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-   -   Cheap Hatch Strut/Support Alternative!? (http://www.318ti.org/forum/showthread.php?t=13422)

CirrusSR22 11-29-2006 08:48 PM

Cheap Hatch Strut/Support Alternative!?
 
I found a possible, good alternative to the factory hatch supports. As some of you know they can be quite pricey (>$60 a pair). I knew there had to be a cheaper alternative.

I measured my lift supports at 23.5" extended (596mm, matches realoem.com) and 16.5" compressed. A 7" travel. I set out searching for other vehicles with similarly sized supports. What I found was a 23" extended (582mm, matches shorter realoem.com option), and 16" compressed strut. 7" of travel again.

Realoem.com data: http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...60&hg=41&fg=60

They are from a 97-01 Chevy Blazer / GMC Jimmy / Oldsmobile Bravada. 4 Door, w/ Lift gate. It looks like the 2 door version uses a different strut, and the 4 door version also has smaller struts for the hatch lift window.

Mighty Lift C95769
Stabilus (Sachs) SG230031
Strong Arm 4287 (same as Mighty-Lift?)

I bought the Mighty Lift pair for $15.99/ea at AutoZone. $34.06 total w/tax.
The Sachs ones are available at www.rockauto.com for $14.10 each, but with shipping the total was $34.88.

I installed them and they work just fine! The pivot ball end-links must be one industry standard size, because they fit just fine. :) OK, there is one concern, the pressure. While the Blazer hatch isn't huge, im sure it weighs more than the 318ti hatch, thus requiring a stronger support. Pulling the hatch down does require some effort with one hand, but it's nothing outrageous. Also, the hatch sticks up rather firmly, but again I don't think it's excessive. I'm gonna definitely keep an eye on it though. Another note; one new Blazer support will definitely NOT support the full weight of the hatch, so I don't think they're massively strong.

***Keep in mind my shocks have been almost completely dead for 3 years, so I have no idea how strong they're supposed to feel.***

Well just my observation, and I won't guarantee they won't wreck anything ;)

DustenT 11-29-2006 08:55 PM

NICE WORK!

Excellent post. I need some new hatch struts, I'll pick up a set of these and give them a try.

J!m 11-30-2006 03:25 AM

I have new BMW ones installed, but the wing and rear wiper make the hatch excessively heavy. It stays up fine when it is warm, but cold it can sometimes slowly start to loose it until the weight takes over and it closes itself, as the worn ones did without the wing.:rolleyes:

I'm getting a set of these lifts and trying them out. If it takes some effort to close the hatch (you did not mention a wiper and/or spoiler) with a stock hatch, they should be just right with the added weight of the wing on my hatch.:biggrin:

I am a bit concerned about the shorter length. I'm 6'2" tall, and if the hatch is lower when open this might be a pain in the skull...:eek:

If they work well, I will post the results...

CirrusSR22 11-30-2006 03:58 AM

Ah yes. I have a rear wiper, but no wing.

I did find a set that was actually cheaper, and longer. They are 24" Extended, and 17" compressed, so .5" longer than stock. Same 7" travel. They belong to a 92 (and earlier?) Ford Aerostar. There are two versions, one for a rear wiper and one without the rear wiper. But after looking at pictures of the Aerostar hatch, it seems quite massive, even compared to a Blazer. My guess is it would be too strong. Rockauto has the version w/o the wiper for $13.86. It's Sachs/Stabilus #SG204006.

EDIT: I measured the hatch latch protrusion to the ground at 66.75" (car's not lowered). I didn't measure it before, but it doesn't seem any lower. Also, it's 11F outside and the hatch firmly stays up.

Philly 11-30-2006 04:40 AM

thank you thank you thank you thank you thank youuuuu!!!

ive been in dire need of some new struts but was avoiding the $60 replacements at all costs!

roadrash 11-30-2006 07:31 AM

Oh gee, that's some great timing. I just ordered a pair of struts on TUESDAY for $37 each (dealer price was $44 each). That is the story of my life. LOL

Seriously though... thanks for doing the research!

J!m 11-30-2006 12:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CirrusSR22 (Post 97265)
Ah yes. I have a rear wiper, but no wing.

I did find a set that was actually cheaper, and longer. They are 24" Extended, and 17" compressed, so .5" longer than stock. Same 7" travel. They belong to a 92 (and earlier?) Ford Aerostar. There are two versions, one for a rear wiper and one without the rear wiper. But after looking at pictures of the Aerostar hatch, it seems quite massive, even compared to a Blazer. My guess is it would be too strong. Rockauto has the version w/o the wiper for $13.86. It's Sachs/Stabilus #SG204006.

EDIT: I measured the hatch latch protrusion to the ground at 66.75" (car's not lowered). I didn't measure it before, but it doesn't seem any lower. Also, it's 11F outside and the hatch firmly stays up.

!! WARNING !! That extra 1/2 inch of compressed length may not allow the hatch to close properly if these Aerostar lifts are used... I'm still going to look into this myself.

L84THSKY 11-30-2006 04:04 PM

Using non BMW struts, can be as much trouble as using a non BMW airbox. Didn't you just say the engineers at BMW know what they're doing!

I just finished a job involving a Satcom system on a HMMV vehicle. The system had doors on the side that opened and closed with the same type of gas struts. The problem is, if the struts have too much strength, the points at which they connect to the vehicle are now the weak link.

I haven't looked closely at the two points of connection on the car, but you can bet they will be subject to more force, and could possibly break.

My Triumph mechanic always uses the same analogy about the 100 engineers who designed the bike. I'm always looking to improve my bike, but have to be sure I understand the pros and cons.

Quote:

Originally Posted by DustenT (Post 97214)
NICE WORK!

Excellent post. I need some new hatch struts, I'll pick up a set of these and give them a try.


CirrusSR22 11-30-2006 07:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by L84THSKY (Post 97320)
I haven't looked closely at the two points of connection on the car, but you can bet they will be subject to more force, and could possibly break.

That's exactly what I'm keeping an eye on. I'm gonna contact the manufacturer and see if there is a spec. on the strength of these. The stock ones are 380N, 390N, 420N & 430N. N = Newtons I assume.

My only concern for damage at this point is if you let the hatch rise fully on it's own. It's doesn't go up very fast, but when it reachs the top, it's a slightly abrupt stop, so I've been slowing it by hand. Again, I've never had lift supports that work, so I don't really know what it's supposed to do.

Sure is nice to have a hatch that stays up though :D

J!m 11-30-2006 07:41 PM

I agree with you, Eric. For a stock hatch, go with the correct parts (I did).

My problem is my hatch is now several pounds heavier than a stock hatch, and the heaviest lift stock BMW lifters are not quite up to it. I need a few more pounds of lift to be secure.

Not 20 pounds more lift mind you...

DustenT 11-30-2006 08:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by L84THSKY (Post 97320)
Using non BMW struts, can be as much trouble as using a non BMW airbox. Didn't you just say the engineers at BMW know what they're doing!

This is hardly the same thing. This is a cheaper alternative to a stock part, not an upgrade. :tongue:

If these replacement struts are .5" shorter both extended and compressed, how can it put additional strain on the contacts? The hatch won't be open all the way since the struts are shorter, so there is no opposing resistance. Or am I thinking about this the wrong way?

J!m 11-30-2006 09:16 PM

No, the strain would come from trying to close the hatch against lifters that are far stronger than the stock design.

I'm sure there is a margin there, but if the struts are super-heavy, you essentially bend the hatch at the lift point every time you close it. This is a bad situation, similar to the one-sided lift which twists the hatch...

96cali 12-01-2006 03:39 PM

FWIW I just had Stabilus struts installed this past week. It sends the hatch up with some force and takes a pretty good tug to get them compressing. Sounds pretty much the same as your lo-dough alternative.

CirrusSR22 12-01-2006 04:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 96cali (Post 97454)
FWIW I just had Stabilus struts installed this past week. It sends the hatch up with some force and takes a pretty good tug to get them compressing. Sounds pretty much the same as your lo-dough alternative.

Cool, thanks. Hopefully the manufacturer will get back to me with some specifications.

steelejared 12-01-2006 07:28 PM

I am delighted with this thread and intend to go to autozone today to get the alternative struts. The back of my head thanks you.

I asked my mechanic to replace mine a few weeks ago but they needed to order them and because he is so fastidious, (Usually a great characteristic for a mech. He is like the mechanic on Seinfeld who was always scolding Jerry over the maintenance of his car.) he would not order the heavier duty struts for the hatch with wiper and spoiler because I have an Active with wiper but no spoiler and the heavy duty strut was not the specified part. He suggested that I could always order the heavy duty strut myself at the dealer and put them on myself. That was what I was going to do, but had not gotten around to it. Now I am going to get these alternative struts instead.


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