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thehackmechanic

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  1. THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION (I think) Okay, I decided to have some fun this morning. First, remember that, as I've photographed here and in my a/c book, condenser width is quoted as the distance between the outside edges of the big tubes that run along the sides. The quoted width does NOT include either the brackets or the threaded fittings that the hoses screw onto. Together, those typically add about an inch and a half. So, if you're going to mock something up to see if it fits, you need to add on that extra width. And keep in mind that there's an additional minimum of about an inch-and-a-half taken up by the fittings on the hoses. To recap: --The width of the hole in the nose in front of the radiator is 15.5", but you can fit a wider condenser through it by turning it and feeding it through. However, at some point you run into clearance issues. --The generally-quoted maximum safe condenser size for not cutting the horn brackets and mounting the condenser vertically in front of the radiator is 10x18". On my roundie tii, I measure the inner distance between the horn brackets at 19 3/8". If I recall correctly, I think it's a little narrower on the square tail light cars. --On a previous '72, I'd cut the horn brackets and was trying to find the biggest condenser that would fit. An 11x24" condenser was too big to make the turn as I tried to put it through the nose. The binding-up point is that the lower left corner of the condenser hits the lower inside edge of the left hood support. To get it to clear, you need to tilt the right side of the condenser down to tip the left side up, and 24 inches (which is really about 25.5 inches) is too wide; you run out of room to be able to tilt the right side down before hitting the extension of the right frame rail, as you can see in the image from 2012 below. --On that same '72, I successfully fit an 11x20" condenser (misquoted in my book as 11x21), but again, on that car, I'd cut the horn brackets. --The new goal here is to see what you can fit by a) not cutting the horn brackets and b) fitting the condenser at an angle in front of the horn brackets but behind the hood supports. My idea was that, by threading the needle and sliding the condenser in front of the horn brackets, I could fit something bigger (wider) than if I was limited by the width between the brackets. In addition, the tilted-behind-the-hood-supports location gets the heat of the condenser away from the radiator, which is good for both of them. You'd think you can mock something up with cardboard or foam, but to realistically simulate the tight clearances, you really need something as rigid as the condenser itself, and as close to the same thickness as possible. I found a 3/4"-thick piece of particle board, about the same thickness as a modern parallel-flow condenser. I first cut it to 11x23". At that size, like the 24"-wide condenser nine years ago, I couldn't even fit it behind the left hood support and begin to slide it through. I then cut it to 11x21.5", which is the effective size of an 11x20" condenser. It DOES begin to make the turn, but the condenser's height is now an issue, as the combination of the width and the 11-inch height makes it too tall to get the top of the left edge in front of the horn bracket. I cut an inch off the top. At 10x21.5" (the effective size of a 10x20" condenser), it clears the horn bracket, slides behind the hood support, and the right side can then be slid into place. Yay. So that appears to be the answer. It's not much bigger than 10x18, but just because the answer isn't what you expect doesn't mean that it's not the answer. Unfortunately, a quick web search shows that 10x20 is not an available size. Neither is 10x19. There's an 11x19x7/8 condenser available from Nostalgic ac ($89 plus shipping), and a 10.75x19x1 unit available from Restomod Air ($139 plus shipping), but I'd need to mock up these sizes to be certain they'll fit, and these are more expensive than the $35 I paid for the 10x18 I put into Bertha two years ago. And now, the second surprise: I usually buy condensers on Amazon, as I can easily return them if they don't fit. Unfortunately, the dirt-cheap $35 Climaparts CNPF1018 is no longer available. In general, the supply of cheap 10x18 units on both Amazon and eBay isn't what it was a few years ago. They're certainly available any number of other places online, though. In conclusion, the idea that mounting the condenser at an angle in front of the hood supports rather than vertically between the horn brackets buys you more clearance for a substantially wider condenser doesn't appear to be true. You could probably fit a 10x20", two inches wider than a 10x18, but, unfortunately, that size doesn't appear to be available. Time to let go of this odd little obsession, buy a 10x18 condenser, and install it. --Rob
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  3. @BarneyT: That is truly a work of art. It looks just beautiful, and surprisingly in keeping with the feel of the rest of the vintage interior. @Conserv: Steve, yeah, this is seat-of-the-pants "bigger is better." I'm not doing any calculation. @jimk: I can't argue with anything you say, but my experience with rejuvenated or retrofitted a/c in vintage BMWs is that it's not difficult to get it blowing cold when it's in the high 80s or low 90s here in Massachusetts, but when I drive down to The Vintage or other road trip destination, and hit patches of near-100-degree temperatures and high humidity, the cooling—to completely misuse a metaphor—runs out of steam. So when you say "So if the condenser is big enough to fully condense the freon, that's it," my gut (and that's all it is; I have no sub-cooling measurements to back it up) is that the condenser isn't big enough under high temperature and humidity conditions. Of course, I could be doing something else wrong (mis-sized expansion valve, less-than-optimal amount of refrigerant), but I just don't see the downside of getting the condenser and fan as big as you can.
  4. @Conserv and @xavier296, valid points both. But the commonly-used 10x18 "no-cutting" number comes primarily from fitting a condenser vertically between the horn brackets, extra condenser capacity can't really hurt you, and condensers are cheap; it's not like 10x18s are $60 but go up an inch and you pay $200. I'm just trying to see if we've been missing something by doing the vertical installation and if you can go bigger by threading the needle in front of the horn brackets and behind the hood supports.
  5. Thanks Murph! I really appreciate that. It was fun book to write, and I figured if the info was useful to me, it might be useful to others as well. --Rob
  6. Hey, folks. In my a/c book, I documented, as I and others here on the FAQ have reported, that: --A 10x18 condenser fits between the horn brackets without cutting anything. --A 10x19 condenser can be made to fit if you trim a piece of the condenser's mounting bracket on one side to clear the horn bracket. --An 11x20 condenser will fit if you cut away both horn brackets (my a/c book says 11x21, but my Amazon order history says 11x20). --An 11x24 condenser is too long to maneuver through the radiator hole. The taller the condenser is, the more you need to tip the right side of it down and the left side of it up to get the left side to clear the narrow V at the bottom of the left hood support, and the wider it is, the more you run out of space being able to tip the right side down. Note that all of these are for mounting the condenser where the dealer-installed condenser was, namely vertically, directly in front of the radiator, bolted to the front of the radiator wall of the nose. A few years ago, I think at Oktoberfest in Pittsburgh, I saw a thinking-outside-the-box installation where someone had the condenser not mounted vertically in front of the radiator, but instead mounted behind the hood supports at an angle. This is appealing, as 1) it moves the heat generated by the condenser away from the radiator, and 2) in theory, you're not constrained by the distance between the horn brackets. But I can't remember whose car it was, or what size condenser he used. I think that, since I'd gotten an 11x20 to fit by cutting the horn brackets, a condenser that size would fit in front of the horn brackets and against the hood supports, but I'm not certain that there's enough clearance to slide it in there with the horn brackets still in the way. Does anyone know? Thanks. --Rob
  7. Thanks so much for posting this, Steve. The link to buy the book on Amazon is below. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0998950742
  8. Hey, folks, it is with joy that I announce that my new book, The Best Of The Hack Mechanic: 35 years of hacks, kluges, and general automotive mayhem from Roundel magazine, is now available on Amazon at the link below. https://www.amazon.com/Best-Hack-Mechanic-assorted-automotive/dp/0998950742/ I know that not every FAQer is a BMW CCA member, and that's okay, but I think that many of the silverbacks in the crowd will appreciate that the look and feel of the book is intended to evoke that of the mid-80s Roundel when my mentor Yale Rachlin still manually laid out articles,
  9. Hey, folks, it is with joy that I announce that my new book, The Best Of The Hack Mechanic: 35 years of hacks, kluges, and general automotive mayhem from Roundel magazine, is now available on Amazon at the link below. https://www.amazon.com/Best-Hack-Mechanic-assorted-automotive/dp/0998950742/ I know that not every FAQer is a BMW CCA member, and that's okay, but I think that many of the silverbacks in the crowd will appreciate that the look and feel of the book is intended to evoke that of the mid-80s Roundel when my mentor Yale Rachlin still manually laid out articles, sent out for type, and pasted it up on oaktag sheets with hot wax. As I explain in the introduction, I began writing for Roundel when then-editor Parker Spooner published my first unsolicited article, "The Heartbreak of Automotive Obsession," in 1986. I followed with other articles, which Parker also ran. Then, in June 1987, I received the phone call that changed my life: Yale Rachlin explained that he'd just become editor, liked my stuff, and wanted me to contribute regularly. My articles continued. At some point, Yale asked me to write a monthly column. And so, in early 1992, "The Hack Mechanic" was born, and continues to this day. It was fascinating putting the "best of" book together. Nearly all the themes in which I trade—just trying to keep your car running without taking it into the dealer every time it hiccups, auto repair as a meditative Zen-like experience, the joy of problem solving (I can't fix health care but I can replace this windshield washer pump), Siegel's Seven-Car Rule, keeping a line between project cars and daily drivers—appeared fairly early. There were, however, a few surprises. I'd nearly forgotten that, because my wife and I moved to a house in Newton MA with a single-car garage, and that garage had to keep my '73 3.0CSi out of the elements, I sold my main 2002 ("Bertha") in 1988 and didn't own another 02 until we had the new garage built in Newton. So many 2002s have come and gone (40 in total) that the fact I didn't own one for 15 years seems just like a blip on the radar. Not surprisingly, some of the references in the columns are a little dated. Obviously, prices for cars and parts are much higher than they were then. Fortunately, I know more than I did when I was just a kid figuring this stuff out on my own, so I made editorial comments in the text to bring things in line with current reality and recommendations. To be clear, although there are some repair articles in the book, it's not a "use 10mm wrench on bolt B"-style repair manual. It's more of a kaleidoscope of 35 years (40 if you count the years in Austin before I moved back to Boston, joined the CCA, and began writing) spent wrenching on BMWs as both project cars and daily drivers. Because, since I left my engineering job five years ago and have been trying to make a go of it as a self-employed writer, and write not only monthly for Roundel magazine but also weekly for Bimmerlife.com, and do the same weekly/monthly thing for Hagerty, I'm not posting here on the FAQ as often as I used to. But I still regard the FAQ as the 2002 brain trust, seek its wisdom regularly, and direct others here. I've never claimed to know it all. But I do try to pay it forward and be as available to people as possible. I do sell signed and personally-inscribed books on my laughably antiquated website (http://www.robsiegel.com), so if you want me to inscribe one for your dad on Father's Day for teaching you everything you know, it would be my privilege to do so, but really, I'd prefer if you just bought on Amazon, as that allows Amazon to do its "people who bought THAT also liked THIS" thing and for the book to grow some sales legs. With the rise in 2002 values, we're seeing some changes. Nonetheless, the vintage BMW community in general and the 2002 community in particular remains the best car community I've ever seen in my life, with people eager to help newbies, whether its answering questions here or on Facebook, or stopping when they see a disabled 02 by the side of the road and ripping their trunk apart to find that spare condenser. It is my hope and belief that that incredible feeling that we have each other's backs won't change even as the demographics widen to include folks who don't know what a giubo or a long-neck rear end is. It has been my privilege to be your Hack Mechanic, and my sincere hope that I have another 35 years of it in me. Thanks. --Rob Siegel View full article
  10. “Was it that long ago that I bought my first 2002, rebuilt the transmission three times before I got it right, put on a set of Pirelli P3s, and experienced the equivalent of automotive orgasm when I shifted it into second without it crunching as the ADS 200 speakers precariously placed on the back deck were cranking The Ghost in You by The Psychedelic Furs while I booted open both barrels of the miserable Solex and blasted down Rt 183 through Austin with the German gears humming pistons pumping Castrol windows down sunroof open narcotic spring Texas night invading the car like rich warm spicy ancient breezes rolling off the Colorado river? Never mind that the car was a piece of junk. Never mind that the tranny started crunching second gear four months later. This was my first BMW. I bought it wicked cheap and fixed it myself. It's how it all started. The memory moves me to near tears even now. I can still smell the pollen in the air. It took so little to make me happy. Was it that long ago?” Hey, folks, my new book, The Best Of The Hack Mechanic: 35 years of hacks, kluges, and assorted automotive mayhem from Roundel magazine, is now available from Amazon at the link below. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0998950742
  11. It is with joy that I can report that my new book, 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝘽𝙚𝙨𝙩 𝙊𝙛 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙃𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙈𝙚𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙞𝙘, has been released on Amazon and is available for purchase at the link below.
     

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/0998950742

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  12. You're doing all the right things (of course you are). I think this has all been said above in one form or another, but: --Cap. rotor, plug wires, plus, and timing are irrelevant. You first have to get it to the point where the HT wire from the center of the coil is sparking against ground when the points are opened (meaning when the engine is cranked). --One way to approach it is to drop in a known-good distributor from a running car. If it causes the coil to generate spark, then the problem is something in the original dizzy (meaning almost certainly points or condenser). If it doesn't, it's the coil or something in the wiring. Whenever I've done this, it's usually led back to the condenser, either it being flat-out bad, or intermittent, or not getting ground contact against the body of the dizzy. I also once had points that I swore were opening (visual inspection) but that pitting had caused a thin metal shard to actually connect them, so electrically they were never opening and the coil was never firing. --As others have said, it's really just three wires: 1) "15" or "+" side of coil to battery positive 2) "1" or "-" side of coil to condenser on dizzy (yes, taking off the tach wire is a good thing to try) 3) The ground path from the body of the condenser through the body of the dizzy through the engine via the negative battery cable to battery negative. I've never had to run a jumper with alligator clips from the body of the condenser to the negative battery terminal, but I suppose it's at the bottom of the bag of tricks of things to try. If these paths are good and the coil is known-good (pulled from a running car), the beauty of mechanical ignition is that it HAS to energize the coil when powered and the points are closed and there's a ground path for the primary windings, and HAS to discharge the coil when the points are opened and there's a ground path for the secondary windings. I don't think there's really anything else it can be. ADDENDUM: I wrote a piece on mechanical ignition for Hagerty last week, and someone commented with a cool trick: "With the cap off, bump the motor until the cam is at a point where you can open and close the points by twisting the rotor against the advance springs. With your test meter or light you can now troubleshoot the entire system in both open and closed states. With a plug in the coil wire resting against any convenient ground, you'll know you've fixed it when you hear that satisfying snap from the plug as you twist the rotor." https://www.hagerty.com/media/maintenance-and-tech/looking-for-answers-about-mechanical-ignition-check-out-this-faq/ --Rob
  13. Georges, I partially agree with you. No drivable 2002--or for that matter, no drivable nearly 50-year-old vintage car of any make--is completely original. Even if you found one, at a minimum, filters and tires need to be changed, and likely fuel and coolant hoses and brake and clutch hydraulics. This one had a decent refreshing in 2004 (and yes the windshield gaskets were changed at that point), and I gave it a light sort-out after its 10-year sit. I also agree that a bone-stock 2002 isn't as exciting to drive as well-set-up 02 with engine and suspension mods. But I think you'll agree that a sub-50k-mile 2002 that appears to be wearing its original paint and front fenders, is still pretty and shiny, has only two rust holes in the trunk and fairly minor corrosion elsewhere, that doesn't appear to have been hit or to have had any metal repair, and that has as original and un-cut-up an interior as you're likely to find, is unusual enough that even a guy like me felt honor-bound not to do anything stupid to it.
  14. Hey, folks, my 49k-mile survivor '73 2002 "Hampton" is now on Bring a Trailer. The link is below. It's as intact a survivor as you're likely to find. Original paint, front fenders have never been off, the interior is remarkable. I've posted a very detailed description in the comments (scroll all the way to the bottom and read the first four from the bottom up). --Rob https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1973-bmw-2002-63/
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