My Odometer stopped working! (Odo gear replacement)

General E28 FAQs.
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Azure
Posts: 1471
Joined: Feb 12, 2006 1:00 PM
Location: Melbourne, Australia

My Odometer stopped working! (Odo gear replacement)

Post by Azure »

Problem: Odometer and tripmeter no longer function.

Cause: Old Odometer gears have stripped and no longer rotate the odometer.

Solution: Install new Odometer gears!

Disclaimer: You can potentially damage your instrument cluster beyond repair by attempting this fix, as the needles and other components of the cluster are fragile. Neither the author, mye28.com staff or members, odometergears.com staff or anyone else make any form of warranty express or implied. The author is in no way associated with odometergears.com, Jeff Kaplan or mye28.com.
These instructions are shown for this particular example of a 1987 BMW 535is. There may be variations in your vehicle due to manufacturing, conditions, problems, model, year or other differences.
You attempt this fix purely AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Artificially altering odometer readings is illegal.

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Cluster removal:

Start by removing the instrument cluster, there are two screws holding it in which point upwards into the dash at the top of the cluster. The whole thing just pulls forward after this.

Remove the wires. There should be 5 main connectors and some bulbs. The 3 large cables pull right out once you've pulled the black centres on the connectors away from the cluster - they pop out, which allows the cable to be removed.

The two smaller (single wire) cables both pull downwards, after you've pulled out the black securing tray which you pull away from the cluster, after which it'll swing freely.
Remember when installing these two cables "Blau", that is, blue, refers to the colour of the connector, not the wire!

Any remaining bulb sockets (perhaps one or two) will pull straight out, no special attachments.

You can remove the cluster without removing the steering wheel by telescoping the wheel all the way towards you, you should be able to slide the cluster out towards the drivers door with some careful angling.

Consider that first part the test, if you can't figure out how to get the cluster out, you should perhaps think twice before taking the cluster apart... if you got that part ok... read on!

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Odometer Gear Replacement:

Remove the 8 screws shown in the picture below.

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Lift the white portion of the cluster away from the black housing and sit it on its back, it should come away easily (I consider the back the facing you just removed the screws from).

You should end up with something like this:
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Next, you'll need to split the speedometer portion of the cluster out so you can access the gears. With the needles facing upwards, like in the picture below, you'll have to push out the speedo section. You do this by pushing it out of the cluster from the back. There is going to be some resistance as you're disconnecting a 5-pin connector as you do this. The connector is shown below - you'll want to push on the back of the cluster in the vicinity of this connector.

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You should end up with this: (connector highlighted).

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Looking at the speedo section (now separated), you should be able to locate the odometer gears easily behind a clear plastic cover. Remove the two highlighted screws to access them (shown below). I've numbered the 3 gears which you should have received in your package, these are the ones you'll be replacing.

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If you haven't already, you should check your package to make sure you got the correct stuff. I ordered mine from Jeff at Odometergears.com, real nice guy, and a 5erfest sponsor to boot! From here on, my guide covers his gearset - if you purchased yours from elsewhere, the instructions may vary somewhat.

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Ok, with the screws removed you should be able to remove the clear plastic cover that holds the gears. Make sure you're somewhere clean as you might lose a shaft and/or the gears as you remove the cover as the grease on them tends to make them stick. You can see in this image my No3 and 1 gears are missing teeth. Aha! There's our problem! No1 (the small one) is the drive gear which turns and makes the odometer function.

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Go ahead and remove the two shafts and the attached gears, and clean them down to remove the excess grease. In the image below, I have one shaft still installed along with gear 5 which we keep from the original set. You also see gear 1, which we're going to remove. Try to pull it off, it's pretty much going to turn to mush and fall to pieces, leaving a bronze insert stuck to the shaft.

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You're going to need to remove the bronze insert from the shaft. This thing is a pain in the ass. What I did, if you see in the picture below, there's a piece of white straight flat plastic in the lower part of the picture. I used the side cutters on a pair of pliers to grasp the bronze insert, and used that piece of plastic as a fulcrum, then leveraged the insert off. That seemed to work best. Trying to pull it straight off with pliers didn't work for me. Your mileage might vary ( see below ).
Jeff@odometergears.com wrote:"You should squeeze the brass fitting tightly or firmly. Then with only your fingers, slide it off and toss it away. If you pull or pry it off with plyers, you could pull the whole shaft right out of the magnet and have real problems then."
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Here's what you should have left now. Again, gears 3 2 and 1 we're replacing, gear 4 came off the cluster we're keeping. The three new gears are the ones lower in the picture (without the missing teeth!) ;)

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Go ahead and reinstall gear 5 and the shaft if you haven't already. Make sure gear 5 is oriented correctly so it mates up with the gears below it inside the cluster. Pop gear 4 back in (again, we're keeping from the cluster) and ensure it's installed so it mates up with gear 5. With the bronze insert removed, clean up the shaft at gear 1 well so there's no grease left on it. The new gear 1 is a direct press fit, so you want to make sure it sticks to the shaft well (this is the shaft that drives the gears remember). There will be some resistance as you push it on, give it a firm push and pop it on the shaft. In the picture below, gears 5, 4, and 1 are installed and correctly oriented.

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Go ahead and take out your new gear 2 and install it on the shaft with gear 5. Ensure it mates up correctly with gear 4.

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Take out your new gear 3 and install it on the shaft with gear 4. Make sure it mates up correctly with gears 1 and 2. You should be able to tell if everything is going to work now. When you rotate gear 1, the others should all turn... but don't turn them too much, your odometer is affected!

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Go ahead and reinstall the clear plastic cover now, making sure the two shafts marked in the picture below mate up with their respective holes in the cover. Replace the two screws that hold it in on. Voila! You now have a working odometer!

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Now all you have to do is install the speedo back into the cluster, (be careful with the 5-pin connector you disconnected earlier, you don't want to force it and bend it up!), place the cluster back into the black housing, put the 8 screws back in their respective locations and put the cluster back in. - Installation is the reverse of removal.

Congratulations!


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Last edited by Azure on Dec 22, 2006 10:54 AM, edited 1 time in total.
Terry Mustoe
Posts: 281
Joined: Jul 08, 2006 7:13 PM
Location: Wet and wild Washington state

odom

Post by Terry Mustoe »

EXCELLENT presentation...makes me wanna break my odom just to validate this excellent tutorial for myself...
Jeremy
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Beamter
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Joined: Feb 12, 2006 1:00 PM
Location: Connecticut

Post by Jeremy »

Stickied for feedback/commentary.
jmc1590
Posts: 339
Joined: May 31, 2006 2:32 PM
Location: Arkansas

Post by jmc1590 »

Excellent write up. I just did the same thing about 6 weeks ago.
You're going to need to remove the bronze insert from the shaft. This thing is a pain in the ass. What I did, if you see in the picture below, there's a piece of white straight flat plastic in the lower part of the picture. I used the side cutters on a pair of pliers to grasp the bronze insert, and used that piece of plastic as a fulcrum, then leveraged the insert off. That seemed to work best. Trying to pull it straight off with pliers didn't work for me. Your mileage might vary.
As far as the bronze insert goes, I ended up calling Jeff and asking his advise. He suggested grabbing it with a set of side cutters and squeeze the living heck out of it. After that, it slid right off.
c_spargo
Posts: 1248
Joined: Feb 12, 2006 1:00 PM
Location: In the basement with greasy hands

Post by c_spargo »

Do all E28s use the same # of teeth on the gears?

Can we just call and order the "E28" package?

I believe one of mine is trashed beyond counting...
jmc1590
Posts: 339
Joined: May 31, 2006 2:32 PM
Location: Arkansas

Post by jmc1590 »

Can we just call and order the "E28" package?
Yes. The website (Odometergears.com) states that you need to specify # of teeth when ordering. I misplaced my notes and asked Jeff about the E28 set. He stated that was no problem as he had done enough E28's to know off-hand.
filmy
Posts: 674
Joined: Jul 04, 2006 5:51 PM

Post by filmy »

Beautiful write-up, Glen, and great pics! The only thing(s) I would add is that my '86 528e cluster was a bit different with regards to the clear plastic gear cover. Don't know if the previous owner changed the cluster from a different year or model, but my cover had an additional, small circuit board soldered to its side that made it impossible to remove. I tried bending it out of the way after removing the screws, but we all know what happens when you force something. I had nothing to lose at that point, so I destroyed it trying to get the gearbox open. I replaced it with a non-circuit board-laden odometer gearbox covered speedometer (as shown in the pics) and it worked fine.

An interesting note about the odometer from that 528e: the head of the pin/shaft that held the numbered wheels was completely exposed and easily pulled back, enabling the odometer wheels to be set at any desired number - an invitation for fraud by a scheming seller. The other odometers I've dealt with all have part of the clear plastic cover around that shaft head, making it difficult, at best, to change the odometer reading.

The last thing to add is that there are two identical blue (blau) elbow connectors behind the gauge cluster, along with the white (weiss) one. One of the blue connectors has two wires going to it, the other has only one. Pay attention to which blue connector you unplug. I've heard that wire feeds either the cruise control circuit or the temp gauge, but I'm not sure myself, as my CC still refuses to work. But that's another sticky... :?
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