rear. The rented spring compressor does give me some pause - there's no guarantee it won't break and cause damage or injury. As you say, I can take the parts to a shop to do the front struts if I wimp out.

I've had the grey liner out of the trunk recently to fix a short, so I've already experienced their brittleness. They're still in good shape, though. The good news also is that I took a look at the rear strut mounts from the inside and the towers don't seem to have any rust, which I understand is problem in these cars. We'll see what they look like from underneath.

Re: Shocks n' Struts

Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 9:23 pm
by 528i-1981
The Bavarian Partmonger Extraordinaire, Jim, at Mesa Performance informed me that the E12 front strut mount (part no. 31331101663) is identical to Part 31331106060 for the 2.5CS-3.0 CSL (04/1971 — 11/1975) and the 2500-3.3Li (08/1968 — 02/1977) with the exception of the length of the locator bolts. The E12 part costs about $320 each and the 6060 costs $112 each at Mesa, and he'll substitute in the shorter length bolts for the E12 in the E3/E9 guide for the same price.

Re: Shocks n' Struts

Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 9:31 pm
by maybeillbuyit
Amazing info if its true^^^^ Please confirm if it works out. Probably a few folks would be happy to hear this. Thx

Re: Shocks n' Struts

Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 5:35 am
by garyinwestoz
my tip
before removing the front strut - undo or loosen the nut whilst the weight of the care is on it - otherwise afterwards if the nut is stuck - good luck loosing it!

I have compressed the rear springs with a simple length of hardwood- levering under something tall. (we had a Hilux with a bullbar). Didn't take much compression to release the spring from is top mounting washer. I did the same to install new spring)

I'm keen myself to the get the full Alpina suspension kit.

http://www.alpina-usa.com/pdf/E12_E28cat.pdf

Gees , the price has gone up !

Re: Shocks n' Struts

Posted: Fri May 11, 2018 3:02 pm
by cory58
Mike W. wrote:
Mon May 07, 2018 12:06 pm
Only tip on a spring compressor would be, don't crank them down any more than you need to. Upper strut mounts, yeah they got expensive, yowzer. I do see them significantly cheaper, but still no bargain. I have ordered from them before and was happy with the purchase.

http://old.schmiedmann.com/displayprodu ... 63&pty=new
This may be n/a now that Mesa may be able to sell the cross-referenced parts for so much less, but I can give 100% positive feedback on Schmiedmann. I have ordered from them approx 8 times. Their prices for OE parts are less than any of my sources in the USA and they can sometimes get parts that USA dealers show as NLA. Their shipping is also very fast but beware of the minimum shipping charge.

Cory

Re: Shocks n' Struts

Posted: Fri May 11, 2018 8:09 pm
by 528i-1981
Schmiedmann sells the cheaper mount for $80 plus shipping, but may not be able to help with the studs. The official E12 mount on Schmiedmann is about $250. Mesa was cool about hooking me up so of course I bought from them.

There are some posts on E8 boards about using the E12 mounts in place of the E8 ones, so the opposite of what we’re talking about, and it seems like everything worked out fine. This was before BMW started its lopsided pricing, evidently. What’s up with that by the way?

Re: Shocks n' Struts

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 11:50 am
by Mike W.
528i-1981 wrote:
Fri May 11, 2018 8:09 pm
Schmiedmann sells the cheaper mount for $80 plus shipping, but may not be able to help with the studs. The official E12 mount on Schmiedmann is about $250. Mesa was cool about hooking me up so of course I bought from them.

There are some posts on E8 boards about using the E12 mounts in place of the E8 ones, so the opposite of what we’re talking about, and it seems like everything worked out fine. This was before BMW started its lopsided pricing, evidently. What’s up with that by the way?
As long as you have the old studs in the old mount you should be able to reuse them. They have a knurled base and just press in and out.

Re: Shocks n' Struts

Posted: Wed May 16, 2018 12:36 pm
by 528i-1981
In reply to the comment by our colleague in the Charm City (Eat Bertha's Mussels!) - if you want to spend $37.50 on bolts, you can find the wire-tied stretch bolts at ECS Tuning or Walloth Nesch (Part No 32211113179). They show up on the E9. They're threaded M10 if you just want to buy the Grade 8's.

Re: Shocks n' Struts

Posted: Sat Jun 16, 2018 3:40 pm
by 528i-1981
Hi guys - rear ST sway bar in. Not much time to play with it, but an obvious difference. For the front bar, I'll apparently need to lower the front subframe 1/2" or so to get the bolt into the bracket for the front swaybar bushing. Neither Haynes nor the BMW tech manual mention lowering the subframe, but it was on the ST product sheet and it seems like there's no other way to do it. The space is too small for any tools. Any recommendations? Where should the jack stands go to make this possible and safe?

Re: Shocks n' Struts

Posted: Sun Jun 17, 2018 7:15 pm
by 528i-1981
Hat tip to Joe Boston for coaching me through the front sway bar bushing install. Lowering the front subframe was straightforward. The upgraded sway bars make for a huge improvement - body roll is greatly reduced. It's clear to me that the front struts are needing an upgrade, and now the play in the steering box is more apparent. Add them to the list!

Re: Shocks n' Struts

Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:05 pm
by 528i-1981
528i-1981 wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 9:23 pm
The Bavarian Partmonger Extraordinaire, Jim, at Mesa Performance informed me that the E12 front strut mount (part no. 31331101663) is identical to Part 31331106060 for the 2.5CS-3.0 CSL (04/1971 — 11/1975) and the 2500-3.3Li (08/1968 — 02/1977) with the exception of the length of the locator bolts. The E12 part costs about $320 each and the 6060 costs $112 each at Mesa, and he'll substitute in the shorter length bolts for the E12 in the E3/E9 guide for the same price.
Confirmed, the E3/E9 guide worked in my E12. The longer bolts were installed and stick up a bit, but I'm going to bolt a strut brace on there and then trim them down. The shorter bolts didn't seem to afford a lot of latitude.

New B6's on four corners and new springs in the front - it's like Steve Austin after Oscar Goldman got hold of him. It's better than it was. Better. Stronger. Faster.

Cheers, Eric