Smallpants

3D Printing, Sunroof Cables, and Hate

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(edited)

 

I hate sunroofs. I know some of you love them but I just don't get the appeal. So when I bought my 02 and the sunroof was inoperable I didn't care at the time. But now that I'm restoring the car, the idea of having a sunroof that doesn't work seems lazy and half assed. But when I saw the price of replacing sunroof cables it only transformed my strong sunroof indifference into smoldering hate and I was back to not wanting to fix the thing.

 

That was until I saw a You Tube video from a guy named Spurious Pseudo entitled "Project 1968 BMW 2002 EP03 Sunroof."

 

Much love to this guy. In the video he replaced those little plastic parts on sunroof cables that always break with new ones he designed and 3D printed. In the comments he added a link with the file so any one could print them. "Pretty f***ing cool," I thought. I followed the link and it takes you to a hosting sight that has a link to a 3rd party provider that would print the design and send it to you. (I would paste the link here but it seems to be broken when you try to do this, so I recommend following the link from the comments in the video). So, I said "What the hell" and ordered 5 pairs. All together I think it was just shy of 30 bucks for them. About a week later they arrived and what follows is a write up on what I've done so far to install them.

 

Here is the broken remains of one of these plastic bits from my car.

527e609dab180172ddedb9ac2837bead.jpg

 

Here are the new ones as they arrived.

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The first thing I did to install the new plastic bit was remove this little metal bullet shaped cap from the end of the cable.

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These buggers are on tight so I hit them with my torch, got them red hot and yanked them off by placing the cable in my vise with enough room for the cable to slide freely but stopping the cap. After a few yanks the cap came off.

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Now the bare end of the cable can slide into the new 3D part. As for a new cap I used some small copper tubing I had sitting around (I think it was 4mm) and crimped the ends. (Sorry, no picture). I tested the strength of this before I installed the new bit and it seemed fine to me although someone else might have a more elegant solution to capping the cable.

 

At this point, however, things became a little more complicated than shown in the You Yube video. There is a small metal rod that protrudes from the plastic bit. You need to remove these (as well as the other metal parts) from your original broken parts and install them in the new 3D parts. There is a hole in the 3D part to receive this rod but it was far to small so the new part needed to be drilled out slightly. The rod must be metric but I only have imperial sized bits so I didn't have anything that would create the perfect sized hole. Now I had the parts printed in ABS plastic. I also build guitars as a hobby and often use ABS for binding on guitars. You can melt ABS with 100% acetone and use the resulting "slime" as a glue to weld pieces together. I chopped up some small pieces of ABS, submerged them in acetone, and after about a half hour had some ABS glue that I could coated the end of the rod with to place in the 3D part so it would fit perfectly into the slightly larger hole I drilled.

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The other metal parts from the original plastic bits need to be removed and reused. This picture shows their orientation with the original broken part. 251279cb5ddba32daea56b0586f3ac3a.jpg

 

Missing from this picture is a metal pin that goes into the 3D part that allows the metal tab that's secured to the sunroof to pop up and down at the roof is opened and closed. Again this hole is too small on the 3D part as originally printed. See the difference between a 3D part and one after I drilled it out.

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In the original plastic part this pin is enclosed so it can't slide out. So after I drilled the larger hole I inserted the metal parts into the 3D bit, secured them with the metal pin, and once again melted some ABS with acetone and used the "glue" to close the holes on each end of the pin. Here's a picture on the ABS glue after I applied it. As it drys in bonds with the 3D part and will keep that pin locked into place.

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After this it's just a matter of installing the metal tab and I should have a fully functioning sunroof cable.

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Now it was just a matter of cleaning up the cables. (Mine were really gunked up). I'm not sure this was necessary but it couldn't hurt. Here's a before and after. 6d5c1c4f8937dc8311164a85d1e6a5aa.jpge807d5bc613d9ca2dbc55d2b0b1130a0.jpg

 

After this I hit the cables with some moly grease and they were good to go.

 

There are other write ups on how to install cables and get your sunroof working so I won't bother with that here. I can say that after installing the cables they seem to slide easily and are working perfectly without the sunroof on. (I'll install that tomorrow). I'm not sure if there's a way to embed a video here so I made a You Tube video showing the sunroof tabs sliding here.

 

 

The only question I have at this point is the durability of the ABS part. Now for me I don't think this will be an issue because I will rarely use my sunroof. But considering how cheap it is to have these parts printed up and realitively simple it is to swap these out, I think it would be worth it for others to give it a try.

 

 

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

 

 

 

Edited by Smallpants
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Great write up.

 

but the link to the thingverse no longer works for that part number, nor can I find whomever will make them.

 

Can you help?

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25 minutes ago, Einspritz said:

Great write up.

 

but the link to the thingverse no longer works for that part number, nor can I find whomever will make them.

 

Can you help?

Thanks. Ya, I think there are a few links in the comments and not all of them work. I also previously tried to copy the links and that didn't work. But I just tried the first link (it's a response to the 4th comment at this moment) and that link works. 

217241219_Screenshot_20190314-134019_SamsungInternet.thumb.jpg.a052d9b49c79928a6766be9942578715.jpg

 

More simply, just Google search "Thingiverse Aftermarket Sunroof Slide." I just did and it was the first thing that came up.

 

The "Order this Printed" tab also seems to be working and it brings up 3 different options for companies that will print the parts. I have no idea which one I selected now.

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THIS RIGHT HERE is why we are so much cooler than other people.

 

a) sharing of information

b) creative problem solving

c) community.

 

I absolutely love this! Carry on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hey wow!  That's my vid...  Love to see that it worked out for you, great write up!  I'd like to try to do another set and get some better video of the actual swap of the metallic components into the new printed part.  I had to do the same thing with my printed parts - drill or hone the holes, but then I heated the metal and melted them into position.  It took a couple of attempts to get the temperature just right.

 

I'll post the link here:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3079184

you can also search thingyverse for spuriouspseudo

 

To add to your hate, I've had to be careful on how I name and post the parts and where the links are posted.  BMW has done a couple takedowns due to IP infringement - hence the latest name of "aftermarket sunroof slide".

 

So far, out of the ABS mine have lasted a whole season.

 

Also, to recap/recrimp the ends I used these:

image.png.e44b0d395d9e392172f367ddf9d55291.png

 

 

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5 minutes ago, spuriouspseudo said:

BMW has done a couple takedowns due to IP infringement

+1

 

They did that to a couple of my models.  They appear to tolerate: "such and such item fits BMW 2002".

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6 minutes ago, Tsingtao_1903 said:

+1

 

They did that to a couple of my models.  They appear to tolerate: "such and such item fits BMW 2002".

 

You could understand that if they actually could be bothered making the part in question. 

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SUPER cool, so glad people are out there working to save everything on these little cars. Warms my dark heart.

I too have a world ending level of hate for holes in roofs, and I've never even opened mine. Bought it closed, and it will remain closed for all eternity.

 

But super glad there's a solution like this. I have a feeling with the new wave of 3D printers that this could also be printed with either carbon composite reinforcement or metal as well for added strength.

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Thanks for the contribution to keep our sunroofs operational! 

 

I use the sunroof all the time... how else would I convince myself that I don’t need an AC?

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6 hours ago, spuriouspseudo said:

Hey wow!  That's my vid...  Love to see that it worked out for you, great write up! 

 

 

Hey Spurious! Thanks for designing these 3D parts and making them available for everyone to use. I'm glad you're around here to take some credit for your hard work.

 

I didn't mind doing a little drilling and fabbing. With old cars like these few things are ever straight plug and play. From what I can tell so far your design is working in all the important ways it needs to.

 

And I suspect the ABS will be fine for this application. Even if one of these break at some point, they are so cheap make and relatively easy to install. (I bet it would take me less than two hours to do it all again. 

 

Great work!

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7 hours ago, spuriouspseudo said:

I've had to be careful on how I name and post the parts and where the links are posted.  BMW has done a couple takedowns due to IP infringement - hence the latest name of "aftermarket sunroof slide".

 

Technically, that is not a BMW part as the sunroofs were / are made by Golde, which were also used in Porsche  and VWs back in the day.

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On 3/15/2019 at 3:48 PM, Smallpants said:

Hey Spurious! Thanks for designing these 3D parts and making them available for everyone to use.

Hey, my pleasure!  Glad it worked out.  I plan on jumping into the gooseneck mirror trim thread once it warms up around here.

 

On 3/15/2019 at 4:23 PM, Einspritz said:

Technically, that is not a BMW

Yeah, the mistake I made on my first posting was to use the BMW stamped number that was on the original slider...  From there I'm sure that it was just a bot that was chasing it.

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