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Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/8/20 8:57 a.m.

Getting the cooling system back together has taken longer than planned... finally got it buttoned back up and filled with water last night before I had to call it quits. This afternoon I'll get things back together enough to fire it up and get it to temperature to get things circulating completely before draining it again. Not in the biggest hurry though since I can't get the new crush washer for the block drain until the end of the week. 

After some discussions over on one of the E46 boards about what the best use of what remains in my budget will be, I'm probably going to be heading back out to the junkyards either Thursday afternoon or Friday morning to try and pull the diff from an automatic 330i- my stickshift has a 3.07 gear diff, and the automatics came with a 3.38 gear diff which will swap directly over to mine. Will make it less efficient on the highway (and thus, the drive down to the Challenge...) and require a bit more shifting running through the cones, but it should also give it a bit more (effective) pep. Obviously will drop my top speed- but honestly I don't figure I'm going to be getting up to full top speed on the strip anyway...

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/9/20 8:22 p.m.

Spent the late afternoon under a junkyard 330Cic automatic fighting to pull the higher-ration diff out of it. It was made much more difficult by the fact it was in Park and thus the driveshaft and diff wouldn't rotate at all- but I eventually prevailed and now have a more aggressively-geared rear end for the car. Hopefully swapping it in will be a lot less difficult (and less painless) than getting the 'new' one was!

I have started carrying a cordless sawzall for just this reason. Its worth every penny. Don't buy the cheapest harbor freight one, buy a reconditioned name brand offline 

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/10/20 11:34 a.m.
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) said:

I have started carrying a cordless sawzall for just this reason. Its worth every penny. Don't buy the cheapest harbor freight one, buy a reconditioned name brand offline 

I had brought my 18V angle grinder along with cutoff wheels and would have grabbed it if I'd needed to. Kind of wish I'd brought it in and used it upfront as it might have saved my having a fat lip from taking a crowbar to the lip when I was trying to lever the driveshaft loose after unbolting it- it was seized on to the diff input flange. In the end I ended up violently shaking the *(&^*)^ out of the diff until it popped loose. As a bonus though, I think the cashier took pity on me because I was COVERED in grime and charged me roughly half what I was expecting, so score! $40 more than I was expecting remaining in my budget!

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/15/20 8:14 a.m.

Yesterday I finally got the rear of the E46 up into the air and on jack stands in preparation of swapping the higher-ratio diff in and discovered something I hadn't known before (but that isn't surprising given the other things I've found): the care has aftermarket adjustable lower control arms, so the camber on the rear end is adjustable along with the camber plates for the front end. So, another couple hundred dollars worth of mods and more solid evidence that the car was at some point autocrossed as there's not a whole lot of reason for all that alignment adjustment besides aligning it to corner better.

trumant (Forum Supporter)
trumant (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/15/20 7:01 p.m.

That is a very positive discovery! Wha are you doing for alignment on it, doing it yourself, bringing it somewhere, waiting for new wheels/tires?

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/15/20 8:48 p.m.

In reply to trumant (Forum Supporter) :

I'm probably going to be doing the alignment myself or getting help from friends, since taking it someplace would incur an additional cost I'd have to include in the Challenge budget.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/18/20 4:20 p.m.

Alex: Aaaand, welcome back to Junkyard Jeopardy! Ashyukun, you have control of t board.

Me: I'll take "Things you don't expect to find on a car in a junkyard for $30" Alex

Alex: And the answer is:


So, it looks like the BMW is getting a set of headers. Because of that I may be doing a bit more weight reduction on it than planned- removing the AC hoses makes it MUCH easier to get to the manifold nuts/studs, and since from what I can tell mine has absolutely zero refrigerant in the system and since I wouldn't be spending the money on that before the Challenge it makes sense to just pull everything out from under the hood that I can since it won't be usable anyway. 

The bad thing is that I am REALLY paranoid about breaking exhaust manifold studs because I DO NOT want to have to pull the head off a BMW engine to remove a broken stud. I'm soaking them in Freeze-Off for now and am probably going to continue to do so over the weekend and see about running the engine to heat everything up and trying to remove them Monday. 

trumant (Forum Supporter)
trumant (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/18/20 4:24 p.m.

Nice find! I zoomed and zoomed but couldn't make out the name on the headers, who made em?

The AC removal will definitely save you some wait. You yanking the compressor and condenser as well as the hoses? Removing the condenser will probably net you some better cooling efficiency as well.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/18/20 6:21 p.m.
trumant (Forum Supporter) said:

Nice find! I zoomed and zoomed but couldn't make out the name on the headers, who made em?

The AC removal will definitely save you some wait. You yanking the compressor and condenser as well as the hoses? Removing the condenser will probably net you some better cooling efficiency as well.

The headers were apparently made by Monsoon- I’ve not been able to track down any info on them. 

I’d like to pull the condenser as well, but I don’t know if it’s possible since I think the fan mounts to it. We’ll see if there’s a way to make it work...

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/20/20 10:01 a.m.

So, it was a fairly productive weekend- though ironically one that put me further back from having the car done and back on the road than expected. The delay though was caused by the discovery and purchasing of the headers from the junkyard 330Ci, which started something of a cascade of additional things to be done. 

Getting the headers meant I have to pull the stock manifolds (and exhaust, which I would have had to partially do to swap the differentials anyway), which are a pain to access pretty much regardless. In working out getting better access to the fasteners that hold them in, it became apparent that access would be MUCH easier without the AC lines in the way- and since because a) racecar, b) convertible, and c) there was already zero refrigerant pressure in the system, I decided that pulling at least the lines, compressor, and eventually because it was easier the drier as well was the smart thing to do. So, pulling the AC took a bit of time. I'd like to pull the condenser as well, but I believe that the fan and expansion tank mount to it, and since I don't think BWM ever made a 3-series without AC it may not be an easy thing to do to remove it.

After doing some reading I learned that removing the passenger-side engine mount made access to the exhaust manifold MUCH easier, so had to track down a HF engine support bar to hold the engine up while I removed the mount- thankfully my reading proved correct and it is MUCH easier to get to a number of the nuts/studs now. Hopefully this evening I'll be able to pull the manifolds off and do some test-fitting of the new headers (I know on some body types that the O2 sensor mounts require 90-degree adapters- the sedan I pulled the headers off of didn't but my convertible might).

 

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/20/20 10:12 a.m.

nice score on the headers and also very smart to diff swap. Is either diff LSD? If your current one is but the auto is not, I have had good luck in the past swapping BMW carriers between diff housings. You'd use the case, shims, pinion, and ring from the auto car with no LSD and the LSD carrier and possibly stub axles from your current car. You can do a quick check on the gear mesh pattern before running it, but the machining tolerances seem to be quite good and for me it was spot on using the existing shims. 

Unfortunately, I think by the time e46s were around, true stock LSD BMWs were very thin on the ground. So I think its unlikely that either diff is LSD. 

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/21/20 8:39 a.m.

In reply to Robbie (Forum Supporter) :

Nope- unfortunately for the most part they only put LSDs from the factory in the E46 M3's, and given they used a whole different drivetrain pretty much required a full engine-to-diff (including rear subframe) swap, so I'm pretty much stuck with the open diff, which will unfortunately definitely be one of the weaknesses of this build.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/21/20 10:19 a.m.

So yesterday's work out in the garage was both simultaneously frustrating and satisfying. Frustrating because it involved a lot of wailing on exhaust clamps with a hammer trying to get the rusted together manifold-to-exhaust connection to come apart, but satisfying because the entire exhaust system is now off of the car. Other than getting decent access to them (I'm sure as hell not putting the upper O2 sensors on the car until after getting all the header studs/nuts in...) the header nuts/studs came out easily, which was my biggest concern- having to pull the head to extract a stud broken off in the head would have pretty much torpedoed this build. But thankfully they came out nicely. 

This evening I'll hopefully get started on swapping out the diff now that the exhaust is out of the way. With some luck by the end of the weekend I'll have everything swapped on and the car back together and able to see how the mods do.

trumant (Forum Supporter)
trumant (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/21/20 10:23 a.m.

Very good news on the header nuts coming off without too much trouble!

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/22/20 9:48 a.m.

So, the bad news is that I didn't get anything done on the diff yesterday. Instead, since I was already going to have a river of water running down my driveway to the storm drain from emptying and refilling the hot tub, I opted to drain the cooling system (which had mostly water in it since I'm trying to flush out the old, incorrect coolant) and use the opportunity to pull the radiator and remove the condenser that sits between it and the front bumper support (since the AC under the hood is otherwise pulled). Doesn't save a huge amount of weight (it's aluminum after all), but does improve the air flow through the radiator which will be useful since I'll be partially obstructing it with a 'scoop' to pull air into the airbox/CAI. Will also let me realy directly flush the rad since it's completely out of the car. BMW really does make a lot of things pretty easy- the rad is effectively held in by just one torx screw and then just slides off the mounts easily (once you've disconnected all of the hoses and such of course). Of course, the manifolds were a nightmare, but I'm not sure I've had any car where that was an easy task...

Unsure whether I'll put the radiator back in today (may keep it out of the way until I get the new headers in to avoid banging into it) or tackle the diff. Need to suck it up and put on a long-sleeve shirt (despite the high-80's/low-90's temps) and tackle putting the header wrap on the headers as well at some point.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/23/20 9:13 a.m.

So, yesterday I finally got into trying to pull the original diff off of the car to swap in the higher-ratio one. For the most part, things have gone much easier than on the junkyard car I pulled the new diff from- primarily for the fact that I can rotate the wheels and driveshaft and get to all of the bolts way more easily. Unfortunately, I've run into an issue with one of the nuts that holds the brace that goes over the diff/driveshaft connection- instead of breaking the nut loose, it appears that the threaded upper part of the bolt has started unscrewing from the frame on top of the rear subframe that it goes through- and unfortunately I can't just say, "OK" and unscrew the whole thing because that bolt has a flange on top of the subfame that you can put a wrench on to tighten it into the actual frame- so it doesn't just pull through everything. I'm looking at a few options- pulling the diff without removing that brace may still be possible just less fun since it partially impedes access to the two forward diff bolts. However I can still get a wrench on them, I just can't get a socket and breaker bar so I'll likely be wailing on the wrench with a hammer to try and break them loose. The other option is to see if I keep unscrewing the bolt if I can get enough access to the top of the subframe to get a wrench on the flange to hold it in place and break the nut I need to get off loose. 

It's always something...

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/23/20 9:48 a.m.

You could add a bit of red threadlocker or something to the subframe bolt, then screw it back in tight (or just screw it back in TIGHT). Let cure, then impact the bolt back out. Might work to hold the flange nut in place. 

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/23/20 10:26 a.m.

In reply to Robbie (Forum Supporter) :

That was something I'd considered as well. I need to see just how much access I can get to the top of the subframe where I'd need to put the wrench or the threadlock. Do they make aerosol threadlock with tubes to spray it into tight spots like WD-40 and penetrating oils? :P

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/23/20 7:49 p.m.

Well, it took a bit of doing but I was finally able to get the nut off of the frame bolt- I was able to get the bolt out enough to get a wrench on the hex flat on it to lock it in place and then break loose and remove the nut. Needless to say, that bolt will be getting Locktite when I put everything back together- the nut actually broke loose fairly easily all told, it was just that the bolt itself turned more easily.

It took a LOT of muscle, firing up the air compressor, and digging deep into my toolbox (it's been years since I can remember using the air hammer/chisel...) but the diff is now out of the car, and things can finally begin to start going back in tomorrow. I'd like to replace the subframe bushings while I've already got half the stuff off that I'd need to get to them- but it looks like a very non-fun job and I'm not wholly certain I have the budget for them either.

Ironically, the crustier, more beaten-looking diff on the left is the one I just pulled- the one on the right is the higher-ratio one from the junkyard...

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 SuperDork
7/23/20 10:47 p.m.

In reply to Ashyukun (Robert) :

Condition of crusty dif indicates the need for more oil leakage in the forward part of this carcheeky

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/24/20 7:18 p.m.

Since today is my 'off' Friday in our schedule, I was able to spend most of the day working on the E46 (accounting for the fact I slept in and didn't get started until around noon...). I got a fair amount done:

  • The 'new' diff is in the car and the rear end is put back together as far as I could go- I'd have it totally back together if it weren't for the fact that the new rear sway bar bushings & end links won't get here until tomorrow.
  • Cleaned off the skid pan and lower aero shield, probably scraping several pounds of greasy junk off of them
  • Wrapped the exhaust headers with header wrap. Hopefully I didn't get too much glass fiber on myself...

As a bonus, I only needed one roll of wrap, so I saved $12 or so. 
 

Honestly, there was a strong argument to be made for pulling the entire rear subframe and replacing all of the bushings in it- but a) I'm not wholly certain I have the budget for that left and b) that would have added something like another week onto getting the car mobile again, and I need to get it out of the garage- at least for a little bit- to get to some things that the Dancer needs for her upcoming show. They're not falling apart or anything, but it will be something to deal with down the line.

Tomorrow the bushings for the rear should show up and I can get it put back together. Unfortunately the exhaust gaskets won't be here until Monday, so I won't be able to wholly put everything back together until after that.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/25/20 8:38 p.m.

With the arrival of the new sway bar end links and rear sway bar bushings today, I was able to get everything aft of the front wheels back assembled and ready to go.

Unfortunately not everything went the best- I had a bit of extra time so decided to start getting the O2 sensors extracted from the old manifolds to transfer over to the headers, which did not go well. At least one of them appears to be simply spinning in the header, and another is just not budging after getting it to turn half a turn or so. I hate to blow the budget on it, but I'm thinking I need to just replace the sensors- they clearly have never been replaced. 

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/27/20 8:50 a.m.

So, a whole host of things are showing up today- the last front sway bar bushing (the convertible uses larger ones than all but the M3s so I had to order one each from two different sources since apparently they're not the common of a part), the exhaust gaskets, and the new O2 sensors. I'm a bit torn on the sensors- with the new headers, the two downpipe sensors are essentially useless since the headers don't have the pre-cats that the manifolds do so the car should be throwing codes regardless of whether or not I have the sensors even installed. I'll have to see how the installation goes as well- the car I pulled the headers from had only 3 of the 4 sensors and a plug in the 4th's spot, so it may be that there wasn't good access to install it anyway.

I've read that it's possible to download and install on a laptop the software to be able to edit the ECM to remove the CEL codes for things like the post-cat O2 sensors and the secondary air pump (which I'm also considering removing, since with removing the manifold cats it's not nearly as effective), but I'm not wholly certain I'm confident in trying to do such a thing for worry I'd berk up the whole thing so it was unusable...

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) UberDork
7/31/20 8:52 a.m.

Have unfortunately not had the time for doing much of anything on the car over the last few days, and similarly won't for a bit as well. I did get it back together enough to be able to start it up and pull it out of the garage so I could get to some things I can't with a vehicle in the garage, but then immediately shut it back down and put the tarp over it (which was good because we got hit by a monsoon shortly thereafter). It worries me a bit that it ran like absolute crap and didn't want to idle, but it had also sat for a while and the exhaust wasn't totally buttoned up. I am figuring I need to check for vacuum leaks again since I've pulled a lot of largely unnecessary things off the engine (secondary air pump for the cats that are no longer there, vacuum lines & tank for the sound-dampening flap in the exhaust that was frozen open anyway). I'm pretty certain that I have everything plugged up, but figure hitting it with the smoker to confirm would be wise.

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