Front suspension refurbishment

Gary Knox

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This post is for anyone who has not yet set out to replace/remove, etc. the front suspension components. I'm in the middle of such a procedure, and wanted to share my 'new knowledge' regarding the bushings on these suspension pieces. There are 3 bushings per side in the lower suspension components.

Two of these bushings can be replaced using traditional extraction/insertion techniques. The third one - located on the inboard part of the control arm is essentially impossible (removal is difficult and replacement is impossible). The control arm is attached to the front sub-frame by a 16 mm bolt through this bushing. The other two bushings (each end of the tension rod) on my car were in quite good condition, but I decided to replace all 3 on each side. To make a pretty long story short, I could not get the new inboard bushing, (directly from the dealer) installed in the control arm. The hole in the control arm is about 27 mm in diameter, while the bushing OD is over 33 mm in diameter. Suspension bushing rubber can not be compressed enough for the insertion (ruined 2 bushings in the attempts).

sfdon to the rescue. I sent him a request for any procedure he'd found successful. Don responded with (paraphrased): "That bushing will not fit. Nobody uses them. Buy new OCAP control arms, they come with 2 new bushings and ball joint." I followed his recommendation, and that portion of the suspension is now re-assembled with 2 new control arms.

My inboard control arm bushing was cracked and old/hard (the other two were obviously newer - probably installed in late '80's restoration) while that inner one was probably original - 44.5 years old). So - if you want to refurbish that bushing, then immediately order the OCAP (made in Italy) control arms. I also discovered the right OCAP control arm is NLA at a lot of suppliers. The only place I've recently found where you can get both is this link on eBay, where they indicate there are 8 sets still available. https://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-For-BMW-E3-2800CS-3-0CS-Set-Pair-of-Left-Right-Lower-Control-Arms-OCAP/152501514938 The price at $135 for the pair is pretty attractive as well. Ireland Engineering may also have both, but I could not get a confirmation on their web site.

Hope this will help someone else's project avoid 'bushing insertion frustration', and unexpected delays.

Gary--

PS: 1/29/19 . It is interesting that 5 sets of these arms have been purchased in the past 4 days!!! Wonder if all them were sold to e9 Forum members. Maybe I should request a sales commission - ha.
1/31/19. All 8 sets have been sold.
 
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bavbob

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I bought mine for the E9 from W&N when on sale (still not cheap, manufacturer ? ).

Cannot recall the details but I believe the still available from BMW ( at the time) E12 arm was the same for my Bavaria other than one of the bushings, E3 bushings still available also. Took about 2 tons to press out and in.
 

Belgiumbarry

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restoring my blue E9 i bought complete control arms and new bushings for the tension bars at W&N... which i could not get replaced. They seemed to be "bigger" than the old ones removed . So i cut them in 2 , and had even serious bolt tension needed to get the 2 half bushings from each side in place.
Don't think it matters , once bolted . It's a 1 mm cut in the middle , that will be closed with the bar&bolt as it has rubber on the outsides.
 

bfeng

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Chris,
AFAIK, all the E9’s were the 381mm length. I think you are referring to the 401mm length for later E3’s (glad to see you’ve discovered these, they are great cars and a bargain compared to the coupe).

I have a weird though. Is using the E3 controls arm away to get more negative camber? The drawback would seem like the loss of clearance to the strut, which is already tight
I don’t know but I might worry a little more about tire to fender contact even with more negative caster.
and it decreases the space between tire and strut.
 

HB Chris

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Chris,
AFAIK, all the E9’s were the 381mm length. I think you are referring to the 401mm length for later E3’s (glad to see you’ve discovered these, they are great cars and a bargain compared to the coupe).

I have a weird though. Is using the E3 controls arm away to get more negative camber? The drawback would seem like the loss of clearance to the strut, which is already tight


and it decreases the space between tire and strut.
Yes, as stated I was talking about later e3.
 

Nicad

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Are these Ocap control arms good quality or just all that is available? Don likes them?
 

JayWltrs

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Are these Ocap control arms good quality or just all that is available? Don likes them?
From the LJI site. They were everywhere a few months ago and the prices were much lower. They appear to have grown scarce again and the prices have increased accordingly.


E9/2800/3.0cs Control Arms
When adding lowering springs, sway bars, camber plates and shocks, give your BMW the tight ride it deserves with a fresh pair of control arms

For the past year e9 control arms have been unattainable worldwide. BMW was out of stock and our most favorite aftermarket supplier also ran out. Now back in stock are the Ocap control arms to fit your 3.0cs! While the bushings are serviceable on the existing arms in your car, the ball joint is one with the whole assembly. When the ball joint is done, the jig is up! These arms are of very high quality and in our experience have been up to the test for year after year of use. Priced very reasonably at $110 each, this may be the best money you’ve ever spent to tighten up the suspension in your vintage BMW!


$130.00Price:
 

Lotuss7

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When Don did front end a little over 3 years ago BMW control arm availability was almost non existent. Got lucky with LJI. They found a set.

I met a guy two days ago whose father purchased a 1956 Mercedes 300 SL convertible in 1959 and he inherited it a few years ago. Immaculate and all original (paint / interior / etc.) he has a close relationship with the Mercedes Classic people. High praises noting a certain minimum for them to produce certain parts.

Where is BMW in this game??? If an order for 100 pair of control arms was made? Would they tool up for a run???? This seems like such a common part. But would guess unlikely.

A lot of talk and little substance seemingly. Too bad.
 

Gary Knox

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When Don did front end a little over 3 years ago BMW control arm availability was almost non existent. Got lucky with LJI. They found a set.

I met a guy two days ago whose father purchased a 1956 Mercedes 300 SL convertible in 1959 and he inherited it a few years ago. Immaculate and all original (paint / interior / etc.) he has a close relationship with the Mercedes Classic people. High praises noting a certain minimum for them to produce certain parts.

Where is BMW in this game??? If an order for 100 pair of control arms was made? Would they tool up for a run???? This seems like such a common part. But would guess unlikely.

A lot of talk and little substance seemingly. Too bad.
Unfortunately for us - BMW's management is only really concerned about selling more new cars. Maybe, maybe, maybe, someday they will recognize the commitment those companies in Stuttgart have made to their older/collector customers. My guess is we will all become more dependent on aftermarket products. With the low production number of e9's and their demise over 45-50 years, that's probably not a very attractive or lucrative market. I'd hate to be tasked with developing a business plan for the manufacture of new parts to the senior management of a mid-size or larger company for such a 'new business opportunity'! W & N and very few others to the rescue.

Gary--
 

bill

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I used OCAP arms around 2012-13. They came with the bushings reversed t(wice) so I had to get a machine shop to put the right bushings in the right holes. No big deal. Just saying. No problems otherwise.
 

Ohmess

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When Don did front end a little over 3 years ago BMW control arm availability was almost non existent. Got lucky with LJI. They found a set.

I met a guy two days ago whose father purchased a 1956 Mercedes 300 SL convertible in 1959 and he inherited it a few years ago. Immaculate and all original (paint / interior / etc.) he has a close relationship with the Mercedes Classic people. High praises noting a certain minimum for them to produce certain parts.

Where is BMW in this game??? If an order for 100 pair of control arms was made? Would they tool up for a run???? This seems like such a common part. But would guess unlikely.

A lot of talk and little substance seemingly. Too bad.
Mercedes Classic is light years ahead of BMW in terms of their support for old cars. BMW has told many of us that they will tool up for production of parts if sufficient demand exists, but to my knowledge they have not disclosed their order thresholds.

I am guessing that Mercedes both continued to have parts made over a long period of time and was willing to inventory some level of very slow moving parts, whereas at some point BMW cleared out their old parts inventory and will only make more if they can sell them right away.
 

jmackro

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Mercedes Classic is light years ahead of BMW in terms of their support for old cars. BMW has told many of us that they will tool up for production of parts if sufficient demand exists, but to my knowledge they have not disclosed their order thresholds.
The minimum production threshold would vary quite a bit, depending on how much tooling a given part required. For example, the high cost dies to needed to stamp out complex sheet metal parts like a hoods or fenders would necessitate a larger run than the simpler tooling needed to injection mold plastic parts.
 
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