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JayMac 06-20-2012 09:46 AM

Oil cooler install
I plan on installing my oil cooler this weekend and am trying to make sure I have everything covered. I am going to mount the cooler on it's side and was thinking that I should have the oil go in from the bottom.

Does anyone know what flows where from the passages on the block.
Here is a shot of the Euro housing. I think on the regular one we have a flow valve. This is a thermostat for flow to the cooler.
You can see my finger through one of the cooler ports. I read that the thermostat does not close completely so I am thinking that the flow out to the cooler is the port with my finger but not sure.
This is looking down the top of the housing. It looks like back flow valves but I am not sure. Does the oil come up the center to the filter or up the sides and down the center to the engine, ( I think this one)?
if the oil goes to the engine via the center I can pour parts cleaner in there to see which port it come out on the bottom. Thought I found all of this in a thread somewhere but now that I need it I can't locate it!

JayMac 06-23-2012 12:16 PM

Here is another question I have. Any ideas or thoughts. I have read post about leaks from the housing and the ports being sealed with a seal and some type of clip. The Euro housing has what appears to be a threaded cap on this port. It would be the one below the right plug.

Since the oil pressure sensor is just for an idiot light why could I not move it here and use the other port for a real pressure gauge? I believe this is on the feed side but since pressure ranges from 7 to 60 it should read. Right?

JayMac 06-24-2012 08:11 AM

Doing a little test fitting since I can't finish up until I get the spacers from VAC. You loose the cooling hose to the back. Here is the alt held in by the bottom bolt. A little tip. When putting the alt in start with the bottom bolt first. If you have a piece of fine sand paper, lightly sand the inner mount of the alt and the outer face of the oil filter housing. Since we are dealing with some old parts you might have a little corrosion or dirt. If no paper is available a scouring pad from the kitchen will suffice.
Notice that the top bolt is not in. The blue caps are on the AN fittings where the lines will go. Notice they are already hitting the duct. You can either cut to fit which seems like a lot of work or remove the cover altogether. The e36 is the only car I have ever seen this on. Here is a shot of a cooler plumbed in on a e46. No duct work here.

JayMac 06-24-2012 10:21 AM

Okay, almost done. So here is what I did. I installed a Euro housing that I picked up on ebay. If you have the metal housing I would get the adapter top that costs about $250 and go that way. Since I had to get a housing regardless this was the way I went.

I also removed my aux fan. If you are street driving i would recommend you keep your fan and skip the cooler. Since I only drive highway with this car the aux fan can go. I do have a SPAL hardwired in the event I would get stuck in traffic but I go old school and shut off the AC if necessary.

I went with an 8 x 11 cooler because I liked it's 1.5 width and was not sure it I would keep the fan. It was the thinnest cooler I could find. I thought it might be too big but better too big than too small. Euro housing has a thermostat so bigger was fine. I bought it off of ebay from one of those used NASCAR liquidation outfits. It came with size 8 AN fittings so I used ans adapter to expand them to the AN 10 that the oil cooler line adapter has. You can get this from VAC or Bimmerworld. Again the Housing top cooler adapter allows you some better flexibility but since the fitting were on the cooler so tight that I could not get them off unless I destroyed the cooler. Adapters from 8 to 10. I flushed the cooler 3 times with brake cleaner and then 20 wt oil.

Another thing I liked about these type of coolers were the side material used for mounting. You can drill holes anywhere you need to. If you look closely at the cooler you can see what I used to mount it to the frame. Metal insulated hose/wire hangers. The loop goes arounf the frame and the tab is bolted to the cooler. By facing the loop of the hanger towards the radiator you get a flat surface to mount on and a little insulation from vibration, not that any is needed. That takes care of the top.

AS for the bottom it is real simple. Zip ties. The cooler is relatively light and if you look inside engine bays at various track you would be amazed at what you see and how people secure various items. I also wanted to be able to remove this in the event it ever leaks so easy is better.
I know someone will look at this and worry about the cooler cutting the tie. A 9 inch piece of rubber fuel line is taped to the bottom rail. It provides a cushion and you have the top and bottom mounted on rubber.

I ran one line over the frame rail and around where the air intake is and the other underneath because of mounting the cooler on it's side. The oil flows in from the bottom of the cooler.
Since this is test fitting I only put the ends on the single piece of line and will cut to length and install the fittings on the other end when everything is getting bolted up. This way I will be cutting the piec out of the middle and have a nice section of hose left over if I need it later.

If the cooler ever needs to be removed you just put the caps on at the housing and you are good to go. Push lock ends are real nice if you don't' need the bling factor. I am not sure if I posted this but if you soak the hose end in a parts cleaner for a few minutes they push right on. I used GUNK and then rinsed them with water and let then dry .

bmw-mania 06-26-2012 10:23 AM

I dig this.
Good pix
: popcorn:

JayMac 06-27-2012 01:35 AM

I called VAC yesterday on the spacers. They have three different set so I order all three. I could not believe they could not definitively tell me what I needed but I will figure it out, report to them and you and send the other back.

petriej 06-27-2012 08:42 AM

Your oil filter canister doesn't look like the normal one for the M52. What else have you done to this car?

JayMac 06-27-2012 09:49 AM

That's a housing off a Euro M3.
New sway bars
Kirkey seats when on the track take out @ 125 pounds
m3 cams
Ireland headers
Bilstien sports
e46 front rotors
lightened flywheel with m3 clutch
braided brake lines
strut brace
x brace
Shark Injector
Turner solid bushing kit
m50 manifold
fan delete/ spal fan
and now this.

JayMac 07-03-2012 07:26 AM

Forgot to add 3.15 lsd and removable steering wheel.

Anyway a set back and then some progress. Got the spacers in from VAC for this job it is the M50 spacers and not the M54 so those will go back. I did a test fit and thought I would be good to go. Threaded in the inner bolt and just put in the outer to hold up the power steering pump. Pulleys line up so lets bolt it in. I can't get the outer bolt to go in. I think there might be dirt and crap in there so I put my ratchet on there and it still wont go. I then realize that this hole is threaded. On the original housing it is not. No worries there I will just get a metric bolt that is fully threaded. My plan is to thread through to the nut on the power steering bracket. That wont work either because unlike the original housing tha hole does not go all the way through. You can see a mark where it would but it is not there. So I slowly threaded the bolt into the metal and foced the hole open and then cleaned it with a Dremel Tool.

Here are the spacers from VAC and the inner and outer bolts. Short one thread in both housings.

Test fitting and and finding another issue to deal with.

There is no hole here on the Euro housing so I have to take the whole thing out and solve this.

Since all of the housing bolts are different sizes you can label or do this. Not my idea but worked really well. Out of the housing into the cardboard. You don't mix up or lose. Washes stay right with the bolts.
So I am now going to drill out the threads on the housing. The holes are different sizes on the two housings but the bolt threads are the same. I know it makes no sense but trust me, there is about a mm difference. Since the inner is threaded on both units it hold the pump/pulley out in place but I wanted the outer hole to be as small as possible. I grabbed a handful of drill bits and found the first one that got resistance from the threads. I ran it through. Went up one size and the bolt went through. The nice thing is that the center of the housing is where the hole is the tightest so it should not stress.

So back to this picture. Notice the space between the bracket and the oil filter housing. A few washers should do it.

Outer bolt is now threaded into the nut that is contained on the rear power steering bracket, just like the original housing. Lines on tommorow and test for leaks.

JayMac 07-04-2012 08:10 AM

Hey guys quick question from ignorance. I have everything ready to test fire and am going to run the car without the cooler hooked up. I can test the housing for leaks and the AN fittings. First time with this filter. I am just running a Purolator for the test and then over to a better oem. It seams that I need to crank on the top bolt quite a bit. Am I correct in assuming that it is both okay and compressing the two gaskets on the filter?

JayMac 07-04-2012 04:57 PM

Finished up and I have oil everywhere. Not what you think but here are the details. I popped off the protector part of the back of the alternator cooling housing. Thgis will allow me to keep all sort of crap off the electrical connection.

I have read where removing the alternator and replacing it are a problem. I did not find that to be true. Here is what I did. I set the alternator in place. Prior to that I lightly sanded the surface point to remove any corrosion or dirt. Still pretty tight but it falls. The bottom bolt is a pain but you can get to it. I started with the top and once it was in just wiggled the alternator. It did not go. So I reasoned that I might be past the hole for the bolt and lifted the bottom towards the fender. Bolt goes right in and torque it down.

All the pulleys are finally on the same plane. Just a note you can use a power steering pump from an OBD1 car and forgo the spacers. Nice picture of it in the Bentley on 119-5.
I needed ALL of the adjuster for the belt to fit over the pulleys so it makes me think there is a slightly larger belt out there that should be used. I double checked it and it was tight going over the ribs and found it was up on the crank pulley so I have a little play but much less than before.

I ran the car without the cooler hooked up to check for leaks and found one but it was the AN cap so no worries there. The housing is dry and so it the AN plate. Time to finish the hoses. I just have them looped to the cooler so I put the AN fittings on the housing. Marked the hose and cut it with a shears used for tree branches. The push lock hose is much easier to deal with than braided. I soaked the hose in solvent to expand it. GUNK CARB AND PARTS CLEANER. Soak for 2 to 3 minutes and you can press the fittings in.

Wipe down the outside with a shop towel and fire it up to flush the lines from what ever solvent is left in there. Start the car. After about 5 seconds I have oil spitting from the front of the car. I think it is the used cooler I bout but forgot that I flushed it and pressure tested it. IDIOT, forgot to tighten up the bottom AN fitting so I have about 1/2 quart on the ground. Going to get my ass chewed for that. Off to the store for some cat litter to soak up the oil. Just finishing up and I hear a pop from behind me and then hear liquid hitting the floor. I turn around and find my Accu SUMP has burst. This is on my Cobra replica.

This engine has not even run in 6 months and I have no idea where the pressure would come from to do this. Notice the threads failed. THIS IS THE SECOND ONE OF THESE I HAVE HAD BLOW UP. Last one was on the track. I can't believe I was actually in the garage when it happened so I was able to contain it otherwise there would be 3 more quarts on the floor heading towards the street.

Anyway oil cooler in and after a 10 minute run no leaks. Test drive to work tomorrow with all the need emergency crap.

JayMac 07-08-2012 06:42 AM

After two days of driving, not one drop. I carry a huge sheet of cardboard and place it under the car at work to look for drips. None are there. It has been really hot here so the AC does not seam as strong. I think this is also do to the fact that I am now hanging 200 plus degrees of oil in front of the unit. A good trade for now as the AC will most likely be gone by this time next year. Spent @ $180 on the housing with shipping, hose and fittings $75, cooler used $50, VAC products (AN adapter, VANOS bolt and spacers) $120. Cat litter for spills $2.

If I had the metal can instead of stock 328, I would recommend adapter top versus the rout I took. If you need to replace your housing it is almost a push cost wise.

Kdoherty 07-08-2012 07:52 AM

This is an excellent DIY. Good work man. are you going to hook up an oil temp gauge to monitor oil temp now that you've got the cooler?

dc_wright 07-08-2012 07:54 AM

Nice work! Makes sense that the AC condensor isn't getting as much air flow so the AC won't be as efficient as before.
One of the trade off's with adding an oil cooler is preheating the air going through the radiator which reduces it's capacity somewhat. Shouldn't be an issue for DD since there's no difference in the radiator for the manual or auto tranny cars and the auto tranny cooler sits in front of the radiator too. You'll want to keep an eye on water temp when you start tracking the car and running it really hard.

JayMac 07-08-2012 08:48 AM

No gauge as of yet. The housing has a Tstat in it so worst case is that it is cooler than is was before, regardless. AS for the track. I have a 175 tstat in as part of the fan delete. I almost think I want to put in a higher t stat. Working the math on that. A higher stat keep heat in the motor and only excess goes off to the radiator. The question is at what temp does the heat overwhelm the radiator since you have plenty on the track. The Cobra wide open for a session never gets hot but you have that big mouth hanging out front. I did think that the area gained by removing the ac fan was a good trade off. The center of this has to block alot of potential air.

And then add this to the sides.

Even though the air from the cooler is warm. I think there might be a net gain. Of the two gauges I think water would be better. If I get worried I will convert to EVAN's and won't have to worry about overheating. Now that I think of it I might do that anyway.

dc_wright 07-08-2012 09:42 AM

I think you're right. With the aux fan and it's shroud removed you've gotten back lost cooling area covered by the oil cooler so there might be a net gain overall. It'll be interesting to see what kind of water temp readings you get on the track, and if you get any heat spikes when you come off the track and slow down.

JayMac 07-08-2012 10:13 AM

I am pretty anal about warm up and cool downs. Nothing winds me up more then having someone all over my bumper on the out lap. So I let them go and two laps later I return the favor at speed. Then I remember I am supposed to be an adult and this is no place for that! Anyway one of my first instructors would actually drive completely out the track and go for a few minutes. I do the same thing light brakes rpm @2500. Fans on. Cools everything pretty nicely. I have the SPAL hardwired so you just toggle it on and you can feel it draw through everything that is up front. Plus prior to this all of that heat was held indie the engine so it has to be better.

Mr Gusta 07-17-2012 10:49 PM

nice write up, I just did my oil cooler install on my m54 e36, went about it a little differently and saved a bunch of money..

Hows it working so far?

I noticed before my cooler I had a little knock from the bottom end and now there is no knock and it runs much smoother. also my ofh gasket was shot and I had a nasty leak there.

JayMac 07-17-2012 11:07 PM

Got back from Atlanta Motorsports Park. Car topped 200 k on the way back and performed fine on the track. Have a little noise from the tensioner when cold but will address that this weekend and you have to watch the pushloc hose for twisting as it will want to work it's way loose if you don't tighten it properly. I am pleased with the results. ASC delete next

Mr Gusta 07-17-2012 11:14 PM

which is the pushloc hose?

JayMac 07-17-2012 11:47 PM

I used the blue hoses with the pushloc fitting for the AN lines. Photos in post 11

luminmiller 10-06-2012 06:36 AM

Very nice work I appreciate all the photos!!

I am about to install my power steering pump to the S50 oil filter house and have the same issues. Drilling the hole went well all I need is a couple spacers. Could you please check the spacer size that worked for you so I can duplicate you success?

Kind regards

JayMac 10-06-2012 07:00 AM

I am out of town until next Tuesday. If you cant wait contact VAC and ask them if they can give you the measurement for the shorter of the two spacers. Your other option is to fill the space with washers and then measure the amount needed after you fill the space. I want to say it is less than 25mm. Picking up an S54 this week. Love horsepower!

luminmiller 10-06-2012 08:55 AM


Picking up an S54 this week. Love horsepower!
That's awesome I wanna see.

I can wait till your back in town thank-you
Installing pistons this weekend so...still some time till I need an oil cooler.

Have a good weekend,

JayMac 10-06-2012 09:18 AM

Okay, if I need to I will pull them out and measure them. Are you going to cut your own spacers? Would have been nice to mock that up before you laid down the paint. You housing looks nice. I see that you have the VAC part on your housing. Good luck with you project. I plan to drop in the engine along with a 3.91 lsd and go straight track set up. Should make this thing wicked quick! How long before you assemble everything. If I am pulling my engine i can just mail you my spacers. S54 comes with different pump

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