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      06-18-2015, 01:51 AM   #1
lowside67
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Mark's STX 128I Build Thread

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I wanted to introduce myself and start a build thread for my new project, a BMW 128i destined to become a nationally competitive SCCA STX class autocross car while still being a fun car to drive on the street and the occasional trackday. My name is Mark and I am based out of Vancouver, Canada; my previous racecar was an E36 328IS prepared to the limits of the next class up (DSP) with modifications such as custom fender flares to clear 285-30-18 Hoosier A6 race tires, complete suspension, tuning and complete bolt-ons, and so forth. That E36 was fantastic and I truly loved driving it; that's what excites me about the 1 series and especially the 128I - it's the first modern BMW I've driven that reminds me of all the things I loved about my old E36. Fairly lightweight, short wheelbase, naturally aspirated BMW I6, simple manual gearbox - all the good stuff.



The STX class is designed as a place for people to modify in their cars in such a way that they are still streetable and designed to compete on street legal tires. It’s got a very specific set of rules which can be found here, but the basic premise is suspension is mostly open with only a few limitations, wheels are limited to 9” wide and have to fit under stock fenders (no widebodies!), street tires can be a maximum of 265 wide, and only minor bolt ons such as intake, exhaust (must still have catalytic converters), and tuning are allowed for motor. For many years, the E36 325IS was "the car to have" but in modern times it is mostly run by the FR-S/BR-Z.

I have to throw a huge plug in for Kyle, his STX build thread was super helpful with both the information and inspiration needed to get started on a build of my own. While the 128I is certainly not an overdog in the class, I agree with Kyle that it is a very overlooked way to have a car competitive at some of the highest levels in a reasonably priced and reliable BMW package. My goal with this thread is to help bring information back to the community to encourage others to compete and modify their cars.

Finding the right car:



I found the ideal donor car, a bone stock 2011 BMW 128i 6spd with no options except xenons and heated seats, hiding in Toronto, a short 2000 miles away. I bought it sight unseen praying that it was a solid base, sent the money and waited (and waited, and waited...) for it to arrive by rail. This car has done 89,000 kms or about 55,000 miles and is in generally good shape and seems to drive well - looks like a good base to start with. It's specifically a non sport package car which may seem counter-intuitive but there is nothing with the sport that we won't be replacing so no point in paying extra for that.

We've got a long journey ahead to get this stock car ready for national level competition - lots of time, testing, oh and $$$. It will take some time to get it all completed, but right now I am frantically ordering parts to get some of the barebones in the car soon to allow for some testing still this summer while the weather stays nice. Stay tuned for lots of goodies coming from UPS!

Mark

Last edited by lowside67; 06-20-2015 at 07:17 PM.
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      06-18-2015, 01:51 AM   #2
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Table of Contents:

Stock 128i Weighed (06/17/15)
New Wheels & Tires (06/20/15)
E46 M3 Transmission Mounts (07/05/15)
Diffsonline 3.23 3-Clutch Ramped LSD (08/04/15)
Front Suspension Install (08/09/15)
Strut Tower Woes (08/09/15)
Front Suspension RE-Install (09/12/15)
Eliminating e-Diff & Other Nannies (08/20/16)
Installing Active Autowerke Headers (09/17/16)
Front Tension Arms (01/08/17)
A Quick Update... (05/27/17)
Front Camber Arm Offset Bushings (06/02/17)
Canadian Nationals 2017 (06/30/17)
Packwood SCCA National Tour 2017 (10/23/17)

Complete Build List:

Chassis: 2011 BMW 128i Sunroof Delete

Wheels/Tires
Wheels: Forgestar F14 17x9 +35F +50R
Tires: Bridgestone RE71R 255-40-17

Suspension
Dampers: Ohlins Road & Track Coilovers
Camber plates: Ground Control
Front Springs: Swift 7.0kg (392lb-in) / 7" length / 65mm ID
Rear Springs: Swift 12.0kg (672lb-in) / 9" length / 65mm ID
Front Swaybar: Hotchkis 22834F
Rear Swaybar: Hotchkis 22834R
Strut Tower Bar: OEM 1M
Front Tension Arms: OEM 1M
Front Camber Arms: Stock arms, custom delrin offset bushings

Driveline
Header: Active Autowerke N52 Performance Header
Rear Differential: Diffsonline 3.23 3-Clutch Ramped LSD
Transmission Mounts: OEM E46 M3
Subframe Bushings: OEM E9X M3

Brakes
Front rotors: OEM 128i
Front pads: Ferodo DS2500
Rear rotors: OEM 128i
Rear pads: Ferodo DS2500


Last edited by lowside67; 10-24-2017 at 12:42 AM.
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      06-18-2015, 02:21 AM   #3
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Stock 128i Weighed

In the autocross world, weight is king. Especially in a class like STX where we are all limited to the same size tire, a car that is substantially lighter that can use the same tires is typically at an advantage. BMW claims the 128i weighs 3197lbs, or 223lbs lighter than a 135i.



I wanted to weigh the car exactly as I am likely to race it. It is still a street car and as such, I weighed it with washer fluid, an owner's manual, etc. still in the car to get a realistic starting point. I purposely ran the tank down to about 1/8 of a tank to get an approximate race weight, and then went straight to the gas station to fill the tank so I could figure out precisely how much gas was in it (8 litres or just over 2 US gallons).



3,049lbs bone stock - not a bad start! I expected closer to 3,100lbs and was very happy to see that.

In general, I am going to make an effort to stay away from guesses and stick to measured facts. However, just for the fun of it, let us do a little back of the envelope weight calculations based on Kyle's measurements:

1) Replace wheels/tires with race wheels/tires (-25lbs verified 06/20/15)
2) Add rear swaybar (+10lbs)
3) Replace battery with lightweight (-35lbs)
4) Replace manual seats with Recaros (-50lbs)
5) Aftermarket header and lightweight exhaust (-25lbs)
6) Lightweight brake setup (-15lbs)
=2,909lbs

Of course these are just the big ticket items but I think these are all attainable and conservative, but we will see along the way just how we do. If this car can get down to sub 2,900lbs (and that's a big if), it should be a real force to be reckoned with!

With a little luck this weekend should bring swaybars and wheels/tires. There is a set of M bushings on the shelf for the rear subframe as well, just have to wait for the swaybars as the rear swaybar installation requires the rear subframe to come down so it makes sense to do them together. Until next time...

Mark

Last edited by lowside67; 06-20-2015 at 06:53 PM.
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      06-18-2015, 02:28 AM   #4
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subscribed, I already love where this is going
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      06-18-2015, 05:13 AM   #5
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I'm surprised by your weight! I was at #3120 (IIRC) with 17" APEX wheels and a lighter BMW PE. Like you I have no sunroof and manual seats. I have a bunch of other mods, but none that I think would add weight! I did have a toolbox and lightweight floor jack in the trunk (doh!) but not #71 worth.

Oh well - I weighed my car at a truck scale, so probably not the most accurate.

Anyway, good luck! I ran locally in STX for a couple seasons (off and on, work often gets in the way), but I'm nowhere near the level of you or Kyle. Glad to see another 128i out there, though!
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      06-18-2015, 08:19 AM   #6
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Mark,

Glad to see this thread.

Couple items.

My car with APEX wheels and a bit over a quarter tank was 3052 lbs. So assume I have 2.5 extra gallons that's about 15 lbs. So you're right about where I was at w/stock wheels

As far as your weight items, OE Manual seats were around 52lbs IIRC. My Recaro SPGs + Mounting hardware is 27.2 lbs so I'm at 50 lbs reduction for both seats.

Be careful with a LTW battery. I've had sponsors on this forum straight up tell me not to run a battery due to a door being open for 10 minutes will kill it. Still trying to figure out a way to get something but since it's so low and at the rear it's not that much "important" weight.

You're not going to gain much weight reduction on headers, OEs are stupid light to begin with.

Currently, I'm at 2991 lbs last year at Nats without taking into effect new wheels and headers. I'll get it weighed at the Pro next weekend.

Sub 2900 is going to cost some coin.


Have fun though! see you at Nationals
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      06-19-2015, 07:57 PM   #7
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Are we going to get a chance to see your car at any local events as you build it up, or are you going to wait till it is complete?
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      06-19-2015, 10:08 PM   #8
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It will absolutely be out locally, this process is going to take some time. With that said, I won't be out with it until I at least have the suspension in and wheels/tires on. I am picking up the wheels/tires and swaybars tomorrow, they will need to wait for the coilovers and subframe bushings. Should hopefully all be together in the next few weeks.

Mark
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      06-20-2015, 06:47 PM   #9
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New Wheels & Tires

Before we get into this post, I want to apologize in advance - I was a bit tight on time today and some of these iPhone photos do not live up to the standards I am aspiring to bring to this community. I will endeavour to redo some of these photos with my DSLR when I have a little more time.

Tire Rack was kind enough to drop off some awesome new shoes for the 1er!



The wheels are Kosei K8R finished in the "Light Grey Painted" finish. The specifications from Tire Rack are 17x9" +45 offset at 16.95lbs and can be found by looking at wheels for a 128i at Tire Rack (they are listed as a rear fitment but I have ordered 4x for use front & rear). They are $199usd each brand new.

The tires are Bridgestone RE71R in 255-40-17 at $189.21usd each. First impressions when you touch and see these tires are "WOW!" They look and feel a lot more like a Toyo R888 race tire than the Bridgestone runflat street tire they will replace. They are SOFT and the tread depth is very shallow - these are definitely competition street tires.



Let's get this out of the way early - these wheels/tires are a LOT wider than the stock wheels that they are replacing. The stock wheel on my 128i is the same front and rear - 17" diameter, 7" width with an ET47 offset. Great candidates for mounting winter tires, but not much else... The stock tire is an equally uninspiring 205-50-17 Bridgestone runflat all-season. The image is a bit hard to see, but I estimate the total mounted section width of the tire at around 8 3/8".

The new wheels are the same diameter but that's where the similarities end. They are a full 2" wider at 9" width with an ET45 offset. In terms of clearance, mathematically the new wheel extends 23mm further inboard (where there is still lots of room even after this) and 27mm further outboard which is a lot tighter. The reality is the tire will require even more clearance than that. While the new tire is a "255", these are about as wide as a 255 will ever run and looks visually perfect on a 9" wide wheel with sidewalls approximately square. When I measured it, the fully mounted section width appears to be about 10 1/8". Afterwards, I stacked the 4 wheels/tires and measured from the ground and came out with 41" even, which would reflect 10 1/4" per wheel/tire.



The good news is that despite this massive increase in wheel/tire size, we are still losing a considerable amount of weight - 6.2lbs per corner, and rotational weight at that! Tire Rack indicates the wheel should be 16.95lbs and the tire should be 24lbs or a total weight of 40.95lbs. With my scale coming in at 42.6lbs, we have a 1.65lb discrepancy - hard to attribute to just a couple wheel weights and a valve stem and centering ring, but without having weighed them separately, impossible to determine where the inconsistency is. However, weight loss is weight loss, and the grip difference with these wheels/tires is going to be absolutely mindblowing.



I didn't test fit the wheel on the front as it will require a spacer, which will have to wait for the new coilover to determine. However, there was no theoretical reason why it wouldn't bolt onto the back, and bolt on it did. No spacer required, included centering ring worked perfectly, and stock bolts were totally adequate. From this view, it looks like fitment is a piece of cake... However, sometimes looks can be deceiving.





At stock ride height, it's honestly a bit hard to make any obvious conclusions. I suspect on stock suspension and stock ride height, it would probably work just because there is so much wheel gap.



However, looking at it straight down from the top, it's immediately obvious that this bad boy is going to be tight when we get down to a more realistic ride height. We will need to do some more investigation once the coilovers arrive, I am sure that at minimum we are going to need to roll these fenders, and possibly increase camber a little bit.

I also received some new Hotchkis swaybars courtesy of Bimmerworld this weekend, I will dive into those when the coilovers arrive.

Mark
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      06-21-2015, 10:58 AM   #10
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When rear compresses you'll gain camber in the turn, so the body will tuck over the wheel. I've taken my setup around the street on full soft and never rubbed.

Also, thanks for stealing my wheels :P
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      06-21-2015, 11:53 AM   #11
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My pleasure...

What are you running for rear camber?

Mark
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      06-21-2015, 09:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowside67 View Post
My pleasure...

What are you running for rear camber?

Mark
I can't give away all my secrets

I run enough camber to make sure I clear the fender. Didn't really dictate the spec until I knew I could clear.
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      07-05-2015, 01:23 PM   #13
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E46 M3 Transmission Mounts

While my goal is to build a nationally competitive autocross car, I am also focusing on making improvements to the car that make it more enjoyable to drive on the street and at the track. One of the mods I had identified early on was a change in transmission bushings, in my E36 this made a substantial difference in feel.

Wolfe's DIY Transmission Mount Thread was a great resource and demonstrates how simple and straightforward this mod is. It took me about 45 minutes on jackstands in a driveway with manual tools, with a hoist, transmission jack, and power tools this would be a 15 minute job, it really is that easy.



I decided for this car, the E46 M3 Transmission Mount (2x Part # 22-32-2-282-340) was the right balance of performance improvement and street manners. I had AKG Poly mounts in my E36 and while they dramatically improved the stock transmission's movement in corners, the increase in NVH would be unacceptable for a daily driver.


Left: New E46 M3 Mount, Right: 60,000mile 128i Mount

The mounts look somewhat similar in photos (the longer stud on the E46 mount is no issue at all and they share a thread pitch so can re-use existing hardware). However, there is an easily noticeable difference in stiffness just by even squeezing them by hand.

Impressions:

I have only driven a short distance so far, so I will update this in a few weeks once everything has settled in and I have a bit more time on them. However, at first glance, I noticed virtually no NVH difference, perhaps an absolute tiny bit at idle, but really nothing of consequence. However, in the first corner that I tried a 2-3 shift, it was immediately obvious something was different, in the best possible way.

According to Wolfe's thread, I definitely overtorqued the nuts that hold the mount to the transmission and brace (not having read that section in time) and that may contribute to higher than necessary NVH, but so far, that has been a non issue.

Considering the parts are less than $40usd and it takes less than an hour to install, these are a great value and an awesome way to improve the "feel" and experience of driving your 1 series for a reasonable price. Highly recommended.

Mark

Teaser for next week...

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      07-06-2015, 02:04 AM   #14
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Looking great so far. Do you happen to know if 128 and 135 rear fenders are the same width? Also, should have gone with the whiteline rsfb for ease of install. Looking forward to next week's update.
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      07-06-2015, 10:24 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtla1 View Post
Looking great so far. Do you happen to know if 128 and 135 rear fenders are the same width? Also, should have gone with the whiteline rsfb for ease of install. Looking forward to next week's update.
128/135 is on the same frame, so yes.


Also, per SCCA ST* Rules, metal and rubber/poly content cannot be more than OE mount. So in the case with inserts, you're increasing this content and thus will be illegal, and easily noticed and protested at a National event if someone wants to make your day bad.
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      07-17-2015, 10:28 AM   #16
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2008 BMW 128i  [5.00]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kgolf31 View Post
128/135 is on the same frame, so yes.


Also, per SCCA ST* Rules, metal and rubber/poly content cannot be more than OE mount. So in the case with inserts, you're increasing this content and thus will be illegal, and easily noticed and protested at a National event if someone wants to make your day bad.
you can't do the M3 rsfb?
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      07-17-2015, 11:51 AM   #17
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The picture the OP posted is of the m3 RSFB. I'm guessing the slight increase in perimeter fill material is negligible?
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      07-17-2015, 11:59 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kgolf31 View Post
Also, per SCCA ST* Rules, metal and rubber/poly content cannot be more than OE mount. So in the case with inserts, you're increasing this content and thus will be illegal, and easily noticed and protested at a National event if someone wants to make your day bad.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dtla1 View Post
The picture the OP posted is of the m3 RSFB. I'm guessing the slight increase in perimeter fill material is negligible?
The exact rule says:

The amount of metal in a replacement bushing may not be increased relative to the amount of metal found in a standard bushing for the particular application.

I do not believe that this would preclude the use of any of the RSFB "inserts" but I also believe there is a genuine performance advantage to using a proper one piece bushing rather than the plug-in style bandaid.

Sorry for the slow updates, work has been insane, in fact I have had to drop the car off to a local performance shop to get some work done while I am out of town this week.

But the good news is when I get back to Vancouver next week, we will have a brand new DiffsOnline LSD, rear Hotchkis swaybar, and M RSFB bushings - should be a great transformation.

The coilovers are here but were damaged in shipping so I am still waiting on UPS for resolution, this process has been dragging on for a month now, extremely frustrating but such is life.

Update when I get back!

Mark
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      07-22-2015, 05:00 PM   #19
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Hey lowside67 , Will we be seeing you at Nats in FT McLeod this year? August 21-23.

Swapping the SFB's should be just fine.

14.8 B
Suspension bushings may be replaced with bushings of any materials
(except metal) as long as they fit in the original location. Offset bushings
may be used. In a replacement bushing, the amount of metal relative
to the amount of non-metallic material may not be increased. This
does not authorize a change in type of bushing (e.g., ball and socket
replacing a cylindrical bushing) or use of a bushing with an angled hole
whose direction differs from that of the original bushing. If the standard
bushing accommodated multi-axis motion via compliance of the
component material(s), the replacement bushing may not be changed
to accommodate such motion via a change in bushing type, for example
to a spherical bearing or similar component involving internal moving
parts. Pins or keys may be used to prevent the rotation of alternate
2015 SCCA® National Solo® Rules — 85
14. Street Touring®
bushings but may serve no other purpose than that of retaining the
bushing in the desired position.
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      08-05-2015, 01:36 AM   #20
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Unfortunately not - while I have been throwing lots of money at the car, it won't be ready for a national competition by then, so better to just keep working on it. My goal is to have the coilovers happening in the next 2 weeks or so, and from there it should be ready for the first autocross event.

Lots of progress has happened, just most of it is very hard to make worthwhile in pictures...

Mark
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      08-05-2015, 01:44 AM   #21
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Diffsonline 3.23 3-Clutch Ramped Limited Slip Differential

While I love photo porn, the reality is that there really is nothing to photograph for this week. I had a local shop tackle a few projects that I couldn't get done, this has been a HUGE transformation. Nothing to see, but everything to talk about...

We installed:
1) M Rear Subframe Bushings
2) Hotchkis Rear Swaybar
3) Diffsonline 3.23 3-Clutch Ramped LSD

What a transformation! "Night and day" doesn't even begin to do justice to the difference that these modifications have made. All of a sudden the car no longer feels nervous and vague over transitions, but instead direct and composed. As soon as the car is even a bit unsettled, some throttle immediately brings the tail into line and powers out of the corner.

The car is still on the silly runflat tires while I wait on the coilovers to install the sticky tires, and even with these low grip tires, the behaviour of the car has dramatically changed. The LSD I spec'd is very aggressive and that diff locks very quickly under throttle but is actually very well mannered on the street, even in tight parking spots or other situations where aggressive differentials tend to make themselves known.

My ramp choice is VERY aggressive on the basis of the autocross application, but even a moderate one would be seamless under street driving and add stability, control, and the ability to put power down earlier on a road course.

I have to say, working with Dan at Diffsonline has been fantastic. We spoke, specified the exact characteristics I wanted, he gave me some feedback, we came to a resolution and less than a week later, the differential was in the mail. The price is not cheap but the workmanship can't be beat and I know if I ever have an issue, they stand behind it. To me, that's money well spent.

Looking forward to updating shortly after the coilovers are installed (that one will definitely have before and after pictures!).

Mark
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      08-05-2015, 05:02 PM   #22
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Any comments on the Hotchkis RSB? It's on my list for when I do my LSD, although a lot of folks around here advise against one. I think the conventional wisdom is that it's okay with an LSD, though. Any reason you didn't match it with the Hotchkis FSB? EDIT: Actually I was looking at the H&R bars - didn't realize Hotchkis made a set?

Also, would you care to discuss the pros/cons of clutch- vs Torsten-type LSDs for AX? I was under the impression that a clutch-type would introduce too much understeer for the sport? I guess it's all about the ramp angles? I keep pushing back my LSD purchase because every time I think I settle on something, I change my mind, lol.
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