18 Sep The Assembly Line
The influx of orders for our FMU E39 M5 Rear Section don’t seem to be slowing down. As a matter of fact, it’s the opposite.
We’re actually filling a couple different orders at the same time, as we speak. However, in the interest of speeding up both our current and future in-house manufacturing efforts, we’re constantly coming up with ways to keep ourselves as efficient and on-task as possible. You may remember the weird, monster-lookin’ jig we made to help perfect our exhaust mount fabrication. Well, that’s just part of the story. Let’s take you through the pre-welding processes to see just what goes into the system before it’s ready to sit down with the tig welder. First, amassing all the parts is important; having plenty of stock for all the necessary pieces is really the first and most important step in keeping workflow going.
With all the Vibrant parts, clamps and raw metal in place, the assembly line can start cranking out prepped pieces that will be ready for welding. A majority of the pieces that will comprise the area between the resonators and tips are small pie-slices of larger bends, and the same goes for the neck-ups that upsize the piping to match the tips’ size. For that, we head to the saw and start cutting, keeping the fruits of our cutting nearby for the subsequent steps.
Prepping the Y-pipe pieces are a little tougher, as we have to tack two pieces of pipe together, then slice them at an awkward angle. We already have a jig created so that we can hit that awkward angle correctly with every single pass of the sawblade. After they’re cut, we commence cleaning them up a bit, as some edges might be a bit jagged and it’s best to have a clean, smooth surface on which to weld other metal.
With the Y-pipes and all conjoining pieces of metal cut out, we’re getting closer to the welding table. However, there’s one important (and time-consuming) step in the middle — polishing. Part of what we like to show off on our exhaust systems are our welds; we pride ourselves on the fact that our welders do high-quality work, and to cover that up with some cheesy chrome plating wouldn’t do any justice to these handbuilt systems. Yet, even though the welds are exposed, we still want the system to have a good level of polish and shine to it; after all, the E39 M5 was a very expensive car from the factory, and we haven’t forgotten that. So the middle ground to reach there is a thorough polishing of the stainless steel prior to the welding phase. Once they’re welded, the angles and tight spots would be impossible to polish.
With the metal’s edges all smoothed out, and with the surface of the steel nicely polished, it’s time to start tacking together parts of the exhaust system. While the tacking is taking place, somebody else will get to work polishing the tips, which we do on the lathe.
Once the tacking is finished, we’ll slap the tacked pieces into our jig to make sure that fitment is still on point. From here, we’ll keep tacking the Y-pipes, supporting arms and tip extensions until we’ve knocked them all out. Once fitment is shown to be correct, it’s right back to the table as we undergo a marathon welding session to get everything put together at once. While the welding takes place, the mounts will be bent and prepared for welding, as well.
It’s a process we’re refining continually, day in and day out. It’s very important to us to keep our manufacturing as streamlined as possible, as we’re a finite number of human beings and there are other jobs to be done, as well. We never stop working over here at Fluid MotorUnion, we’d much rather ramp the intensity another notch and put all our energy into delivering you folks the best products possible.