3 hours ago in Project Cars
Solid axles get a bad rap.
This thread will document a build taking place to prepare for a journey from north Florida to the west coast and back. The build will not be a typical one, as the car will be used for rallycross, trail runs, and various climbs across national forests. The primary goal is for two friends to enjoy a trip across the country while making various stops at Rally Ready in Austin, a sanctioned rallycross, BMW/car group meets, Zion, Moab, and other trials in the western part of the US. The journey should be a live, extended version of a Top Gear episode with a few roadside repairs along the way.
Hooners: Skeen - Needs no introduction. The mikeskeen.com. He looks like Dale Jr. and can drive the wheels off of anything, but he's super humble. Drives anything and makes it go faster. @mikeskeenracing JFrank - Mining engineer who supervises a phosphate operation in north FL, works a lot, mechanical/electrical/welding jack of all/master of none, drinks like a wahoo but isn't one.
The Car: 2001 BMW 330i One of the best values around. The car was acquired in north FL for not much more than a band. It's a little rough around the edges, but it's a 5 speed manual with quite the storied past. A few reinforcements and improvements should get it ready for such a large trip. BMW builds a great all-around car, but problems such as the rear subframe mounts (crack addicts), cooling system (holy plastic), suspension bushings (played out rubber), rear lower control arms (salad tongs), window regulators (plastic-notso-fantastic), and power steering (EPA fines) all need to be addressed. Luckily, many of the known problems can be addressed with a few parts from trusted vendors who helped develop these cars a decade ago. We chose the E46 because of it's well-rounded nature. Originally, we began the search with E30s, but the E30 tax is so high and there are so few around these days. For less money, we get a much more comfortable, more refined, more capable car to go across the country and back. Mike and I have both owned E21/E30/E36/E46 cars in our past, but the E46 was a no-brainer for the value and comfort it provides. [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160316_102502_zpsg4bukxvf.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160403_192225_zpsus0wttde.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160314_161902_zpsed2hso04.jpg.html][/URL]
The Vision: Front and rear ride height will be raised 1-1.5" Bilstein HD shocks/struts Skid plates for front end, diff, and fuel lines HDPE fender liners and mud flaps 3.38 welded diff or trick 3.46 SE46 style diff Car came with an intake - we will improve it Fresh synthetic fluids throughout, hopefully solving our 3rd gear crunch ebay shifter must be replaced - holy hell this thing is awful Reinforced front and rear subframes Bushing improvements throughout - it's a BMW with >60k miles TireRack 16x7.5" Sport Edition "winter" wheels special fit for the 330 brakes BFGoodrich 215/65/16 T/A KO2 tires LED Lights
The Trip: More details to come - to occur in mid-June 2016 North FL to West with many stops
Partners: Hawk BFGoodrich Condor Speed Shop Others? Help us choose a hashtag#
Progress: Headlight dissection and troubleshooting Window regulator removalssss Awful tint removal and pressure washing Garage space finally open Large tire fitment Sport Edition wheels in 16x7.5" fitment Hawk brake pads Skid Plates
We came across the car locally, about an hour and a half from my new home. The car was an abandoned SpecE46 build being offered by a genuinely cool guy near Jacksonville. When I first saw the car, it was in pieces with the front end apart. Mike came down to visit and the three of us finished putting the car together - we paid the man - then Mike drove it back to my place as I followed in the Suburban. [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160314_093357_zpsftnjmokh.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160314_161902_zpsed2hso04.jpg.html][/URL]
The first step was to address the headlights and chopped up front end wiring. Luckily, the car came with an E46 Bently Manual. I went to town with the multimeter and snips while Mike removed the extremely awful tint and cleaned up some interior bits. [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160315_174632_zpso5o36j6v.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160315_174732_zps4ekflyjb.jpg.html][/URL] Somebody had installed a set of AL bi-xenon headlights without any relays or additional wiring harness. Both ballasts are dead and only the high beam H7 halogens work. We are going to install some Morimoto ballasts & igniters with ZKW lenses along with LED H7s. Small LED lights have been ordered to go in the place of the old fog lights that were cut out long ago. The headlights have been quite a pain to diagnose and troubleshoot, as the bulbs and the ballasts were both bad.
The next step was to pressure wash the underside of the car to make it tolerable to work on. The PO had fixed quite a few leaks, meaning we just needed to clean up the oil layers on the bottom.
[URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160316_102502_zpsg4bukxvf.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160316_104933_zpsjjd2s5a0.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160316_103847_zps3l6e51dd.jpg.html][/URL] The wash made quite a substantial difference and had my driveway looking like the Valdez.
We also test-fit a trailer tire to be sure we would have adequate clearance for our planned 27.1" OD BFG Baja tires. The trailer tires were pushing 28" OD and had just enough clearance to the fender. [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160316_131659_zpsjhbshq5m.jpg.html][/URL]
The set of 5 "winter" wheels arrived - Sport Edition 16x7.5" aluminum wheels to clear 330 brakes [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160323_174609_zpslq4tbs6w.jpg.html][/URL]
And a little Top Gear inspiration for the RallyX build came early one Sunday morning: [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160402_105012_zps1gnjpawq.jpg.html][/URL]
I got around to the rear portion of the front skid plate: [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160316_140413_zpsvq0rlpmb.jpg.html][/URL] [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160508_185031_zpsi2mbke63.jpg.html][/URL]
We picked up a set of like-new springs from a 2004 M3 that are stiffer and will raise the ride height slightly with the front strut hat adapters. Craigslist score. [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160407_200156_zpsvrn2dnkd.jpg.html][/URL]
Got the car tucked into the garage once I finally got everything unpacked and organized: [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160403_192225_zpsus0wttde.jpg.html][/URL]
The car was sitting on H&R Race Springs, blown Bilstein rear shocks, and blown shock front struts. I took some measurements to get an idea of current ride height just for kicks: [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160409_104611_zpssu8scxoa.jpg.html][/URL] LF [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160409_104627_zpsmjuuwthr.jpg.html][/URL] LR [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160409_104648_zps1tkalkbt.jpg.html][/URL] RR [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160409_104710_zpsrkunmmip.jpg.html][/URL] RF
The nice AGM battery was charged on the trickle charger - appears to be in good shape: [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160409_134642_zpsd41ofhxi.jpg.html][/URL]
Hawk brake pads are here! [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160411_182542_zps41ftz0kd.jpg.html][/URL]
The transmission had a strange grind going into 3rd gear. I drained the old fluid and put in some fresh Redline D4 ATF. We will see how much of an improvement proper fluid makes: [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160424_121628_zpsjustj0sb.jpg.html][/URL]
The intake got a condom to protect it from water/mud/dirt/debris: [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160419_164844_zpsid2h9iac.jpg.html][/URL] I've also re-coated the AFE heat shield and sealed up the gaps
I found a pinched fuel line that was fixed and will be protected for the trip: [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160409_135920_zpsyvpuqtwf.jpg.html][/URL]
The outdoor temp sensor was replaced and re-spliced into the correct wiring so that the dash wouldn't flash -40 anymore: [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160419_170317_zpstewc1hyt.jpg.html][/URL]
The trunk getting cleaned up and prepping to cut the tops of the rear subframe mounts for reinforcement: [URL=http://s98.photobucket.com/user/jfrankE21/media/20160508_130632_zpsmdixix3x.jpg.html][/URL]
Stay posted for bushing installs, suspension rebuilds, 3x window regulator replacements, and more!
6 hours ago in News
Fresh stickers for a fresh season.
Also get your instant access to the digital edition of Grassroots Motorsports Magazine!Learn More