yeah-yeah.. I've not done much since rockingham which I appreciate was frickin' ages ago but when I missed that deadline I kind of lost interest for a little bit, then life got in the way. I am back on it again now and sorting out the wiring, once that's done its a case of screwing on the drivers door, getting an MOT then lots and lots of tweaking and troubleshooting. My honest plan - get it on the road this year so I can get a few miles on it before winter, do some spannering over the winter to sort any issues out, then bring it out to play at the #trackaddict rockingham event next spring currently its COVERED in dust where I've been making a mould for a centre console, but it will be getting some loving ASAP
I've created a build thread elsewhere on a closed classic Porsche forum, and so copying and pasting here, so some of the context might be a bit obvious or basic, but it was written originally for a different audience.. I'll post a bit at a time and hopefully by the time I catch-up to "current day" it will be on the road and running! I will add some notes here and there to explain where I was at the time to add a bit more context Also as Photobucket just destroyed ½ the build threads on the internet I have just done a find/replace with their link to my new one – there might be a few dead pics, but I will go back through and fix those as they appear..
This car started as a cheap track toy, I did a few track days in it, then pulled it off the road to rebuild the LSD... ...which is where it all went wrong!
Rear end came out, was disassembled, and the suspension bits sent off for sandblasting..
While this was out, I decided to weld in the rear suspension reinforcement pieces - they have a tendency to tear the rear boot floor, so BMW kindly made some strengthening plates which can be brought fairly cheaply. One of the rear-most plates being held in position ready for welding..
Here you can see 3 of the 4 plates where the sub frame mounts..
I also did the rear trailing arm mounts while I was in there - these are 4x bosses which pass through the floor and are welded in on the inside. Again they can tear out or crack around the root and are hard to diagnose before it’s too late, so AKG strengthening plates purchased and welded in.. This basically levels the area where the trailing arm "cup" mounts, and so doesn't alter the geometry however it does need flattening off properly so you're not twisting the brackets and pinching the bush/bolt. Not the best picture, this was prior to dressing it all and had been given a quick blast of paint as I was off with work for 2 weeks to Canada and didn't want it sitting there un protected!
When I got finished with this welding, I decided to stitch all around the rear end where the panels passed near mounting points and things - this was done with roughly 1/2" weld, 1" skip, effectively tying the whole array of rear end suspension mounting points in to the rear of the cills and the transmission tunnel. Don't really have any pics of this sorry..
I also fitted some offset rear damper mounts from Amspeed - these are only really needed with true coil over rear suspension, however it moves the top mounting point across about 15-20mm and gives some more clearance to the inside in the back end, which seemed like good insurance with the larger adjustable damper bodies I had fitted After that, everything under the car got cleaned-up - fortunately the shell is in really good shape with no real rust to worry about
About this time all the bits came back from sand blasting, and so I set too with some more reinforcements. These are fairly standard things to do on the rear end of an e36, however rather than purchasing plates I made most of these myself..
Rear upper arms
Rear lower arms
The lower arms will be replaced at some point with some “proper” camber adjustable ones, but figured this would do for the time being I also boxed in the rear ARB mounting tabs, and added some reinforcement/closing plates to the rear subframe as these are a known weak point, although I don't seem to have any pics of this for some reason. Then it all went off to the powder coaters On return, I set about begging/borrowing a press from my local friendly Porsche specialist to get on with re-assembly..
..you can see here that a lot of the standard rubber bushes are identical sizes to the rose-joint bushes on the "hub" on the rear trailing arm, and so a "cheat" (read "cheap") way of tightening everything up is to replace these with the rose-joints instead.. That's exactly what I've done here, along with new rear wheel bearings, etc.. So now its a fully rose-jointed rear end, with the exception of the main trailing arm mount which is a powerflex "black" bush, and the subframe mountings which are also hard polyurethane type bushes..
..the sub frame here is a cronky old one that I had spare, which proved useful as the "proper one" took a while to get powder coated!
Reassembled and put back in the car, shown here with no diff (waiting for parts from Porsche), cheap eBay rear springs, and no dampers! Most of this was done on a car tilter thing - this coupled with a set of axle stands is a cracking way of moving the car around to work on it..
And back down on its wheels, ready to properly move onto the front!..
That's probably enough for one day, will post some more soon..
Couple of notes:
1) these posts jump about a bit - the eagle eyed amongst you will notice the front engine bay is already welded in one of the pics! I didn't do a thread as I went along as I didn't really think anyone would be interested, but then about 2/3 of the way through it I started using Instagram and the interest grew so I started going back and doing one retrospectively.. its hard! Lesson learned: do a thread as you go along, if no one is interested then so be it..
2) this is all happening in a single car garage with no heating and no help, except for a few bits where my wife got stuck in, a couple of times the guy next door gave me some motivation, and my constant begging and borrowing of tools from a friend in the trade
3) no I'm not the best welder ever, but what they lack in looks they make up for in strength and functionality
So the engine came out with the help of the world’s largest engine crane!..
..not much to say about that really - I was talking about it one Friday night with my ex-prodrive-mechanic neighbour, and the next morning he knocked on the door about 9am - we went for an early lunch about 11:30 and a trip to screwfix, leaving the car on the drive :shock: those rally boys DO NOT f**k about!
As you can see, not much space in my garage at the best of times, let-alone with an engine and a huge crane sitting in there.. So it got wrapped up in a 4x6m tarpaulin (overkill in hindsight) and left on the driveway behind the wheelie-bins, and I spent a lot of time with my fingers crossed that no one nicked it! :lol:
With that I set about the engine bay - it was surprisingly clean, and again hardly any rust.. More bird-s**t welding - again, not the prettiest prior to dressing..
..but more penetration than Fake-Taxi, so I think we're good..
..all sealed up again, which I appreciate isn't the best for weight reduction, but I don't want it rotting out from the seams..
..and then given the quick once-over with some primer..
Basically everything from the front suspension turrets back to the rears had been done by this point - there's no pictures of the transmission tunnel because it was such a pain to get under there and do it on the tilting table thing, let alone getting in there with a camera! If I ever do this again I will build a rotisserie first and do it all standing upright rather than laying on the floor!
Onto the inside! Few little crusty bits around the fuel-pump covers, but nothing major - gave them a quick clean-up above and below.. Before:
And then onto what some people have referred to as the worst job ever - Stripping all the tar and sound-deadening from inside the car!
As you can see BMW don't bunk on the tar! I did a lot of reading on this and ended up going with the method that sounded cleanest and quietest! Anyone who knows my neighbour will understand the latter, and anyone who knows me will appreciate the science vs. brute force approach!
Bring on £20 worth of DRY ICE!!
The method is as follows.. Pour 1/2 into the first part of the car you want to remove it from then go make a coffee..
..hope that the crackling and pinging noises are a good sign, and then after 5-10min, shovel the ice out of the current area and into the next one. Bonk the floor-pan with a rubber mallet, and the tar immediately releases from the car and comes out in about 3 or 4 pieces! Around 1hr later the ice will be about 1/2 its original size and not really working anymore, so chuck it down the drain and put the other 1/2 in and carry on. By this time I'd done all the major areas - 4x footwells, rear parcel shelf, rear seat area, spare wheel well and the boot floor - however had the awkward "vertical faces" to tackle! To do this I built pockets from cardboard and shovelled the ice between these and the panels which worked really well! I tried putting the ice in a bin-bag and using that like an ice pack, but amazingly the bin-bag was enough insulation to stop this method from working!
So around 2.5hrs after I started, I was done! All tar removed.. ..well except for a little bit because I ran out of ice, but I was basically done and it was basically painless! AND I got to play with dry ice
For anyone wanting to replicate this method, a couple of notes..
Get prepared up-front with things like card to make the pockets, and duct tape (everything else seems to freeze and fall off) Get a cheap plastic dustpan for shovelling, but don't get a fancy one with a rubber lip (it will freeze and fall off). Also, don't plan on using it after, it will get really shrivelled up and fall to bits! Get some decent thick rubber gloves from screwfix, pref LARGE ones and wear some woolly gloves underneath - dry ice is exactly that, DRY, so it won't stick to you like normal ice, but it is really cold, and because it doesn't stick to you, it’s really easy to get burnt off it without realising Plan up-front and work fast! If possible do it in the winter when it’s cold anyway
For notes at this point, because the tar came out in big lumps, I put the bits in a bin-bag and weighed them - there was about 10kg all told which is quite a bit! The carpets with insulation/backing foam came in at around 20kg, and all the plastic "crap" totalled around 5.. I also removed a bunch of brackets and things I didn't need anymore (drilled out spot welds, welded-up and dressed back) which totalled about another 6kg.. All in about 40kg out, and probably 1/3 of that back in again, in terms of seam welding, seam sealer, etc
Now for the next top-tip! While the ice method works really well, it leaves the adhesive residue! Evostick sell a really nice "solvent remover" in B&Q which is under lock and key, in little tins.. Its only about £2 a tin (they will look at you a bit sideways when you buy a tenners worth) and it works brilliantly, although IT WILL GET YOU WASTED! WEAR A DECENT MASK. I have one of the 3M ones with filters specifically for solvents - you only realise how good it is when you take it off
Pour some on, a bit of wiping with some super-fine wirewool, and a wipe-down with a rag, et-voila!
At this point the car was shipped off (with a dodgy eastern European chap) for one of the only bits I didn't actually do myself..
So.. The dodgy eastern European guy came through, despite my worries, and the car was delivered to Nickson Motorsport on the south coast - more on that, and the trials and tribulations of dealing with "roll-cage people" later..
With the car out of the way for a few weeks, I set about re-building the engine. The car had the m52b28 engine which is a 2.8 litre aluminium block straight six, knocking out about 190-ish bhp.. its a dohc 24v engine with on-off variable valve timing on the inlet only (comes on around 1200rpm and off again about 5000rpm if memory serves). It’s a pretty neat set-up, and I have some bits on how it works somewhere which I’ll post later. It’s pretty simple, but effective The engine had a mighty 130k on the clock, and despite some of the internet horror stories about bmw m52 aluminium blocks (nikasil lining failures), this is a very late e36 m52 so has the later alusil lining and no associated issues, in fact compression was spot-on across all 6 cylinders. These are really great engines and throttled quite a bit by the inlet and cam shafts (intentionally to gap them vs. the m3) so there's quite a bit that can be done to improve them over and above the stock <200bhp. They were also the basis for the M3 engine in North America (although with an iron block same as the earlier M50) - they didn't get the "proper m3" due to emissions, and so there's a few trick bits you can steal from those models
Right - In the words of the spice girls, this is where "two (engines) become one.."
First M54B30 from the later e46 330ci. This has a longer stroke crank, and different pistons (crown height) to cope with the increased stroke. It also has different con-rods, but they're the same length - the m54 had fracture split rods, whereas the m52 did not. Both have forged everything so a good basis for tuning!
Picked up a "short engine" for £100 from a breakers. It came from an engine that suffered a HG failure which is not uncommon on those engines. I removed everything I needed and sold the block for scrap for £40 – net £60 for a “forged stroker crank”, pistons and a spare set of con-rods. Bit of a bargain!
Crank measured up OK and was put to one side
Pistons in good shape too, con-rods were disregarded (used m52 conrods as they're better at going back together again than the fracture split ones, and other than that detail they're basically the same)
All of these things went into the ultrasonic cleaner and came-out like new
Pulled the 2.8 block to bits (mostly to get to the con-rods) Purchased a single mass flywheel kit and clutch from euro carparts - this was a kit they were getting rid of from stock and so I managed to pick up the whole lot (flywheel, clutch friction and pressure plate, plus a release bearing) for £120! I had done a little research and found out about a mythical guy called "billy the balancing man" who lived the far side of the M1 from me, so after 2 or 3 attempts at getting in touch with him finally arranged a meeting.. I packed everything up and set off to see him!
I was 1/2 expecting a "hagrid" from harry potter, but actually billy turned out to be a fairly quietly spoken guy smoking a roll-up, with a very placid border collie at his side. When I arrived he was just packing-off a works Moto GP team with their latest set of bits! I figure if it’s good enough for them it’s probably going to be good enough for me.. Dropped it all off, drove away, then started to fear the worst (price wise) once the whole moto-gp thing sunk in! I decided not to worry TOO much, and flew to the US / Canada for 3 weeks with work leaving my wife at home training a 6wk old puppy!
On my return I had a voicemails saying everything was done (puppy and the engine parts) so headed back and picked it all up! The following work was done for a VERY reasonable sum!
Flywheel - Clutch surface re-faced (was a bit rusty before) then flywheel lightened and balanced Conrods - End-to-ended and weight matched Pistons - Weight matched Conrods/pistons paired up and assembled, then marked so they're weight matched as assemblies Crank lightened and balanced Crank and flywheel assembly balanced Crank, flywheel and clutch pressure plate assembly balanced, marked up, etc. etc.
Dioxice / Cleansurface (who supplied the dry ice for stripping the shell) also have a big "blasting room" on their premises which they will rent out to people who look competent at around £40 an hour (I think). Despite their competence requirements they let me use it.. They do a lot of engine cleaning for different automotive people and race teams, and while I was initially a bit unsure about it, since using it I'm pretty impressed! The system uses "crunched-up" dry ice and blasts it out of a big hose (literally 1" diameter or more). The method is pretty clever in that as the tiny particles of dry-ice hit the surface of the part being cleaned, the ice evaporates and the huge expansion rate from dry ice particle to CO2 lifts any dirt and debris from the surface of the part – it’s very effective! I cleaned most of the engine components using this method and they came up brilliantly! It doesn't remove any of the "staining" you get on aluminium surfaces, however everything else comes up brilliantly - its fast, clean because there's no residue left behind, and doesn't damage threads, soft surfaces, anything! Very impressed.. I did all the engine bits, covers, trims, etc in 90mins and was charged £50 which included the dry ice, and use of their safety gear.. Word to the wise, if you do this ever WEAR WARM CLOTHES AND A HAT! You have no idea how frickin' cold it gets until you've experienced working in a closed booth with dry ice for that long! Some examples of the cylinder head below
Next up was the head - this underwent quite a bit of tidy-up work.. Combustion chambers were pretty good to start with, and not a lot of scope for de-shrouding valves and things due to the geometry. What I did do was clean it up a bit, particularly any of the sharp edges or transitions Inlet was port matched, and ported, mostly working the small radius and blending the valve guides, also the valve seats into the head material to remove any steps. Ports were left at a 240 grit finish On the exhaust side, the ports were fully matched to the manifold, valve seats and guides blended, then semi-polished. Not much material removal to do on that side of the head Kind of hard to get any meaningful photographs! but..
During - roughing out:
Rebuilding the head - valve gear, tensioners, oil pump, etc all ultrasonically cleaned ready for installation
And then re-assembled
The camshafts were fitted - these are a set of cams from a US Specification 3.2 M3, which is basically the same engine with an iron block and a few tweaks. They're effectively schrick cams in terms of the grind, so quite a lot more aggressive than the standard 328i cams For comparison..
US M3 cam specs (S52B32)
Duration / Lift 252 Deg / 10.3 mm Intake 244 Deg / 10.2 mm Exhaust
328i cam specs (M52B28) Duration / Lift 228 Deg / 9 mm Intake 228 Deg / 9 mm Exhaust
328i Schrick cam specs (M52B28) Duration / Lift 252 Deg / 10.2 mm Intake 244 Deg / 9.5 mm Exhaust
..all fitted and ready to go..
As I mentioned, there's a fairly simple but clever on/off variable vale timing system This works as follows -
There's a normal timinig chain from the bottom end to the exhaust cam Theres a second timing chain from the exhaust cam to the inlet cam The inlet cam sprocket is mounted through slotted holes and held under tension with a bevel washer. The sprocket can rotate between two stops of the slots independant to the camshaft There is a helical gear cut into the inside of the cam gear, and a matching thread on a "stud" which screws into the end of the inlet cam The "vanos unit" has a free turning "cup" with matching internal and external threads to the cam/sprocket, and has a hydraulic piston which allows the cup to move in and out under oil pressure Oil to the piston within the vanos unit is controlled with a simple on/off (2 posn/3 way) solenoid valve that either pressurises the piston forcing it out, or drains the oil back to the sump
Probably easier to explain with photos and a video..