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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 Wed, May-23-2012, 06:07:56 PM   #11
roadmax05
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

I would not go with AL version because believe the original part is much better, it was tested by BMW and I do trust their engineers.
One notice....many call it plastic, we can say that but in fact it is composite material that is high temperature resistant, so because it looks like plastic it is not plastic, this is the reason that many get the impression that AL is better than "plastic".
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Old Wed, May-23-2012, 08:17:22 PM   #12
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

Out of curiosity, what would you guys pay for a full billet aluminum (i.e. not cast crap) housing that uses the oem non-vanos gasket?
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Old Thu, May-24-2012, 01:34:39 AM   #13
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

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Originally Posted by Bimmerman325i View Post
Out of curiosity, what would you guys pay for a full billet aluminum (i.e. not cast crap) housing that uses the oem non-vanos gasket?

maybe $20....

$1 in rtv or sending it to a machine shop to take care of a normal $11 aluminum one for not much will solve the issue, there is nothing to gain from a more expensive manufacturing process in this area. the most stress it will see is hitting it with a radiator or water pump when replacing them or getting hit by exploding fan blades. i guess you could drop a tool on it too...

id still say the stock one is probably better. mostly because it looks the same as the radiator ends, if it looks bad its time for a radiator too.
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Old Thu, May-24-2012, 01:58:52 AM   #14
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

Yeah, not sure if it would be worth it to mill one out of billet. I paid about $35 for the genuine BMW part couple weeks ago, and since it will last me (actually the next owner of the car) another 10+ years I can't see there being any point in going beyond that. Kinda the same way I feel about radiators, since the first one made it 14 years and 92k miles I don't really think I need to drop serious coin on an alloy unit. Oh wait, because racecar right?
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Old Thu, May-24-2012, 01:59:51 AM   #15
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

The only current aluminum one worth installing is the BMW one that came on the NVM50. As far as I can tell, you can't purchase them new, however.
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Old Thu, May-24-2012, 06:51:36 AM   #16
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

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Originally Posted by Bimmerman325i View Post
Out of curiosity, what would you guys pay for a full billet aluminum (i.e. not cast crap) housing that uses the oem non-vanos gasket?

Considering the plastic one is like $35 I would pay $75 for a billet aluminum one that would last the life of the car.
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Old Thu, May-24-2012, 09:52:07 AM   #17
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

The idea behind the billet housing isn't to make a housing out of billet for bling or because racecar, but because there's no other option for a new housing that uses the far better sealing non-vanos M50 housing gasket. The OEM NV housing is NLA, even though the gasket itself is cheap and easy to source.
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Old Thu, May-24-2012, 01:07:56 PM   #18
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

In principal there is no problem with the cast aluminum parts, and if done decently they would be far better than the composite parts. The problem is that since they started being made competition has been based on price alone which has driven the manufacturing to low quality/low price. Casting is a much less expensive process than machining if only because the waste is less. Unfortunately people didn't realize that by driving the price down they were driving the manufacturing to shoddy casting houses with poor quality control. This resulted in spongy castings with poorly machined sealing surfaces.

In short you can't win this game, if you tried to produce a billet part, the cost would be enormous, I doubt you could get you cost to less than $100.00 per part unless you order more than 1000 pieces, and even then it would be close. You could spec a better casting then have the mating surfaces machined properly. But still you would be competing against the lower priced competitors which will draw the eye of the vast majority of people who don't understand how things are made.

Your best bet would be to purchase the cheesy casting parts in quantity, then do your own quality inspection and true up the mating surfaces. Perhaps you could make your nut by advertising the value added you've put in.

The part I received from BW was less spectacular than I remembered the one I bought 8 years ago for my Z-3. I trued up the mating surface on a surface place with wet and dry sandpaper. It will last forever...
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Old Thu, May-24-2012, 02:17:40 PM   #19
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

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Originally Posted by tom_m3 View Post
Considering the plastic one is like $35 I would pay $75 for a billet aluminum one that would last the life of the car.
At that price, if the $35 part lasts 50k miles (evidence says it goes a lot more), then I can buy two of the factory pieces for less than one billet piece, and go 100k miles. That's 8-10 years of daily driving. How many people are going to keep their M3 that long? Not many, and certainly not putting that kind of mileage on it. It doesn't make sense at those prices.

I hope they do go longer than 50k because that's exactly what my factory-original part has on it. After reading all the info, I'm keeping an eye on it but have no intention of replacing it any time soon.
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Old Thu, May-24-2012, 02:18:34 PM   #20
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Default Re: Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing

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Originally Posted by enderw88 View Post
...then do your own quality inspection and true up the mating surfaces...
I left the mating surface alone, but cleaned up the residual material left from casting... I believe I've posted these images in the past.



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Discussing Aluminum vs Plastic Thermostat Housing in the E36 M3 (1992-1999) Forum - {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999 at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)