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Front sway bar ID help


cda951

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Hello 02 friends,

 

The pictured aftermarket sway bar was installed on my '73 tii when I bought it. The bar feels solid and is 22MM in diameter. It attaches to aftermarket aluminum mounting blocks using longer front subframe bolts as in the IE setup:

 

http://www.iemotorsport.com/bmw/2002-suspension-steering/02hb01.html

 

There is also a 3-hole adjustable rear sway bar installed (sorry no pics) that looks to be from the same manufacturer. Most of the modifications on my car seem to have been done in the early '90s, so perhaps the sway bars are from that era.

 

The reason I ask all of this is I left the front bar off the car after putting in my newly rebuilt engine and have not reinstalled it yet. The rear bar remains in place, in the full stiff position. The resulting balance is of course a bit tail-happy, but extremely fun on the street with the E21 LSD working its magic. When the front bar was installed, it definitely understeered at the limit. I have the IE offset ball joint spacers for more camber, Bilstein Sports and H&R springs and I otherwise love the setup.

 

If this were a track car, I would obviously play around with spring/sway bar rates and alignment settings until I achieved the desired balance. I already have a car like that, and this is just a fun street car, so I would like to get an adjustable front bar that is not as stiff but fits on the same or similar mounting blocks. I will probably buy the IE front bar linked above, but I am afraid that even at the looser setting it will be too stiff and cause understeer.

 

Does anyone know what front bar I have, or have any suggestions for a lighter adjustable bar?

 

Thanks,

Chris

 

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have not seen a bar end like that front one you have!

 

how big is the rear sway bar?  another option is to get a bigger one.

 

or just get a matched set of ST or IE bars to take the guessing out of the equation.

 

Hi Marshall,

 

Thanks for the reply. Getting the full IE matched set is of course the logical answer, but as I can be a cheapskate with my own cars I was hoping to save a few bucks . . . . . my rear bar appears to be the same brand/finish as the mystery front bar. It is solid and 23MM in diameter, w/ 3 hole adjustability.

 

I don't love the idea of going even stiffer in the rear, as a huge bar will decrease traction on corner exit even more by lifting the inside rear wheel. I have a LSD which helps matters a lot, but it is better in theory to find grip on one end than to take it away from the other. Sometimes, however, there is no choice . . . . .

 

I will most likely try out the IE front bar on the loose setting, and if it pushes too much then I'll order the rear as well.

 

Because you are an experienced longtime track guy and you have the IE sway bars, I will ask you this: is there a significant difference between the 2 front bar settings in your experience?

 

Thanks,

Chris

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Looks like an old "Big Stick" bar from Metric Mechanic.  I'd shoot Mary over there a call for a bit more info.

 

Thanks Andrew! I did a search and found this:

 

http://www.bmw2002faq.com/topic/121305-metric-mechanic-front-sway-bar-maximum-stick/

 

I'll be calling you in the next day or 2 about a front sway bar.

 

Chris

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Hi Marshall,

 

Thanks for the reply. Getting the full IE matched set is of course the logical answer, but as I can be a cheapskate with my own cars I was hoping to save a few bucks . . . . . my rear bar appears to be the same brand/finish as the mystery front bar. It is solid and 23MM in diameter, w/ 3 hole adjustability.

 

I don't love the idea of going even stiffer in the rear, as a huge bar will decrease traction on corner exit even more by lifting the inside rear wheel. I have a LSD which helps matters a lot, but it is better in theory to find grip on one end than to take it away from the other. Sometimes, however, there is no choice . . . . .

 

I will most likely try out the IE front bar on the loose setting, and if it pushes too much then I'll order the rear as well.

 

Because you are an experienced longtime track guy and you have the IE sway bars, I will ask you this: is there a significant difference between the 2 front bar settings in your experience?

 

Thanks,

Chris

Oooo...23 mm is big. Yes, smaller/softer front better.

The IE and metric bars have a shorter lever arm so will be stiffer than a same diameter normally mounted bar.

Yes, the two holes in the front IE bar do make a difference that is noticeable. The rear adjustability is even better due to the slide feature.

as you know, a push is not just about the bars. Type of corner, driving style, braking, weight transfer , etc all have a play.

Good identification of the bar andrew!

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as you know, a push is not just about the bars. Type of corner, driving style, braking, weight transfer , etc all have a play.

 

 

So wait, you are saying that I shouldn't be mashing the gas out of tight turns with the steering wheel still turned to the lock???? :)

 

I spent a long time tinkering with the suspension on my 944 Turbo to get the handling right, and now that it has all metal and delrin bushings, stiff GC coiloovers, custom geometry-correcting drop pins welded in the front spindles, and big sway bars, it handles like a dream! The problem is it is super low and stiff and not the most streetable car now (but I still do drive it fairly often).

 

I like the overall feel of my tii as a fun hot rod/street car and I'm trying to avoid the same slippery slope as above. Besides, the 02 is a bit of a flexi-flyer compared to a more modern chassis and I'd want to reinforce the sills, seam weld, and/or do a roll bar if I went much stiffer.

 

I know from experience that more adjustability of front and rear camber would likely solve the root issue; I am used to being able to easily adjust this on Porsches. I may need to break down and get camber plates for the front as the IE offset ball joint spacers and H&R lowering springs only net ~-1.1 degrees in the front. Rear camber/toe adjusters are also on the list, but I am going to wait till I get a 5 speed in and swap my 3.64 LSD for the 3.91 waiting on the shelf . . . . . .

 

Anyway, I'll try out the IE front bar and report back.

 

Thanks,

Chris

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:D  :D

it is hard to avoid that slippery slope on any car once you have done a few track cars!  i have been unsuccessful so far.  i "inherited" an e46 325it from my wife two weeks ago when she got a new X3.  every day driving it all i can think about are the potential mods to fix the handling, braking, power, etc.....MUST RESIST!

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:D  :D

it is hard to avoid that slippery slope on any car once you have done a few track cars!  i have been unsuccessful so far.  i "inherited" an e46 325it from my wife two weeks ago when she got a new X3.  every day driving it all i can think about are the potential mods to fix the handling, braking, power, etc.....MUST RESIST!

 

Good for you, the E46 is a great chassis, and rare in wagon form. 5 speed?

 

I couple of things that will help the overall feel and handling without turning it into a track car would be to renew the front control arm bushings (they tend to only last ~30-40K miles) and the rear training arm bushings (shine a flashlight in there and check them for cracks/splits). If the car has a lot of miles, refreshing these will make the car feel like a BMW again. New Bilstein dampers will also help.

 

Otherwise, good luck in resisting the urge to throw the GC catalog at it!

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The IE and metric bars have a shorter lever arm

This, far more than the diameter.  The shorter arms make it REALLY stiff.

 

 

That said, if you want to play, try a 22mm bar mounted in the stock location.

It's not all that much spring rate, but if you're not ass- out squirreley now, it might be

the amount of twist that dials it in to neutral.  And you can buy and sell 22mm front

bars all day long- lots of people make them, and they're a nice upgrade to a 'almost stock' car.

 

t

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That is a good suggestion, Toby. I had the same dim thought a while back and dug through my shop for any old used stock 2002 sway bars, but only found a bunch of old Porsche bars. I do like the location of the MM and IE front bars in terms of getting at the tii alternator, etc, but it's not that difficult to remove a sway bar . . . .

 

I have inquired about a used front ST 22MM bar and some IE fixed camber plates for sale by a FAQ member. I was trying to resist the temptation of extra front camber for tire wear purposes (I run close to -3 degrees on my 944 Turbo street or track, have barely over -1 on the 2002 w/ IE offset ball joint spacers), but screw it, I want the car's handling to feel right!

 

Whatever I end up doing, I will post the results here.

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