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irish44j
irish44j MegaDork
10/3/11 7:17 p.m.

To get back all my PhotoBucket photos, you can still view them using the Google Chrome exension fix here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/photobucket-hotlink-fix/kegnjbncdcliihbemealioapbifiaedg/related?hl=en

In the interest of consolidation to make it easier to keep my various projects up and running, I've decided that going forward not only will this thread cover e30 rally stuff (and the less-frequent changes/improvements on the rally car these days), but I'll also use this thread for all future updates on my other projects:

- 1988 Porsche 924S (restoration as a weekend cruiser/occasional trackday car)

- 2005 Toyota Sequoia (used as my race tow rig, utility hauler, and maybe some light overland stuff in the future someday)

- The race trailer (it's just a regular open car-hauler, but I have done some mods on it as well!)

I already have some threads/posts about these builds posted at the following links if you want to catch up, but from here on out you can just follow this thread for all of my projects!

Porsche: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/1988-porsche-924s-build-not-a-bmw-this-time/121739/page1/

Sequioa: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/the-nonack-grm-budget-safari-rack/128714/page1/

And here's the e30 rally build, from the beginning!

I've updated quite a bit over the last couple years of this build....bottom line is the car has been rallycrossed from 2012-2019, including an East Coast MR championship, two Northeast Dvision championships, two DC Region championships (and three 2nd places), and a few wins and 2nd's at divisional events. Beaten three national champions over the years as well - though never actually gone to nationals.  We've also done six rallysprints (SCCA, NASA) and five full stage rallies (STPR twice, NEFR, and Black River twice) . Plus a couple times on the track, a couple autocrosses, and other stuff...

  a couple pics as of late 2012: updated

(2012) This is the "build thread" where I will be chronicling what I'm doing, and at the same time hoping desperately for advice from people who know more about rallycross and BMWs than I do The goal for this car will be mostly to have fun, but of course I would love to make it semi-competitive - to the extent that can be done with a low-power car not built particularly for this kind (or any kind) of motorsports. The car will be built to stay within the rules of SCCA PR class (rear wheel drive rally prepared), which is the middle class in RallyCross classing [edit: ended up in MR from the start]. Someday it might move to Modified if I get the bug to drop in a different engine and strip the entire interior, but for now PR is the goal. I paid $1k for the car and all the spare parts, so the goal is to keep the improvement/modification budget as low as possible as well. So off we go: The starting point is a 1985 BMW 318i 4-door that appears to be more or less stock. Mileage is showing at 188k miles, but the ODO is broken as seems to be the case with all high-mile e30s. Who cares. The car is 98% rust-free, with the only rust spots I can find are one small part on a rocker seam, and a few other very small parts. Good, I suck at rust repair. I can't find any body filler anywhere, so that's a plus. Paint appears to be original but it's in good shape - seems to have been a garage-kept car for most of its life. The car came with a truckload of spares, including a set of BBS wheels, a set of bottlecaps, a spare 5-speed tranny, and a spare M10 engine (and many other boxes of all kinds of new and used stuff). The only part that may or may not be stock is the diff. It is the BMW small case (as came on the car), but the metal tag shows it being a 3.91 LSD diff. I've found that this diff was available on canadian early 318s, but haven't verified that US models got it. Someone also noted that it may hav come from a e21 320is. Either way, since it's using the same case that the 318i came with, the LSD is allowed for PR class. Initial projects for this car will be as follows: * Minor electrical/interior fixes * Bilstein HDs (preferably used) * new bushings everywhere * reinforcement of rear strut towers (if allowed under rules, will investigate) * new rear wheel bearing * possible swaybar upgrade * possible race seats (used or cheap!) * possible roll bar (we'll see) * shifter bushings or STS * armor (skidplates) * tires (preferably used for now), with higher profile than stock - the car can't get much slower, so why not! And will go from there. Will stay on the stock springs for the moment, since they're not bad, and they give tons of wheel gap and ground clearance A few quick pics, and off we go...

some (but not all) of the spare parts stash that came with the car with my daily driver/autocross car. Yes, ironic that I have a WRX and instead I'm using an old BMW for rallycross. The explanation: the WRX is far from paid off, and I need to get to work every day, so no killing it or breaking it!

irish44j
irish44j Dork
10/3/11 7:21 p.m.

First order of business: The car has a broken driver's door lock, and the passenger door lock is simply not there, with some black duct tape covering the hole. While I doubt anyone is gonna steal this car, I like to have locks for when I stop at the supermarket on the way to an event with the car full of tools, wheels, and other stuff I don't want theived

Tonight I scored a full set of matching locks (trunk, doors, ignition) for $20. Hopefully they work. Or hopefully at least one works (for driver's door) and I dont' care if the passenger side works, as long as it plugs the hole. I'll leave the ignition and trunk alone and just use two keys for the moment.

Also my friend Patrick Henry, who has worked on and taken apart his share of e30s, is going to trade a few parts from a 325 that could be of use to me in exchance for some old Subaru STi springs I have sitting around my garage.....I will be racking his brain for good advice as well.

EvanR
EvanR Reader
10/3/11 7:42 p.m.

Just for the record, it's not a BMW thing. ALL VDO-sourced odometer drives crap somewhere between 150-250k miles.

I once asked a VDO engineer about this. He said "sure we could make them last longer, but we have to meet a price point."

corytate
corytate HalfDork
10/3/11 8:14 p.m.

the odo in my e28 quit about 185k as well lol. fun times. esp when the ad for the car said 150k miles

phenryiv1
phenryiv1
10/4/11 9:17 a.m.

Josh-

Since we seem to follow each other from one forum to another (this may be the first time that I owned a car before you did), I'll try to only reply in one forum.

So I have the following suggestions for your upgrade plan:

You saw my post on raceskids. Do that before tracking it. Even tarmac-only guys seem to need the skidplate. Oil pans are always in demand.

Rear strut reinforcements: The e46M3cabrio upper strut mounts are a direct replacement. Shoot me an email and I'll let you know where I got mine. It was the cheapest place, by a substantial amount.

I'd go on the e30 sites (e30tech or r3vlimited) and find one of the guys who fabricate the rear strut tower bars. No commercial solution exists. Thye combiine a beefy reinforcement plate with the strut tower bar. If the rules don't allow the bar, then see if they will just sell you the reinforcement plates.

As for bushings, I found that you end up with different places being slightly cheaper for one bushing and a little more for others. It ends up comint out to be a wash, but go with poly for the front stuff. Many e30 guys said that rubber was fine for the rear if you don't want it to be uber-harsh. I went with poly control arm bushings and new control arms and tie rods, then did rubber rear trailing arm bushings and differential bushings.

Subframe bushings (rear) are a huge PITA. Don't replace them unless you have to. They require a LOT of work.

UUC stainless brake lines are just about the best deal going, but you have to drop the rear subframe to replace the rear inner lines. A huge PITA (see above about the subframe bushings). Most people do them together with the subframe bushings.

For your shifter, look into the Z3 1.9L model shifter. Fits like stock but has a slightly shorter throw. E30 sites have a cool comparison pic somewhere with all of the shifters side-by-side-by-side. Pick the length(s) that workl for you and profit.

I don't know if you plan to have 1 or 2 sets of wheels, but I'd sell that spare (3rd) set and recoup the $120 that you'll get for them from a honda owner. I have sold several sets on vadriven and they sell fast. I actually know one guy who as of 2 weeks ago was actively looking for a set. If you plan to have a street set and a dirt set, then keep 2. If you only plan to run one set, keep the slightly-wider (by 0.5") BBS basketweaves and sell both sets of bottlecaps.

Also, check the battery tray for rust. It was REALLY prone to rust. I might have an OEM battery cable to do the relocation to the trunk (where newer e30s have them). They have a cool plastic isolator system. I know that I have that somewhere.

irish44j
irish44j Dork
10/4/11 5:48 p.m.

Did a quick compression test after work before dinner today: 150 on all four cylinders!

mad_machine
mad_machine SuperDork
10/4/11 8:12 p.m.

is there really any gain to be had on a rear strut bar? It seems to me that the E30, like the E36 compact.. all the stress from the suspension is at the bottom of the floor pan.. the springs do not even reach up around the shocks.

however the Butt-Bar Might be a better idea

irish44j
irish44j Dork
10/5/11 11:52 a.m.

today's projects:

  1. Ordered front Bilstein HDs. SInce this is an early e30 it takes the old 45mm struts in the front (all after 1986 take the 51mm), which are pretty hard to find used and most are the Sport (I want the HD, since I'm not lowering it). Pelicanparts says these are no longer available but I found them elsewhere, so I'll bite the bullet and order new. The rears are the same for all years, so I'll get those used at some point in time.

  2. Picked up some heavier oil (15W-40) and filter to do an oil change. I'm going to run 20w-50 when I start using the car, but for now this should be good for quick test drives, tuning it up, etc.

  3. Got some new spark plugs (the ones in there look pretty old and grimy). Will also be checking all vacuum hoses, intake hoses, etc to make sure I have no leaks, and try to determine why the car idles high.

  4. Plan on doing the "bumper mod" (more on this later). I'll need all the extra space I can get once I bring the car into the garage, so that will save me 6" (and I will probably take them off for the winter to save another 6").

  5. Turns out there is carpeting in the car OVER the original carpeting. That's pretty ghetto. I dont' need that much plushness, lol. Will rip that stuff out today or this weekend.

MG_Bryan
MG_Bryan New Reader
10/5/11 12:13 p.m.
irish44j wrote: today's projects: 1. Ordered front Bilstein HDs. SInce this is an early e30 it takes the old 45mm struts in the front (all after 1986 take the 51mm), which are pretty hard to find used and most are the Sport (I want the HD, since I'm not lowering it). Pelicanparts says these are no longer available but I found them elsewhere, so I'll bite the bullet and order new. The rears are the same for all years, so I'll get those used at some point in time. 2. Picked up some heavier oil (15W-40) and filter to do an oil change. I'm going to run 20w-50 when I start using the car, but for now this should be good for quick test drives, tuning it up, etc. 3. Got some new spark plugs (the ones in there look pretty old and grimy). Will also be checking all vacuum hoses, intake hoses, etc to make sure I have no leaks, and try to determine why the car idles high. 4. Plan on doing the "bumper mod" (more on this later). I'll need all the extra space I can get once I bring the car into the garage, so that will save me 6" (and I will probably take them off for the winter to save another 6"). 5. Turns out there is carpeting in the car OVER the original carpeting. That's pretty ghetto. I dont' need that much plushness, lol. Will rip that stuff out today or this weekend.

The bumper tuck? where you drill the shocks and drive slowly into an immovable object? Always thought that made BMWs from this era look way better especially considering it doesn't cost anything.

I wish the most ghetto thing I found under the carpet in the cars I've bought was more carpeting.

ValuePack
ValuePack Dork
10/5/11 4:48 p.m.

Oooo, I'll be watching this thread intently; I've always wanted an early E30 for just this purpose.

Just be sure to add "timing belt and water pump service" to your wishlist, if it's not already on there.

irish44j
irish44j Dork
10/5/11 5:36 p.m.

Bryan - yes, you got it. DIdn't get around to it today though....

Since I was off work with a nasty cough/allergies today, so of course I couldn't just sit on the couch all day, had to get some work done.

I pulled the spark plugs - they were old Autolites, black as soot and generally pretty old-looking. Replaced them with some Bosch Platiunums.

Also fixed up some minor things, like two loose heat shields under the muffler that caused an annying rattle, and hmm...this doesn't look right. AC compressor (not hooked up, but still with lines) just swinging around by its upper mounts. There's the clunk I heard on turns driving the car home

scored up some hardware and secured it, though I don't have the upper bushings for the second set of frame bolts. Good enough. All the A/C stuff will come out anyways if I run in M2.

Also did an oil change with some Rotella 15w40 (couldn't find any 20w50 as I wanted, but it's just temporary anyhow). The drain plug was....interesting. The filter is not really in a very convenient location.....

While I was under there I took a good look at the undercarriage. A few minor rusty spots but nothing much of note. One small hole in the driver's footwell where the drain plug used to be. More interestingly, the entire undercarriage above the driveshaft was oily, and there was oil on the crossmembers below it. I can't tell where the heck this oil is from though. The DS isn't oily, and this is a couple feet toward the back of the car from the transmission output flange. The tranny is also very gunky, but didn't have any fresh oil on it, and isn't dripping. Will investigate this further with the car in the air sometime soon.

The mailman brought me a little package - lockset with key off ebay. I only did the doors for the moment (since one didn't work and the other was missing), so now I can lock the car. Of interest, when I opened up the door cards, I found that there was all kinds of crap in there....little broken plastic pieces, some random screws, and what appears to be the assembly for power locks, just hanging there by their wires and not actually attached to anything. Probably don't work anyhow, so I just unhooked the power actuator plate thingy and took it out of both doors rather than have it banging around in there. Also cleaned up the door cards nicely, they look pretty good now

Last project of the day: some interior cleanup. Took out the passenger seat (would have been easy, but the tracks were very difficult to slide). As I already knew, some P/O had carpeted OVER the original carpet with what appears to be some home carpet remnants :P So I ripped that out, and found that the OEM carpet was pretty nasty, stains everywhere, etc.

So out that came too. Once all the foam was pulled out, had access to the floor. OVerall, it's pretty good. Some surface rust and there was a bit of moisture in the footwell (will investigate for leaks), but not much. THe floor was solid, but did have one small rust-through spot in the backseat footwell, and then another little rust-through spot on the left side of the front footwell. Both should be pretty easy fixes with some fiberglass. For the rest, will POR-15 everything. Not sure what I will do about replacing it. The foam was nasty, the carpet was nasty. It's all in the trash now. Will have to see what the rules are in terms of not having carpet (but still having the rest of the interior in there), or "how much" carpet I would need to put back in for PR (e.g. floormats?). Really, I'd like to just hit the entire floor with spray-in bedliner once I have it all fixed up, and not deal with getting new carpet that will just get all dirty and muddy anyhow, lol

It looks worse than it is. Almost all of that is surface rust, except the smal hole on the far left (outside of the "circle" in the floor) and another little hole near the bottom of the transmission tunnel. After doing British cars, this stuff is nothing.....

irish44j
irish44j Dork
10/5/11 5:39 p.m.
ValuePack wrote: Oooo, I'll be watching this thread intently; I've always wanted an early E30 for just this purpose. Just be sure to add "timing belt and water pump service" to your wishlist, if it's not already on there.

it's in there. I'm going to do a dealer VIN check and see if they have any service records of it being done. The car (particularly the engine) seems to have been pretty well-maintained overall, for its age so who knows. There is no discernable rattle from the timing chain (which I would expect at this kind of miles if it and/or the tensioner had never been replaced), but don't know if that means anything.

Wish there was a way to tell visually if it has been done (ever, or recently)....would be annoying to do that service with the thought in the back of my mind that someone did it 2 years ago, lol...

02Pilot
02Pilot Reader
10/5/11 6:11 p.m.
ValuePack wrote: Just be sure to add "timing belt and water pump service" to your wishlist, if it's not already on there.

Only the M20 baby six uses a timing belt; the M10 is a good old-fashioned chain, and a pretty stout one at that. Clean the tensioner plunger and call it done unless there's a clear problem (which I doubt there is). Water pump should be done, though.

moxnix
moxnix Reader
10/5/11 6:15 p.m.

Missing front carpet is the main reason my RX-7 is in M2.

irish44j
irish44j Dork
10/5/11 6:48 p.m.
02Pilot wrote:
ValuePack wrote: Just be sure to add "timing belt and water pump service" to your wishlist, if it's not already on there.

Only the M20 baby six uses a timing belt; the M10 is a good old-fashioned chain, and a pretty stout one at that. Clean the tensioner plunger and call it done unless there's a clear problem (which I doubt there is). Water pump should be done, though.

didn't even notice he said "belt" when of course it's a chain. How difficult is the water pump to do on this engine - isn't it usually done at the same time as the timing chain/belt on most cars?

Also, more information on "tensioner plunger" (what it looks like, where it is, how to clean it)?

irish44j
irish44j Dork
10/5/11 6:49 p.m.
moxnix wrote: Missing front carpet is the main reason my RX-7 is in M2.

seems like a silly rule for rallycross, lol.

What if I carry ballast that weighs the same as carpet? lol.....

or just stuff a pile of old carpet into the footwell for events....

02Pilot
02Pilot Reader
10/5/11 8:15 p.m.

Water pump is very easy, assuming none of the likely rusted bolts snaps. Pull fan, pull belt, undo two hoses, R&R pump, assembly is reverse of removal. Probably a good time to do the thermostat as well.

Tensioner plunger is mounted behind a plug on the exhaust side of the lower timing cover. Undo the plug, remove the spring, clean, and reinstall. Can't recall off the top of my head if the plunger comes out that side or if it has to be pulled from inside the case cover; if it doesn't come out you can just flush the housing with solvent when doing an oil change (allowing the solvent to drain out of the pan) and blow clean with compressed air. Replacing the spring is good practice, but not necessary in many cases.

See #15-19 here: http://realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?model=1374&mospid=47315&btnr=11_1182&hg=11&fg=25

irish44j wrote:
02Pilot wrote:
ValuePack wrote: Just be sure to add "timing belt and water pump service" to your wishlist, if it's not already on there.

Only the M20 baby six uses a timing belt; the M10 is a good old-fashioned chain, and a pretty stout one at that. Clean the tensioner plunger and call it done unless there's a clear problem (which I doubt there is). Water pump should be done, though.

didn't even notice he said "belt" when of course it's a chain. How difficult is the water pump to do on this engine - isn't it usually done at the same time as the timing chain/belt on most cars?

Also, more information on "tensioner plunger" (what it looks like, where it is, how to clean it)?

irish44j
irish44j Dork
10/5/11 9:46 p.m.

thanks, saved me the trouble of going through the Bentley, which has half the pages falling out

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
10/6/11 10:30 a.m.

Josh-

You should really have sourced some 51mm front strut housings while doing the HDs up front. I paid $40 a pair for the whole front assembly (tophat to knuckles) and used to sell them all day long for double that to people who wanted to clean/paint them and do a bolt-off, bolt-on install of Bilsteins with H&Rs.

The 51mm are much easier to find parts for, and they bolt right up where the 45mm option installs. No mods needed.

phenryiv1
phenryiv1 New Reader
10/6/11 10:32 a.m.
mad_machine wrote: is there really any gain to be had on a rear strut bar? It seems to me that the E30, like the E36 compact.. all the stress from the suspension is at the bottom of the floor pan.. the springs do not even reach up around the shocks. however the Butt-Bar Might be a better idea

It is more (or just as much) for the reinforcement of the upper mounting point as it is for any actual chassis rigidity. While the e30 does not have the same ripthrough risk that the e36 has, it happens. The RSTB with the mounting plates on the ends helps minimize the ripthrough risk.

irish44j
irish44j Dork
10/6/11 6:25 p.m.

In reply to phenryiv1:

teh 45mm are on backorder anyhow, so I still have the option of cancelin, which I'm considering.

chandlerGTi
chandlerGTi Reader
10/6/11 7:14 p.m.
corytate wrote: the odo in my e28 quit about 185k as well lol. fun times. esp when the ad for the car said 150k miles

My One E28 has 487k on it and never worked the two years I used it as my Chicago winter car.

I will be watching this, I love E30s!

irish44j
irish44j Dork
10/7/11 5:02 p.m.

Today not much on the car since I was working.

Did cancel the order for the 45mm front Bils. I'm going to source up full later e30 suspension with the better rear trailing arms, better brakes, and 51mm struts. Easier to find parts for, more stout, and better stopping are all good things for rallycross.

So goodbye to PR, hello to M2 :)

The P/O (who only had the car for a few months) also got in touch with the owner before him to check on some maintenance items. The P/O2 said (though had no documentation) that the water pump was replaced "about a year ago" (so I'll assume 2 years ago) and that he "thinks" the timing chain was done at the same time, but he didn't do the work himself apparently, he just paid a shop/dealer to do it....so who knows.

I have a water pump on the way anyhow, so will probably do it just to be safe. If the old one is still good I'll just keep it as a spare.

Today's quick project was to rip out the drivers-side carpeting. more shattered glass (someone must not have been happy with a previous owner since it's just glass and no sign of any panel replacements or anything). I really should get an autocheck/carfax done but I'm too cheap (anyone out there have an account?)

The good news on the driver's side is that the rear floor is perfect, not a sign of rust anywhere. The front floor has some surface rust, but does have a small hole just below the gas pedal. Should be an easy cut-out-and-fiberglass fix, especially since there is a reinforcing bar there anyways where the pedal bottom mounts. Also one stud for the seat mount apparently fell out of the chassis, so there's a hole there from it (will just push a new one through, it's not rusted or anything). So all in all I have 3 smallish rust holes in the entire floor pan to fix. Pretty pleased with that.

For seats I've been thinking about what I want to do. The thought of some Sparco Evos is in my mind (they can be found used fairly cheap), but I kind of want something that will be a bit more comfortable and adjustable for regular driving, especially since the local rallycrosses are a good ~2 hour drive from here.

I'm leaning toward looking for some Porsche or possibly Miata seats. There is a pair of black leather 944 seats local for cheap, so might go check that out and take some measurements. I've always like sitting in Porsches and felt the seats were pretty supportive and comfortable at the same time. If I get the leather ones, I'll get them recovered in cloth probably. Not a big fan of the e30 "sport" seats, and M3 seats are usually beat to hell, or if they're decent they're $$$.

A few quick pics:

irish44j
irish44j Dork
10/9/11 6:59 p.m.

Today was planning to attack the floors and some other things, but got hung up for longer than expected helping a friend do a battery relocate in his car so only did a few quick things to the e30.

  1. pulled out the rear seats. major accomplishment lol

  1. did the front bumper reduction mod....taking the diving board there and compressing it about 5" in. This required drilling out the hydraulic pistons mounts and getting the oil inside all over the place (even though I thought I had prepped sufficiently to avoid a major mess). Then compressed them with a vise and re-installed. Reinstallation is a bit tougher since with the bumper pressed in it's pretty tight accessing the mount bolts. Will likely get rid of the rubberized "spats" that go around the bumper edges to cover the gap that is no longer there..

moments before oil-mageddon

compressed vs. uncompressed

finished product (see earlier pics in this thread for comparison)

mad_machine
mad_machine SuperDork
10/9/11 8:34 p.m.

if you are going to update the suspension to put yourself into a different class.. have you considered ditching the E30 stuff altogether and putting in the suspension from a 318ti or a Z3?. Same style suspension, but better brakes and 5 lug hubs.. and it is easier to work on due to the seperate hub/spindle from the strut

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