By Craig Hastings
Week two of the BMW “project car”. Thursday afternoon a Fed Ex delivery truck pulled up in front of my house while I was home for lunch. The driver wheeled a very large box up to my front porch as I watched, wondering what I ordered that I couldn’t remember. An occurrence that happens more times than it doesn’t anymore for me, sadly. Before I went back to work I moved the box inside, and, as I did, I glanced at the “Shipped From” label. It was from a BMW performance distributor, so I immediately knew this box of goodies had to be for Payton. I sent him a text telling him it was delivered to my house and thought nothing more about the box.
I was sure in my mind that Payton would probably be taking the contents up to Champaign so he and his “Fast and Furious” homies could do whatever it was they needed to do to get these new toys installed on Payton’s car. Remember, Payton knows that I don’t know anything about these cars so asking me to help him would be the almost blind leading the totally blind. No such luck. Payton came home from work and the first thing he said to me was that “we” needed to get these parts installed on his car before he left town on Friday. I didn’t even know for sure what all was in the box.
After Payton gave me a brief description of what was in the box I began to Google search what each part was for and also started reading installation threads and installation videos by people that had already tackled the jobs in their own driveways and garages. So at 6 p.m. Friday evening we started work. Fifty pounds of plastic covers and guards had to be removed before we could even get to the parts we were going to replace. This car is 11 years old and has 124,000 miles on it so there is grease, motor oil, and dirt everywhere you put your hands and arms. Add to this I have to take my glasses off if I get too close to a part I need to remove because I can’t see the small nuts and bolts. That was the case even with bright lights shining down and across the work area.
As I mentioned, this is all new territory under the hood of an old BMW for me. So I was going slow and methodical so not to make a mistake in what I was trying to do. I don’t think my son felt as though I was moving fast enough because he had somewhere to be later, remember. I learned where as we made our way through tonight’s BWM wars. He had already told all of his “Fast and Furious” homies that the car would be done and up there for all to see and hear later this night. Payton has more confidence in his own skills than I do my own, I thought.
Two hours later we had all the new bits and bobs installed and any of the old ones going back on reinstalled under the hood. “What about this little sensor? Do you know what it does?” I asked. “I’m not sure other than I know we shouldn’t need it,” Payton replies. “Just zip tie it to something so I can start the car,” he said. I thought it was part of the security system on the car. I thought maybe it sensed when the hood was open should the car be started with the hood partially opened or opened when the doors were locked, etc. It was a dry sensor so I did as he said and zip tied it as close as I could from where it had been before. Anyway, the car started right up so he told me to jump in so we could try it out. Not only were my hands and arms covered in grease and oil but I had also gotten a pretty nasty cut on my arm by something sharp located somewhere unknown under the hood.
As we drove away I asked Payton what kind of horsepower gain did he expect from all of this work. “None,” was his answer. “What?!” I replied. All of that work and no power gain? “Why did we do this?” He told me to listen. So he would accelerate and back of the throttle real quick and just as soon as he got off the gas you can hear a loud “pssshht” noise. That’s it? Two hours, bloodied and bruised arm, and “pssshht” is all I get from it? Payton was smiles from ear to ear! He thought this was great! This treasure trove of parts was everything needed to install a replacement turbo charger charge pipe and a blowoff valve. Instead of the excess line pressure being quietly silenced by the stock BMW pieces we now have that excess pressure being expelled immediately for all those people standing nearby to hear.
Oh well, I did my duty and learned how to do it. For sure, I’ll probably never be anywhere to have to do it again, but, if I do, I sure will know how. Big deal, right? Was it two hours wasted? Absolutely not. How many dads out there get to work hand in hand with their sons on a project like this? It was worth it for me just to see how thrilled he was that we got it done and done right the first try. Well, Payton has left for Champaign to have a good time showing off his new charge pipe install and me… I’m going out into my garage and pick up our mess and put away all of the tools we used. And also the tools we thought we would use and didn’t. I can only imagine what’s next. I already know. He bought a performance exhaust system for his Mustang; headers to mufflers. This will be another three hours on the floor of my garage! I’m too old for this!