Philes’ Forum – Spring 2020


By Vic Lucariello, Sr.

Hello, Bimmerphiles! Pursuant to a number of recent inquiries, this time out I am going to talk about brake fluid flushing and brake bleeding. What, you say, they are the same thing? Ahhh, read on…..

The hydraulic brakes found on any modern passenger car depend upon a principle of hydrostatics that pretty much states that the pressure in a hydraulic system under static [non-flowing] conditions is the same throughout the system [given no elevation changes]. So when you step on your brake pedal and pressurize the brake fluid in the brake master cylinder to, say, 1000 psi [pounds per square inch], this same 1000 psi pressure is applied equally to each of the brake calipers via small pipes that connect the master cylinder to the calipers via the ABS module, thereby applying the 4 brakes. This might sound pretty simple, but the adoption of hydraulic brakes in the 1920s was one of the most significant advances in the development of motor vehicles. Some manufacturers, like Ford, resisted the adoption of hydraulic brakes, continuing to rely on mechanical brakes with their system of levers and linkages under the car.

An important factor in the performance of hydraulic brakes is the incompressibility of the brake fluid between the master cylinder and calipers. Most liquids are virtually incompressible, at least at room temperature, while gasses, such as air or steam, are quite compressible. Hence if you have any gas bubbles in your brake system, the result will be a “spongy”, or soft, low brake pedal. Or in an extreme case, a brake pedal that goes to the floor. Depending upon where in the system the gas is, it can also cause the vehicle to veer right or left while the brakes are being applied.\

How does air get into a brake system? While in rare cases, air can sneak in through a bad master-cylinder or caliperpiston seal, air mostly enters systems when a component is disconnected for repair or replacement. Regardless of how air has entered a system, the procedure known as “bleeding the brakes” is intended to remove said air.

As a side note, brake calipers are in many cases physically interchangeable side-to-side. However, if a caliper is installed on the wrong side, usually the bleeder screw is in the wrong location. This makes bleeding the brakes either extremely difficult or impossible. I have read reports that professional technicians have made this mistake.

The polyglycol-based DOT 3, DOT 4 and DOT 5.1 brake fluids found in virtually all cars today are hygroscopic, meaning that they have an affinity for and tend to absorb moisture. A typical DOT 4-rated brake fluid still in the can might have a boiling point of about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, while water of course boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. As you might expect, a mixture of the two will have a boiling point below 500 degrees Fahrenheit. According to a graph in Brake Handbook, by Fred Puhn [HP Books, 1985], a typical brake fluid will boil at only about 350 degrees Fahrenheit after it has been contaminated by only 1% water. According to another graph in this same book, this 100 degrees Fahrenheit reduction in boiling point will occur before the brake fluid has been in service for 6 months. My own brake fluid-boiling-point data, collected for more than a decade now, suggests that a 100 degrees Fahrenheit drop in boiling point in only 6 months would be quite unusual. In fact, I have never seen new fluid degrade that much in 6 months.

How does this moisture get into the brake fluid? Mainly through the vent in the master-cylinder-reservoir cap. [Some cars have a “rubber” diaphragm under the cap to minimize contact of the brake fluid with air.] Some say that a lesser amount gains entry through the brake hoses via osmosis. Regardless of its point of entry or method of entry, moisture does infuse the brake fluid, and this is a bad thing.

Although water in the brake fluid foments corrosion of ferrous components in the brake system, for performance driving [or driving in hilly terrain] the boiling-point suppression is by far the more diabolic villain. When the brakes get hot enough to exceed the boiling point of the brake fluid, gas pockets begin to form in the calipers and brake lines. Remember: gas is compressible. Although you might get a warning in the form of a “spongy” brake pedal, in some cases the driver’s first inkling that something is wrong is that the brake pedal goes to the floor! Then, assuming you don’t crash in the interim, after the brakes cool and the gasses condense back into liquid, the brake pedal is magically restored – until the next time the brakes get hot…………

Obviously, the only way to keep your brake fluid at or near its rated boiling point is to flush out frequently the old fluid and replace it with new, quality fluid from a sealed container.

So there you have the difference: Brake bleeding is intended to remove entrained air from the brake system while brake fluid flushing is intended to replace contaminated fluid with new fluid. In many cases, such as the replacement of a caliper or brake hose, the brake bleeding procedure only involves expelling a few CCs of fluid from one caliper – just enough to get the air out. Proper fluid flushing, on the other hand, will require putting at least a liter of new fluid through the system; and of course opening up all the bleeder screws. So, as part of your driver-school-car-prep regimen or normal brake maintenance, you need to flush out the brake fluid,not merely “bleed the brakes”. Some shops, if you bring in the car and ask them to “bleed the brakes”, will do just that: bleed the brakes. The fact that you are not getting a fluid flush won’t be their fault, either.

If you have a shop do your brake fluid flushing, I recommend that you bring the brake fluid of your choice in an unopened 1-liter container and tell them you want the entire contents put through the system. A labor charge of 45 minutes to an hour is appropriate.

What methods are available for flushing fluid and bleeding brakes? I’m glad you asked. More on this next time!

Anyone wishing to contribute to Philes’ Forum can contact me at I’m interested in tech tips, repair /maintenance questions, repair horror stories, emissions-inspection sagas, product evaluations, etc.

Copyright 2020; V.M. Lucariello, P.E.

President’s Corner – Winter 2020


By Neil Gambony

Hello and welcome to 2020. Where do I start? There is so much going on right now and I have a lot to cover. You are now reading this through your electronic device of choice; we are no longer printing a paper version of the Bulletin. Currently this is in a PDF format; we are planning to change that when we roll out our new website, another one of the many changes in store for the upcoming year. The last issue of the Bulletin is now a collector’s item; I should look on Ebay to see what they are going for.

Before I get into what’s upcoming, I have some housekeeping to do. The Board of Directors of the NJBMW CCA remains mostly unchanged from last year, thank you gentlemen. I had filled the position of Director of Social Events last year with Richard Altman, and he has been reelected to the position for 2020. Rich has taken charge of the Chapter’s 50th anniversary party, more on that later.

I have also found a new Business Manager, technically not a Board position but just as important, nonetheless. Allison Mack, who also happens to be a regular participant in our Autocross program, will now be handling the Club’s business. I must thank Matt Baratz who had been our previous Business Manager even after moving to the left coast. I am relieved to have a manager now in the same time zone.

As you may be aware of by now, 2020 is our 50th year of being a Chapter of the BMW CCA. We were the 4th Chapter to join the Club and are among a handful of Chapters that has our geographical location in our Chapter’s name. The BMW CCA had originated in the Boston Massachusetts area so it make sense that the states close to the New England region were among the early Chapters to join the CCA.

The date has not been set yet for our celebration party, although we’re planning the location to be at the Deutscher Club in Clark, the place where we hold many of our regular Club meetings. We are in the early stages of planning it but I do know it will run from mid-day to the early evening, and yes, it will be rain or shine. There is plenty of parking; we hope to have a showing of the many car models throughout the years, BMWs, Minis, and BMW hybrids just to name a few.

Not only do I expect to see some great cars at the 50th anniversary celebration, I am looking forward to seeing some of the members and officers who were here before me and built this Chapter into what it is now. I had the pleasure of meeting former NJ member Scott Hughes a few years back at a Club Race School we were holding at Summit Point. Scott is credited with being instrumental in starting the Driver’s School program for our chapter way back in 1974. In my conversation with Scott, it turns out that he had attended an elementary school in the town I grew up in, obviously a few years before me. There is no word yet on whether he will attend but I would be thrilled if he and his wife Fran did. We may also expect to see some of our National Officers but that is unconfirmed also. I am also looking forward to seeing all of you there too.

So what else are we up to? In addition to our traditional slate of Driver Schools, Club Races, Autocrosses, Rallies and Street Survival Schools, the Chapter once again will be participating in a one day M-School on September 6th at the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, North Carolina. We had done one several years ago with great success and when we inquired about holding one last year, all of the dates were already booked for the year. The cost of doing the M-School through our Club date is about half of what it would cost you to do it on your own. When we were there previously, we were able to tour the BMW CCA Foundation and have dinner at a local brewery, I would expect we will plan something similar this time also. If you would like to attend, you will need to book your spot by late June. If we don’t sell this event out by then, we may cancel it since it would be an extensive loss for the Chapter. You can find more information about the event and register for it at Motorsport.Reg.

As you may be aware by now, there has been a change to the BMW rebate purchase program. For the last 2 years if you had a friend or relative join the Club with a 3-year membership they were eligible for the rebate immediately if they were purchasing a new BMW or leasing a previously owned one. This program was so successful for BMW and the BMW CCA that they now have changed it to where you now need to join the Club with a 3-year membership and must wait 6 months before you can purchase a new or a leased BMW to qualify for the rebate. The other option is having your friends or relatives join the Club with a single year membership and waiting a full 12 months to purchase a new or a leased BMW before they can receive the rebate benefits.

Now getting back to the website or hopefully the updated version of it by now, it will be a fresh, mobile-friendly design that highlights all of your favorite features like the forum and the calendar of events. It will also help facilitate our new digital news delivery model. All of the familiar columns and contributors will remain, sharing new content on a recurring basis, in full color and unconstrained by print requirements. Vendors and sponsors will continue to be featured with easy links to their products and services. I’m sure there will be some tweaking to it after it’s out.

As an update to an event we held last Fall, the Whack Your Turkey Rally, we were able to donate $600 to the Food Bank of NORWESCAP with the proceeds. The Food Bank distributes over 2 million of pounds of food annually throughout Warren, Sussex and Hunterdon Counties. Thanks to all who participated in the Rally for making it the success that it was.


President’s Corner – Spring 2019


By Neil Gambony

I finally made my first visit to BMW’s Vehicle Distribution Center (VDC) and can tell you that it is quite an impressive facility; more on that later. This was our Chapter’s 7th time there; it always seemed that work or some other reason kept me from attending in the past. I needed to see what the VDC was all about for myself; it’s the one event we hold each year that I get the most inquiries about and now I know why. Club members from the New York and Delaware Valley Chapter were welcomed in addition to our own Chapter’s members.

An event like this requires the thanking of many people and businesses. Vice-President Paul Ngai organized a small team of Club members to handle registration and the sale/auction of much merchandise generously donated by BMW of Bridgewater, BMW NA, the VDC and the BMW CCA Foundation. The proceeds of this event of which we raised $6000.00 this year will go to the BMW CCA Foundation. Many thanks to all who attended making this event a great success.

Scott Dishman, the Executive Director of the BMW CCA Foundation, was on hand and invited all that were planning to attend Oktoberfest (October 15-19) to stop in at the Foundation while in Greer, South Carolina. The Foundation is available to all members; they have archived much information about the history of BMW and the history of the BMW CCA, which is now celebrating its 50th year. One of the other programs of the Foundation is the Street Survival School for teenage drivers, of which we have two schools scheduled for the year.

So now about VDC. The VDC was established in 1987 and the one in New Jersey is one of the several centers that BMW has in North America. It is where BMW, MINI, and Rolls-Royce have their vehicles final preparations done after their long journey before they are sent to their prospective dealerships. Security is very tight here; we were not allowed to take any pictures. Yes, they have vehicles here with the crazy paint graphics that are supposed to disguise them.

How many longshoremen does it take to unload a ship full of cars? It could take 60 to 80 of them and a fleet of vans shuttling them out of the ship to get it done in a day. Seeing this process being done was just one of the features of the tour that the VDC provided plus it didn’t offend me that they rode us out to the see the ship that was being unloaded in the new X7. Many thanks to BMW of Bridgewater for providing breakfast and lunch for all.

A few issues back, I wrote about receiving your newsletter, The Bulletin, on your personal electronic device by receiving it through an e-mail from the NJ Chapter. At that time, I instructed you to go to the BMW CCA National website and click on your personal preference of newsletter delivery. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the National office was doing maintenance on the website and that feature was unavailable then.

I’m happy to report at this time the feature of changing your newsletter delivery preference is working just fine. All you need to do is follow a few simple steps; login to the BMW CCA website (, click on “Manage Account” under “My Membership” then go to “My Profile” where you can update your newsletter delivery choice. I know it’s simple, I figured out how to do it.

Just a reminder on the benefits of receiving the newsletter electronically, you could receive it up to 2-3 weeks sooner depending on what region you live in since it paper copy goes out in bulk mail. The whole issue is in color if there are pictures in it, and you won’t have to discard or recycle it when finished. I would be remiss not to mention that the Chapter will also benefit in savings on the printing and postage, savings that could be put towards some of our other programs.

Does the BMW CCA National Office have the correct e-mail or street address or for you? You could also update that information there. Not all of our members have provided an e- mail address of where they can be contacted. If you are concerned about the BMW CCA selling your address to other businesses, they do not. That was a concern of mine when I first got my account. Providing an e-mail address would be helpful when we send e-blasts that contain information regarding Club events such as the monthly meetings, Autocrosses, Rallies, and Driver Schools. The e-blast came in very handy this past winter when we had to make a last-minute decision to cancel a Club meeting due to inclement weather.

Do you have an associate member in your family? Not only are they entitled to all of the benefits that the BMW CCA has to offer, they are also able to participate in important stuff like the Club’s national or regional elections. The only catch is they need to provide an e-address to the Club since that is the only format of communication from the National Club. They would also be able to receive the newsletter from our Chapter. Yes, you have the option of opting out should you so desire.

Since we are going into the summer months, there are some great events coming up. June is a busy month with several. On the 7th we are returning to the Deutscher Club for their Biergarten. This is a great opportunity for Club members to showcase their cars. June 14-15 is the Driver School and Club Race at NJMP, a Friday and Saturday event. Once again the Westlake School, a school that serves children with multiple disabilities, will benefit from the proceeds of the event. This year the race is a North American Challenge event with 4 races over the course of both days. This will draw racers from all regions including Canada. Club members are welcome to attend the event as spectators even if they are not participating in the school.

June 19th has us returning to Tyspeed Automotive in Jackson, NJ for a Pikes Peak send-off party. Owner Tyler Pappas will be journeying to the Rockies to participate in probably one of the most difficult automotive races in the country if not the world. The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb or “Race to the Clouds” as it’s also known, is an event where participants have to be invited to attend. The hill climb has been running since 1916 with a course that has 156 turns in 12.4 miles ascending 4720 feet to a final elevation of 14,110 feet above sea level. Congratulations to Tyler for his invite, let’s show him our support. Closing off June on the 23rd is an Autocross at the TD Bank Ball in Bridgewater; please look for information on the Club’s website regarding it.

There is another Autocross at the TD Bank Ballpark on July 7th and then we are off to Summit Point Raceway in Summit Point, West Virginia for the 5th Annual Geoff Atkinson Driver School and Club Race. The date for the event is July 20-21. As the normal for me, this is one event I look forward to every year. For information about any of our events please be sure to check our website.


President’s Corner – Winter 2018


By Neil Gambony

I’m baaack! Or as the late great 20th century philosopher Yogi Berra once said, it’s like déjà vu all over again. For those who joined the Club in the last 10 years and don’t know what I am referring to, I previously served as NJ Chapter President for 3 years, 2006-2008. I have still been around since then serving on the Board as a Member-at-Large and more recently as Driving Events Chairman for the last 6 years.

For a little background, I bought my first BMW, a 1985 325e in 1991 and joined the club in 1995. I think my biggest regret was that I didn’t join the Club sooner! I currently have a 1988 325 iX as well as a 1987 IS that I use for our driver’s schools. I attended my first driving school in 1979, I’m sorry to say it wasn’t with the BMW CCA; rather it was with the Jim Russell School in Mt Tremblant, Canada using Formula Ford cars. I was pretty certain that I was going to get a full-time ride with either Williams, Tyrrell, Ferrari, or Penske at the time. To make a long story short, life got in the way of my driving career so I decided to start attending the BMW CCA driver schools in 1996. You might be able to find me there now checking your wrist band as you pull out of pit lane.

Now before I get into what’s going on in the Club, I must first thank my predecessor Jeff Caldwell for his five-year commitment to the Club. Jeff joined the Club when I was President many years ago and it didn’t take long for him to decide where he wanted to go with us. I have to say I admire his tenacity; he let us know his thoughts about what we should be doing without sugar coating it. Five continuous years, by the way, is a record for the Club by any president, one I’m sure that will stand for a very, very long time. Jeff is not going away, he is just stepping back from the top spot and will still be around as a Member at Large.

Another Jeff I need to thank is Jeff White. Jeff has served as our Driver School Chairman for the last 11 years. As it happens to be, I had appointed him as Driver School Chairman in 2007. Jeff is stepping down from that position and has transitioned over to be the Driving Events Chairman. He is the main reason that the Driver Schools have run like a well-oiled machine the last 11 years. Jeff had also spent a lot of time orchestrating the driver schools at Oktoberfest in 2015.

Now it seems that fate has brought me back to the Presidency to appoint our new Driver School Chairman, Jamie Kavalieros. Jamie has served under Jeff as Registrar for our Driver Schools the last 9 years. Jamie is one of only 4 Club members who have won the NJ BMW CCA Club Championship Trophy 4 times, a feat he was able to accomplish with his autocrossing skills. In addition to having been the Registrar for our driver schools, Jamie is the skid pad instructor who had either you or one of your children holding their hands straight up while driving around the skid pad at our Street Survival Schools. Club member Mark Mallory will now be taking over the position of Driver School Registrar.

Some other Board changes – Paul Ngai has moved from Business Manager back to Vice-President. Paul had served previously as VP for both Larry Engel and Jeff Caldwell. Moving into the position of Business Manager is Matt Baratz. Matt was instrumental in starting the VDC Tour, now in its 6th year. It’s one of our events that fills up quickly and we use the proceeds from it to make a donation to the BMW CCA Foundation. Those are the major changes in personnel on the Board for 2018. I’m fortunate enough that the other Board members have remained in their prospective positions.

I would be remiss not to give a shout out to Vic Lucariello Sr., our Technical Advisor who is no longer in NJ but is just an e-mail away. You can keep up with Vic through his Philes’ Forum in the Bulletin. Vic has been contributing his column to the Bulletin for over 30 years now, which could be another record for the Club!

So what’s different now than when I last served as President? Communication is the main thing; the Bulletin now is a quarterly publication. You will only get to hear from me 4 times this year unless we get a chance to speak at one of our Club events which I hope to touch upon further in this column. We now use a very effective tool known as the e-blast; we can send out up-to-the- minute information regarding events. The important thing with this is you need to provide an e-mail address in which you can receive the e-blast. You should have provided an e-mail address when you joined the BMW CCA. If you need to update your e- mail address you may do so through the National BMW CCA office at; we still have our own website with features like the Events Calendar and the Forum, which I find useful for either buying or selling parts or cars. You can also look for us on Facebook at New Jersey Chapter BMW Car Club of America.

We have many events already in the works for this year. There are 4 Driver Schools scheduled along with 2 of them holding Club Races: 1 at NJMP and 1 at Summit Point. There are 6 Autocrosses scheduled with the possibility of 1 or 2 more. For our rally enthusiasts, we are looking forward to once again joining the Northern NJ Chapter of the SCCA for a spring rally along with our annual Whack Your Turkey Rally in November. Have a teenage driver? There are 2 Street Survival being scheduled as I write this.

For our non-driving Events, something new we are trying this year is the Winter Social. Social Chairman Vic Lucariello Jr has put together an event at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit NJ to be held on March 10th. It’s intended to be a more casual event without any schedule of activities. You can find out more about it elsewhere in the Bulletin. Another event happening on March 24th is the VDC (Vehicle Distribution Center) Tour. This is where BMW prepares their cars before being shipped to their dealerships. It’s always been a no camera event; they always have something of interest we get to see first.

Chartering new territory for me as President is having to inform you of the passing of a fellow Club member. Albert Drugos, or as we more affectionately referred to him, Big Al, passed away in early January. Big Al joined the Club in June of 1995; during his time of membership he served the Chapter as Vice-President for 2004 and 05 and then went on to serve as Social Chairman from 2006 through 2013. Al had an intimidating presence but once I got to know him I realized that his best interests were for the Club. He was well-traveled and had many connections that he used to help make our events great, either putting together a Club meeting or Banquet.

Al participated in the Driver School program where he drove his E30 M3 as often as he could. He was an integral part of the program working both the Tech Inspection line and Pit Out. I was fortunate enough to work with him there where he taught me the fine art of pulling cars off the track safely with the tow truck. Although he hadn’t been able to make it to the track the last several years, his presence was surely missed. Godspeed Big Al.


Club Happenings – Fall 2016: NJ BMW CCA Championship Series


While conversing with a new member at the NJ BMW CCA Banquet this past March, I was asked what the NJ BMW CCA Championship Cup Series awards were about since we were there to honor our top three finishers. To the best of my knowledge I explained what they were about and then after giving it some thought, the light bulb (incandescent, of course) went on as I realized that there may be many other members who are unaware of what the Champion Cup Series is about.

Before explaining what it is all about, I’d like to start with a brief history of the Champ Series or the Championship Cup Series as it more officially known as. The series started in January of 1977. To put it into perspective, the series has been around since the American introduction of the 320i, the original 3 Series, The Eagles were warning us about “Life in the Fast Lane”, Jimmy Carter was POTUS and Carter Fratt was the Chapter’s President. January of 2017 will mark the 40th anniversary of the series for us. [Where has the time gone? JF]

So, what kind of stuff were we doing 40 years ago? Apparently, we were pretty industrious and adventurous with 12 events throughout the year, one a month. On the schedule for the year were 5 autocrosses, 3 rallies, an ice trial, a gymkhana, an economy run and a Concours d’Elegance. Your best 8 of 12 events were counted for Cup points.

Only 19 NJ BMW CCA members have had their names engraved on the Championship Cup. That is one of the awards of the series that you get to hold until the following year, something like the Stanley Cup only much, much smaller. Jeff Davis was the first Champion and he won it twice. Other 2 time winners are Larry Engel and Doug Feigel. The 3 time winners are Don Salama, Alex Fadeev, our current Cup holder and Judy Davis, who is the only woman to have her name on the Cup. Four members have won the Cup 4 times, Jim LaForge, Elihu Savad, James Kavalieros and Mario Sousa who has the distinction of winning 4 years in row, 1994-97. One-time winners are Stan Greenspan, Dean Christie, Andy Korinis, Dave Fitting, Scott Weiner, Ed Walters, Pete Revendis, and Mark Mallory.

Now back to the current day events of the Championship Cup Series, we have several autocrosses; an autocross consists of driving your car through a challenging course of cones set up in an empty parking lot. It’s a lot of fun while learning car control. The rallies we have been running lately are Fun or Gimmick rallies; you are given a set of directions to follow while answering questions from landmarks along the way. They’re fun for the whole family. We also hold a Pinewood Derby, similar to the Scouts’ Derby, another family event. Points are awarded by the finishing order of each event and are tallied throughout the year. You can participate in any event of the Series without having to participate in all them. Information about any of the Series events are posted on the website, the newsletter or in the e-blasts preceding any of the events.

I would like to thank Brian Morgan, the Club’s unofficial historian, for providing me with the information regarding the beginnings of the Championship Cup Series.

Now I just need to find out from Brian when the Club stopped giving the Champion a case of beer to drink out of the Cup!

Related Articles - Club Happenings