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      04-02-2014, 11:31 PM   #1
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Question S65 Bearing Replacement - WPC or VAC (Calico)

Hi all,

In preparation for a SC (hoping to go Harrop), I'm gonna go ahead and drop my subframe and fit up some new rod bearings. The car is a 2011 with only 16k on it but I plan on going big.

I've done some research and talked to both companies but I'm still uncertain as to which way to go so I'm looking for some help deciding.

Here the dilemma:

WPCs are essentially micro shot peened to make them stronger and smoother (while allowing for a bit more oil retention). On one side of the coin, making the bearing surface stronger seems smart but on the flip side, like others have said, rather than a "soft" bearing taking the hit, wouldn't this potentially increase the chance of damage to the crank if a foreign body was to make its way in??
Considering how tight the engine is, one clear advantage to WPC's are that factory clearances are retained during this treatment.

VACs are coated bearings (by Calico) with their CT-1 process. It is a dry film lubricant sprayed onto the surface of a factory bearing. This coating provides intermittent dry lubrication which can be a huge life saver if the S65 does in fact occasionally run a bit "dry". The surface is tolerant of a lot more heat and less prone to wear. Unfortunately, the coating can add a bit of thickness to an otherwise tight clearance to begin with. I'm no expert but that can't be good... The other thing I have heard is that most coatings do not last. I cant speak for Calico's CT-1 but if the coating does in fact wear quickly, everything will be right back to were I am now. Wondering about the current state of my bearings....

So I ask of the engine experts out there, can you PLEASE help me with any considerations I am missing that may sway me in one direction or the other?

Thanks

Last edited by rocket_science; 04-03-2014 at 01:07 AM.
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      04-02-2014, 11:56 PM   #2
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Might be worth mentioning, apparently harrop have chosen to use VAC coated for there installations.
They also did a comparison of the bearings after 15k miles of install.

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=832837
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      04-03-2014, 12:10 AM   #3
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You're already hit on the salient points of each. So I won't repeat those same points.

Here's one downside, and I'm going to call it a very serious downside to the Calico coated bearings. I really worry about Calico's quality control. We know from the big bearing thread that (blue) upper and (red) lower bearing shells are different. Upper bearing shells are slightly thicker than lower bearing shells. I've measured two sets of Calico coated bearings: 1) Bearings right out of the Calico box, still shrink wrapped, and still labeled "UPPER" and "LOWER." 2) A second set after 16k (or so) of engine miles. In both cases, the lowers measured thicker than the uppers. There was no doubt to me that Calico had mixed them up and labeled them wrong and this lead to improper installation in the engine. Uppers were in fact lowers, and lowers were in fact uppers. Given that there was a significant time delta between these two bearing installations, that leads me to wonder if this is an endemic problem at Calico where they are habitually mixing them up -- or if they really think red bearing shells are upper and blue bearing shells are lower. Either way, it worries me.

Good luck with your decision.
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      04-03-2014, 12:30 AM   #4
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Thanks RG. That's really important information.

So I assume Calico marks the upper/lower bearings differently and there is no red and blue?

Quote:
Originally Posted by regular guy View Post
You're already hit on the salient points of each. So I won't repeat those same points.

Here's one downside, and I'm going to call it a very serious downside to the Calico coated bearings. I really worry about Calico's quality control. We know from the big bearing thread that (blue) upper and (red) lower bearing shells are different. Upper bearing shells are slightly thicker than lower bearing shells. I've measured two sets of Calico coated bearings: 1) Bearings right out of the Calico box, still shrink wrapped, and still labeled "UPPER" and "LOWER." 2) A second set after 16k (or so) of engine miles. In both cases, the lowers measured thicker than the uppers. There was no doubt to me that Calico had mixed them up and labeled them wrong and this lead to improper installation in the engine. Uppers were in fact lowers, and lowers were in fact uppers. Given that there was a significant time delta between these two bearing installations, that leads me to wonder if this is an endemic problem at Calico where they are habitually mixing them up -- or if they really think red bearing shells are upper and blue bearing shells are lower. Either way, it worries me.

Good luck with your decision.
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      04-03-2014, 12:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocket_science View Post
Thanks RG. That's really important information.

So I assume Calico marks the upper/lower bearings differently and there is no red and blue?
Correct. After the Calico process, the red and blue markings are no longer visible. So they must mark them and label them. Here's what the packaging looks like.

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      04-03-2014, 12:52 AM   #6
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Here's some photos from the day I measured the virgin Calico bearings. You can see the Calico box in the background of the top photo.





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      04-03-2014, 01:02 AM   #7
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One more question RG...

Are the outside dimensions/circumferences of both the red and blue the same?

Considering that the 2 shells still compress to a certain tolerance, so long as all 8 are in the same order, does is really make a difference then as to which one is up and which is down?

This is under the assumption that there was a red and a blue to hit a certain inner tolerance against the crank and not to fit the journal surfaces differently (cap vs. rod).

Thanks again for the help!
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      04-03-2014, 01:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocket_science View Post
One more question RG...

Are the outside dimensions/circumferences of both the red and blue the same?

Considering that the 2 shells still compress to a certain tolerance, so long as all 8 are in the same order, does is really make a difference then as to which one is up and which is down?

This is under the assumption that there was a red and a blue to hit a certain inner tolerance against the crank and not to fit the journal surfaces differently (cap vs. rod).

Thanks again for the help!
Yes both red and blue are the same outside dimensions. I can't give you a definitive answer if it matters because other than thickness, we don't know how else they differ. We ran a hardness test on both, and it came out the same. We didn't profile the inside shape, so I can't tell you if they follow the same profile or not. I can tell you that BMW always shows blue (upper) and red (lower) and you can find a few web articles which talk about it with light details.

There are three different sets of main bearings specifically to hit a certain tolerance. With mains, you can see that BMW will mix upper and lower shell colors on the journal. The S65 repair manual also talks about this, and gives dimensions for each main bearing color group. The differences are slight enough that they are intended to be mixed to obtain a certain tolerance.

I don't think the rods are like this. Even on other BMW engines, blue was always upper, and red was always lower rod bearing shells. No dimensions are given (unlike the mains). There's nothing in the S65 repair manual that shows or describes mixing rod bearing colors to obtain a specific tolerance (but mains there is). It too mentions blue (upper) and red (lower). So when I put it all together, I don't think that's what they had in mind for the rod bearings.

I think there's one of two things going on here. The eccentricity between top and bottom shells may be different. I would think this could aid oil flow around the journal. Or, the thicker upper shell is meant to take more pressure because that's the shell that's going to take all the abuse from the combustion events in the cylinder. Or it could be both.
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      04-03-2014, 01:32 AM   #9
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I went with WPC after doing my research. when they came in and were measured, they were perfect!
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      04-03-2014, 02:12 AM   #10
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Do the WPC bearings still have the red and blue markings?
Have a set on the way as we speak....
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      04-03-2014, 12:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cidle323 View Post
Do the WPC bearings still have the red and blue markings?
Have a set on the way as we speak....
WPC keeps the markings, as well as repack in original boxes.

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      04-03-2014, 12:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cidle323 View Post
Do the WPC bearings still have the red and blue markings?
Have a set on the way as we speak....
From what I understand, they do.

And given the identification marking issues with Calico, I'd say you made the right choice. I will be following suit as well.
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      04-03-2014, 01:40 PM   #13
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Seems like wpc is safer choice. Its OEM bearings plus potential upside with no downside. Vac has potential upside however with big risk and unknowns at this point
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      04-03-2014, 06:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by regular guy View Post
Here's some photos from the day I measured the virgin Calico bearings. You can see the Calico box in the background of the top photo.





Thanks for all the info and time you take on the forum.
Would you be able to post the measurements to look for to determine if they are labelled incorrectly? IE: Top vs Bottom measurements.

This might be helpful to those who have bought the Calico (VAC) bearings....
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      04-03-2014, 07:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schnell325 View Post
Thanks for all the info and time you take on the forum.
Would you be able to post the measurements to look for to determine if they are labelled incorrectly? IE: Top vs Bottom measurements.

This might be helpful to those who have bought the Calico (VAC) bearings....
Sure, I will do that tonight.
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      04-04-2014, 01:38 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schnell325 View Post
Thanks for all the info and time you take on the forum.
Would you be able to post the measurements to look for to determine if they are labelled incorrectly? IE: Top vs Bottom measurements.

This might be helpful to those who have bought the Calico (VAC) bearings....
Here you go:

702/703 Results
R1
R2
R3
R4
R5
R6
R7
R8
MIN
Max
Official
Min Dev.
Max Dev.
Top (Blue)
0.07870
0.07870
0.07865
0.07865
0.07865
0.07865
0.07865
0.07865
0.07865
0.07870
0.07870
-0.00005
0.00000
Bottom (Red)
0.07855
0.07855
0.07850
0.07850
0.07850
0.07855
0.07850
0.07850
0.07850
0.07855
0.07850
0.00000
0.00005
Calico Results
R1
R2
R3
R4
R5
R6
R7
R8
MIN
Max
Official
Min Dev.
Max Dev.
Top0.078500.078600.078550.078500.078600.078600.078500.07855
0.07850
0.07860
0.07860
-0.00010
0.00000
Bottom0.078700.078750.078850.078750.078700.078750.078850.07885
0.07870
0.07885
0.07880
-0.00010
0.00005


Notes:
  • Calico coated bearings start life as 702/703 factory BMW bearings. An anti-friction coating is applied on top of the bearing surface.
  • Top table are virgin 702/703 bearings as measured in the "Official Bearing Wiki" Thread.
  • Bottom table are a full set of Calico bearings with approximately 16k miles on them.
  • Virgin 702/703 bearings have thicker upper (red), and thinner lower (blue) bearings.
  • Calico bearings have thinner upper and thicker lower bearings (opposite of OEM).
  • Assuming bearings were swapped, the average thickness of the Calico coated bearings is 0.00010 inch thicker PER SHELL than OEM.
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      04-04-2014, 10:13 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by regular guy View Post
Here you go:

702/703 Results
R1
R2
R3
R4
R5
R6
R7
R8
MIN
Max
Official
Min Dev.
Max Dev.
Top (Blue)
0.07870
0.07870
0.07865
0.07865
0.07865
0.07865
0.07865
0.07865
0.07865
0.07870
0.07870
-0.00005
0.00000
Bottom (Red)
0.07855
0.07855
0.07850
0.07850
0.07850
0.07855
0.07850
0.07850
0.07850
0.07855
0.07850
0.00000
0.00005
Calico Results
R1
R2
R3
R4
R5
R6
R7
R8
MIN
Max
Official
Min Dev.
Max Dev.
Top0.078500.078600.078550.078500.078600.078600.078500.07855
0.07850
0.07860
0.07860
-0.00010
0.00000
Bottom0.078700.078750.078850.078750.078700.078750.078850.07885
0.07870
0.07885
0.07880
-0.00010
0.00005


Notes:
  • Calico coated bearings start life as 702/703 factory BMW bearings. An anti-friction coating is applied on top of the bearing surface.
  • Top table are virgin 702/703 bearings as measured in the "Official Bearing Wiki" Thread.
  • Bottom table are a full set of Calico bearings with approximately 16k miles on them.
  • Virgin 702/703 bearings have thicker upper (red), and thinner lower (blue) bearings.
  • Calico bearings have thinner upper and thicker lower bearings (opposite of OEM).
  • Assuming bearings were swapped, the average thickness of the Calico coated bearings is 0.00010 inch thicker PER SHELL than OEM.
So the key is to measure the Calico bearings and determine which set of eight are thicker than the other eight and assume they they are the correct upper /top bearings? Or, as in bullet #5, are the upper/top thinner on purpose?

Sorry for what probably seems like a stupid question.
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      04-04-2014, 10:27 AM   #18
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+1 for the wpc. I stand with Regular Guy on the reasons.
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      04-04-2014, 10:48 AM   #19
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WPC 100% for sure!
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      04-05-2014, 03:07 PM   #20
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I find it particularly amusing that those who have placed such extreme emphasis on best practices over many decades (largely empirical) also have such strong opinions about the better of two bearing options where not a shred of empirical data exists showing one performing better than the other.
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      04-07-2014, 06:08 PM   #21
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Whoa, Swamp is skeptical. Shocking.
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      04-09-2014, 03:07 AM   #22
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