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rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
6/18/20 12:37 p.m.

Yo, Folks,

So I thought I'd try and start kind of a build thread that's not really a build thread.  To clarify, I am not aiming to race this car or turn it into a monster truck or an El Camino or anything, but I would like to drive it again on a regular basis.  It's been kind of potential rather than kinetic for many months, but I did move from coast to coast in that time . . .

I got this car from a guy who worked at a junkyard; he got it from another guy who worked at a junkyard.  Prior to that, this car sat in someone's garage for like 12 years.  Before that, it was pretty well taken care of as a West Coast car.  I bought it after seeing it languishing in a parking lot (which it did for many months).  I was looking for an E39 engine at the time.  You might know how that story goes . . .

I wound up going home with the car the next day.  It ran and drove, which I thought was hysterical.  The fact that it was a diesel was one of the key factors behind my desire; I also liked E28s for some reason, but this was the perfect combo for a legal LS swap in CA, which was where I lived at the time.  The funny thing was that I liked the diesel, so I drove it that way for eight months or so.  Two trips on the tow truck were enough, however, so out went the deez. 

Okay, TLDR.  Now some feelthy peekchurs.

 

mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
6/18/20 4:12 p.m.

Those wheels look damn good. I'm a big fan of E28's, especially those of the LS swapped variety. One that I helped build: Wreck Racing takes 2nd overall in $2018 Challenge - Wreck Racing

Notice the exhaust exiting in the front of the car. What did you do for manifold/header setup?

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
6/18/20 5:35 p.m.

I know some guys in the e28 community who have or have had them.  The 524td was slower than slow, but they'll run just about forever.  Some have swapped in a manual transmission setup from a 528 to make them more fun, and I think some have upgraded the turbocharging system for a little more power.  The suspension and brakes can be updated just like any other e28.  http://www.mye28.com is the de facto online support group, there's also good information on brake and suspension improvements in the FAQ and tech section of http://www.m535i.org/main.html

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
6/18/20 5:47 p.m.

In reply to mgfoster :

Thanks!  The wheels (all five!) are the last remnant of my last e39.  They are far from perfect, but it seems Forgeline owes BBS a few bucks for design decisions.

The exhaust was a major pain, as you are clearly aware.  Luv the race car, by the way--it definitely is my kind of race car ethos.  I used the stock truck manifolds, with a bit of chopping and welding.  The passenger side was pretty easy, just a cut, a bent extension, and a v-band.  The driver's side was a nightmare, but it now mostly consists of a log of 2.5" exhaust tubing that runs down to a butt-load of pie cuts that terminate in a v-band somewhere near the side of the bellhousing.  I don't ever want to see it again.  Pictures suck . . .

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
6/18/20 5:51 p.m.

In reply to stuart in mn :

Mine actually wasn't that slow (for what it was), and it went up hills great.  I really didn't get it.  It didn't burn oil, and it got nearly 40 mpg.  If not for a mysterious hot no-start that kept stranding me (and an LS + trans standing by), I'd still be putting diesel in the thing.

These things have a terrible camber curve in the front, though . . .  

adam525i (Forum Supporter)
adam525i (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/18/20 11:11 p.m.
rustomatic said:

These things have a terrible camber curve in the front, though . . .  

That's offset by a super interesting camber/toe curve in the back!

To be fair though, any Macpherson strut car has pretty much a non existent camber curve. 

mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
6/19/20 8:01 a.m.
rustomatic said:

These things have a terrible camber curve in the front, though . . .  

We did an e36 subframe/rack swap in the race car. It was un upgrade from the factory stuff, but has a whole host of other non desirable suspension geometry now too. 

 

Also, that driver side manifold looked like a fun time! 

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
6/19/20 5:38 p.m.

In continuing to fill out the resume for this not-really-a-build thread, I figured I'd add some deets regarding the main point:  the engine swap.  To stay in the stream of junkyard consciousness, I consulted professionally with eBay and managed to procure a semi-lowish mileage L20 (4.8 LS) and 6L90 transmission that were pulled from a no longer usable 2014 Chevy Express van.  It's hysterical how so many people are still all about the Gen III engines when Gen IV has already nearly been forgotten . . .

Anyhoo, the 6L90 is a massive pig of a tranny (200+ pounds), so I had to cut the heck out of the tunnel, speading the sides about three inches (both).  I wish I had taken a picture, but I didn't.  I did manage to crawl around and snap a bit of the crossmember I made, though.  What's cool is that I used the original mounting points and bolts, but with steel tube and 3/16 plate for a replacement structure.

The engine got some updates in the way of an LS9 cam and head gaskets, ARP head bolts, an LS2 chain guide and oil pan (because front sump), and LS6 valve springs and (Dorman LS6) intake.  So much extra power comes from just being able to rev past 5700 RPMs.  For mounts, I just bought some thick block plates from a guy on eBay, then welded some thick round tube and 3/16 plate I already had together.  This junk bolted up to the stock lower engine mounts for the deezl engine.

Jeez, I know this is already TLDR territory again, so I'll just post a few pics and take a breather.  The exhaust followed the stock route, but was 2.5" to a 3" single out the back.  The big muff is a Borla XS, which runs to a smashed piece of 3.5" pipe, then into a glasspack (lined up perfectly with a tiny dent), which I'm not sure will stay.  Aight.

 

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
6/24/20 1:26 p.m.

Today was the day for some disgusting fuel system work.  It's fun to replace nasty diesel-containing things with clean gas-holding things that have not yet been made nasty.  What went in place were an exotic eBay-sourced pressure regulator and a standard 10-micron fuel filter from Speedway (in exactly the same place as the diesel filter once sat--under the hood).  In the tank is an AEM 340 pump.  It's basic, cheap stuff that I have proven elsewhere.

As you'll see, my pictures frequently stink, and I miss a lot as I go.  It's been a few years since I've actively updated a build-like thread.  There is a trunk pic here that shows my soon-to-be battery holder (Taylor) and the top of the fuel feed area, which now includes an ATL wiring passage thing that I had sitting around.

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
6/28/20 5:54 p.m.

The intent here was to keep as many parts of this car appearing and functioning the way they were as possible, but when one changes operating parameters, things tend to go awry.  In addressing the shifter, it seemed as though the original plastic piece of crud might work, as it was cable-actuated and relatively simple (yet crummy).  The complexity came from finding a reasonably longer cable that could be made to work with the linkage on the transmission.  The search quickly became one for a new shifter and linkage.

After much consternation and wanting to still put a shifter in as much of the factory interior stuff/console as possible, without having some gigantic and overpriced cable burning on my exhaust (ruling out the typical B&M or Hurst type shifter), I settled upon the Lokar.  For a very long time, I'd crossed Lokars off the list as something boring old fuddyduddies used in their Cars & Coffee wagons; I don't know why this was a bad thing, aside from their connection to way too many Edelbrock carburetors.  I was dumb for taking this stance.

As pictures below will demonstrate, the Lokar is awesome.  It fits in a small space, can be mounted above or below the floor, and has fully mechanical rod linkage (instead of a cable).  This one was mounted in the original shifter's location, and it needed very little extra hole space made in the floor; I just drilled four mounting holes, buzzed a bit more space for linkage, then slotted in some riv-nuts, and viola.  Overall, the construction is freaking awesome, and they're made in Tennessee, I think.  Bonus points!

The only problem with the shifter linkage is that at 24 or so inches long, it gets a bit flimsy, and the actuation of the shift linkage in the tranny competes with the sproingy hardware in the shifter.  Said linkage is basically a thin piece of all-thread and two small heim joints.  The solution (no pictures, of course) was welding piece of 1/4" steel rod along the length and bends of the all-thread.  Now, moving the shifter is like a bolt-action rifle (sound included).

Note extra pic of the state of harness/PCM/fuse holder.  It's getting there.

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
7/6/20 4:58 p.m.

The project creeps along.  Sometimes, the greatest fun comes from installing something that wasn't meant to go there, but when everything was not meant to go where you're putting it, the friction can get a bit cumbersome.  With that, it was a really disgusting experience removing the rear seat to gain access for the positive battery/welding cable that made its way to the engine compartment.  We're talking 30+ years of cookies, Tootsie Rolls, cookies, Starburst(s), cookies, assorted toys and crayons, and did I mention cookies?  I didn't take a picture.

I did however install a 1960s-era Ford-type starter solenoid, because I'm lame with wires.  It went in the exact same place Ford put them in the '60s, with pre-existing studs in the inner fender.  Thanks, BMW!

There is now an accessory belt in place--that's progress!

Thanks to eBay, I found a relatively cheap cold air kit for a 2010-something Silverado that fit great, sans the huge cone air filter and heat shields.  The point is mainly the pre-formed tube with the built-in MAF mount.  The huge filter went on my other LS car, and that car's K&N went on Fritz.

jfryjfry (Forum Supporter)
jfryjfry (Forum Supporter) Dork
7/7/20 9:29 a.m.

If you got a ford solenoid that isn't a nos piece, it might die quickly. 
 

try one of these instead:

https://www.partsfortechs.com/asapca...roducts_id=459

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
7/7/20 9:54 a.m.

In reply to jfryjfry (Forum Supporter) :

Thanks for the tip!  I've had a few of these things (of varying age/origin) over the years, to the point where the studs are literally all falling out/rotating, and they still tend to basically work.  One good thing is that with the way the auto parts stores overprice them, they all feel guilty enough to provide lifetime (or close) warranties.  I just combine that with AAA road service in my mind . . .

mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
7/9/20 2:11 p.m.

What kind of accessory brackets are you running?

 

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
7/9/20 5:48 p.m.

In reply to mgfoster :

Here's the link:  https://lsxinnovations.com/product/ls-truck-alternator-power-steering-bracket/.  I wanted to use the stock truck stuff, but the alternator height was too much, so this bracket setup just did the trick.  I really kind of hate Fritz's (lack of) hood clearance and German wacko engine placement, as it made me do the LS6 intake as well (instead of my preferred truck intake).  Make a plan with a project, then see what happens . . .

mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
7/9/20 10:45 p.m.

In reply to rustomatic :

That is definitely a nifty way to retain all the accessories that would come on a truck junkyard engine. I was looking at a similar thing that uses truck spacing but allows the e39 power steering pump and ac compressor to bolt up. 

Are you using tru k water pump with ls6 intake?

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
7/10/20 9:48 a.m.

Yep, truck water pump is intact.  Mine's a Gen IV, which I think might be somewhat spacially different than the Gen III, however, in relation to water pipe/throttle body clearance.  I only had to clearance the side of the pipe maybe 1/16" for perfect fit and a nice manila folder+ gap.

The goal is to have functional A/C on this thing one day (still have LS compressor and bracket/belt), which is why I left the original lines and dryer mostly intact, if only for reference points.  

I have experienced minor delusions of doing Drag Week with this car, but it would require way more (turbo/8.8 diff) than I'm willing to commit to at this point . . .

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
7/15/20 2:56 p.m.

So the wait for an oil pressure gauge has finally ended.  Normally, I would go with the mechanical type, but this time, being that Fritz has carpet and whatnot, I decided to try an electric gauge.  After perusing Summit and the rest of the internet, I was reminded of how gauges have become some of the most ridiculously overpriced garbage on the planet.  So many geezers apparently feel as though they've really "made it" when they stick a Racepack in their cars & coffee runabout without realizing that the thing has far less actual ability than the modern equivalent of a calculator watch.

If you really want to do a logical cost analysis on the aftermarket offerings in the gauge world, compare the actual processing ability of the hardware behind a crap no-name tablet you can find on eBay any day of the week for $40-50.00 with what you get in one of the big name-brand hotrod/racy "custom" gauge pod things you find in the $700-1200.00 range.  If this is confusing, the answer is that you should find the contrast offensive.

I digress.

In the interest of fun, visibility, and simplicity, a brightly lit piece of digital crap from eBay was chosen (about 20 bucks).  I foresee much great celebratory time to install for experience.

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
7/26/20 9:21 a.m.

This week's challenge came in the form of finally hooking up the battery to the car.  Actually, that part was easy enough, but the hard part came when HP Tuners connected to the car, or rather didn't.  The weirdest thing happened:  The software only recognized the transmission controller (TCM), but not the PCM, so all of the engine fields in HPT were blank.  There was also of course no fuel pump or gas pedal action; oddly, the engine-related stuff like injectors and coils seemed to be powered (humming along).  This of course meant that something was screwed up in the first draft of the engine harness, which was kind of expected, but definitely not wanted or needed.  It's either that or the e38 is a brick, which is probably not the case . . .

Ho-ho-ho, it's off to un-taping I go.

 

mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
7/27/20 1:43 p.m.

In reply to rustomatic :

Bummer... I hate it when it doesnt work first shot. 

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
7/28/20 3:00 p.m.

Yeah, in my typical fashion, I way-overreacted to my harness's failure and hit the easy/lazy button:  I ordered a new one (pre-modified for swap) off eBay.  It will of course need a couple of changes, but it should enable a bit of terminal progress (accidental pun) . . .

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
8/4/20 10:27 a.m.

It's moderately lame, given the amount of free time in my life, but a modicum of progress has been made.  The new "easy button" harness is in, but it didn't go without a fight.  It required a number of lengths of harness to be lengthened; the alternator connector/plug needed to be swapped, as did the O2 sensor connectors, but at least the number of wires was the same.  The differences in harness length/arrangement also necessitated a bunch of thermal protection, as instead of running long sections that began at the front of the engine, this one decided that right near the exhaust was the best idea in many cases.  A trip to Summit for some awesome Vibrant heat wrap (1500-ish degrees) was in order.  It was good to get out of the house . . .

This was all expected, of course, as I was aware in advance of how many seemingly daily manufacturing changes GM made through the sequence of LS truck motors.  Nevertheless, it was a pain, especially where the transmission harness plug was concerned . . .

A quick test of things with battery action showed that the fuel pump now works/primes (AEM 340 has a nice, quiet sound).  Both the PCM and the TCM get power.  Some basic tune changes have been made, including a delete of VATS (literally takes 30 seconds, yet people still charge customers like $150-200 bucks for this), some extra revs and timing for the cam/valve spring change, a volume change for the intake, and a bit of extra fuel.  More will happen later, but this should allow basic running.  There will surely be issues upon/after starting (possibilities including wiring arrangement problems with gas pedal and MAF) . . .

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
8/10/20 4:08 p.m.

There's more than one reason, especially as time passes, for this thing to be named Fritz.  As the sort-of-build proceeds, cheapness has bitten me in the rear more than once now.  After wiring issues that seemed to last forever, initial start-up efforts have led to a rain of fuel pressure testing.

I thought it would be interesting to try some cheap, low-profile fuel rails that so many on the internet seem to like.  After multiple tries, they seemed to result in nothing but dangerous leaks through the topsides of the injectors.  Upon doing a bit more research, I saw that many others have enjoyed this result.  Back to the GM truck rails that came with the engine.  Oh wait, they don't fit . . .

The main fit problem was the crossover, which I kind of smashed in order to close the hood before moving across the country.  This was achieved by precisely banging the thing upside-down into the ground, which reduced the profile of the crossover just enough.  The second issue was the height of the rail brackets; they were made for a truck intake, not an LS6 intake.  At long last, this meant bending over the original brackets and making some new ones out of a bit o' Home Depot ripoff steel.  Fifteen minutes later, after some cutting, grinding, drilling, and welding, we have some angrily constructed new brackets.

What's cool about stock rails is, aside from the fact that GM made them pretty well, they have safety features like clips that secure the injectors inside of steel cups.  Most of the pressure incidents seem to come from topside pressure issues . . .

This fuel crud has been rolling for days, so my patience was at a pretty low level.  The A/C in my house kept pulling the smell of gas in from the garage . . .

Just like magic, the rails do what they're supposed to do.  They also have the nice Schrader valve on the top that allows for pressure testing with an external tool/gauge, as opposed to the leaky crap on my cheap-o regulator unit.

The change of rails meant that the dual outlets in the fuel system had to return to a deadhead formation, which meant re-doing many of the engine bay hoses.  The car now has the shortest deadhead setup in the world, as it's only deadheading for like 2.5 feet.

I finally fired the thing up.  Once the injection went through a couple moments of confusion, the thing ran uber-smooth, and the gas pedal even worked.  It also set off about three smoke detectors in my house, thanks once again to the sucking power of the A/C.  That first start-up is always so forest fire-like, yet pleasing and unlikely to affect your homeowner's insurance rates . . .

mgfoster
mgfoster Reader
8/10/20 4:42 p.m.

In reply to rustomatic :

Congrats on the startup! Good to know about the china rails. I often find myself looking at ebay sheet metal intakes with billet rails all for a price that seems to good to be true. Alas, it probably is...

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
8/11/20 10:12 a.m.

Thanks, man.  Yeah, the factory stuff is pretty much always better, so long as you can make it fit.  Everyone from Sloppy Mechanics to TransAm (TA2?) spec racers have proven how good truck intakes are, however unattractive they may be.  Probably the biggest extra expense on this car thus far has just been crap to make the engine fit under the hood . . .

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