Tejas Trax - February 2020 Edition

From the President

By Josh Butts

I know many BMW drivers these days are perpetual leasers and never experience the joys of out-of-warranty ownership, and so I wanted to tell you a brief story about how owning old BMWs means you'll never be without a project on the weekend.

As many of you know, one of the cars in my fleet is a 2001 740i. That car rolled off the line in May of 2001, and while only having 57,000 miles on the clock, is approaching 20 years old. So while by many standards, that car is barely broken in, all of the rubber parts suffer the same fatigue of time, regardless of mileage.

I own 3 BMWs. One convertible, one with a carbon fiber roof (no sunroof, "slicktop"), and the 7, with a sunroof as you'd expect. The sunroof cassette in that car is brand new, it has approximately 3500 miles and maybe 2-3 "openings" on it. However, with the interior shade pulled open, you'd think you were sitting on top of the Matterhorn in some sort of Alpine blizzard there is so much wind noise.

I did some Googling on this problem, and most people seemed to suggest this is due to a failure in the "flocked" rubber seal that rings the opening. I thought this seemed odd, as the sunroof definitely does not leak water, so I decided to prove this theory. I took some blue painter's tape and masked off the opening, and took the car for a quick spin with the interior sun shade opened. Voila! Silent as you'd expect a 7er to be.

Luckily, I was able to source a replacement part for less than $50 from BMW of Austin. However, doing the replacement requires dropping the headliner and pulling the sunroof glass out, so as you'd expect, that part is sitting on my workbench, waiting for a weekend free of other projects. No doubt, once I pull the headliner, which has recently been recovered in black alcantara, it'll be another trip to the dealer to replace a handful of arcane plastic clips that were designed for longevity by BMW's rubber engineers.

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Backroads and Jewely

By Ken Carson

Weather is always an iffy proposition in February when planning an event, but Mother Nature cooperated fully with a beautiful sun-filled day on February 22, for a less-than-spirited drive through Central Texas. Why less than spirited, you ask? Saturday mornings after 9:30 are a busy time on the backroads, where even one vehicle intent on maintaining a leisurely pace, i.e., staying at or just under the speed limit, can slow down your entire group. And there sure seemed to be many of these folks running weekend errands! That and some of our route just cried out for us to slow down and enjoy our Hill Country surroundings.

Twenty-seven vehicles of all sorts of BMW-ilk showed up for this drive to the home of a Texas jewelry legend. Five decades of BMWs were represented; all ran flawlessly on the 120-mile journey. From Neue Klasse, 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-, and 8-series, to X-fill-in-your-number-here and Z3 and Z4 roadsters and coupes, it was an exceptional array of cars cruising the Hill Country. As the driver of the lead vehicle, I could only imagine the astonished look on the face of the farmer waiting to pull out on Cypress Creek Road when he realized that I was just one of a long line of BMWs.

After the meet-up in San Marcos, where hellos and huzzahs were exchanged amid many and varied conversations, our procession took a while to get out of San Marcos. Well, it should take a line of 27 cars broken into several strips by traffic lights and stop signs longer than usual to reach the highway speed limits offered outside of town. But Ranch Roads 12, 32, and 306 offered us a way to skirt Canyon Lake on the north side, where even the cars that were left behind in San Marcos eventually caught up and kept up. Until a turn off of RR 473 onto Edge Falls Road, as we were just entering Kendalia, threw Paul Goldfine (and everyone behind him) off the prescribed route into Boerne for lunch. Edge Falls Road has several cattle guards, a low-water crossing, and a one-lane bridge as it courses through ranch lands where cows, sheep, and goats may cross or even block your path. I am truly sorry that part of our group missed it.

We stopped in Boerne at the Hungry Horse Restaurant, known for serving home-style cooking since 1983 while offering unique varied-size courses. Most entrees came in three different sizes and most salads and sandwiches came in two sizes. Honestly, the menu on the wall was so large that I didn’t get a quarter of the way through it before deciding on a jalapeno cheese burger and onion rings. The burger was delicious and Connie’s hot-grilled chicken salad was as tasty as it was big. Even with such a large group, the food came out fairly quickly, and the staff didn’t seem at all flustered. Owner Steve Artale said that he wished we came every week. If only we could. We were joined by a couple who could indeed eat there every week: locals Jonna Clark and Brad Mitchell had just enough time to join us for lunch before their out-of-town guests arrived for a weekend visit. We were sure glad they did!

Our journey after lunch took us north to Sisterdale and then southwest to Comfort, where we picked up Cypress Creek Road and headed towards Kerrville. Well most of our group did. Once again, Paul Goldfine led some of our group on a slightly different route that ended with them following I-10 into Kerrville. Once again, I’m sorry they missed Cypress Creek Road, which also had many other names as it wound its way north of I-10, back south of I-10, and then into Kerrville’s east side. We headed straight west across Kerrville to the Harper Highway, which took us to Avery Road, home of James Avery Artisan Jewelers.

James Avery started designing his own jewelry from silver and copper in his in-laws garage in 1954, just a stone’s throw from the current campus of limestone buildings that still house the retail store, visitor’s center and museum, and the design studio and a few other departments. Up until a little over two years ago, the corporate offices and manufacturing was at this site, too, but they now occupy a new 94,000 square foot facility near Kerrville’s airport.

We were welcomed by our host, Anna Russell, who has worn many hats in her 34 years working for James Avery. She currently manages the on-site retail store and the visitor’s center, and she graciously told us about the start of the company, its continued growth, and what’s in the company’s future. Although he had handed over the day-to-day operations to his sons in 2007, James Avery was still active in design and custom work when he died less than two years ago. His sons are responsible for the new manufacturing facility and operations center which consolidated departments under one roof and dramatically improved efficiency for the company. Every step is still completed in-house, from design, to creating large models from clay whose details can be transcribed into the much smaller actual size molds, to the jewelry being created through the lost wax method. The jewelry is then finished by hand; a single piece might pass through fifteen workers’ hands before it is finished. Cutting, shaping, polishing, etc. requires a great deal of labor and careful handling. Every spare scrap from the cuttings and shaping is reused. There is almost no waste of metal products.

The visitor’s center offers short videos of each step in the process, as well as jewelry pieces from each decade, showing the development of the myriad processes used today. Even James Avery’s first piece he created, a simple cross that he wore around his neck on a cord, is displayed, as well as commissioned pieces, such as the papal communion set he created for Pope John Paul II’s visit to San Antonio in 1987. Made from silver and lined with gold plate, the three pieces are simple and elegant at the same time, a hallmark of James Avery’s work.

After Anna’s presentation, our group spread out through the visitor’s center, learning about the processes used to create jewelry. Many went to the retail store and purchased jewelry that spoke to them. I have been in many James Avery stores (thanks to my wife), and I can say without a doubt that the Kerrville store is the largest store with the largest inventory of jewelry I have seen. They even stock special edition pieces and jewelry that has been retired for decades that they brought back for a limited run. It is a mind-boggling array of pendants, rings, necklaces, earrings, charms, and other items made in silver, gold, and other metals.

All of this beautiful work was the inspiration of a man who grew up in Chicago, who was a bomber pilot in WWII, who did his flight training at Lackland Field in San Antonio, who was a college professor in Colorado that married a woman whose parents would eventually live in Kerrville, and who decided on a summer visit to his in-laws that he would stay and open a jewelry business. Mostly because he had liked the “can-do spirit” of the Texans he had met during his short time at Lackland.

While hearing this story, I looked around me at the group that was gathered there in that Kerrville shop and reflected on my own strange path that led me to this group of people who have become so special to me. I was someone who left Texas to follow my dream of coaching at the next level, who needed to return to Texas to be near family after a wife’s illness and passing, who never considered owning a BMW until a friend innocently suggested I get a convertible to drive to all of my daughter’s high school sporting events in the Texas Hill Country, and who now has a life very different from what I always imagined. The wandering and seemingly wayward paths of our lives had led all of us to this Kerrville jewelry shop on this February day. I am thankful for this Tejas Chapter. And I am thankful for less-than-spirited drives on the backroads of Central Texas.

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Lee Mail Tech Report

By Lee Rector

I am honored by the request from our BMW CCA Tejas chapter President Mr. Josh Butts to provide a technical article for the Tejas chapter. Knowing that not everyone is a DIY, most of my articles will be to provide information which hopefully everyone can learn from.

I'm a BMW CCA lifetime member (I was truly inspired by the commitment of our former President, Glenn McConnell to become a lifetime member) and the BMW brand has been the roots of my professional career since 1980, but it has been the BMW owners which have supported both mine and my fellow associates with a fantastic way to make a living.

I am dedicating this first article to my lifelong friend, Mr. Jim Walker, who gave me the encouragement and assistance almost 35 years ago in opening the Black Forest Werkshop.

With such a long entrance I'll make this a short and sweet article. We recently had a 2008 BMW 528i with flickering rear plate lights and a trunk which would not open with switches. It took a fair amount of force to open the trunk with the key blade. Another recent patient, a 2000 BMW 330ci came in with the instrument cluster indicating a left rear bulb out. We confirmed the tail light in the trunk lid was inoperative.

We found both vehicle had failed in the same manner. The wires at the hinge points were breaking, separating and fraying. This is also possible on the rear lid of the X series vehicles. So, should you ever have light or switch related issues there is a good chance the you may find a similar problem at the flex points of the wiring. The e46 is a much simpler fix as removing the wiring boot does not require trim removal. The e60 body style however does, since the wires run thru the tube which serves as trunk support (on the right side).

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