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Rontgen's 1990 325iS Build Thread

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    Rontgen's 1990 325iS Build Thread



    New member here with a new project! I'm an E46 & E39 guy (previously owned an E46 M3 and currently own an E39 M5 & an E46 325xi). I've got some experience with newer BMWs and a significant amount of wrench-turning experience in general, but I'm a complete newb to the E30. Looking forward to learning and helping out in what little way I can!

    My oldest son is about a year away from getting his learners permit and we've decided to do an E30 project as a way to get him involved in working on cars and for him to have some sweat equity in what he'll be driving. We've been looking locally for a couple months and went to see several cars that were real disasters, both mechanical and cosmetically. As I'm sure you're all aware, there's no shortage of basketcase E30s out there. :)

    A few days ago, we found the one. It's definitely still a project car, but it's a complete, running example. It's a 1990 325iS coupe with an automatic. The car does run (albeit not very well) and actually drives very nice once it's up to speed. The drive home was approximately 140 miles and it did it beautifully. The most important part is: The body is straight as an arrow, paint is decent (was repainted with a single-stage Jet Black in 2007/2008ish timeframe) and is an original Oklahoma car with zero rust & rot.

    The list of needs and wants is long (like, really long lol), but we have a year+ to work through this and make it happen. Should be plenty of time. Here's some inital pics after a quick wash and vacuum.











    - Darrell

    2001 BMW M5
    1990 BMW 325is - Build Thread

    #2
    looks really clean!
    WTB:m60b40 in PNW
    Zachary Ripley

    85 318i M50B25tu.
    92 525it 5 speed.
    80 244gl (m60 prepping).

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks!
      - Darrell

      2001 BMW M5
      1990 BMW 325is - Build Thread

      Comment


        #4
        Looks in pretty good shape. I have a 90 25is as well, good luck with the project!
        Euro Delivery Thread///E30 Project Klaus

        Comment


          #5
          Coming from an e46 and e39 you will find that the e30 is much easier to work on for the most part. Start with simple tune up items such as air filter, plugs, new fluids, fuel filter and go from there. This car looks extremely solid!

          Oh...and fix the transmission ;)
          Current:
          1989 325i
          1988 M3
          1987 325ic
          Past:
          2001 330ci
          2001 M3

          Comment


            #6
            Really clean and nice looking car! I just got my first e30 a couple months ago. Black 89 325is. Runs great but cosmetically is pretty rough. Can't wait to see the progress on this build, good luck!

            Originally posted by 2mAn
            The BMW V6 is the best

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by jhaurimn View Post
              Coming from an e46 and e39 you will find that the e30 is much easier to work on for the most part. Start with simple tune up items such as air filter, plugs, new fluids, fuel filter and go from there. This car looks extremely solid!

              Oh...and fix the transmission ;)
              Thanks! Can't believe I forgot to mention it in the first post - a manual swap is definitely in the plans. It won't be a slushbox for long!
              - Darrell

              2001 BMW M5
              1990 BMW 325is - Build Thread

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by sampayne View Post
                Really clean and nice looking car! I just got my first e30 a couple months ago. Black 89 325is. Runs great but cosmetically is pretty rough. Can't wait to see the progress on this build, good luck!
                Thank you!
                - Darrell

                2001 BMW M5
                1990 BMW 325is - Build Thread

                Comment


                  #9
                  UPDATE:

                  When I purchased the car, the seller told me that the engine had "low compression". When I asked "how low", he told me that several cylinders were in the 90psi range and the 2 middle cylinders were around 60psi. :( He then went on to tell me that those figures were from a compression test he did 4 YEARS prior. Obviously, those wouldn't improve over time so I was expecting the worst. He also mentioned that the engine burned about a quart of oil every 5-7 days and the smokeshow out the exhaust seemed to support that story.

                  I got the car for a good deal, so this wasn't a dealbreaker. I drove the car home and did a compression check yesterday and was pleasantly surprised by the results (in psi):

                  1: 150
                  2: 162
                  3: 125
                  4: 140
                  5: 150
                  6: 145

                  Obviously #3 is a concern, but overall much better than I'd expected. Not sure what was up with the seller's numbers, but I can only assume that he had a faulty gauge, leak in his gauge line, or somehow did the test incorrectly.

                  I added about 2 tablespoons of engine oil to #3 and re-performed the compression check - 190psi. So, I've definitely got some ring wear and blow-by happening. I didn't do the oil test on the other 5 cylinders, but I'm guessing I would see a similar increase due to worn rings.

                  The existing plugs looked old, but honestly don't look like an engine that has been burning a significant amount of oil over an extended period of time. I tend to believe that most of the oil loss is due to the various leaks that the car has. It definitely does smoke, most noticeably during starting and revving, so I'm thinking valve stem seals is the cause of the smoke.



                  Decided to put brand new plugs in just to eliminate them from the list of suspects:



                  Regardless, even if it is using oil - it should run better than this. I'm going to try and figure out what's up before I pull the engine for rebuild so I'm not chasing pre-existing gremlins with the new engine. I did notice after the drive home that I had a significant amount of oil on the two vacuum lines that go to the brake booster and the intake itself in the same general area (blue circle below). Makes me wonder if the car is sucking oil via the crankcase vent...

                  More to follow!

                  Picture borrowed from the internet
                  - Darrell

                  2001 BMW M5
                  1990 BMW 325is - Build Thread

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Progress!

                    My son and I decided to pull the engine & trans last weekend - a mere 6 days into ownership. The M20 was leaking like sieve and had been for long enough that the undercarriage was a complete mess. Time to do a simple re-ring, new bearings, gaskets, etc and drop it back in after an extensive cleanup effort.

                    We also scored a Getrag 260 & driveshaft locally and we'll be installing that along with the rebuilt M20. Still need a couple odds & ends, but I think we have the bulk of what we need. We have the engine stripped down to the short block - bores look good and I can still see the factory cross-hatching so that's a good sign. Assuming the bore measures within spec, we'll have it cleaned & honed.

                    We'll get the short block disassembled in the next couple days and I'm hoping to find normal bearing wear and nothing that requires extensive machine work.







                    - Darrell

                    2001 BMW M5
                    1990 BMW 325is - Build Thread

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Loooong overdue update! Since this is my son's car, I've made a conscious effort to only work on it when he and I are both around. With my travel schedule, his school schedule and the summer heat, that's been easier said than done but we're finally making some progress. It's a budget build, and we're trying to stay focused on the goal - a safe and reliable car for him to drive. I realize most builds here are performance oriented, but this one is more of a restoration I guess...

                      We got the short block torn down and found cylinder bores that looked good and crank journals that looked great. We cleaned the block and all associated parts thoroughly, honed with a flex hone, and after finding all critical measurements in spec - we re-assembled with new freeze plugs, Glyco bearings, and Goetze rings. We went through the entire blueprinting process, checking all bearing clearances, and recorded the data into a spreadsheet for future reference.

                      The Intermediate shaft bearings presented another problem. Thanks to some solid info found here (& at E30Tech prior to it's death), I knew exactly *how* to replace these bearings. But, it's not a DIY job, so I needed to farm this work out to a machine shop. One of the many downsides to living in the middle of nowhere is that exactly zero machine shops I contacted showed any interest in working with a BMW block. For the most part, if it wasn't a small block Chevy, they were clueless and disinterested in stepping out of their comfort zone. So, I made the command decision to leave the intermediate shaft bearings as-is. They didn't look bad, but had some wear. Clearances as measured with a dial bore gauge were still in spec, so I have my fingers crossed. We shall see. I figured this was a safer gamble than expecting a local machine shop to do it correctly.















                      - Darrell

                      2001 BMW M5
                      1990 BMW 325is - Build Thread

                      Comment


                        #12
                        The cylinder head was a different story. It had been previously replaced with a remanufactured head and was a mess. The camshaft was badly scored, there was evidence of a re-weld job on the rocker shaft boss, there was a broken valve tip, and the guides showed signs of oil starvation. Mileage on this head was unknown, so I decided to replace it. Much like the intermediate shaft situation above, I found no one local to rebuild this head and even if I did, the re-weld had me concerned. I contacted Autohead Performance out of Moody, AL (http://www.autoheadperformance.com/) and they set me up with a complete remanufactured 885 head.





                        - Darrell

                        2001 BMW M5
                        1990 BMW 325is - Build Thread

                        Comment


                          #13
                          After this, things began to pick up speed. The engine was assembled along with all new gaskets, seals, o-rings, etc. I covered it up and we began to work on the chassis in order to prep it for the engine & trans. Building the engine was a great learning experience for my son and although I'm sure some of it went over his head, I think he has a much better feel for how an engine works now.



                          - Darrell

                          2001 BMW M5
                          1990 BMW 325is - Build Thread

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Now that the engine was built, it was time to turn our attention to the car itself. We started with the rear diff (4.10 LSD), which worked great but much like the rest of the car leaked badly. We pulled the diff and replaced the following:

                            - Output shaft seals & o-rings
                            - Rear Cover gasket
                            - Speed sensor O-Ring
                            - Rear bushing (Garagistic Poly)
                            - Redline 75W-90 Synthetic Gear Oil



                            - Darrell

                            2001 BMW M5
                            1990 BMW 325is - Build Thread

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Next was steering. The E30 rack that was in the car was leaking, had torn boots, and a bad inner tie rod on one side so this seemed like the perfect time to upgrade. I did some research on steering racks and decided that since my inexperienced son was going to be driving the car, I'd like a middle ground between the slow E30 rack and the quick Z3 rack. I settled on the 96-99 E36 M3 3.2-turn rack, which I found locally.

                              Since this is an airbag car, swapping racks means modifying the firewall and "boot plate". This was a pain in the ass with the engine removed - I couldn't imagine doing it with the engine and trans in place. Anyway, it took some time, but it turned out nicely, complete with new E36 outer tie rods. We have a new P/S fluid reservoir and we'll figure out WTF to do about lines once the engine is in place.



                              - Darrell

                              2001 BMW M5
                              1990 BMW 325is - Build Thread

                              Comment

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