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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Sun, Dec-27-2015, 10:02:19 PM   #71
EricSMG
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Default Re: Shock dynos, Fat Cat Motorsports and custom valved Bilstiens

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Originally Posted by RedM3/4 View Post
Nice write up. After you try the dinans, will you ask FCM to tune to OE or the Dinans?
My dinan springs were about 7.8" shorter at free length, but only about 1/8" shorter ride height after wear in, so my assumption is they have to be stiffer.

ADS
My butt dyno says the Dinan's are only marginally stiffer than stock - most of that in the rear. So, I'll just tune it by feel which, to me, is all that matters. I know exactly how I 'want' the car to feel and so now I get to play the part of race car driver and explain to the tuner (FCM) how the car behaves differently than how I want it to behave. I am learning how to articulate what the dyno shows into how the car feels on the road and how changes in the shape of the dyno will change how it feels. It's fun and challenging at the same time.

Over the next few days I will:

1. Perform the zip tie test to determine the level of interaction of the rear bump stops depending on vehicle speed and road surface.

2. Download an accelerometer app to my phone and measure the up/down movement of the chassis over different surfaces at different speeds.

3. Test the Dinan springs with current valving.

From these, and the butt dyno, Shaikh and I will come up with the revision two settings.

We want maximum comfort and maximum performance = a car that is very easy to drive, fast, over real world roads.

The current setup is very good.

Edit - with Konis + Dinans I saw a solid ~5/8" drop all around. So I'm hoping with the FCM HD's + Dinans to be at around 3/8" to 1/2" drop all around. This could truly be nirvana in this car.
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Old Tue, Dec-29-2015, 02:20:56 AM   #72
ShaikhA
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Default Re: Shock dynos, Fat Cat Motorsports and custom valved Bilstiens

Eric, I was also thinking that bounce frequency tests would be very useful before you change from stock to the Dinans. It'll help us empirically determine any difference in spring rate.

For anyone curious about the bounce frequency tests as I do them, the procedure is straight-forward and easily done with an assistant. In fact if you want to post general results for your setup (including stock springs, whatever combination) that could add to the knowledge base. For someone doing this on Konis or another adjustable damper, best results would be from setting the dampers full soft. I demonstrate the bounce test process here:


I'll start another thread for the bounce frequency tests since that's an independent (and interesting) measurement!

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Old Tue, Dec-29-2015, 03:09:48 AM   #73
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Default Re: Shock dynos, Fat Cat Motorsports and custom valved Bilstiens

Eric, what's the zip tie test? How done, what's it show?

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Old Tue, Dec-29-2015, 03:42:48 AM   #74
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Default Re: Shock dynos, Fat Cat Motorsports and custom valved Bilstiens

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Originally Posted by RedM3/4 View Post
Eric, what's the zip tie test? How done, what's it show?

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You tie a zip tie on your shock piston. Drive around. See where the zip tie is. Shows how far the piston is moving.
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Old Tue, Dec-29-2015, 04:41:35 AM   #75
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Default Re: Shock dynos, Fat Cat Motorsports and custom valved Bilstiens

cool, thanks!

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Old Tue, Dec-29-2015, 04:57:27 AM   #76
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Default Re: Shock dynos, Fat Cat Motorsports and custom valved Bilstiens

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Absolutely, those H&R coil-overs look like a perfect starting point. I know for a time H&R used Bilstein internals and I wouldn't be surprised if that's still the case (the design looks very Bilstein-esque). I also appreciate the simplicity of a stock-style spring for easy fit and not or worrying about helper springs, etc.

My main desire regarding using a lowering style setup (often unknown spring rates) vs. a race spring (with known rates) is that Flat Ride is still maintained. I hope this is the case with H&R coil-over, or your PSS10s, or the H&R Race spring set I have waiting to test. I make a big deal about Flat Ride because a) it makes sense, b) most high-end manufacturers ensure the cars come with it from the factory, and c) the car would just ride and handle better with that slight rear-bias in ride frequency.

If / when you sent in your setup to get the FCM touch I could also measure / characterize a front and rear spring to get rates.

When it comes to changing the damper setting for track vs. street, that is more than likely a psychological effect. Dennis Grant points this out at length on his farnorth racing website. I've also found through my data acquisition tests that the fastest / highest grip setups producing the best laptimes may not feel the stiffest. I really like how in Eric's review he can feel the excellent high speed transient control - and his dampers are quite soft in low-speed; no benefit to going stiffer.

If someone just wants to make their car feel a certain way I can appreciate that, but I also want as fast a setup as I can get. I know that the best laptimes with come with a more compliant setup than most think makes sense - and that means I'm also smiling both during and after the session!

This is a pretty interesting thread - I'd read the whole thing, including Dennis's own comments a page or so in:

Corvette forum - What makes the 04 Z06 shocks so good?
That Z06 thread was depressing because a GM car gets 'perfect' dampers stock and yet the BMW's have to go through this process!

I agree that the fastest setup is the way to go, I just also want the car to also have a fun personality on the street where lap times are irrelevant. Compliance is paramount but I also don't want it to feel like a Cadillac per se... one of my favorite things about changing suspension is making an M3 behave more like one would expect it should (Felt more Porsche-like? :P jk) But I think we can all agree that for some reason, BMW just didn't get the suspension right on this car and did an amazing platform a huge injustice. That's why your tuning philosophies really resonate here with us! Last year I borrowed a buddies' 330i and it was so much nicer on the street I wondered why I wasted my money on an M3...

Eric and I have long lambasted the common choices of spring rates around here, and once we saw your frequency video it clicked. The factory F/R delta is usually ignored, largely due to TRACK tuning tips which are perpetually spread on forums by misinformed HPDE heroes. Lots of people run heavy front springs to maintain the camber curve yet only increase the rear by 50 or 100lb, and don't even get me started how they f**k with their antiroll bars...

FYI PSS10 spring rates are 340/565 (progressive) so they do compliment your ride frequency formula more than most. The balance is easily noticeable once educated what to look for. I don't know the H&R coilover rates as they aren't published but i'd imagine they are similar. In my experience with E36's, the H&R race were always too short/low for their soft rate and were always paired with Bilsteins so they basically rode on bump stops everywhere. Can't say for certain about the E46 variants you have as I've no experience with them but that has been the general complaint about them in the BMW world.

Am selling my car with the PSS10's soon, but might buy the one off my buddy with the H&R coilovers next year if I'm able. In that event they will be removed and sent to you!
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Old Sat, Jan-02-2016, 05:32:20 AM   #77
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Default Re: Shock dynos, Fat Cat Motorsports and custom valved Bilstiens

I understand the disappointment, but keep in mind the leaf spring-based Vettes have some issues with mid-corner stability (from what I've read) and the low motion ratios (around 0.6-0.7) require very stiff springs which conduct a lot of force into the body. I am think (but am guessing without enough evidence) that the '04 Z06 suspension described and praised in that link may have been more of an aberration in that later models might have tended toward the stiffer-than-needed / 'sporty' direction.

I'm not sure any OEM has put everything all together but I think BMW has done a damn good job in general in the chassis / engine / handling balance area. I think there's almost always some opportunity to improve upon what the factory did, though it seems the E36 damper tuning was far closer to 'perfection'.

I wonder if we get enough evidence together about what a number of enthusiasts sign off on as a 'great suspension' that BMW might take that into account when planning an optional suspension package? I don't know enough about how the newest models have been tuned to say if that's not already happening, although my sense and on-road observations suggest there may be more 'feel' than is needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by twentyseven View Post
That Z06 thread was depressing because a GM car gets 'perfect' dampers stock and yet the BMW's have to go through this process!

I agree that the fastest setup is the way to go, I just also want the car to also have a fun personality on the street where lap times are irrelevant. Compliance is paramount but I also don't want it to feel like a Cadillac per se... one of my favorite things about changing suspension is making an M3 behave more like one would expect it should (Felt more Porsche-like? :P jk) But I think we can all agree that for some reason, BMW just didn't get the suspension right on this car and did an amazing platform a huge injustice. That's why your tuning philosophies really resonate here with us! Last year I borrowed a buddies' 330i and it was so much nicer on the street I wondered why I wasted my money on an M3...
I want that ideal balance, too. I really think the less 'optimal' E46 M3 (and the non-M also suffers, trust me) damper tuning came from a desire to a) slow people down given the speed potential of the E46 M3 and b) to make them feel the newer chassis was more of a 'race car' than the E36 it replaced. It's more aggressive, but I don't think the E46M3 had the kind of grip-plus-ride-quality that the E36M3 had. BUT - we can achieve that now and do even better than the factory would have done with features like Ripple Reducer and KBO.

<tangent>
I was intrigued by the presence of the droop spring on the non-M E46 front struts. That deserves a separate post but as I've mentioned before, I did use droop stops previously on a stock-sprung Miata and recently on my 330i's front struts (and rears also), also with stock springs. This is a tuning trick that does effectively lower a car's center of gravity (the inside wheel doesn't extend as easily since the droop spring acts to resist the rebound motion). The M3 front struts don't have a droop spring but the 330i Sport suspension does. So... why didn't BMW use that droop feature on the M3 as well? There's a reasonable amount of droop available although from experimenting with my stock springs, I would prefer to only use a droop limiter on a lowering spring since you end up having to compress the spring a bit farther as the shaft is not extending as far. For those who haven't seen the droop spring, skip to about 11:30.

</tangent>

From the one street-going Porsche I've tuned so far (we've done a 911 autocross XP car and I'm gearing up for a '06 Porsche Cayman in Jan/Feb), the OE 993 M030 (Euro spec) suspension was pretty firm, and had too much high speed rebound IMO. The owner agreed as they said our retuned setup (with stiffer springs as well) rode better and handled better than the factory Porsche setup. I was really glad to hear that (my butt dyno already told me it was better but the customer has to be happy too!).



But to its credit, the damping forces changed very smoothly, even if the rebound was too much for US roads. The smooth 'S' type curve shown above plus a clear digressive blow-off would feel more comfortable and predictable than a damper with very sharp edges (sudden downward ramp of low speed rebound, or no blow-off of high speed like the OE E46 BMW suspension has plus the aftermarket options). A year or so ago I made a video 'How to Handle a Raw Egg (Isolate and Control)' that discusses this idea.


Quote:
Eric and I have long lambasted the common choices of spring rates around here, and once we saw your frequency video it clicked. The factory F/R delta is usually ignored, largely due to TRACK tuning tips which are perpetually spread on forums by misinformed HPDE heroes. Lots of people run heavy front springs to maintain the camber curve yet only increase the rear by 50 or 100lb, and don't even get me started how they f**k with their antiroll bars...
I'm really stoked you guys have been working in parallel - in the Miata community there is too much reliance on the HPDE or track day heroes, even people who win championship and tout that as proof their suspension design is superior They can't let the bump stops engage (their very short non-linear stops) without that 'end of the car not working' Yes, stiff sways especially on our strut cars and up front really show the reality of 'sways do affect ride quality & grip'.

Quote:
FYI PSS10 spring rates are 340/565 (progressive) so they do compliment your ride frequency formula more than most. The balance is easily noticeable once educated what to look for. I don't know the H&R coilover rates as they aren't published but i'd imagine they are similar. In my experience with E36's, the H&R race were always too short/low for their soft rate and were always paired with Bilsteins so they basically rode on bump stops everywhere. Can't say for certain about the E46 variants you have as I've no experience with them but that has been the general complaint about them in the BMW world.

Am selling my car with the PSS10's soon, but might buy the one off my buddy with the H&R coilovers next year if I'm able. In that event they will be removed and sent to you!
The 340/565 gives nominal rate of 1.90 / 1.84 Hz, so it's not Flat Ride but not highly on the pitch side. If the rear increases rate faster (usually the case based on what I've seen on spring rate data from Vorshlag) then during compression you probably get closer to Flat Ride. I would drop the front or increase the rear - probably drop the front for a street tune or increase rear for a track tune. It's a good baseline though to work from. Would definitely be happy to work with you!
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Old Sat, Jan-02-2016, 05:55:04 AM   #78
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Default Re: Shock dynos, Fat Cat Motorsports and custom valved Bilstiens

cars can be set up with different styles, and with so many variables there's no one right answer. especially not for all situations.

The main thing I would probably encourage is for people to experience progressive vs. linear sprung systems. Yes they ride harsher but their attitude under "spirited" driving was so different to me that it was apparent around the first corner that I took in my car.. I still vividly remember the day, and I never looked back to progressives.
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Old Tue, Jan-05-2016, 02:54:05 AM   #79
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Default Re: Shock dynos, Fat Cat Motorsports and custom valved Bilstiens

Hey Andy, thanks for the great info on the OptimumG seminars. I definitely plan to attend one. I've referenced sections of Race Car Vehicle Dynamics by Milliken and Milliken and also used it to help create a lateral load transfer calculation in my new suspension spreadsheet. I plan to make an online version available for BMW enthusiasts as I did for the Miata community. Real-world data acquisition is essential and I will do more of it this Winter and Spring as I make suspension changes/upgrades. That reminds me, got a track day on Sunday at Laguna!

With a friend of mine who's a kickass programmer, we created a Smooth Ride App that runs on a Droid or iPhone and lets you get accelerometer data from your phone to look at vertical as well as lateral g's. If you're curious, you (or anyone reading) can play with it for free (for individual use). I wrote the algorithm for the Ride Score metric and am fairly proud of it. With this app it's easy to compare vehicle to vehicle on the same road features and also examining the impact of suspension changes on the same vehicle. The app has helped me gather data for my E46 330i and we took data on Eric's M3 as well when I was down there.


Absolutely, cars can be set up with many styles and many driving preferences. However, there are some design choices that will improve grip & comfort while other choices that will reduce them. When you create a setup that is high-grip and has reasonable roll stiffness, it's going to be very responsive too. EricSMG's comments point this out (post 60) - I aimed for maximum grip and comfort on his stock sprung/sway setup. From metrics I've developed I had a feeling he would really like it for high-speed use and he does. He'd like a bit stronger low-speed steering feedback and that's very understandable (I aimed on the softer end of the damper forces and it's easy to add a bit more low speed rebound and bump without compromising overall grip or ride quality). It will be a fairly small change so we will remain in a window of 'near perfection' where additional tweaking outside that range would only make the car objectively and measurably worse in a variety of conditions.

===
Two very important reasons it's possible to get an nearly 'ideal' optimized setup are related to:

1) Proper overall proportioning of rebound vs. compression damping at high shock speed; over 10ips (inches per second) and easily up to 30-40 ips even for a street car. This proportioning necessarily involves the rebound-to-compression relationship at mid-speed, around 3-7 ips. The higher the ratio of rebound-to-bump force skews toward rebound, the more you're losing suspension travel as the damper cycles at higher and higher shock velocities, which means you're either feeling bigger amplitude bumps or traveling at higher road speeds or both!

Since we're not driving a late model in NASCAR going to work every day, "jacking down" (much more rebound to compression) is not going to be be our friend - even at high road speeds. The OE E46 M3 dampers and all the aftermarket stuff I've tested suffers from either too much high speed rebound force, or both too much mid and too much high speed. When you experience a more optimally damped setup in terms of proportion, you feel the car resetting back to the zero-point of its travel (static / stationary ride height) no matter how fast you go and how rough the road is.

2) How the damper behaves at low shock velocities, between 0-3 ips. Look at the shock force curves and image the shock cycling between rebound and compression then back again. I put my finger on the screen and trace the curve (this relates strongly to the main idea in my 'How to Handle a Raw Egg' video). Back and forth, back and forth over a small displacement or at low velocity. Is there a near-symmetry in response? or is there a sudden change going in rebound *or* compression? Sudden and sharp rates-of-change in low-speed set up a tendency of constant discomfort (and lower grip). It's the hydro-mechanical equivalent of the expression "the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step." How the damper is biased at low-speed will establish a certain character and 'feel' that can be very hard to overcome with later force changes. So even though one may feel TREMENDOUS control with more low-speed rebound (the typical solution of most OEs or aftermarket tuners), we've now compromised the overall FUNCTION of the suspension and its potential for keeping the tires in contact with the ground. This means the car is slower, less stable on uneven roads, and less safe. If that kind of behavior is "better" to someone, I don't want to work with them!

Starting around the 8:00 mark of the first Street Class Tuning video I created I discussed the reason you actually want softer low speed damping for faster roll control. It has to do with the difference between the pitch moment vs. the roll moment (essentially, wheelbase vs. track width). This is predicated on having a spring rates that create Flat Ride. Not every race car using heavy amounts of aero can or wants to use Flat Ride tuning, but the majority of vehicles we're driving are street-based/street-legal without crazy aero so Flat Ride along with generally softer low-speed damping (as the Vette had/has) is very relevant.

===

That's the reason I linked to the Corvette forum thread - curious if you read through that? Both 1) and 2) above were satisfied: the ratio of rebound-to-compression forces were very well-balanced at high shock velocities and also the low-speed ratio and shape were very smooth.

http://www.corvetteforum.com/forums/...s-so-good.html

I was really pleasantly surprised to see them discussing something that backed up my experience tuning suspensions for over ten years now, for all kinds of vehicles. Those factory Corvette shocks were refined on the Nurburgring, plus GM did tuning at a Nationals-style autocross surface (as one poster mentioned). Those damping curves also became be the baseline setting for Dennis Grantz customers' Pen$ke$ - and that they all swore they loved and went faster on. They had rather soft low-speed damping in general, a very smooth S-type curve. The rear compression and rebound were a bit firmer in comparison and this was indicated to provide better axle control and better grip. The OE '04 Z06 Corvette dyno curves have much smoother shapes than you see for typical OE or aftermarket dampers. Those engineers really did a phenomenal job!

If the spring rates increase you certainly need to change the damper forces, but when considering a test like 'how fast if the car on the Nurburgring' I'm not sure what variables you'd change to make the car "better." You can make the car 'different' (increase 'feel' or 'sportiness' which is largely psychological and not measurably better) but not better in an objective sense. I hate being in 'sporty-tuned' cars, because I know there's more shock damping than the suspension needs, or the spring rates are firmer than needed, or the sway bars are too big and set too stiff - so basically, I'm getting abused. I'm not paying a vendor to punish me!

I've build many many non-adjustable setups and have found once I am clear on the customer's needs (tire and wheel choice plus vehicle usage), the setups I build work out great in the vast majority of real-world and race-track situation without any knobs being needed. This is for wet, dry, bumpy or smooth roads, etc. While we can have different tastes in how we want our car to *feel*, what makes a car *work* in terms of maximum grip and sharp response has a pretty narrow window. Outside that window you get a rougher ride and lower grip. Essentially, a lower Quality experience. Subjectivity is not a good reason to make a design choice when there are objective measures that also increase comfort, peace, psychological ease, etc. Someone who enjoys a needlessly stiff setup is deliberately punishing their safety and that of anyone who rides with them. I've seen and done too much to let it go at 'different strokes for different folks.' Not criticizing you per se, but it feels very important for me to point out there are very good reasons for doing things the way I do and why generally fast / comfortable / fun to drive setups, whether OE or aftermarket, all share certain design choices.

I definitely agree that linear is more predictable than progressive and is what I prefer. The way I see it, the primary use of a progressive spring is to eliminate the need for a secondary helper spring in order to keep the main spring in full contact with the spring perches at full droop. However, I'm also appreciating the nature of the BMW OE-style progressive where you get used to a certain driving behavior. It's probably slower from a pure-race standpoint but is great for a dual-purpose car. I actually plan to do some pretty solid testing between a progressive stock-rate setup vs. a higher rate coilover (around 370/700) and perhaps something in-between.

Some springs also have a tapered profile that naturally becomes a progressive spring (like the OE BMW front and rear and all aftermarket lowering springs plus most lower rate coil-over springs). The harder ride you experienced is probably more due to spring rate choice and damper setting than simply a difference between linear or progresive. If you get Flat Ride working for you, the ride is very pleasant even with fairly high rates!
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Old Tue, Jan-05-2016, 02:49:13 PM   #80
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Default Re: Shock dynos, Fat Cat Motorsports and custom valved Bilstiens

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While we can have different tastes in how we want our car to *feel*, what makes a car *work* in terms of maximum grip and sharp response has a pretty narrow window. Outside that window you get a rougher ride and lower grip.
Very eloquently stated, Shaikh.

This is something that I've known, instinctively, for years. Many people here have heard me preach that "softer is better, more travel is better" (to a point) in almost all driving situations. Sure, the car may not corner table-top-flat or be razor sharp to driver inputs and so it doesn't "feel" as sporty, but, it's ultimately the better "handling" car.

I've also MUCH preferred a larger front/rear spring rate split as opposed to a smaller split. The latter results in a very awkward feeling car as the front and rear ends of the chassis are never in phase like they are with a larger split. This is not felt on smooth surfaces but once you encounter medium/large amplitude bumps it becomes very obvious.
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Discussing Shock dynos, Fat Cat Motorsports and custom valved Bilstiens in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)