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A semi restoration (sans paint) of my '87 325i convertible

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    A semi restoration (sans paint) of my '87 325i convertible

    the main goals of this project were
    1- fix the damn m20 oil leaks
    2- fix some rust
    3- replace some bushings

    I didn't grow up with bmw's in my childhood dreams. My parents always had American cars. I bought this because it was a 4 seat rear wheel drive 5 speed convertible I could afford. It was simple and had a well versed DIY community.

    Here's what it looked like at the end of December with a failing CPS causing a misfire. I'd owned it 5 years at this point and done a whole lot of cosmetic convertible shit, and also basic upgrades like lowering springs, used billies, and a chip.

    Here's what she looked like sitting in the chair gazing into the overhead light at the dentist's office like a deer caught in the blinding headlights of denial. As anyone who's put off the dentist knows, it's about to get brutal \m/

    The operation table. I've since added some shop lights and a whole lot of clutter.

    aaaaaaaaaaand the night of January 1st! The extraction took all day, with the only complication being a forgotten slave cylinder soft line that I'd replaced already! :hitler:

    That same night getting a head start on cleansing the block of the insane oil leak afflicting my motor. That's Mike. He's worth his weight in gold, and could afford to put on a few pounds.

    Didn't take pictures for a month because my lifestyle determines my deathstyle. Front clip came off and I put in an e36 steering rack and tie rods, replacing my original exxon valdez unit. Sourced from rack doctor with no core return charge like a baws.

    Did I mention I'm a butthurt for American cars like Shelby's and Dodge Daytonas? I NEED a red engine block

    That propane heater was clutch. It was 30 degrees outside but we pointed that straight at the engine, had a bite, and the entire block was warm to the touch. Then we were off to the moon

    Here's where it gets funky. We pulled my motor because of a recurring oil leak that persisted even after replacing freaking everything including the oil pan. Also there was some rust caused by a battery sitting and venting sulphuric gas. Protip for those who are considering letting their cars sit for years on end: DON'T.

    Some shit went down

    But there was hope...

    Meanwhile we'd finished the motor! I sent the head off to the machine shop for a pressure test, decking of the mating surface, new valve guides, seals, cleaning of the valves. $430 later I was reminded I could have 24v swapped! I redid the wiring harness using the correct tape found on amazon, replaced the seals in the power steering pump, freaked out about the newer metal rear main seal (when I later found out I'd also ordered the original paper type I was pissed) and cleaned everything I could find in Mike's parts washer. I then dipped everything in paint and felt better about myself for 5 minutes.

    Making more patches for Mike to weld in. He's super cool btw. This part was much more fun that I thought it'd be

    I had to remove my gas tank to remove my gas lines to feel safe about this weld. Intro to let's replace the entire fuel system!

    Also dealt with this. I thought it was just surface rust...

    This was after some wire wheeling and treatment with various rust proofing products. These fuckers are $100 so you bet your ass I'm going to bondo it.

    Hit the car with some Eastwood's Rust Encapsulator as well

    Then came what we'd dubbed... the collossus. You can see it in this picture. I didn't take a close up because I was still being indifferent about documenting this process.

    I formed most of the complex curve using my bench vise, a jack handle, a ball peen hammer (fuckin lol), and the best I could with my bare hands. We tacked it into place and made it perfect with a hammer afterwards. I did it in two pieces because it was my last resort.

    Celebrating a job well done. Most of the battery tray was gone, leaving only a skeleton where metal thicker than 18ga resides. I didn't take pictures of any of it! All in all there were 15 patches, made with the tools I mentioned above, plus shears bought on sale, and an angle grinder courtesy of harbor freight.

    I used two coats of Eastwood's Rust Encapsulator on everything. It was like franks redhot, but with taste. At the time of writing, I'm not done with the car and I've used the entire $32 quart.

    the underside.. it's a picture of some black stuff okay

    This bit, which was 3 patch panels in itself

    I wirewheeled and painted everything. The phrase-which-must-not-be-uttered is strong at this point

    Seam sealer..

    This picture. Let your eyes feast on the serenity. The closure is palpable.

    hitting every little bit of rust with a wire wheel and rust encapsulator. Of course that means pretty much my entire core support. Look at it!! :D:D

    Got my rear subframe out because in the words of the immortal David Lee Roth: fuck it

    And that brings us to today! I need to buy another quart of encapsulator because there's a couple light spots under the gas tank and that's how we roll. I need to redo my hard brake lines and etc and etc and etc. Hopefully by the end of the week my engine bay will be clear coated and I can get to reinstalling everything! I still need new flywheel bolts. I need to drive my car again!
    Last edited by Das Delfin; 10-10-2019, 10:13 AM.

    it's a Kenny Powers quote on wheels

    Ugh, this thread is like déjà vu for me.

    Nice work though!
    85 325e m60b44 6 speed / 89 535i
    e30 restoration and V8 swap
    24 Hours of Lemons e30 build


      Nice work!
      You sir deserve a beer...

      ...This one's on me.
      E30 320i vert
      But daily drive is Volvo V60 Polestar


        at some point I didn't know if I was reading about a relationship or the car.


          I love builds like these. Keep up the good work.
          How to remove, install or convert to pop out windows

          Could be better, could be worse.


            Lots of work (and rust) but well done. Keep it up, can't wait to see where this goes, the engine looks fantastic as well. Your first few pics make me miss the fall in CT (sigh)

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

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


              Thanks guys. I'm having epic withdrawals. It's been 9 months, and I feel I'm just around the corner. Trying out how to do pics with the new forum update.

              Picked this up for cheap to make something out of it

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              Got it for $50, turns out it's an IE catback. Neat.

              Here we go
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              I painted my bay with acrylic enamels, thinking it'd only take 3 or 4 cans of topcoat.
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              This area was tricky. Some brake fluid had soaked inside the seam and would react with the paint. I had to take the wire wheel all up in this to get everything down to bare metal, and then use seam seal and rust encapsulator on the whole area before respraying with primer. I used a few coats of Rustoleum filler primer followed by about a week's cure time, then some 800 grit sandpaper. After that I used a few coats sealer primer, then top coat. There was a whole lot of cure time in between coats. The top coat didn't seem to want to dry between coats, and I was worried about the recoat window when using acrylics, so I spent most of my time waiting and planning. All in all the paint job took 3 or 4 weeks.
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              it's a Kenny Powers quote on wheels


                Bitch stop taking pics of paint when you're going 45 mph with no hands on the wheel

                just fuking with you

                proper work.

                Originally posted by wholepailofwater

                WTB: Dove Grey e36 Front Door Panels (2 door)


                  ^ yes daddy

                  it's a Kenny Powers quote on wheels


                    Here's a detail on the battery tray. We had to cut out most of it and replace it with new metal, then weld two new studs for the glove box, grind the heads of which smooth, and finish with copious amounts of bondo. I used the bondo glazing over top and after that had sufficient dry time, painted it along with the rest. Feeding that battery cable and its grommet through the firewall was the absolute worst and you can be damn sure it was rewarded with a cold beer on a hot summer's afternoon.
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                    My firewall sound insulation was too tattered to reuse and a new set is $400, so I had to come up with something else. My heat shield was also in terrible shape, so after a ton of research I went with Thermotec 14125, which is a sound and heat insulating material consisting of two sheets of aluminum foil sandwiching a nonflammable fiber material. At first I was worried it'd look too ricey, but I'm okay with how it came out. They sell an aluminum tape I used to trim the edges and there is a specific kind of high temp spray adhesive the company makes as well. I extended the heat insulation further down the tranny tunnel than the stock material and I used the existing studs to help secure it in place. All in all I had to make 7 different pieces to cover the whole area, and it's still not done! The area above the exhaust downpipe is still under construction. I'm probably going to make it with a simple sheet of aluminum spaced away from the body by some nuts on a stud, topped with seam sealer (to prevent trapping water and creating rust), and more of this material inside the car.
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                    We made new brake lines! I bought 100' of cunifer tubing and we went to town. This was much more fun than I thought it would be. I'm almost done with the entire car, with just the hard lines on the trailing arms remaining.
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                    I thought this was interesting - the stock brake line clips have been replaced with this, which has a rubber lining around the clip, and looks an awful lot like a lego
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                    Hopefully the pics work now..
                    Last edited by Das Delfin; 09-11-2019, 11:35 AM.

                    it's a Kenny Powers quote on wheels


                      Last batch of photos didn’t work. Exciting progress!

                      gut to cautious grinding in an area with an open engine though.


                        Sick thread, keep on rocking out.


                          Just found this thread... Incredible documentation. Always happy to help. Sent from my moto g(6) using Tapatalk
                          (OO=[][]=OO) For Life


                            what welder did you use on those patch panels?


                              Originally posted by jeenyus View Post
                              what welder did you use on those patch panels?
                              Just the basic HF flux core job... And I know, it shows, but the welds are solid and once they're covered up and/or ground down it really makes no difference. Sent from my moto g(6) using Tapatalk
                              (OO=[][]=OO) For Life