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Thread: Let's bag an E30 Touring then

  1. #1
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    Default Let's bag an E30 Touring then

    Hi guys. I'm about to convert my E30 touring to air suspension - among other things - and I'm posting this in this section as an ongoing project for the following reasons:

    1. I want some top advice, and this section is where the bagging pros seem to hang out
    2. I'll think of something later

    I have had my E30 Touring for over a year, and the minute I got it I knew it needed air suspension. Problem is it's sooo expensive - twice the value of the car.
    Anyway, last month this is what washed up in the 'bay:-

    Hi i am selling a new air suspension kit straight from America.

    The kit is about $2500.00 plus shipping and taxes. Total about £1400.00.

    I'm selling as I'm no longer going to fit it in my car as I have baby on the way
    It fits on audi A3 front wheel drive
    Comes with large DC5000 1/2hp Compressor, Check Valve, Steel Leader Hose, Solenoid, Steel Fittings, 3/8" Airhose, 70on 120off Pressure Switch, 3 Gallon Steel Tank, the biggest and best of everything, including Plug & Play, which means you do not assemble because we have done it for you.
    Airbag Suspension Kit 1996-2008 Audi A3 2wd F=STRUT, R=BAGKIT With 1/3hp small Compressor UPGRADED to large DC7500 1/2hp


    So I figured Audi A3 has strut fronts and coil rears, and so does the Beemer so I should be able to make something useful out of this kit. I got it for 1/3 of the new price.
    RESULT

    My first question is why do people slate AIRBAGIT.COM? Are they bad quality, or good?
    Have I got something really useful here, or a pile of pooh?

    Before I go on, I must say that I'm 49 years old and have been doing silly things to cars and motorbikes all my life, so whatever I need to do to fit this onto my car will be well within my capabilities.
    I plan to create a step by step DIY installation in this thread, with sound advice from experts. I'm gonna start from the very beginning here, so here's some pics of my car and the kit I bought




  2. #2
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    subscribed.
    .
    "I know I'm not Stance|Works material. I'm just a fan. " - Stretchd8

    "Jesus must love me " - FittedDownLow

  3. #3
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    I want to see more!

  4. #4
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    AirBagIt struts have a bad reputation of failing while you're driving. They're not the greatest quality and we won't carry them or recommend them but they are an inexpensive option that get's the job done.

    - www.bagriders.com - Email us at: sales@bagriders.com -

    - Did you find a lower price? We Price Match! -

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the comments guys. You prompted me to search for comments about AirBagIt and the general opinion is their products are bad quality and their customer service is rude. Also there are far better airbag companies to deal with and AirBagIt are probably bottom of the list and their products should not be used under any circumstances. Wow, how come they are still in business?

    So my options now are:
    1. Throw it all away.
    2. Fit it and hope for the best.
    3. Pull it apart and upgrade the weaknesses.

    After big consideration I think I will go with option 3. We may all learn something from it.

    I will start with the struts. On the Beemer the knuckle(?) at the bottom of the front strut is welded on and it seems that guys who fit certain sports struts need to cut this off their original struts and weld it to their new struts. I will have to do the same. So, ideally, I need to strip down the air strut and remove anything that maybe damaged by welding heat. ie shock absorber. I also need to get some spare secondhand struts to chop up so I can keep the car on its wheels.
    What I need to know first is can I strip the air strut easily? Is anything gonna explode in my face? And anything to look out for or any comments on what I'm about to do?
    Also does anyone in the uk have any spare E30 325 front struts to sell me? The 325 struts are thicker than the smaller engined ones, I believe.

  6. #6
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    I've just had my good friend Steve over for a critical inspection of my AirBagIt plug and play suspension kit.
    Now I've hung out with Steve since we were at school and we're 50 years old now. He is a wizz at engineering, electronics, electrics, plumbing and absolutely anything mechanical and electrical. I mostly try to keep him away from my projects cos he slates everything for being sub-standard and badly engineered, which it never is, it's just not the way he would have done it as a mechanical engineer. Hey, he even slates his own cars and motorbikes and re-engineers everything he can think of. So here's what he found:-
    First he had a good look over everything in the kit. That's front airbag struts, rear airbags, compressor and air engine solenoid set, electric loom and guages and switches, etc.
    He said everything is of a good standard and well up to the job it's supposed to do. The air fittings for the rear bags are missing, and so are the 2 airline fittings for the tank. The main electrical feed cable for the compressor MAYBE undersized - it's 8 AWG - but he is going to do some calcs on that. Can't really tell the quality of the rubber that the bags are made from without chemical testing, but they appear to be good quality. The pipe fittings are all top quality metal parts, but the dashboard switches could be a higher standard. Cheap enough to upgrade.
    We then dismantled a front air strut to check it out. Surprisingly, the bag only has the outer skin and uses the shock passing through it as its inner skin. There are 2 seals each at the top and the bottom to hold the air inside. Perfectly acceptable, but we expected to find a rubber inner and outer to the bag, with the shock passing through the middle independently.
    The shock part of the front strut is just that. It is impossible to remove any more, meaning there is no removable insert as there would be on the BMW strut. This means that welding on the bottom part of the BMW strut with all its bracketry is not going to happen, because we will cook the shock.
    Therefore the way forward here will be to make a tubular sleeve that clamps up with pinch bolts to hold the airstrut to the bottom part of the BMW strut. No problem.
    Basically Steve said he was happy enough with the kit and said it was well up to the job it had to do.

    I have absolutely NO connection with AirBagIt.com, I live in the UK and bought this kit from ebay, brand new and at 1/3 of the price it retails for. It is supposed to be for an Audi A3, and I am going to fit it to a BMW E30 touring. I emailed AirBagIt about my plans, hoping they would say send back the Audi air struts and we will send you the correct ones for the BMW, with a bit of a handling fee. But no, they sent me a one line email saying buy our BMW struts for $700 per pair.

    So I'm going to ignore that and pass it off as rude service, and modify what I've got to fit my car.
    But on the plus side, I've had a very critical engineer look over the AirBagIt kit and it's pretty much passed with flying colours.

  7. #7

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    Any update?

  8. #8
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    ^ indeed, I'm in

  9. #9

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    In for more.

  10. #10
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    Hi Guys
    The project is still on but I've put the air stuff on hold while i sort the rest of the mods.
    I've just come to the end of this now and i will be back onto the suspension shortly.

    Over the last 3 month I've pitched the 2.5 auto and installed a 3.5 M30 engine and 5 speed.
    I've also fitted an lpg kit to run on gas. also a leather interior and installed the wires and pipework fir the air suspension.
    Stay tuned for more air suspension real soon.

  11. #11
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    I'm excited! I keep coming back to check for updates..do you have any pictures of the swap?

  12. #12
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    OK I'm back now with plenty of big updates

    Over the winter, and since I started this thread, I've been busy on the car doing all the other mods that I wanted to do.
    This all started with the 2.5 engine breaking a valve rocker, and me thinking I may as well change the engine for the hassle involved with changing a rocker.
    So if I'm gonna change the engine, it would be silly not to put a bigger one in.
    And I never did like the auto box much, so I should change that to manual while I have the engine out. Which will mean adding a clutch pedal!!
    And with the price of petrol climbing daily, I think I will fit a LPG gas conversion while I'm doing these other things.

    So, over the last 5 months:
    3.5 E34 535i engine install - DONE
    Auto box to 5speed manual conversion - DONE
    LPG gas conversion - DONE

    Also:

    Welded a patch of rust on the floor by the pedals
    Ran pipework in for air struts, and air gauges in dash, and air suspension wiring
    Fitted air gauges in dash and secret switches in ashtray
    And found a leather interior at the breakers yard while looking for something else, not mint but it was only £100. Cleaned, fed and fitted.

    Done about 40 miles of shakedown runs now and she really flies well. Took her for the annual MOT test yesterday, and failed on some rusty brake pipes at the rear, and a couple of rust spots to weld on the inner sills, but everything I've been working on passed with flying colours.
    Last edited by Mike E30 UNT; 04-18-2012 at 05:05 AM.

  13. #13
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    Default








  14. #14
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    OK let's get back on track with the air suspension setup

    When I had the car in bits doing the engine/gearbox swap I ran in the nylon pipework for the front airstruts and the air gauges, and the wiring for the switches in the dash.
    As an electrician I thought the plastic rocker switches that came with the kit were cheap and shitty and awkward to operate, so I bought some nice metal toggle switches off ebay. Same arrangement - SPDT = single pole double through. (Centre position is off, and spring loaded in 2 directions. 10 Amp rated to be sure they are heavy duty.
    Also, the air engine unit that will mount in the back of the car will be permanently fed from the battery positive terminal (not through the ignition) and is controlled from it's own pressure switch, meaning that the compressor could turn itself on and off when the car is locked up and unattended. VERY DODGY I have therefore bought myself an on/off toggle switch with neon indicator, and mounted it in the ashtray with the 4 solenoid switches. A master switch to arm the system when I want to use it.

    AirBagIt Cheap shitty rocker switch


  15. #15
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    Now I'm sorting out the air engine prior to fitting it into the back of the car, and I need some advice.
    Remember I bought this kit from someone else, brand new and never fitted to a car, and as far as I know the kit is complete and no parts missing.

    In the kit, loose, are 4 speed control valves, which I think should be fitted directly to the air engine. These valves are adjustable and control the speed the car goes up and down.

    The air engine is already fitted with pipe connector adaptors, so these need to be removed and the speed control valves fitted in their places, using PTFE/Teflon tape on the threads.









    The 4 pipe connector fittings that I've removed from the air engine will now be used on the 2 rear air bags and air in and out connections on the air tank.

    Is this OK so far?

    This means I have in the kit exactly the right amount of fittings to connect all the pipes in all the positions.

    HOWEVER the 4 fittings I've taken out of the air engine are a push fit type, and all the others are brass fittings with olives. (1 olive missing from 1 fitting)
    I think with olive type fittings I need metal inserts in the end of the nylon pipe. There are 8 olive type fittings and 4 push type fittings on this install, and a bag with just 6 inserts in the kit. 1/2 inch pipe by the way, NPT - which is National Pipe Thread and is a U.S standard, and I'm not sure how available the parts are here in the UK.
    Similarly, I only have 6 inserts for the small pipes that go to the gauges. 4 pipes equals 8 inserts, equals 2 missing
    Do the push fit fittings need inserts?
    And is it ok to use push fit fittings in the air tank and on the rear bags?


  16. #16
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    I like the idea of a bagged Touring . . but I hope the car get's some other improvements as well . . the M30 conversion looks very poorly done (is that temporary wiring? . . ) . . . . and the wheels? . . I hope you have another set . . .
    my Bimmers . . . -> HERE!! <-
    my unhealthy amount of Wheels!! . . . -> HERE!! <-


  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrZog View Post
    I like the idea of a bagged Touring . . but I hope the car get's some other improvements as well . . the M30 conversion looks very poorly done (is that temporary wiring? . . ) . . . . and the wheels? . . I hope you have another set . . .
    You can probably see by the thread that it's an ongoing project and not finished yet
    The wiring will be tidied up when I've finished connecting the air suspension electrics
    The M30 conversion is properly and safely done. It performs well and has been inspected and tested by professionals.

    And I have in my mind what wheels I want to put on when I have saved enough cash.

    I DO like your collection of classic BMWs and lovely wheels. Will you be fitting the wheels to the cars?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike E30 UNT View Post
    I DO like your collection of classic BMWs and lovely wheels. Will you be fitting the wheels to the cars?


    No just collect them.

  19. #19
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    A couple of months further on and a quick update. This thread has gone very quiet, and I'd kinda lost enthusiasm for posting anything after Mr.Zogs comments.

    The car, now with M30 535 engine and 5 speed box has been legally on the road - having passed the relevant inspections - and is being used as my daily driver. Everything is sweet apart from the clutch was super heavy and nearly exploding my left hip joint. This turned out to be because I'd used an E30 master cylinder coupled to an E34 535 slave. I now have an E30 slave to match the E30 master and life's a lot better. Not as light as I'd like, but much better.

    I've bought some plumbing parts from the states because American NPT kit is hard to get hold of here in the UK. And I've got myself a screw in Schraeder valve and adapter so I can inflate my air bags off the car and check for leaks.

    I've made up a steel tube so that I can attach the bottom of my BMW strut to the air strut, and am currently taking many measurements from the first strut that I've built up this way in my garage. I also need to work at my wheel arrangement to gain extra clearance. So spacers or new wheels are needed.

  20. #20

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    Keep us updated man, Zog doesn't speak for the masses

  21. #21
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    ^ indeed

  22. #22
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    updates?

  23. #23
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    I've been really busy with other things these last few months, but i have now got some missing pipe fittings from the states - npt stuff is hard to get in the UK.
    And im under way with modifying the first front strut to attach the air strut to it.
    Im taking on a New workshop on 5th September so i can get the car inside and swap over the whole suspension to air in the dry.
    Stay tuned.
    PS. If anyone in the UK has some nice wheels for sale - preferably Borbet A or banded steels on 4x100 give me a yell.

  24. #24
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    Finally the Touring is safely tucked up in the new workshop and today I've popped out the rear coil springs and taken some measurements.
    What i don't know at the moment is if the car has stock height springs or if its already been lowered - so i need some advice on this. its currently on 16 inch wheels. at its current height the rear spring platforms are 130 mm apart at there closest point. To drop a further 2 inches will have the spring platforms 80mm apart - the rear bags I have are 70mm thick totally compressed. This will make the top of the actual wheel rim sit just up above the top of the arch. That's as low as I can realistically go without serious fabrication work to the car.

  25. #25
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    Can anyone tell me if this is stock ride height or already been lowered?
    Its on 16 inch wheels with 45 profile tyres.

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