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Thread: Oil Pan Baffle

  1. #1

    Oil Pan Baffle

    Iím going to do the oil pan gasket, and while Iím in there Iím going to replace the broken oil level sender.

    One thing Iíd like to add is an oil baffle. Last time I took the car on a track day the oil went hiding and the lifters started ticking quite badly for quite a while.
    Does BMW make an OEM oil baffle? Does the car come with one?

    I saw a VAC unit that requires some welding, something Iíd like to avoid if possible. On ebay I saw some oil pan baffle like this one.

    Is that the BMW OEM one, or is that included in every e46? I donít know.

  2. #2
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    That link to ebay is just the OE splash cover for the crank. The only baffle options for our cars need to be welded in and it fricken SUCKS. I just did it a few weeks ago and had all kinds of trouble since the thick aluminum pan acts like a giant heat sink. The good thing is that, once it's in, it fricken WORKS. I did an autocross last weekend with some long sweepers and had no lifter tick!

    I put the VAC baffle in two pans and both needed some grinding/cutting to fit well. If I were doing it again, I would get the baffle from Achilles Motorsports along with their oil pump shaft upgrade, which I also installed while doing the OPG:

    I tried two methods for installing the baffle:

    1. Alumiweld rods and a MAPP torch - The alumiweld rods are awesome and work great for "welding" thinner materials easily and without special equipment. You just wire brush the surfaces you want to weld (to remove oxidation), heat the surfaces to like 730F with the torch, then scratch the aluminum rod over it. When it works, it's beautiful. For this application, it was a disaster. It was impossible to heat the surface of the thick oil pan without melting the thin baffle. The heat of the torch was immediately pulled away from the surface of the pan and into the rest of the body. I managed to get it good enough to hold, but I went through all of my rods and made an absolute mess:



    2. Aluminum tig welding - After my issues with the alumiweld rods, I took the other pan/baffle to work and let a guy in the shop try to tig it. He ran into the same issues of the heat being pulled away from where he was holding the torch on the pan, as the baffle melted like butter. He managed to get it welded, but it was an ugly mess and there were some new holes burnt into the baffle. It was vindicating seeing him have the same issues that I had with my "stupid little rods." It came out better than my alumiweld mess, but was still rough:



    ***If I were to do it again***
    In all of the beating my head against the wall watching videos of people using alumiweld sticks, I came across this genius that put the cast aluminum part in a grill to preheat the entire thing to 4-500F. This greatly reduced how much heat was pulled away from the weld area and allowed him to use the alumiweld.

    So, the ideal process would be:
    1. Remove and clean the hell out of the oil pan. Grez-Off and a pressure washer worked great for me.
    2. TEST FIT the baffle and make sure it's going to slide right in and lay flat.
    3. Scrub the areas you want to weld with a wire brush to remove oxidation. The aluminum will immediately re-oxidize, but it'll be thin enough to scratch through with the alumiweld rod (hence the technique of scratching it onto the surface).
    3. Find a grill large enough to hold the entire oil pan and throw it in. Crank that shit to max and leave it for a while to get up to temp.
    4. Open the grill (leave the pan on it to maintain temp) and set the baffle in place.
    5. Use the torch to heat the surface up until you can scratch the rods on and get to welding!

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by ZHPizza View Post
    That link to ebay is just the OE splash cover for the crank. The only baffle options for our cars need to be welded in and it fricken SUCKS. I just did it a few weeks ago and had all kinds of trouble since the thick aluminum pan acts like a giant heat sink. The good thing is that, once it's in, it fricken WORKS. I did an autocross last weekend with some long sweepers and had no lifter tick!

    I put the VAC baffle in two pans and both needed some grinding/cutting to fit well. If I were doing it again, I would get the baffle from Achilles Motorsports along with their oil pump shaft upgrade, which I also installed while doing the OPG:

    I tried two methods for installing the baffle:

    1. Alumiweld rods and a MAPP torch - The alumiweld rods are awesome and work great for "welding" thinner materials easily and without special equipment. You just wire brush the surfaces you want to weld (to remove oxidation), heat the surfaces to like 730F with the torch, then scratch the aluminum rod over it. When it works, it's beautiful. For this application, it was a disaster. It was impossible to heat the surface of the thick oil pan without melting the thin baffle. The heat of the torch was immediately pulled away from the surface of the pan and into the rest of the body. I managed to get it good enough to hold, but I went through all of my rods and made an absolute mess:



    2. Aluminum tig welding - After my issues with the alumiweld rods, I took the other pan/baffle to work and let a guy in the shop try to tig it. He ran into the same issues of the heat being pulled away from where he was holding the torch on the pan, as the baffle melted like butter. He managed to get it welded, but it was an ugly mess and there were some new holes burnt into the baffle. It was vindicating seeing him have the same issues that I had with my "stupid little rods." It came out better than my alumiweld mess, but was still rough:



    ***If I were to do it again***
    In all of the beating my head against the wall watching videos of people using alumiweld sticks, I came across this genius that put the cast aluminum part in a grill to preheat the entire thing to 4-500F. This greatly reduced how much heat was pulled away from the weld area and allowed him to use the alumiweld.

    So, the ideal process would be:
    1. Remove and clean the hell out of the oil pan. Grez-Off and a pressure washer worked great for me.
    2. TEST FIT the baffle and make sure it's going to slide right in and lay flat.
    3. Scrub the areas you want to weld with a wire brush to remove oxidation. The aluminum will immediately re-oxidize, but it'll be thin enough to scratch through with the alumiweld rod (hence the technique of scratching it onto the surface).
    3. Find a grill large enough to hold the entire oil pan and throw it in. Crank that shit to max and leave it for a while to get up to temp.
    4. Open the grill (leave the pan on it to maintain temp) and set the baffle in place.
    5. Use the torch to heat the surface up until you can scratch the rods on and get to welding!
    Awesome.

    Do I grill the pan with the baffle and then weld on the grill?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fried_Chicken View Post
    Awesome.

    Do I grill the pan with the baffle and then weld on the grill?
    Yeah I was thinking you could stick the baffle in after the pan is heated to minimize the risk of melting it, but you may have some issues getting it to fit once the pan swells up a bit from the heat. Either way has its advantages/disadvantages.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by ZHPizza View Post
    Yeah I was thinking you could stick the baffle in after the pan is heated to minimize the risk of melting it, but you may have some issues getting it to fit once the pan swells up a bit from the heat. Either way has its advantages/disadvantages.
    Just got the oil baffle from Achilles; As soon as I get a chance I’ll be installing it.

    Home depot sells these aluminum brazing rods.
    One of the comments suggests using aluminum flux. What do you think?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fried_Chicken View Post
    Just got the oil baffle from Achilles; As soon as I get a chance Iíll be installing it.

    Home depot sells these aluminum brazing rods.
    One of the comments suggests using aluminum flux. What do you think?
    Honestly my only experience with brazing was with the HF rods on this project and playing around a bit on the backside of the baffle. I couldn't tell you what to do with flux, much less whether or not you need it.

  7. #7
    Holy crap I get what you’re talking about now.

    I can’t get the grill closed with the oil pan in place, and it was too windy to get the pan up to the temperature I needed. I got the biggest baddest MAPP gas torch I could, but I couldn’t get the aluminum to braze on the oil pan. I’m going to have to crank that SOB up alllll the way for a good amount of time, then fry those spots hard.

    I hope it works, otherwise I don’t know what I will do.

    Now that I’ve looked at it, the Achilles baffle doesn’t seem to sit as well as the one from your 2nd pic. I tried hammering it in and it still won’t sit quite that well in there. It also didn’t just drop in, it took a bit of persuasion. I’ll see what I can achieve tomorrow. I need this job finished, as I have to return the engine lift.

    This is not a fun job, and I’m starting to regret going with an oil pan baffle.

  8. #8
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    Ah man I was hoping you'd have better luck. May want to do a bit of grinding on the baffle to make it drop in better. I had to do a lot on mine, which is the only reason I suggested going with the Achilles.

    So what I finally did to get the alumiweld to adhere to the pan was literally lay the torch in a spot to sit there for like 5-10 minutes and just cook away (with the baffle removed). I watched the spot with a ir temperature gun and it eventually got hot enough (only showed like 550F) to scratch on some of the alumiweld. I then just built up a nice little pool and moved to the next spot.

    With a few spots adhered (you really only need like 3-4) I was able to drop the baffle in and focus the torch on those pools (not the baffle - it would melt) and eventually heat them enough to adhere to more alumiweld, which was obviously easy to scratch onto the baffle. It was ugly af and used a ton of rods + gas, but it worked out in the end.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by ZHPizza View Post
    Ah man I was hoping you'd have better luck. May want to do a bit of grinding on the baffle to make it drop in better. I had to do a lot on mine, which is the only reason I suggested going with the Achilles.

    So what I finally did to get the alumiweld to adhere to the pan was literally lay the torch in a spot to sit there for like 5-10 minutes and just cook away (with the baffle removed). I watched the spot with a ir temperature gun and it eventually got hot enough (only showed like 550F) to scratch on some of the alumiweld. I then just built up a nice little pool and moved to the next spot.

    With a few spots adhered (you really only need like 3-4) I was able to drop the baffle in and focus the torch on those pools (not the baffle - it would melt) and eventually heat them enough to adhere to more alumiweld, which was obviously easy to scratch onto the baffle. It was ugly af and used a ton of rods + gas, but it worked out in the end.
    I BBQed it, and just torched both the baffle and the pan together. Eventually got some nasty welds. I hope they hold, but more importantly I hope they donít throw shit into the engine.

    Again Iím a bit skeptical if it was worth it. I have a sneaking suspicion it will cause oil levels to not always appear correctly to the car, causing erroneous error messages. Iím not sure it will even work, given how shittily it fit into the car, and Iíve only ever felt the need for a baffle once while on the track. Itís not cheap kit at ~$150 + welding requirements ($65 for me), and it adds a significant amount of time to the job.

    Time will tell, maybe next time I track it I will notice a huge difference. One thing Iím very glad I took care of is the engine mounts. Mine were completely busted, and I think this has removed quite a bit of driveline slack.


  10. #10
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    Hey man that looks great! After I finished mine, I went through it with a screwdriver and hammer chipping off anything that wasn't fully adhered to the base metal. I used a little mirror to look around in the baffle and make sure I wasn't missing anything. When those welds take to the base metal, man they're solid!

    No worries about it breaking apart and you'll be glad you did it the next time you hit the track/AutoX and don't starve the engine of oil.

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