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759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
12/14/17 11:00 a.m.

So $1738 for 6spman/ sundries for the wagon. Is your V8 in the wagon a question mark at all? Would the 4door sans engine /trans at least entice you to do the LS two step to the tune of challenge dollyars? wink

dannyzabolotny
dannyzabolotny Reader
12/14/17 11:33 a.m.
759NRNG said:

So $1738 for 6spman/ sundries for the wagon. Is your V8 in the wagon a question mark at all? Would the 4door sans engine /trans at least entice you to do the LS two step to the tune of challenge dollyars? wink

Haha good question. Well if I part out this 540i/6 I'll be parting it out completely, so not a big chance it'll turn into anything else. I have a friend with a tan interior E39 that wants the black interior, all the transmission stuff will be swapped over, the engine will be sold, the wheels will likely be sold, the coilovers will either be sold or put into my wagon, the strut tower brace will be put into the wagon... so there likely won't be much left. I'm quite good at parting out cars— by the time I'm done, there's usually nothing left aside from a bare metal carcass.

759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
12/14/17 11:36 a.m.

When you do this , is the market(CL) for this  there in the Phoenix area or parts unknown?

dannyzabolotny
dannyzabolotny Reader
12/14/17 12:01 p.m.
759NRNG said:

When you do this , is the market(CL) for this  there in the Phoenix area or parts unknown?

Yeah, I try to sell all the big stuff locally, like the engines, wheels, body panels, interior, etc. Smaller stuff like steering wheels, computer modules, and lights I often sell online and ship.

There's quite a lot of stuff that's worth $$$ in a modern car. The first car I parted out was a 2001 540i automatic with a salvage title and 200k miles, but I still made like $3500 from a car that I only paid $1000 for.

759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
12/14/17 12:21 p.m.

Hmmmmm...........very interesting 

dannyzabolotny
dannyzabolotny Reader
12/15/17 10:23 a.m.

So I gave the car a quick wash and swapped the wheels from my wagon, and man, this car looks pretty good now!

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
12/15/17 11:38 a.m.

M Parallel all the things!

dannyzabolotny
dannyzabolotny Reader
12/15/17 12:10 p.m.
AngryCorvair said:

M Parallel all the things!

Haha, right?! M-Pars take every car from a zero to a hero.

gearheadE30
gearheadE30 HalfDork
12/15/17 3:48 p.m.

Wow...that thing looks pretty sharp!

buzzboy
buzzboy Reader
12/15/17 7:03 p.m.

Mein Gott! I love M Parallels so much.

759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
12/16/17 8:54 a.m.

Man!.....the more you touch this thing ,the harder it is for me to see rippin' it all apart sad

dannyzabolotny
dannyzabolotny Reader
12/19/17 1:39 a.m.

Haha well I don't think I'll be ripping this one apart anytime soon. It's far too nice to part out. So I've just been driving it and enjoying it. The ride quality is actually quite excellent considering how low it is and how cheap the coilovers are. I missed driving a manual so much, it's like coming back home after being gone for a long time.

Anyways, time for more pics! This is the "good" side:



And the "not so good" side, with foggy headlights, a busted front bumper, and pretty faded paint on the rear door and quarter panel:



The other day I was driving it to Harbor Freight and I noticed a bunch of error lights flickering on, like the ABS/Brake/Traction trifecta. I initially thought it was the ABS module, but then the red battery light came on, indicating a bad alternator. I pulled up cluster test number 9 to see the battery voltage, and it was at 12.5V, indicating that the alternator wasn't charging properly anymore. I made it home just fine though, and immediately started scheming up ways to fix the problem because for some reason I just can't let this supposed "parts car" die. 

I realized that I had an alternator in my 540it parts car, and after scraping off some dirt from it I found that it was a remanufactured Bosch alternator, score! So at midnight I changed the alternator. It took me under 2 hours for everything, start to finish. The failed alternator that I removed wasn't a reman, which means it was probably original at 140k miles. Not a bad run! With the new alternator, all of the problems went away and the voltage test now shows 13.5V - 13.8V.

The first step was removing the beat-up belly pan that was already scraping everywhere:



Plenty of oil under the car which I'll try to wash off so I can see what's actually leaking. I also spotted an ECS Tuning magnetic drain plug on the oil pan, which was a nice bonus. You can see how beat up the bumper is in this next picture. Draining the coolant was super easy thanks to the radiator drain plug, as opposed to disconnecting the trans cooler line on the automatics.



I *was* going to re-use the coolant to try and be cheap, but there was some crud in it so I figured it would be better to add some fresh coolant. I went with an Autozone brand of coolant so we'll see how that turns out. I have a friend who's been using cheap green coolant in his 540i for years now and he's never had any issues with the cooling system.



I also removed the tattered old belt which was pretty damaged from the prior clutch fan explosion. A new Dayco belt was pretty cheap and fit nicely.



Once everything was back together, I filled the cooling system from the upper radiator hose and bled the cooling system for a bit. I seem to have gotten pretty good at it, since I pretty much nailed it on the first try— I let the car idle at operating temperature for 15 minutes and it never exceeded 106ºC. This morning I added a bit more coolant and that wrapped up the alternator job.

Earlier today I wanted to do something about the super faded-looking paint on the driver's side, so I busted out the dual-action polisher and experimented a bit. I figured I couldn't possibly make it worse, right? To my excitement, it looks like this paint might be salvageable! Check out this comparison shot, the upper portion of the quarter panel/C-pillar is how it was when I bought the car, and the lower portion is after about 10 minutes of compounding with Meguiar's M105 and a Meguiar's microfiber cutting pad. Ignore the Crossfit sticker, that's a leftover from the previous owner and I haven't had a chance to scrape it off.



This week I'm going to order some new cutting pads so I can do a full wash, clay bar, and paint correction on the whole car. I bet I can make it look really good, aside from the holes in the hood. I might even go over the headlights with a 3M kit to clean them up.

Earlier today I went to get it emissions tested and it passed with no issues. After that, I got it registered/titled/plated. Emissions + registration cost under $100 total, and I got it all done during my lunch break at work, pretty rad.

Mad_Ratel
Mad_Ratel Dork
12/19/17 7:18 a.m.

Damn,

When the wife's 330i was golfballed by hail, I searched hard around here for exactly what you have. 

Need to finish up the thunderbird, since she wont let me have anothe rproject car until it is done...

dannyzabolotny
dannyzabolotny Reader
12/19/17 10:08 a.m.

In reply to Mad_Ratel :

The 540i/6 is a pretty great car, but it's a lot more maintenance-intensive than a 330i or a Thunderbird. The chain guides are notorious for going bad around 150k miles (I've done 10 of those jobs, doing the 11th one now on an X5 4.6is), the water-cooled alternators fail, the cooling system is garbage after 100k miles, and clutches are relatively expensive. Don't get me wrong, they're great cars, but you really have to go into 540i ownership with your eyes wide open. It definitely helps if you can wrench on the car yourself, because the labor rates for BMW stuff are ludicrous. My BMWs are all close to 20 years old but I still get charged more for alignments and stuff like that because it's a BMW.

759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
12/19/17 10:53 a.m.

Did you replace the fan shroud while you were 'in' there?  Leave all the body hickies(perf'd hood)..adds character, but polish for sure wink

dannyzabolotny
dannyzabolotny Reader
12/19/17 11:01 a.m.
759NRNG said:

Did you replace the fan shroud while you were 'in' there?  Leave all the body hickies(perf'd hood)..adds character, but polish for sure wink

Considering that there was literally nothing left of the fan shroud, yeah I replaced it. Granted, the replacement one isn't in much better shape (it's from a parts car) but it gets the job done in the meantime. I do plan to buy a new one pretty soon though, because the expansion tank is kinda loose in the engine bay (it secures to the fan shroud but the fan shroud is broken in that spot).

I'm not going to do much about the hood, but if I can find a matching color hood from another car I'd go for it.

Mad_Ratel
Mad_Ratel Dork
12/19/17 1:49 p.m.
 
dannyzabolotny said:

In reply to Mad_Ratel :

The 540i/6 is a pretty great car, but it's a lot more maintenance-intensive than a 330i or a Thunderbird. The chain guides are notorious for going bad around 150k miles (I've done 10 of those jobs, doing the 11th one now on an X5 4.6is), the water-cooled alternators fail, the cooling system is garbage after 100k miles, and clutches are relatively expensive. Don't get me wrong, they're great cars, but you really have to go into 540i ownership with your eyes wide open. It definitely helps if you can wrench on the car yourself, because the labor rates for BMW stuff are ludicrous. My BMWs are all close to 20 years old but I still get charged more for alignments and stuff like that because it's a BMW.

Our 330i was over 205k miles... I had just done the flapper valve, intake seals, etc when it got golfballed.  I am well aware of all the "bonus" work a 5 series entails.  Dad had a 2004 545i manual m sport until 170k miles when he sold it to my bil, it only died because he rear ended someone.  To this day I am glad he paid a shop to replace all the leaking seals on the motor rather than call me...

dannyzabolotny
dannyzabolotny Reader
12/19/17 2:13 p.m.
Mad_Ratel said:
 
dannyzabolotny said:

In reply to Mad_Ratel :

The 540i/6 is a pretty great car, but it's a lot more maintenance-intensive than a 330i or a Thunderbird. The chain guides are notorious for going bad around 150k miles (I've done 10 of those jobs, doing the 11th one now on an X5 4.6is), the water-cooled alternators fail, the cooling system is garbage after 100k miles, and clutches are relatively expensive. Don't get me wrong, they're great cars, but you really have to go into 540i ownership with your eyes wide open. It definitely helps if you can wrench on the car yourself, because the labor rates for BMW stuff are ludicrous. My BMWs are all close to 20 years old but I still get charged more for alignments and stuff like that because it's a BMW.

Our 330i was over 205k miles... I had just done the flapper valve, intake seals, etc when it got golfballed.  I am well aware of all the "bonus" work a 5 series entails.  Dad had a 2004 545i manual m sport until 170k miles when he sold it to my bil, it only died because he rear ended someone.  To this day I am glad he paid a shop to replace all the leaking seals on the motor rather than call me...

To be fair, the E39 540i M62tu motor is a LOT nicer to work on than the N62 you'd find in an E60. There's no Valvetronic, the variable valve timing system is half as complex (dual vanos vs. quad vanos), and there are no valve stem seal issues. Honestly, with the M62tu the only real issues are the chain guides, valley pan, and leaks. All of that can be fixed in two weekends for about $600 in parts, and then the engine is good for another 200k.

What you do get in exchange for the increased maintenance requirements is a much more solid chassis that rides better, is more comfortable, and is generally put together a lot better. The interior on an E39 feels significantly nicer than the interior in an E46.

dannyzabolotny
dannyzabolotny Reader
12/24/17 6:36 p.m.

And now for some more adventures!

Yesterday I went with some friends on a fun drive up to Payson, AZ, which goes through some pretty fun, twisty roads in the mountains northeast of Phoenix. The first hour or two of driving went fine, and the car was handling it pretty well. Then I got a "check coolant level" warning on the cluster. I initially didn't think much of it because my 540it always gives me that warning without anything bad happening. However, since this 540i/6 is relatively new to me, I decided to play it safe and pulled up the coolant temperature display. It stayed around 105º-106º for a while, so I figured everything was alright and it just needed a bit of coolant. I had a gallon of premixed coolant in the trunk so I figured I'd top up the coolant at some point.

Then the temperature started creeping up. It went to 107º and back down to 105º. Then it went to 108º and back down, then 109º and back down. Eventually it got to 110º so we pulled over at a gas station in Camp Verde. As soon as I stopped the car and opened the door I smelled the sweet smell of coolant, so I immediately knew something was up. I also saw a trickle of coolant running under the car.



After I popped open the hood, I saw that the hose going from the expansion tank to the water pump had a pretty serious leak— it was shooting coolant out in a pretty steady stream. I didn't have any spare hoses with me and after calling all the local parts stores, none of them had the hose in stock. I ended up going to Ace Hardware and bought some generic heater hose, hose clamps, and a hose connector. Eventually I put together this:



The craziest thing is that it worked! Which makes sense, since the pre-Vanos M62 and M60 use hose clamps instead of the quick-disconnect clamps. I added generic coolant, bled the system, and it held steady at 105º while idling. I'm getting really good at bleeding M62tu cooling systems...

With the cooling system issue seemingly resolved, we continued on our way to Payson. Everything was going quite smoothly for a while and at some point we pulled over to take some scenic pictures. It was so nice and quiet there.



One wheel was really tucked because of the uneven ground. Looked kinda cool though.





We pressed on, going up some more mountain roads, but then I suddenly heard a whoosh. A very familiar whoosh. A whoosh that shouldn't be there at 3k RPM. You know it, the fan clutch whoosh. I correctly guessed that the fan clutch had seized up. As soon as I pulled over in a safe place and opened the hood, the clutch fan exploded, sending blades everywhere. Thankfully nobody got hurt, but I immediately saw steam and smelled coolant. The fan had destroyed the fan shroud along with annihilating the radiator.

I have to say, the E39 looks really good, even when it's broken. That's how I know I'm crazy.





This picture is a little blurry but you can see how the clutch fan blades all broke off:



We were 30+ miles away from the nearest town, which was Strawberry (population, 961). I had no cell service (because T-Mobile) but my friends had service, so we were able to call AAA and get a tow truck to us. The tow truck driver had a hard time finding us because we were so in the middle of nowhere— we had to give him latitude and longitude coordinates! While waiting for the tow truck, we called around a bunch of auto parts stores in Payson, but nobody had any radiators in stock locally so we'd have to leave the car there until Tuesday.

However, when the tow truck driver came, he told us that the AAA package my friend paid for had four 100-mile tows per year, and my friend's house was about 105 miles away from that exact spot. So instead of towing the car to Payson and then having to go back up there another day, the car got towed to my friend's house where it is now safely parked until I get the parts on Tuesday to resurrect it (again).



Once the car was safely loaded onto the tow truck (which was tricky due to how low it was), we headed to Payson to eat some really good pizza at Gerardo's Cafe, and then headed back home to Phoenix.

So what did I learn from this trip in my $1500 Craigslist special? Absolutely nothing at all. I just need to switch to Verizon and invest in AAA so that I can continue having silly adventures like this one.

Thanks for reading!

eebasist
eebasist Reader
12/24/17 7:37 p.m.

I think you also learned not to trust a used fan clutch ever again......love the story, I think I'm going to change the fan clutch on my Z3 this winter now

 

Dirtydog
Dirtydog GRM+ Memberand Reader
12/24/17 10:46 p.m.

I love the adventures and story behind this BaboomMW.  Just keep on having fun.  Maybe Santa Claus will give you  new cooling components.

dannyzabolotny
dannyzabolotny Reader
12/25/17 12:22 a.m.
eebasist said:

I think you also learned not to trust a used fan clutch ever again......love the story, I think I'm going to change the fan clutch on my Z3 this winter now

 

Yep. The fan clutch came from my parts car which had 188k miles when the engine grenaded itself (previous owner drove the car with bad chain guides until it was too late). Probably not the best source for a fan clutch, in retrospect, but hindsight is always 20/20!

I plan to buy a new fan clutch for my 540it as well, I don't want to risk it exploding in that. Most BMW's of the era have this self-destructing fan clutch.

dannyzabolotny
dannyzabolotny Reader
12/25/17 12:24 a.m.
Dirtydog said:

I love the adventures and story behind this BaboomMW.  Just keep on having fun.  Maybe Santa Claus will give you  new cooling components.

Thanks! I figured I'd share my story on here, I know GRM likes a good adventure. I actually had a blast and I have no regrets about taking this car on the trip instead of my more reliable and well-sorted 540i wagon.

Dunno about Santa Claus, but I am getting a new radiator and fan clutch from AutohausAZ on Tuesday. Then I'll head to my friend's house and fix this car in the driveway so I can continue beating around in it.

docwyte
docwyte SuperDork
12/25/17 10:48 a.m.

I've got a brand new E36 fan clutch sitting in my basement, not sure if its the same as the E39...  I pulled that engine fan and went with a Spal instead

dannyzabolotny
dannyzabolotny Reader
12/25/17 11:18 a.m.
docwyte said:

I've got a brand new E36 fan clutch sitting in my basement, not sure if its the same as the E39...  I pulled that engine fan and went with a Spal instead

Yeah, I'm starting to think about going with a Spal electric fan to replace the clutch fan... maybe not for this car but for my nicer 540i wagon. An electric fan + a 95ºC thermostat will eliminate a lot of potential failure points in the cooling system.

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