I e-mailed the supplier - they contacted Bilstein who confirmed correct equipment and the supplier gave me Bilstein's 800# to persue it further. I talked with Bilstein and the one I spoke with confirmed new inserts have built-in bump stop and that I could remove the old ones. He seemed fairly certain I had simply not installed the large 'washer' that used to go over top of the original bump stop.
I removed the struts, took everything apart and found his solution to be incorrect. The intermediate step in the shaft (between the threaded portion and the main rod) is simply too long for the existing upper strut mount assembly. The inside diameter of the collet(?) in the upper strut mount assembly just matches the outside diameter of the intermediate step and, with a little persuasion, slides down over it to the main shaft. Once everything is seated, the intermediate step extends above the upper strut mount leaving 8.5mm between the assembly and the bottom of the threads. The top rubber-backed washer only goes down as far as the threads. The noise I was hearing was the assembly slapping up and down in the gap and some shaft galling had already taken place.
I absolutely HAD to get on the road with it that evening for an 800 mile round trip so I had to find an interim solution to hopefully keep things from further damage. The old bump stops had three sections to them so I cut the bottom two sections off and installed the top section and the washer under the upper strut mount and took it for a quick test drive. This eliminated about 80% of the noise and off I went on the trip.
I am wondering what could be going on that would make them not fit:
1) Bilstein/BMW database not correct?
The Bilstein database indicates these are the correct cartridges for the E32 up to 4/88. Mine is a 2/88 build according to the sticker on the door...could BMW/Bilstein be out by 2 months during the early times when this model was changing rather rapidly?
2) Struts replaced?
When I took them apart, I noticed the LH strut had typical 'auto wrecker' codes painted on the tube. Could some previous owner have replaced it with a strut from a slightly newer build date? Seems possible but the RH strut has the same problem and still has the BMW stickers, etc. on the tube and no auto wrecker's marks. Also, the LH cartridge I removed was a Koni and the RH had no markings...typical of original equipment. What is the difference between the -4/88 and the +4/88 cartridges...does it include the length of the intermediate portion of the shaft? The numbers on the RH strut sticker are:
1-0211-36-670-A / BOGE / Made in Germany / 1134 280.1 / BMW
3) OEM/Bilstein cross over kit?
Is there a cross over kit required to make the Bilsteins fit properly? Was the Bilstein guy full of it and the old bump stops are required?
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Thanks for your help,
P.S. have photos but no place to post - will e-mail if helpful.