Monday, March 09, 2009

Preseason Preparation

Three weeks to the first event so, Saturday morning I dusted off the car and started it up for the first time this year. I used a Battery Tender all winter with my new Odyssey battery and it worked perfectly and started first turn.

A brief warm-up and quick trip to the big traffic circle and a couple of slippy/slidey laps and back to the garage to check it out. The puddle slowly forming under the nose of the car was not a good sign.

A closer look showed it the be the typical BMW radiator failure where one of the plastic end caps starts leaking where it attaches to the aluminum core. Shit.

So Sunday morning I started to pull the radiator and associated components. The first major problem was the the fan clutch was totally frozen to the water pump shaft. Any one familiar with removing a fan clutch know that the trick is to hold the water pump pulley while turning the nut on the back of the clutch. So after 3-4 attempts with increasing violence and ever larger hammers, we know have Scott swinging a 4 Lb sledge at a pair of Park Tool 32mm headset wrenches and I'm folding the pulley with a 10mm wrench on one of the pulley bolts and a 24" cheater bar on the 10mm wrench. I don't know how many safety violations that is, but it's a lot. about a second later the cheater bar of course slips, and my middle finger takes the full force of the following swing. Ouch. I don't think it's broken, but it sure does hurt.

I ended up removing the water pump, pulley, and fan clutch in one piece and cutting the water pump shaft with a sawzall.

In doing so I discovered that the same jackass mechanic that installed that fan clutch with super-human strength (and no anti-sieze), also installed a new waterpump with a plastic impeller fully confirming their total mechanical incompetance.

I now need to decode how much radiator to buy to replace the stock one. On one hand I could simply buy another stock water pump, radiator, overflow tank, fan and fan clutch. this is about $500. For about $1000 I can get an all-aluminum racing radiator with an electric fan and save a little horsepower . Finally I could go all out and for $2000 get the racing radiator with a complete Euro M3 oil cooler built in.

I've never had any cooling problems with my car, so I'm not sure an oversize radiator is required and the Euro oil-cooler is really just a nice to have.

I've got a bit more research before making a decision.

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