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M3 Track: Racing and DE Best mod for speed is learning to get the most out of what you currently have. Tracks and DE's is the place to start!


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Old Tue, Nov-05-2019, 01:31:14 PM   #1
Obioban
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Default OE strut tower inserts to eliminate slots/add stiffness

I didn't post about this outside of my journal at first because I wanted to make sure I didn't start snapping the OE strut tower brace faster once I had it done. But, I'm 6 track events into having these installed, plus some back road bombing (different stress load because potholes), and no strut tower brace failure, so posting it here for broader consumption.

I made some inserts to make the slots between the strut tower brace mounts and main bar not slotted. I spaced them such that the mounts were as wide as possible first-- pushed up against the lip on the strut tower. I also installed them with the car on the ground, so there's no preload built in. At this point, the strut tower brace should instantly provide 100% rigidity.

I like the OE strut tower brace because it's light and allows the car to easily be worked on. But, I'm pretty sure the factory slots limit how effective it is-- if you look at the finish in the second picture, you can see how much it has been sliding over 155,000 miles/20,000 track miles. The anodizing has completely worn away by the bar slipping against the nut (torqued to factory spec at all times).

Insert. I made it out of .1875" thick 6061 alu.



Installed in my well worn strut tower brace:



Enjoyed this functionality earlier this year when I blew a coil on track-- had it replaced in ~10 minutes. You can just make out the inserts sitting on the stud in this picture:



You can't see them at all once it's back on the car, so that's all the meaningful pics I have.

Can I feel a difference? Nope. Should the strut tower bar now be more effective? Yep. As effective as the Mason/similar bar? Probably not. But, dirt cheap, stock looking, lighter, and keeps the engine bay easy to work on.

No, I'm not selling these and don't know anywhere you can buy something similar. I don't think they'd ever work as a product, as they have to be pretty specific to each persons not 100% identical chassis. Just putting the idea out there.
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Last edited by Obioban; Fri, Nov-08-2019 at 04:09:02 PM.
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Old Tue, Nov-05-2019, 03:49:44 PM   #2
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Default Re: OE strut tower inserts to eliminate slots/add stiffness

Another way to "skin that cat" is to weld a tight fitting washer to the strut.
On my Z4MC I did this on the torque rods that triangulate the strut tower to the firewall (much more effective than a strut bar across the motor, but the E46 doesn't have a structural spot in the center of the firewall).

Here is the slot, with paint removed for welding.



Washer welded in place.



Mounted. Also welded the brackets to the strut tower to reinforce the spot welds.

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Old Tue, Nov-05-2019, 03:52:53 PM   #3
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Default Re: OE strut tower inserts to eliminate slots/add stiffness

That's a great way to do it! I hadn't considered that.
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Old Tue, Nov-05-2019, 04:08:08 PM   #4
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Default Re: OE strut tower inserts to eliminate slots/add stiffness

I like both of these solutions. Nicely done gentlemen. I need to learn to weld.
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Old Tue, Nov-05-2019, 08:26:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: OE strut tower inserts to eliminate slots/add stiffness

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Originally Posted by eacmen View Post
I like both of these solutions. Nicely done gentlemen. I need to learn to weld.
Easier than you may think for most stuff. MIG is like a metal glue gun.
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Old Tue, Nov-05-2019, 09:37:53 PM   #6
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Default Re: OE strut tower inserts to eliminate slots/add stiffness

Quote:
Originally Posted by eacmen View Post
I like both of these solutions. Nicely done gentlemen. I need to learn to weld.
I agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aeronaut View Post
Easier than you may think for most stuff. MIG is like a metal glue gun.
Im hoping it is when I try again. I just remember in high school making horrible chicken sh1t welds.
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Old Fri, Nov-08-2019, 03:46:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: OE strut tower inserts to eliminate slots/add stiffness

Your quest to improve every little detail on the e46 chassis continues haha

Not related to this, but given your focus on reducing weight why haven’t you removed the suction/snorkel intake thing? Your airbox has the turn down so I assume it gets all its air from the fog light hole, what purpose does the suction intake serve now?
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Old Fri, Nov-08-2019, 04:08:37 PM   #8
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Default Re: OE strut tower inserts to eliminate slots/add stiffness

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Originally Posted by EYEHAVEYOU View Post
Your quest to improve every little detail on the e46 chassis continues haha

Not related to this, but given your focus on reducing weight why haven’t you removed the suction/snorkel intake thing? Your airbox has the turn down so I assume it gets all its air from the fog light hole, what purpose does the suction intake serve now?
The airbox isn't plumbed directly into the fog intake-- it just sort of sucks from that general area. I've left the front duct because I figure it puts more cold area in that part of the car. I assume that's why BMW did the same thing.

I have trimmed it down in the same way BMW did in the CSL
(though I hadn't yet in the picture above)
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Discussing OE strut tower inserts to eliminate slots/add stiffness in the M3 Track: Racing and DE Forum - Best mod for speed is learning to get the most out of what you currently have. Tracks and DE's is the place to start! at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)