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Big Al's Revenge: an OEM+, MTech1 325e restoration

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    Awesome job. I really enjoy reading through this and seeing the photos taken along the way. Certainly an inspiration!


      Dude, this is coming along really well.

      I'll look into that Astro set you got, doing my rear end is next on the list.

      You seem to have a much better gun set-up than I did, just get all your paints from a local supply store, and do more research than I did. I wasted a lot of time and money just jumping into this blindly.
      I do things.


        Thanks guys, the pup definitely isn't so little anymore. Glad people are enjoying it, sounds even better coming from a COTM winner. That type of OEM+ quality is exactly what I'm shooting for.

        Melon, was actually planning on reaching out to you about your paint extravaganza. I'm a LONG ways away from that but would love your input. Expect a PM from me at some point, love your build as well.

        So this weekend I finally got around to dropping the rear subframe and gas tank. A few hangups (literally) as you'll see, but not too bad.

        Not sure when the last time these were changed, but after taking off the caliper without much trouble and using an impact gun to spin off the rear collar nut, the rotors did NOT want to budge.

        After a little gentle "convincing":

        Used the same trick to get the hubs out:

        I know I could have dropped everything without taking it all apart, but I found it actually a little easier to remove while still on the car. I also wanted to use my hubs rather than the hubs from my donor subframe as mine were actually in a little better shape.

        The rear ABS sensors gave me a bit of trouble as they weren't too keen on leaving their home of the last 30+ years. They finally relented and I removed the two main subframe nuts, knocked the carrier bolts back up through the rear seat, and removed the two supports fully expecting the subframe to drop once I lowered the jack. Well, the jack dropped, and the subframe didn't.

        The top bushing caps were rusted on and didn't want to move:

        The better part of my Saturday with some PB blast, various hammers, and a 3ft pry bar couldn't even convince them as there really wasn't anything to pry against, there just wasn't any room. Flustered, I referred to Dr. Google and came up with this from a few old threads:

        A 5/8'' x 3" carrier bolt from Home Depot. I cranked it in there until I felt it was pretty secure, then from inside:

        I stuck my 1/2" threaded rod in there and beat on it with a 3lb sledge. My neighbors must hate me, it was loud as hell and I was hammering for a while (on a Sunday no less). After what seemed like forever I almost gave up when, a little "pop":

        Proceeded to the other side, and FINALLY:

        Luckily, the gas tank put up much less of a struggle:


        Seemed so empty back there.

        Although there was some surface rust on the subrfame and brake lines, I have still yet to find any body rust on the car. The undercoating seems to have done a great job.

        So that's where I currently sit. It's been a crappy rainy week so far and I haven't gotten out of work early enough to warrant any real project time. I'm also waiting on a few more parts to come in that I realized I needed along the way.

        This coming weekend, I hope to remove the catalytic converter and exhaust manifolds, driveshaft, clean and respray the underbody with rubberized undercoating, bend all the hard brake lines, refinish all the heat shields, and hopefully press in all the new subframe/trailing arm bushings and get the new subframe ready to lift in place. A bit lofty, but shoot for the stars and land on a cloud (or some hippie sh*t like that).
        Last edited by Albie325; 11-13-2018, 07:18 PM.

        '86 325e Zinnoberrot /// '02 325ci Schwarz II /// '18 M4 Azurite Black Metallic ///

        Albie325 Build Thread | Albie325 Feedback | Albie's M4 European Delivery


          Love this "build". Looking forward to more progress pictures.
          Continuous For Sale Thread
          323i s50


            Hey all. Been working diligently on a few things but ran into the "while I'm in there bug" with a few things that has slowed me down a bit. Have gotten a lot done although it wouldn't appear that way in pictures.

            After I got the subframe out, I worked on getting the front struts removed and disassembled:

            Once I got the strut mounts off I had a hell of a time trying to figure out how to get the strut collar nut off. I finally stuck a punch in one of the collar nut holes and whacked it with a hammer until it loosened up, luckily it worked:

            The strut tube was filled with a bunch of oil that I initially assumed was hydraulic fluid from the blown ~30 year old struts. Reading through the Bentley, apparently this is motor oil used to fill the tube intentionally to transfer heat from the hydraulic strut to the strut tube. For all of you replacing your old hydraulic struts with gas-pressure Bilsteins (like myself), filling the strut tube with motor oil is not recommended.

            I then decided to poke around under the car and see what else I needed to replace/refresh with everything out of the way. I tackled the dreaded E-brake cables and they were definitely stuck. I started by trying to twist them out with some vice-grips but they just spun on the round cable ferrule no matter how tight I cranked it down.

            Combined with some PB blast, I ended up using a Dremel to cut a notch in the ferrule which allowed me to crush it with the vice-grips and give myself a flat edge to twist against (this worked really well and they were out in no time):

            Definitely not the first time the Dremel would save the day.

            I was already planning on replacing the trans mounts, these were shot:

            I was surprised to find that there was no guibo between the driveshaft and trans, there's actually a 4-bolt rather than a 3-bolt pattern. Looks like I'll have a new BMW guibo for sale soon.

            I took all of the hard brake lines out, and while I was at it, decided to remove all of the hard fuel lines too.

            The overflow fuel tank vent hose cover essentially disintegrated in my hands. Not sure how the engineer responsible for routing fuel hose through the wheel well rather than inside the car was allowed to have a job:

            Took the overflow tank out (along with about 10lbs of dirt)

            Got the gas tank door and the rubber grommet to the gas tube out which was torn. That took care of basically everything to the rear of the car.

            Up front I needed to remove the catalytic converter and exhaust manifolds:

            Loads of PB Blast, a lot of ratchet extensions and wobbles, and some contorting later:

            Most of the exhaust manifold studs came out together with the nut as I loosened them up, and the ones that didn't came out pretty painlessly using the two nut method.

            The manifold to cat studs were a lot more stubborn. I needed the Dremel (again) to flatten out the studs to allow the vice-grips something to grab onto. Eventually I got them all out without stripping any (thank god, and thank you Dremel)

            The last thing I needed to take off up front (or so I thought) was the master cylinder and brake booster:

            The master cylinder was very easy, and I got the booster loose without much trouble. Unfortunately, it didn't want to sneak out past the intake manifold as the brake pedal rod kept getting hung up on the firewall. I was NOT about to pull the manifold again so I just cut the pedal rod off. Thanks Dremel.

            So here's where the project takes a longer than anticipated turn:

            Buried in there was the rear ABS pressure regulator which, once the booster was back in, would never be seen again. Took about a week to get the part. While waiting, I kept seeing the steering knuckle staring me in the face. I was eventually planning on refreshing the steering rack, replacing the seals in the power steering pump (mine was whining when cold) as well as the PS reservoir and lines. I was already planning to replace the oil pan gasket as well as the motor mounts and front control arms and was going to just drop the whole front subframe to do it. Rather than have to do it twice, I figured there would be no better time to replace the rack and get to the steering knuckle than with the booster out of the way. Also, I decided to grow a pair and upgrade to the e46 ZHP rack instead of trying to reseal the slower e30 stock rack myself. Go big or go home I guess.

            So I ordered a ZHP rack from Rack Doctor which I got in less than a week, although they only offered me $35 for my e30 core. I'll end up resealing it and holding onto it in case I don't like the faster lock-to-lock for whatever reason.

            In the meantime, I pressure washed and scrubbed the whole undercarriage:


            All clean:

            Lemme just say, scrubbing the undercarriage on your back SUCKS. Start to finish, it took me a few days in between a few other projects, I couldn't tolerate doing it all in one shot. I probably cleaned more than I needed to but was worried that the new coating wouldn't stick. To ensure I'd never have to do it again, I decided to reseal the whole underside using black rubberized undercoating. It was a toss up between the 3M professional grade and Rustoleum professional grade coating, but I got a better deal on the Rustoleum and was very happy with the results:

            If you end up doing this, definitely buy more cans than you think you need. I initially bought 6 cans and this was barely enough for one coat for all four wheel wells and the complete undercarriage, front to back. I ended up buying 8 more for 2 full coats which left me with about a can and a half for touch ups.

            Currently working on prepping and painting various hardware as well as rebuilding and repainting the half shafts which I hope to post soon. Once the half shafts are done, all I need to do is prep and paint the brake dust shields and then I can get the rear subframe back together. I'm heading back home to CT for a week so will be out of the garage for a bit.

            '86 325e Zinnoberrot /// '02 325ci Schwarz II /// '18 M4 Azurite Black Metallic ///

            Albie325 Build Thread | Albie325 Feedback | Albie's M4 European Delivery


              Great build. I would look very closely at your floor boards and jack points just based on the condition of the parts you are pulling off I would be shocked if you have no body rust. Hopefully you are correct though!
              1989 325i LS Swap (Money Pit):
              COTM Feb 2019:


                I was worried about the same, however I was pleasantly surprised that there was actually NO rust to the actual body, only the hardware. I've pulled up the carpet, and there was no rust to speak of from what I saw but haven't had the carpet totally out. The OEM undercoating was completely intact and ended up doing a great job. I probably could have just left it alone but I thought the black coating looked a lot cleaner. Will definitely still be on the lookout though when I get into the interior.

                '86 325e Zinnoberrot /// '02 325ci Schwarz II /// '18 M4 Azurite Black Metallic ///

                Albie325 Build Thread | Albie325 Feedback | Albie's M4 European Delivery


                  Damn man, great attention to details. Going to be a great car once you're all done.
                  91 318is M50 swapped
                  05 Honda Pilot

                  24V swap thread


                    Absolutely amazing progress on the car! The black rubberized undercoating turned out fantastic.

                    I think you'll really enjoy the quicker steering rack in the car. I think it makes a world of difference driving around.
                    1988 325 Lachs Sedan SOLD

                    1989 325i Bronzit Beige 2 Door

                    2018 Volkswagen Alltrack SE DSG
                    Past:1988 325iS Lachs 5 Speed


                      This is awesome. The countdown to Vintage 2019 is on!
                      Originally posted by kronus
                      would be in depending on tip slant and tube size


                        Cleaning undercarriage is nasty. It smells like dead fish.

                        Car is looking great man! Keep it up.
                        I do things.


                          Originally posted by agent
                          This is awesome. The countdown to Vintage 2019 is on!
                          Ughhh I was really looking forward to going this year but unfortunately I have a medical conference in Denver that week. I was so upset when I saw the dates were the same. I'll have to be more active with my local meet ups once I have the car on the ground again to make up for it.

                          I ended up refurbishing my OEM half shafts rather than opting for replacements, they came out really well.

                          I found these two DIY's very helpful, however the first one is from an e36 M3 rather than an e30. The orientation of the inner bearing carrier and a few small things were a little different but the general idea was the same.



                          Where we started: I had already begun cleaning up the one on the right before I remembered to take a "before" pic

                          Note the ring on the outer bearing carrier faces up (towards the differential) for the inner CV joint.

                          I'm not sure if it was necessary, but I kept all parts labeled as driver/passenger to keep the same components together.

                          Note the orientation of the inner bearing carrier to the outer bearing carrier:

                          Fat part of the inner carrier aligns with the thinner part of the outer carrier. If you switch this around and align fat-fat, thin-thin the ball bearings will go in but the joint will bind and not be flexible.

                          Remove the boot:

                          Pop the circlip off:

                          Wobble the outer carrier enough and the bearings will fall out, be ready to catch them before they run all over the garage floor and you waste half an hour finding them all:

                          To get the inner bearing carrier off, I had to tap it with a hammer. It was on there pretty tight:

                          Note the orientation of the ring on the inner carrier:
                          The ringed side faced up (towards the dif)

                          Flat side faces down (towards the axle):

                          Now you can remove the outer CV joint boot (I just cut it off):

                          Wipe as much of the grease out as you can with a rag. You can't disassemble the outer joint further to my knowledge. To clean it, I put it in the vice and filled it with paint thinner. I let it sit for a while as I worked on the other components, worked the joint around its range of motion then dumped it out. I refilled it and dumped it a few times, then finished up by spraying some brake clean in there followed by acetone to make sure it was all dry. Once the wash fluid came out mostly clear and I couldn't see any more grease I was happy with it:

                          All clean:
                          As Jordan mentioned in one of his build threads, it's nice to keep the original West Germany manufactured parts when possible

                          Prepped for paint:

                          I tried to scribe out the labeling so it didn't get lost in the layers of paint:

                          For the grease, I used Redline CV-2. Here's everything you need for each half shaft. Unfortunately the GKN boot kits I bought didn't come with the cover plate for the inner CV joint so I had to be careful not to ruin the old ones. I ended up cleaning them off and painting them along with the boot plate with brake caliper paint. Looks pretty good actually.

                          Start with the outer CV joint. Remove the boot plate as it's not needed:

                          For the grease, I've read that it is possible to use too much. The Bentley manual recommends 80g which is the amount supplied in the kits. I just eyeballed the grease packet and scooped out a similar looking amount.

                          Pack the outer CV cup with roughly 2/3 of the grease, working it down into the bearings and rotating the joint in and out until if feels nice and smooth. Then pack the boot with the rest of the grease. Be sure to keep the inner surface of the boot and the outer rim of the cup clean of grease:

                          The Bentley recommends sealing the boot in place. One of the brands it mentions is Curil K2 which I happened to already have on hand in preparation for my oil pan gasket replacement:

                          Clamp the boot on and wipe the excess:

                          Pull the inner part of the boot down past the little collar and Curil the groove as well. Slide the inner boot back into the collar groove, a dab of Loctite on the boot clamp and tighten down.

                          Outer CV joint done!

                          For the inner CV, make sure to slide the inner clamp and boot on before you get started.

                          The ringed (and white dotted) inner carrier with face up along with the grooved end of the outer carrier:

                          Put a thin layer of grease on the bearings, inner carrier, cage, and outer carrier:

                          Put the inner carrier into the cage and align the splines of the inner carrier as mentioned earlier with the splines on the outer carrier:

                          Now start wobbling the inner carrier around as you put the ball bearings into the grooves of the cage. Once all 6 are in, you're ready to put the whole thing back on the splines of the axle. The Bentley says to put some Loctite (supplied with the kit) on the splines, be sure to clean the inner carrier splines of grease before putting it on the axle.

                          Align the splines and tap the whole thing back in place with a hammer, then put your new circlip back on:

                          Pack the inner surface of the carrier with grease along with the boot as before, working the grease down into the bearings. I wouldn't grease the outside yet as you'll end up wiping it off while you're working on getting the boot clamped on. Slide the boot up and make sure to align the holes in the boot plate with those on the carrier, it needs to be very close otherwise you can't get the bolts in. It's a pain in the ass to have to pop it back off and realign it. Coat the inner surface of the carrier as well as the edge with Curil. I used a channel lock to press it on:

                          Now seal the inner boot to the shaft with Curil as before, a dab of Loctite on the clamp screw and then tighten down. Last, use the remaining grease to pack the outside of the CV joint, Curil on the outer surface as well as the edge of the outer carrier, and press on the outer plate with channel locks:

                          Admire your "new" OEM half shafts:

                          They felt really nice and smooth once I was done, and they looked awesome. I ended up using exactly one canister of the CV-2 grease.

                          Now I just need to clean, prep, and paint the brake dust shields and put it all together when I get back from CT.
                          Last edited by Albie325; 12-22-2018, 10:05 AM.

                          '86 325e Zinnoberrot /// '02 325ci Schwarz II /// '18 M4 Azurite Black Metallic ///

                          Albie325 Build Thread | Albie325 Feedback | Albie's M4 European Delivery


                            Awesome work!
                            1986 Toyota 4Runner SR5 - Sold!
                            the ebb and flow of 325is ownership - In RVA
                            1988 BMW 535is - RIP but my dream BMW


                              holy moly sweet work. Very very clean
                              1984 Delphin 318i 2 door


                                Was all the effort worth it on the axles? It looks like it was worth it