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Old 10-18-2011, 08:39 AM   #1
JGood
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The complete repair, rebuild, repaint, and v8 swap of my early model sedan

So I'm going to repair and rebuild my 85 325e sedan chassis. Such a desirable chassis, right? haha

I bought this car 11 years ago, when I was 15. It was my first car and has been my daily driver ever since. It had 100k miles on it when I got it, and I put 195,000 on it, for a total of 295,000. About 40k ago, I put an m50 in it.

The car was t-boned about 5 years ago, which was fixed by replacing the quarter panel. The fix was decent, but the body work is wavy, and the paint didn't match, so I want to address that. But more importantly, about a year ago, I noticed some rust under the floorboard, and the carpet was getting wet. Then the strut tower started cracking. So, I decided to tear the entire car apart and fix everything.

I started on 10/12, and by 10/14, (2 hours each night, 6 hours total), I had the entire front and interior of the chassis stripped of everything but the wire harness. So far I did everything by myself, it's nice having some alone time in the garage

I put about 10 more hours into grinding and stripping the area around the rust to get a better idea of what I'm working with and how I'm going to repair it. And that's where I'm at today (10/18 ). Here are a few pics of the teardown and some of the rusty spots.































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Last edited by JGood; 01-30-2013 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:46 AM   #2
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Keep it up! damn its nice to hear that your first car is still alive and kicking! Bringing something like this back to life in full force definitely holds its own place in your heart.

I'll be following you on this! its going to be great! Im glad my car has never seen snow, i have never experience rust like that on any car i've owned.
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:49 AM   #3
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Gods speed to you, I'm going through the same thing right now. It may seem daunting but every time you remove the rust and weld in fresh metal its a great feeling. Very worth it for a car you have a connection with.
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:59 AM   #4
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Thanks guys. I went back and forth on fixing it, or getting a new car. Common sense tells me it's not a financially smart investment. Then I realized nothing about this car was "financially smart"... I bought it and modded it because I love the car, love driving it, and have become attached to it. This car brought me into the car scene, I've met so many great people over the past 10 years because of it. Some of my best friends, I met simply because of this car. I'm from a small town and pretty much anyone knows that this car = me. Sounds dumb, but it's true, and it means a lot to me. So I'm not ready to scrap it.

I haven't received a lot of positive reactions when I show people the damage and tell them I'm going to fix it, so it definitely helps to have some cheering on here!
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Old 10-18-2011, 09:05 AM   #5
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Take your time and fix it right, I'm right with you restoring my ix. But my rust isn't so bad but it's all fixable.

Good luck
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IX being restored here

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Old 10-18-2011, 09:24 AM   #6
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Good for you, man!! It kills me every time I go to a JY and see cars that people have just discarded, when they could have been saved like this. Good for you!!
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Old 10-18-2011, 04:58 PM   #7
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I will be following this very closely. Ive got the same rust in the same spot,(and same car, 85 325e) and i really want to fix it properly. I dont think i want to part with this car. And i appaud you for keeping yours. I hate it when people discard e30s and i really hate it when people part out cars that are perfectly saveable.
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Old 10-27-2011, 02:31 PM   #8
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ZOMG similar problem FTL......sorry to see it, man. Its do-able, good luck- excited to see how yours turns out.
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Old 10-27-2011, 03:27 PM   #9
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I have always liked the color of your car. Glad to see it is getting the proper treatment.
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Old 10-28-2011, 07:10 AM   #10
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So, after some going back and forth, I decided I'm going to remove the entire strut tower housing and put a new one in. This way, I can properly repair the firewall rust, and also not have to worry about the rust in between the stamped layers of the strut housing that I found.

Turns out, there are 8 drivers side strut towers housings left in the world, all of which are in Germany. The passenger side is already NLA. So it will be a few weeks before it arrives.

It's part number 2:

http://realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?...29&hg=41&fg=10





So I began the process of stripping the seam sealer around the edges to locate all of the spot welds. There are a LOT. I've been researching various spot weld drill bits, and am still undecided, but I think I'm going to give the harbor freight hole-saw style tool a shot first since it's so cheap. If I get frustrated I'll move up to an Eastwood bit (Eastwood is across the street from my work). If that doesn't work maybe I'll try the Blue Point bit.

This is going to be incredibly time consuming, but is really the only correct way to repair this rust. While I'm in there, I'm going to make the radiator support removable, so I can unbolt it as needed.










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Old 10-29-2011, 04:37 PM   #11
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Picked up the Harbor Freight spot weld drill bit. It's nice to use. Just use a hammer and punch to put a nice dimple in the center of all the spot welds, then go around and drill them out. The drill bit is a whole saw, with a spring loaded centering pin in the middle. So you push it in slowly, the pin keeps it centered, and the pin retracts as you push further. You have to use very light pressure and keep the drill speed slow, or else it hops around.

The goal is to put the hole in the metal that you're removing, and leave nice solid material in the metal that's staying on the car, so you can re-spot weld it. Doesn't always work that way though, as there isn't enough room to get a drill in the tight spaces, so you have to get it from the other side. It seemed like 75% of the spot welds, I had to put a hole in the good metal. Oh well.

Here's the bit:






And here is the strut tower housing, with about 80 spot welds drilled (I'd say there's another 10-15 very difficult to reach ones left before it's ready to be removed).
























It is amazing to think the entire car is basically held together by thousands of these tiny spot welds.

I'm going to be spot welding the new panel in, then stitch welding all of the seams on the entire front of the car, then seam sealing the entire thing. Will be time consuming, but should make the front end strong enough to last a LONG time.

PS, thanks 'Too Short' aka Jared Hower for the tips on the drilling process. Go see him at Dunn's Auto Body in Ephrata, PA if you want some quality work done on your car, but aren't up to doing all this work yourself!
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Last edited by JGood; 10-29-2011 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 10-30-2011, 03:16 PM   #12
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The old strut housing is finally out. I also carefully cut the side support out. I now have MUCH better access to the rust. Looking back, I can't believe I even considered trying to fix this without removing the strut housing.






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Old 10-30-2011, 07:08 PM   #13
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Holy crap! I have some rust on the back of the car but I don't think it's nearly that bad! I applaud your effort! Can't wait to see how this turns out, gives me a lot of hope for repairing mine.
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Old 10-30-2011, 07:18 PM   #14
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And I thought drilling the spot welds out of my engine compartment battery tray was rough! Keep up the good work.
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:48 PM   #15
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The past few days I just did some supplies gathering. Picked up a set of ball peen hammers, body hammers and dolly's, some welding magnets, an auto-darkening welding helmet, brushes, wire wheels, etc... Also grabbed a sheet of 20 gauge steel. $6 for a big 2'x3' sheet, gotta love the local Mennonite shops!

So, now I have to learn to use these tools, lol. I've done a few small things, but nothing of this scale, where structural integrity actually matters.

The size of this project is finally starting to sink in, and I'm beginning to lose hope that this will just be a winter project. There is a lot of rust. I started digging in to the passenger side and although it's not as bad, there's still a lot of rust. At any rate, it's going to get fixed, even if it takes me into next summer.




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