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ahlem 10-31-2020 06:28 AM

Need input from Timesert gurus
I am taking off my cylinder head tomorrow to figure out why I'm leaking coolant like crazy after changing the head gasket. I believe my issue has something to do with my Timesert installation. I struggled getting the head bolts torqued properly. When I removed the head bolts I noticed they varied in the torque effort to remove them. Anyone have any insights? I will get a look at the mating surfaces tomorrow to see if something else caused the coolant leaking problem. What should I look for and measure? Anyone been there before? Should I use new Standard Timeserts? I didn't use any Locktite when installing the inserts. I thought about re-torqueing each bolt using a spacer to mimick the thickness of the head to see if I can identify which bolts are especially suspect. Is there an oversized Timesert in the event I need to drill/tap/install abigger one?

ahlem 10-31-2020 02:07 PM

OK. I took the head off and find 5-6 Time serts have pulled out.
I'm guessing I drilled poorly.
Now what? Is it worth trying again if there is such a thing as an oversized Timesert or call it a day and buy a pickup?

Effduration 10-31-2020 02:46 PM

How did you install the time-serts? Did you use kit 1090 which included the jig for the BMW M54 engine? or did you just get the drill bits and do it without the jig? Most of the clamping force comes from the expansion of the time-sert insert as the final step of the installation process. If you didn't use the exact drill bit required (31/64's - an odd size) that might be your problem. The drop of red loctite provides only secondary holding support.

You can fix this by installing M10x1.5 x24.5mm BIG-Serts .. I have kit 1090BS (Big-sert) I can rent you. PM me if interested.

ahlem 10-31-2020 03:04 PM

I ordered the Timesert kit $130 or so, without the drill bushing plate and used the Timesert instructions. The rear outward two headbolt holes are compromised by the plastic covers so I used a 90 degree drill there.

Effduration 10-31-2020 03:20 PM


Originally Posted by ahlem (Post 1194020)
I ordered the Timesert kit $130 or so, without the drill bushing plate and used the Timesert instructions. The rear outward two headbolt holes are compromised by the plastic covers so I used a 90 degree drill there.

Well if you used the Time-sert tools - drill, tap, and driver - & followed their instructions, it should have worked.

Big-serts are still your answer....

oldskewel 10-31-2020 06:08 PM

Here's an interesting video with proof testing on the various options, including the BigSert.


Brief summary is that the BigSerts were the best = the only ones that broke the bolt before pulling out the insert. His testing used M8-1.25 bolts into 6061 Aluminum (he said no heat treating, but that seems very odd).

Very cool thing is that you can visually see the actual failures occuring (TS pulling out, etc.).

TimeSert literature on the BS advertises it to be used after a Helicoil fails. I wondered why they did not say after a regular TimeSert fails, and now figure it must be only because they don't want to admit such a thing ever happens.

So using a BS to repair a failed TS seems like it should work. Further, I don't see why you would not want to use a BS as the first attempt, especially when overkill is desired.

As I see it, the reason you'd want a TS for an M54 block repair in the first place is that the block material will have been weakened by the assumed overheating condition. So of course you'd want to overkill the repair. I used TS with no problems on my M54, but now knowing about the BS, I'd go for that. The BS cost about $5 per insert, vs. $2 for the TS.

Based on that video, if I had to guess, I'd say that your TS inserts just pulled straight up and out, bringing all 24mm of M12-1.5 block threads with them. The video shows that for the TS - the insert does not unscrew, it just pulls up when it fails. Weakened block material may have helped this happen.

I posted a couple of times way back when @ahlem was first starting this project, on using the TimeSerts. I mentioned I had seen a guy with some youtube videos, with a product he had developed, selling it on eBay. Even bigger oversized inserts, also with coarser threads (no longer same pitch as the bolt). Looked impressive, but I have not checked again.

From what I can see, the BS inserts have the same pitch (as the TS and as the bolt), but are bigger in diameter and have a different locking mechanism vs. the regular TS. Is that right, @Effduration?

ahlem 10-31-2020 06:30 PM

Only 4 failed. Two came out with a screw extractor and two want to be difficult. I’m not drilling until I get the specs on the Big Serts.

cn90 10-31-2020 07:15 PM

How about a used engine?

ahlem 11-01-2020 06:02 AM

A used M54 might end up having the same issues. And besides, then I wouldn’t learn anything new and get to buy cool tools. Mrs. “Not car guy” wouldn’t have to stress on it either.

Effduration 11-01-2020 09:33 AM


Originally Posted by ahlem (Post 1194031)
Only 4 failed. Two came out with a screw extractor and two want to be difficult. I’m not drilling until I get the specs on the Big Serts.

I believe the Engineering data is on the Time-serts web site.
++ TIME-SERT Enginerring Data BIG-SERT ++

As for big-serts vs time-serts. I only use/ recommend Big-serts if when time-serts or some other insert failed.

We hear very few reports of time-serts failing when the car has not overheated after installation. I have never seen a properly installed time-sert fail from the correct head bolt tightening procedure, and I have installed 8 or 9 heads, each with 14 time-serted holes..

Big-serts, in addition to being larger, DO appear to have a slightly different anchoring
system. Like a time-sert, the big-sert has several bottom threads which are not fully formed, When installed, these now-fully-formed bottom threads expand the insert, locking it in place, like a time-sert. However, in addition the Big-sert has a pin that is pushed out during installation into the larger threaded hole, that also locks it in place and prevents the big-sert from being unthreaded.

As for always using Big-serts. You could do this, but I wouldn't:
- A regular time-sert almost always works if installed properly.
- I would rather have a smaller hole than a larger hole in this application with with coolant jackets and oil passages nearby
- Big-serts are 2x the price of time-serts (not a big deal)
- If a Big-sert fails, you don't have an easy-to-install next size larger solution.

ahlem 11-03-2020 09:02 PM

The Timesert people want to sell me a kit with the guide bushing plate and 14 big serts for $477. They said the torqueing of the head would be uneven if I didn't change all 14. It's a PITA to remove the two that only partially fell out so I don't relish the idea of doing 14. Anyone use Big Serts with the kit without the plate? Any part numbers on the kit? I was under the assumption that torque is torque and not subject to whatever you are torqueing against, kind of like horsepower.

Effduration 11-03-2020 09:26 PM

I said I would rent you my big-sert kit.

The kit I have is kit# is time-sert 1090BS

I havenít installed big-sertís without the jig in kit 1090BS. But the engineering data shows what drill would be needed. I think it shows the size of the tap as well.

I would feel comfortable big-serting only the holes that pulled.
Although I would would want to be sure which pulled and which didnít.

ahlem 11-04-2020 02:44 PM

My thought is to use a 1/2" steel plate and shorter bolts and test torque all the locations to 50-60 ft-lbs (or the spec) and be sure nothing else is going to cut loose when I reinstall the head. I'm thinking I will run a tap into the two partially failed timeserts and then get a larger washer and use a 1/2" drive impact socket and thread a bolt into the partially failed timesert and pull it the rest of the way out by tightening down the bolt. Then I will decide about acquiring or renting the Big Sert tools to remedy things. Does this sound like a reasonable plan?

Effduration 11-04-2020 03:06 PM

I like testing the remaining inserts to 50-60 lbs

But I don't like tapping and pulling the partially failed inserts. Pulling them seems like it might damage the hole unnecessarily- even though a big-sert would likely fix it.. Time-sert says they can be removed with a spiral point screw extractor (unthreading the insert) or they can be drilled out.

Any idea how this happened to begin with? These time-serts were not pulled out during an overheat..

oldskewel 11-04-2020 04:44 PM


Originally Posted by ahlem (Post 1194239)
My thought is to use a 1/2" steel plate and shorter bolts and test torque all the locations to 50-60 ft-lbs (or the spec) and be sure nothing else is going to cut loose when I reinstall the head...

Really sorry to hear of the problems you're having with this. I feared this same thing on my M54 and consider myself at least a little lucky to not have had any problems. Decision making here must be tough, so I won't try to give advice on the major decisions here, but on a specific issue ...

Regarding "the spec," I just want to point out that the 40 Nm + 90* + 90* (this is the spec) will be accurate only if a new (not yet stretched) head bolt is used, and also the height of the bolt head above the cylinder head is the same as when the head is installed. So you'd need to put a spacer in there matching the depth of the head, if you want to try to do it to that spec. Probably not worth trying to do all that carefully.

Better to just torque to a set torque value, without the additional angle. Yours + @Effduration's 50-60 ft-lb suggestions sound good to me.

From my notes, the Bentley, page 020-4 says an M10 class 10.9 bolt has a torque spec of 66 Nm (49 ft-lb). So that's the torque before any yield occurs. When the actual head bolts are torqued, they do yield, so it will be higher than that. So that's why I think 50-60 ft-lb sounds good. It should definitely hold at 50 ft-lb, and you might worry a little as you turn it up to 60.

Definitely worth testing every existing insert like that before proceeding. You want any problems to appear now vs. later.

I agree with @Effduration's other comments.

And BTW, what you're going through here is exactly why I would have gone straight to the BS inserts if I had known about them, gladly renting @Effduration's kit with the jig, etc. Of course checking on proximity to cooling channels, but I figure TimeSert and others would have blown through those if it were a likely problem here ... vs. the known problem of weakened block material, and the imperfect precision in TS installation that will happen when you do it with the block in the car, without a jig (how I did it), vs. out of the car and on a milling machine. I don't know how close I was to having the problems you are, but I might have been very lucky and right on the edge.

On the sizes, the head bolts are M10, the TS inserts are M12, and the BS inserts are M14, all with 1.5 mm pitch. From that youtube proof testing video I posted a few posts up, the BS inserts were far stronger than anything else. "The ringer" as the video guy called them.

ahlem 11-04-2020 06:03 PM

The M54 ran a total of 5 minutes and peed coolant. I used Victor Reinz head bolts on the first reinstall and they were all over the place in the torque measurements. A couple never got to the first torque setting. I didn’t start the car but replaced the head bolts with stock new. I was concerned about 4 and these are the ones that failed. I suspect the engine overheated at some point way back when since the head gasket was cracked between cylinders in two locations when I first disassembled it.

ahlem 11-23-2020 08:25 PM

Update... I spoke to a pretty knowlegable person at the Big Sert dealer, Mechanics Tools and Bits. He suggested it was a good idea to replace all 14 inserts which is my plan. He agreed that the test torquing idea was a good one. I plan on using a steel plate plus a spacer plus a washer or two and bolt through and torque to the first torque specification before the +90 +90. I could probably use an impact socket as the spacer or a drill bushing or other fairly precision part as the spacer. I may try using one of the original BMW had bolts for the torque test since I have a good selection of them available. He also said I should be able to drill out the regular Timeserts with a correct sized drill bit. I would be curious to know if anyone here has drilled out a regular timesert and what you used. I did see a Youtube video of someone who chuckd a round tapered file in a cordless drill and left handed it for a while and the timesert came out. I'd rather not do the file method but may use the drill jig from my 1090BS kit I bought. Thoughts?

Effduration 11-23-2020 10:23 PM

You want to install 14 Big-serts ? Okay...Remove the remaining, regular timeserts and then drill, tap, insert the 14 big-serts.

I don't know why or what your torque test is. I thought that was supposed to determine which of the remaining time-serts can handle the torque..If you are replacing all 14, who cares?

I don't like using the time-sert or big-sert drill to remove old time-serts. That is a special tapered, notched drill bit - more than $125 if you want to replace it, So I would save it for drilling the aluminum block for the big-serts. Do not use it to drill out steel inserts.

This is what I would do to remove the time-serts

1. screw extractor
2. reverse threaded drill bil
3. regular drill bit* - but not the big-sert drill bit

* The major diameter of a regular M10 x 1.5 timesert is 0.474. So, I suggest you get a 15/32 drill bit (0.469), and then finish the hole with the Big-sert drill bit which is 31/64 or = 4.84

ahlem 12-23-2020 01:25 PM

3 Attachment(s)
An update.
I had to pause to take care of a home repair project before winter kicked in.
Of course now I get to do this in the cold.
The Bigserts drill will require a larger chuck than the regular Timesert. On the exhaust side rearmost two head bolts there is interference between the inner fender parts and a straight shot at the head bolt geometry. I am using the Bigsert kit with the plate since I plan on doing this project a couple times on M54 motors. I wouldn't suggest trying this without the plate. I currently have 8 of the 14 holes Bigserted. Three very good tools to make this fairly reasonable are included in the photos.
First, I made a steel insert bushing that fits inside the Bigsert alignment bushing with an 11mm ID to guide a carbide tipped drill bit to drill out the regular Timeserts. I am getting good alignment and it's doing a good job of drilling out the regular Timeserts.
Second, I made a chuck adapter to attach a 1/2" chuck to my 3/8" air ratchet to use as a 90 degree close quarters drill set up to drill the back two holes on the exhaust side. Used chuck, Home Depot bolt that got the head cut off that matched the threads on the chuck and a 3/8" drive socket of the same diameter as the threaded stud I made by cutting the head off welded into an assembly.
Third, a ratcheting tap handle from Harbor Freight. Indispensible.
I hope to get a couple more holes replaced this evening before we get a white Christmas.

ahlem 12-27-2020 01:13 PM

Another update...
I installed 14 new Bigserts.
I placed a spacer of the correct dimension on a fender washer and test torqued all 14 to 40 foot pounds. I used a used head bolt for that.
Is 40 a good number or should I repeat with the first specified torque setting? I'd have to double check that in my Bentley Manual but I believe its 49 foot-pounds.

Effduration 12-27-2020 02:48 PM

I'd just install the head...forget any further testing. You were quite careful in your installation technique..They will hold fine...

ahlem 01-18-2021 09:04 AM

The Bigserts went in well after some minor angle drill engineering.
The head torqued down as it should have the first time.
30 foot-pounds plus 90 plus 90. I used the $15 torque angle tool from Autozone.
I did have to add a small amount of lead-in to the back pin since there wasn't any on the one that came from the Bigsert kit. I installed the head with the exhaust manifolds on and so far that was the biggest hassle of the project in getting past the sway bar with the exhaust. The other biggest hassle is having to do this twice after the Timeserts failed. I did notice that the aluminum felt awfully soft when drilling for the Timeserts and didn't get that sensation with the Bigserts. The next biggest hassle is that it's hovering around freezing in Michigan while doing this in the driveway in January. But we're car guys and live for this stuff, right?

Effduration 01-18-2021 11:32 AM

There you go.....

You're now a Time-sert guru yourself.....

oldskewel 01-18-2021 02:08 PM

I know what you mean about the aluminum feeling soft. Luckily nothing blew for me.
I put the head in first, followed by the exhaust manifolds. Also doing it that way, there was a lot of wrestling and swearing involved in getting them past the sway bar. I don't think I had to actually remove the bar, but I did fully disconnect it so it could be slid and rotated to get the cats past it.
For me it was summer time in NorCal, so no complaints about the weather.
Hopefully everything works perfectly now.
Thanks for sharing the experience with the timeserts and the bigserts. I'm sure that will help a lot of people. I might be inclined to go straight to the bigserts if I ever need to do this again.

ahlem 01-18-2021 09:16 PM

Any of you racer guys with M54 motors use Bigserts and head studs instead of stretch bolts. “ I’m asking for a friend” a possible project pending that may include a turbo.

Overboost 01-18-2021 10:23 PM

I believe it will be pretty hard to get the head on with studs with the engine still in the car. I know it can barely be done on the E46, not sure if there is enough clearance and the E53 firewall. It is definitely stronger with studs if you plan on a pressurized intake charge.

ahlem 01-19-2021 08:40 AM

In this case, the engine in or out of the car wouldn't be an issue. There is enough customizing going on that clearance would be created to suit the application. Vroom Vroom. I'm comparing my N54 to my M54 and see lots of simplicity in the M54 vs the N54.

oldskewel 02-17-2021 03:51 PM

3 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by Effduration (Post 1194208)
I said I would rent you my big-sert kit.

The kit I have is kit# is time-sert 1090BS

I havenít installed big-sertís without the jig in kit 1090BS...

Old thread, I know, but I just came across a related reference so looked this up.
Here is the 1090BS M54 jig kit, Currently $477 there at Amazon:
Attachment 79710

Here is the regular (not BigSert) TimeSert M54 jig kit 1090, same price at Amazon (BTW, I believe TimeSert tightly controls pricing on their kits so there is not much variation among sellers, even on eBay):
Attachment 79712

But just the BS kit, minus the jig, etc. is the TS5015 kit, currently $99 at belmetric.com:
Attachment 79711

Belmetric also sells the inserts for $3.80 each in M54 quantity.

Any of you guys who actually have these kits, care to point out the differences? :dunno:

As far as I can see, of course the 1090BS has the alignment jig and bolts to hold it in place. And it looks like the drill bits in the jig kits have a little step to get that counterbore 6mm below the block surface. Any other info on differences and how things work? I can see the jig plate has slots instead of holes; I assume that's to allow for two or more different hole spacings, but any feedback on how well that works vs. getting or making a jig with holes only?

That jig plate seems to be the main difference between the plain generic kit and the M54 jig kit, and if the alignment is not so precise due to the slots, it reduces the value. As I mentioned, I was able to use a generic 10x1.5 kit (https://www.belmetric.com/m10x15-c-2...it-p-1524.html ) on my M54 - no bigsert, no jig, no special 6mm-deep counterbore, and got it done.

Effduration 02-17-2021 08:12 PM

I have kits 1090 & 1090BS. I also have the Baum tool B115000 which does all 14 holes in one installation, and is designed to work with TS kit 1015 (reg time-sert M10x1.5)

The jig is the biggest difference between the 1090 & 1090BS kits (aka the two 1090 kits) and the 1015 or 5015 (Big-sert) kit you mention. The drill bits, tap, and installation driver tool in the two 1090 kits are also different than the 1015/5015 kit in that they are already calibrated to drill to proper depth and drill both the primary and counter bore in one drill, tap or install step.

A little known fact is that the 1090 & 1090BS kits have the exact same jig...the bushings for the drill and tap are different. So, if you have both kits you can mount both jigs at either end of the block and drill, tap, and install two inserts at a time..big time-saver.

Using kit TS1015 or TS5015 (big sert) is to essentially do it by hand.. This is not the craziest idea as the existing head bolt threads tend to center the drill when used without the jig. I prefer to use the jigs or the baum tool, which I have only used once. For a first timer, using one of the 1090 kits is the way to go. Full disclosure, I occasionally rent out my time-sert kits to forum members.

Slots - when you mount the jig, you install two bolts thru the slots in the jig into threads and snug them. You then use the bushing and the included centering pin in the hole you are about work on. Tap the pin into the bushing and into the hole with a rubber mallet and then tighten the other bolts...You really can't be better aligned to the hole.

No reason you couldn't make your own jig. Time-sert bushings and centering pins are found on Ebay all the time.

Hope that helps.

oldskewel 02-17-2021 11:22 PM

GREAT info. Thanks.

I'm lucky to not have any need for this info right now, but will be able to make a good decision if I ever do.

I bought and used a TS1015 kit when I did mine, essentially relying on by-hand alignment and precision, as you say. And I used a regular, slightly bigger drill bit to get that counterbore 6mm below the surface.

If I were in that situation again, having nothing, and knowing what I know now, I'd rent the 1090BS from you and do all big serts. Even though it all worked out for me, I can't say I was 100% confident as I torqued each of the head bolts, and the big serts would have helped a lot.

Effduration 02-18-2021 09:14 AM

As a follow-up, I still believe in using Big-Serts ONLY when needed to repair a previously repaired thread, and only on holes that needed them. I would really rather have a smaller, less-invasive insert that does the job (like a regular time-sert) than immediately go for the stronger, bigger, BigSert.

I have installed regular time-serts in all 14 holes of 8-10 M54 blocks and have not had a single one that failed.

This fellow used a competing insert from Huhn Solutions (https://www.huhnsolutions.com/) which has a bigger footprint than a time-sert...He ended up cracking his M54 block with the Huhn insert- leading to an external oil leak on driver's side (LHD) - and has attempted to fix it with JB Weld. I worry the same thing could happen with a big-sert.


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