Two steps forward, one step back.

I’m not a great mechanic, I’m not even a good mechanic but as they say practice makes perfect.  Every time I decide to spanner the BMW it seems to reward me with a new and exciting noise or punish me for having the temerity to wake him from his slumber and put him into active duty on the West Coast.

Last week I decided to tackle the non functioning handbrake.  Unlike most cars BMW decided that it would be a cracking wheeze to hide a set of drum brakes under the rear brake discs and call it a parking brake.  Over the 205,000 miles the materials on these brake shoes had become worn to a smooth patina thus rendering these bonus stoppers as much use as a ballet shoe on an ice rink.  I dutifully adjusted the cables, the adjustment wheel all to no avail so off came the rear brakes to reveal the hidden drum shoes.  In some ways it is quite ingenious to use the inside of the rear brake disc as a drum brake. However, in all other moderately sensible ways it is a ridiculous idea that generated quite a few swears over the last seven days.

And then there was the rust.  Oh the rust.  The caliper retaining bolts had fused themselves to the carriers and no matter how much penetrating blaster (ooer missus) I squirted they wouldn’t budge.  After employing a breaker bar I heard a satisfying creaking noise and everything seemed to get looser.  I say seemed as the bolts sheared clean off leaving me with no way of remounting the caliper.  That was the end of my antics that weekend.

It’s a good job I bought a second car because the 330 was disabled pending a parts delivery as I decided it was somewhat foolish to drive with no rear brakes.  Parts were delivered and after more swearing, a big gash on my left index finger and even more penetrating oil I successfully replaced the handbrake.

I thoroughly inspected the rear suspension to see where the clunky noises were coming from and today Manfred will see a new set of rear shocks to match the Bilsteins up front.

I’m not ready to say that buying the 330 was a terrible mistake because I am having so much fun tinkering with it and am skilling up ready for my first proper project car. 

However, I’ve learned a valuable lesson.  Always buy a California car.


About tony2x

I'm a burgeoning technology executive living and working in the beautiful Bay Area of Northern California. My life revolves around three things: technology, food and transportation and it is here we will be examining all of those in varying amounts of detail and vitriol.
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4 Responses to Two steps forward, one step back.

  1. it makes the BMW dealer charges ever-so-slightly more defensible doesn’t it? I remember trying to fix the fuel pump on an 850, only to leave it filling the ventilation air filter with finest 4 star… not good.

    If you are going to play cars, you really do need that ‘honest everyday motor’ – what’s your project motor going to be? mine will be a TVR Griffin 500

    • err.. Griffith obviously…

      • thedriverz says:

        For a moment there I thought you were describing some bastard love child between Vauxhall and BlackpoolRussia’s finest. It is a brave man that takes on a TVR as a project car because once you are finished it will reward you by killing you stone dead the first time you take it out on a mildly moist road. My project car is going to be something with five doors and a M logo on the cam cover. I am undecided between making a E39 M5 or E46 M3 Touring, it all depends on the donor car. E46 estates are as rare as Unicorn semen here and they all seem to come with the most god awful beige or brown interiors and I’d rather not have to do a full retrim, E39 5s are more common and it would be an easier swap. The later BMWs use a fancy fibreoptic system for all the car bits and pieces and have effectively priced the average transplanter out of the market, for now anyway. I’ve always loved fast estate cars and as you know I am allergic to most Audis but a W124 500E wagon sounds tempting.

  2. tony2x says:

    You’ll be glad to know that after a day of intense spannering I fought the good fight and came out on top. Not only do I have a fully functional handbrake but I also have two brand spanking new shock absorbers in the rear nestling under two JT Engineering uprated shock mounts. In addition I got the interior back together and had a lovely drive home in my rejuvenated rustbucket.

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