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Fun with a boroscope - II: installing structural foam in the front subframe cavity

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    Fun with a boroscope - II: installing structural foam in the front subframe cavity


    In a recent post I outlined how I used a boroscope to examine the rear cavity on the RACP before injecting structural foam to strengthen the rear subframe mounts.

    The boroscope images in that post clearly showed that the rear cavity is completely enclosed and that pre-drilled holes at the top of the cavity can be used to inject structural foam to surround the left and right rear subframe mounts.

    After examining the front cavity with a boroscope, it is clear that a similar same approach can be used to surround the left and right front subframe mounts with foam.

    Here is a picture of the left top side of the RACP (facing towards the rear of the car).



    All four holes are factory drilled. Holes A and D are tapped for the rear left seat hinge brackets, B is tapped to hold the rear left seatbelt, and C is unused and has a factory plug.

    The left front subframe mount sits between holes B and C, though is slightly closer to hole B

    In inserted the boroscope into hole C to examine the left side of the cavity.

    Here is a view of the left front subframe mount inside the cavity. The top and bottom of this mount are welded to the ceiling and floor of the cavity.



    Here is a view that also shows the underside of holes of A and B. A red ZipTie is inserted into hole B.



    Unlike the rear cavity, which extends uninterrupted for the width of the car, the front cavity appears to have a panel in the middle, though it has a circular hole in it.

    So, it is not reallly neccesary to inject seam sealer into this middle section to seal off both sides. (In fact, I don't think it really is needed for the rear either since the foam is unlikely to reach that point even when cured.)

    Here is a view from hole B towards the side of the car.



    As can be seen, the cavity terminates immediately after hole D.

    The goal of foam injection process is to bond each mount to the RACP by completely surrounding it with foam.

    For the left front mounts, holes B and C above make the most sense as injection points.

    After injecting one 420ml container into hole B, I inserted the boroscope into hole C to see where the foam ended up.

    Here is a picture of the left front mount immediately after the injection of structural foam into hole B.



    As can be seen, the foam is beginning to surround the mount even before the curing expansion process - which is exactly what you want to see.

    After foam is injected on the other side of the mount it will be completely enclosed - and bonded to the RACP permanently.

    For completeness (and to verify that the cavity is symmetrical side-to-side) I also inserted the boroscope into the right side of the cavity.

    Here is a view of the right front subframe mount inside the right side of the cavity.



    And, finally, here is the right front mount after foam is injected on one side of it.

    Attached Files
    Last edited by martin.oconnor; 05-11-2020, 06:10 PM.

    #2
    Very interesting, thanks for sharing.
    I know you're doing them all. Wonder since BMW's TIS Repair calls for the rear left for the epoxy, and other info suggests the front right breaks early. Wonder if doing the front right and back left would be better than doing just both rears??
    6MT SLICKTOP - OE CSL Wheels - OE CSL Brakes - CSL Rack - CSL Trunk - CSL Diffuser - AA Tune - AA Pulleys
    AS 40% SSK - 4.10 Motorsport Diff - Bilstein PSS9s - H&R Swaybars - CSL Lip - Gruppe M CF Intake - Supersprint

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by oldFanatic View Post
      Very interesting, thanks for sharing.
      I know you're doing them all. Wonder since BMW's TIS Repair calls for the rear left for the epoxy, and other info suggests the front right breaks early. Wonder if doing the front right and back left would be better than doing just both rears??
      Given that all four can show cracks it is probably best to do them all.

      Take a look at this recent video from Redish Motorsports (a UK shop specializing in M3 RACP repairs) showing cracks at all four corners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8bMX2NF9e0

      While the structural foam is not cheap (about $170 per corner), it is probably best to do all four while you are in there.

      Comment


        #4
        Yes on a car that has cracks it can absolutley move to all four mounts. But if a car doesn't have cracks or welds giving out and it's preventative only is what my question was based on.
        Most people aren't aware that BMW has the foam/epoxy method listed for the left rear. Or that research shows the front right mount often cracks before the right rear.
        6MT SLICKTOP - OE CSL Wheels - OE CSL Brakes - CSL Rack - CSL Trunk - CSL Diffuser - AA Tune - AA Pulleys
        AS 40% SSK - 4.10 Motorsport Diff - Bilstein PSS9s - H&R Swaybars - CSL Lip - Gruppe M CF Intake - Supersprint

        Comment


          #5
          Yeah - I have no idea why BMW specified the procedure for the left rear only, particularly since all four mounts can crack (though the left rear and right front seem to be more prone to it).

          BMW has not exactly been impressive here. Similar failures occurred on the E36, so a lot of effort was clearly not expended into solving this problem properly.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by martin.oconnor View Post
            Yeah - I have no idea why BMW specified the procedure for the left rear only, particularly since all four mounts can crack (though the left rear and right front seem to be more prone to it).
            BMW has not exactly been impressive here. Similar failures occurred on the E36, so a lot of effort was clearly not expended into solving this problem properly.
            Yep, BMW E36s had the front mounts iirc. So BMW put a brace up in there and then on the E46s it moved to the rear being the main problem area.
            6MT SLICKTOP - OE CSL Wheels - OE CSL Brakes - CSL Rack - CSL Trunk - CSL Diffuser - AA Tune - AA Pulleys
            AS 40% SSK - 4.10 Motorsport Diff - Bilstein PSS9s - H&R Swaybars - CSL Lip - Gruppe M CF Intake - Supersprint

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by martin.oconnor View Post
              Yeah - I have no idea why BMW specified the procedure for the left rear only, particularly since all four mounts can crack (though the left rear and right front seem to be more prone to it).

              BMW has not exactly been impressive here. Similar failures occurred on the E36, so a lot of effort was clearly not expended into solving this problem properly.
              Probably due to how the driveshaft/rear diff spin and cause torque on the RACP. So they threw in some rough numbers, a bunch of assumptions and then bounced that off of the $$$ to fix the cars under recall. And voila, one mount only.

              Mike
              02 M3 Titanium Silver/Black
              11 Tundra SuperWhite/Black
              16 X5

              Comment


                #8
                So do you basically inject a full tube of epoxy into each side of each front mount. So hole b and c...and the same on the other side? So you would need to buy 4 total tubes...

                I did plates, and poly bushings for the SF...which was after I had already epoxy foamed both of the rear mounts per the BMW TSB. At this point I dont know if I need to do the fronts, but I guess it isn't a terrible idea.
                2003 Carbon Black - Karbonious CSL intake, CSL DME w/MAP, SSV1 headers/Catted Section1/63.5mm Section2, Shrick 280/272 cams, Lang Racing Stage 1 cylinder head, Eibach Pro Street S Coilovers (500#F/600#R), GC Sways, AutoSolutions SSK, Motorsport 3.91 rear diff, BBS RGR wheels, Streamline CSL front bumper

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by cozmo kraemer View Post
                  So do you basically inject a full tube of epoxy into each side of each front mount. So hole b and c...and the same on the other side? So you would need to buy 4 total tubes...
                  Yup - 4 total for the two front mounts, and another 4 for the rears. So, about $700 worth of goo (each tube is about $85).

                  It's a very easy job - and factory holes can be used to inject the structural foam for all four mounts. (If I were doing it again I would not bother to drill the middle hole into the rear cavity to inject seam sealer since I don't think the foam even reaches the middle.)

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Sorry if this was answered via pictures, they don't seem to be working for me, but which structural foam did you use?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      This is the foam:

                      https://www.ecstuning.com/b-genuine-...h/83190007361/

                      However, it does appear that it has been discontinued.

                      I have attached a PDF of the write-up.
                      ​​​​​​​
                      Attached Files

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by mscott7426 View Post
                        Sorry if this was answered via pictures, they don't seem to be working for me, but which structural foam did you use?
                        Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is the same foam BMW was using: https://www.henkel-adhesives.com/vn/...n_ep_1401.html

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by genesis View Post

                          Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is the same foam BMW was using: https://www.henkel-adhesives.com/vn/...n_ep_1401.html
                          Interesting. ECS tuning has a picture of Teroson EP 1401 for BMW structural foam at this link:

                          https://www.ecstuning.com/b-genuine-...90007361sd~oe/

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by martin.oconnor View Post
                            This is the foam:

                            https://www.ecstuning.com/b-genuine-...h/83190007361/

                            However, it does appear that it has been discontinued.

                            I have attached a PDF of the write-up.
                            ​​​​​​​
                            Thank you very much! I remember someone on the previous forum doing something similar but with drawings showing why they were doing the front injection points. How many tubes did you use?
                            I recently removed my subframe and found some cracks, so I'll need to be welding the cracks and likely the plates onto the car, but am considering doing the foam as opposed to some of the more intrusive fixes.

                            I also found that ECS what out of stock of foam (at least unexpired foam), and that it may have been discontinued. I couldn't find a local distributor for the Henkel branded foam (or sibling company branded ones) when I was looking a few years back. I'm a bit worried any foam I'm able to get my hands on now will have expired.

                            EDIT: I'm finding Data Sheets that have been updated in 2020 for the Teroson 1401, but still not listed on the US or Canada sites. I'm also not having much luck finding structural type foams from other brands.
                            Last edited by mscott7426; 01-12-2021, 11:03 AM.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by mscott7426 View Post

                              ...am considering doing the foam as opposed to some of the more intrusive fixes..
                              Foam does not fix the fundamental problem. Its a band aid for some of the symptoms. The core problem is that the rear of the RACP is not directly attached to the chassis rails but instead goes under the rails into a single sheet and attaches to the wheel arches. This poor design inherently flexes and putting some goo around the rear gussets is not gonna stop that.

                              The only permanent solution is to attach the RACP directly to the chassis rails so it cant flex anywhere near as much (e.g.: using CMP rail plates or Vincebar) - and foam will make that more difficult to do.

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