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Discussion Starter #1
I had always wanted to do the center armrest rework so it tilted up and had the storage tray underneath, but I really like the narrow storage tray on top of the armrest. I looked at:

E39 Euro Tilting Armrest

But if I was to order the parts for this, I'd lose the small tray on top where I normally put my mobile phone.

I decided to take a chance and order just the sliding/tilting mechanism (P/N 51 16 8 196 965) and the Tray (P/N 51 16 8 196 967) and see if I could make it work.

First, I removed the armrest and sliding mechanism from my car, leaving the center console looking like a bear got in my car and there was a PB&J sandwich in the center console:



Next, I placed it on the bench, and removed the four screws that hold the armrest to the slider. To get to the four TORX head screws, flip the armrest over and slide the mechanism all the way back to expose the heads of the screws through the lower sliding plate (you should be able to see the screw heads in the pictures):




This is the sliding/tilting mechanism:


Next, I removed the phone tray and pull handle from the center armrest, leaving a hole in the middle and mounted it to the sliding/tilting mechanism shown above. To get the "rear" screws in, you'll need to push against the spring mechanism that holds the tilting top open.

I then placed the storage tray (big one) in the center console after pushing the phone harness through the hole on the bottom.

Here's where things got difficult...

I put the pull handle back onto the armrest at the front, and then put the phone tray back in. BUT, the phone tray wouldn't fit hmmm

As it turns out, the tilting/sliding mechanism is much taller on the topside than the sliding mechanism, and caused a big interference with the phone tray.

I thought for a while hmmm (well, O.K., I had a martini...hey, you knew it was coming)

I disassembled the armrest from the tilter/slider, put the pull handle and phone tray into the armrest, and THEN tried to assemble it, but the mechanism was holding the armrest off by too much, and the screws weren't long enough, and the alignment pins weren't reaching, and, and and... :mad:

O.K. Big breath...time to bring out the power tools.

I put the phone tray on my vertical mill, and removed as much material as I could without breaking through the bottom of the tray. This was pretty difficult, as the part is really flexible and hard to hold.

Then, I put the sliding/tilting mechanism on the mill and removed material from the topside of that part. The material I removed were the raised "ribs" on the part. You can see them in this picture. I don't have a post picture, but if you want one, I can get it.


I assembled the pull handle and phone tray to the armrest, and then set it on the mechanism. The alignment pins were now long enough, and the screws were as well. I tightened them up, and it's back in the car:

In the rearward position:

in the forward position:


Rearward position from the front seat:

Forward position from the front seat:

Open position:


The gap between the armrest and the center console is a bit larger than I would like, and if I get some free time, I may see if I can machine down more of the slider to make it lower.

This is not a project for the faint of heart. I was just really darned determined to keep my phone tray AND get the storage tray underneath as well.

:cheers:
 

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Wow Jeff!! What a great idea and well done!! I'd love to do this too, but I don't have your machining equipment (insert Tool Time "arr arr arr"). Oh well!

But thanks for sharing!
 

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Nice work Jeff. The only issue i could see is for those of us with a phone. My bluetooth snap in adapter has wires that run thru, a bundle of them. I'd need to cut a hole in the storage cubby to snake the wires thru., which would probably take up some space when closed.
Mike
 

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I did mine last year and had no problem with the sliding tilting base being too big.

Excellent way to adapt and overcome.
 

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Jeff, that is a LOT of work, and looks well done. I have to say, however, that part of the reason I didn't like the stock armrest was because my elbow tended to rest on the channel where the phone would go, and it hurt!
 

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Wow, I'm impressed!

If you are ever near Tucson, I'll **** well find some Malacca if you will help me with that!

Edit: the substitute for the edited word (which was not bad at all, geez Gustav), is "darn".
 

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swingkat420 said:
How much was the parts?
It's about $400 if you get the lifting center console with tray and the ALL leather arm rest (not phone slot in the middle). The bulk of the cost is probably the new armrest itself however since it's a leather piece. Not sure how much just the tray and the lifting piece are. Probably < $100 for both.
 

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I did the same thing, only used a die grinder to mill the parts. BTW, if you use your existing leather parts with the phone slot, the mod is a lot less money, all you need to buy is the tilt/slide and the storage tray.

:cheers:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
ELEVENS said:
I did the same thing, only used a die grinder to mill the parts. BTW, if you use your existing leather parts with the phone slot, the mod is a lot less money, all you need to buy is the tilt/slide and the storage tray.

:cheers:
Die Grinder? That must have taken some time and patience! I did shave off some ribs from the back of the phone storage tray using a simple wood plane, but it wasn't nearly enough...

You are right on this being much less expensive than ordering the whole armrest. I ordered the parts from Pacific BMW. I think the total was around $125.

lwebb12 said:
I did mine last year and had no problem with the sliding tilting base being too big.
Do you have the phone storage tray on the top of the armrest??? hmmm
I would say it might be the year difference, as mine is an '03, but I think the parts are all the same through all years.

:cheers:
 

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Nice upgrade Jeff. Just one question... where's the Martini? :hihi:
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Ashok Arora said:
Nice upgrade Jeff. Just one question... where's the Martini? :hihi:
In my belly cherrsagai hiha
 

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M-Fünf said:
Die Grinder? That must have taken some time and patience! I did shave off some ribs from the back of the phone storage tray using a simple wood plane, but it wasn't nearly enough...

You are right on this being much less expensive than ordering the whole armrest. I ordered the parts from Pacific BMW. I think the total was around $125.


Do you have the phone storage tray on the top of the armrest??? hmmm
I would say it might be the year difference, as mine is an '03, but I think the parts are all the same through all years.

:cheers:
Yes I do.
 

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M-Fünf said:
Die Grinder? That must have taken some time and patience!..
Ugly but effective. But who cares - nobody can see the handywork once it's assembled.

Wish I had a vertical mill:p
Probably a good thing that I don't - I'd be too tempted to mill the cylinder heads :viking: hiha



 

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Discussion Starter #18
ELEVENS said:
Ugly but effective. But who cares - nobody can see the handywork once it's assembled.

Wish I had a vertical mill:p
Probably a good thing that I don't - I'd be too tempted to mill the cylinder heads :viking: hiha
Very nice job!

Yup. That's pretty much what mine looks like. I noticed that you ground around the stop pin as well (the pin that prevents the armrest from sliding OFF when you slide it forward)...I am tempted to relocate the stop pin so I can remove more material to reduce the gap underneath. :3:

:cheers:
 

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Nice work.

I just bought the base and the tray but didn't count on one thing.... I have a phone in the phone tray. Has any one done the modification with the phone which seems more... much more complicated. I there is an other thread on this I'd appreciate the help. :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #20
marcducati said:
Nice work.

I just bought the base and the tray but didn't count on one thing.... I have a phone in the phone tray. Has any one done the modification with the phone which seems more... much more complicated. I there is an other thread on this I'd appreciate the help. :thumbsup:
Whoa! I think you're right...that's going to take some thought. You're going to need to route the phone connection wires under the storage tray toward the rear of the car, and then probably cut a hole at the back of the tray to bring the wires up through that, then connect the wires to the bottom of the phone tray... hmmm

Do you have any pictures of the bottom of the phone tray where the wires connect that show the connectors and the size of the wire bundle? If so, post them or send them to me and I'll take a look if you'd like...I can go out and look at my setup and see if there's an "easy" way to do this...

Good Luck!!!
:cheers:
 
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