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Billy_Bottle_Caps Dork
9/1/14 8:30 a.m.

In reply to BigD:

Amazing work that car looks like real handful....in a good way..

BigD Reader
9/1/14 11:22 p.m.

Thanks! The amazing thing is that with the traction control, it's almost disturbing how controllable 900hp in an E30 feels, borderline sane!

BigD Reader
9/4/14 10:39 p.m.

So as I mentioned, one of my intank pumps died. Online they are 250, my local source could do better but not by a lot. I looked around and saw mention of a Vega or a Thunderbird pump being a feasible core for fixing the pump. I asked my guy to get me a pump and strainer. 60 bucks all in. Now we're talkin. It's a cheap experiment and if it works, then I will buy a bunch and have a cheap fix ready to go.

By gum it worked!!! Dare I say, fits great!

VWguyBruce HalfDork
9/5/14 12:23 a.m.

Love it when the word on the street turns out to be truth.

BigD Reader
10/5/14 11:10 p.m.

Lost the last month to working until 4AM to get our Chumpcar ready. Finished midnight the day before we had to leave for the track. Had many issues but we finished, and finished mid-pack! (despite spending 2 of the 12 hrs in the pits)

But dammit I'm still committed to getting this thing on track this year.

First fire up on the new fuel system and E85 is a success!


Mezzanine Reader
10/5/14 11:15 p.m.

Sounds great! What ECU are you running? I didn't recognize the screen on the laptop, but it was only shown for a second.

BigD Reader
10/5/14 11:30 p.m.

Thanks! It's VEMS. The dash is also their android app on a Nexus 10, I just got the fuel level input working so it's now 100% fully functional, logging etc with fuel pressure and level, oil pressure, temps etc.

Mezzanine Reader
10/5/14 11:35 p.m.

Ah, of course! I have some experience with Link G4 ECUs, which as I understand are basically the same thing. Nice stuff! I'm very envious of the app functionality- definitely something I don't have on my current ECU.

BigD Reader
10/6/14 12:04 a.m.

I can't say to be honest. I took the easy route by using what the guy uses who held my hand through understanding engine management (hell, even basic internal combustion theory), holding my hand through understanding turbocharging, and what my tuner likes (who also happens to be a VEMS dealer). So I don't have any experience with any other ECU but this one has not left me wanting for anything. Even the developers. VEMS gets a bad rap for their support, which is fair to a point - they have no documentation and it takes days to get a reply to a simple email from the HQ. But the user base more than makes up for it (what ended up being the official install manual was written by a user). However, when I had to deal with them, I was impressed. There are several major features in the ECU firmware and the Android app which I requested and they rather promptly complied (eg dead-time based injector settings, making gauge descriptors customizable in the Android app).

The first version of VEMS was a spinoff of the AVR version of Megasquirt but since then it has evolved into its own identity.

Actually, everyone reading this should give this a read at some point. Even if you don't plan to implement your own engine management, it will take your understanding of what's going on inside your motor and your ability to diagnose problems to a whole new level. This is the kind of stuff I was hoping would start showing up in GRM, alas...


Mezzanine Reader
10/6/14 12:38 p.m.

Correction: Link and Vi-Pec* are the same, not Link and VEMS.

I was in the same boat as you having to learn my way through engine management. I did so by reading the installation manuals for lots of different ECUs and eventually took a few classes with High Performance Academy. I'd highly recommend them!

The documentation on the VEMS site you linked to is pretty good. Megasquirt has TONS of info on their site, and you can learn most anything you want on engine management there, even if you aren't using a MS system.

BigD Reader
10/6/14 10:28 p.m.

Do you agree that this should be much more widely distributed reading in the gearhead community, including in print by GRM? I feel like so many issues, especially fuel injection and "it won't start" threads wouldn't exist if more people read and understood this stuff. And rocket science it is not (I mean at this surface level).

Mezzanine Reader
10/6/14 11:28 p.m.
BigD wrote: Do you agree that this should be much more widely distributed reading in the gearhead community, including in print by GRM? I feel like so many issues, especially fuel injection and "it won't start" threads wouldn't exist if more people read and understood this stuff. And rocket science it is not (I mean at this surface level).

I definitely agree that this stuff should be more common knowledge, and wish more people understood it.

I feel like the info on engine management and tuning is definitely out there, and readily available... The problem lies with interest. Not everyone is interested in learning about this sort of thing, and so they aren't likely to dive into this sort of project.

GRM did have an article a few issues back on engine management systems, but I'll admit: I was pretty disappointed by it. It is a tough subject to cover in one article, and I think that article didn't even scratch the surface on the raw basics.

Perhaps if the magazine were to create an on-going series on stand-alone engine management, they could make it more digestible for the masses? It could go something like this:

Issue 1: Determining what you need from an EMS

Issue 2: Choosing an EMS to suit your needs

Issue 3: Choosing sensors and other ancillaries (with a special on injectors, since this kind of tech applies even outside of EMS?)

Issue 4: Building a harness, installment 1: wire selection, common connectors like Deutsch, Metri-Pack, etc.

Issue 5: Building a harness, installment 2: running wire, making terminations, looming, etc.

Issue 6: Tuning software, building base maps, and preparing for a first start.

Issue 7: First start, and building a fuel table (start basic road tuning)

Issue 8: Road tuning for fuel and drivability

Issue 9: Chassis dyno tuning for ignition, etc.

OK, I'll stop there. Sorry for cluttering up your awesome build thread. I realize I'm reading waaay into your comments, but I really wish we change the general car enthusiast climate towards better understanding of how these things work. You had someone help you down the path, and I try to be that someone with some of my own friends. Perhaps we can enlist the magazine to help a wider audience with more of the details, as above?

BigD Reader
10/8/14 12:20 a.m.

No you're not reading too much, that's exactly what I'm talking about. I resubscribed because the editors promised more technical content. By that I didn't think they meant articles which explain what an engine management system is for. It's like a turbocharging article which talks about what a turbocharger is for. Yeah that's interesting but there's a bit more to it. I let my sub lapse again, probably for good this time.

I know I'd read those articles even if I didn't have this project. I just didn't even know the information was out there. I think GRM can easily get away with catering to a higher common denominator.

BigD Reader
10/13/14 9:12 p.m.

Went back to the rollers and it was going awesome! Made almost the same power as the most we made before but this time at 4psi less and spooling 300rpm sooner. But then my clutch started slipping and this time nothing helped, so we couldn't keep going. But once I get a proper clutch (maybe with the GSR tranny), this setup will do well into the 800s.

This winter I'm working on the front end and putting in the Penske shocks.

But this was good enough for me to greenflag today's visit to the track. It's been four berkeleying years... I didn't care if I did 5mph as long as I completed a lap on a track. It was actually looking quite promising as it was warm and dry as I was preparing to leave. But the car wouldn't start. I couldn't tell if it was too lean or rich and with 2000cc injectors I was afraid of flooding. I dug up previous logs and saw that the car was cranking at 1ms more. I adjusted the cranking fuel until it hit that and the car fired up. But now by the time I made it to the track, the moment I got all suited up and ready to go, it started POURING. I said berkeley it, and went out anyway, dodging civics and RX7s facing the wrong way.

Let me make this as clear as I can possibly make it - RACELOGIC TRACTION CONTROL IS MAGIC. This is a mandatory mod for big boost cars. I was on 335 slicks in POURING rain, standing water, in a 900hp car and I was able to floor it and not die!

Anyway, I did one lap and I was happy that the car doesn't feel uncontrollable. And if it feels manageable in THESE conditions, just imagine what it'll be like in weather it's built for! Sadly the damn gopro was full so the only footage I got was me belting into a car in pouring rain. I might upload that anyway for E36 M3s and giggles.

Then the rain stopped but the track was soaked and there was standing water but I decided to go out again anyway. The grip was hilariously bad but it was very cool trying to feel where it is and not go off, I was pretty happy with how I did and more importantly I was THRILLED with how the car handled. The brakes, suspension, alignment, everything felt just perfect!



Home after a happy debut:

Mezzanine Reader
10/13/14 10:37 p.m.

Big D, when I saw your latest post, I knew it was time to go back and reread your whole thread, which led to me trolling your YouTube account. After our exchange on engine management I knew we could be friends, but after seeing some of your other videos on youtube, I know we'd be great friends! I'm on a bit of a hiatus at the moment, but I'm an avid USPSA/IPSC shooter myself, in addition to the car geekery.

Back to the car- really awesome work. My favorite build thread. You bring a great mix of do-it-yourself, tech, cubic dollars, and crazy to make a pretty awesome read.

Those ID2000 injectors sound pretty intimidating. How do they do at very low ms openings for idle?

BigD Reader
10/14/14 2:52 p.m.

Thanks a ton! I agree, sounds like we're kindred spirits. Although I don't get out to shoot much so I'm not very good. My accuracy is good, I don't tend to shoot faster than I can hit As but everything else suffers due to lack of practice - my draws, reloads are slow and I often screw the pooch on a stage because I don't have enough experience learning stages. Like a newbie at his first big autocross, sometimes you forget a gate altogether. Then of course there are the 50 cals which are just a vacation. After a few dozen 50AEs or 500SWs down the range, Costco on a Sunday doesn't bother me.

The injectors will idle on a 2 liter 4 cyl! They are incredible, in my opinion ID is the only injector to consider. Yes they're a lot more money than other things with comparable specs, even some of them claiming to be doing the same matching that ID does but it's a lie. Some have started doing matched sets but they match them at one voltage and PW. Paul Yaw from ID has tested some of these on his rig and they are indeed nearly identical at that point but some of them diverge by 15% at lower PWs.

A random sample he tested:

Mezzanine Reader
10/14/14 10:43 p.m.

I've read much of the ID hype, and tend to believe it but have no personal experience with them. Some people I really trust and respect are big fans of the ID Kool-Aid, so I'd be willing to give them a shot. The downside is that my current project is a naturally aspirated 2 liter, and their smallest injector is still roughly double what I need.

Those big-bore pistols are certainly worth a laugh and a stupid grin that is hard to wipe off. I hear you on all the details of IPSC competition. I've always been a slow-twitch muscle kind of guy, so I'd never make it in the Open divisions. I made it to A class in Limited, but have recently been playing in the Revolver division where the reloads are better suited to my physiology.

I started out the same as you- no trouble with accuracy, but just slow on transitions, stage plan, reloads. Lots of practice in the living room in my underwear helped immensely, as well as tons of dry-fire practice.

I was way into multi-gun matches more than pistol only competitions. Ever try one?

I haven't shot any matches in almost two years now, largely because I've got a three year old daughter that I've deemed more important. I'll get back in someday soon.

BigD Reader
10/18/14 11:25 a.m.

Check out this video when you've got 15min to kill. It's an interview with Paul Yaw himself. He pretty much sums it up when he says it's ultimately up to the end user to call our bullE36 M3 and the results speak for themselves. I know many tuners who cure people's problematic cars where they keep chasing their tail with getting it to idle vs higher load fuelling, by putting in a set of IDs.


I'm sure with enough practice I will get better but I always wondered how these little guys can shoot so precisely and quickly. It should be way easier for me but I have a hard time controlling the muzzle flip to remain on target. While an old scrawny guy like Michulek can rapid fire a 500S&W and shoot As... then I was at a practice shoot one time and the Canadian champion was there. We got to talking about training and he told me things like I should be able to point the gun and have the sights lined up with my eyes closed etc. Then he asked me how many times per day I practice. I said once a week if I'm really good about it. He basically said well just have fun then but don't worry about getting to the top level. He said I shoot 3-4 times a week, I practice something at least once a day and I'm not competitive against the top US guys, some of whom shoot practically every day.

The multi-gun stuff looks like a ton of fun but it involves buying an AR which I refuse to do. In Canada, "assault rifles" are capped at 5 rounds and there are few things more pathetic than an AR with a 5 round mag

BigD Reader
10/18/14 7:47 p.m.

Getting close to finalizing the wing mounting. The uprights will hopefully be done this week. Made one of the cross braces to stiffen the upright laterally.

BigD Reader
11/11/14 5:14 p.m.

Got to take the car out for some slow laps to see what's what. I knew the clutch was toast but it would be enough to get through some laps. It did start giving up spectacularly as the tires warmed up and I could put more power down. But a bigger problem was revealed. I knew I had two middle valve cover anchor studs semi stripped in the head but I used some industrial fastener glue from Loctite (some green stuff, 683 I think). I was told it's really good even for mild loads. But the heat must have made it let go because I started getting smoke from the downpipe area, which was very disconcerting since getting oil on the header and downpipe wrap has always been a concern of mine. BUT, then again that's why I have a fire system nozzle pointed right at that area so the car would have been saved. Anyway, nothing happened but the day was over.

I also had a weird issue with third gear. I may just need to get used to the new shifter, this was my first time using it, along with most of the rest of the car. But it might be the clutch acting up, who knows. Neither the transmission nor the clutch are long for this car. My triple disc Tilton arrived with the flywheel last week for my birthday.

I also need to turn off the overrun. The kpa is set too high and it kills the motor at low rpm. I could just adjust it but I kind of want the throttle off/on bangs :)

On the positive side, the car felt phenomenal! I kept waiting for something to feel terrible, either darting under braking, or refusing to turn in, or terrible feel over bumps... nothing. It simply felt 100x better in every way compared to before.


Today it's back to work on it. Decided to give Time-Sert a try, was never a fan of helicoils. They're expensive, the kit with all the tools needed and 5 inserts was 76 from amazon.

Drill, countersink, tap, install. Very easy!

And that's it, better than new! What an amazing product, worth every penny. One day I'll buy their bulk kits. These make helicoils look like a spit and bubblegum solution.

f6sk Reader
11/11/14 6:01 p.m.

Yes. I agree about the timeserts. I'll never use a heli coil again.

BigD Reader
11/16/14 10:14 p.m.

Moving right along in the cold. Most people think I'm nuts but I love winter! It frees me from the guilt of working on the car like a hermit instead of being outside with it and then towards the end of winter, it makes me so happy when summer comes!

Anyway, finally finished mounting the wing. It turned out better than I hoped, I can't stop giggling when I look at this thing now! All that's needed now is to take the uprights back to my machinist buddy and have him radius the edges.

I've been running the motor once every week or two, to warm it up and circulate the fuel, in hopes of preventing the alcohol from absorbing too much water and rusting the injectors. Last week I noticed a weird problem with the car progressively richening out as it ran. It was fully warm, there was no enrichment being logged. There was another issue where as I revved it, it would register 10rpm, go into afterstart, lean out and die after returning to idle. I started thinking there's a firmware bug but VEMS has a view where it lays out the entire calculation for fuelling, timing, everything. It's insanely useful! I saw here that the battery compensation was going up and up, and this made me see that the battery voltage was sliding down to 8v. I thought my alternator was dead/dying and I've always wanted a reason to upgrade my 80 amp valeo to a 140 amp bosch so I did that.

What a deliciously painful task... at the end, my hand and finger muscles were so fried that my hands looked like I was crippled with arthritis or a palsy. I did it without removing the rad/hoses, blowoff valve or any plumbing:

The worst part is that it made no difference. All that was left is that the exciter circuit must be screwed somewhere but where???? Then while whining about this to my tuner he stopped and then said... wait, you don't have your cluster anymore. I knew what he was going to say but I told him he better not be going with this where I think he is... for instance I know the E30 convertible won't start without the overhead check panel - ONLY the E30 vert, no others, it's an "immobilizer" feature. Sure enough, he said that the exciter circuit is in series with the cluster battery bulb. Motherf...

Just need to rig up a diode and I'm done.

I've already got some ideas cooking for the front end of the car. I think I'll start with the splitter, since it will dictate many things. Currently trying to decide if I will make it removable along with the airdam, to make trailer loading easier. But there are some rather long ramps I can get too...

Mezzanine Reader
11/17/14 10:44 a.m.
BigD wrote: I started thinking there's a firmware bug but VEMS has a view where it lays out the entire calculation for fuelling, timing, everything. It's insanely useful! I saw here that the battery compensation was going up and up, and this made me see that the battery voltage was sliding down to 8v.

Any ECU that has a tuning view showing all the active compensations is good in my book. It makes troubleshooting this sort of issues really easy. Glad to hear you got it resolved and didn't subject the engine to any danger. My '66 Dodge truck has the exciter in the dash too- I never knew if that was a common thing or not, but it always seemed a little strange to me.

BigD Reader
11/18/14 7:08 a.m.

Yeah, my tuner says that this is actually quite common across the car makes but it also seems a bit bizarre to me. The thinking is that if you don't see the bulb turn on then you can expect the alternator to not work. But how many people pay attention to the battery light on their dash when they turn on the car, it's only on until you fire up.

BigD Reader
3/16/15 12:26 p.m.

Catching up the past few months work...

And so, it begins. Winter phase.

Goals are: 1) Build the 210mm 2.93 with 4 clutches and E46 M3 mounts 2) Wire speed signal adapter from ABS 3) Change the clutch 4) Install the 210 diff with a new cross member in the chassis 5) Cut down/reinforce/weld the front wheel wells 6) Build front fender flares 7) Build a splitter prototype

Ready to go...

2 clutches 1 car. The Tilton is for the GForce GSR which is next fall's project but I needed the clutch for the bellhousing. I thought about using it with the ZF but the friction plates are 300, then I need a TO bearing which is another 300, neither of which are needed by anyone, so it will be 600 bucks in the garbage. Instead I went with a Twin UUC Feramic which I can hopefully resell for a relatively minor loss next fall.

Started on the diff. I can't believe how good a shape it's in. I know it's from a 7 series but it was a turbocharged car and it IS 30 years old... but it's in nicer shape than any E36 diff I've ever seen. The dog plates didn't have a single bit of deposit on them.

I also can't believe how big everything is relative to normal BMW stuff. Pinion:

Output shafts, next to a flange from a 188mm diff:

Disassembling, dumping the Belleville washers and replacing with 4 clutches:

All done. Popped off the sender ring since I will be using an ABS signal for speed input.

E46 M3 cover ready to go. Just going to change the output seals and put it all together

All done, just need the proper cover bolts. Or so I thought... while admiring the diff cover, I realized there's a problem... it has no fill plug. At some point I plan to put in a diff cooler so I don't know if I'm going to wait on that and just fill the diff by popping an output shaft out

A practical application of a big benchpress is making this easy.

Going to order the SLR kit with the upgraded bearings and +54 track width. Should give me more camber to play with if I want and the front and rear should be pretty much inline. Also got a new set of R888 285/335s coming, need to get used to DOTR tires for taking it to the Targa Newfoundland.

Tore into the rear to get the 210mm diff up. One pleasant surprise I got was measuring the two diffs. With the E46 M3 rear cover on, the distance from the upper 4 bolt holes on the pumpkin to the rear of the cover bushings is identical on the big diff compared to the 188. The ears on the E46 M3 cover are set further forward to achieve this. So I pretty much need a new cross member with mounts in place directly where the original one was.

It's really annoying how simple and meaningless this looks. Granted if I didn't have to do it on my back it would have been easier but not by a lot. My plasma cutter paid for itself 10x over, even though I burnt through the trunk floor in one spot and set myself on fire several times but if I did this with a cutoff wheel I'd use up 20 discs and still be half way there.

Next, to get the right size .120 dom square pipe to go in place of this stamped steel crap, with base plates, and diff mounts off of it.

Ended up having to clearance the E36 M3 out of the bar, as the 210 diff is way taller.

Getting better with the plasma cutter, free-hand cutting 1/4" steel

Quite happy with how my welding is improving. It's still a joke compared to some of you guys but I'm now confident that I know when the weld is good, and make adjustments to the power and wire feed for good penetration. I'm mentally preparing to do the front half of my cage, I feel I'm at a point where I can do it safely now.

I boxed in all of the area that I carved out to clear the diff but I was unhappy with how much was removed, so I added a 3/16" plate to the back, tying into both the pipe and the 1/4" brackets.

Bracket done, diff in!

Next the diff comes out to weld a bung into the diff cover for a fill plug (on the E46 M3 diff, both plugs are on the side, on this pumpkin, only the drain plug is in the iron. When I drop it I will also add a gusset from the diff bar to the welds I can see through the sheet metal where my roll bar baseplates attach, tying the cage into the diff bar.

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