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e30 M3 minor rust repair.

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    The front spindle gets a rub of 1200 grit to polish it up.....

    then the rear dust cap gets popped on.....

    followed by the backing plate......

    and next up is the wheel bearing. As is well documented around the
    interweb by now the E28 wheel bearings and e30 M3 bearing are the one
    and the same unit, only difference being different ABS rings and a big
    difference in price. So, pair of E28 bearings.......

    pull the Abs rings off.....

    and then pull the rings off the old M3 bearings.......

    These were seriously tight and I had to rely on the age old
    3 stage method to remove them.
    Step 1......

    Step 2......

    Step 3.....


    Rings get a clean up and a little loctite on the inside lip for refitment....

    and when securely back in place a lick of silver paint to protect the
    bare metal.....

    And then drop the whole lot back on to the spindle. Unlike the rear bearings
    the front ones aren't usually tight going back on and don't require a press.
    A few gentle tips with something soft and they should slide down into place.....


      When there back on, the nut is screwed up and torqued with a size
      46mm socket.....

      after which the little rim on top of the nut is clenched into the cut out
      on the spindle (which is probably the most long winded way of saying,
      bend this)............

      and then the the front dust caps are fitted with a little smear of grease
      on the inner rim to help keep them water tight......

      Next up the shock absorber. Threads at the top of the strut tube get a
      little clean....

      and then the front insert is dropped in. The shocks by the way are
      Bilstein gas shocks and I remember reading somewhere that unlike
      the normal procedure of filling the gap between the shock and the
      inside of the strut tube with oil, with gas shocks its recommended to
      leave this space empty. So I just gave it a few squirts of the oil can
      to keep it from rusting in there.......

      This little dude screws down on top of the shock into the tube
      and keeps it secure. I used to have the special tool for screwing these
      in, but I lent it to a person(bastard) a long time ago,
      and that person(bastard) forgot to bring it back and
      I've forgotten who that person(bastard) is. But one day I'll remember
      who the person(bastard) was and that Bastard is in for a surprise.

      The little item arrowed below is for securing the shock dust boot and
      it's very important to remember to fit it before screwing down
      the shock collar....


      Next on is the springs which also paid a visit to the powder coater.....

      Springs by the way are Eibach and are listed by them for the 318is
      I think. They're practically the same poundage as the original M3 springs
      but just sit lower and I was happy with the ride and handling before the
      car came off the road so there didn't seem to be much point in changing them.
      Before the springs can be fitted they need to be compressed with the
      aid of spring compressors and a few bits of rubber tube so as not to
      scratch the powder coating back off again.......

      on either side of the springs go these rubber seats so they don't squeak
      as your driving along......


        one goes below the spring like so........

        and one sits onto the top spring platform like so......

        after that the strut top mounts go on. These are offset ones (p/n 31331139484)
        which as you can see in the pic the hole in the centre is offset to one
        side a little. And if fitted the right way around they will move the top
        of the strut in towards the engine a little (half a degree) and give you
        a little more camber at the front wheels, which should improve road holding.
        In reality the change (half a degree) is so little any effect they have is
        going to be small but if your changing the top mounts anyway they
        aren't a great deal more expensive then the standard ones......

        the new mounts don't come with the three little studs needed for fitment.....

        So, nuts on to protect the threads.....

        pop them up loosely in the vise.....

        and batter the living shite out of them......

        and now the reason I said they can help "if" fitted the right way. Theres
        6 holes on the mounts and you've 3 studs to fit, so which holes to use?
        On the underside of the mounts 3 of the holes are marked with a +
        and 3 with a - . As we're trying to subtract camber (add negative camber)
        the studs are fitted to the 3 minus holes......

        with that sorted it's on to actually fitting the mounts to the strut.
        5 items in total
        Strut mount
        1) small washer
        2) large washer
        3) bevelled washer
        4) nut

        on the underside of the mount you can see the strut top bearing which
        comes pre greased......

        the bevelled washer(3) is topped up with a little grease on the inside.....

        and popped down on top of the bearing.....


          and then the large flat washer(2) is slid onto the strut followed by the mount......

          which is then followed by the small washer(1) and nut(4)......

          after the nut is tightened down the spring compressors can be removed
          and the little dust cap popped back into the centre of the mount.....

          after which the ABS sensors were refitted....

          and the final bits to go back on the struts are the brakes, a fresh set of disc's......

          and then the calipers bolt back on just like the rears, which leaves them
          looking like so......

          The other bits needed before the struts could be bolted back
          into the car was wishbones and "lollipop" bushes.
          These are M3 bushes the differences being over standard e30 bushes
          the hole in the centre is off to one side and there more solidly packed
          out with rubber......

          theres a little arrow on them to help you press them into the lollipops
          in the right place......

          To go with them is a fresh set of Lemforder wishbones....

          and anti roll bar drop links......

          After which, everything is rebolted back onto the car and when I could
          see which bolts were needed to reconnect everything I could order
          them all in stainless steel to replace all the manky rusted old ones.....

          Which leaves her looking like this......

          One giant leap for man, one small leap forward for this project........

          And that brings this update to a close which is perfect
          timing as tomorrows Saint Patricks day and I'm
          away to get very drunk.
          Till next time........
          Last edited by xworks; 03-16-2010, 01:44 PM.


            you have some serious time and attnetion to detail on your hands.

            I applaud you
            88 325ic ~~~> Rusty and ugly
            85 E ~~~> RIP


              You're a fucking legend, get your Irish arse over to RR and show off (and join us on a convoy to a great gathering in England in August with LOTS of Retro cars and Bushmills/drunk brits.) and also have a 10 glass of Black Bush on my behalf seeing as I'm at home with my parents. :)


                I just read this entire thread. I now feel like an inadequate hack.

                However, your work is inspiring, and you are my hero.

                And now that it's been a few weeks since your last update, I NEED MOAR!

                Looking for a clean e30 shell for a project.


                  wow! just.... WOW

                  incredible. When i clicked the thread saying "e30 m3 MINOR rust repair" i thought i was gonna see a bit of sanding, some bondo, then the car off to shop to patch up. Its awesome what one person can do.


                    You are completely barking mad. Keep up the awesome work.
                    Originally posted by LJ851
                    I programmed my oven to turn off when my pizza was done, should i start a build thread?



                      Originally posted by Dermeister3 View Post

                      incredible. When i clicked the thread saying "e30 m3 MINOR rust repair" i thought i was gonna see a bit of sanding, some bondo, then the car off to shop to patch up. Its awesome what one person can do.
                      you and me thought the exact same thing. keep up the work, I cant wait to see the end result! :D

                      I vote for a sticky or its own subforum.



                        Speechles....coming out very nice.
                        Alex 88 m5 | 91 318is | 19 Subaru Ascent
                        BMW Tool Rentals & Fender Roller


                          Originally posted by chadthestampede View Post
                          You are completely barking mad. Keep up the awesome work.
                          Agreed. When God formed Adam out of the clay and breathed life into him, I imagine that project going much like your rust repair job.
                          "If the sky were to fall tomorrow, the tall would die first."

                          -Dr. Paul Forrester

                          Do I LOOK like I need a psychological evaluation???


                            Evenin all,
                            Been a while since the last update, the reason being I appear to have
                            well and truly busted something in my back. I'd love to give
                            you a more accurate diagnosis but unfortunately my doc is a foreign
                            lad and for the life of me I can't tell what he's saying half the time.
                            But judging by the serious look on his face and the size of the horse
                            tranquillizers he's prescribed for me, I'm guessing i'll not be doing
                            cartwheels any time soon. But as they say, every cloud has a silver
                            lining and despite the fact you need a knife and fork to take
                            the pain killers the effects of them are marvellous. I now wear a permanent
                            "stoner" grin all day long and can walk through brick walls without
                            so much as an itch.
                            Anywho, before this post starts to sound more like an bleeding heart
                            letter we'll move on to what I've managed to mess around with on the
                            car this time.

                            First up I need to put my hand up and admit to a co*k up from the last
                            update. For those who can't remember back that far, I had welded in some
                            reinforcement bars on the rear wishbone's like so......

                            Well not long after posting up the pic's and details on the web I got a
                            heads up from a member on to say he'd tried the same mod
                            and ran in to some difficulties upon refitting them. The difficulty?
                            When the wishbones are refitted, just above them runs the rubber
                            fuel filler pipe that carries fuel down from the filler flap to the fuel
                            tank under the car, like so......
                            (modified tube in purple, red arrow is where the fuel will run into
                            the tank, when fitted)

                            Which all looks fine and dandy, until you realise thats with the wishbones
                            in full droop. As soon as you lower the car back onto the ground the
                            wishbones go back up towards the floor plan and squash the rubber
                            filler pipe flat.


                            Making it impossible to fill the car with fuel.

                            double fu*k.

                            So i retired to give the matter some serious thought.......

                            And then, when all seemed lost, it hit me, I had a brain wave,
                            a perfect solution to the problem, it was so simple i couldn't
                            believe I hadn't thought of it earlier .....

                            cut them out, fu*k them away and move on.


                              Next up, the alternator.

                              Or to be more precise, pull it asunder, fiddle about with it and then
                              try and figure out how it goes back together again.
                              Starting at the rear end these bits and bobs came off first.....

                              Number 4, the earth lead. Responsible for earthing the alternator
                              to the chassis via the engine block......

                              this needs to be in good condition as you can get all manner of
                              strange electrical faults if this lead starts to fail due to corrosion of
                              the terminals or the copper wire inside corroding. As this one was starting
                              to show its age and the outer insulation was badly cracked, a new one
                              was made up to replace it......

                              Number 3, the suppressor. This little dude just bolts on to the back
                              casing of the alternator and the little wire from it connects to a male
                              spade terminal which sticks out of the casing. It's purpose is to stop
                              electrical interference from the voltage being created inside the alternator
                              from messing with other electrical systems on the car. Like the stereo
                              buzzing up and down as the engine revs rise and fall. Nothing much to
                              be done with it, if it works it works. If it doesn't, get a new one.....

                              Number 2, the wire terminals plastic insulation. There's just two wires
                              that go to the alternator, a big fat one which is main battery power
                              and is connected back to the battery positive terminal via the starter
                              and a little wire which comes from the battery light up on the dash.
                              Both these wires are live and if they manage to touch off the alternator
                              casing, which is earthed, you'll get a nice little fireworks display right
                              before the fire starts. So this little plastic insulator lets the wires bolt
                              on to the two studs sticking out without touching the casing. To remove
                              it, the two nuts that hold the wires in place come off and then another
                              two nuts below this come off to let the insulator slide up and off.......

                              And finally, number 1. The brush pack and regulator. Undo the two
                              little screws and it lifts out of the casing. This thing is the most common
                              reason for alternators failing to charge. An alternator has a shaft rotating
                              inside it (rotor), and for the alternator to do it's thing
                              and produce some voltage you've got to pass a current onto this rotor
                              and then give it a route to get back out again. To do this the
                              shaft has two brass rings on it, which we'll get to later, and two
                              little carbon "brushes" (red arrowed below) are pressed against the
                              brass rings allowing current to pass in through one, do it's job and
                              then pass out back up through the other. The little brushes seen below,
                              have little springs underneath them to keep them rubbing against the
                              rotor all the time as it turns. Eventually the little brushes wear out
                              and can't reach the slip rings any more and the alternator stops charging.
                              The other part of this little unit is the little black thing on the front
                              (blue arrow) which is the voltage regulator, and as the name suggests
                              it's job is to control the voltage coming out of the alternator. To much
                              voltage could damage other electrical systems in the car so it drops the
                              voltage down, to little voltage been produced (headlights, demister,
                              rear window defogger all on) and it raises back up the voltage. All
                              the time it's trying to keep the output at roughly 14 volts.

                              In the pic below you can see that the brushes in my brush pack were
                              on their last legs and hadn't to long left to go when compared to the
                              new brush pack next to it......

                              If your alternator packs in, this is one of the first things worth checking.
                              A new brush pack is only about 10/15euro from a motor factors.
                              And once you've the alternator off it's just a matter of undoing the two
                              little screws and lifting out the brush pack to check the height of the brushes.
                              There's a few different brush packs fitted to e30 alternators due to
                              the alternators having different power outputs, so if your going to order
                              one use the part numbers on the old brush pack to make sure your
                              new one is a perfect match.
                              One final little piece of advice, if your changing a brush pack, go softly, the little
                              carbon brushes are brittle and don't bend, so be gentle sliding it in to
                              place. Use the force Luke, not the hammer.

                              With all that stuff stripped from the rear end it was time to flip it over
                              and start on the front. The centre of the shaft has a hole to accept an
                              allen key so you can hold the shaft while loosening the front pulley nut.
                              The pic below shows the order in which the collection of washers come
                              off. Whats interesting if you've never stripped one before is the alternator
                              pulley isn't actually a solid pulley, but instead two concave washers
                              squeezed together......

                              Once that stuffs off next up is the 4 main bolts that hold the casings
                              together. Before splitting the casings it can help to make a little mark
                              or scribe a line on the 3 main bits of the alternator so they can be
                              bolted back in the same orientation......

                              Its also worth making a mental note that of the four bolts that hold the
                              casings together, two are longer than the others. Reason being when
                              in place these two stick out the back of the alternator casing a little
                              bit and are used to screw clips onto to secure the wires going to the
                              alternator. They need to go back in to the same hole on reassembly......

                              with them 4 bolts out of the way, next up is the 4 inner ones shown below.......

                              and then with some gentle persuasion (beating and cursing) the front
                              casing "should" just slide off......

                              next up, the rear casing and stator (middle bit). Sometimes these will
                              slide off easily, but as is always the case with this fu*king car, these
                              were not going to come off without a fight. Shaft gets tightened in the
                              vise (with soft jaws so as not to mark the shaft).......

                              and this little dome on top of the rear casing which houses the rear
                              bearing gets a little heat from the heat gun to expand it and help it
                              let go of the bearing inside......

                              and hey presto, off she comes.


                                Once these two pieces were off they separate fairly handy. Rear casing
                                on the left, stator and diode pack on the right.....

                                First item to be changed in here is the diode pack. Old one still
                                attached, new one below it.....

                                Without going to deep into the black magic that happens inside an
                                alternator, the main job of this diode pack is to convert the AC voltage
                                which the alternator makes, into DC voltage which the car needs.
                                There, thats as clear as mud isn't it.
                                AC voltage is the stuff that powers your house, and AC is short
                                for alternating current, which basically means the little volts travel
                                backwards and forwards like mini Duracell bunnies on coke.....

                                and AC voltage is no good for a cars power system which is DC
                                voltage (direct current), where all the little volts march along in the
                                one direction nice and calmly. So the diode pack has a little bunch of
                                diodes in it which are basically one way valves for electricity. They'll let
                                the voltage through but not go back again. And so convert
                                the AC back to DC voltage which the car can use.
                                (If you listen carefully you can actually hear Albert Einstein spinning
                                in his grave after that explanation).
                                In the pic below the main roundy bit (the stator) is where the black
                                magic takes place and the AC voltage is made. And connected to
                                this by four wires is the diode pack in the middle....

                                I don't think the diode pack has a certain service life really, theres no
                                wearable parts in it like the brush pack has. However over time the
                                diodes can fail and stop the alternator charging and as I'm changing
                                everything else in here Murphys law states that if I reuse the old one,
                                it'll fail down the road just to p i s s me off for not changing it while it
                                was all asunder.
                                heat up the solder and pop the wires free....

                                and then solder the wires back in to the new diode pack. Best to
                                have the soldering gun nice and hot for this, so you can solder each
                                joint quickly. If too much heat soaks into the diode pack it can fu*k
                                it up.....

                                with that done it's on to the rotor, and changing the bearing at either
                                end of it. The one on the left is a straight forward, old one off, new one
                                on affair. While the one on the right, the larger of the two is a little more
                                involved. In front of the bearing theres a fat little shim and behind it
                                there's a little square plate. The little plate is what the 4 little screws
                                removed from the outer casing back in the beginning screw into.
                                And it's purpose is to keep this bearing snug and tight up against the
                                casing and not wandering up and down the shaft......

                                The other job that needed doing while the bearings were off was to
                                change the brass slip rings. As mentioned earlier the two little brushes
                                in the brush pack rub against these slip rings, and just like the brushes
                                these rings also wear down over time. You can see in the pic below
                                the two grooves that have worn down into them. Usually you'll get
                                through about 2 or 3 sets of brushes before the slips rings need to
                                be changed and by that stage most cars are at the end of their life.
                                However, as this car has 24 years under her belt it's not that unusual
                                that they're this worn......

                                they're a tricky little fu*ker to change though. In the pic below you
                                can see two wires coming out of the centre of the rotor and going
                                into the slip rings where they are soldered on. So the slip rings are
                                carefully sliced with a small cutting disc on the dremel, on top and
                                bottom like so........

                                and then popped apart. The wire on the right (purple) is soldered
                                to the inner edge of the inner ring and the wire on the left (green)
                                runs up the inside of the rings before soldering on to the outer edge
                                of the outer ring.......

                                With the old rings removed and the wires cleaned up and the shaft
                                where they sit cleaned up with some emery paper, the new rings
                                are slid on making sure that the green wire in the pic slides up through
                                the middle. With everything back in it's rightful place the wire ends
                                can be soldered back on. The one thing to be careful of is that the
                                wire insulation is in good condition when doing all this, as if either of
                                them 2 wires touch any part of the shaft or rotor because of a break
                                in the insulation then they'll just short out and blow the alternator when
                                it's refitted......

                                with the slip rings done the new bearing can be pushed on this end......

                                and then turned around and plate, new bearing and fat shim fitted to the
                                other end.....

                                With all that crap done, it was on to the alternator casing bushes.
                                Pull them out and check their condition....

                                circlip and washer off......

                                and then the insert can push out the opposite side......