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nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
7/22/20 7:48 a.m.

Good morning all, longtime lurker of this forum. I enjoy the DIY attitude and creativity/desire to fabricate around here. Figured I'd fit in with some of my past adventures. I'm currently in an '09 M3, but to understand where we are, we have to look back over a decade first...

My name is Norbert, a mechanical engineer from WNY working in the aerospace industry. I've been out of the BMW game for some time, but finally in my first ///M car - and a hell of a machine at that. It's an '09 Interlagos M3 with a 6 speed, but the story of my appreciation for German iron (aluminum?) really starts back in around 2012-ish, and takes many detours along the way. 

I tend to be long winded and enjoy documenting my automotive journey/adventures, and that is even more true given the current pandemic situation - so grab your favorite beverage and enjoy. 

I'll sprinkle in some of my past build threads/journals here and there if anyone is interested. 

In 2011 I was a freshly graduated engineer working for a mechanical contractor/design firm driving an '06 Sentra SE-R Spec V - a fun car in its own right, but somewhat didn't fit into my new lifestyle. What it did teach me via various brake jobs, wheel bearing fixes, and bolt-on installs, was that working on cars was not difficult and actually enjoyable. It also saved me a ton of money, which freed up funds to feed my automotive passion.

So, with the desire for something more comfortable and sophisticated while still being fun to drive, I dove head first into the German car world and bought a 2001 BMW 540i Sport. 6 speed manual, 4.4 M62TU V8, fun options like rear sunshade, heated seats, etc. It was a great car and I drove it basically stock while replacing the cooling system and getting it back to decent mechanical condition.

 

------------> E39 540i MAINTENANCE THREAD <-------------

 

It did okay burnouts for an open diff. I installed an exhaust cutout and fell in love with V8s. 

After about a year of driving it stock, I got the itch for more power and decided to go nuts. 

 

--------->   E39 6.0 LS SWAP BUILD THREAD    <----------

 

nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
7/22/20 7:53 a.m.

I ended up owning the E39 for about 4 years and lost count of the hours spent wrenching. Eventually I came to the point where I realized that I wanted more power yet again, but doing so on the E39 would mean forced induction, and many more dollars and hours put into the car. I had been working on the same car for nearly half a decade and was frankly ready for some fresh scenery. So, once the 560i was sold, I picked up a 2000 C5 Corvette Fixed Roof Coupe, or FRC. This is the predecessor to the infamous Z06, and paved the way for the revitalization of the Corvette image from old man cruiser to ass-kicking performance machine.

Keep that acronym in mind - it's going to come up later!

 

------>    2000 CORVETTE FRC PROGRESS THREAD      <--------

 

This was a long term owned, higher mileage car that was driven by the same female lawyer for 14 years in nice weather. It had 104K miles and needed some minor mechanical work - perfect, since I was already familiar with the LS platform. 

Somewhere along the way, I realized that I was sick of laying on concrete and the jackstand life, so I installed a MaxJax lift in my home garage. 

I told myself I was done taking on big automotive projects every year, and just decided to enjoy the Vette. 

I installed some bolt on breathing mods but ultimately the itch for easy power was too great, and I installed a cammed L92/LS3 and rebuilt the remainder of the drivetrain. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqwNln1JTy8

 

nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
7/22/20 7:57 a.m.

I drove the C5 in this configuration for another 2 years and spent some time on other "bucket list" cars, which were short term ownerships  but very fun.

A 2009 ex-State Police Crown Victoria Police Interceptor (still miss this one). 

A 1998 E36 323i 5 speed vert that ended up actually being a pile of crap. The steering column was clunky, the power top needed work for it to operate normally, and it needed the whole front suspension rebuilt. I still had fun cruising with the top down all summer in 2018. 

Not my photo, but identical. 

The E36 was painfully slow and I was itching for another fun project, something that I could not care about and just abuse. Enter the Sloppy Silverado...

4.8 LS V8, 2WD, short bed stepside, regular cab. Rusty and ready for action. 

While the Corvette was in storage, I spent the winter of '18-'19 working on the truck fabbing up a turbo kit, installed a rebuilt 4L80E, and modified a Mustang 8.8 axle to fit. 

Still one of the most fun yet scary vehicles I've driven. It would light the tires up at most speeds and was terrifying above 70mph. The goal was to just built a POS that did burnouts and I could go on beer runs in. It did awesome at that. 

With the turbo LS itch scratched, I sold the truck and focused on getting a new daily.

nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
7/22/20 7:59 a.m.

I had spent close to a decade in various Subaru wagons and a Pathfinder as my reliable winter vehicles, but was still thinking about how much fun I had in my old E39 when it was bone stock. I missed the precision of the shifter and the general refinement of the car. So, another BMW was in order, and the N54 happened to be on the bucket list...

It's a 2009 335Xi with a rare 6 speed, in Space Grey over Saddle Brown interior.

I vowed to keep the E90 bone stock, and of course that turned into an MHD flash, some springs, DCI, and some M-Parallels. 

After nearly 5 years in the Corvette, I grew tired of the harsh ride, imprecise steering and heavy clutch. It was (is?) a brute of a car with tons of power in a light chassis but was a chore to drive. My wife didn't enjoy riding in it, and once we found out she was pregnant, it really got me thinking. Since I wanted to share my automotive passion with her and our little one, the Corvette wouldn't do - no back seat for the baby and not pleasant for the wife. It was bittersweet to sell it, but ultimately the right decision. 

So for the first time since 2011, I was down to owning just one car, the 335. I was ready for something a little more refined, with a backseat for the baby, and still fun to beat on when I would be driving it alone. The hunt for an E92 M3 began, and now that you know who I am and how I like to party, you can see the why I wanted the bonkers V8 with the old school German refinement. 

With the Corvette gone and my lust for the E92 M3 in full swing, I began looking around for cars that fit my needs:

1. The right color in the following order of preference: 

Interlagos Blue - just love this shade in the sun, very uncommon
Alpine White - classic, but to me is sometimes a bit boring
Space Grey - Understated and strong, but I already have a Space Grey E90
All the other colors like Melbourne Red, Jerez Black, etc just didn't do it for me. 
I vowed to never own another (jet) black car again as the upkeep is just too painful. 

2. 6 Speed manual. DCT is a great transmission, but the entire point of this car is to enjoy the analog feel of what makes BMWs great, so the DCT was out. 

3. Well cared for, not beat on/abused, and mechanically unmodified. No accidents, paint work, no stories/BS.

4. Sunroofs were not an issue for me. CF roof is sexy, but this is not a track car, so the benefit of having the wind in my hair outweighed the negative of the extra bulk on the roofline. 

I initially looked at a white E92 M3 in Pittsburgh but the combination of grey Novillo interior and lack of must-have options like PDC and Keyless go steered me away. 

One evening a buddy sends me a link for an Interlagos Blue car with 61K miles about an hour away being sold at a small family owned dealership. It's got the tri-color painted grilles and painted reflectors, which indicates it was probably owned by an enthusiast at some point. Now, this may be a good thing, as enthusiasts are usually more sensitive to the needs of a performance car; however, they also tend to drive cars harder than Average Joe, so a PPI is even more important. 

Regardless, the color and mileage were right, price wasn't awful, and all the options were there so I jumped in the 335 with my wife and took a ride to see it. 

Besides the awful grilles and some dealer applied stickers, it was very clean inside and showed almost no wear anywhere besides the shift knob. I had a PPI done with indicated some front tire wear, but no other mechanical problems. Sweet! There are some other small issues with the car, but should be easily remedied: 

-Driver's seat belt extender doesn't grab the belt. Looks like a broken clip inside.

-SOS Assist is inactive. Don't care, will disable. The warning is annoying. 

-Having some trouble connecting my phone to the Bluetooth system. When I try to activate the bluetooth system, it just spins and thinks forever. Long term I'd like to figure out a system where I can play music through my Android through the car. 

I had a good understanding of what the car was currently, but was curious about its past especially seeing the cosmetic modifications. On a whim I was Googling the VIN to see if there was any info out there, and the name and number of a random person popped up next to it. The information lined up with the original purchase location listed on the CarFax, so I rang them up and left a VM explaining that I was looking at the car and was wondering if they had owned it at some point. I went to bed not thinking much of it. 

The next day I get a call from a polite older gentleman who had not only owned the car, but was the original owner and owned it for most of its life. We spoke at length about how he enjoyed the car, had babied it and garaged it, and had never modified it or tracked it. He actually expressed regret at trading it in since the 911 that replaced it for him couldn't fit his golf clubs like the M3 did. :bellyroll Most reassuring was the fact that it had been maintained at the same dealer most of its life.

He was ultimately curious as to where the car ended up, and didn't know who had it between him and I - my best guess is that someone bought the car as a fun toy for a couple years, enjoyed it, and decided to move on to something newer. 

Having that peace of mind really sealed the deal for me - I drove back out and purchased the car last weekend. E90 and E92 side by side:

We took the long way home up by Lake Ontario, and of course it poured rain the whole way which put a damper on opening up the taps on the car. 

Initial impressions: 

The steering is telepathic, the NVH is almost nonexistent, and the lack of torque between 1000-3000 rpms is tough to get used to after coming from a 6.2L LS :thumsup:

The sound of the motor singing past 6000 is life changing, albeit a bit quiet for my tastes. We'll have to see what we can do about that.

nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
7/22/20 8:03 a.m.

With the car safely back home, it was time to do a quick mechanical inspection. 

This car is super clean underneath considering it lived its entire life in the Northeast. I can't find any corrosion, which supports what the original owner said about keeping it garaged and out of the bad weather. 

I had some supplies waiting for both cars...

Off came the airbox cover, which revealed something that I actually laughed out loud at...

Check out that date code!

The airbox was fairly dusty and gritty too, so that got shop-vac'd and wiped down. 

Yikes. 

Much better. 

As a whole the engine bay is pretty dusty but not grimy or oil at all. I'll do some before/afters of when I detail the bay. 

Unfortunately FCP forgot to include an oil filter in my package, so the car has been draining oil out of the 2 sumps for a couple days now. It'll be ready to rock tomorrow. 

I still can't get over how nice the car is - it is truly special to drive and couldn't feel any more different than my E90 335. 

Since I'm waiting on an oil filter, I knocked out a quick job today on lunch by cleaning up the exhaust tips with Wheel Cleaner and some a scotchbrite pad, followed by polishing with some mag/aluminum polish on a Powercone in a drill. 

nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
7/22/20 8:10 a.m.

When I purchased the car, I had some minor but annoying issues:

SOS - Inactive Warning
Bluetooth not working
USB and AUX plugs in center armrest had no power/signal

It was frustrating not being able to make phone calls through the car's speakers, and not being able to play music. 

I'm not an electronics guy but through some research found that any interruption in the  MOST fiber optic system will cause multiple failures. Similar to the Christmas light bulb effect, when one dies they all die. My symptoms weren't that bad, but I did purchase a fiber optic loop jumper that allowed me to bypass modules one by one until I stopped having problems. 

Once I jumped the MULF2 module (located on the trunk floor on the right side, under the TCU module), the Bluetooth came back and I was able to pair my phone. The SOS warning also went away. Success!

That meant that there was definitely an issue with the MULF2 module, so I found a used one on ebay for $50 and installed it. The SOS warning was permanently gone, the Bluetooth capability was restored, and the biggest victory was the AUX coming back. It was so motivating seeing the AUX volume bar moving, rather than being stuck at zero like it had been for so long. The USB port in the armrest also had power again. 

The only thing that was left was the 12V power port in front of the shifter - again, no power. This is a simple power port that doesn't use any modules for activation, just a simple fused circuit.

I dug open the glove box to find the fuse panel...

Consulted the diagram which was neatly folded in the cover

Found Fuse 08, which controls accessory power

And removed it for a closer look, compared to a known good 20A fuse. 

My assumption is that at some point someone dropped a coin into that power port and shorted it, which blew the fuse. 

Next up on the list is some performance testing, test pipe install/modifications, and some general maintenance/inspections.

Oh, and check out this E30 M3 I saw at my workplace...

 

Before I dug into the modifications, I was sidelined with a minor annoyance.

Luckily it was able to be patched, and the iDrive system let me know which tire specifically had the issue. Nice!

Next up, I dug into changing the plugs as I did not have a record of them being changed. 

Start by removing the airbox cover.

Followed by the entire airbox assembly.

Pop off the coil cover...

Which exposes the driver's side coils. 

I did not have any special tool for removing these, so I just grabbed under the head and pulled firmly straight up. No issue, they came right out. 

The spark plug wells were clean and dry with no oil residue, indicating that the valve cover gaskets are still doing their job. 

A few minutes later, all driver's side ignition stuff was out. 

Well, it looks like someone has been in here...non-original plugs. I was relieved to at least see they were the correct model for the S65.

Replacements were ready to go courtesy of FCP Euro - I fully plan on taking advantage of their lifetime replacement policy. 

The old plugs didn't look that old, but it's nice to start fresh and know what you have in there. 

The process was similar on the other side. #8 was tricky, but doable. Certainly not difficult, I've done a lot worse plug changes. My C5 Corvette was a lot less comfortable, and the rear 3 cylinders on a Toyota V6 are tougher as well. I don't see what all the fuss is about.

To remove the passenger side coil cover, the coolant reservoir had to be unbolted and moved aside (no hose breaks necessary). Rinse and repeat coil removal. 

 

If you can change your oil or replace the air filter, you can do this job. 

nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
7/22/20 8:14 a.m.

With the basic maintenance items done (plugs, oil, air filter) and the minor annoyances fixed (SOS, Bluetooth, AUX), I could focus on some fun modifications. 

Remove aluminum belly pan and transmission undertray. 

All fasteners that are removed are threaded back into their home to prevent being lost, and to make reassembly a breeze. Don't be that guy searching through the pile of bolts on the ground trying to figure out what goes where. Also a lot faster than bagging and labeling stuff. 

Locate primary cats. 

TARGET ACQUIRED

Carefully disconnect all oxygen sensor harnesses. BMW has a great system of clips and brackets that keep the wiring up away from the exhaust. 

Remove the sensors from the exhaust while it's still attached to the car. 

Time to party. 

The cats are removed and laid next to the new VRSF test pipes. I also always lay the oxygen sensors in the orientation they are installed in the car, so that they aren't accidentally mixed up side to side.

 

On my prior couple cars, I ran catless exhausts and eventually got sick of the smell. On the M3, I wanted to enjoy the easy power gains of test pipes, but wanted to have something reversible in case the smell got to me (and my wife/daughter). I started with some VRSF test pipes, since I knew I'd be cutting them up. 

The test pipes were trimmed and fitted to 2.5" V-band connections for easy swapping later on in case I wanted to reinstall the stock cats. 

Lots of mocking up and tacking later, followed by finish welding...no pics here, I just got in the zone, turned up the music and cranked it out.

No stacks of dimes here but my welds are strong and functional. 

Buttoning up the underside with the undertrays, ran into a small snag with the oxygen sensors.

A quick trim with the death wheel made adequate clearance on the heatshield and it all went together nicely. 

Finally, I wrapped up the install with a Stage 2 Tune from Alex at Alpine. 

-93 Octane Stage 2 (primary cat delete)
-Cold start delete
-Servotronics (in M-Mode only)
-Top speed limiter removal

I may go with burbles later on, we'll see. 

Just like when I flashed the MHD tune onto my 335i, all sorts of nonsense pops up on the screens. 

And the final product...

 

That brings us to the present day. I have some other plans for intake and exhaust, along with some other basic fluid changes and maybe a spare set of wheels. 

mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
7/22/20 9:00 a.m.

Dude!!! Very nice! I think quarantine has brought out the story tellers in us all. 

I read all of your 560i threads a couple months ago and had some major drool action going on. I want that treatment for my e39 so so so bad. Is it just a freshly graduated engineer thing? Who knows. 

M3 looks sweet, also another bucket list car of mine. I casually shop for them all the time, but every time I tell myself I'm not allowed to buy a car with consumable rod bearings. Consumable cooling systems are bad enough. 

nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
7/22/20 10:26 a.m.
mgfoster said:

Dude!!! Very nice! I think quarantine has brought out the story tellers in us all. 

I read all of your 560i threads a couple months ago and had some major drool action going on. I want that treatment for my e39 so so so bad. Is it just a freshly graduated engineer thing? Who knows. 

M3 looks sweet, also another bucket list car of mine. I casually shop for them all the time, but every time I tell myself I'm not allowed to buy a car with consumable rod bearings. Consumable cooling systems are bad enough. 

Eh, I planned on doing the rod bearings on any M3 I bought. Not a cheap service but I think the general feel of the car is rewarding enough to justify it. I plan on having the BE Bearings installed (they allow slightly more clearance compared to the OEM set), which will be a one and done deal. 

OjaiM5
OjaiM5 Reader
7/22/20 7:20 p.m.

I like your style. You have good taste in cars, The e90 is a hell of a  car for the money.

nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
7/23/20 9:23 a.m.
OjaiM5 said:

I like your style. You have good taste in cars, The e90 is a hell of a  car for the money.

Thanks! The E9X series is great, so nice I bought 'em twice. 

Daily/Winter Beater, '09 335xi 6 Speed Sport: (not sure if pic showed up earlier in thread)

OjaiM5
OjaiM5 Reader
7/23/20 9:50 a.m.

That is awesome, great looking.

I have really been thinking about getting an 135i or 335i (manual of course) the modding potential is so crazy. It is like a modern day 2jz. 

mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
7/23/20 11:10 a.m.

In reply to OjaiM5 :

They really are. I've seen guys make 700+hp on a stock engine surprise do want.

nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
8/4/20 8:40 a.m.

It has been an incredibly busy month. We welcomed our first child into the world, she’s a healthy baby girl that is taking up most of my time.

I have gotten a couple chances to get out and put some miles on the M3 to blow off steam and relax.

Quick throwback to 2 years ago this month when I had my '09 Police Interceptor, and found a $350 set of C5 Corvette specific BBS LM wheels. They looked great but ultimately needed a refinish and I flipped them for a quick profit. I really wish I had kept the Vic...

Anyhow - I am a firm believer in using fun cars to their full extent, so every fun car I buy usually gets a trailer hitch in order to haul my bike rack and tow a small trailer for track days, Home Depot runs, whatever. My Corvette towed great, with the towing package I installed (more power, stronger brakes, oil cooler, LOL).

Not only does it prevent me from having to use my wife's Rav4, but I love the looks I get and pissing off purists: "You're not supposed to tow with that car!!!!!!"

LOL, hold my beer. These cars are more than adequate for small loads.

Really I want to just get my bike back on there so I can start riding again, with the gyms still being closed.

Back to the M3. Up on the lift, remove the axleback. Man, I can't get over how squeaky clean this thing is for a NE car...

Very tempting not to modify this exhaust while it’s out, but cooler heads must prevail.

The plan is to install a hidden hitch setup that has a vertical receiver behind the bumper cover. When I want to use the hitch I will install a 90 degree adapter, like this concept.

The problem is that nobody makes a hitch like this for the M3, so I bought a generic E9X hitch knowing it would have to be modified, and immediately proceeded to cut it up to clear the exhaust tips and bumper mounts.  

So after a few nights of cutting and tacking, here’s where I’m at right now – one vertical receiver hitch for an E92 M3.

 

I should have everything mocked up later this week and drop it off at my welder’s for final welding as my little 110V MIG isn’t up to the task of burning in the thick steel.

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/4/20 12:20 p.m.

i dig the E36 M3 out of that hitch solution.  nice work!

DanielCut
DanielCut Reader
8/15/20 3:24 p.m.

nsogiba? 

I used to chat with you a ton on the old myspecv board.  Mostly about nitrous and the office. 
 

 

nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
8/31/20 7:31 a.m.
DanielCut said:

nsogiba? 

I used to chat with you a ton on the old myspecv board.  Mostly about nitrous and the office. 
 

 

Yeah, that's me! I don't remember much from those days, it's only been a decade lol. 

 

 

 

As I mentioned in my original posts I was pretty active in the LS community over the last 10 years. The Vette I sold didn’t fit my lifestyle anymore but I always loved the bang for the buck aspect of the performance. Most fun of all was my turbo truck, which was a basic 4.8 combo with a turbo and a reliable as a rock 4L80E. 

Browsing Marketplace over a cup of coffee, I saw a complete LQ4/4L80E for a decent price about 15 minutes away. Since the hitch on the M3 was done, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to test it out. 

Back home in the garage, I usually put some straps around the lift arms and use the lift to pick everything up and attach to engine stand. 

The M3 pulled the trailer great, I estimate it was about 1000 lbs between the engine, trans, and the trailer itself. 

Don't worry, I am not swapping the M3, been there done that. Thinking I might do an old cop car with a big turbo, fun street car that wastes tires at highway speeds. 

 

 

rothwem
rothwem Reader
8/31/20 9:35 a.m.

What did you do for the trailer wiring on your M3? I've actually got the unmodified trailer hitch you modified on my wagon, its great for my bike rack but I'm hesitant to chop or even tap the wiring on my fully functioning daily driver so I haven't been able to pull a trailer with it.  

nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
8/31/20 11:15 a.m.

Wiring? What wiring? Still working on that. 

turtl631
turtl631 HalfDork
8/31/20 12:46 p.m.

Nice car.  I went from a C6 ZO6 to an F-80 w DCT.  Sometimes wish I went E90, S65 is glorious.  I daily drive year round in Wisconsin though, wanted the newest car for less chance of German car disintegration. 

nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
9/2/20 7:48 a.m.
turtl631 said:

Nice car.  I went from a C6 ZO6 to an F-80 w DCT.  Sometimes wish I went E90, S65 is glorious.  I daily drive year round in Wisconsin though, wanted the newest car for less chance of German car disintegration. 

The "new car smell" and the flexibility of the S55 is tough to argue with! I love the power potential of the new turbo stuff but can't get over the sound when you put any sort of downpipes or exhaust on it. 

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
9/3/20 7:24 a.m.

Nice purchase!  A grease-coated LS just does so much for the imagination.  You have a specific turbo in mind?

nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
9/8/20 6:22 a.m.
rustomatic said:

Nice purchase!  A grease-coated LS just does so much for the imagination.  You have a specific turbo in mind?

I'm thinking one of the Billet 7875 options offered by VSR. Still need to do some homework. 

buzzboy
buzzboy Dork
9/8/20 3:36 p.m.
nsogiba said:

Wiring? What wiring? Still working on that.

Not sure about NY but NC says that as long as it's daytime and you can see the lights of the tow vehicle, you're fine.

Love seeing you tow with the C5 and the E90. A friend of mine used to tow his jetski behind his 10second Terminator. My ex absolutely hated it because "Mustang's should have trailer hitches!" I, on the other hand, loved it! Need a hitch for my e36....

nsogiba
nsogiba New Reader
9/9/20 8:26 a.m.
buzzboy said:
nsogiba said:

Wiring? What wiring? Still working on that.

Not sure about NY but NC says that as long as it's daytime and you can see the lights of the tow vehicle, you're fine.

Love seeing you tow with the C5 and the E90. A friend of mine used to tow his jetski behind his 10second Terminator. My ex absolutely hated it because "Mustang's should have trailer hitches!" I, on the other hand, loved it! Need a hitch for my e36....

Tow all the things! 

Update on the turbo 6.0 project...

Got us a live one, boys. 2011 Interceptor in my favorite shade of NY State Police Trooper Blue. Trak-Lok axle, most likely 3.27 gears. 

I actually looked at a 2009 that the guy was also selling, but between a sloppy repaint and generally trashed interior I passed on that one. 

This one has a solid body, a few superficial rust spots with solid metal underneath that I'll fix. The paint should clean up with a polish and the interior isn't too bad, just needs a heavy vacuum and wash. 

The 4.6 pulls strong and I was told the trans was recently rebuilt. Doesn't matter to me since those are both coming out, but would be nice to recoup some funds by selling those. It also has new brakes up front, and snow tires with decent tread on them. 

First up is ripping off the light bar, and boy oh boy you guys should hear the deer whistle on this thing that turns on with the parking/headlights. 

More to come!

My favorite part: 

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