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shagles
shagles New Reader
10/1/19 10:11 a.m.

Well I finally have a car to start a build thread on. After a couple years of settling for autocross, we’re finally getting rallycross in DFW! To that end, I’ve spent the past month or so looking for a car that could be run but was under challenge budget, mainly E30’s, FC RX-7’s, and AW-11 MR2s. I couldn’t find an E30 in anything close to running condition for a decent price, 1 or 2 RX-7’s that were just junk piles, and I don’t think I can fit in an MR2 (6’4”).

I ended up finding a 1996 318ti that my work/autocross buddies have named Kräppewagen, and yes, decals will have to be made. It’s in really good cosmetic and pretty decent mechanical shape local to me and picked it up for $1300. It has a dent in the driver side, a couple of oil leaks, a vacuum leak somewhere that makes it die occasionally, the AC doesn’t currently work, only some of the gauges in the cluster work, and I’m pretty sure the rear shocks/mounts are toast. It did, however, come with another cluster in questionable working order, a new set of belts, metal water pump, new thermostat/housing, and a second set of wheels/tires. This will be built for rallycross, but will probably see some autocross too just for fun.

Future plans:

  • Fix leaks
  • Stud conversion
  • Vac leak
  • Billet rear shock mounts
  • Homebrew digital dash using Torque Pro
  • Aux fuel gauge (Torque can’t see fuel level)
  • Bilstein HD front struts
  • Bilstein group 4 rear shocks from an Escort Mk2 (thanks Irish44j)
  • Pin stands
  • Snow or gravel tires
  • Z3 steering rack
  • E24/30/34 LSD and E30 axles
  • Skid plate
  • Fix A/C
  • Rear subframe and diff bushings
  • Seats and a harness
  • Probably exhaust somewhere in here
  • Manual windows

So starting on the oil leaks, I spent a few hours on Saturday replacing the oil filter housing gasket. Except there wasn’t one there to replace. A PO at some point had replaced it with some very poorly applied RTV. There wasn’t any on the sealing surfaces at all. It had all squished out and was gooped all over the inside and outside of the ports. One of them was even completely covered over. No wonder it was dumping oil everywhere.

It’s a pretty easy job, remove the airbox and rubber elbow to the throttle body, take off the drive belt, pull the alternator and its cradle. Then it’s just 6 bolts to pull the housing, clean it and the block, put on the gasket and o-rings for the internal valve, then reassemble. Of course I forgot to take pictures until I had everything apart. It seems to have solved the major portion of the leaks. No oil on the ground a few hours after I got to work this morning so that’s an improvement.

I spent a little bit of time trying to diagnose the issue with the gauges. When I got it, only the tach worked. I ran the gauge test in the “secret” gauge menu and all of them swept from one side to the other except the fuel gauge. So either it’s broken or it doesn’t have power. I took the cluster out, disconnected the 2 plugs, and put in the extra one that came with the car, and none of the gauges worked.

Took it back out, and disconnected the plugs, but something seemed off. I looked around inside the dash and HEY! There’s a third plug back there!

Turns out the plug that plugs in behind the fuel gauge wasn’t attached on the original cluster, and I plugged it in and left off the big middle plug on the extra cluster. I plugged them all in on the original cluster and now have tach and speedo. The ABS and airbag light are both on but I’m not sure if that’s the cluster or not. I should probably try the extra cluster again, with all 3 plugs this time.

So far I really like this little car. It runs well, when it’s not stopped, and most of the suspension bushings seems to have been replaced by a PO, so it feels decently tight too. I can’t wait for the first rallycross. It should be here in a few weeks, but they haven’t announced a date yet.

Oh, anyone have a lead where I could get some centercaps for those style 5's?

artur1808
artur1808 GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/1/19 10:34 a.m.

Awesome, I love these little hatchbacks. Excited to watch this one develop.

Any plans for an engine swap?

infinitenexus
infinitenexus GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/1/19 10:55 a.m.

I love these.  Small and light.  Even without an engine swap you could probably gut it/throw inexpensive lightweight parts at it and get the weight super low.  But a straight 6 swap would be awful fun to hoon in laugh

Slippery
Slippery GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/1/19 11:15 a.m.

Nice project. 

I have a ‘96 as well that I removed the engine from and swapped an M50 on. If you need any engine parts let me know and I will see if I have it. 

Wouldn’t the LSD from one of those cars you mention have too low of a ratio for the 4 cylinder?

shagles
shagles New Reader
10/1/19 11:45 a.m.

In reply to artur1808 :

Its possible, but i'll probably run the M44 for a while and if i get everything else sorted and I'm bored, I'm more likely to throw a turbo at it and see what happens. If it pops at any point, I'll swap something else in though. What I REALLY want to do is put a 2.0L ecoboost in with a NC 6 speed trans kinda like TVR Scott is doing. That's a way more complicated swap though.

In reply to infinitenexus :

It would be fun, and easy too. I'm thinking I'll want to keep the balance of the 4cyl though. 

In reply to Slippery :

Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. Do you have a build thread for that swap? An M50 would be my choice for a straight 6 swap too.

The LSD ration seems to be really inconsistent across those cars. I've seen everything from a 2.91 (i think) to 4.10s. 3.15 seems to be the most common, which shouldn't drop it too much, but I've also seen a couple of 3.46's which basically the same as the stock 3.44.

Slippery
Slippery GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/1/19 11:53 a.m.

In reply to shagles :

I don't think I have a thread on it. I got whole 328i so the swap was extremely simple. The worst part was the EWS, we had to swap all the locks from one car to the other.

e30 325is have a 3.73, I still think this is too high for your engine. You are probably going to have to go with a 4.1 out of a 318, that’s a small case so not sure if the axles will work, might need to build a Frankestein. I believe we pulled everything out of a Z3, but we have the 6 cylinder. 

 

shagles
shagles New Reader
10/1/19 12:17 p.m.

In reply to Slippery :

Ah ok. EWS is what makes me nervous about a BMW swap. I wish there was an easy way to delete it on an OBD2 DME. 

Stock manual 318ti rear end is 3.45 so a 3.15 wouldn't be too bad off the line and would give me a better RPM at 75. E24's had a 3.46 LSD so with a E30 cover and axles, it's a bolt in swap with no change in RPMs. Medium case diffs bolt right in so no need to use a small case. 

shagles
shagles New Reader
10/1/19 3:40 p.m.

I put the spare cluster back in with all of the harnesses attached and all of the gauges will sweep now. The tach, speedo, and temp gauge seem to be working, but the fuel gauge is still reading empty. I'm thinking it's my sender unit now.

I'd like to go ahead and wire in my aux fuel gauge, but I'm not sure how to do that yet. There are 2 level senders in my tank and they read 0 ohms empty, 250 ohms full, and are wired in series (from what i've read), so the cluster sees ) empty, 500 full. There aren't any mechanical gauges that fit that range and I haven't found a programmable one that goes high enough. If I wire in a 110 ohm resistor in parallel with the circuit, that'll drop the full resistance to 90 ohms, and then there are a ton of gauges I could use. I'm just not sure where to put the resistor to do that on this circuit yet.

My other thought would be to replace both senders with ones from a different vehicle to get the resistance range down to a level that a gauge will read. I'd probably have to adapt some of the wiring to the sender though. 

If anyone else has a though, feel free to chime in. I'm not a big fan of electrical stuff. I'm a mechanical engineer for a reason.

buzzboy
buzzboy HalfDork
10/1/19 6:14 p.m.

Take this with a grain of salt as I've got 2 more cylinders, but my Ti came with a 3.73 and it made 1st useless. Stock 1st is 4.20. I went to the extreme with a 2.93 LSD. That may be a bit much for an M44 car. With my gearing redline is roughly 65mph.

shagles
shagles New Reader
10/1/19 7:09 p.m.

In reply to buzzboy :

That's good to know for possible future swaps. Is that redline in 1st or 2nd?

buzzboy
buzzboy HalfDork
10/1/19 8:12 p.m.

Sorry, should have clarified. With my 2.93 gears, 2.49 second gear and stock tire size I'm at 65mph at redline and 72mph at fuel cut. Your stock second gear should be 2.52 but that's damn close.

Slippery
Slippery GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/1/19 8:37 p.m.
shagles said:

In reply to Slippery :

Ah ok. EWS is what makes me nervous about a BMW swap. I wish there was an easy way to delete it on an OBD2 DME. 

Stock manual 318ti rear end is 3.45 so a 3.15 wouldn't be too bad off the line and would give me a better RPM at 75. E24's had a 3.46 LSD so with a E30 cover and axles, it's a bolt in swap with no change in RPMs. Medium case diffs bolt right in so no need to use a small case. 

Shut, I for some reason assumed the ti had a much higher rear end ratio. Ignore what I said then.

I cant remember why we changed ours, this might be wrong as well, but I think it had a small case differential from the factory and we went medium case from the Z3. EDIT: LSD, thats why we swapped it :D

We removed the 5 speed transmission and rear differential from the Z3 at the junkyard and the next week we had to go back and get the axles. I believe the flanges were different. This was quite a few years ago, but I will ask my buddy if he remembers what we used from what.

Slippery
Slippery GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/1/19 8:40 p.m.

It has been a long time and having the donor car was very helpful, but I remember saving this link regarding the EWS.

EWS II Interfacing

I cant see anything of use now in it, but leaving it here just in case. 

buzzboy
buzzboy HalfDork
10/2/19 3:36 p.m.

In reply to Slippery :

Correct, the Ti came with the small case diff. Any e30, e36/5, e36/7 or e36/8 diff will swap though with the correct axles. The mid case, 6 cylinder, Z3 diff can be had with factory Torsen. I went with the e30 328es diff because it's the longest geared factory LSD mid case e30 style diff.

PowerKraut
PowerKraut New Reader
10/4/19 5:37 p.m.

Very nice project yes

I have a 95 TI with a M50 engine swap for Track Day shananigans smiley

If you keep the M44 I would recommend finding a LSD with the 4.10 ratio.

I did not know that Mk2 Escort shocks fit the rear of the TI. Might be very hard to find in the US. You could also use shocks from an E30 M3. Bilstein still makes them in Germany, even with rally specific valving. 

Too bad you’re so far away, I have some OTS Koni yellow struts & shocks that collect dust in my garage.

shagles
shagles New Reader
10/4/19 9:30 p.m.

In reply to PowerKraut :

I'm kind of assuming they do. They fit on irish44j's E30, and since the ti is the same rear end as the E30, it makes sense to me that they'd fit. You're right, very hard to find in the US. Luckily though, you can order them from demon-tweeks.com and they'll ship them over from the UK in about 2 weeks for $8.50. 
The reason I'm going with these over E30 M3 shocks is the body is a bigger diameter and longer, and i think the shaft is bigger too. So more oil volume for longer life and a little stronger. 

shagles
shagles New Reader
10/7/19 5:30 p.m.

Just a quick/boring update. I might have found some snow tires for a crazy good price, and a Z3 rack, also for a good price. Hoping to pick up the tires after autocross on Saturday and have the rack delivered in the next week or so.

irish44j
irish44j MegaDork
10/7/19 6:05 p.m.
shagles said:

In reply to PowerKraut :

I'm kind of assuming they do. They fit on irish44j's E30, and since the ti is the same rear end as the E30, it makes sense to me that they'd fit. You're right, very hard to find in the US. Luckily though, you can order them from demon-tweeks.com and they'll ship them over from the UK in about 2 weeks for $8.50. 
The reason I'm going with these over E30 M3 shocks is the body is a bigger diameter and longer, and i think the shaft is bigger too. So more oil volume for longer life and a little stronger. 

I've been extremely pleased with them. Since install we were 2nd in class at STPR, and I won our large rallycross yesterday in MR.

Only thing you have to do to make them fit is swap out/alter the lower bushings (and/or make a bolt spacer). I'm assuming the Ti shock bolts are the same as the e30. Either way they should work fine with minor alterations. 

irish44j
irish44j MegaDork
10/7/19 6:07 p.m.
PowerKraut said:

Very nice project yes

I have a 95 TI with a M50 engine swap for Track Day shananigans smiley

If you keep the M44 I would recommend finding a LSD with the 4.10 ratio.

I did not know that Mk2 Escort shocks fit the rear of the TI. Might be very hard to find in the US. You could also use shocks from an E30 M3. Bilstein still makes them in Germany, even with rally specific valving. 

Too bad you’re so far away, I have some OTS Koni yellow struts & shocks that collect dust in my garage.

The M3 german shocks are valved for tarmac rally, IIRC.

The escort ones are valved for gravel rally with softer springs (there is a tarmac version as well). They're also made in Germany, I would imagine. It's a pretty substantial upgrade over HDs in terms of feel. Several other locals here in DC are switching to them as well based on my experiences (shoudln't have told them since they're my competition, lol)

Konis are too stiff for rallycross on the e30/ti chassis (IMO). YMMV, of course. 

PowerKraut
PowerKraut New Reader
10/7/19 7:25 p.m.

In reply to irish44j :

You’re right, the M3 shock valving is for tarmac rally: 260/120 (rebound/compression).

The Escort shocks are a bit softer at 220/120.

Now back to the studio and our show host Shagles wink

shagles
shagles New Reader
10/7/19 10:49 p.m.

In reply to irish44j :

Thanks for the confirmation. Your thread has been a big help. 
 

It seems like the oil filter housing gasket fixed the vast majority of the oil leaks. The only thing that seems to be leaking still is the oil drain bolt. The crush washer is probably worn out so I'll get that replaced with an oil change this week before autocross. 

shagles
shagles New Reader
10/8/19 8:02 p.m.

Today i got the first "draft" of my digital dash built. I've been using Torque Pro on an old phone to watch the coolant temp, gps speed, and vacuum, but it's just been sitting in the cup holder. Today at work I 3D printed a housing for the phone and cut a backer plate out of a sheet of abs. It's still rough, but it works pretty well. 

I'm planning on keeping everything mounted in front of the stock cluster just in case running it unplugged makes the dme unhappy. Eventually I'll find a little bit bigger device to use so i can see more gauges, but this works pretty well for now. 

irish44j
irish44j MegaDork
10/8/19 10:12 p.m.

Super jealous of OBD2, frankly. I'd love to do all digital dash, but that's a lot of work with OBD1.

Then again, old VDO gauges look more correct on an e30 like mine lol.

shagles
shagles New Reader
10/9/19 6:22 a.m.

In reply to irish44j :

I thought about doing all gauges, but then i looked at what it would cost and it just didn't make sense for me. I will have to run a fuel gauge at some point. I still can't figure out a way to do that with the dual level senders in my tank. 

shagles
shagles New Reader
10/9/19 1:07 p.m.

I went to leave for lunch today and my steering wheel wouldn't unlock. Apparently Ira a fairly common problem on these cars so there's a decent amount of google help. I tried the non invasive methods but nothing worked, so now my steering wheel won't ever lock again. One screw, remove the lower plastic cover, drill one 11/32" hole, and pull out a spring and it's permanently disabled. Thank you google. 
 

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