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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 04-29-2012, 05:39 PM
cbnsingram cbnsingram is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 BMW 328i Convertibl
328iC How to access folding top motor when locks won't open

328iC How to access folding top motor when locks won't open

Created a new thread in case someone can describe the "normal" procedure to remove the top lock motor cover.

I need to access the folding top motor and locks on my 1997 328i convertible with fully automatic top. Driver side lock won't unlock with motor or with crank.

Has anyone ever removed the folding top motor cover, and can you describe how it is secured in position? This is the interior cover above the windshield that covers the motor and the locks.

Clearly the cover was designed to be removed when the top is open, but in my case the locks cannot be unlocked by either the use of the electric motor or by hand cranking the emergency lock release. Right now the drivers side of the top is locked and the right side is not. When turning the crank to lock the top I felt something give, and now turning the crank either direction is not moving anything. My sense is that one or both of the cables that go between motor and the locks (I assume they are cables) have broken.

I need to know if the cover is held in place by any screws or other fasteners, and would like a description of "standard" removal procedure to help me try and conceive of a way to remove it without totally destroying it. I haven't found any part explosions that indicate fasteners are used, but I also don't see what the best locations might be to try and free it if it is held in place only by pressure and such.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I really don't want to chop it up and look for a new cover. Mike
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  #2  
Old 04-30-2012, 01:45 PM
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petriej petriej is offline
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As far as I can tell there are two different types of covers.

I have one type on my 328iC fully auto top, and another type on my M3 cab. The one on the M3 has a visible screw securing it to the top, but the 328i has no visible screw. I haven't tried, but I bet the difference is just that the 328i has a cover that can be removed by hand/secured by clips that reveals the same cover on my M3.

Have you tried (gently) prying your cover with a flathead screw driver? Just be careful not to break anything or damage the top fabric.

Also, all of the above is just a hunch... YMMV, etc. In the mean time I will hunt down some documents and see what I can see.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hornhospital View Post
Jared, why don't you just put "It's Giubo" in your sig? Save a lot of typing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e36 miguel View Post
this jared guy sounds intimidating lol.
2005 X5 4.8is Le Mans/Black/6spd Steptragic
1999 M3 Cabrio TiAg Metallic/Dove Grey/Black 5 Speed Manual
-------------------------------------------------------------------
1997 328iC Schwarz II/K/K 5MT SOLD 5/2012
2004 645Ci Mineral Silver Metallic/Black 6MT RIP 04/2011
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  #3  
Old 04-30-2012, 01:53 PM
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petriej petriej is offline
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This document is helpful, but unfortunately doesn't discuss opening and accessing the top lock motor when the top is up. Unless I read through it too quickly...

Give it a thorough look through, maybe it will help?


Here's a quote from the second file I found helpful, but no pictures...

"The Allen wrench/key gets inserted into a socket that is hidden behind a plastic cover at the
leading edge of the top, and then you turn it many, many times to stimulate the action of
the electric motor."
Attached Files
File Type: pdf E36 Convertible Adjust.pdf (878.8 KB, 38 views)
File Type: pdf BMW-E36-Resetting-Convertible-Roof-Instructions.pdf (43.7 KB, 37 views)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hornhospital View Post
Jared, why don't you just put "It's Giubo" in your sig? Save a lot of typing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e36 miguel View Post
this jared guy sounds intimidating lol.
2005 X5 4.8is Le Mans/Black/6spd Steptragic
1999 M3 Cabrio TiAg Metallic/Dove Grey/Black 5 Speed Manual
-------------------------------------------------------------------
1997 328iC Schwarz II/K/K 5MT SOLD 5/2012
2004 645Ci Mineral Silver Metallic/Black 6MT RIP 04/2011
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  #4  
Old 04-30-2012, 03:12 PM
cbnsingram cbnsingram is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 BMW 328i Convertibl
Thanks. Unfortunately I've read these. They talk about what to do once I remove the cover. I can't find any documentation for removing the cover. Probably because it is so obvious when the top is open.

I have the screw in mine, by the way. I can remove it and it "kind of " feels like I might get away with prying the cover off - but it is taking a bit of force to get that far, and the old plastic seems to damage easily.

I just want x-ray vision to see if I'm working against any screws when prying. LOL

I'm trying to find a cover at the surplus yards. I may have to chew this up and spit it out.
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  #5  
Old 04-30-2012, 03:17 PM
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petriej petriej is offline
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Keep at it. I have a hard time believing those crafty Germans wouldn't design for a way to open the top when the Top Lock Motor becomes disabled. Good luck!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hornhospital View Post
Jared, why don't you just put "It's Giubo" in your sig? Save a lot of typing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by e36 miguel View Post
this jared guy sounds intimidating lol.
2005 X5 4.8is Le Mans/Black/6spd Steptragic
1999 M3 Cabrio TiAg Metallic/Dove Grey/Black 5 Speed Manual
-------------------------------------------------------------------
1997 328iC Schwarz II/K/K 5MT SOLD 5/2012
2004 645Ci Mineral Silver Metallic/Black 6MT RIP 04/2011
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  #6  
Old 05-05-2012, 11:39 AM
cbnsingram cbnsingram is offline
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Thanks a ton for the responses.

Well I got the cover off. FYI - The liner is held to the cover with six screws (only available if you first remove the canvas, which of course can't be done without opening the top,) then there is the center screw that attaches to the motor mount from inside the cabin, and two pressure points above the windows. The cover also has large tabs that fit under where the motor and locks are.

I was able to pry near the three driver side screws holding the liner to the cover and pop them from the plastic mounting points. Then I was able to properly unscrew the ones on the passenger side. Fixing the plastic mounting points will thankfully be easy as the cover did not split when the screws broke free. Once the liner was detached I could easily pull the cover from where it is wedged under the motor and locks. I did need to carefully pry it away from the top frame above the side windows.

A possible better way?: After doing this I realized that there are two screws holding the liner to the top frame at either end of the cover. Removing these might allow enough movement by the liner to pull the cover out without popping the screws that hold it to the cover (and without tearing the liner.) I will try removing these when ready to replace the cover, since I do not want to remove the canvas.

For the lock problem, as I suspected, the cables going from the motor to each lock had detached from the adapters that slip onto the motor. (They fit over a motor shaft and mesh with it like a gear). Used locks are running from $150-250 ea. now, so I repaired the cables by cutting and/or re-wrapping the loosened strands so that they would not bind inside the plastic sleaves that allow the cable to rotate freely despite the offset between motor and locks. I then mixed liquid weld and coated the ends of the cables and filled the adapters with it. I pushed the cables ends into the adapters and smoothed the liquid weld around the connection point and over the less than tightly re-wound strands to prevent them from interfereing with proper movement. I let the liquid weld dry for 24 hours.

This was all done without removing the locks or motor, by the way. Once the weld was cured I connected the open lock to the motor and hand cranked it to a fully closed position, to match the other lock so they again work in unison. Then connected the second lock to the system.

It works great. My expectations for the cables remaining connected are good, since I kept an old Dodge running for several years by attaching a timing gear to the drive shaft with liquid weld.

Now on to the tension cables and installing a new lift rod!
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  #7  
Old 10-01-2012, 12:25 AM
Darknight328ic Darknight328ic is offline
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I have the same problem, can you email me the precise instructions on how you welded the flexible drive cables?
Email : leonelv( seven seven ) @gmail.com. ( seven seven ) = 77. THANK YOU
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  #8  
Old 10-01-2012, 12:28 AM
Darknight328ic Darknight328ic is offline
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I was able to get the left latch , to come of windshield , now I have to twisted bent DRIVE CABLES. There going for 350 $ each side . I would be a blessing if you can help me repair the twisted cables. Thank you everyone!!! Great forum!
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  #9  
Old 10-01-2012, 08:47 AM
cbnsingram cbnsingram is offline
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I think I described what I did in detail in my last or next to last post in the thread. Let me know if you need something clarified.
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  #10  
Old 10-01-2012, 12:49 PM
Darknight328ic Darknight328ic is offline
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Drive cable not fitting in socket.

Thank for the reply.
Everything is pretty clear.

I had a few questions.
What brand of liquid weld did you use?
How were you able to fit the drive cable into the gold colored socket? I've been trying and it only goes in less than 2'centimeters.

Any help would be great
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  #11  
Old 10-01-2012, 01:21 PM
cbnsingram cbnsingram is offline
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Mein Auto: 1997 BMW 328i Convertibl
I just twisted the strands together as best I could. I believe that i did have to cut off a few strands to get it to fit in the adapter, as I did not have the means to twist it as tight as a new cable. I finished it off by pressing the weld into the strands as much as possible and then coating the outside of the cable with the weld. The idea was to make it as solid a shaft as possible (in my case about 1 1/2 inches long) and let the remaining twisted cable take on the strain. Be sure not to weld the plastic tube surrounding the cable to the cable. I cut mine back about 1/2 inch from the repair so the cable would still rotate inside it easily.

Make no mistake, this is a hack fix (poverty is the mother of invention) and I am sure this will eventually crack or the loosly twisted strands will break since they are not supporting each other as they do with a factory twist. Best case is you re-fix it every year or two. Worst case is the cables break off short at some point and you finally have to replace them. That's not in my budget, but this is working fine for now.

I just used JB Weld from the Lowes adhesive isle. Don't rush it, let it sit the recommended time before stressing it. It is pretty tough. As I mentioned in an earlier post I used it to re-attach an incorrect timing gear on an old dodge colt wagon. AAMCO had put the wrong part on the thing and it wore the shaft so bad that even the correct gear would not fit correctly. I drove the car for three more years and I think only had to redo the work once if I remember correctly.
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