98 328ic Conv top tension rods do not engage when closing - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums



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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 06-30-2017, 07:31 AM
FLCarNut FLCarNut is offline
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98 328ic Conv top tension rods do not engage when closing

Hi all,
I have a 1998 32ic with the fully auto top that I have been working on for about a year now and it has had every problem you can describe about the convertible top! (Thank you all!) I have fixed them all but I have one last thing that I can't figure out for the life of me. Since I got the top "fully functional" (I think us vert owners know that is a pretty liberal term.) I have had to adjust the header tension bow turnbuckle so it would basically be at the end of its travel and then I would have to manually stick the forks over the ball so they would engage and then the top would close. Well I decided I would try to fix this as well so I looked in the manual and found that they rods need to be apx 205mm in length so I set them to that length and now when the top closes the "forks" that engage the "pin" to start the tension at the header panel are about an inch off! I hope this makes sense? I have included a picture. All other functions of the top work fine.

What I have done so far,
1. Removed the header lock motor and made sure that both latch drives were equal and at the end of their travel when disengaged.
2, Adjusted tension rods for 205mm per the manual.

I really cannot figure out how I can get these to line up as they are sooo far off. I have heard they can get bent so maybe that is it but they do adjust to the 205mm length specified in the manual and they are really curvy to begin with (I hope lol).
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  #2  
Old 06-30-2017, 09:53 AM
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Picture is too close for me to tell what part of the top you're referencing........
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Old 06-30-2017, 11:40 AM
FLCarNut FLCarNut is offline
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More Pics

Hi DC,
Here are a few more pics..... It is basically the first joint closest to the header. There are two rods that come down from the header locks, the manual calls them "tension rods" they have a fork on the end of them that engages a ball/pin in the top frame. However mine are WAY off and I can't see how I could make them better other than extending the rods which then I would be way off the 205mm length that the manual states. It says this length is pretty critical.

Thanks,
Jay
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Old 07-01-2017, 11:35 AM
FLCarNut FLCarNut is offline
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Pictures of other's?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FLCarNut View Post
Hi DC,
Here are a few more pics..... It is basically the first joint closest to the header. There are two rods that come down from the header locks, the manual calls them "tension rods" they have a fork on the end of them that engages a ball/pin in the top frame. However mine are WAY off and I can't see how I could make them better other than extending the rods which then I would be way off the 205mm length that the manual states. It says this length is pretty critical.

Thanks,
Jay
I know it is 4th of July weekend so no rush on this but maybe someone could post a picture of what their joint looks like where the forks engage the pin? I think only the full auto tops have this setup. I am "ass"uming that the forks go around the pin in the frame but maybe they don't? Mine never have. and I can see some wear on the paint on the outside of the forks but there is also wear on the inside and when the pin is "in" the forks the top closes nicely and when it is out of the fork like it is now with the rods set to factory length the top jams up and will not close.
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Old 07-01-2017, 05:19 PM
spyderg0d spyderg0d is offline
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I only messed with 1 full shot top in my life, but im pretty sure it had the forks over the pin all the time. I think that's what actually pulls the front of the top down while the hook is in motion to grab the latch. Or in the very least as the top falls the pin is supposed to fall into the fork.
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Old 07-01-2017, 05:44 PM
FLCarNut FLCarNut is offline
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Agreed

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Originally Posted by spyderg0d View Post
I only messed with 1 full shot top in my life, but im pretty sure it had the forks over the pin all the time. I think that's what actually pulls the front of the top down while the hook is in motion to grab the latch. Or in the very least as the top falls the pin is supposed to fall into the fork.
I think you are absolutely right, it seems to put some good tension on the top bow when the forks engage the pin and everything shuts. I just can't figure out how mine could be so far off, They don't have a chance in heck of engaging at that factory length and I can't see how I could adjust them or anything else to do so. The only thing I can do (and was doing to this point was adjust the turnbuckle on the rod so the socket was at the end of the thread. This put the forks to a place that they could engage the pins if you fiddled with it but they would never engage just automatically. The rest of the top works great and when the fork does engage the top locks and unlocks just fine. It even opens and disengages the forks fine but when it come to closing again you have to mess with them. This is a deal breaker for the wife! Also when the rods are adjusted for maximum length so the forks could engage they are way longer then the 205mm that the manual states. They are about 215mm from center of socket to center of bolt in the latch mechanism. This is a bit of a subjective measurement as the rod is not strait you basically need a square to get it right which I used but does not fit the space perfectly so I could be off a mm or two. My other concern is when you have them too long I would assume you are putting too much tension on the top assembly as a whole.
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Old 07-01-2017, 08:18 PM
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Yes, the forks are supposed to engage the barrel as the top comes toward the top of the windshield. It's what creates the stiffness in the top that creates the tension when it's latched down. You might have to just do trial and error to get them adjusted correctly. You don't want them to bottom out too much though or that will cause the rods to bend.....
Unfortunately I can't take any photos as my E36 Cabrio got totaled in 2013. )
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Old 07-01-2017, 08:36 PM
FLCarNut FLCarNut is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dc_wright View Post
Yes, the forks are supposed to engage the barrel as the top comes toward the top of the windshield. It's what creates the stiffness in the top that creates the tension when it's latched down. You might have to just do trial and error to get them adjusted correctly. You don't want them to bottom out too much though or that will cause the rods to bend.....
Unfortunately I can't take any photos as my E36 Cabrio got totaled in 2013. )
Sad to hear that about your e36 but at least you are around to tell the story.... The problem with having them adjusted out is that even at the end of the threads they don't engage well, them now being at the longest length they could be. Maybe it's time to hit the junkyard for some new rods, I could also cut and weld these a little longer but like you said, too much tension seems bad for everything.
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Old 07-08-2017, 10:13 AM
FLCarNut FLCarNut is offline
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Update

Well, I finally got the time to pull the latches off so I did and the rods looked pretty bent. They have bends in them from the factory but I google searched some images and mine looked "more bent" lol. I put them in the vice and straitened them slightly on the end that connected to the latches still keeping a slight "S" bend in them. This was the trick, now the forks engage nicely without the sockets being at the end of their threads. Thanks for the replies. Hopefully this can help someone else if they have this issue.
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