1982 BMW 323i Baur

1982 BMW 323i Baur
Memorial Day 2010 First Drive 1982 323i BMW Baur Lapisblau M20 5 speed #4154 of 4595 made. The car was imported to California by Dietel Enterprises. I have since changed the wheels, installed the clear turn signal lenses, and I am in the process of installing a new cabriolet roof. I have to do something about those bumpers, too. :) I love this car! To see one of the reasons why, check my post "Score One For the Good Guys" on 6/26/2011.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Repair With A Spare: Alternator Mount Bushing Replacement

This is one of those 'while you are in there' repairs that I undertook this weekend.  I was replacing the timing belt on my 1982 323i Baur.  I had had a problem with my alternator a while back, which seemed to require almost a weekly adjustment because of a rather loud squeal.  I had never really checked out the reason for the frequent adjustment, I just assumed the belt was old and wearing, and I would replace it at some point.  I had even purchased a spare belt to carry with me, thinking that at some point it was going to give out, and I didn't want to get stranded somewhere.  I finally installed the spare belt, and the noise stopped.

So it has been behaving for quite a few months now since I the belt was replaced, and I forgot about it.  But one day a friend was looking at my engine and he pointed out that the alternator appeared to be out of alignment.  That is potential trouble:  it will cause to belt to wear and fail prematurely, or it could even cause a wear problem with the alternator bearings, etc.  

So, since I was in the process of removing the alternator belt as part of the timing belt service this week anyway, I decided that ... as long as I was in there..... I would have a look at that alternator.

Sure enough, I could clearly see that the the alternator was not lined up properly.  I mean it was waaay out of whack!    

From underneath I could readily see that the problem was a totally mashed up alternator mount bushing.  That was probably the cause of the original squealing problem, and might explain why I had to keep adjusting it.  It just kept wearing badly.  Apparently when I installed the new belt a few months ago, I really locked it into position, where it no longer could wiggle loose and squeal.  How I managed to NOT throw or snap a belt is a wonder indeed.       ;)

Here is a pic of the alternator mounting bushing after I removed it from the alternator.  Yeah, it's totally misshapen and shot.  

Here is what I did to fix it.  

I initially pulled the alternator out, and took it to the local auto shop to see if I could get the bushing replaced.  They referred me to an automotive electric shop that I have used before that is located about 8 miles away.  However, it was late in the day, and I had some plans with my wife for dinner and a movie, so I decided not to make the run to that shop.  Chances are good that I would have had to leave it there for the weekend for him to order the part and install it.  That also would mean that I would not have the Baur for my return to work on Monday after this long holiday break.  So I came up with an alternative plan.  ;)  

You may recall that I recently 'downsized' my car stable:  I sent a rust bucket 323i to the crusher, after stripping off most of the usable parts.  Well, one of those 'usable parts' was the alternator. 

I did a little hunt through my garage, and sure enough, I turned up the spare alternator.  I swapped out the adjustment bar, and compared the two units, one from 1979, and the other from 1982.  
They were similar but not a perfect match.  I could see that if I decided to simply install the 1979 version,  I was going to have a  problem attaching the ground wire.  The ground screw was located on the opposite side of the unit, and my ground wire would not reach.   Hmmm.

While debating how to proceed, I noticed that the older alternator had what appeared to be a newer mounting bushing.  I could get around the grounding issue if I could simply swap out the bushings.  Simple, right?  This would allow me to reinstall my original alternator!  Perfect! 

Or so I thought.  

I just had to figure out a way to remove both bushings and then reinstall the good one...... without bashing the good one to pieces in the process!  The automotive electric shops do this sort of thing all the time, so.... how hard can it be?  Famous Last Words Dept.  ;)  Hint:  automotive electric shops are also well stocked with the tools for .... this sort of thing.  ;)

I will have to make do with what tools I have.  

OK.  Here are the TWO alternators.   The upper alternator (now missing the bushing) is from my old 1979 323i, and the lower alternator is the newly repaired alternator from my 1982 323i Baur.  

I swapped the bushing from the old alternator into the Baur alternator.  That is the old bushing on the plate.  It is shot.  You can also see the little horshoe-shaped spring  retaining clip on the plate.  That spring clip is also known by another name: the 'Jesus' clip.  As in 'Sproing!  Oh Jesus, where the hell did that spring clip go', as you are removing it.   ;)

In this picture you can see my new Best Friend, Palmolive Dish Detergent, which played an important role in making this job a success!  :)  Lying just behind the detergent, you can see my other good friend, a k a The Persuader:  my ball peen hammer.

You see, as it turns out, those bushings are quite a tight fit.   They are, shall we say, somewhat reluctant to come out.  They need some.... persuasion.  Not always so gentle, btw.  And they also respond to a little lubrication, in the form of dish detergent---just a wee bit--- both on the way out, and help them to slide back in.  Not shown are a number of long sockets of varying sizes, that also played a supporting role in receiving the blows from the ball peen hammer, and which helped to drive out the old, and drive in the new bushings.

All in all it was a successful enterprise, and the original alternator, complete with a replaced bushing, has now been fitted back into the alternator mount.   And is properly aligned once again, as it should be!  ;)

Having that spare alternator on the shelf saved me either the time and trouble of tracking down and ordering a new bushing, or the delay in having the auto electric shop repair it.  

Plus I got the satisfaction of fixing it myself!  You guys understand that, right?

Now I just have to remember this story the next time You-Know-Who starts questioning why I have a garage full of 'junk' parts!    ;)

Wish me luck!

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