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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 11-28-2012, 10:14 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Where can we buy the least expensive usable precision measuring tools for E39 DIYs?

Q: Where can E39 owners buy a usable set of precision measuring tools sufficient for DIY E39 repairs for the best prices on the net?

In a recent thread, an E39 user lamented what he perceived as premature rotor wear but, it appeared to me that he was guessing based on eyeballing the thickness of the lip. Since there are many similar E39 threads asking how to know when it's time to replace the rotor, I figured I'd open a thread on where to get the least expensive usable precision measuring tools for typical DIYs on our beloved E39s.

Personally, I don't need this E39 tool thread since I borrowed (and then purchased) a micrometer, calipers, and a dial indicator when I did my first E39 brake job (and I've used those tools multiple times since then).

But others would benefit from being pointed to this thread in the future.

One reason for this thread over a simple search is that we have three key requirements, not all of which may be found in the least expensive or most accurate tool.

1. It needs to be inexpensive!
2. It needs to have enough precision for working on our E39!
3. It needs to be available on the web (so others can buy it).

In summary:
Q: Where can we suggest users buy the least expensive yet fully usable precision measuring tools for typical E39 DIYs?

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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 11-28-2012 at 10:19 AM.
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  #2  
Old 11-28-2012, 10:16 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Given that precision and cheap may not easily go together, I will throw out for starters what I just found on Harbor Freight - with the hopes that others with more experience than I have can chip in with further advice.

- $21 for a 1 inch digital micrometer (e.g., for measuring E39 rotor thickness)
- $20 for a 6 inch digital caliper (e.g., for measuring E39 rear parking brake drum ID)
- $35 for a 1 inch dial indicator wiith clamp (e.g., for measuring E39 rotor runout)
- Anything else?
Note: I have these tools myself, and they're working well enough for me - but I don't have as much experience using them as do others.

In summary:
Q: Where can we suggest users buy the least expensive yet fully usable precision measuring tools for typical E39 DIYs?

__________________
Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 11-28-2012 at 10:33 AM.
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  #3  
Old 11-30-2012, 06:08 PM
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540iman 540iman is offline
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Harbor freight, Ebay. I prefer MSC if you get their catalogs. You do not need great precision from any of these tools. The dial indicator is only being used for movement. In many cases a caliper could be used in place of a micrometer. If you are within a couple thou you are good enough. I would rather have a good multimeter. Most are ok if they have high mega-ohms scale, diode test, and amp meter that goes to ten amps is fantastic. One amp (fuse protected) is enough, ten amps is phenominal. All S/B under $20 a piece.
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  #4  
Old 11-30-2012, 07:49 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
II would rather have a good multimeter.
Good point!

I love my decades old Fluke 75.

How does this Sears $20 Craftsman digital multimeter look as a suggested DMM for people to buy who work on their E39?

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Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 11-30-2012 at 08:08 PM.
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  #5  
Old 12-03-2012, 10:58 AM
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540iman 540iman is offline
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Bee, been in steel for almost 35 years and having same micrometer on my hip not a coincidence. A good Starrett or Browne & Sharp will last forever and can be adjusted for accuracy. In a mill, we had to turn ours in to be calibrated/checked monthly. I have bought dozens of the exact chinese micrometer you have as guys lose, run over with fork lift, can't read a real mic unless it has "digital readout". Yours in not digital, just a mechanical, gear-driven, numerical display. These are accurate enough for what we do, but tell me something that needs a micrometer to check that can't be checked with a true
6" digital caliper? Use yours tenderly. Never close fully ( a no-no anyway) or open over 1" for any reason. If inner spindle comes out of barrel, you may never get it back right. Keep between .2" and .8" and treat it with TLC and you might get years out of it, but buy the 6" caliper which CAN check your rotors and substitute the multimeter for the micrometer. Mic is easier, but for our purposes you can use caliper if you are careful to get lowest reading which will be true reading and means you have jaws parallel. Mic you bought are about 50-50 on how long they work before they take a dump. Gears are cheap plastic and can often be turned by hand without opening or closing mic itself. Just an FYI. Love the meter you or someone posted. Only feature you really want besides "diode check" is ability to read current (preferrably up to 10 amps) and fused for that reason. If looking for small draw killing your battery, 1 amp is usually enough, but a lot of 1 amp meters are not fused when using meter to essentially act to pass current in a circuit that might pull say 4 amp and meter may burn out rather than blow the internal, changeable fuse. Always get fused meter for amp readings. Also, if you can find one that measures temperature, you will be surprised how often you use it when adding freon and measuring temp out of ducts, temp at evaporator, temp of trans fluid, et al. If you are under 35 years old, get a fluke model 86 or 87 (I forget which I have) that does all this. I say 35 as you will use it for years and years and pass it down to your kids! (Any age is good age to buy quality tools). Mine has a 1 amp and 10 amp scale and will accurately read a 15 million ohm resistor (15 meg), rubber case, tough, and won't blow up in your hand. I had a cheaper fluke blow up in my hand and could have burned me bad. Meter passed about 80 amps which was an accident on my part, but fuse is good protection as evidenced by how often you will blow that fuse! Some flukes that are cheap don't necessarily come fused. Good post bee! You never cease to amaze me. Oh, get torx bits, 12v light tester, soldering iron (30-40 watt plenty), magnifying glass (you'll understand later), magnetic pick-up tool, small metris box wratchet set, metric allens, blah, blah, blah. Bee just meant PRECISION INSTRUMENTS- I know what point was!

Happy Holidays my good friend! http://www.anytimesale.com/servlet/StoreFront Step up from Harbor Freight tools, but still discount.

Bill

Last edited by 540iman; 12-03-2012 at 11:12 AM.
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  #6  
Old 12-03-2012, 12:56 PM
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Ohmess Ohmess is offline
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I get some stuff from MSC and from Grainger, but am also finding a lot of good used stuff on ebay. I call one of my buddies in the trades and ask them what to look for. I picked up a Fluke 75 cheap and recently bought a set of US made Craftsman taps and dies for $80.
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Old 12-20-2012, 11:31 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
A good Starrett or Browne & Sharp will last forever and can be adjusted for accuracy.
Good to know the best brands. I have never adjusted mine - I will check it against my feeler gauges.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
tell me something that needs a micrometer to check that can't be checked with a true 6" digital caliper?
Also good to know that those in a financial pinch can just get a good 6" digital caliper which will do most jobs that a 1-inch micrometer will.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
Never close fully...or open over 1" for any reason
I was unaware of this warning. I'll heed your words.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
buy the 6" caliper which CAN check your rotors
Good information for this guy today who needs to check his rotors:
Quote:
Originally Posted by madcityscott View Post
Is it possible to measure brake rotor thickness without removing the pads?
Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
and substitute the multimeter for the micrometer.
Makes sense.

Those on a budget can buy:
1. A good 6-inch digital caliper
2. A good digital multimeter

And those two tools would serve them well, without a micrometer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
Love the meter you or someone posted. Only feature you really want besides "diode check" is ability to read current (preferrably up to 10 amps) and fused for that reason.
Mine is the Fluke 75 and it has served me well. I once blew the 10 amp fuse because I hooked it up wrong - and had to have it replaced. I asked for the old parts and it looked like a tiny copper tube on copper stilts, IIRC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
if you can find one that measures temperature
Good advice.

I think there is a thermistor arrangement that plugs into my Fluke to read temperature - but I never bought it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
soldering iron (30-40 watt plenty)
This 15 watt or 20 watt iron is what I first bought for this thread:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > E39 Electrical Problems Traced to Trunk Lid Harness Wire Chafing (DIY Diagnostic)

But it seemed to me not hot enough (I being unskilled in soldering):


So, then I bought this, but it was, in reality, too hot for me to use (still unskilled in soldering):



Quote:
Originally Posted by 540iman View Post
http://www.anytimesale.com/servlet/StoreFront Step up from Harbor Freight tools, but still discount.
This is a good source to know! Thanks.
__________________
Please read the suggested threads, where the best always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 12-20-2012 at 11:34 AM.
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  #8  
Old 08-10-2014, 09:32 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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For the record, I opened a thread on just what brake tools are needed:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > What specific tools are needed for a home DIY BMW E39 brake job
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See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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