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Hoondavan New Reader
7/19/18 4:36 p.m.

I've decided to go with an M42 out of an E36  130k miles, assuming the odometer works.  The seller is throwing in the transmission as well...although the transmission isn't a direct fit.  I think using that transmission will require a shortened driveshaft and a few other tweaks. At the very least, maybe the shifter will have a shorter throw (the Pelican Parts 101 Projects book has a good list & reference) and hopefully better bushings I can use.  The shifter in my car felt pretty worn.  I'm surprised at how much even complete bushing kits on Pelican Parts sell for.  Maybe I can just identify the worn bushings and replace them.

The To-buy list starts as follows:

Oil pan gasket upper & lower.  The bolts in the sump can back themselves out and can only be accessed with the engine out.  Pretty sure this is also required since I'm using the E30 oil pan.

Valve Cover Gasket:  It appears the timing chain gear and tensioner can be checked with only removing the valve cover gasket.  This appears to be something that wouldn't be much harder to do with the engine in.  I've ready to check the sump for pieces of chain or tensioner.

Timing Chain and Tensioner:  I suppose this will depend on the inspection.

Hoses:  I'm on the fence about the "mess under the intake" solution.  I'll have to read-up on it again.  The hoses looked to be in reasonably good condition...although it's probably good insurance to replace the ones that are difficult to access...I also feel pretty confident I can put it back how I found it.

Engine Mount: Engine support has a hole in it.  I'll double-check all the rubber engine and transmission mounts.  

Anything else I should be thinking about?  


Hoondavan New Reader
7/21/18 10:15 p.m.

Slow progress today.  Woke up early and checked out a $150 e36 m42 engine in Orlando.  The intake had been removed and I could see a light coating of rust sitting on the valves when I looked in the head.  Also, one of the spark plug holes was filled with water.  The engine still turned by hand, but I didn't feel good about it so I passed.  The sellar alsonhadn't removed the transmission...which would have been tough to fit

Luckily, the owner of the other engine I was considering was available...in Tampa  +2.5 hours later, I was sure I made the right choice.  The engine fit just fine in my wagen (trunk floor removal mod), the sellar was organized and helpful.  I had agreed to his $400 asking price over the phone (after seeing a video of the engine running) and he wound up throwing in a mostly OEM exhaust, a spare ECU, coil pack, MAF, and an engine stand.  

When driving through Orlando expect your navigation to say "there's a 30 minute delay ahead, you're still on the fastest route."  Route 4 is terrible, always.  I've heard the the last 4 times I've driven though Orlando.

Engine is now unloaded and the car is on jackstands.  I was hoping to get the engine out tonight...but I didn't get started till after 6 pm and things moved slowly.  Very slowly.

I now know why Ed China (of wheeler dealer fame) always wears long-sleeve t-shirts. Grease everywhere.

I'm regretting the decision to take the transmission out with the motor.  I wasted a lot of time trying to unbolt the guibo before realizing the bolts have a nut on the back.  The driveshaft nuts on the diff don't leave room for a socket, and it's tough to use a wrench in such a tight space.  Also, my random assortment of wrenches is bullE36 M3.  Buying more wrenches soon.

Exhaust: removed

Heat shields: removed


Driveshaft:  still there.

Also, it's probably best to unbolt the rear of the driveshaft first, that way you can leave it in gear and it won't spin.  If you unbolt the front( guibo), you'll be relying on just the e-brake to hold it still.

Unbolting the shift linkage is going to suck.

Not sure where to unbolt the clutch slave.

I should have jacked up the car a bit higher.  I can get under it fine, but a little more room will go a long way.

Good news: the car has an LSD

Bad news: I have both a torn rear axle bot and a torn boot on the steering rack.


Hoondavan New Reader
7/22/18 8:40 p.m.

The engine is out!  The rear driveshaft bolts were a bear.  Eventually I used double wrenches (open wrench levered w box end).  The shifter was also a pain, the bushing doesn't come out easily.  Eventually I realized I could just leave it on.  

The motor mounts also took longer than they should...because one was already broken.  Motor mounts are expensive!  Glad I found it now, instead of after the fan lunches the radiator.  The transmission mounts look a bit tired, so they'll be replaced as well.

I'm shocked how easily this lifted out.  The mounting point balances perfectly...which is good, because I tackled this solo.


Eventually I'll find out why the engine died.  That's not a wrench on the ground.

progress will be slow this week, since I didn't plan ahead and get my parts lined up.  I need to realize that this car isn't a civic and isn't even considered modern.   Parts must be ordered ahead of time.


Stampie GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/23/18 8:18 a.m.

Cool progress is always nice!  I see you got a hoist also. 

Hoondavan New Reader
7/23/18 10:38 p.m.

In reply to Stampie :

Yea, thanks a ton for offering to lend me yours.  I realized this will likely take a few weeks to finish.  With the sale price and coupon for the harbor freight hoist ($130), the depreciation will probably be less than the gas for a trip to Jacksonville and back. 

Transmission has been separated from the engine. I also checked the oil pan and pump bolts in the lower sump.  One was loose the others were tight.  No debris in the oil pan.  Only a small amount of shavings in the transmission fluid.  Realized afterwards that I didn't need to drain the gear oil, but it looked dark.

Picking up new flywheel bolts and oil pan gasket tomorrow.  I still need to pull the pressure plate and clutch from the old engine. The pressure plate bolts aren't budging.  It was too late to use the impact gun (neighbors) and I broke the hex adapter I tried to use.  Hopefully I'll have better luck tomorrow night.




Slippery GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/23/18 10:46 p.m.

Great progress!

I am pretty sure the giubo nuts are one time use only.

Hoondavan New Reader
7/24/18 7:39 p.m.

In reply to Slippery :

Thanks for the heads up on the guibo nuts.

Pulled the clutch tonight.  Those bolts were a struggle.

I don't see any wear lines left on the clutch.  Guessing that needs to be replaced as well?  There seems to be some material left, but I definitely don't want to be doing this all under the car anytime soon.

Hoondavan New Reader
7/24/18 8:12 p.m.

Maybe I shouldn't assume it's bad...there is a bit of material left.  After looking at new clutch kits, it's worn, but there isn't that much space before the rivots.

ClemSparks UltimaDork
7/24/18 8:30 p.m.

I did a clutch underneath an '85 (maybe?) 325e.  I'm not sure it would be the same for you...but the bellhousing bolts were NOT easy to get to on that one.  I'm sure it's not cheap...but I'd throw a fair bit of money down on parts to ensure I wouldn't have to replace the clutch for another 100K miles.  But maybe someone can probably help with a measurement on a new one.  I purchased mine with a bad clutch...so there was no debate ;)

Hoondavan New Reader
7/25/18 5:08 p.m.

The Bentley book lists the minimum disk thickness at 7.5mm.  This one measures closer to 9mm.  Bentley says many mechanics replace the disk whenever they're in there. 

Popular opinion online would be to convert from dual-mass to single-mass flywheel for better response, at the expense of more vibration. That and a more aggressive clutch are definitely out of budget if I'm going to stay under $2018.

I've decided to reuse the clutch.  While a clutch kit can be bought for $120 and up, I suspect to the mid-wear German OEM unit already on the car will actually last longer than the cheap replacement I buy.  Considering the cars I've done 80k miles that have never needed a clutch (including my last e30)...I'll go at-risk on this one.  This car won't be a daily driver either...so If it ever does wear, I'll upgrade and suffer through the job.

The cheap $50/pair Anchor  branded motor mounts that 5 different websites say will fit...do not actually fit.  Not a major issue, since I'm a week away from needing them...but frustrating.  OEM mounts are $100 each, and the other aftermarket solutions are only slightly less expensive.

On the positive side, solid mounts from Condor Speed Shop are $100/set.  The bolt-through design will be much better for auto-x, etc.  Based on a quick web search, those mounts + OEM mounts are a good mix of firm, but not too too much vibration. Most of the vibration complaints come from transmission mounts. For the record, I did check FCP Euro, a GRM supporter, but they only have OEM mounts for my car.

Also ordered a bunch of shifter bushings.  Decided against the short shifter (cost) but this kind of thing is the definition of scope creep.

ClemSparks UltimaDork
7/25/18 8:39 p.m.

Ooh...yeah.  I didn't realize/remember you were sticking to a challenge budget.  That makes the risk of using this clutch justifiable.  I'm sure it'll be fiiiiine ;)

Hoondavan New Reader
7/28/18 9:36 p.m.

So I failed to get the engine back in before a weekend carmping trip with my son.  Even w/out engine mounts, I was hoping to get the transmission back together and shifter bushings installed.

After a few hours of aligning the clutch disk and trying to slide the transmission to the engine, eventually I realized the pilot bearing in my new engine was smaller than the one in my old car. The m42/m44 Facebook group was a big help with this one.  After checking realoem.com, I confirmed there were too different sizes of pilot bearings and input shafts.  My old motor had the larger pilot bearing, the new motor, the smaller.

This would also explain why the tool I got from amazon didn't fit. I'm also pretty stoked that someone in the JAXe30 Facebook group went immediately to his garage and was willing to meet me the next morning to give me his alignment took.  

Another lesson learned.  Check and compare these kind of things ahead of time.  I should have been checking e30m3 like this.

The other lesson:  if you set your torque wrench and don't tighten the bottom locker, it won't work and you'll over torque everything.  Don't ask how much time this cost me.

Hoondavan New Reader
8/5/18 6:46 a.m.

Loads of progress this weekend.  New bolts were delivered Friday and I spent Friday evening and most of Saturday with reassembly.

I removed the pressure plate and was glad to realize I didn't need to pull the flywheel to replace the pilot bearing.  I can send those new bolts back.  

Pilot bearing came out using the wet paper trick.  This takes longer than you'd think.  The new bearing fit my transmission input shaft (relief).

After putting the clutch back on the transmission connected easily.  I did test fit before torquing the new clutch bolts.  

The thin metal plate that sits between the engine and transmission was a pain the get perfectly aligned once the transmission is hooked up.  Lots of time wasted here...but the engine is now in the car.

Getting the engine back in was considerably harder, especially since I left the headers attached and didn't have any help.  Motor mounts were tough without help. It's not that I couldn't get someone to help, I really just wanted to do it myself.

The 4th bolt on the AC compressor just wouldn't go in, which wasted probably an hour.  Eventually I removed the whole thing found a different bolt to chase the threads clean before installing.  Power steering pump and alternator were easier.

I probably won't get much done today.  Once I put on the accessory belts and plug wires I should be nearly ready for a test start.  Radiator and fan shroud, etc.

Driveshaft and exhaust will be a whole different exercise. I'd like to make sure it runs and shifts before spending the energy hooking that stuff up.

I also know I'll probably need to buy some exhaust hardware since I'm swapping back to the OEMish system that came with my engine




Hoondavan New Reader
8/8/18 10:21 a.m.

I've continued to chip away at the to-do list on the E30.  Sunday evening I finished connecting the hoses/electronics, and decided to test-start the car.  Although I did label the fuel hoses "high" and "low", maybe I used their orientation (above/below) instead of the high-pressure line and the return line?  Luckily my disassembly photos helped spot that one and I was able to correct it pretty quickily.  

Top Tip: Even a 4cyl engine is absurdly loud without an exhaust hooked up.  It wasn't late, but it was way to loud for 8:30PM, as my (no longer sleeping) son could attest.  With that reassurance I finished hooking up the driveline and heat shielding last night.

I had assumed hanging the OEM exhaust should be pretty simple and, of course, I didn't plan ahead(other than cat-to-header gasket and bolts I did order a month ago).  I acquired a free OEM system with my engine to replace the de-catted system that was on the car.  Of course, I didn't think to grab the hardware when I loaded up the exhaust.  I was also disappointed to see the OEM hangers were removed from my car when they installed the custom straight-pipe.  

Even the bolts and springs that connect the mid-section to the rear section are only available at the dealer or from FCP Euro.  Not terribly expensive, but enough.   I don't even want to think about what it would cost to order the OEM hardware. I guess I'll just take my pictures to NAPA and hope for the best?  I'll follow-up with the guy I bought my engine from, if he still has that stuff I can probably pay him to throw it in a box.  There's also someone parting out a 318is not too far away, so I may be able to get these parts cheaper than going aftermarket.






Hoondavan New Reader
8/12/18 7:42 a.m.

I learned how to weld!  And by that, I mean heat up metal and leave some slang on metal. Borrowed the welder from a friend of mine. I'm a hack, but I have a few more projects to use to improve.

I welded an exhaust hanger and touched up some ugly cracked welds on the tailpipe joints.  I should have taken a grinder out and cleaned things up, but I think the bends in this tailpipe are still wrong...pretty sure when I drop things down I'll scrape the pipe on my driveway.  I'll probably re-do a lot of it again.

Hoondavan New Reader
8/16/18 1:10 p.m.

I took my first actual drive in the 318i today.  A 20 minute drive to Rick's Muffler shop and back.  $46 and an hour later, i had the better muffler installed on the on the OEM piping.  They also replaced the hangers so the mid-pipe would be higher.  I still think it should be tucked in another 1/2 inch to an inch closer to the body, but they seemed to think that was a high as you could go without buzzing.  Either way, it's 10x better...and was cheaper than me buying a pipe expander and hangars and doing it myself.  It's louder than stock, but not raspy or droning. 

I've ordered rubber motor mounts to replace the solid mount experiment.  The OEM mounts are hydraulic rubber mounts that run $100/each.  The cheap rubber ones I ordered from RockAuto didn't fit (wrong bolt pattern).  After a little more research, I found that the e28 (late 80s 535i & 7-series) mounts are the same size.  They're a lot cheaper ($15 ea), since they're not hydraulic...so I ordered those from FCP Euro.  They'll be more harsh than the stock mounts, but I'm sure they'll be a big improvements.  I'm not spending $200 on motor mounts.

While I don't mind the vibration while driving, it's just more NVH at idle than I think the car deserves.  I can live with it as-is, but I'm of the opinion that a car shouldn't sound faster than it is.  It reminds me of when my Civic Si ('02) had an aftermarket intake.  The extra noise really just made the car seem even slower.  I've also read that solid mounts on e30s should also be accompanied by subframe reinforcements.  

The blinkers stopped working on my way home.  Counterpoint:  I've yet to see a BMW with working blinkers!  (chuckle)

The speedometer is off by roughly 20%.  54 mph indicated = 45 mph actual.  I don't think 318i sedans were sold with LSD, so I'm guessing the speed sensor wasn't replaced?  This one is waaayyy down the list of things to fix.  Since I know the gauge cluster is different, it may also have a different scale.  Either way, I'm not dealing with this or the broken odometer gears anytime soon.  






adam525i GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/16/18 2:07 p.m.

Your speed difference is likely in the cluster as the speed sensor gets its signal from the output of the diff, not the input so only wheel diameter changes effect things on that end.

Congrats on getting this thing running again in such a short time.


Hoondavan New Reader
8/17/18 9:40 p.m.

In reply to adam525i :

Thanks!  I don't want to know how many hours I spent.  Next time it'll go much quicker.

Thanks for the tip about the speed sensor.  I'll check the tire size.  The gauge cluster is probably from a another car, so maybe the speed ratio is different?  

Hoondavan New Reader
8/17/18 9:52 p.m.

I removed the head from the old engine.  I figured I could possibly sell the old head, or have it checked and rebuilt.  With the TDC Mark's on the camshaft facing straight up, it looks like it jumped timing.  The 318i crank pulley doesn't have the same Mark's shown in the Bentley Manual, but I'm guessing this gap should be aligned w/the timing marks (straight up)?

Either way, it looks like the pistons hit the valves...so it'll probably need a rebuild.  Maybe I'll throw it up for sale on an M42 forum or fleabay as-is.

I'll save and keep the oil pan and filter housing...just in case.

At least the head gasket was intact...so the head should be straight.

Hoondavan New Reader
8/24/18 7:58 p.m.

It lives!  Took the car for my first cruise tonight.  Well, first cruise that didn't end with a bang. Temp stayed at 1/3 for about an hour of driving.  

Initial thoughts on the m42: pretty boring unless you're above 5k rpms.  It screams at higher revs. It's fast enough to be fun.  I subscribe to the "slow car fast" mantra, so I think we'll be fine.

The solid motor mounts are growing on me.  I'll probably still replace them with the e28 rubber mounts I ordered...but it'll probably wait a few weeks.  

There were a few small drops of coolant on the driver side of the engine down by the motor mount.  I'll have to recheck the hoses and clamps by the intake.

It popped out of first gear twice.    Even with all new bushings, the transmission is still a little vague....so I can see how I may not have fully engaged the gear.  Hopefully more deliberate gear selection is the cure.

The biggest remaining mechanical issue is the steering.  The steering is fine until about 1/4 turn then it gets stiff and notchy.  I topped off the steering fluid and it didn't help.  I'm hoping it's the clock spring (in the steering wheel), since I want to swap out the airbag wheel anyways.  I'll check the steering linkage as well.  One of the steering boots is torn, so I'll have to replace that soon.  I replaced the rack in my old e30, so I know what's involved.

I'm still looking at craigslist in my spare time thinking about what I could get if I sold the 318i or traded it.   Clearly, it hasn't won me over yet.   AW11 MR2 early RX7 and RWD Celica or Supra are still at the top of the list.

Stampie GRM+ Memberand UberDork
8/24/18 10:21 p.m.

That's a nice looking E30 you got there. 

Hoondavan New Reader
8/25/18 6:20 p.m.

In reply to Stampie :

Thanks, Stampie.  It's not exactly my style, but I do appreciate the effort the prior owner made. A little more ground clearance and some kosei k-1s would be nice.  Scraped a pretty small speed bump today.

I'd love to stop by and see what you're cooking up for the challenge sometime! Also, if you ever put an m42 in that 2002, I have a bunch of spare parts

Hoondavan New Reader
8/25/18 6:36 p.m.

I took the steering wheel off again and found a wire from the airbag was stuck in the bushing. Everything is turning freely (relief)

Stampie GRM+ Memberand UberDork
8/25/18 9:53 p.m.

In reply to Hoondavan :

Let me know if you're up in Jax and I'll show you the Q45. Right now it's still in pieces . We kinda took a couple of weeks off messing with paint tints and a team member had their tonsils taken out. 

Hoondavan Reader
9/3/18 11:21 a.m.

More progress:  I replaced the solid motor mounts with rubber mounts for an e28, they were $30 for a pair instead paying $100 each for the m42 hydraulic mounts.  One thousand % improvement.

I traced the coolant leak to a loose clamp under the intake.  It was a pain, but I resent, tightened it, and bled the cooling system.  Looks OK.

I also took my handheld clothes steamer to the tint on. The top of the windsheild.  Big improvement.

I'm also pretty sure the transmission popping out of gear was due to the fact the gear lever was hitting the trim on the shift boot.  With the boot off everything is fine. 

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