I haven't had problems bleeding, no special tools.
I've had my E36 for over 10 years, and I must have bled the system 15 times without problems. You really just need to be patient and follow the instructions.
I spill less than half a cup of coolant bleeding the air out. No big deal. It's water soluble so just hose it down.
Yes it's a little messy, but draining coolant from the block is about 100 times as bad.
Sorry, not trying to be unhelpful. I didn't even know special tools were available.
I don't think there are any special tools
Unless you're talking about the vacuum bleeder, which isn't really a "special tool" as much as standard shop equipment that I'm guessing is too costly for DIYers. It's not a BMW specific tool.
I haven't really had any "problems" bleeding, aside from the mess. I think I'm spilling more than a 1/2 cup but it's hard to say.
I looked back at your bleeding procedure and I noticed that you don't keep the bleed screw open the entire time - just open it occasionally. You also mention revving the motor occasionally. I've been revving the engine for a few seconds periodically, but with the bleed screw open. That's when I'm spilling a lot. Coolant doesn't really come out of the bleed screw at idle (I should note that I always do this on an incline so as to make the bleed point the highest point in the system). OTOH, I have seen some big bubbles come out while revving, so it may have been worthwhile.
Another reason for wanting a bleeding tube is to make it easier to see the bubbles, or lack thereof. I always wondered if I was really seeing air escaping the system, or just bubbles created at the point of escape due to turbulence as the coolant pushes past the bleed screw. But after doing it a few times, I think you just get the feel for it and know what to look for. So I guess it's not really necessary.
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