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540i touring. "The Improvening!"

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On 10/05/2020 at 13:06, greenelekta said:


Its a RHD problem, my LHD has plenty of clearance





My passenger wiper is like the rest of them after 25 years. Reading up on it across the web, it seems to be just as much a problem on LHD cars. So much so that a guy in Germany ships repair kits worldwide. He's on bimmerforums.



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Hi Flandy, nice work on this thread. Those mushroom pins hold the grab handles to the headliner. I guess BMW prefitted the grab handles to the headliners before they were delivered trackside, the screws in the grab handles serving the dual purpose of locating the grab handles and headliners. In other words you don"t need them now but if you ever take a headliner out of a car, the lesson is you don't need to pull the grab handles 9ff thd headliner before you take it out. 

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Over the last couple of weeks I've sorted a couple of things that have been bugging me since I got the car, the stone chipped front end, and the saggy headlining.  The grille surround panel had chips all over it, some of which were beginning to rust, and I wanted to try and restore it before any of this rust got too troublesome. Unfortunately, due to a corrupted memory card, I lost all the prep pics for this, but my process was as follows:


-Sand out any stone chips that had got to the base metal and ensure any and all spider legs were followed

-use rust remover (Kurust brand) re-applying as directed until all trace of corrosion is eradicated

-Belt and braces by using Kurust rust neutraliser to stabilise any remnants

-This was repeated on the back of the panel before it was painted with EM121 epoxy rust proofing paint from Rust.co.uk. Used this lots of times for all sorts and it's fantastic stuff

-Upol etch prime all the bare metal areas on the front

-Use some stopper (Upol dolphin 1k) to raise all the sanded out areas and the myrid of other little chips. 

-Sand it all back with a block and Upol filler prime the whole panel

-More sanding, then a colour coat. My local motor supplies does colour matched Upol aerosols for a tenner, and I like the Upol stuff so stuck with it for everything else.

-I let the colour bake for a day and then  over the course of a day, put 4 coats of clearcoat on it (Guess what brand!)

-I let that dry for a week on the windowsill of the spare room that gets all the sun, then flatted it all back with various grades of wet and dry, before carefully machine polishing it.


This post is brought to you by Upol.      Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's Upol !   or something........


Anyway, having removed them,  the process was repeated on the brake vent ducts and the lower lip of the bumper to which they mount. The Top surface of the bumper was fine, just needing a good polish, and  for the vertical surface just below the black moulding, I touched in each little chip, before flatting them back and polishing the surface. It isn't perfect, but you have to get close to see it, and I didn't fancy painting the whole bumper.  


Finishing touches were some clear indicators, new fog lights (Both TYC brand, and I have to say I'm very happy with the quality and fit), re-blacking the bumper mouldings with the hot air gun,  Using some "Black wow" on the grilles as they did not respond to hot air, and I painted and polished the two black panels inboard of the fog lights. 


In the past I've been really bad at patience with paintwork like this, but having the lockdown time, and the amazing weather, made me take my time, and the results bear that out. 









I also deleted the headlamp washer pipework, reservoir, pump etc, as frankly, I've never found them even remotely useful for anything other than pissing screenwash away for no appreciable benefit. It can go back if I regret it (not likely) but I kept the nozzles, seeing as I didn't want to have to fill in holes and repaint the whole bumper. 


All in all I'm very happy, the one minor issue is that I keep blowing fog light fuses. With one or the other plugged in, the fuse is fine, but when both are connected up, it blows. it did it with the old lamp units too. It has the correct rated fuse, and while the bumper was off I checked all the wiring and it seems perfect. It's a bit of a mystery, and when I'd blown the fourth (and last) 15 amp fuse I had, I decided to splash out on some of these to aid in diagnostics: 




A little set of circuit breakers that fit in place of blade fuses. Really handy tool to be able to cock up a circuit several times without running out of fuses! This set was £30 which seemed reasonable, I'm sure I'll get plenty of use out of these over the years. 


Next update, the headlining....

Edited by Flandy

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Thanks guys! It's been a while since I had any kind of build thread on a forum, but this has been quite fun so far. There's plenty more to come, as I've been far better at purchasing parts over the last 2 years than actually fitting anything, but there's not much more to purchase, so i better pull my finger out.


One job I wasn't looking forward to was re-covering the headlining, but While I was replacing the sunroof seal, sorting out the rear drain, replacing the gas struts for the hatch glass, and stripping and repainting the roof rails, the headlining had to come out, and it was the last thing to go back in, so it kinda had to be done.  What I will say is thank goodness this car has a sunroof, because it means the headlining comes out in 4 manageable chunks (not including the panels on the sunroof which I'll re-cover another time) instead of one giant panel! Then there is a little panel between the visors, and 6 pillar trims. 


Firstly, like the paint, the process pics were lost when my memory card crapped out, so we only have my description, and the finished product, so sorry about that. Finding matching fabric was a bit of a challenge, I couldn't find any of the actual fabric (and no doubt if I could it would have bankrupted me) so i sent off to a few places for some samples to find an acceptable match. I wasn't too bothered about exactly duplicating the original grey, as there are quite a few different shades between the sun visors, the grab handles, light surrounds, door hole seals, and seat belt parts, so as long as it toned well with all those I was fine with it


A company called Martrim proved closest with their Saville grey, so I bought  a few metres of it, seeing as I expected to balls it up a few times.....




Now the real first part of this, it removing all the old fabric, and for some parts, this is easy, and for others it's a bit of a bitch! Like the new stuff, the old fabric has a thin foam backing, to givie it a soft feel, but it's this foam that degrades, allowing the fabric to peel off, shrink, and hang down, whilst simultaneously showering the inside of the car with orange foam crud. Delightful!


Anyway, the fabric peels off most of the panels ok, but getting the sticky, claggy, foam off is another matter. A scouring pad used harshly enough to remove the foam, but gently enough not to damage the main front and rear panels, which are a low density foam sandwiched between thin layers of fibre glass, and easy to crush and kink. The other panels are hard plastic, which is fine, but the fabric doesn't always have foam on the pillars and is really well stuck on. I forget which pair of pillars it was, but I left the old foamless fabric on.


I started by covering the pillars as they're small, and relatively simple, making sure the thread direction of the fabric was consistent. It's not massively noticeable, but it'll bug me if they don't match. I cut a decent sized rectangle to guarantee coverage, sprayed both surfaces with contact adhesive, and began sticking the two together down the centre of the pillar, first time I got the thread wonky and then had to peel it off again, leaving the new foam behind, and proving a royal pain to get off! Trying to learn from mistakes, I got the rest of them ok, once they're covered on the front, i trimmed about 12mm out from the edge and put a few pie cuts in the corners so it folds over ok.





The B-pillars are a pain as they have those little sliding panels for the seat belt height adjust, aand on the front face the hole has a surrounding trim that had to be carefully pried off, and then after the pillar was trimmed, the surround had to be glued back on, by under some pressure to get it flush. I used a block of wood cut to the size of the surround and clamped it, while using some 2 part epoxy to stick it on, then once it had dried trim off the excess on the back so the panel slid up and down easily. Not too tricky, but more faffing around than you'd think.





Next I did the rear panel with the speaker holes. This wasn't too bad, but you have to make sure you don't stretch the fabric too much when there are contours, as it only has so much give and when it runs out, it won't form into the bottom of the concave sections. 




The finger marks aren't nearly as noticeable in real life, the sun was low and it seems to show up every minor deviation in the pics.


The front panel has some fairly strong contours so it was a little more tricky, and when you have to stretch it a lot, and then go back to flat, you almost have to compress it back again, in this panel I started at the sunroof aperture and went forward toward the windscreen and after forcing the fabric int the sun visor recesses, it was quite a challenge to unstretch it in front of that middle switch panel. 





The switch panel hole in the panel has a thin metal surround for the panel to clip to, and that needed to be carefully pried off and refitted after covering. There's a few clips on panels and I put most of them back after covering, but some I forgot where they went, but things seemed to be stuck on ok, so I'm not too fussed. 


Last panels to trim were the two down either side of the roof, and these have some quite harsh contours for the grab handles, and the first one took two goes and a fair bit of swearing. I can only say that applying the glue in sections is the way to go, if you glue it all and get a bit wrong, it all goes to pot and you have work to undo. 





Colour wise, the grey fits in very well, and is a surprisingly good match for the grey of the felt seals around the door apertures, sunroof hole, and even for the original grey fabric still on the sunroof panels. As I said earlier, I'll trim the sunroof later, if and when I have to have the panels out. I've kind of had enough of trimming for a while.


Apologies for the blurry pics btw, my camera seemed to be having a hard time with the light contrast between inside and outside the car.



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21 hours ago, Bumbaclut said:

When you coming round to do mine?


I'll gladly point you in the right direction, but it's one of those jobs I'm in no rush to do again!  Plus I want to leave it 3 or 4 years to see if it all peels off again!


4 hours ago, Sir Anthony Regents-Park said:

My E32's needed a headlining job for the 17 years I've had it.


No sense rushing these things.........

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I can't get the sunroof working, so i'm fucked really as both are jammed shut it seems. My e34 has other pressing matters! 

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nice work! mine is the same colour and also very knackered, so I need to cover them as well.


I've managed to get my seized sunroof to work again, not perfect but enough to gain access to the drains and fit the panels.

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22 hours ago, Bumbaclut said:

I can't get the sunroof working, so i'm fucked really as both are jammed shut it seems. My e34 has other pressing matters! 


19 hours ago, welshpug said:

I've managed to get my seized sunroof to work again, not perfect but enough to gain access to the drains and fit the panels.


My sunroof seems to operate fine, but I just discovered that the drain on the passenger side front was blocked. I turned the car round so it was more nose than it had been and it's rained a few times since, and when I went to sit in the passenger seat I got a wet arse. I can't believe they just have the drains dump into the sills, like some kind of self corrosion system! Anyway, I took off the speaker panel pulled it out of the sill, unblocked it and I think i'll re route it at some point where it can drain without filling the sills.


19 hours ago, welshpug said:

nice work! mine is the same colour and also very knackered, so I need to cover them as well.


All i can say is buy more fabric than you need, because it's really easy to cock it up!

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Just revisiting this as I've managed to shift a customer project and have a bit of cash aside, how much material did you use?


oh and which glue?


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I got 5 metres of the fabric, at 1.7 metres width, a fair bit more than I needed, but at £12 metre it seemed like a small expense to make sure if i screwed it up I'd have spare. I've still yet to do the sun roof panels, I just can't be bothered to remove them at this point, but I''ll do them this summer and service the sunroof mechanism at the same time. With those done, I think I'll have used about 3 metres of it, you end up using more than you'd think because many parts need to have the visible weave going a certain way.


The Spray glue that I used was what Martrim supplied, it seemed ok, but time will tell I guess. it took three full cans, and I guess I still need more to do the sunroof panels. If I were to do it again I'd probably use 3M super 77 which is highly rated but about £20 a can.

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thanks for the detail, much appreciated!  mine is still in pieces as I saw no need to refit knackered panels :lol:


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Thanks! It's been a while since I did anything on the car, as moneys been a bit tight, and I got caught up in sorting out the windscreen leak on my E21.  That's a whole story in itself! It looked like a little bubbling in the bottom corners of the seal, and then I took the screen out and it turned out to be pretty horrific! :






The scuttle panel has had several pieces let in, but the inner bulkhead needed a 1.1 metre section replacing, and so I've been seriously testing my metal forming, welding, and painting skills.














After all this, My Dad and I were putting the screen back in and managed to crack it! Fortunately, I have windscreen cover, but irritatingly, the screen is on back order until December! So it's now stuck in my Dads garage until then. He's obviously ecstatic about this, but I'm maing the most of it, and trying to sort out as many other little areas as possible. It's by no means rusty (By E21 standards) but there's plenty of little spots that need attention, so now is the time to get them done, seeing as I don't yet have a garage big enough to get a car in.


Then my scruffy daily driver E39 530d's autobox shat the bed, and being more costly to fix than it's worth, I ended up stripping and junking it. but on the plus side I replaced it with another E39, but a 540 manual this time!  All good fun!












Edited by Flandy

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