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Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance

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    Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance

    Advisement: Visit this web address . From there, each of the project-specific posts can be visited individually.


    1991 brilliantrot/red 318is purchased in October of 2003 with 136K miles. Adult driven. Tan cloth interior. Clean carfax. All stock. New tires. $3900 via eBay.

    The car was well cared for and came with a stack of receipts. I think the prior owner wanted to lose it before maintenance started racking up – which I can relate to, since most 10+ year-old cars that pass 100K miles start needing attention to a lot of areas.. namely suspension, brakes, drivetrain, and exhaust. Also, preventative maintenance should be addressed at about this time in order to keep vehicle strong for another 100K miles.

    All this fit my mission statement well. Thing is – I’ve always wanted to restore a car - to make it my own. New paint, pick out the wheels, freshen things up, and incorporate subtle, understated modifications. Words like: “well-sorted”, “healthy”, “clean”, and “like new” were adjectives I wanted to accurately portray what this car would become. The trick for a guy like me was to find something to work with that wasn’t too far gone. Too new, and it wouldn't be any fun. Too old, and things like rust, parts availability, and extensiveness of reconditioning would drive costs through the roof.

    In earlier years, I’d tinkered with bicycles, go-carts, and motorcycles. I’d done maintenance and repair work to cars – but nothing more challenging than replacing starters really. Motorcycles made for great starter projects due to smaller size and costs. There were also years in my life where I’d worked in a job-shop developing skills in fabrication with woods, metals, and plastics. A modest tool collection slowly grew over the years. Essentially, this particular project would become a cumulation of acquired abilities, and enough challenge to blossom into something really satisfying.

    Criteria I sought: rear wheel drive, manual transmission, good handling potential, fuel economy, solid chassis, and some degree of fun/cool factor. I’d owned/experienced the character of old/60s domestic cars (’62 Olds, ’67 Chevelle), and the reliability of Japanese hatchbacks (mid-80s Celica, first gen CRX, and an Integra). From reading and experience, it seemed logical that I’d enjoy something from Europe.. something that handled well and provided honest-to-goodness diving satisfaction to the owner. At first, the mid/late-80s Porsche 944 was a target. I actually found a nice one in my price range – and I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed it – but potentially high maintenance costs and a sort of ‘pretentious’ factor that can go along with owning a Porsche kept me at bay. It was a surprise to me that a BMW would fit the bill – but it did so in spades. It wasn’t until later that I would learn that the 318is e30 is a sort of a cult car within a cult car so-to-speak.. e30s in general being highly-regarded “driver’s cars” and the ’91 318is with its DOHC four-cylinder providing a solid balance of economy, performance, and handling. Some say it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow – and this is a lesson that the HF model CRX taught me.

    Unfortunately, I acquired a camera after having the car for a few months and, therefore, no ‘before’ shots of exterior were taken. The following picture is the closest representation I could find – basically, a red, late-model e30 coupe with a front ‘i' lip, at stock ride-height on bottlecap wheels.

    The car was driven daily for about a month while I took note of concerns. Paint was pink in hue. Shift linkage was completely shot – changing a gear was like rowing a spoon in a bowl of porridge. When going over a bump while turning, the steering wheel would experience a shuddering sort of jolt. Due to blown rear shocks, and well-worn rear subframe bushings, the tail of the car felt discombobulated. Instrument cluster lost all function after a few weeks. I still fell for the car though.. you could feel its potential. The way doors, hood, and trunk closed with that solid “thunk” sound was a real seller. The four-cylinder m42 motor was peppy while providing high 20s mpg. Factory options were minimal. The 4.10 differential was open. Basketweave wheels and an ‘is’ front chin lip were either not ordered or had been swapped from the car prior to my ownership.

    That was in late 2003. Since then, the car has spent its life on stands. It’s been a journey I never wanted to rush – and thankfully, time was one asset I had lots of. It was important to me to enjoy the experience – to get those ‘zen’ times when it’s just me, my tools, and the car out in the garage. The project was also very much ‘on’ and ‘off’ over the years while saving money for parts.

    There’s a UK show called “Top Gear” in which one of the journalist/hosts (James May) is rather analytical and methodical when it comes to working on things. Co-host Jeremy Clarkson makes fun of James for “lovingly caressing each nut and bolt” or “building something fastidiously over the course of decades” – and that pretty much sums up the kind of mechanic I’ve become. Like May, working on things in this manner is therapeutic to me. Some people garden. I’m happy when meticulously reconditioning a random bracket.

    Right out the gate, I made bad decisions. At the time, it was like they were giving parts away on eBay and I fell for some of the bad ones. There was the set of god-awful, fiberglass, twist-style, side skirts from somewhere in Canada. They ended up being junk/scrap pieces of fiberglass that would’ve looked terrible and taken an army of body-men four years to properly mount. There was the pig-snout kidney grill that I thought would somehow make the car look more modern or e34-like.. (it didn’t). There were the eyebrows that I thought would make the car look “cooler”.. (they looked dopey). There was the e36//M side mirrors – again, terrible – don’t know what I was thinking there (looked like they were made by Pontiac). There was the Tokico suspension lowering kit (afterward learned about how prone to failure the shocks/struts were). There was the DEPO headlights (ended up using after all). Let’s see, what else was there? Two ‘eBay’ performance chips and some multi-lug, 17” Racing Hart Rep wheels. I sold off the wheels before ever mounting them and I’m pretty sure those eBay chips will stay in a box on some shelf until the apocalypse comes to consume them in fire.

    After eBay mistakes, research, and reflection – most all attention became focused on simple use of OE parts and maintenance items. Modifying E30s: A Starters Guide for Fun was a good influence. I gravitated toward being thorough with replacement of all wear-items. Notes were taken on any articles pertaining to typical trouble areas. My objective became this sort of game where I’d try to build a ‘new’ (and fun) car for <$15K – and then see how many years it would drive reliably.

    These first pictures were taken in July of 2004 after coming back from the paint shop. I was living in Madison, WI - and had procured a single garage unit where I set up shop.

    This shot shows Racing Dynamics side skirts installed. Back then, a parts guy at a dealership informed me that ‘is’ skirts were n/a – and I was scrambling to get some sort of skirts on the car while it was being painted. After calling around to various suppliers, the only skirts waiting on a shelf for me were the RDs. I felt that an e30 looks very ‘unfinished’ without side skirts – and since I knew I wasn’t going to slam the car on its frame, it seemed logical that painted skirts would bring body lines down so the car appeared lower. To this day, I still don’t know how to feel about the RD skirts – they are organic and curvy in comparison to the otherwise boxy body. They remind me of skirts that well-optioned Toyota Corollas come with. When looking at the side of the car, those curvy skirts ‘fight’ with rectangular/stock side mirrors. I thought the organic //M mirrors would help – but mostly the //M mirrors just looked very bad and way out-of-place.

    New OE mudflaps were ordered. Fronts didn't fit due to contour of skirts - so universal ones were used. While I'm indifferent to how flaps look cosmetically, I felt they would help prevent sandblasting to undercarriage over time.

    Cloth sport interior was in great shape. Not smoked in. Good dash. Seats were ~9 of 10. Diver’s seat did have a broken bolster. The air bag steering wheel had to go. It wasn’t attractive and something about having all that potential energy staring me in the face was unnerving.

    Initial tear-down of interior:

    Last edited by Simon S; 12-21-2018, 03:32 PM. Reason: title update (car sold)
    -----Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance - / - Zen TOC - / - Zen Summary

    Tear-down of driver's seat for bolster repair

    Break point on seat bolster.

    A local body shop charged like $5 to do a repair weld after I cleaned it up. Passenger seat was also disassembled to repair adjustment mechanisms.

    Instrument cluster was looked over. Screws checked for tightness. Solder joints on speedo board were reflowed. Installation of new service indicator batteries was put off because there was no telling when the car would be road-ready again. Things like these batteries were put on a last-to-install list.

    Pulling up any carpet in the car always brought a smile to my face. It was all so virgin.

    The first of many, many lists..

    Discovered Harbor Freight and low-cost tools. Great for things like brake caliper push-sets and 2/3-jaw wheel pullers. This sort of work is a hobby for me and some of these would only get a few uses in my lifetime - so I had no problem with these cheaper tools. Got an air compressor. Getting the impact gun was kinda silly. The compressor was too small to do it justice. A breaker bar always won.. but for all the cleaning, blitzing, and grinding chores ahead - the compressor was a definite must-have.

    Random shop shot.

    After spending some time in the cabin and trunk area, my journey to the underside began. I never, ever in a million ga-jillion years thought I'd spend so much time underneath of a car. I built up this ultimate collection of cardboard for padding. Crawling up and down and up and down from under the car really got me in shape at the time. Since all work was being done solo, I went slowly and cautiously along.

    These are before shots of the undercarriage. I’d never done suspension or drivetrain work before so first thing was to get acquainted with different components and how they work together. Bentley and Chilton’s shop manuals were purchased. Internet research was performed. A pattern of finding and comparing multiple sources before turning the first wrench emerged. If I was going to do this sort of work – I wanted to be doing it right. Since the Bentley manual doesn’t cover the 318is model, the Chilton’s manual came in handy when it came to m42-specific guidance. Brandon Purcell's website was another great source for direction.

    Front suspension

    Front control arm bushings. To be replaced with solid/offset //M bushings.

    From the front

    From the rear

    Noting a replaced fuel tank. The guy who sold me the car (European used car dealer) indicated that a former owner was keen to fix anything not working and pretty much did whatever the dealership said needed repair. Evidently, water somehow sat on top of the tank and corroded it to a point where replacement was the only fix – so it was done. Great – one less thing.

    Rear subframe mount points

    Rear axle

    The open, peg-leg differential had seen better days. Worn mount bushing and leaking seals. I was all about a limited slip unit for upgrade here..

    Exhaust system from catalytic converter back was toast. Yes - that is a big hole in the muffler.

    Back end of transmission. It was about now that I realized pretty much anything that could leak - was leaking. Radiator. Engine. Steering rack. Transmission. Differential.. all of them seeping their various fluids. Only thing not leaking was hydraulic fluid for clutch and brakes.. oh and fuel wasn't leaking, thankfully.. lol

    First use of compressor involved grinding a 'resting slot' on rear jackstands. Since the entire rear subframe/suspension assembly would be removed - frame rails were the only available support point. If the car was going to be resting on those rails for who-knows-how-long - I wanted to make as secure and evenly-dispersed support point as possible.

    The slot form-fit to frame rail and also accommodated an attachment point of side skirts.

    Bicycle innertubes proved useful throughout project.

    Typical rear jack points are the differential and/or the rear subframe. With car firmly supported by frame rails - way was clear to remove rear axle components.

    Overspray was gross.

    Removed exhaust.

    Picked up a slightly-used Supersprint cat-back system from Euro Depo. Later on - a new DEC catalytic converter was purchased from Ultimate Garage

    Exhaust heat shields were later media blasted and painted with high-temp.

    Driveshaft to differential connection and center support bearing.

    Noted thermal shield hanging loose from passenger floorboard.

    From here on, there will be random and various project-tracks. If I ran short on tools or parts - or if something just got old to work on, I'd start working on something else. This helped things move along - and kept project from turning into a drag. In other words, most photos are in chronological order - and I jumped around a lot.

    Tool kit with missing items.

    First of many nuts and bolts that were soaked with penetrating oil such as WD-40 or PB Blaster. This practice eased removal of old/corroded fasteners.

    Driveshaft out.

    Last edited by Simon S; 08-21-2017, 11:54 AM.
    -----Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance - / - Zen TOC - / - Zen Summary


      Shift linkage next. Transmission fluid was leaking from selector rod and output shaft seals. The fluid was then, in turn, flung from the spinning driveshaft to transmission tunnel. The selector rod itself was interesting because rear half was quite corroded - while front half was fine, albeit covered in grungy lubricant.

      Disconnecting wiring to reverse light switch on transmission.

      Removed selector rod coupling.

      Yep - confirmed that this is called "the bitch clip" for a reason (~25 minutes)

      Old shift assembly out.

      Back to the transmission - wanted to clean it up before replacing seals.

      Much better.

      New UUC short shift arm next to original.

      Drained old transmission fluid. Below is before/after of drain plug - it has a magnetic insert which attracts metal particles in the fluid.

      Ordered missing items for tool tray from BMP. The plastic window-crank part was also ordered at some point - but I lost track of it somewhere.. meh - it wouldn't have a function on this model anyway. Better to keep the weight off. lol

      Found a cause for non-functioning speedo. Pictured is the unit on differential which sends signal to speedometer. A replacement connector was later sourced during a salvage yard trip.

      The anntena pissed me off a little. The antenna wire that runs to the head unit had been clipped - rendering it useless even if the power retract function still operated. For the time being, the part was re-mounted with a fresh body grommet and sealed up with silicone.

      Rear shock mounts from inside boot.

      Removed and cleaned.

      Then I chipped away at disconnecting lines and removing rear suspension/axle assembly.

      Picked up some line wrenches to get brake lines off.

      Used nylon washers and chunks of rubber glove to keep brake fluid retained.

      Wheel speed sensors for anti-lock brake system.

      The subfame bushings - I didn't know what I was doing. Those bushings were a real fight to get off. Threw every tool in the box at them. I'm sure someone with experience can get these off in no time. If there is a most-difficult way to get them off - that's probably the way I ended up doing it. Had I known what I know now, the first thing I would've done is pop carrier bolts up into the cabin (which was pretty much the last thing I did). I didn't learn about those carrier bolts until later.

      This picture shows a 3-jaw puller basically ripping the subframe bushing apart - in order to remove subframe. These pictures are funny to me now.

      Rear assembly removed.

      You can see the rear inner brake lines hanging out here. Basically, the subframe mounts directly under them so now is an optimal time for replacement.

      So yeah - the old subframe bushings were ripped apart. Part of them were in the subframe housing - and part of them were still hanging from the body.

      Just to insert a time reference, the following picture was taken in early March of 2006. Fun picture though. First, official stock-pile of parts. Glorious to behold. Most ordered from BMA. Urethane rear subframe bushings from Ireland Engineering. Liftetime "shop repair" shock mounts from Turner.

      Earlier, I had purchased a Tokico lowering kit with springs and blue struts/shocks. Research returned poor owner reviews on the shocks. They were prone to leakage and failure. Afterward, I bought a set of Bilstein Sports to use - which had a solid reputation for long life and reliability.

      e30 spring rate comparisons:
      Eibach Pro-Kit-------------102---------------------277
      Stock M3------------------114---------------------314
      Stock M3------------------140---------------------250
      H&R Sport-----------------180----------------------380
      H&R Sport (29664)---------200----------------------285

      I did decide to run with the Tokico springs. They were new.. and (with some reservation) a spring is a spring. If I could do it again, I'd opt for H&R Sport Springs. Since the Tokicos compared as somewhat between M3 springs and H&Rs - I rationalized that they couldn't be so bad. Not proud of them but hopefully, they'll work alright. Some acetone was used to wipe off "Tokico" lettering from springs before installation. Don't tell anyone..

      In this picture, old door cards are on lower shelf. I had scored a full set of tan houndstooth door cards from a coupe on a boneyard trip. Was really happy about that - I have a genuine fetish for houndstooth. Ask anyone.

      Back to the subframe bushings - after doing some more-extensive research, I found one thing I wasn't aware of, were carrier bolts which hang down from body, below rear passenger seat in cabin. On the cabin side, they are recessed in a hole which is partially filled with a sort of adhesive foam. The foam needs to be dug out.

      Under the car, old subframe nuts were threaded back onto ends of carrier bolts. This was to protect carrier bolt threads from damage - a small sledge was used to strike the carrier bolt from the bottom - into cabin area. A towel was placed over opening inside. The towel prevented bolt from possibly flying into cabin from hammer strike. Now when I look at these pictures - it's obvious that the towel wasn't needed since nuts were on carrier bolts.

      Carrier bolts.

      Now that carrier bolts were removed, it was discovered that subframe bushing remains still held to the body via small collar area which had long frozen into its fitting. I used a hammer to tap the ends one way - then the other - effectively breaking them free and 'wiggling' them out.

      Last edited by Simon S; 08-21-2017, 03:09 PM.
      -----Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance - / - Zen TOC - / - Zen Summary


        Took a break from suspension work - and went about replacing rear transmission seals.

        Removed retaining ring from output flange.

        $35 special socket needed to replace $5 output shaft seal.

        3-jaw puller to remove driveshaft coupling.

        Here's the selector shaft seal after hacking at it with various tools. Afterward, I learned it was much easier to just place a new one on - and push old one back into transmission.

        Coupler seal came out with little fuss using a screwdriver.

        Small flat-blade screwdriver eventually got selector seal out.

        Yeah - I murdered it..

        New selector seal installed. Missed taking a picture of installed coupler seal..

        Reverse lights didn't work - and back-up switch is known to fail, so it was replaced.

        Removed trailing arms from rear subframe.

        Went about removing trailing arm bushings. Cutting notches on one end allows use of 2-jaw puller.

        Attention given to shifting parts. Original selector arm cleaned up. New rear carrier arm mount was given a coat of paint after seeing how corroded original one had become.

        UUC deralin bushings replace worn OE rubber in carrier arm mount point.

        Prep-work began on trailing arms.

        Differential separated from subframe.

        I had picked up a refurbished 4.10 small-case limited slip diff along with a refurbished subframe. The original subframe could have been cleaned up - but I got a super deal on the fresh one.

        Getting bushings out of the subframe was a battle that just went on and on. Again - I really did it the hard way. Many burn them out with a torch - and after deconstructing the old ones like I did - burning them makes sense. At the time, there just wasn't a feasible place for me to torch 'em. I wasn't about to do it inside for fear of smell and mess. It was April, so that meant weather was uncooperative as well. The pictures can do the talking. Note that I did some practice on the old, rusty unit - then went on to remove bushings from fresh subframe. Another time when pictures are funny in retrospect.

        Parts for "homemade plumbing parts press" were gathered. (~$15)

        Yeah - some of these are great..

        Bushings in fresh subframe looked pretty good for OE - but they were still coming out.

        Put shift linkage back together. All wear-parts replaced with OE and UUC items.

        Prep and paint to various hardware.

        Last edited by Simon S; 08-25-2017, 01:59 PM.
        -----Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance - / - Zen TOC - / - Zen Summary


          And now for something - completely different..

          Above is a shot looking in back of an Integra I had. It's a system I built in 1999. It's funny - I mocked it up - test ran it - and never touched it again. Worked well though. For simplicity, dash unit or media player sent signal to a Kenwood amplifier with 'Tri-mode' feature. From the amp, capacitors and coils separated low frequencies to a 10” inversely mounted woofer - and high frequencies to components up front. I'd done variations of this install before. Don't think there was a big benefit to inverse-mounting the sub really.. it meant the box could be a little smaller without speaker inside - and I thought it looked fun. It sounded good and was loud - but not wake-up-the-neighborhood loud.

          On a negative note, e30s aren't hatchbacks so I'd scramble for ways to help trunk 'breathe' to cabin - and dream of finding that perfect rear armrest seat to install someday. Armrest or ski-pass rear seats being desirable for nice big opening they provide.

          To keep costs down, the e30 was going to inherit much of the Integra's system. This also gave me a long-awaited opportunity to finally do a proper install on a nice car - with clean, detailed wiring. A stereo installation with no time limit is heaven for obsessive-compulsive types like myself.

          Wondrously, the box was a perfect fit between the rear e30 wheel wells. The box would be spun 180 due to its relocation in the coupe. Part of the box had an open access area which was a great place to route wires - and provide some storage space.

          Since sanding kicks up a lot of dust, I set up a temporary shop in a garage area normally used by my daily driver. The box was stripped of equipment and prepped for bodywork. Screw holes would get filled and sanded flat. Edges would be smoothed out - then it would be painted flat black. Crazy to think I designed/built the box six years prior and was only now finishing it. (pics taken April of 2006)

          Filled divots from screw holes.

          Block sanded everything smooth.

          Hung box from a screw for paint.

          When car was taken in for paint, I basically instructed them to "dip it in paint". For some parts this was OK. For other parts - it looked bad - like 'cheap' bad. The side molding in particular looked worse to me with each passing day.. so it was removed for stripping.

          After aircraft stripper had done what it could. Trim was sanded out to 600 grit.

          I intended to paint trim black - but discovered that wiping acetone on the sanded rubber had effect of 'melting out' sanded texture to a like-new, virgin surface.

          Back on car. Resulting contrast made a big difference.

          Shot of rear trailing arms after paint. Wasn't up to replacing wheel bearings yet so I just left axles attached and carefully masked things off.

          Shots of wheels I had. They were 17" Racing Hart Reps from eBay.
          I thought they'd look best in satin black.

          Transmission brace installed with new OE mounts. New mounts for exhaust hanger also.

          To upper left, you can see where I replaced the hard line for left rear brake. Old one twisted and broke when I was replacing inner rubber brake hoses. OE rubber brake hoses were chosen over braided steel lines. OE rubber was going strong at 15 years - so I knew they'd last. I'd heard enough stories of braided lines being better suited for track use and necessitating replacement in as little as two years.

          Random small parts getting paint.

          Next up: trailing arm bushings. That first part was added to my plumbing-part press tool collection. Trick was to create a sleeve or cavity for bushing to enter once it was through trailing arm housing.

          White grease used to allow installation.

          I was super-proud of how the rear assembly was coming together.

          Rear suspension back on - sans brake calipers and sway bar. Not driven or 'settled'. 60's muscle cars with aggressive rake influenced me to be afraid of too much rear sag. As a result, I stacked two 10mm pads under rear springs. Later- I'd see that this was silly as its tail looked pretty jacked up.

          Time was spent masking and taking care of unwanted red over-spray. Underside and wheel wells began looking a lot better.

          Here's a shot of the front. I don't have many to share - it's embarrassing. Paint was stripped from lower valence cover when the side trim was done.

          Engine bay shots. This was an area I wanted to take care of all-at-one-time toward ending of project.

          Gathered stereo parts from inventory and from Integra.

          Began routing of wires. Pretty convenient with trunk-location of battery.

          CD changer is just chillin' on battery cover for now. Thinking of using velcro there and calling it done. I was happy with how clean and tidy it all came together.

          Spare tire access still available - barely.

          Didn't take as many pictures of front suspension work..

          Freshened front subframe with new OE fluid-filled motor mounts and new control arms. New tie-rods completed the suspension rebuild.

          On its feet again.

          One of the last shots taken of it in Madison - it was time to clean up shop..
          Last edited by Simon S; 08-28-2017, 02:09 PM.
          -----Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance - / - Zen TOC - / - Zen Summary


            .. and move to Chicago, IL. New place had an old two-stall garage that needed attention. Walls and ceiling were dark and dirty. Floor had many cracks. I cleaned it up. Painted walls and ceiling white. Cracks were patched. More lights installed.

            Before paint. After two-three days of hard cleaning.

            After paint. During floor patching.

            In late August of 2007, the car was tow dollied to Chicago. Since driveshaft wasn't installed, it seemed OK to do - otherwise, I'm not a big fan of tow dollies. Differential had fresh redline fluid in it.

            This is the first real side shot I could get of the car - on its wheels with new suspension. Last garage was too small for a good side shot.

            Tail was definitely too high. Target was to get the late model arch even with top of tire.

            Promptly back on jack stands. lol. Out came the pig snout and dopey grills. Front looked cool without grillwork - and was a sweet, sweet release after looking at the blasphemy I'd committed for so long. With good lighting, I got some nice exterior shots.

            Ready to consume small children..

            Trunk is keeping badge.

            Really happy with the paint job. Door dings resolved. New roundels. New door brake on driver's side. Some light corrosion repaired on lower rocker panels - and the rear license plate lights we see here were toast. Need those.

            When installing one of the control arm bushing lolipops, I over-torqued a bolt and snapped its head off. This needed to be addressed. Started by trying an easy-out bit. But like every other time - the easy-out snapped off inside the snapped off bolt. Good times.

            Hours and hours later..

            All new bolts were installed afterward.
            Discovered later that that control arm bolt was the right size and length to use as a clutch stop.

            Sale pics for the Racing Hart replicas. They moved pretty fast for what I had in them.

            While I liked the 'tuning fork' style spokes and modest dish - they just didn't fit what mission/theme had evolved into. They looked good on some e30s but were too big for me. Spokes of bigger wheel made brakes visible and greatly 'dwarfed' them. This resulted in wagon-wheel effect. Multi-lug became gross to me. They required spacers - which would make life harder on wheel bearings. Tire cost would be high due to low profile. Lower the car, and camber is exaggerated – thereby accelerating bad tread wear of shoulders on those expensive low profile tires. Screw that noise. I’m too old to be that cool.

            Goodbye eBay wheels. Hello Euroweaves !

            Purchased from Mike “Bimmerista” on for a great price. The whole set was pretty beat up – but I was still very happy to get my hands on them. Picked up a set of euroweave centercaps from Nic01101011 just a few months afterward. In time, I’ll get them looking like new. Likely to have euroweave caps on for photo shoots, and rock bottlecap hubs in center for daily use. Hate hearing stories about how centercaps can ‘disappear’. In above photo, paper towels are wrapped around mounting tabs on bottlecap hub – keeping it in place for the picture. I think I can bend the tabs out enough to grab onto the euroweave’s slightly bigger hub diameter. Like phonedials on a 944, euroweaves are the quintessential e30 wheel – so I’m stoked to have them.

            In effort to start taking front end in right direction, new foglight lenses were ordered from One of the original lens was cracked and both were pitted and tired-looking.

            I remember having to be very careful with those rubber gasket pieces. One of the sides was n/a.

            Brake calipers were never put back on since being removed in Spring of 2006.
            In September of 2008, calipers were taken from shelf and disassembled.

            Pistons removed with compressed air and cushion block of wood.

            Pistons and cylinders were given coats of oil to prevent [further] corrosion.

            Although it was a lot of work, brake work was rewarding to do and saved money from not buying rebuilds. It was one of those projects that I always wanted to do at least once. Maintaining original equipment was a bonus.

            In Spring of 2009, work began on cleaning up and rebuilding the calipers.
            I wanted to see how clean they could get with brakeclean and [hours of] scrubbing with various pick, files, and wire toothbrushes.




            'Core' caliper parts. Everything else would be replaced.

            Not satisfied with results, I attempted use of electrolysis as outlined in the following sites: link, link, and link.
            The only hickup that popped up was with the battery charger. It had a safety feature that only allowed it on if a battery (or slight charge) was detected. I got around this by 'jumping' process with near-dead battery on hand. After ~10 minutes, an evident charge was in the solution and charger ran independently of the battery.

            Maintaining budget-build theme (and necessity), I went about smoking the depo lights. As long as they were sealed up well - I figured they were better than the old sealed beam lights.

            Last edited by Simon S; 08-28-2017, 02:38 PM.
            -----Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance - / - Zen TOC - / - Zen Summary


              Became better with electrolysis over time. Was after that gray color. Electrolysis thoroughly removed orange-ish oxidation. Then I was comfortable painting them.

              Red was out of the question. Stock, single-piston calipers painted red are tacky. For a while, I went back and forth between silver and black. Silver won.

              Factory air intake systems on e30s are hard to beat. The following is the only "intake modification" I'm willing to perform at this point.

              I'd seen pictures of this somewhere online once. Basically, the back of slot areas in drivers-side grill are dremmeled out - theoretically allowing more air into stock set-up.



              More work on headlights.


              Front lights looking new and ready to rock with fresh bulbs and clear lamin-X.

              The e36//M mirrors were next to go. I would replace them with DTM cup styles picked up from Ary of eurostop on the cheap.

              I liked what potential these DTM replicas had. The shape was there - but they were pretty crude.

              Noted that mirrors shared same mounting plate. Biggest issue with the cup reps was a cavernous gap between mirror housing and mounting plate - right along the top, and most visible edge.

              I wanted to fill/shape that gap out, make them power adjustable, and color match to body.

              A bumper filler was ordered from BMP. The part was a little over priced for what it looked like - but it was another thing I could work with. It came equipped with two strips of double-sided tape on the back to fasten it on. How these ever stay on is a surprise to me. A hair dryer was used to heat end portions of the filler so they matched contours of bumper.

              My goal was to have it installed, and still be able to mount front plate. I started by taking some drywall screws and cutting the heads from them. This was done so I could screw them into bumper and also have them point outward.

              With points outward, I was able to place filler in desired position, and mark hole location with taps of a rubber mallet. Holes were then drilled with counter sink on front surface.

              Briliantrot paint in aerosol ordered from I was real happy with products and service there. Worked with a guy named Skip. Full line of plastic promoters, colors, and clear coats. I know it's not the coolest to rattle can parts - but for things like this, it's super-convenient.

              Here is where I came to full realization that paint color was off. Pig snout grill was sent in for color matching. Skip determined that closest color was used by Jaguar and named "Salsa".

              One of my better eBay scores was a MOMO wheel from Germany - purchased back in '04. I'd put an awful two-tone wrap on it that was just wrong. Because I wanted to protect the wheel (it was like new), and because I like a thicker feel - a new simple, black leather wrap was ordered from wheelskins.

              Going after clutch replacement.. The idea of removing and installing the transmission was pretty daunting to me. It was something I'd only heard stories of or read about.

              At first, I thought I could use a 2x6 and floor jack to support the transmission and move it away from engine.

              < insert many swearing words here >

              Success !!

              Basically - you just have to be a man about it and get under there on some thick cardboard. A scissors jack with wood block on oil pan tilted motor back. For the most part, the engine is supported by motor mounts and coolant hoses with little drama. Once all bellhousing bolts are removed, it can rest on the input shaft while you get under it. I had to rotate transmission left and right to help it come away from location dowel on the starter. Won't forget that moment when it was resting on my chest. I was like "cool.. Now what?" all with a big smile. After scooting sideways, I could slowly set the transmission down, one end at a time, onto the cardboard. Then, from outside, I grabbed the cardboard and dragged it out in triumphant victory.

              Furniture dolly worked well for moving transmission about.

              Working here on the car was like reaching into the guts of its core - least accessible under things like exhaust systems, heat shields, driveshafts, and cross braces. The shear feat of removing the transmission meant I would replace any and all wear items in the vicinity.

              After now fully seeing how buried the starter motor was – it immediately went on the list of things to replace. Wow. Just wow.

              Tunnel shot.

              In order to keep track of where bellhousing bolts went - they were poked through a chunk of cardboard like a map.

              Car parts.

              Last edited by Simon S; 08-29-2017, 01:12 PM.
              -----Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance - / - Zen TOC - / - Zen Summary


                Grew to really enjoy going to pick-n-pull yards. Wake up late on a Saturday, pack up some tools, and go for a nice walk while hunting for unicorn parts. You may know guys who put things back together and have a few screws or whatever leftover – not me. I take note of anything missing and put it on a list. When looking over cars at the yard, many miscellaneous screws, clips, and fasteners would end up in my bag. The more I did this, the more likely it would be for me to already have that odd, goofy piece which had become lost.

                Finally found the clip needed for hanging lug wrench in trunk.

                Began to investigate cup mirrors.

                Mirror glass connected to a round, spring-loaded mount which allowed manual adjustment of mirror position.

                Spring loaded mount - in turn - mounted to a plate inside.

                This is looking at back of stock mirror glass. Stock glass connects to round motorized mechanism. When I was removing this particular mirror at the yard (long ago), I accidentally broke off part of the mechanism.

                Stock mirrors connect by using a rotatable 'ring' - which lock over tabs of mechanism.

                By chance or design - the cup mirrors connected to stock adjustment mechanism. (that white part is a broken-off part of a stock mechanism)

                Off to the boneyard for stock mirror motors.

                Pretty much idiot proof on where to put what color wire..

                Next step was to mount mechanism to the plate inside cup mirror. A template was made so I could locate and transfer needed layout to plate. Some material would need to be removed from plate in order for mechanism to sit flush on it.

                Plate removed from cup mirror and scribed for areas to remove.

                Comparison shot. Cup adjustment mechanism at left. Stock [power] mechanism at right.

                Because stock mechanism was 'thicker', I removed material from plate mounting points in cup to recess it further in. This would accommodate the thicker mechanism so mirror could be flush with rim of cup housing.

                Modifications to plate.

                Once stock mechanism sat flush on plate, holes could be laid out, drilled, and tapped for mounting screws.

                Drywall screw used as a center-punch. With a small punch-divot, drill bit doesn't wander and hole is spot on.

                After good progress on power-adjustability update, I moved on to doing something about the gap. Cup housing was scuffed with coarse sandpaper.

                Plastic mount coupling was taped up and given liberal coats of wax. Cup was fastened to coupling. After high-density body filler set, wax coat prevented any adhesion on coupling itself.

                First go at filling gap area.

                Sanded out.

                There were areas to touch up - but the gap was filled. I wanted to just extend from existing surfaces and try to make it look natural.

                Here's a before/after shot of the body couplings. These mirror products were weird in that with some time and detailed modification, the end product was actually pretty cool. Here, the 'posts' needed to be shorted in order for coupling to fit snugly to doorframe.

                Passenger side with initial body work. Driver's side - out of the box.

                Finish detail on cup mirrors was poor. Glass edges were unpolished and cut marks were visible on outer edge. Sandpaper was used to polish out glass edges and smooth out outer edge.

                Test fit to door.

                Those visible screw points were all cut off.

                Everything's pretty crude at this point - I needed to see how things went together and what would need attention.

                Filling done on driver's mirror.

                Paint on coupling parts.

                Like so many other things - I spent an obscene amount of time installing mudflaps back on. There was this perfect way to bend mounting clips - so they fit just so.. I knew this was getting to be an old car, and I wanted to preserve what was there for years to come.

                Brake rotors came off when the flywheel did. All would be taken in at same time for turning/re-surfacing.

                I guess this is what a flywheel looks like with 136K miles on it. Pretty glazed.

                So yeah - this car was equipped with a (heavy, 27lb.) dual mass flywheel. I'd read about people going to a much lighter, single mass, m20 flywheel. I thought about going this route - but I'd already purchased a "clutch super kit" from Pelican for the stock dual mass wheel. I'm bummed about this - but now I have the chance to experience the car in its stock form - and enjoy upgrade to a lighter wheel down the road.

                I was curious to learn what dual mass flywheels were all about. Basically, it's like two flywheels that are spring-loaded for about 20mm of rotational movement. Due to the weight, and due to forgiving spring action, vibrations from crankshaft pulsation are dampened.

                From what I gather, the dual mass wheel dampens drivetrain pulses and makes things easier on components like the crankshaft and transmission gearing. Benefits would include longer life and a smoother, quieter driving experience. The idea of the dual mass appeals to me, although I wish it didn't weigh so much. One compromise I'd like to try is a dual mass wheel machined, say, 10 lbs lighter.

                Had a hard time locating a good speed shop that knew what they were doing, but got the flywheel surfaced and balanced in the end.

                Wasn't sure how to clean up the flywheel - so it was rinsed with brakeclean, then given a bath in WD40. Mostly, I just wanted to get all the soot and clutch dust out of it.
                Last edited by Simon S; 08-29-2017, 01:55 PM.
                -----Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance - / - Zen TOC - / - Zen Summary


                  Began replacement of pilot bearing.

                  Pulling pilot bearing with tool rented from local NAPA.

                  There was an issue with puller tool. I had to re-shape/define grabber claws for better hold on the bearing.

                  Successfully pulled bearing and dust cap.

                  There appeared to be some discrepancy on diameter of transmission input shaft. The replacement bearing I ordered had a bigger inside diameter than the one I took out.

                  Re-surfaced flywheel.

                  Rear main seal carrier housing. In the second pic, you can see where part of the carrier gasket broke away at right.

                  Removing main seal from carrier was a challenge. I started by drilling a pilot hole and driving a self-tapping screw into it. The screw was inserted so I could get a hammer claw on it with leverage.

                  I also took a hacksaw and cut the old seal - stopping just before cutting all the way through.

                  Flat blocks of wood and a dead blow hammer used to drive new seal on.

                  New seal installed.

                  More clutch maintenance. Replaced clutch pivot pin. New one at right.

                  Replacing transmission input shaft seal.

                  Pivot with old/new retaining spring and throw-out bearing.


                  Correct size pilot bearing sourced from local parts store and installed.

                  Removed lower and upper oil pans. Three bolts missing. One in the pan. Two were loose. No threads were stripped.

                  Turned rotors looked good. (later opted for new as a car like this doesn't really deserve turned rotors..)

                  Speaking of brakes - it was high time to finish up with caliper rebuild. I seriously think I may have set a world record for taking so long to do a full brake job.

                  Cylinders and pistons cleaned up well.



                  Back to the interior again.

                  Went about removing ski-pass plate. I wanted to remove all feasible barriers between trunk and cabin.

                  Removed perforated section from lining.

                  Used chuck of wood and pry tool to pop tack welds loose.

                  A gray partition board is what you see through ski-pass hole. That would be removed too. Not only was it another barrier - it would be prone to resonance from nearby speaker.

                  Partition board removed.

                  OK - this is a little weird - in effort to remove as much sound-insulating material from between trunk and cabin as possible, I took a hole saw and removed portions of foam from rear seat. It's silly, but every little bit helps. Rear deck speakers were also absent (just speaker grills in place). This provided another area (albeit small) which opened things up.

                  When I had done first round of installation work - I had placed component crossover units under carpet in passenger footwell. Obviously, this wasn't smart. Passengers could (for whatever reason) stomp on those units. It was an area where possible leaks could get crossovers wet. Finally, it put the crossovers in near proximity to brain box in dash. I determined that the cavity behind rear driver's side door card would be a better spot. Speaker wires were 'passing by' on that side anyway to keep them away from power/battery lines running along passenger's side.

                  Wiring buttoned up on crossovers.

                  Carpet only cleaned up so well. To make it any better would require full removal and more extensive measures. It's not too bad though.

                  I wanted to shoot for a really high level of detail when it came to the exterior mirrors. In the past, I'd seen mirrors repainted with poor prepwork. Here's the thing - when looking in around edges of glass mirror - if I can see overspray or a shiny screw sticking out within the housing - it's going to bug me. It took more time - but I was very thorough about painting everything within the housing black. I wanted glass to look like it was hovering there with no support. Within housing, everything behind level surface of glass was to be shadowed out.

                  I had a subtle modification idea for taillights. It involved painting bottom of 'channels' which ran horizontally - black.

                  It took an obscene amount of time to tape channels off. For as subtle as the change was, I'm not sure it was worth the time to do. It took hours to do both channels on both taillights. Getting around curves was the worst.

                  Last edited by Simon S; 09-05-2017, 01:59 PM.
                  -----Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance - / - Zen TOC - / - Zen Summary


                    Shots of mirror housings after internal 'black out' paint.

                    Here's how fill-work turned out.

                    After insides were done - they needed to be taped off from overspray when color was getting shot. I was fanatical about taping off a neat 'inner lip' where color would stop. I wanted these to be very clean - like candy shells for mirror glass.

                    Used full line up from automotivetouchup. Plastic promoter, primer, color, and clear coat. Easy. Nice spray tips. No equipment to purchase.

                    With both curves and points, these mirrors would be tricky to paint. Initial coats of promoter, primer, and color were spayed thin. When it came time to spray clear coat, it was sprayed on thick since it would be color sanded and polished out.

                    Here's me being a freak about sealing things up.

                    You can tell how light I was spaying color by the spackle. I was worried about creating runs and wanted to play safe.

                    Clear coat turned milky - but thankfully cleared up upon drying.

                    Popped lip weights from the bottlecap wheels I had. The wheels themselves were in remarkably good shape. No curb rash to speak of. Cleaned up well. Lip weights look like boogers to me though. Had them re-balanced with weights inside.

                    Fresh premium Bosch starter came in. After seeing how much work it took to get at, I was going to put a rebuilt unit in there while everything was apart.

                    A baby squirrel came to visit me in the shop.

                    I cracked the garage door and left. Radio station was playing some sort of Eagles tribute - so I'm sure he didn't stay long.

                    Tape-off work to taillights completed.

                    Next day - another squirrel is checking out the car's progress.

                    Sprayed the tails.

                    Mirrors coming along well.

                    All the mirror parts together - ready for installation.

                    Stock wiring harness - of course - connected to stock mechanism.

                    Bead of gasket sealer spread along edge. This would neatly seal up seam between housing and coupling.

                    Excess was wiped away.

                    Final assembly.

                    Passenger side mounted. That speck is from camera lens.

                    I opted to use standard/flat corner window covers for tweeter speakers. Seemed easier than going through expense and trouble fitting up tweeter-pod units. Plus the mounting 'spikes' were easy to break. Here, I actually swapped tweets over to a good set - only to break one of those too. (third set) I gave up and used double sided tape as needed.

                    Rear plate filler and eurogrills ordered from Abrahams. Installed foam gaskets to grills. Front bumper filler looking better after repaint to correct, matching color.

                    Discovered that the foam was too thick for hood to close. Noted that the foam was actually two stacked pieces. It was messy - but after peeling off top layer, adhesive goop was wiped away with paper towels and acetone.

                    Underneath - I addressed that thermal shield that was hanging down.

                    Most of the thin body nuts had corroded away.

                    New body nuts installed.

                    Smeared gasket sealer around nuts in effort to give them longer life.

                    Time to roll up sleeves and tear into the engine bay. Began by removing air intake system. This is in the fall of 2009.

                    Way back down under there is where the starter resides. To access/remove/replace it, one needs to either remove: exhaust/driveshaft/transmission from underneath - or - majority of air/fuel equipment in engine bay from above.

                    Removing Idle Control Valve (ICV).

                    Brake booster to intake runner.

                    Taking apart throttle body heater plate and associated plumbing.

                    Heater plate hoses peaking up over lower intake runners.

                    Fuel lines running up to fuel rail.

                    Our fist look at the epicenter of the m42's crazy hose mess. What confused me at first was that junction piece. In those tubes and hoses, vacuum lines and coolant hoses intertwine. In other words, the coolant system is connected to vacuum network. My guess is that this was done as a compromise to conserve space and get coolant plumbing routed up to throttle body plate. I feel sorry for the engineers who were instructed to incorporate that heater plate. It's like it was begrudgingly put in as an afterthought. They say its purpose is keep throttle body from freezing in cold temperatures. Without going into technical theory - it's just not necessary.

                    Grungy fuel rail and injectors.

                    Popped the wiring box open. Not much to see. Closed that back up..

                    Lower intake off.

                    Temperature sensors in head and oil pressure sensor at bottom.

                    In this shot, vacuum hoses have been disconnected. Coolant system sans heater plate is yet in place. It's like a brilliant answer to a question nobody asked.

                    Last edited by Simon S; 09-06-2017, 12:32 PM.
                    -----Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance - / - Zen TOC - / - Zen Summary


                      Parts piled up. More space was temporarily opened up in the garage as inventories of parts were pulled from storage. I was lucky to have an understanding/forgiving girlfriend.

                      PARTY TIME !!!!

                      So glad those //M mirrors are gone.

                      Jack was under car to support trailing arms while Z3 plates were installed.

                      While in the trunk, I tried to figure out what to do about the antenna and its cut cable.

                      Thought I might be able to replace just the cable. Scored one from a junker - but the power retract unit in the car didn't provide a connection point. I think this is a late-model thing since I've seen early models with the screw-on cable. I'd have to put some more thought into this.

                      Finally figured out how that little black cover went on jack-mounting hardware. At last - jack area is complete. I scored a couple of nice OE wheel chocks - will probably wrap one in a towel and stow it in this space.

                      Here's how things are looking from the back without rear partition board.

                      Main harness box pulled up and tied out of the way. It reminds me of when the little monster pops out of Sigourney’s tummy in Aliens.

                      Out with the coolant hoses.

                      All of them. It was like the car vomited spaghetti. Most of it is connected together.

                      Without coolant hoses - the motor was loose in the engine bay. Block of wood used to prop motor. It wanted to lean forward without transmission connected to it.


                      More parts.

                      Engine bay stripped down as far as I'm going to take it (at this time).

                      New cover for fuse box made a huge difference cosmetically.

                      Look ma! No exhaust manifold.

                      New carrier gasket. Carrier installed with new rear main crankshaft seal.

                      White, plastic plug in extension of engine block. When removed, a tool can be inserted through to catch on flywheel. This provides an easy way to lock crankshaft in place.

                      Cleaned accessible intake runners of head with brakeclean and paper towels.

                      When the starter was taken out, I noticed that there was no bracket for it. It was just hanging onto transmission. It bugged me that the bracket was n/a. Later, I sourced a starter bracket from an early model with an m20 motor at a yard. Luckily, it fit. In this picture, threads are getting cleaned for bracket mounting bolt. WD40 was used to clean grime from engine block. Nothing fancy here as it wouldn't be visible anyway.

                      Chased threads out on upper oil pan. I didn't want any trouble.

                      I'd never done an oil pan gasket before. I knew I didn't want to try spreading RTV on it. Some articles spoke of installing them dry. I'd heard of some people using spray adhesive. In the end, I opted to try the copper spray-on gasket adhesive/sealer. It allowed for imperfections and was easy to apply uniformly.

                      Replaced dip stick tube O-ring.

                      All new 10 grade pan bolts with loctite applied.

                      Power steering pump and fluid reservoir removed.

                      Replaced with new reservoir.

                      Cleaned up bellhousing dust shield.

                      Upper oil pan on. Dust shield in place.

                      Cleaned up AC/fan belt tensioner.

                      Flywheel on with new hardware.

                      Initial try of centering clutch pack - the alignment tool I had was set up for that bigger-diameter pilot bearing I ran into earlier. Because the alignment tool had a tapered end - it at least allowed me to get pretty darn close to center. Unfortunately, after trying to wrastle transmission back on, I needed to back pressure plate off and give another shot of aligning clutch pack. Got it right second time - thankfully.

                      Make-shift tool for locking crank in place. This allowed me to torque down flywheel and pressure plate bolts.

                      Pretty excited about getting transmission back on.

                      Lower oil pan ready.

                      I had taken the flywheel with pressure plate attached to a machine shop for balancing. Actual balancing was performed by drilling holes to remove material as needed.

                      Shift carrier clip in foreground. Starter mounting bolt holes in background.

                      Starter installed with motor bracket.

                      Wrong DSSR from UUC. This one's made for longer 260 transmission. m42s came with a shorter 240 Getrag.

                      New (albeit worldpac) belts.

                      Last edited by Simon S; 09-21-2017, 08:17 AM.
                      -----Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance - / - Zen TOC - / - Zen Summary


                        Original "coolant pipe" - definitely time for replacement.

                        New vs old coolant hoses.

                        Pressure relief valve incorporated into coolant hoses. Later found out this was a recall issue. Feel sorry for techs who ended up having to install these things. There is very little room for them.

                        Replacing thermostat.

                        I guess this is what happens when you use the green (non-BMW) coolant..

                        Couldn't bring myself to reuse exhaust manifold studs. Hardest part was getting all the old ones out. Used two nuts with lock-method to get them off.

                        The "no bull shit" coolant hose install.

                        Some plug coolant pipe and head outlets. Some loop them. I opted to loop them. Since the coolant pipe outlet had a larger/different diameter than the outlet at head - I was at a loss and just used a new stock replacement hose (for the heater plate), cut it shorter - and stuck it on the head outlet. I plan to replace this all again when/if I'm driving the car in another 100K miles.

                        Wiring harness distribution box brought back down in place. The more I worked with the m42, the more I grew to admire its design. Everything was smart, compact, and efficient. It was a good time getting acquainted with it.

                        About time to re-install front anti-sway bar with new bushings and end-links. I was sweating at first when trying to get the bar in around other suspension - thought I'd have to drop the subframe or something - but it went in with patience.

                        Don't know how other people do it - vice-grips ended up doing the trick for me.

                        Pulled driveshaft from shelf. Proceeded to replace centering sleeve.

                        Per instruction, cavity was packed with grease. Then a metal rod of correct thickness (found an old lug wrench that was close enough in diameter) was used as a plunger. When driven in with a hammer, the rod hydraulically pushed centering sleeve out via packed grease. Some use this trick for removing pilot bearings.

                        It worked. New sleeve driven in to correct depth.

                        Pulled valve cover. Looked clean to me. Timing chain sprockets had good teeth on them. No surprises.

                        Old parts accumulating.

                        Replacing center support bearing of driveshaft.

                        Yeah - I went medieval getting old one off.

                        New flex disc.

                        Various pieces detailed out and ready. Best way to remove cosmoline was to physically scrape it off. A plastic putty knife did the trick and wouldn't leave scratches. Simple Green and thumb nail did the rest.

                        It was exciting to get driveshaft back together. It hadn't been on the car since March of 2006.

                        Mating surface of driveshaft 'painted' with anti-seize.

                        Carefully preloaded CSB before tightening things up. I also coated everything with grease. I thought this would displace water and give new part longer life.

                        Addressing dead service indicator batteries in instrument cluster.

                        Getting ready for work in/under dash area.

                        Part of the reason I was slow about getting the brakes back on is because I wanted to replace clutch cylinders at the same time. They share the same hydraulic/fluid system.

                        Calipers mounted. I actually bled/flushed out just the lines before connecting them to calipers. Then everything was re-bled with blue ATE fluid.

                        After a trip to pick-n-pull. Scored the wiring harness and actuator bracket needed to progress collection of cruise control parts. Only part yet to get is to the e36 cruise/throttle cable. Some different ones were picked up at the yard - but none fit.

                        Here's a pic of shift knobs I'd collected and the MOMO wheel. Center piece is resting on top. I went with a non-anatomic shift knob in effort to give interior an older character.

                        Valve cover, upper/lower intake manifold, exhaust manifold, and throttle cable bracket back from getting media blasted.

                        Made this crazy cardboard 'spill tray' for when pouring brake fluid in. After cleaning everything up - making another mess is the last thing you want to do.

                        Last edited by Simon S; 09-21-2017, 09:12 AM.
                        -----Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance - / - Zen TOC - / - Zen Summary


                          Installed map light mirror. Need to find and connect a map light wiring harness which runs down to driver's kick panel yet. I do say - the level of quality on the maplight mirror is much higher then the standard one. The standard one had this yellow-ish goop coming out of it.

                          Mounting bracket for cruise control actuator. A little bending and it fit.

                          Installing cruise control stalk.

                          Removed designated section from lower steering column cover for cruise stalk.

                          Hard to get a picture of really - but the cruise control brain box goes into an area above glove box.

                          Wiring carefully incorporated into factory routing ties.

                          Up, over, and back - speed sensor wire plugged into 'A' slot of green cluster connection.

                          Usable grounding terminal put on brown wire (it would be grounded). Flat/white connector goes to stalk on column. Black connector goes to clutch-switch.

                          Round black connector goes to actuator. The white connection here is where I need to tie into the brake switch for power (I think - this was left for later), and the last blue/red wire is for an automatic transmission so it was tied off.

                          Hardest part of retrofitting cruise system (for me anyway) was getting the actuator cable from engine bay into cabin.

                          The grommet was near impossible to access from engine bay side - so the main grommet was pulled loose from cabin side.

                          An exacto knife was used to poke out perforated hole in grommet for cruise cable. A pull-wire was pushed up into engine bay.

                          Pull wire tied to actuator cable and pulled back through to cabin.

                          Once in cabin, it was easy enough to run cable through grommet as factory-intended.

                          Over the few times I'd worked with bleeder screws - I just got in the habit of putting thread tape on them. Otherwise, I'd end up pulling air in through threads when bleeding. At right, I'm pulling fluid through just the hoses - it'd been so long since calipers were connected - I didn't want to flush crap in through them.

                          Lower intake installed. I was lazy.
                          A ) I had it blasted instead of cleaning it by hand
                          B ) I didn't bother to paint it since it's invisible once upper intake is installed.

                          Fuel injection system cleaned up.

                          New brake switch and used clutch switch. (clutch switch needed for cruise control retrofit)


                          Painted valve cover and upper intake manifold.

                          With the matching 5 ribs - scuffing them down to metal was a given. I don't know how anyone could not want to do this to an m42. There was so much cosmoline on the spark plug cover - I thought the BMW lettering was done in white. After cleaning it up - was pleased to see it was done in a silver color, which complimented polished fins.

                          Filling transmission with redline.

                          Getting happy with how this car is turning out. Some things - like color matched bumper trim - grew on me. The red trim camouflages running lights. The cup mirrors were a huge success to me - the RD skirts played well with them and started making sense on the car as a result. I'm content with the 'i' lip. I want this to be a car for driving.

                          The interior reminds me of a bachelor who doesn't quite know how to dress - what with the two different patterns - and the door card vinyl being gray-tan - while seat vinyl is more yellow-tan. I think it has a nice fun-factor though. Looking out at the cup mirrors makes me feel like I'm in some crazy-exotic automobile.

                          Once - at a bone yard, I found an e30 with a black, leather interior. Didn't hit me 'til I was actually sitting in it - but I gotta tell you - e30 interiors look great in black.

                          Interiors done in a black/tan combination are my favorite though.. and since the car came with tan - it's what I'm working with. Black door pulls and map pockets help. I can see myself working with the interior more down the road. The seats are so friggin' nice – I’m compelled to just enjoy what I have for now.

                          Rear (euro) plate filler installed.

                          Here, we can see (or not see) the taillights with the thin, black strips painted on bottom of horizontal channels.

                          The change is so subtle, even I don't notice it - but I can pick up on the greater (dark) definition of 'rectangles' - and that's the kind of subtle effect I was shooting for.

                          New service indicator batteries in.

                          Placement of green connector for use with cruise control.

                          Gave cluster shield a once-over with plastic polish. I'm happy with it being plain. The one thing I'd like to swap out is the econometer.

                          Began gathering connectors and wires for headlights.

                          Valve cover back on with new gaskets.

                          Picked up an //M3 cover to help tidy engine bay.

                          Wiring for ignition coils only wanted be routed a certain way - so the cover was trimmed to accommodate it.

                          "Elephant trunk" cleaned.. then later on, I bought a new one and installed it.

                          Last edited by Simon S; 09-21-2017, 11:25 AM.
                          -----Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance - / - Zen TOC - / - Zen Summary


                            New exhaust manifold hardware and gaskets.

                            Fresh idle control valve.

                            Fuel injection system installed. It's nearly impossible to get a picture of vacuum hose system. Basically, I used OE replacement hoses from valve cover and ICV - then connected parts-store hoses via "L" connectors from under lower intake to respective destinations.

                            Windshield wiper fluid reservoir was yellowed and had dried-on blue stains. It was soaked in bleach for about an hour and came out like new. I had a clear tube laying around and stuck it on the cap outlet.

                            Cruise actuator mounted. Just need the e36/m42 throttle cable. The one on there is too long and is routed out-of-the-way for now.

                            For an engine, the m42 is handsome.

                            Shorter studs and bolts were used to mount throttle body since heater plate was removed.

                            Decided it was time to take care of the stacked spring pads in back.

                            I dug the used/original upper pads from a box and decided to use them as a lower pad. They were ~5mm while the stacked pads I had were both ~10mm. Just needed to chop off 'hat' area.

                            With ~15mm subtracted, the rear wheel arch should come down to where it's closer to being even with top of tire.

                            Pulled old exhaust system out. I wanted to run the old one at first. The engine would be getting a seafoam treatment - and I didn't want to be running soot through new cat and Supersprint system.

                            Never did bother to separate cat from cat-back.. and there was that hole in the muffler..

                            Hole patched with a chunk of sheet metal and JB weld. It didn't have to be pretty.

                            Oh yeah - the muffler had also rusted away at connection from rest of system.

                            Everything was hung in place - and steel wool was packed in around connection area. This would provide a medium for JB weld to take hold on.

                            Again - this is only temporary while other things are getting tested/established/cleaned.

                            Getting arsenal of fluids ready.

                            I know this is just a picture of a rear trunk light - but it hadn't been lit in some time. A car battery was borrowed from daily driver. For me – seeing that light on was like the car was starting to come alive after a long, long sleep.

                            How engine looked..

                            Video of initial start up. Fuel rail was empty so it took a while for gas to get there. Fun night. Totally had goosebumps. 4+ years since it ran last. First run was short (less then 60 seconds). Needed to see if it would run before doing other things. Afterward, I ran it again for coolant flushing/filling/bleeding and accessory testing.

                            (sorry.. the initial start up video link has expired/died.. ) -Simon S 09/21/2017

                            Groaning sound that can heard toward the end went away when steering was turned lock-to-lock a few times. This circulated fresh fluid in its system.

                            Mostly - a lot of good news. First off - the engine ran which was great news after having so much apart. This was a huge relief. Cluster was operational again. That was cool. Service indicators lit up like a tree - so a re-set was in order. 'Stomp' test returned no fault codes. Most of the exterior lights were working. One of the reverse lights would come on - so replacing the switch on transmission had done something. All parking lights/flashers worked. All front lights but low beams worked. It may be that low-beam filaments of sealed beams were (both, somehow) burnt out.

                            Since wiring for ellipsoid lights hadn't been completed, sealed beam bulbs were hooked up in front cavity for testing.

                            Seems like I read it was a bad idea to run with things in gear while on stands - but I had to check clutch usage and speedometer functionality. Clutch engagement appeared normal. Revs were spun up a bit while in first gear to see reaction in speedometer needle. No concerning noises. Was fun to look out open door and see rear disc spinning.

                            Cool to hear stereo again. Didn't mess with it much - but it sounded good despite front mid-ranges down by feet and rear sub hindered by coupe design. No engine noise detectable. It would work. Thinking about replacing the sub with a new one - sure they make better ones now-a-days.

                            Both mirrors power-adjustable - this was most excellent.

                            Passenger-side taillight wouldn't come on until I bumped it with my fist - so note was made to look at its terminal connection.

                            Found that blower fan only worked on top setting.

                            While the car still wouldn't be making it to the road yet - I was glad piston rings got some exercise.

                            Finishing touches on shift linkage. I had opted to use the 'doorknob' short, OE vinyl knob.

                            UUC DSSR part installed. Because manual shifting plays such a big part in driver-interface, I spared little expense on its quality.

                            Was in loathe to tear into firewall after all the engine bay work - but it had to be done. In order to fix the blower fan switch - I needed to check out the resistor coil pack on blower motor. From research, blower fans that only came on at highest setting were typically a result of a failed resistor pack.

                            Good times here. Getting that cover out/in was like some sort of puzzle game.

                            Resistor coil pack.

                            No dice when I tried to clean it. Would've replaced it anyway now that I'm in there.

                            Noted flow-resistant debris on heater core.

                            Cleaning an area like that out would be a challenge. Took an attachment from a kitchen dust-buster and taped it to smallest attachment of shop vac.

                            Much better. The attachment trick worked like a charm by providing high suction to the small, flexible extension.

                            Service indicator reset tool made from paperclip.

                            View from front of car.

                            View from driver's side. Reset successful. No explosions.

                            Harness and trim pieces clamped in place until I get a new resistor pack in there.

                            Last edited by Simon S; 09-21-2017, 11:57 AM.
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                              Some front-end shots.

                              Gathered parts for clutch stop. The bolt is a M10 x 40mm with 1.5 pitch.

                              I ran the car and noted clutch let out right when pedal was near even with the dead pedal. When CAB bolt/stop was installed, clutch pedal movement stopped ~1/4" below dead pedal - so it should be good to go.

                              Estimating about 1-1/4" removed from clutch pedal travel with stop in place.

                              I'm out of pictures for now. Looking forward to the spring time and more parts to install - let alone ACTUALLY DRIVING THE CAR !!
                              Last edited by Simon S; 09-21-2017, 12:48 PM.
                              -----Zen and the Art of e30 Maintenance - / - Zen TOC - / - Zen Summary