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E36 M3 (1992-1999) {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999


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Old Sun, Dec-30-2018, 12:17:32 AM   #1
trading10
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Default Vader seat retrofit adjustable lumbar and side bolsters from '07 e92 328i coupe sport

Hey guys, I think I need some feedback on a retrofit project for my '99 e36 M3 'Vader' sport seats.

Granted, this whole project may not fit or work at all. Challenging myself is fun though and I was willing to throw a little money at it in hopes I could figure out a way to retrofit the adjustable dual-bag lumbar and width-adjustable side bolsters from a 2007 E92 328i coupe with sport seats into the e36 M3 Vader seats. I can't tell if the bolster bags will fit in the M3 bolsters until I get the seat apart.


I own a '07 335i with sport seats, which are very comfortable for my shape/size/weight, which is what I'm trying to replicate in the Vader seats. I've had this Estoril e36 M3 for 14 years, and have since developed sciatic nerve pain in the glutes going down the back of the legs to the knees - very painful to sit in the Vaders now, and past back injuries make the discomfort level higher. Driving anything more than short distances is almost unbearable. That's why I want to put in the lumbar and seat-back side bolster support like my 335i has. I can drive that 335i for 2 hrs without too much pain because they have these extra adjustments and heat in the lower and upper bolster provides a lot of pain relief. I'd like to replace the burned out M3 seat heater element pads with ones that extend into the seat and back bolsters for full surround heat to the core muscles. Any ideas on retrofitting heating elements like that would be incredibly helpful as I have not found anyone else who has done it to a e36 M3, nor have I been able to determine which heating pad would fit. Plenty of youtube videos on replacing heating pads with universal kits, but those videos aren't very helpful in this case. Maybe it is a topic for a separate thread, but since I'm going to be taking the seats apart, it is worth mentioning here.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-OEM-E81...t/152663638849


Anyway, right now, I bought the e92 328i air bags with the pump, along with the 4 way adjustment switch off Ebay for about $70. I still need a rocker switch for bolster width adjustment - another $10-20 for that part. See here:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/2007-2011-B...M/282867232776





It did not come with a wiring harness that would connect the two valves to the adjustment switches and power.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/282072981089


Where I'm stuck is figuring out whether or not the retrofit will require a black box controller from the e92 328i to make it work, and which seat wiring harnesses are needed to connect it all. I've been studying RealOEM diagrams of the various seat harnesses, but it is difficult to tell where they plug in. The lumbar has two bags, and the four way switch from what I can tell, may rely on a black box to control the valve for inflation/deflation of those bags. You control either bag with the switch, which seems like it would not require the 'black box' from the 328i since it is just powering the air valve to direct which bag inflates/deflates.

Diagram of lumbar and side bolster parts. Note #3 and #7 do not apply because those are for seats with no width adjustment to the upper bolsters.


So, right now as I see it, the two issues are about the wiring harnesses needed and whether the black box is needed to control the air valve and pump. I'm going to dig around for a computer 12v power supply to test the pump, but can't find a pinout for the valves to know what each pin is for - there are 6 pins on each valve (one valve for lumbar, and the other valve is for the side bolster width adjustment).

Two other guys did similar projects, but neither one was a retrofit into a different seat. That information seemed like it would be enough for me to attempt to retrofit my M3, but he mentions a specific yellow cable was needed - perhaps because he was retrofitting the same seat, not an entirely different seat like the Vader. Its not a great pic or diagram of the 'black box' (see below), but it is shown here. It was talked about as being necessary to properly control the lumbar air bags. You can also see the wiring harness used to connect the 4 way lumbar switch and bolster rocker switch.

http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=101662



No pics here, but good info and part numbers if you want to do what he did:

https://f30.bimmerpost.com/forums/at...1&d=1461358919

Last edited by trading10; Sun, Dec-30-2018 at 12:24:14 AM.
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Old Sun, Dec-30-2018, 12:39:26 AM   #2
Braymond141
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Default Re: Vader seat retrofit adjustable lumbar and side bolsters from '07 e92 328i coupe s

The E36 already has optional lumbar for M Sport seats ("Vaders"). I would seek that out.



The side bolstering will not work in the way that you want. The E46 uses this (optional seat choice) method to "tighten" the bolstering, but jut just ends up looking like over inflated bolsters. It doesn't tighten the tip of the bolster into your body as much as just pancakes the bolster.

Any bolstering you want to add should be the type from the E60 M5 and above where it mechanically pushes the bolster into you.

Last edited by Braymond141; Sun, Dec-30-2018 at 12:56:47 AM.
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Old Sun, Dec-30-2018, 12:48:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: Vader seat retrofit adjustable lumbar and side bolsters from '07 e92 328i coupe s

Here's what a non-adjustable bolster E46 M3 seat looks like versus a well used adjustable one. Even though the comparison is with one off the seat frame, it would look worse installed.



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Old Wed, Jan-02-2019, 11:54:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Vader seat retrofit adjustable lumbar and side bolsters from '07 e92 328i coupe s

I had not seen the lordis/lumbar setup for the vaders before today. The shape of the air bladder is different than all others I've seen online and I've never heard of a M3 having this option. I wonder how well it works compared to a two-bag type found in the e9x series?

The air bladders from the side bolsters of the 328i/335i I discovered have a pleat in the leading edge, which inflates farther forward than a simple air bag. Does the e46 bolster air bags have this design/shape?
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Old Thu, Jan-03-2019, 04:28:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: Vader seat retrofit adjustable lumbar and side bolsters from '07 e92 328i coupe s

People have been retrofitting the E46/E39/E38 style (like you posted) into E36 seats for a long time. You have to get creative in making the 4-way button fit into the E36 side trim.

That's also the big difference between all these and the original E36 ones. The original ones are 2 chambers, but connected. So you pump both up at the same time.

The E46/E..F... style ones use 2 separate bladders and a valveblock between the pump, to be able to separately inflate both bladders. With this you can create the effect of moving it up/down, instead of just forwards/backwards.

For the side bolsters, you could but them in between the frame and foam. Maybe even cut away some foam for a better fit.

For some odd reason, BMW only offered the E36 lumbar support on the standard seats, while they fit identically in the sport and M spor seats, as all their frames are identical for the same year.

The E36 itself had two different frames during production, each has its own style lumbar support. The ones Braymond posted is for the later style frame.
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Old Sun, Jan-06-2019, 10:25:13 PM   #6
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Default Re: Vader seat retrofit adjustable lumbar and side bolsters from '07 e92 328i coupe s

Quote:
Originally Posted by M_Parallel View Post
People have been retrofitting the E46/E39/E38 style (like you posted) into E36 seats for a long time. You have to get creative in making the 4-way button fit into the E36 side trim.

That's also the big difference between all these and the original E36 ones. The original ones are 2 chambers, but connected. So you pump both up at the same time.

The E46/E..F... style ones use 2 separate bladders and a valveblock between the pump, to be able to separately inflate both bladders. With this you can create the effect of moving it up/down, instead of just forwards/backwards.

For the side bolsters, you could but them in between the frame and foam. Maybe even cut away some foam for a better fit.

For some odd reason, BMW only offered the E36 lumbar support on the standard seats, while they fit identically in the sport and M spor seats, as all their frames are identical for the same year.

The E36 itself had two different frames during production, each has its own style lumbar support. The ones Braymond posted is for the later style frame.


inserting the bolster bladders in between the foam and frame is one thing I have been wondering about. I'm trying to eyeball this entire project before I take the seat apart (I have taken them apart before when I redyed the leathers). Placing them between the leather and foam seems like it would work, but if it ends up looking like the picture that Braymond141 posted above, then maybe not. I looked up the bolster bladder for the e46, and couldn't tell if it is pleated like the 2007 e92 ones I bought off ebay. I mentioned above that the pleat makes the bladder expand at the leading tip/edge more than the rear edge.

Now, I know this is a total departure from the project I've laid out here, but what about bending the upper bolster part of the frame to make them narrower? It wouldn't be adjustable, so if I ever sell the car (not likely after 15 yrs of pleasurable driving), if the buyer's torso is wider than mine, he might not fit. I have only found one message about doing this, and it wasn't detailed enough to determine what was used to bend them inward. I would rather have adjustable bolsters.

The lumbar bladders looks like it should mount ok, but I'm still trying to figure out what else I need to wire up the two switches, valve blocks, and the pump. Maybe just a wiring harness or two without that blackbox/controller used in the e92. Any thoughts on this part would be super helpful - I've been scouring everywhere I can think of without any luck to gather this info, like a wiring diagram or some thread where this is discussed.
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Old Mon, Jan-07-2019, 01:52:49 PM   #7
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Default Re: Vader seat retrofit adjustable lumbar and side bolsters from '07 e92 328i coupe s

The valveblocks also contain a protection against overinflating. At least the version of the E46/E39/E38 does. Maybe it's been changed on later models.

On the E36 that has no valveblock, the overinflate cutoff is on the pump itself.
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Old Wed, Jan-09-2019, 01:38:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: Vader seat retrofit adjustable lumbar and side bolsters from '07 e92 328i coupe s

For the side bolsters on the Vaders I'd forget the bladders and just bend the frame to suit your requirements, given the design I think adding inflatable bladders just won't work at all, the leather is too tight around that area, you'll pop the bladders or the valves I reckon.

The frame mod is trivial (push the metal wings in) and if you're doing it for you personally then you only have to get it right once.
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Old Wed, Jan-09-2019, 02:02:03 AM   #9
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Default Re: Vader seat retrofit adjustable lumbar and side bolsters from '07 e92 328i coupe s

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Originally Posted by M3AN View Post
For the side bolsters on the Vaders I'd forget the bladders and just bend the frame to suit your requirements, given the design I think adding inflatable bladders just won't work at all, the leather is too tight around that area, you'll pop the bladders or the valves I reckon.

The frame mod is trivial (push the metal wings in) and if you're doing it for you personally then you only have to get it right once.
^^^ I second this and that's great advice M3AN.
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Old Wed, Jan-09-2019, 10:02:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: Vader seat retrofit adjustable lumbar and side bolsters from '07 e92 328i coupe s

M3AN, I suspect you right about the leather being too tight to expand with bladders, though the e90 parts I bought supposedly have a pressure sensor that cuts off air to prevent over-inflation. I doubt much air is needed to tighten up the width. If I bent the "wings" inward, would that also stretch the leather too much on the outer side vs inside? How does one bend them in anyway? Those side bolsters always rub and squeak against the center console and arm rest - totally annoying. So bending them in might resolve that issue.

Placing the bladders between the foam and the metal "wings" seems like a possible alternative to putting them between the leather and foam. I've looked at the seat design in my '07 e92 335i and noticed that those bolsters have two pieces of leather and the shape is more like a flat leading edge with the air bladders inside the inner piece of leather closest to the torso. This is the main thing that made me think the Vader side bolsters may not allow the same amount of movement. When they are inflated without sitting in the seat of the 335i, you can see that the bladders don't press in very far to achieve the desired result. So, this is why it is so intriguing, but I'm treating this as an experiment that could prove fruitless.

I need to grab an ohm meter to test the pins of the 2 valve blocks and the two switches to figure out how they should be connected. Good to know about the valve blocks - I'll have to figure out if the e92 version is unchanged from the previous generations.


It would be great if someone reading this could share some links to similar DIY projects or good info that you have found in the past. I've been searching for any info on bolster and also swapping the seat heating element from another model that extends into both the seat pan bolsters and side bolsters (see pic of the heating element I found on ebay in my original post - possibly higher ohms/resistance). Adding heat to the bolster would actually be more helpful than coming up with a way to tighten the width of the side bolsters with air bladders or bending the wings in a bit.

For anyone interested, this page has some info regarding pinouts and schematics for a heated seat swap for e90/e92.
https://www.e90post.com/forums/showt...192819&page=12

Last edited by trading10; Wed, Jan-09-2019 at 10:19:32 PM.
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Discussing E36M3 Regression Analysis - Purchase Price Findings in the E36 M3 (1992-1999) Forum - {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
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