Even though Webby's engine has come alive and hummed nicely, it eventually died with some coughing, sputtering, and a nice flame out the top of the carbuerator. There were issues with the engine's timing, specifically a wiggly distributor cap. Normally, there's a notch in the distributor body that marries with a tab on the cap, or vice-versa. It's this advanced "tab-in-notch" engineering that keeps the cap from spinning around and altering the timing. My distributor has no notch in the body, and oddly there was no tab sticking up. While it would be very convenient to be able to adjust the timing by simply spinning the distributor cap, road vibration or an errant bump of the elbow would do the same. And that's no good.
After a brief phone conversation with a friendly, knowledgeable 2002 person, it was clear that I was missing the all too crucial tab technology. RealOEM.com to the rescue. No doubt I could have fabbed a tab of my own, but a part number from RealOEM and a call to the nearest dealer had me the actual part in a few days at a fairly reasonably price. It was so small, they even mailed it to me.
Webby's dizzy, capless. A smooth rim (with no notch in it) means there should be a tab sticking up to mate with a notch in the cap. After all, tab-in-notch technology requires BOTH the tab AND the notch.
BMW advertisements play up amazing technologies like ABS, DSC, iDrive, Double-VANOS, and others. But 30 years ago, they were using "tab-in-notch technology" and didn't feel the need to brag about it. Frankly, I'm surprised. BMW is so acronym-obsessed, how could they pass up TNT?
See that one metal piece that looks a little different? Notice the "tab-like" shape to it?
Part number 12 11 8 630 245 is listed as "repair kit distributor parts" by RealOEM. It includes all the parts shown above. I was told by the parts guy that there was only one available in his system, and he got it shipped in from whatever dealer actually had it on a shelf. Then he was kind enough to drop it in an envelope and put my address and a stamp on it. I swear those parts guys are nicer to you when 1) you know your part number, and 2) they pull it up in the system and see that it's for a car they never get in the shop.
I went ahead and installed both of the new clips, even though I only really needed that one piece with the tab. Here, we see the tab sticking up as it should, and the distributor cap fits snugly. Observant viewers will also see a dead spider stowaway that didn't survive the winter.