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      04-21-2010, 08:56 AM   #1
Alpina_B3_Lux
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REVIEW: ar design oil catch can

This is part of my extended review thread that you can find in its entirety here: http://www.e90post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=322185 but that I reposted here in order to make this part easier to find.

16. AR Design oil catch can

Why?
Ever since I started modifying my car, I have been concerned with its long-term reliability. Some modifications such as the additional oil cooler or even the upgraded intercooler, while enabling the engine to deliver its power consistently and without heatsoaking, also alleviated the thermal stress on the turbos and therefore contribute to its longevity. However, I learned that more or less all engines suffer from so-called "blow-by" gases which are excess gases that leak from piston rings during the combustion process and get back into the engine crankcase; from there they are vented (by crank case vents) back into the intake system of the engine to be combusted again. That wouldn't be so bad, but the blow-by also contains oil from the crankcase, and this is the real problem - the oil coats the intercooler (thus decreasing its cooling efficiency), the intake valves and other engine components, impacting their performance negatively.

Now, this oil should be caught before it creeps everywhere, and this is commonly done by a so-called oil catch can ("OCC"). Its function is to filter the blow-by gases and to extract the oil from them, retaining the latter in a container that is (ideally) easy to drain.

How?
For quite some time, Riss Racing was more or less the only option for an OCC that was specifically adapted to our engine. However, from what I've read on this forum, the quality of this product was only very mediocre and it had a tendency to leak all over the place, due to the cheap components used in its construction.

As I had so far had excellent experience with other products from ar design, I was glad to learn that Andrew was developing an OCC for the N54. At that time, other competitors (such as the BSH OCC) were not on the market yet, and in my opinion the use of a real 5 micron filter instead of just some steel wool for filtering was a superior solution. Therefore I jumped on the group buy that was organized for this OCC. The price is admittedly not very low (list price is 229 USD), but I am happy to pay more for a quality product that fits correctly than throwing some stuff together myself and be finally unhappy because it does not work right. An additional advantage of the OCC from ar design consisted in the fact that they offered the possibility to mount it on the passenger side in the engine bay, which was necessary in my case as due to the STETT cold air intake and charge pipe I did not have enough space for the OCC on the driver's side.

With some delay, the OCC arrived and was excellently packaged in a big cardboard box. Upon unpacking the various items, I was immediately aware of the heavy, confidence-inspiring solidity of the OCC. Also, the mechanism to remove the filter and drain the oil is really easy and obvious. That was clearly no cheap ebay-like item but a thoroughly engineered solution. All mounting brackets for the passenger side location were also provided. Here's a photo (not mine, I hope the forum member won't mind) of what the components look like once unpacked:



As always, I had the OCC installed at Daum Motorsport and from what they told me it was no problem at all, and they confirmed that all components seem to be of very high quality. It IS a tight fit, and the OCC is quite close to another hose but without actually touching it. However, it does fit into the engine bay, and the mounting brackets provided by ar design had the right size. For additional insight into the installation procedure, I would recommend having a look at
Former_Boosted_IS' DIY of the BSH OCC, as the install is pretty similar.

Once in the engine bay, the OCC blends in very well and if you wouldn't know it, you could think it's an OEM part. It's also easy to access, you can see the reservoir window (i.e. how much oil is in the OCC) and the oil can easily be drained in that position, without having to demount the whole OCC. Here are two photos of what it looks like after installation:

Photo from the side:


Photo standing in front of the car:


Improvements?
Well, not really much to say here! It is properly mounted, it looks great, and I have no indication that it does not do what it is intended to do. After some thousand kilometers I will drain it and see how much oil it has collected, and update the thread here with the results.

Problems / disadvantages?
The only two disadvantages could be that (i) it's not cheap (but for me it's worth the amount I paid) and (ii) it's another non-OEM item in your engine bay. However, as these were no real factors for myself, I can happily ignore both.

In summary, the ar design OCC is a high quality product and I can recommend this to anyone who is interested in the long-term reliability of his engine.

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      04-21-2010, 02:12 PM   #2
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Wow, thanks for the great writeup! Looks great!
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      04-22-2010, 08:20 AM   #3
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Nice review, indeed.

I have just ordered one as part of my Stage 3+ /4 upgrade, so good to know that it is quality and it does fit.
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      04-22-2010, 09:12 AM   #4
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i don't mind you using my photo at all! nice review...

hoping to install mine soon...waiting on AR dps.
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      04-22-2010, 09:19 AM   #5
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thanks for the review.. looks oem!
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      04-23-2010, 03:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rismo123 View Post
Nice review, indeed.

I have just ordered one as part of my Stage 3+ /4 upgrade, so good to know that it is quality and it does fit.
Quote:
Originally Posted by import36 View Post
i don't mind you using my photo at all! nice review...

hoping to install mine soon...waiting on AR dps.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NVM3NYC View Post
thanks for the review.. looks oem!
Thanks for your positive feedback - appreciated!

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      04-24-2010, 06:12 PM   #7
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looks very nice.
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      04-24-2010, 10:28 PM   #8
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Good review Alpina!

A few questions though:
- "Also, the mechanism to remove the filter and drain the oil is really easy and obvious." How do you drain the can if you don't have to demount the entire setup? Is the can itself removable without dismantling the mounting?
- Where is the drain plug located?
- Andrew told me the can was part polycarbonate, which parts of the can is made of that material? I'd guess it's the reservoir?

Thanks! :-)
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      05-01-2010, 03:43 PM   #9
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Bump!

Edit: Seeing as you relocated the OCC to the passenger side, why did you decide on the AR Design instead of the BSH?
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      05-01-2010, 04:41 PM   #10
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This could be a stupid question but I still don't fully understand what it does. I understand that catches the oil that is pushed out b/c of crankcase pressure from blowby correct? So this pressure is vented back into the intake but the catch can keeps the oil out of the air that could potentially clog up intake/intercooler? Well my main question is do you only need one if you have engine mods done or does this actually help on a stock set up too?
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      05-01-2010, 09:52 PM   #11
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Bakeme521: Yes and yes. Yes, it's very useful on a stock system as well because blow-by exists both stock and tuned.
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      05-01-2010, 11:42 PM   #12
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Bakeme521: Yes and yes. Yes, it's very useful on a stock system as well because blow-by exists both stock and tuned.
haha alright thanks, good info to know. Thanks for the reply.
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      05-02-2010, 09:27 AM   #13
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Is there a chance of the filter/screen in the can getting enough oil sludge buildup to inhibit airflow? I'm thinking about going this route but that has been a primary concern of mine.

EDIT: Also, since the can is connected after the turbos it seems like this would effectively keep blowby out of everything but the turbos. Is this the case? Just trying to understand.
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      05-06-2010, 11:28 AM   #14
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Can anyone answer this ^^
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      06-19-2010, 08:44 PM   #15
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bump, maybe someone already with a (ar design) occ can answer that by telling us how much "sludge" they see in the filter after 3 months. I can't imagine this being a problem as long as you check it on a regular schedule.
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      06-19-2010, 11:48 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mechanixhorseman View Post
Is there a chance of the filter/screen in the can getting enough oil sludge buildup to inhibit airflow? I'm thinking about going this route but that has been a primary concern of mine.

EDIT: Also, since the can is connected after the turbos it seems like this would effectively keep blowby out of everything but the turbos. Is this the case? Just trying to understand.
I don't think you could vent it after the turbos or boost would push down the lines and you would be pressurizing your crank case. So basically I think it keeps your turbos, intercooler,and intake valves clean. I am not sure about cloging the unit but oil filters have a bypass for this reason so if it was an issue i think they would have something similar.
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      06-20-2010, 12:22 AM   #17
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great review...and that looks very OEM. I might replace my RR OC for this one...nice.
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      06-20-2010, 11:14 PM   #18
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The #1 reason, IMO for a mod like this is the fact that N54's are direct injection engines.

Why does this matter?

In a standard port injection car, the injectors feed fuel into the intake port where it hits the back of the intake valves on its' way into the combustion chamber. Today's gasoline has many cleansing additives in it that help keep oil (which when mixed with heat produces carbon build up) from caking up the intake ports and valves.

A direct injection engine has the injector fire directly into the combustion chamber, so the cleaning addtives of the fuel don't get to clean the valves or head ports like they would in a port injection car.

When you up the boost/horsepower, conceivably you will increase crank case pressure. The more crankcase pressure, the more likely you have blowby, and the more likely that oil ends up caking your intake manifold, ports, and valves because gas additives or the BMW "Fuel System Cleaner" will never hit those parts in a direct injection motor.

Seems like a no-brainer to me!
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      06-21-2010, 01:38 AM   #19
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The #1 reason, IMO for a mod like this is the fact that N54's are direct injection engines.

Why does this matter?

In a standard port injection car, the injectors feed fuel into the intake port where it hits the back of the intake valves on its' way into the combustion chamber. Today's gasoline has many cleansing additives in it that help keep oil (which when mixed with heat produces carbon build up) from caking up the intake ports and valves.

A direct injection engine has the injector fire directly into the combustion chamber, so the cleaning addtives of the fuel don't get to clean the valves or head ports like they would in a port injection car.

When you up the boost/horsepower, conceivably you will increase crank case pressure. The more crankcase pressure, the more likely you have blowby, and the more likely that oil ends up caking your intake manifold, ports, and valves because gas additives or the BMW "Fuel System Cleaner" will never hit those parts in a direct injection motor.

Seems like a no-brainer to me!
Spray some meth to clean things up too, but obviously more expensive. I know some guys in the XR4Ti clubs who use old glass fuel filters fitted after there PCV valve and they have had good results. It's a much cheaper alternative if it can be proven to work on a 335 since the XR is port injected. I feel better having something specifically designed for the problem though that's why I purchased one of these yesterday.
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      06-21-2010, 02:43 AM   #20
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Very nice review. It would be useful for this thread to have some posts regarding the quantity of oil that is being caught. How much per month or 1000 miles?
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      06-21-2010, 03:18 AM   #21
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great review...and that looks very OEM. I might replace my RR OC for this one...nice.
Thanks! I also think it looks really good as it is now.

Quote:
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Very nice review. It would be useful for this thread to have some posts regarding the quantity of oil that is being caught. How much per month or 1000 miles?
Thanks! I haven't done that many miles yet with the catch can installed. I'll wait until my next oil change (probably in autumn) and will report back then.

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      06-21-2010, 10:06 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbaldwin28 View Post
I don't think you could vent it after the turbos or boost would push down the lines and you would be pressurizing your crank case. So basically I think it keeps your turbos, intercooler,and intake valves clean. I am not sure about cloging the unit but oil filters have a bypass for this reason so if it was an issue i think they would have something similar.

you can install a crankcase check valve into your exhaust post cats and pull vacuum from their for your catch can.

however, at that point you really dont need even need a catch can

my setup on my m3. No worries about it backing up and pressurizing the crankcase w/ exhaust gases, thats what the check valve is for.

its been working great so far.

I have a picture at home of the setup if anyone wants to see it, cant access from my office.
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