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    Automatic convertible realignment procedure

    Hello.
    E30 1992 convertible in generally great condition.

    I had to resort to manually operating my automatic top due to a problem and am struggling to follow the system realignment procedure described on the E30ic website. When using the Allen wrench to try to secure the tonneau lid I'm putting a lot of torque on the Allen wrench (counterclockwise) and I can see the tonneau pull down but it's not locking. I'm hesitant to put more pressure on and fear breaking something.
    The top is in the "up" state so there should be nothing inside to interfere with the mechanisms.
    Does anyone have experience with this process? How hard should this be if things are working correctly?
    I have not tried to have someone push on the tonneau to help yet, but that's my next step.

    My original problem was that I heard a gear grinding sound or "ratcheting" sound while the tonneau cover was closing. If I helped the tonneau drop by supporting some of the weight it would help.
    Eventually the final step of the convertible top rear dropping down wouldn't occur, which suggests to me that the tonneau lid "lock" wasn't happening. The ratcheting noise would continue so I gave up and released all the motors/locks.

    I've done a lot of searching and learned a lot but it's still not apparent how to troubleshoot this one.
    Any suggestions on how to maintain this mechanism is greatly appreciated.
    Thanks

    #2
    There isn't really a "locking" mechanism per se on an automatic top. "Locking" is done by the motor pulling the tonneau covert down until it triggers the stop sensor. The "locking" is done by the motor in the stop position stricly due to binding or friction of the gears holding the tonneau in place.

    One of the weak point to the design of the auto top power mechanism is the emergency release design. There is a flat mounting plate for the motor that is attached to the release catch. This plate slightly deforms over time a tiny bit. The meshing of the motor's drive gear and the locking mechanism has such tight tolerances that even a mm or two deformation can cause poor engagement of the drive gear.

    My guess is the ratcheting you heard was the drive gear slipping. When it slips, it can't get to the stop point or at least hold at the stop point to perform a proper "lock". I had this happen on my top as well. Scared the hell out of me because I thought I had lost the motor worm gear or other issues I had seen people talk about that required the replacement of the assembly or conversion to manual.

    Here is what I did. I was able to take some material to protect the plate along with gripping the area of it that connects to the emergency release catch with vice-grips and bend it back a mm or two so the catch held the motor in place more firmly. Then I had to perform the part of the realignment procedure where I held the tonneau cover in the stop "lock" position with the allen key, and while holding, then reengaged the drive motor. It's tricky, but I did that a year ago after exactly what you describe happened to me and I've never heard another peep out of it.
    Last edited by Escaport; 10-06-2018, 12:08 PM.
    Current - 1991 E30 325i Auto Vert, 2013 F30 335i M-sport, 2014 F25 X3 M-sport
    Past - 1986 E30 325es, 1988 E30 M3, 1991 E34 535i 5sp, 1991 E31 850i 6sp, 1992 E36 325i, 1995 E36 M3, 2000 E46 323i, 2009 E60 535i, 2011 E90 335d

    Comment


      #3
      Thank you very much for the advice. I want to make sure I understand your comment "I was able to take some material to protect the plate along with gripping the area of it that connects to the emergency release catch with vice-grips and bend it back a mm or two so the catch held the motor in place more firmly. "

      The "material" noted above was to keep from damaging the plate and then grab and bend the corner below 1 or 2mm toward the back of the car which will push the gear toward the front when fully latched in-place?
      Attached Files

      Comment


        #4
        Check your owners manual
        You can search online if you don’t have it
        I BUY/SELL REFURBISHED CM5907s & CM5908s

        HOWTOs:
        DB vert plastic bumpers
        OEM Keys
        MTech1 docs

        88 ix Lach/Card
        91 ic Calypso 3.1
        86 Cosmo 2.7

        OEM+ or bust!


        reelizmpro: I will always be an e30 guy.. I still do all of my own labor
        TrentW: There's just something so right about a well-built M20 in an E30
        e30m3s54turbo: I save my money for tuner parts.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Escaport View Post
          There isn't really a "locking" mechanism per se on an automatic top. "Locking" is done by the motor pulling the tonneau covert down until it triggers the stop sensor. The "locking" is done by the motor in the stop position stricly due to binding or friction of the gears holding the tonneau in place.

          As the boot lid motor turns, it pulls wires that run through the boot well. The other ends of the wires are connected to latches that rotate, pull down the front of the boot lid and secure it.
          Last edited by cory58; 10-09-2018, 02:50 PM.
          1992 325i 'vert
          1988 320i Touring
          1977 530i
          2015 328i - Euro Delivery/Performance Center Delivery
          2001 325i - R.I.P.
          BMWCCA
          E30CCA

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by cory58 View Post
            That is not correct. As the boot lid motor turns, it pulls wires that run through the boot well. The other ends of the wires are connected to latches that rotate, pull down the front of the boot lid and secure it.
            Yes, but there is no lock mechanism. The cables that pull on the latches are held tight by the "locking" of the motor, not by any true locking mechanism. It isn't as if once the motor cranks enought to a point a latch is engaged that holds the cables and latch hooks down. It's just the friction of the motor that keeps the cables tight. My statement is correct.

            For the scope of what causes the issue and where the effort needs to be focused, it doesn't matter if there are cables and latches after the motor/gear interaction.
            Last edited by Escaport; 10-09-2018, 02:39 PM.
            Current - 1991 E30 325i Auto Vert, 2013 F30 335i M-sport, 2014 F25 X3 M-sport
            Past - 1986 E30 325es, 1988 E30 M3, 1991 E34 535i 5sp, 1991 E31 850i 6sp, 1992 E36 325i, 1995 E36 M3, 2000 E46 323i, 2009 E60 535i, 2011 E90 335d

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Dspill View Post
              Thank you very much for the advice. I want to make sure I understand your comment "I was able to take some material to protect the plate along with gripping the area of it that connects to the emergency release catch with vice-grips and bend it back a mm or two so the catch held the motor in place more firmly. "

              The "material" noted above was to keep from damaging the plate and then grab and bend the corner below 1 or 2mm toward the back of the car which will push the gear toward the front when fully latched in-place?
              Close. I did the bending here..., and in the same direction you indicate. Just enough that the emergency release catch there pulls a little harder and engages the motor a bit more positively. It isn't a big bend, and it won't latch properly if you go too far.
              Attached Files
              Last edited by Escaport; 10-09-2018, 02:59 PM.
              Current - 1991 E30 325i Auto Vert, 2013 F30 335i M-sport, 2014 F25 X3 M-sport
              Past - 1986 E30 325es, 1988 E30 M3, 1991 E34 535i 5sp, 1991 E31 850i 6sp, 1992 E36 325i, 1995 E36 M3, 2000 E46 323i, 2009 E60 535i, 2011 E90 335d

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Escaport View Post
                Yes, but there is no lock mechanism. The cables that pull on the latches are held tight by the "locking" of the motor, not by any true locking mechanism. It isn't as if once the motor cranks enought to a point a latch is engaged that holds the cables and latch hooks down. It's just the friction of the motor that keeps the cables tight. My statement is correct.

                I see what you are saying. There is a locking mechanism, but it is held in place by the motor shaft not moving on the EM version. I think we are both right. I will edit my previous post. I would not trust the boot lid to stay secured without the front latches locking it in place.


                Cory
                1992 325i 'vert
                1988 320i Touring
                1977 530i
                2015 328i - Euro Delivery/Performance Center Delivery
                2001 325i - R.I.P.
                BMWCCA
                E30CCA

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by cory58 View Post
                  I see what you are saying. There is a locking mechanism, but it is held in place by the motor shaft not moving on the EM version. I think we are both right. I will edit my previous post. I would not trust the boot lid to stay secured without the front latches locking it in place.


                  Cory
                  Yeah. Exactly. In essence on the electric version, the motor shaft not moving is the "lock".

                  Not having ever owned or examined the manual version, I don't know exactly how it works. I figure it has more of a real door latch style lock mechanism since it has that little door handle in the rear panel where the speaker is.
                  Current - 1991 E30 325i Auto Vert, 2013 F30 335i M-sport, 2014 F25 X3 M-sport
                  Past - 1986 E30 325es, 1988 E30 M3, 1991 E34 535i 5sp, 1991 E31 850i 6sp, 1992 E36 325i, 1995 E36 M3, 2000 E46 323i, 2009 E60 535i, 2011 E90 335d

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thanks for the suggestions.

                    I finally had some time to dig into this today. I am able to connect and disconnect the motors now. The key there was to have the top in the "up" position so there is downward pressure on the tonneau while I'm trying to lock it with the Allen wrench.

                    I'm still getting the gear-skipping from the tonneau during various stages of the process. If I support the weight of the tonneau while it's going up or down I don't have the gear skipping. However depending on how the micro switches are adjusted the cycle may not stop at the top or bottom of the cycle which results in the same gear skipping and it won't move to the next stage of the process.

                    I have noticed that the arm that lifts the tonneau seems to have interfered with the body of the car as if it's gone beyond where it is supposed to have stopped in the tonneau "up" position (see picture below).

                    I wonder if the micro switch that tells it to stop going "up" is not adjusted correctly or not working. I removed the micro switch adjustment cover to see both micro switches. I've seen the instructions that say turn it all the way one way or the other and then turn it back until it clicks. Does anyone have more specific ideas of how these work together?

                    I did try to bend that plate toward the back of the vehicle but it's quite stiff and I'm not sure it moved much. I think I'm on the right track.

                    Can I remove and reinstall this entire motor assembly without any major complications to get a better look?
                    Attached Files

                    Comment


                      #11
                      That tonneau / top cover arm has a tight fit - it frequently rubs against the seal behind it. In fact there's supposed to be a protective boot over that arm.

                      I would VERY careful about bending anything. It's super easy to break the top motor lid by just holding the top button too long when there's an interference problem. Buddy of mine snapped one of the top rods in front of me, just by closing the top.

                      I can't really understand what you're describing to be honest. Maybe you can post a video, and you can point out what you're seeing?

                      If your motors are properly engaged you should have ZERO 'gear skipping'. perhaps you have not pushed the lid/tonneau motor all the way in.

                      I have a lot of electric top info on my vert thread. check the last couple of pages.
                      I BUY/SELL REFURBISHED CM5907s & CM5908s

                      HOWTOs:
                      DB vert plastic bumpers
                      OEM Keys
                      MTech1 docs

                      88 ix Lach/Card
                      91 ic Calypso 3.1
                      86 Cosmo 2.7

                      OEM+ or bust!


                      reelizmpro: I will always be an e30 guy.. I still do all of my own labor
                      TrentW: There's just something so right about a well-built M20 in an E30
                      e30m3s54turbo: I save my money for tuner parts.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        some pics from my thread that may be helpful



                        and good info starting at this post
                        https://www.r3vlimited.com/board/sho...13#post4897313

                        "lid" linkage and motor = tonneau
                        "top" linkage and motor is the main bits that move the actual top

                        the bottom part of the top frame is called a tensioning hoop. It's the part that sit on the lid when the top is closed, and swings up so the lid can swing open and closed. S1-S2 switches detect tensioning hoop position. S3-S4 switches indicate lid open or closed. The S5 switch sits on the front right top pin and does not allow the motors to engage if the top is locked.
                        I BUY/SELL REFURBISHED CM5907s & CM5908s

                        HOWTOs:
                        DB vert plastic bumpers
                        OEM Keys
                        MTech1 docs

                        88 ix Lach/Card
                        91 ic Calypso 3.1
                        86 Cosmo 2.7

                        OEM+ or bust!


                        reelizmpro: I will always be an e30 guy.. I still do all of my own labor
                        TrentW: There's just something so right about a well-built M20 in an E30
                        e30m3s54turbo: I save my money for tuner parts.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Thanks for the help!!

                          I will study your posting closely.

                          I will post a video as soon as I go back to the car. it's stored offsite at the moment.

                          But for now....
                          Picture if you will, the tonneau opening up and visibly struggling until it finally stops lifting parts of the way up (~45 deg) but the motor continues to operate and there is a rat-tat-tat gear noise. If I assist the tonneau's weight then it will continue to raise without the noise.

                          However, when the tonneau reaches the very top of the open position (also where it seems to be interfering with the car), it will rat-tat-tat because nothing is telling the motor to stop turning. I'm guessing that there is a microswitch issue there so I will try to adjust that gear until this stops. I'm not sure if these two issues are related or the first problem created a new problem. Maybe the "up" switch failed and then created a gear problem.

                          Then on the way back down the same noise will occur unless I assist the tonneau down by hand.

                          I believe the motor is pushed all the way in as it's very clear how that plate fits into the slot. As the previous poster suggested, if I was to bend the plate backward 1mm it would result in the motor moving in 1mm closer. However I cannot feel any additional room to push it in if I move the locking slot out of the way so I'm hesitant to start bending things yet.

                          This top worked OK since new, although it has required some hand adjustments as the elastic bands have worn out. This car is in great shape so I want to preserve the operations.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            that's not good. you either have damaged gears or the lid motor is not fully locked in. DO NOT keep pressing the top bottom if your top or lid stops moving before it should.

                            have you greased the top mechanism at all? there are a couple of slots on each side that should be greased. in my case my top frame had sheared bolts in those areas. I have pics of the damage on my thread, and also pics of top motors with the top case broken off.
                            I BUY/SELL REFURBISHED CM5907s & CM5908s

                            HOWTOs:
                            DB vert plastic bumpers
                            OEM Keys
                            MTech1 docs

                            88 ix Lach/Card
                            91 ic Calypso 3.1
                            86 Cosmo 2.7

                            OEM+ or bust!


                            reelizmpro: I will always be an e30 guy.. I still do all of my own labor
                            TrentW: There's just something so right about a well-built M20 in an E30
                            e30m3s54turbo: I save my money for tuner parts.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Automatic convertible realignment procedure

                              [QUOTE=Dspill;4928367]





                              My cover would not close tight when i got my car. I adjusted bowdens and fiddled with the motors without benefit until i finally took this arm off and put another 5-10 degrees of bend in the direction of the blue arrow. Now it doesn’t touch the car and the cover closes down tight. It seems that the motors can be strong enough to straighten that arm over time.


                              Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                              Last edited by htseng; 10-16-2018, 12:42 PM.

                              Comment

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