Buffy Gets a Pedicure

Required materials:

    Folia Tec brake caliper lacquer
    1″ fine natural-bristle brush
    wire-bristle brush
    container to mix paint
    popsicle/mixing sticks
    masking tape & newspaper
    lacquer thinner (for cleanup)

Costs:

    about $60 for kit and other materials
    a few hours time

What do you do when even though your car has a red top, you think it just isn’t quite loud enough? Easy, you paint its toenails … err … brake calipers.

Required materials:

Folia Tec brake caliper lacquer

1″ fine natural-bristle brush

wire-bristle brush

container to mix paint

popsicle/mixing sticks

masking tape & newspaper

lacquer thinner (for cleanup)

Costs:

about $60 for kit and other materials

a few hours time

As you can see from this picture, the stock calipers really don’t stand out at all, even though they are good-sized. I had seen other cars with bright glossy calipers (yes, even P-cars…shhh) and I liked the look. When I found out that Folia Tec made lacquer specifically for brake calipers, I had to try it out.

The Folia Tec kit comes with a can a lacquer in your choice of color (I chose red, but yellow, blue, green, black, silver, gold (shudder), etc. are also available), a can of “hardener”, and a spray can of brake cleaner. Before beginning, put blocks behind the wheels of the car, make sure the handbrake is set, and jack up the car (now might be a good time to call BMW and complain if you are an M roadster owner without a jack).

The instructions say to use the supplied brake cleaner and the wire-bristle brush to clean any brake dust off of the caliper. Clean it well–you don’t want anything to come between the paint and the metal of the caliper. Be careful to avoid damaging any rubber parts towards the rear of the caliper with the wire brush. After allowing the caliper to dry for a few minutes, you should mask off anything you don’t want to get paint on (if you’re too lazy to remove the caliper from the car, like me!). Don’t forget to put some newspaper on the floor under the caliper to prevent drops of color on your driveway or garage floor.

(Now’s a good time to see a cool detail I hadn’t noticed before about the M calipers–the nifty ///M cast into them.)

Before you can begin, you must mix the paint and hardener in a 3:1 ratio. Since I didn’t have a lift and was doing one wheel at a time, I didn’t want to mix the full contents of both cans all at once. I just eyeballed the amount I poured out of each can into my mixing bucket and it seemed to work out fine. After stirring the paint and hardener, wait 15 minutes and stir it again.

Use the brush to put on a thin even first coat. It will start to harden quickly, so quickly brush out any runs or drips in the paint. The rear of the caliper is hard to reach, but you can’t see it when the wheels are on anyway, so don’t worry too much about painting there. I’ll appreciate no giggles about my masterful masking job.

Let the first coat dry for 15 minutes and then apply a second coat. After the second coat, let the paint dry for one to two hours before replacing the wheel. If you are doing the job with one jack/one wheel at a time, you will want to rinse out your brush using the lacquer thinner now, or it will be completely stiff by the time you get around to doing the next caliper.

The final result is, in my biased opinion, pretty sharp. I hope some others out there try this kit as well, as I’d really like to see some of the other colors. I believe Folia Tec even makes a chrome-look caliper paint, which would look sharp on a certain monochrome car I know…

BMW Volt Meter

BMW Part Number: 62-13-2-695-215
Maker: VDO
Cost: $0 for US M roadster owners

After waiting a long time, BMW finally delivers something to fill in the blank gauge location on the dash.

Thanks to persistent questioning and a fantastic dealership it is my understanding that you are looking at one of, if not the first, dealer installed volt meter gauge in the US.

Behind the dash an unused wiring harness was waiting for the simple volt meter to be plugged in. The BMW technician that installed it (Larry Nissen of Moritz BMW) tells me it was quite easy to install, getting behind the dash to find the wiring harness was the only time consuming part of the task.

I’m not claiming to really understand what is happening to make a volt meter read high or low. To me it’s most important feature is the fact that it fills the once blank plate in the dash. However now that I’ve watched the needle move around for a couple weeks I’ve noticed where it usually resides. If I turn the key far enough to engage the electrical system but not far enough to start the engine the gauge usually reads just right of straight up (about 12.5 volts). Once I start the car the needle usually swings way right and climbs to 14 volts. After the car has been running awhile I notice the gauge slowly sneaking back towards 13 volts. So now that I notice a regular pattern, if I ever see the gauge breaking from this pattern I’ll probably freak out and over-react (which might be the goal of a volt meter). But like I said before To me it’s most important feature is the fact that it fills the once blank plate in the dash.

M roadster owners should be receiving this volt meter via USPS Priority Mail. Along with the volt meter (part number 62-13-2-695-215) is a letter from BMW apologizing for the inconvenience. The letter states that you can schedule an appointment with your local BMW center to have the volt meter installed free of charge. However they also attach installation instructions (which don’t look that difficult) so you could install it yourself if you want to.