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Panici's '87 325is E30 - Boosted In Bronze

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    Fired up the E30 today for the first time since late October. Let it warm up for a good while and then went for a rip around the block. Car ran well, no new problems that I could see, EXCEPT...

    I now have a small crack in my previously pristine dash :(
    It's right above the gauge cluster.
    I guess sitting out in the open (even though I have a reflective sun mat) took it's tole.
    I'm going to pick up some Lexol Vinylex ASAP next week to prevent any further damage. I should have got it last year and put it on. :???:

    On a positive note, I got the go-ahead to work on the car in my parents driveway. Not only is the driveway flat (unlike my student house), but I'll have use of the garage/tools and air compressor. Next week I'll be bringing the 5-speed tranny and associated parts from my student house, and hopefully starting the swap!


      Finally started the transmission swap today. I didn't get a lot done, but it's a start.

      I had to buy a set of ramps, because the floor jack I have at my parents place is too tall to fit under the front of the car!
      #lowCarProblems amirite??

      • Removed center console and shifter trim plates.
      • Removed auto kickdown cable from throttle body
      • Removed airbox, AFM, ICV
      • Disconnected starter cables.
      • Disconnected auto trans cooler lines from rad.
      • Removed center exhaust section.

      Last edited by Panici; 12-04-2017, 05:18 PM.


        I really like that volt meter. How did you do it?
        My Garage
        2001 Z3 2.5i Steel Gray/Black (Lexi)
        1988 325ix Diamond Schwartz/Black (Izzy)
        1989 325i Cirrus Blue/Houndstooth (Stitch)

        Instagram: Stone.Hopkins


          Originally posted by stonea View Post
          I really like that volt meter. How did you do it?
          Thanks! Voltmeter is a self-contained 7-segment display I got from I then took the defogger switch from my parts car and put the two together. It's not perfect (I cracked the cover) but it's better then nothing!

          Transmission Swap: Day 2
          Didn't get much done, Spent most of my day getting the auto driveshaft off. PB Blaster on every single bolt. Had to use a pipe wrench on one of the rear driveshaft bolts.
          Exhaust heatshields came down as well.

          I also loaded up the 5-speed box, driveshaft, both new LCAs, and a bunch of supporting parts in my jeep.
          Bringing them to work on the car on Monday.
          Meanwhile I'm going North for a weekend to help my friend with his early E24. It's in rough shape, doesn't currently run, but he picked it up for a good deal! Hopefully we can get it running and find out what it needs

          Transmission Swap: Day 3
          Plans changed for the weekend, going to work on the E24 tomorrow, so I put in half a day on the E30 today.

          Cleaned up the 5-speed.

          Here's a few shots while the first coat of engine degreaser was soaking.

          Two cans of degreaser (and some scrubbing) later:

          Inspected the 5-speed driveshaft. Looks like the giubo is fine, but CSB will need to be replaced. U-joint(s) may also need to be replaced.

          Removed the AT cooling lines, AT shift selector.
          Last edited by Panici; 12-04-2017, 05:23 PM.


            Nice work, I need to get some 15mm spacers like your setup.


              Originally posted by WarpedRotors View Post
              Nice work, I need to get some 15mm spacers like your setup.
              I'd eventually like to get a set of 10mm (front) and 20mm (rear) as well.
              Long term i'd like 25mm (front) and 35mm (rear) when I run the iX 'weaves (et41 iirc) with some sticky rubber.

              More trans swap updates!
              I did some reading and it looks like the earlier plate style carrier on my Getrag 260 gives a lot of side-to-side shifter slop because of the rear bushing (designed to limit vertical movement only)

              I took a hard look at the parts I had available, and decided to bite the bullet and upgrade to the newer-style shifter carrier. The parts I have are in rough enough shape that I would have spent a bunch of money (on bushings etc) to end up with something I wasn't happy with.

              I bought everything I needed from Pelican parts (save the delrin bushings from Garagistic). Certainly not the cheapest route, but I don't have a ton of time to hunt down used stuff. I'd like to get the car on the road this month!
              I did try to buy parts at the local dealership, but they were only willing to get the parts if I bought bulk packages.

              Quick list of the fun stuff:
              • Entire "new" style shifter carrier, selector rod, and supporting parts
              • Z4 1.9 shifter
              • Delrin shift carrier bushings
              • New CSB and mounting hardware
              • Clutch master to slave hardline, grommet, connector
              • OEM BMW input and output shaft seals for the Getrag 260
                • I was going to use (and even previously bought) aftermarket stuff, but decided not to take the risk of those being junk and leaking.

              ~$600 later, and hopefully the stuff will come in under two weeks *fingers crossed*.

              Meanwhile I'll complete all the work that I can, and then start on the LCA replacement if the parts still haven't arrived.

              Transmission Swap: Day 4

              Worked all afternoon.
              Got the starter off, removed the rear trans brace, took the difficult bellhousing bolts out, and then finally dropped the Automatic transmission with much effort.
              Had an issue where the auto trans dipstick got hung up on the side padding (you can see it torn in the pictures). I should have removed the dipstick tube before trying to pull the trans.

              The torque converter decided to stay with the engine, so I took it off separately.

              I'm going to weight all the parts. Just from moving the trans around, I know the ZF 4HP22 is definitely heavier then the Getrag 260. I'm interested to see how much weight I'll be taking out by going from auto to 5-speed.

              Also drained the old fluid out of the Getrag 260, I was pleased to find only a few small pieces of metal in there. AFAIK this trans has north of 320k kilometers (200k miles). I only drove my parts car for a total of 10 minutes, but all the gears were there. So hopefully it all works when swapped!

              Last edited by Panici; 12-04-2017, 05:31 PM.


                Transmission Swap: Day 5

                Barely worked on the E30 today.
                I did drive for a few hours to FINALLY get some Lexol Vinylex for my dash. Too bad I didn't do it last year, I wouldn't have a big crack above my gauge cluster. :(
                That's going to bother me for a long time.

                Also, pulled the rest of the stuff from the back of the motor (flex plate etc). I've got the rear main seal off, and am going to replace it tomorrow once I figure out what seal (and sealant) to use:

                I also need to repair/replace the heat shield material in the transmission tunnel, as it's coming apart.

                Last edited by Panici; 12-04-2017, 05:34 PM.


                  Transmission Swap: Day 6

                  Changed the Rear Main Seal today. I ended up using Permatex MotoSeal 1 and the Corteco "new style" springless RMS.

                  Such a huge pain to clean the old paper gasket material off of the RMS carrier. Even the Permatex Gasket Remover needed MANY soakings and much scraping with two plastic putty knives. I ended up leaving a little gasket material on the sealing surface, but I would rather have that then scratches from removing it. All of the mating surface on the RMS carrier felt smooth to the touch.

                  A safety note about the Permatex Gasket Remover, it went straight through the black nitrile gloves I was wearing, and starting burning my hands. At first I thought I had a hole in my gloves. So I switched to a new pair, and surprise!
                  After I switched to some heavy "acid resistant" rubber gloves, my hands no longer were affected, but the plastic putty knives still melted!

                  Some notes for RMS replacement:
                  • Use the PTFE/Teflon/Springless seal.
                  • It was suggested to use an anaerobic sealant
                    • Designed for porous surfaces like the RMS carrier
                    • I don't believe the Permatex MotoSeal 1 I used is anaerobic :/

                  • Make sure the seal and the crankshaft are clean and dry (with brake cleaner)
                    • Do not put any form of lubrication on the inside of the seal. (the part that contacts the crank)
                    • The initial friction at startup forms a mated sealing surface.

                  • Make sure the seal isn't positioned to sit in any existing grooves in the crank.
                    • I didn't do this. I should have made up a shim to position the new RMS a little deeper in the carrier.
                    • My motor does have low mileage though (100k mi) so maybe I'll get away with it.

                  • Use the included plastic sleeve when sliding the seal over the crank otherwise it is quite easy to fold the seal
                  • The springless seal is harder to install, but done correctly it won't leak.

                  Here's a pretty good reference link as to why the newer seal design is better:

                  Honestly, I'm not confident in my job at all. I'd hate to put the car back together just to have a leaky RMS because of the seal type, or the gasket material I used, or my improper assembly.

                  I'm going to attempt to start and run the motor without a transmission attached, to check the RMS for leaks.

                  Next week I'm tackling the transmission seals.
                  I need to buy a 1-3/16" thin wall socket, a 3-arm pulley puller, and some proper sealant for the various parts/splines.

                  As always, cleaned up the mounting hardware when reusing.

                  I realize I got sealant everywhere. I however didn't get any on the crank or actual sealing surface of the RMS. :)
                  Last edited by Panici; 12-04-2017, 05:40 PM.


                    Transmission Swap: Day 7

                    I first got to work removing the bellhousing from the auto trans. Then I bolted up the auto flywheel bits, the bellhousing, and the starter. (stupid starter bolts, again)

                    Then I made a jumper for Pins 30 & 87 of the (Auto) starter relay.

                    I supported the front of the motor with a floor jack (and wood) underneath the (now vacant) A/C mounting boss on the front of the motor.

                    Started and ran the car for a couple minutes. After then pulling the auto bellhousing and supporting parts off, there doesn't appear to be any extra oil from/around the rear main seal. :)

                    Video of E30 idling open headers

                    My Powerbuilt Oil Sender 1-3/16" thin wall socket came in, so I got to work removing the output flange / harmonic balancer.

                    After cutting the rubber connecting pieces, I removed the outside metal "ring". I then burned off all the remaining rubber. While the parts were still warm, I was able to hammer out the studs, separating the remainder of the balancer from the output flange.

                    I picked up the 3 quarts of Redline MT-90 I ordered, and used a little to install the shift shaft carrier seal (after removing the old one, which was annoying even with a set of hook tools)

                    Finally, after checking MANY local stores and supply places, I had no choice but to buy some Curil T and Curil K2 off of eBay. Hopefully they don't take too long to get here.
                    Last edited by Panici; 05-25-2020, 07:35 PM.


                      Did a little work today. Not much, but better then nothing.
                      Ended up raining for half of the afternoon.

                      • Picked up exhaust gaskets from dealer.
                      • Rented spring compressors from parts store.
                      • Took off driver's side wheel, brake caliper.
                        • Going to replace LCAs while parts are out of the way for the trans swap.
                        • I then realized I don't have my ball joint puller here at my parent's house. :/
                      • Sanded and painted the rust on my manual pedal assembly.

                      I got a notice that my big PelicanParts order is ready for pickup tomorrow. Mostly stuff to convert to the new aluminum shift carrier, but I also threw a Z3 1.9 shifter in there :)

                      Too bad I'm still waiting on my Curil K2 and Curil T to replace the trans seals.
                      Last edited by Panici; 12-04-2017, 05:48 PM.


                        Very Nice thread man! :up:

                        I'm so glad to see you found a decent shell and have carried over your enthusiasm and hard work into this one!

                        I Look forward to some more updates!! 8)

                        "When Passion and Skill work together..the end result is often a masterpiece. ."
                        Project Frankenstein :twisted:


                          Originally posted by cypriotgeeza View Post
                          Very Nice thread man! :up:

                          I'm so glad to see you found a decent shell and have carried over your enthusiasm and hard work into this one!

                          I Look forward to some more updates!! 8)
                          Thanks :)
                          Ask and you shall receive!

                          Front LCA replacement + drop hats: Day 1

                          I worked hard on the car today.

                          Mostly finished the driver side LCA swap. Part way through the passenger side.

                          I'm also swapping to e90 drophats and thinner (3mm - 318i) upper spring pads as I go. (stock is 9mm)

                          I still need to mount the lollypops when the car is ready to go back on the ground. The instructions say to make sure the car is sitting at ride height quickly (within 30 minutes) so the bushings can set when the dish soap lube dries.

                          What a PITA getting the old bushings out of the lollypop, and pressing in the offset M3 bushing. I got it done with a combination of two sledge hammers, a vice (annoyingly not permanently mounted to anything), a dremel, a sawzall, a piece of PCV pipe, a propane torch, and various pieces of wood and cast iron. I wish I had a press, it would have been a simple job.
                          I still have the other side to do tomorrow.

                          On the driver's side I was just following a DIY guide I had printed last year to swap springs/shocks, before changing the LCA. It's quite a pain to work with spring compressors and such under the car. Took more time then necessary.

                          On the passenger side, I tried something different and started by separating the strut assembly from the LCA. I was then able to completely remove the strut assembly as one piece, without compressing the spring or anything! I'll clean it up and swap the e90 hat and thin spring pad tomorrow in the garage, rather then in the driveway.

                          After the strut was out, I loosened the engine mount enough to get a socket on the old LCA to subframe bolt, and took it off with the aid of 5 or so 1/2" extensions, a pickle fork and a small sledgehammer.
                          Note that the pickle fork destroyed the boot on the subframe-to-LCA balljoint. Not a big deal for me as I'm replacing both LCAs. But if for some reason you're planning on reusing the same LCAs, you'll need to find a less destructive method to seperate the LCA from the subframe.

                          Then with the aid of some fire I got the lollypop off, ready to fight with it tomorrow to get the old bushing out.

                          Last edited by Panici; 12-04-2017, 05:49 PM.


                            Front LCA replacement + drop hats: Day 2

                            Although I worked for most of the afternoon, I didn't get a lot done. I was already pretty sore from all the work yesterday, and by the end of today I could barely walk upstairs!

                            I started by tackling the passenger side lollypop. Not wanting to waste time, I immediately went for the sawzall. Unfortunately I wasn't watching the depth on the opposite side, and I nicked the edge. Oh well, not a big deal.

                            On the plus side, the bushing came right out without issue using a set of vicegrips.

                            I then decided to paint both of the lollypops. Too bad I didn't decide to do it before I installed the first bushing.
                            I knocked all the loose dirt/undercoating off with an improvised substitute for a bench grinder.
                            Then I shot them with some POR15 degreaser. I decided to skip the POR15 metal prep, not knowing how it would affect the rubber bushing.
                            I finished with two coats of Eastwood rust paint.


                            I also shot some paint on the underside of the passenger side spring perch. I was tired at this point so my prep was really lazy. I did use POR15 degreaser, but I'm pretty sure there was still some dirt/undercoating on there when I painted. I'm sure I'll have it apart again at some point (probably for wheel bearings) and I'll do a better job then.

                            I installed the e90 drophat and thinner spring pad. Then I spent over an hour beating the new E30 M3 bushing into the lollypop. Even split a wood block in half with the 9lb sledge I was using!

                            Bushing was winning for a little while. Split this wood block in half.

                            But I finally got the best of it!

                            I pulled out the Auto pedalbox, and installed the clutch slave grommets in the firewall.

                            I finished for the day by installing the new shifter joint. Unfortunately it looks like it's built with a slight oval. I assumed the shape of my old one was because of wear, but it looks like the assembly comes like that :( Too bad I bought a new one, it was expensive. I could have reused the old one with just a replacement sponge.

                            Last edited by Panici; 12-04-2017, 05:56 PM.


                              Front LCA replacement + drop hats: Day 3

                              Mounted both new Lemfoerder LCAs.
                              Passenger side balljoint was bad, I decided to do both sides at the same time.

                              Tried in vein to get the lollipops onto the LCAs. I even went as far as grinding down the rough edges on the LCAs. Maybe it's an issue with the Lemfoerder E30 M3 offset CABs?

                              I decided to build a tool to help me out. (Shown here on the old LCA)

                              After much struggling using just dishsoap+water, I wasn't able to get the driver's side fully seated, and hadn't even attempted the passenger side yet.

                              I took the lollipop back off, and sanded down the rubber bushing a little (with a dremel). Combined with some marine grease, I was able to get the driver and passenger side lollipops mounted and the car back on the ground.

                              Check out the tool after I struggled with the driver's side.

                              Car is back on the ground (for now). ~4-3/4" clearance under the oilpan.
                              Should be 0.62"-0.82" lower then before.

                              Look what finally came in the mail this morning (from ebay). I'll be back at my parents house on Wednesday afternoon and I can install the new input+output shaft seals on the Getrag 260 and get my swap back on the road!

                              Last edited by Panici; 12-04-2017, 06:05 PM.


                                Did a few things today.

                                Replaced the CSB on the 5-speed driveshaft. Unfortunately I destroyed one of the caps taking the old CSB off. I was going to buy a new one, but they're over $20!

                                I decided to take apart the Auto driveshaft and use the cap from that. I disassembled the CSB and cut the bearing off. If you've ever wondered what is inside of a CSB, here you go!

                                I replaced the output shaft seal on the G260 with an official BMW seal. I used Curil K2 on the splines, on the threads, and behind the 32mm nut. I also set the new seal a little deeper into the trans.
                                My lock plate didn't fit very well. I'm not super concerned, as the lock plate wasn't even originally bent into the grooves when I took it apart.

                                Rather then leave it off completely, I did a bit of a hackjob with some JB Weld. The nut is torqued to ~110ft.lbs so it probably isn't going anywhere.

                                I got the manual pedal box in the car. Proper number of pedals now!
                                I still need to install the clutch master & slave cyls.

                                I scraped off some more of the undercoating on the sideskirts. Then I went to town with a screwdriver to see the extent of the rust. Driver's sideskirt was trapping water.

                                I shot some Eastwood rust paint on the bad spots afterwords. I forgot to take pictures of that. Honestly it's a temporary job, I don't expect it to last with zero prep work. But it's better then before with the trapped water and exposed metal.

                                Last edited by Panici; 12-04-2017, 06:12 PM.