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      05-16-2019, 04:14 PM   #1
fe1rx
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fe1rx goes full spherical

I decided to convert the suspension on my dedicated track 135i to fully spherical bearings. There are a few options available but here is how I proceeded:

FRONT TENSION ARM:

I installed a Turner Motorsport TSUE 9080QIS spherical bearing kit on M3 front tension arms I already had installed. The outboard end of M3 and 135i tension arms are both already spherical bearings, but the 135i has a soft fluid filled bushing at the inboard/forward end, while the M3 part has a solid rubber bushing.

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Turner has us extract the bushing and press in a housing containing a standard sealed ball joint. Modifying the tension arm is uneventful and starting with either an M3 or a 135i tension arm would get you to the same place

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With the spherical bearing installed, it is no longer necessary to torque the forward bolt at ride height as the bearing freely rotates.

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FRONT WISHBONE:

135i front wishbones use an inboard rubber bushing vs. the M3 front wishbone’s spherical bearing.

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Horizontal and vertical sections through the 135i inboard rubber bushing show its construction vs. the M3 wishbone’s spherical bearing.

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The M3 wishbone is also slightly longer than the 135i wishbone, giving a bit more negative camber. I had already installed these parts so no change was necessary.

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REAR GUIDE ARM, WISHBONE AND TOE ARM

I elected to use the SPL guide, upper and toe arms. They installed uneventfully and look like really well made parts.

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I replaced the camber arm inner rubber bushing with the BimmerWorld kit. Pressing out the bushing and installing the adapter sleeve and spherical bearing are uneventful. The kit looks very well made.

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The 135i trailing arm attached to rubber bushings at both ends, one in the upright and the other in the rear subframe. BimmerWorld has a kit to replace these bushing with standard sealed spherical bearings, but here is where things got interesting. With good tooling, extracting the bushings and pressing in the bearings is uneventful.

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I found the bearings supplied by BimmerWorld for this purpose to be extremely tight. So much so that the stiction, as measured by hanging a weight on one end of the trailing arm to rotate the bearing at the other end required 10 lbs force to get it to rotate. In contrast, all the other joints would rotate with somewhere between the self-weight of the arm (in the case of the camber arm) and 1 lb hanging at the end of the arm.

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In my view 10 lbs (which really means 20 lbs, because both ends of the trailing arm are similarly affected) stiction due to the trailing arm spherical bearings amounts to a suspension bind. This will result inconsistent contact patch forces and will make repeatably corner balancing the vehicle impossible.

I contacted BimmerWorld to investigate and, having just installed a kit in their own shop, they acknowledged that the bearings they supply are tight. In their view, this was not an issue (for a customer car). You can be sure their own race cars don’t bind …

I had deduced that the bearings required are identical to those installed in the 135i rear upper arm. Finding these bearings as stand-alone items is a bit of a challenge, although they are available in the aftermarket in some markets. Finding aftermarket upper arms is easy, as is extracting the bearings, so I tracked down some cheap arms from Rock Auto. Here I learned just how cheap the aftermarket can get. 3 of the 4 arms had bushings pressed to the wrong depth. One had been “reworked”, and the bearing was both crooked and loose in the part. The OD had nonstandard serrations which were presumably part of the rework process. Most importantly to me, the ball joints were just as tight as the ones supplied by BimmerWorld. I got a full refund from Rock Auto and scrapped these, but not before disassembling the ball joints to get spherical targets for my suspension geometry project.

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Next, I tried some name brand aftermarket arms (Vaico), which were also too tight, so I ended up returning those.

Now fully committed, I decided to go with OE BMW upper arms, at a very substantial price premium over the aftermarket option. If you have compared OE to aftermarket, you will know that OE BMW bearings really are superior in terms of smooth low-stiction operation. I waited hopefully and received Delphi parts, which I was certainly not going to accept at OE pricing. One more time got me the real thing, and I promptly removed the bearings.

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I am happy to report that the stiction levels with the OE bearings are now comparable to all the other joints and my rear suspension now moves without binding.

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So, PSA – not all spherical bearings are created equal.

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OE BMW / Private Label Crap / BimmerWorld
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      05-16-2019, 04:39 PM   #2
lowside67
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As always, thank you for your informative post. One thing I am wondering is given your extensive time optimizing your suspension, have you given consideration to tackling geometry correction in the front at the same time?

From your analysis in other threads, I gauge the rear suspension behaves almost ideally through an entire range of motion thus reducing any benefit from geometry correction. However, I would not expect the same to be true in the front at a significant ride height reduction... would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Cheers,
Mark
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      05-16-2019, 09:32 PM   #3
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Have you been able to get the car on track yet? Very interested to hear how much of a difference it made.
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      05-17-2019, 09:58 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowside67 View Post
From your analysis in other threads, I gauge the rear suspension behaves almost ideally through an entire range of motion thus reducing any benefit from geometry correction. However, I would not expect the same to be true in the front at a significant ride height reduction... would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Cheers,
Mark
I have not measured the steering rack geometry with enough accuracy to model the front bump steer, and I have not measured the front bump steer directly with enough accuracy to really have a handle on it. One think SusProg3D does which is really slick is that it can calculate the geometrical changes needed to optimize bump steer while holding fixed those dimensions that cannot be changed. Much better approach than trial an error, so I wouldn't try anything until I had a proven model of the rack with a calculated bump steer curve that matched the measured bump steer curve. All this said, my subjective feel is that there is not much bump steer in the front at any ride height, provided you don't change the caster angle.
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      05-17-2019, 10:07 AM   #5
fe1rx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Aubele View Post
Have you been able to get the car on track yet? Very interested to hear how much of a difference it made.
I have had the spherical suspension at two track days. This mod was combined with a change from M3 RSFBs to solid aluminum, and the addition of a wing and splitter, so it is hard to credit all benefits to any one thing.

I would say though that the spherical bearings result in a subtle improvement in handling feel at the limit and no real change in feel below it. Of course there are some new noises, but these are not particularly intrusive on smooth pavement. I did post this in the Track subforum though because the mod has no practical significance except for track cars.

Without true back-to-back testing it would be difficult to precisely pin down the handling or performance benefit of the spherical bearings vs. M3 parts, but I can say that the difference is by no means night and day.

The wing and splitter are night and day though on fast tracks like the Mosport GP track. I ran them one event last year at that track without the suspension changes and they were good for 2 seconds a lap.
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      05-17-2019, 03:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fe1rx View Post
I have had the spherical suspension at two track days. This mod was combined with a change from M3 RSFBs to solid aluminum, and the addition of a wing and splitter, so it is hard to credit all benefits to any one thing.

I would say though that the spherical bearings result in a subtle improvement in handling feel at the limit and no real change in feel below it. Of course there are some new noises, but these are not particularly intrusive on smooth pavement. I did post this in the Track subforum though because the mod has no practical significance except for track cars.

Without true back-to-back testing it would be difficult to precisely pin down the handling or performance benefit of the spherical bearings vs. M3 parts, but I can say that the difference is by no means night and day.

The wing and splitter are night and day though on fast tracks like the Mosport GP track. I ran them one event last year at that track without the suspension changes and they were good for 2 seconds a lap.
I believe you on the aero. The addition of a wing and splitter transformed my E36 M3, although like you I changed too much from the '17 season to the '18 season to credit any lap times to that sole change (added 100whp at the same time as well).

My main concern with our 135i is the car has never felt that stable to me. Has the same feeling my E36 did before I went all spherical in the rear. Seems to calm down the harder you drive it and it is difficult to pin it down as I only have street and autocross time in it. My wife currently runs the car in BSP (hillclimb/time trial) so none of these parts are legal, but I may just have her run in SM to get rid of all the rubber in the suspension.

Appreciate the write up.
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      05-22-2019, 06:47 PM   #7
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Did you think its possible the Bimmer world trailing arm bearings might loosen after a break-in period?
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      05-22-2019, 06:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John_01 View Post
Did you think its possible the Bimmer world trailing arm bearings might loosen after a break-in period?
That is an experiment I wasn't willing to try. Personally, I doubt it. These bearings consist of a hardened polished steel ball riding in a greased plastic shell. Nothing really wears in. If these bearings start life tight, I think they will be tight for a very long time.
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      05-26-2019, 08:24 AM   #9
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What bearing or arm was that from Rockauto(?) ?
The bearings appear in a search for the 135i rear upper arm on fcp euro manufactured by Meyle. No good?
https://www.fcpeuro.com/products?utf...ds=33326777980
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      05-26-2019, 05:47 PM   #10
fe1rx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmx View Post
What bearing or arm was that from Rockauto(?) ?
The bearings appear in a search for the 135i rear upper arm on fcp euro manufactured by Meyle. No good?
https://www.fcpeuro.com/products?utf...ds=33326777980
It was a private branded arm so I am not sure who actually made it. The part I got is no longer listed on their site. They probably scrapped any remaining stock after my complaint, because they were true crap.

The Meyle bearing might be worth a try. After 3 unsatisfactory tries I ran out of time and patience to try any more aftermarket options. Also shipping to Canada is a much more expensive for me than it would be for a US customer. I see you are in Australia, so I guess you have the same problem x 2!

The Delphi arms I got that were supposed to be OE arms actually had decent bearings in them in terms of tightness. I rejected them because I had paid OE pricing and wasn't going to accept any substitution at that price. Had I not paid full pop for them, I probably could have accepted them on technical merit although I didn't really like the way the rubber boots looked.
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      05-29-2019, 08:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Without true back-to-back testing it would be difficult to precisely pin down the handling or performance benefit of the spherical bearings vs. M3 parts, but I can say that the difference is by no means night and day.Ē
So time + money = min gains, if at all any. Am I reading that right?
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      05-30-2019, 09:20 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabrahams View Post
So time + money = min gains, if at all any. Am I reading that right?
Pretty much lol. The M3 arms are all-around superior. That doesn't mean that you'll all the sudden be running with Mclarens.
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      06-10-2019, 03:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbnks2 View Post
That doesn't mean that you'll all the sudden be running with Mclarens.
No?

Taking the pass at Mont Tremblant ...
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      06-12-2019, 06:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fe1rx View Post
No?

Taking the pass at Mont Tremblant ...
And also: https://carbuzz.com/news/how-can-thi...-mclaren-675lt

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      06-13-2019, 04:25 PM   #15
fe1rx
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I wish all was good in spherical world, after 4 track days, but I needed to investigate a rattle that had developed in the left front. Jacking the car and twisting the tension arm quickly revealed that the Turner Motorsports bearing housing was loose in the arm. I pulled the arm and after removing the retaining ring, the bearing housing fell out. The serrations on the housing had worn mostly off, slightly marking the arm. The arm itself is neither significantly oversize nor out of round.

I am not a fan of the serrated design because it results in minimal actual bearing surface. Also, Loctite retaining compound can't be used effectively because the film thickness is not properly controlled by the deep valleys in the serrations.

Turner will take the bushings back, but that doesn't really help me. Therefore I have descided to make my own housings with a proper interference fit in the control arm. I am attaching a pic, prior to anodizing. I am using the bearing, retaining rings and spacers from the Turner assembly.

For some reason the RH front is fine, but I have made a spare housing for the day that gets loose too.
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      06-17-2019, 05:00 PM   #16
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Did you notice any symptoms of this failure besides the noise? Any feedback through the steering wheel?
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      06-18-2019, 09:06 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajsmithvmi View Post
Did you notice any symptoms of this failure besides the noise? Any feedback through the steering wheel?
Aside from the noise, I didn't notice any other symptom.
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      Yesterday, 07:36 AM   #18
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Quote:
Therefore I have descided to make my own housings with a proper interference fit in the control arm.
Knowing the quality of work you do; it seems that you could have made all of these parts with the way you want them. Why didnít you start there? Or am I guessing you expected better quality materials/control?
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      Yesterday, 01:59 PM   #19
fe1rx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabrahams View Post
Knowing the quality of work you do; it seems that you could have made all of these parts with the way you want them. Why didnít you start there? Or am I guessing you expected better quality materials/control?
Buying off the shelf is a lot cheaper than inventing (which often goes through several iterations and requires information that is only available by taking stuff apart). I like the Turner solution and the quality of their parts. My only issue is with their design decision to knurl the OD. Having measured a couple of of suspension arms I can see why they did though.

I am making replacement bushings because:
1) I have the Turner parts in hand to reverse engineer the basic design
2) As I am able to measure the arms I have on hand before making the parts, I can ensure that the bushings I make will be interference fit in those actual arms and don't care about all possible arms (which Turner necessarily must).
3) I have the spherical bearings, retaining rings and spacers from the Turner parts so don't need any additional parts
4) Getting Turner to replace the part would involve substantial shipping costs both directions because I am not in the USA
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