Sphinx's e36 325i Coupe project
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    Sphinx's e36 325i Coupe project

    OK, this is a cut and paste jobby and a long one at that, so here goes.

    January 2010
    Well considering how utterly crap the weather is, I can't do a damn thing on the car so it's stuck, in bits. Un-drivable.
    That being said, I need to cheer myself up and remind myself what work I've managed to do during the brief dry spells.

    I figured I may as well make a journal seeing as itís become more of a project than I first anticipated.

    A little bit of background; I spent what felt like an eternity looking for my ideal 328i Sport but couldnít find any that were up to scratch, at the same time I half heartedly looked for 325i coupes but still couldnít really find anything. With the market the way it is and the time of year not helping I put the search on hold and then sods law found a 325i coupe on this very forum. I figured it was worth a look and eventually bought it; I knew it needed a few things doing but as with most 14 year old cars I found a few more niggles in the first few days of owning/driving it.
    I donít have that many pictures as I was too busy working on it but there are a couple.

    As I got it:

    The wheels are in a shocking state so Iím on the lookout for some original style 13ís.

    Now for the jobs:

    First off was the fact the passenger carpet was a bit wet which I was told was down to the previous owner leaving the window open a few days before I went to see it. Second was the seats had the usual wear to the leather and third was that some of the boot trim wasnít fitted correctly. With all this in mind I decided to remove most of the interior to get everything done at once, in the winter, with a cold, big mistake.

    When I took the boot trim out there was evidence that someone had previously had a sound system in the car. There were a couple of drilled holes and broken/missing clips/bolts etc. I replaced any trim that was cracked or broken and bought new clips etc and rubber feet. Any holes were painted with kurust and then closed with a grommet and some sealant.
    FYI the expanding rivets that hold the trim around the boot latch are pathetic; you have to push the centre piece through which disappears into the body. Luckily there was only one of these left in place. Iíve now got some different ones that can actually be re-used if I ever want to take the trim off again.

    Boot all done, broken light cover replaced:


    Itís the little things lol

    Next was to take the front seats out and give them a good clean and some scuff master. I stripped the drivers side seat base down and added some foam where it was worn, then swapped the bases over (with new clips) to even out the wear. After a good shampoo and recondition they were good to go again, oh and some touching up of the paint on the frames to make them look pretty lol
    The rear seats didnít need any repairs, just a good shampoo and condition.

    An idea of the wear:

    Something Iíve not done for a LONG time; bought something from the dealer


    Again, I know the pictures miss out a LOT of steps but itís not really meant to be a guide, I just take a snap while things are drying or Iím having a cuppa.

    Now comes the fun part; while the interior was all out I checked the carpet and was in for a shock. The passenger side was completely soaked through, way more than a window being left open. After some feeling around I noticed the carpet was wet all the way up to behind the dash so figured there must have been a leak from the bulkhead somewhere. Some forum searching later and I read about the Ďelephant trunksí so they were on the hit list. I removed most of the interior to free up the carpet and then stuffed towels underneath to dry everything out. In an ideal world Iíd replace the carpet but Iíll leave that until summer.
    After a bit of trouble with some stubborn wipers I was able to clear out a load of cr@p from around the blower motor and also noticed a grommet was missing where the alarm wiring goes through the bulkhead. Time will tell if this is indeed the cause of the leak but fingers crossed itís sorted now.
    I also noticed the scuttle panel trim could do with being replaced so Iíll get into that when the weatherís a little nicer.

    It was then time to get the interior back in and again replace anything that wasnít as it should be. The glove box was sagging and had a hole drilled for an ipod connector I assume and the torch was missing. I was in luck when I found one in the breakers as the plastic tabs were perfect and it wasnít sagging at all, I had to swap the lock over for completeness (what a pain!). Iíve lost count of all the tiny little clips I replaced and thereís still more to do, but itís drivable now at least. Progress is slow because of this weather but I consider it a Ďrolling restorationí lol

    Glove box before:


    I know the screw covers are missing there, thatís because they wouldnít go on for some reason. Iíll warm them up to see if that makes them more malleable and try again.

    Again, little things:

    I know the sill trim piece is missing there because I need to order a new pair. The old ones were broken along with the clips.

    As I say, there is still a lot more to do! Chief among which is to investigate some odd little noises and give it a good service. Iíve got vanos on the brain so fingers crossed.

    Tiny update on things:

    I've been away with work for pretty much the last month but I've been able to work on it in dribs and drabs during the brief times I was back; this freeeezing weather has slowed things down dramatically though. Anyway, the rain water leak was my biggest concern and I knew it was coming from somewhere on the bulkhead but the only way to be certain was to strip things down and really check it out.
    Cue taking the dash out :|

    Once that was out I STILL had to crawl around undoing things and moving bundles of wires to make enough room for the sponge-like sound proofing to be moved out of the way juuuust enough (much harder than it sounds, working in awkward positions etc) As I say, I knew it was coming from the bulkhead somewhere and had a pretty good idea it was the heater box seal, but it still could have been the windscreen hence taking things apart to such an extent.

    After a good root around I discovered that the leak was the bottom left corner (passenger side) of the heater box near where the coolant pipes come through. The rubber gasket between the heater box and bulkhead looked to be in fine condition, not perished or disintegrated like I was expecting, just not sealing in that corner for some reason. I've used some sealant so time will tell if this fixes things 100% but at least now I know where it's coming from.

    The next thing I need to order is a new scuttle panel trim as mine is all cracked and horrid. Although this does not stop water getting in around the bulkhead, I'm sure in the condition mine is in it doesn't disperse the water as well as it should.

    So there we have it, this has been fun in recent weather :|

    It's all back in
    I've not connected the battery back up so who knows if it all still works lol but at least it looks more like a car again.
    I know the sill trim is missing in this pic, it's in now though.

    Well a pictureless update (the worse kind, sorry)
    I had the interior in for ooooo about 4 days before most of it came back out again to remove the carpet.
    Because of the previous leak the carpet was soaked and the only way to sort it out is to remove it. Oh! and the bowden cable in the passenger seat snapped too so I figured I'd sort that while I was at it. Side note: old style sport seats are an to take apart.
    With the carpet removed, I took off all the plastic loom covers, unwrapped all the tape (was brittle and crap) and took up all of the soundproofing. After a wipe down it looked dry but I couldn't be sure so I started to remove it. It came off in massive chunks and there was water underneath so I'm glad I did it. With the floor completely bare I've removed and re-sealed all of the bungs and treated any rust (only 2 very very small bits)
    I then sat in the car with my dad spraying water at the doors, screen, seals etc and it turns out the drivers side door membrane is leaking slightly.
    To summarise: Passenger side wet because of leak in bottom corner of heater box seal.
    Drivers side wet because of leak in door membrane.
    All in all one very wet e36 lol but hopeful NOW one very dry e36...fingers and toes crossed.

    Fun fun fun in the sun sun sun...kinda

    So, I stripped the carpet out, removed all the wet soundproofing, laid new stuff, re-sealed a few grommets and sorted any little bits of rust. Oh and tidied up the wiring a little bit too.

    Next was to investigate the leaking drivers side door. Upon removing the door card I noticed that the membrane was completely missing where someone has had to replace the window mechanism at some point. So after I cleaned and waxoyled the inside of the door I replaced the membrane; it really is a poor design by BMW that so much water can get inside the door and past the seals.

    Now for my next can of worms: The driverís side speaker wasn't plugged in because the connections were different, it turns out the car has a facelift door card fitted with a different sized speaker. Christ knows why BMW decided to change this little detail! it's just annoying!
    Long story short I now have matching facelift door cards and speakers; killed two birds with one stone because the passenger speaker surround was cracked and fabric was a little loose on both.

    Facelift plugs soldered into my loom:

    Un-cracked speaker surrounds:

    It's still in a million pieces as I want to test it once more before I put the carpet back in.

    I seem to be slowly but surely rebuilding this bloody car lol Every job turns into a much bigger job than expected, for example the door cards/ speaker issues on top of which I had to re-glue the top parts as they came clean off when I took the card off (common issue though I'm aware)
    The weather is really slowing things down; mainly having to heat things up when soundproofing and waiting for things to dry, like paint and sealer.

    As kids these day say, whoop de whoop!
    Sourced a set of original style 13 alloys, including a spare from 'endeeci' from this forum After some touching up (they are at least 16 years old so bound to have some marks) I swapped them over. Oh with a healthy dose of copper grease as I had to kick the old wheels off.

    The bodywork still needs some attention and I need to get rid of that bloody M3 spoiler but here we go:

    Niiiiiice and original, just how I like it

    Well I took it for a little spin just to see if still worked after having not been driven for soo long lol.
    Took a couple of pics too, bear in mind it's still not finished and the misty headlight was sorted today (hopefully).

    Next up: fit the bowden cable and re-fit passenger seat, oil service, cam cover gasket, water pump, thermostat, rear window rubbers etc etc etc I love projects...

    I've become a stripper to help get this car finished...a paint stripper that is.

    Moving on.

    The passenger side bowden cable had snapped so that was replaced:

    I think I'm right in saying the seats are different in pre and post facelift cars, the pre-facelift seats being the ones that are an to take apart. Can you guess what my car had?

    So that was put back together and back in the car.

    Next on the list was to replace cam cover gasket. I bought a new gasket and 15 rubber 'washers'. When I removed it you could see that the old gasket and washers were well past it and very brittle.

    I'd decided to paint the cam cover while it was off as it was all flaky and crap. Turns out the castings are really poor so once I'd stripped the paint off, the surface wasn't as good as I was expecting. I used some chemical metal to even off some of the worst bits but am resigned to the fact that the finish will never be perfect.
    This is a bit of a test because I looked into VHT Paints and could only find top coats, no high temp primers. I therefore opted for a system I've used before and I'll see how it goes; Etch primer and wheel silver paint, not lacquered because I don't want it too shiny.

    Cam cover back on:
    There are a few random new bits of trim under the bonnet to replace any cracked or perished items. It's not detailing clean I know lol but that's not the point.
    Oh and I replaced the spark plugs too. My heart completely sank though as I went to undo the first one and it felt like the thread was knackered; I've done spark plugs on a few cars now and normally there's an initial 'bite' and then they unscrew easily. On this though they felt firm, not stiff but just firm for the first 4 or 5 turns; I've heard horror stories of threads stripping on alloy heads and felt physically sick when I thought it had happened.

    The astute amongst you will notice the bonnet struts are the 'wrong' way round. I replace the saggy old ones and put these on this way because I think it looks more logical.

    The gasket and rubber washers are all BMW items but it's worth noting that the little rubber washers are slightly different to the original items; they're slightly less tall and the same diameter as the washer. It's hard to explain but I assume they're just a slightly updated part.

    On a side note, I've just been browsing through some of my old files and thought I'd put a couple of a similar (although to a lesser extent) thing I did with my old e34:

    As I bought it, needing a fair bit of work:

    (my old vectra in that pic too, uni car park with my 2 family saloons, sod the stereotypes!)

    After I'd had my fun with it:

    I liked that car

    Well as some you may know I'm now going to replace the rear shocks too, and probably a few other bits while I'm there. Not because of any clunks or noticeable problems, but because I looked somewhere I shouldn't have lol
    Last edited by Sphinx; 07-12-2012 at 20:41.

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    Also after a bit of errr completely unintentional drifting the other night in the wet...it's a new car, not used to it yet *ahem*... I think one of the rear pads is rattling a bit so I'll sort that too. BUT today has been handbrake adjustment time as it's been a bit pants since I got it:

    Took me a few minutes to find the adjuster through this hole, wasn't as visible as I thought it would be lol

    All done and now holds on the 4th-5th click

    Update 01/04/10

    Lots more work that nobody except you lot will probably ever see

    I noticed the drivers side rear dust cover was missing so I got another one. I figured while I was taking the shock off I'd fit some Z3 reinforcement plates, oh and while it was up in the air I'd try and find the cause of a rattle, probably the pads so I'd take them all out and copper grease them etc.
    Sod it, while I was doing that I may as well scrub things up a bit

    First thing I noticed when I jacked it up and had a nose around was that the drivers side rear spring was snapped . I'd had my suspicions because it was sat a little lower that side, but after some research I put this down to the 'all e36's do because they were build for LHD' etc, I shouldn't have made any assumptions really.

    As I needed to strip some of the boot trim out anyway I took the rear lights out and clean things up:

    I knew the top mount gaskets would be past it so I used the plates as templates and made my own out of some gasket paper I had lying around:

    Underbody things:

    Before pics

    (You'll notice the plastic caps over the ends of the caliper bolts were missing so I got some more)

    Next up was the cleaning, I jetted everything down, took the dampers, discs, caliper carriers and a few other things off and scrubbed like a mad man.
    Now this wasn't supposed to be a concours effort of stripping things down, shot-blasting and powder coating; this is just a 'tidy up' and a chance to inspect things, copper grease parts up etc


    Few pics of the Z3 plates fitted

    I normally wouldn't bother making an update for this but I was soo chuffed with how easy it was I just had to!

    My passenger side fog light was cracked so I got another one from a breakers yard aaaaaages ago and today went to fit it. Just for a laugh I put in 'e36 foglight removal' into google and it came up with this youtube link:
    YouTube - e36 Fog light removal: How to

    I never would have known about this little clip but it saved me jacking up the car, taking the wheel and arch liner off (which is what I did when I got the spare off the breakers yard car!). It's little things like this that please me

    Here you can see the top hole where you have to put the screwdriver:

    Although it's having a few teething issues I've now got remote locking/alarm and 2x working fobs It's the little things:

    My battery was weak and then I notice it was leaking
    Although the paint under the battery was fairly scuffed and scratched at it was, the leak caused bit of it to dissolve so I cleaned it all up, wire brushed it all and then keyed the rest of the area too. As usual, kurust and then some hammerite:
    Ps, the brown bits you can see aren't rust, they're the colour of the factory seam sealer once the affected paint was removed.

    Tomorrow I'v got a PDR guy coming to remove all the annoying little dings so it's slowly getting there.

    Bit of annoying news: One of the most annoying dents couldn't be removed due to it's location :( we stripped the door down to no avail.
    So I'm pretty gutted about that because it means it'll have to be done at a bodyshop which is a nightmare for me because I've no idea where would do the job up to my standards.
    If anyone knows of any fantastic bodyshops in Hampshire who are willing to a) do a good job for a realistic price and b) willing to let me do some of the prep to keep the costs down then please let me know.

    Diff oil done today. So I don't forget, it was done at 106717miles.
    The old oil didn't look too bad really but I'm glad it's done now for peace of mind.

    The Oil:

    The socket needed ends up being pretty large when you put a ratchet on it and it doesn't fit between the filler plug and the floor of the car, answer?

    Well it's nothing too technical but I took the spoiler off to see how it looked until I get it sorted properly, so for now it's just got some tape over the holes ghetto.
    Now all of the dents (bar one ) have been sorted I've spent the last few days going over the car removing tar spots, minor mark etc etc and gave it a polish, went for a spin and took some pics:

    1st Location:

    2nd Location:

    3rd Location:

    I've been getting tempted to do some crazy (for me) things to it but now I look at it I'm not sure.

    Alarm button and the slowest waterpump change in the world:

    The interior button/light for the alarm had been broken for a while, you can see the surround is missing meaning there's nothing to hold the button in place but the spring and mechanism inside was also knackered.

    A new button was spliced in and now working perfectly.

    Now the coolant/water pump/thermostat and belt change all ready to go:

    Firstly I didn't have a spanner big enough to get the fan off, then once I had one I couldn't get the leverage at all, so I made this:

    Take a nice thick L shaped piece of joining section and cut it at the bend to create this:

    Drill out the holes and grind down the middle to give the shaft clearance:

    The holes on the pulley/pump aren't evenly spaced, I made my tool to fit in the biggest gap just to make things a little easier with shaft clearance/amount of meat around the holes in the tool:

    Paint it becuase it's started raining and you can't be arsed doing the actual job and getting wet:

    Now I'm just waiting for the weather to clear so I can do the job.

    Update 22/06/10

    After the most ridiculous amount of hassle over a thermostat housing, I think it's done (fingers crossed)

    My tool worked a treat and I was then able to remove the fan, god it was on tight! and I started removing everything:

    The main reason for doing this is that I wasn't sure when/if the waterpump was changed for a metal item, so I was slightly disappointed when I removed a perfectly usable metal impeller pump

    This gives you an idea of how old the belts were

    Then the problems started
    Upot fitting the original (genuine plastic bmw item), as it was compressing the O-ring the bottom lug cracked. OK I thought, it's old and brittle.
    Got one from GSF, gingerly nipping up the bolts bit by bit to spread the load out...crack. I was using a mirror too and the gap between the head the housing was still about 1mm so it wasn't even compressing the O-ring. Oh and I had the torque wrench set to just under 10Nm to be 'safe'.
    OK, GSF item isn't as good as the genuine item so I ordered a BMW one. Being even more careful tightening it up, torque wrench set to 8Nm going round in a circle doing each bolt a bit at a time...crack :jaw-dropping

    After all that ball-ache I ordered an alloy housing from the US and it arrived just under a week later The casting was a bit raw though with a few imperfections:

    I resurfaced the mating face with some 1200 emery paper on some MDF. Because MDF is cut perfectly flat, it's a great surface to do this on. Use some spray glue to hold the paper in place, spray some oil on the surface and then just work the piece in various directions to get a nice flat surface.

    I also went over the whole thing with a scotch pad just to smooth it out slightly.

    Back to fitting; I didn't dare go up to 10Nm, as I was doing everything up, it felt tight so I checked around with a mirror and the sealant was starting to squeeze out so I left it there. With the alloy housing, I thought there might be a risk of the torque finding the next weakest link, which would be the bolts or thread and I didn't want to strip anything. I'm PARANOID about stripping threads!

    Filled up the coolant as per the Bentley manual and took the car for a little spin. It came up to temp, blew nice hot air quickly and when I got back I opened up the bleed screw and let it hiss and bubble for a bit, then topped up the coolant.

    I can tell you're all getting bored of this now no modifications = no replies

    Well sod ya! Here are some more pics!

    The front brakes were making some noise when hot so I wanted to get the front end in the air and check it all out. While I was there I thought I'd clean everything up in the same way I did with the rear end.
    As the drivers side jacking point is a little rusty (which I will weld up soon) this caused a slight problem with where to jack up and place axle stands. Sooooo I had a 5mm plate in the shed and thought 'that should work!'
    Took off the jacking pad and slid the plate in place to strengthen it up, jacked up the front on the 'lollypops' and put the axle stands in place:

    Ready for work:

    Arch liners out and brakes apart:

    I found a few bits of rust under the arches, mainly where the retaining screws for the liners go. They screw into some plastic lugs that clip through the bodywork, these square holes tend to rust so I had to sort them before I could get any further.
    I only got one side finished today but the rest should be done tomorrow.

    Well the front is now finished, any rust was ground down, treated and painted. I painted the majority of the arch while I was at it, just not the strut tower (I'll do that if I ever take it out, but for now that wasn't the goal) Ignore the drips on the face of the disc, the lumps were sanded off and the rest will come off the first time I brake.

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    Now for the noises (well, some of them)
    There was a rattle coming from the rear which I know can be...well basically anything on an e36 : pads, springs, bushes, shoes etc. My plan was to investigate all of this on Sunday before the GP obviously.

    On a completely unrelated note I've always found that with the handbrake adjusted to hold on the 4th-5th click, it ends being a bit awkward with the arm-rest in the way. For this reason I decided to take off the leather handbrake surround and nip up the bolts to take up the slack thereby making the handbrake hold on the 2nd-3rd click.
    Once I'd done this I noticed there was no rattle from the rear. I'd inadvertently fixed it This means that the shoes had a bit too much slack so I jacked up the rear and adjusted it all properly and checked a few things.
    I fairly common issue is for the backing plates to rust where the brake shoe locating pins go through; I was pretty sure these would be fine on mine as I'd already been through it all a few months ago, luckily I was right and they were fine, so it was just a case of adjusting it all.

    Next up was the annoying pulley squeak, I wasn't sure which one was making the noise but figured it was best to replace them both anyway.


    You can spin these both freely and the tensioner pulley does make a slight rattle, I tried making a video of this but couldn't pick up the sound. In short the bearings are dry and there's a risk of failure, which I'm not too fond of as that would take out the waterpump, alternator and PAS pump :jaw-dropping


    If you try and spin these they will turn easily but stop as soon as you let go.

    I do however have a funny feeling the air-con tensioner pulley may be on it's way out (would fit in really as with the others, it's probably never been changed) but I'm leaving it for now as a) More important things to do and b) worst case scenario is I lose the air-con belt, no biggy.

    Also, the squeaky brakes were doing my head in and no amount of cleaning and copper grease would shut the f**kers up!
    So today I fitted new discs and pads (no pics) which was nice and easy as I've taken them apart about 3 times already Comparing old with new, the pads had minimal wear but the discs were a little worse than I thought, still hardly what I'd consider 'worn' though. Ah well.

    I took a picture of the new brakes through the wheels (dirty bottletops!)

    Not that you can make out much lol but I did paint the bells of the discs to stop them rusting and looking nasty in a few miles.

    107535 miles (for my own records)
    Gearbox oil replaced
    Only two bolts so nothing really to show...well I may upload a picture my mate took of me...
    The old oil was pretty brown and 'orrible, never been changed I would guess. The gear change now feels slightly smoother and nicer, not that it was bad before but this can only be better.

    The oil:

    My new tool to help get the oil into the gearbox:

    This worked a treat! and I couldn't have done the job without it!

    Update, job done on 19/07/10 but I've only been able to update today:

    Got my numberplate lights working!!

    I checked the boot wiring aaaaaaages ago and noticed most of the wires were mangled and some had snapped. I got some fresh lengths of wire and replaced a long section; otherwise the soldered joints would have been at the bend which isn't ideal.

    Even after that they still didn't work and I was a bit stumped as everything looked completely fine.

    Well with the help of a friend we finally got to the bottom of the problem! (I didn't want to just splice into the rear lights live wire as that's a bodge)
    See if you can spot the problem:

    That's right, the light control module casing for the check control has melted slightly


    The wiring at the boot hinge which was broken must have shorted this out

    So, a new module later (checked part numbers etc) aaaaand


    Time for a job I've been putting off for a while.

    During winter I took all the jacking pads off and gave everything a clean but I found some rust under the drivers side front pad I stabbed it with a screwdriver and it went through in places so to patch it up during the winter I put some gaffa tape on it and waxoyled over (that's what the red stuff is in the pics)

    So, pics:

    First up was to take the skirt off; with a bit of WD40 and some careful prying it came off with no broken clips:

    The rust:

    The other issue is that some numpty has jacked up the car under the wing at some point and dented it. Inside the arch has rusted from all the cracked paint too:

    (this is after I beat the worst of back down when I did the arches)

    I'm going to cut the lower section of the wing off and weld in a whole new piece:

    On to the rust, I took the jack pad off and cut back to good metal. Took a long time using jenolite (rust removing acid) to make sure everything inside is clean before it gets covered back up:

    I don't want to just weld a plate over; I want it all flushed in and hidden so I made a template:

    Cut the shape out of steel:

    I've test fitted it and tweaked it in places but the first cut was pretty close amazingly I've still got to drill some more holes for plug welds but the basic shape is there. It's worth spending time on bits like this as the better the fit the easier it'll be to weld...well that's the plan.

    That's as far as I got. Hopefully I'll weld it tomorrow but I want to get some practice in first (not welded in a few months) before I go near the car.

    Despite the atrocious weather I've managed to get it pretty much done; all that's left is a coat of paint and to fill the sill with some wax.

    I planned to take pictures of every stage but as I was doing it in-between rain showers I just wanted to get on with it. Packing everything up, then moving it back out and setting it all back up again 3 times really was NOT fun

    Anyhoo, small plate tacked in place:

    Fully welded:

    This is my first go at overhead welding and although I practiced in the shed, nothing prepared me for what it was like on the car. I set up the welder on the practice pieces and then it was a case of getting comfortable and taking things steady.

    Then the main plate was welded in:

    Kurust and seam sealer

    It was all welded using a technique for thin metal I learned on another forum. It's hard to get a seam going due to the cramped position under the car and relatively poor visibility. I blew through twice but soon sorted that. The main plate was plug welded 8 times in strategic places so it's firmly attached to the structural metal underneath.

    Little bit of an update on this; I cleaned the rust off the rear jacking point (only surface rust) and gave them both a coat of primer and hammerite top coat. I'm still waiting on my DynaxS50 to arrive which I'll pump into the entire sill but externally it's done...well, that's a lie. I'm going to clean up the passenger side jacking points too and then paint both floor pans either side of the tunnel just to look pretty.

    I love Dynax :goodvibes

    Jacking pads drilled and smothered in underbody seal around the edges.

    Passenger side done
    Flap wheeled, bilt hamber rust removing gel, kurust, paint, sills filled with wax, jacking pads drilled and put back on with lots of underbody seal.

    Bootlid welding time.

    The car was fitted with a small spoiler at the factory and then the previous numpty, I mean owner, put an M3 spoiler on there.
    He did this by closing his eyes, placing the drill on the bootlid and going 'about there will do.' :

    I removed the spoiler a few months ago and performed a ghetto repair of putting tape over the holes that were left Today was time to get it sorted properly.

    Off we go.

    The damage:


    Becuase the holes were mangled I thought it best to just cut a square out and flush another one in. I've got the pieces sorted so tomorrow I'll weld them in.

    Finished .....well sort of. I'll slap any old dark coloured top coat on there to protect the primer but it will be painted when the car goes in for a few other things. At least this way I know the welding has been done right.

    So I made all the pieces, tacked them in, then welded them fully and then a little skim of filler before the etch primer.

    Talkin' 'bout my penetration

    Last little update on the bootlid.

    Bear in mind that this isn't finished, it's just better than the tape I had covering the holes

    As you can see, not the best paint match

    A few more niggles sorted.
    When I stripped the bootlid down I found the plate had been stuck on with tape and the plastic 'lugs' for the screws to thread into were missing. Got some and fitted the plate properly.

    It just means I can take it off a lot easier when it comes time to paint it.

    The interior fan has been iffy since I bought the car; settings 1 and 2 were the same and only 3 and 4 increased the speed. Turns out the analogue climate control has a different resistor to the digi ones. Anyhoo, got a spare, fitted it and I've not got all 4 speeds.

    Lovely simple 5 minute job that fixes an issue, just the kind of jobs I like

    Along with the rust on the body of the car, the bottom of the wing was also pretty bad due to a previous owner jacking the car up in the wrong place, cracking the paint and letting moisture in.

    As the wings are only bolted on I removed it and replaced the damaged/rusty lower section in the comfort of the shed:

    Axle stand is under my previous repair and holding strong :

    This was a bit daunting:

    Salvaged piece offered up just to see:

    The reason:

    The corner was cut off when I repaired the jacking point. I knew I'd be replacing that section anyway so it made the previous job easier.

    Pretty crumbly.

    Set up and ready to weld:


    It was interesting welding something where you have access to both sides to see what's going on. One thing I found was that after several welds the heat dispersed more than before and penetration wasn't as before. I flipped the wing over and welded the parts I wasn't happy with on the back side.

    Painted, fitted, holes drilled for skirt, everything filled with wax:

    I think that brings it all up to date…and there’s still loads more to do.

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    Well apart from drive it I've done nothing to the car for a while now. Sadly though that doesn't mean it's all fixed lol

    I always knew that the PAS reservoir was weeping fluid from the hose connections underneath, not enough for the level to drop or even cause any drips, but enough for the pipes to look wet and have tiny droplets collecting on the end.
    Figured it was about time I sorted it as I figured it would be easy...famous last words?

    After a bit of seraching I got some Dextron something something 2 and some new jubilee clips and set about getting to it:

    After removing a few things you can just about get to it but it's a bit of a squeeze. So as not to make a massive mess, I used my sucker/plunger thing to suck out most of the old fluid (which was black and 'orrible) from the reservoir.

    I took the rubbish old clips off, cleaned things up and replaced them with proper jubilee clips:

    Jacked the car up, started the engine and turned it from lock to lock a few times to bleed it. The fluid dropped a little bit after the first run so I topped it up. Now I wasn't sure how to empty the whole system in order to fill it up with all new fluid so once the old and new fluid had mixed I sucked it out of the reservoir again and filled it up with new stuff again. The mixture still has some of the old crap in there but as I say, I've no idea how to completely 'flush' the system.

    Another FREEEEEZING day! another couple of jobs.

    A while ago I replaced both auxiliary belt tensioner pulleys but left the air-con one as I was lazy, plus the worst case scenario was the pulley fails and I lose my air-con, no great deal.
    Well I've had the new one for a while so set about fitting it today:

    Once the fan, surround and belt were off it was nice and easy, not stubborn like the last one.

    Also I've been meaning to do the lower chain tensioner as the car is on just over 100k and there's no record of it being done. There are no untoward noises other than a very slight rattle when the revs drop down from the higher ranges. Either way, it's nice to know it's been done.
    As the spring is technically the most important part, I ordered a new spring and washer from the dealer for the grand total of £2.62. They didn't have any pistons in stock so I took a chance hoping mine wasn't worn.
    When I took the old tensioner out it was fine and when I compared the springs, the old one seemed only fractionally less stiff than the new one, so it seems it's probably been done in the past anyway. No matter, new spring and washer, started it expecting to hear a nasty rattle (I thought lining up the prongs seemed too easy) but no noises and a big smile.

    Old tensioner with new washer and spring:


    For my own records, these were done at 108931 miles.
    This afternoon I might even replace my lazy seatbelt as at the moment it barely retracts and just piles up on the rear mat lol

    Right, an actual job for the MOT...plus it was annoying.

    So my drivers side seatbelt was really slow to retract, normally giving up with about 1.5 foot of belt dangling all over the rear floor; I'm pretty sure that's an MOT fail so I whipped the mechanism off my mates car that he's breaking. Interesting fact; the facelift seatbelt mechanisms are different. It still fits but it's not the same as my original one, oh and the safety tag on the end of the belt is different, so one side has a green tag and one now has an orange tag....this will annoy me.


    I think it must be a BMW thing as it's definitely better than my old one but it still slows down towards the last foot or so, only this time it does eventually retract it fully.

    After that I cleaned the wheels for the first time in months, in this weather. My hands almost fell off.

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    Well as some of you may know after my questions in the e36 forum, the car failed on the drivers side lower ball joint so I ordered a pair of Lemforder E30 lower arms and then wondered what to do about the wishbone bushes.

    New Lemforder arms:

    I'd heard that most of the time the lollipop bushes get destroyed when trying to remove from the old arm so I ordered some Powerflex bushes as they wouldn't need pressing in place.
    After reading some mixed reviews I decided against these and instead figured I'd do my best to re-use the old bushes. They looked fine to me and without wanting to sound tight, I do have a limit on throwing money at the car when it's not strictly needed.

    Getting the old arms off was a nightmare! I've never experienced ball joints that were quite so welded in place! After hours of beating the sh!t out of them I was triumphant .


    Just to give you an idea of the conditions I've been doing this in:

    :cry: :roll:

    I took the old arms down the shed and started prying the old lollipops off. The first one came off by hand with a bit of brute force but the second one I had to get medieval on

    I chopped the end of the arm off with the bush still on, then used a combination of sockets, MDF and a vice to press the 'stub' out of the bush.

    With some white grease the 'old' bushes slid on the new arms with minimal fuss.

    You'll note the masking tape about the ball joint rubbers; I do this to hopefully prevent them getting damaged when fitting. What with manhanding the hubs out of the way to get the arms in, there is a chance something to could pinch and cut the rubbers. I've had this happen on a Peugeot and I almost cried.

    Then on the car they went:

    The ultimate snow going machine:

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    OK, so we left off at the new arms being fitted so it's time for another 58 updates rolled into one...

    Some retrofits:
    Thanks to a UK forum member, I now have PDC and cruise.

    Factory PDC, the gong is missing from the picture as I swapped my standard one over with Mitch.

    Cruise control, the clutch switch is missing as I forgot to take it out :| but he's sending it to me soon.

    He was also kind enough throw in a set of locking wheel nuts as he noticed my rears were missing, giving me competition for the 'eye for detail' awards : and also this first aid kit, still in the cellophane

    Even though they're not wired in yet, I couldn't resist fitting the parking sensors and mounting the module etc. After taking the bumper off the first job was to clean everything and drill a 36mm hole for the grommet:

    The vents, mounts and blanking grommets were all taken off, any surface rust treated (thankfully only a tiny amount) and then the whole panel painted:

    Things re-fitted, vents were sealed with a bit of silicone, bumper brackets had some wax put between mounting surfaces before bolting on and the grommet (where sunroof drain tubes would exit if I had one) were put back on with a little wax also:

    Sensor wiring all put in place:

    Stripped the bumper down, drilled the holes and put it back together along with some new 'shocks' as mine weren't the best (one of the bolts had snapped and a nut/bolt was used) oh and jet-washed the underside of the bumper before putting it back on...

    All put back together:

    Another little job the other day, I mounted the cruise control stalk. Again, it's not wired it, just fitted so it's one thing less to do.
    Interesting design feature that the steering column trim has an outline on the reverse of the plastic showing where the hole should be if the car had the extra stralk. A sharp knife and some 400 wet/dry later and I had a factory sized hole in the trim
    The wiring and plugs are all clipped into position, again having the mountings for the plugs already there helped.

    God that steering wheel is huge :

    Well I WAS going to clean the ISCV today but, well I couldn't be bothered, so I did the boot lock instead.
    The key has never worked in the boot lock, the button pushes in but the key didn't turn. I tried WD40 a while ago and it didn't do anything so took the lock out to investigate. Then decided to strip the lock apart to really see what's what.

    Oh FYI, when you take off the circlip and start to slide the end off the shaft, do it slooooowly otherwise the teeny tiny ball bearing will ping off accross the room. Ask me how I know :|

    I was starting to think the lock might have been changed as there was zero movement! but then I noticed this:

    Soaked it in vinegar:

    After about an hour in there I took it out, put the key in and got some mole grips on it. You have to be very careful as the metal is quite soft but eventually it came free:

    Now I can open the boot with the key It's the little things :

    Well as the car was leaving little puddles wherever I parked this next job had to be done.

    The expansion tank has two seals where it's held to the side of the rad, I ordered some new ones from BMW and set about replacing them.

    Draining the coolant:

    As this coolant has only been in a few thousand miles it was perfectly fine to re-use. Once it'd drained into a bowl, I used the old empty bottles with a funnel and some cloth to act as a sieve; this means any tiny bits of dirt etc don't get put back in.

    Took the side of the expansion tank apart and after some pulling it came out:

    You can see how flat the seals have become and also how grotty they are.

    Everything cleaned up, new seals put on and a smear of silicone grease (not sealant) just to ease them back in.

    The tank is now back on but that's it for today. A friend has a new coolant level sensor which he never got around to using so I'm swapping my temperamental one for it along with a new o-ring before it's all put back together and filled up.

    Well I finally put things back together.
    First issue was the coolant level sensor I had lined up was for a 328i which as it turns out, is different the connections are slightly different.

    328i on the left, mine on the right.

    Although I could solder a new plug onto my loom, I really couldn't be bothered. Instead I cleaned up my original sensor, which was a bit gunked up and tested it with a milti-meter; it seemed to work absolutely fine so I replaced the O-ring and re-used it.

    The next thing was the lower rad hose which as I've mentioned before in this thread, was leaking a while back. The end of the hose had been cut by the jubilee clip so I cut the bad section of hose off and re-attached it. I was never happy with that because I had to cut about 50mm of hose of which meant the new join was on a bend.

    To replace the entire length of hose would have been a pain because it goes up under the manifold, towards the bulk head and generally in other awkward places. Instead I used another good hose and joined them together with a hose connector.

    Although one looks thicker than the other, they're actually the same internal diameter, just the 325i has a thicker walled hose.

    With that, I filled it up with coolant sloooowwwwwly and started it up.
    I've got to be honest, all these methods of taking off one hose, rotating it, filling it up through said hose, then doing the same with another hose etc etc may indeed work but I just used a simpler method of filling it up slowly with the bleed screw out.
    It helps that the drive I work on is on a slight slope so I jacked the front of the car slightly more but that was about it.
    The coolant never actually came out of the bleed screw hole as I was filling it (didn't the last time either) as the expansion tank would get full beforehand. I squeezed some hoses as I was doing it and when I'd put in the same amount that I'd drained out, I started it (heater on). Periodically opening the bleed screw where coolant and tiny bubbles would seep out. Took it for a drive up and down the (bumpy) road to give it all a good jiggle and then parked up again with the nose facing up, opened the bleed screw again and some more bubbles came out but mainly just coolant.
    By this point the temp had got to half way and stayed there so I switched it off and am letting it cool. I tend to rinse off the area with clean water so you don't have dry coolant marks all over the side of the rad but over the next few runs, I'll undo the bleed screw at the end of the journey and just let any air out that's worked it way up.

    This isn't a guide as to how it should be done but so far it's worked for me, fingers crossed but I'm happy to be corrected if I've missed something obvious and there is a chance there's a huge bubble of air in the block slowly cooking.

    I noticed there was a slight leak from the coolant level sensor where I'd not quite done it up tight enough (plastic bolt onto plastic threads so didn't want to take any chances!), nipped it up and seemingly sorted that.
    Next was to take the plug off and clean it up; it was full of gunk and still soaked inside.

    So I cleaned it all up, wrapped it in tape and plugged it back in.
    I'm almost afraid to say this but...so far no 'low coolant' warning on the obc. But of course now I think I've fixed it, it will surely go wrong.

    The final piece of the puzzle was sorted today; took just under 3 hours to get it out but that was from a car with no engine and a couple of bits of interior already removed, so I'm thinking 4 at least to get my original one out. Not fitted yet obviously but now I have everything ready (bar a few new o-rings and seals etc that will be replaced before it's fitted.)

    I've removed the O-rings from the coolant and air-con connections as they're going to be replace. Oh and cleaned everything up.

    Figured it best to check the heater matrix while it was soo easy to do so:

    Looks good to me, but found this little critter in there too, christ knows how he got there!

    Then the pollen filter, which was filthy. I've blasted out the inside and I'll get another filter when I get the o-rings:

    Today was 'ISCV' day, or 'I really need baby sized hands and arms to do this job' day.

    The idle was never really bad, occasionally when the revs were dropping back down it would hunt up and down between say 500 and 1000 a few times, then settle. Still, best to get it done as it was bound to be gunked up.
    Taking it off was fiddly to say the least! : You can't get to the jubilee clips so you have to take it off with the hoses, which get in the way.

    Just to test me, as I un-plugged it the little rubber gasket in the plug pinged off into the engine bay somewhere and I couldn't find it for love nor money!
    I ended up having to bring the compressor up the garden to blast air around the depths of the engine to try and force it out of whatever little crevice it had hidden in, eventually I found it though!

    The valve was pretty black inside so I shook it around and something free'd and it started moving. I cleaned it with brake cleaner and then WD40 until it rotated freely and then put it all back together.

    I'm not sure if it's a psychological thing but I'm sure the engine sounds a bit quieter/smoother now The idle is bang on, the difference now is that when you rev it and let the revs die back down, they come down and 'land' rock solid with no fluctuation. It made me realise that before, they would drop back down and then rise at the end fractionally.

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    Another piece of the puzzle was sorted today. A black, completely un-cut coupe carpet 8)

    The carpet in my car at the moment is...well...crap. It's been cut either side of the heater box which is fine as the trim covers it up, but it's ripped around the rear of the tunnel below the arm-rest. While the interior is completely stripped for the climate swap I'll be putting the new carpet in.

    I spent this weekend doing the climate and carpet swap which was a much bigger job than I expected : so it's time for the write up; this isn’t really a how to as apart from being very time consuming and a bit fiddly in places, the process isn’t that technical.

    I’ve been lucky in that I was able to get the parts I needed for ‘free’ in payment for some welding I did. This included a digital climate box, control panel and vent all from the same car:

    My carpet was also ripped so needed replacing. You can see in this picture that there is a diagonal rip coming from just under the corner of the rear centre console:

    There was also another rip on the other side in the same place.

    So again, from the same car I got the heater from, I took the carpet out without having to cut it. After a vacuum and shampoo it was looking nice:

    To prep the parts ready for fitting I ordered a new seal and new O-rings for all the coolant and air-con connections. It’s worth nothing that the coolant o-rings are black and the air-con ones are green, however one of the new air-con rings was silver; still the same size but just a different material to cope with the chemicals in the gas. These were fitted:

    Now for the task in hand. First job was to drain the air-con gasses which I had done at the local garage, you’re going to be disconnecting the gas lines so you don’t want any gas pressure in the system. You also need to drain the coolant system and one last ‘pre-job’ task was to disconnect the air bag, something that makes me twitch every time lol
    With everything ready I stripped the dash and took it out.

    With the dash out I loosened the steering column support bar and un-plugged the multi-plug for the heater box, along with popping out the drain tube.
    Then from the engine bay side I took off the wiper, scuttle trim, alarm box and other general things to make space to undo the coolant and air-con pipes and also the 4 bolts that hold the heater box to the bulkhead.
    (note, these pictures were taken when I fitted the new seal and box but they show the same bolts etc)

    With a lot of pulling and pushing I got the old heater box out:

    After removing a few more bits of trim and the seats, I ripped the old carpet out:

    Then came the long and tedious task of cleaning everything. As I’d sprayed a lot of waxoyl around the scuttle to try and stop the leak before, I had to clean this all off. I also took out the centre drain tube and cleaned that as I couldn’t get to it before (the other two were done a while ago.)

    I put the new carpet in, which was a real pain in the ! It took a lot of fiddling, moving and swearing to get it to sit correctly as I didn’t want to force anything. With the carpet in I smeared some silicone around the mounting surface and then bolted the digi heater box in.
    Again, this wasn’t as straight forward as I’d have hoped. The default setting of the digi box with the ignition off is for the flaps to remain half open. This means they get in the way when trying to fit through the bulkhead. I had to plug the box in, turn the ignition on and select the recirculate button to close the flaps.

    Then I reconnected the coolant and air-con pipes and called it a night.

    Next day.
    With the scuttle all clean I decided to spray some Dynax S50 around to try and make any water run out quickly.

    I also added a little cover; the scuttle panel metalwork on a coupe is slightly different to the saloon and coupe in that it doesn’t have a little lip on the edge. Because of this, water runs straight down the screen directly on-top of the weakest part of the unit.

    To try and guide the water away at least I silicones a sheet of plastic over the area trying not to affect any air-flow:

    I also sprayed some white grease over some of the moving parts like the wiper mechanisms and in particular the recirculate flap hinges of the heater box:

    It was then a case of getting the interior back in, ‘refitting is the reversal of removal’ as Haynes would say.

    Those are all the pictures I have but you can fill in the blanks lol

    After a complete stroke of luck, I have a CD43 from a Rover 25. As some may know, they are identical to the BMW Business CD head units, the only difference being there is a Rover symbol instead of 'BMW Business'. There are some cheeky ebay sellers who get these, stick a M badge over the Rover symbol and charge up to £140 for the privilege :|

    After trying white spirit and thinners I couldn't get the transfer off so I stripped it down ready to paint it satin black:

    However, while I was sanding it with some fine scotch pad I thought 'I'll just sand it down!', so I lightly sanded the entire thing. The transfer is gone and it's the same colour with no paint edges

    It's such a good head unit! Really happy soo far!

    Next was the Climate unit. The little fan inside that helps regulate the temperature gets clogged up:

    All cleaned up with a fine paint brush. I doubt I'll see a difference as there wasn't a problem per sey, just nice to clean it out.
    For reference too, the circuit board has AUC functionality which is great news if I ever want to fit that as I thought I'd have to replace the control panel.

    Alternator re-build time.

    I'm not sure I've mentioned in this thread but I've had a problem with flickering lights ever since I bought the car. Every light on the car, dash lights, obc etc etc would flicker slightly at idle and with the headlights on you could see them flicker if you pulled up behind someone at night. If I turned on something like the heated rear screen it would smooth out slightly but then return. The alternator wasn't making any strange noises and I wasn't keen on just throwing another one in as it could last a year or an hour, best to stick with the devil I know so to speak.

    I whipped the alternator out ('whipped' is pushing it, the lower bolt is a bit of a pain to undo as you need to hold the nut at the back with a spanner.) and starting tearing into it.

    The windy gun got the pulley bolt off but I had to heat it up to get it off as it was pretty stuck. I then removed the voltage regulator which has obviously been replaced at some point as it should be a BOSCH item. I noticed that the connections were pretty rusty but the brushes were much better than I as expecting; I had bought new brushes thinking they would need replacing but the ones on there were hardly worn and the springs were still fine too, so I left it as it (after a good clean obviously)

    With the pulley and 'fan' off I could get to the screws holding the two halves together.
    Once pulled apart the inside was pretty dirty/rusty so I cleaned everything with a wire brush, sandpaper, electrical cleaner and WD40.

    After looking at the some pictures I realised the noise suppression capacitor was missing too. A friend had a knackered alternator from his 328i which I thought I could salvage some bits from, as it turned out the capacitor is different so I had to solder a wire to it and fit a spade on the end. With that done it's pretty much the same as the one that should have been on there in the first place.

    There was also a broken stud that holds the rear cover on so I got that out and replaced it with a small bolt.

    All put back in, fired up and woohoo no more flickering.

    Why I didn't do this when I had the heater box on the bench I'll never know :roll:
    I took the old pollen filter out before I swapped the box over but didn't replace it at the time because I was being lazy/cheap. I wanted to actually get the thing in and working beforehand.
    Decided to tackle this job and to be honest, it's really not bad at all.

    New filter in place:

    Compare with the old:

    :shock: and that was only replaced a few years ago too (got the whole unit from a friends' car so know the history.)

    Lean mean German machine:

    Like a lot of other 3 series out there, mine was leaning towards the drivers side...by 3cm :| Walking up to the car in level car parks etc and noticing it was really starting to annoy me :
    (excuse the mismatched tyres, they're on my list.)

    :roll: German engineering my .

    When I first got the car I found the drivers side rear spring was snapped so I replaced that with one from a saloon in the breakers yard; the car had obviously had a fair few new parts before it ended up in the scrap yard and the rear spring looked nearly new which is why I grabbed it. So at that point the rear springs were all fine and looked the same with regards the coils, thickness etc etc but had different markings on them for some reason (more on that in another post later.)
    Anyway, my friend had a pair of rear springs apparently from a touring, most importantly they looked fairly clean and they matched (3 green stripes.) so I figured I'd put them on while I was doing this job.

    New on the right, ones that were on the car on the left:

    I had an assortment of upper and lower spring pads so I fitted a thinner upper pad on the passenger side and thicker pad on the drivers side. There's only soo much you can make up in the upper pads as they, along with the top coil of the spring, locate on the 'nipple' on the chassis.
    I also cut the centre from an old bottom pad and 'padded' the drivers side lower pad too.

    Thinner (new) pad vs thicker original pad:

    Centre cut and added around base of existing lower pad:

    Drivers side (thicker set-up) on the right:

    All fitted:

    I'm hoping it settles a bit as at the moment it's 10mm higher in total but more importantly the difference now is only 5mm, which I can live with.

    Another few updates rolled into one:

    I adjusted the handbrake again to try and cure the rattle and while I was there fixed this little issue:

    Using a bit of old exhaust sheilding I had laying around I made this little washer:

    Not that it was making any noise, it just bugged me.

    Then I set about finding where various rattles were coming from and discovered this (video):


    Turns out there is a crack in each backing plate so they're on my list of things to fix once I've found out exactly what needs to be done with regards with removing the hub/bearing.


    Well with a sagging rooflining and purple parcel shelf, the car was starting to look like boudoir
    The headlining started to sag last summer and it had a small hole too (from some fag ash I assume) so it was time to replace it.

    Out with the old:

    In with the new:

    Oh yes, and I also fitted an auto-dimming mirror and routed the wires while it was all out. Not wired in but all positioned and ready.

    It was real case of 'square peg, round hole' getting the new one in (the old was bent to take out as it was being binned.)
    I ended up taking the wheel off to get the space needed but all was well
    As I'd removed it all from another car, I fitted the updated sun visor fittings:


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    Now for the parcel shelf; it had faded and turned a nice shade of purple:

    Again, I removed another one with the 3rd brake light but it still had to be painted:

    After it was all cleaned I used about 4 light coats of matte black paint. Between coats I used a clean paint brush to brush the surface and smooth things out before the next coat. Otherwise the paint builds up on the ends of the fibres and you get a very rough finish.

    (This was after the 3rd coat.)

    Now comes the fun part; as I was fitting a 3rd brake light I wanted to do something clever with the rear screen by using some black sticky back plastic to make the 'frame' that the factory glass has.
    I traced it from the car I got the light from and then cut it out of the plastic:

    The plan was to stick this to the inside of the glass but it's in a very hard to reach place so I sprayed some soapy water to give me a chance to adjust it.
    Clever huh? I thought so.
    Anyway, the theory of using some water worked a treat and I could slide the shape around to get in the perfect position...but the water made the glue go cloudy and when I went to fit the brake light, the pressure it puts on the screen moved and wrinkled the plastic I tried all sorts but gave up in the end.

    It doesn't look as bad I feared from the outside, you'd have to be really fussy to notice the lack of 'frame' on the glass.

    All back together, the head rests should give you a clue as to my next modification


    Well I was going to swap it all over in one go but couldn't wait
    I cleaned and conditioned the rear seats and door cards and fitted them, so I have leather in the back and half leather in the front

    I also re-glued the top sections on the front door cards (the piece that normally comes off and stays clipped to the door.) ready for when I fit them.

    Also decided to make a start on the front seats; I'm doing the same thing I did on my previous seats only with a slight difference being that they're facelift seats and constructed differently.
    I've finally mastered the art of removing the seat bases without destrying the 'christmas tree' clips. You need to crack them down the centre so they can squeeze together enough to remove. Saves a trip to the dealer

    So I stripped both seats down, took the bases and backs off in order swap them around (to even out wear.) but before that I wanted to check and repair the foam on the bolsters. This means peeling the leather off the clips around the edge, which is slighly tricky when you cut your finger tip the previous day

    The drivers seat back was pretty good, only the usual creases and seperation in the foam underneath. Some spray glue and tape later and I put the leather back on and swapped the backs over:

    The drivers seat base looked pretty good externally but you could feel the foam was weak underneath. The foam rubs against the metal frame and wears away completely to leave you with a little hole:

    Insert a trimmed piece of foam to pad it back out:

    Use some upholstery tape (read: really strong sticky gaffa tape.) to seal it:

    Then pull the leather back over:

    No more dip.

    Next up is to scuff-master them, put them back together, swap the pre-tensioners overs from my old seats and get them in the car.

    While I wait for my scuffmaster dye I realised there were another few jobs needed on the seats.
    Firstly the bases were a bit chipped/rusty so I cleaned them off and painted them:

    Then once I'd cleaned and condition the leather I realised the stitching had worn in places, so I peeled the leather back off and got my sewing kit out


    See the two missing stitches.


    Same with the front:

    Peel the leather from it's tabs:

    This took me a long time as I'm no seamstress

    Another case of best laid plans :roll:

    As per my video a few pages back, the front dust shields have been rattling and I noticed a crack in the same place on each one; it's the weakest/highest stressed point. It's in an area that you could weld IF you could get the metal clean enough, which I very much doubt.
    I was soon put off the idea of removing the hub and bearing to do it as 1)I've heard it's a bit of a pain in the arse 2) I had an idea.

    I cut a pair of backing plates off my friends breaker and then set about stripping the paint off and drowning them in rust removing gel. Then I 'shaped' them so they could be slid on and off easily.

    Annoyingly they too were cracked, but I was able to get them clean enough to weld:

    It looks a little blobby but it had good penetration.

    Then ground down and painted:

    Now for my genius idea : I would cut the old plates off in such a way that the ABS surround was still bolted on and I could use my 'new' plates over the top.

    Now at this point I had an appointment coming up FAST and needed the car back in one piece; I wouldn't say I was rushing, but I was hoping for the best
    As soon as I took it out I noticed the rattle was still there which is because of the two plates being sandwiched together. Even though they're tight against each other I had underestimated how susceptible they were to the smallest of vibrations : so tomorrow I'm going to smear a bit of sealant between the plates to 'damp' them and see how that goes.

    Another little job.
    When I fitted the parking sensors I took the bumper off and the all the brackets etc and didn't line it up properly when I re-fitted it all. The passenger side had a big gap at the arch and the drivers side was almost touching.
    So I got the wheels off and the arch liners out and re-adjusted everything:

    Trouble was, even after I'd moved the bracket up as high as possible the bumper could still be lifted by hand a few mm as there was slack between the 'runners'. You can see the gap at the base in that picture.

    I put two cable ties through to 'jack' it up and voila:

    Now for the drivers side, this was much more simple as I just undid the bracket and let it fall to the lowest setting.
    Oh and it would be a shame not the clean it all while I was at it:

    Now it's all lined up as it should be

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    Niall_farley (02-07-2012)

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    Well, you've heard of collecting bottle tops? I've decided to start:

    I found these on ebay locally and the plan is make one mint set of wheels using some of these and some that are already on the car.

    Yesterday/Today I've been combining a few jobs which resulted in this:

    I noticed a tiny bit of rust starting at the corner of the grille panel where it bolts to the wing. It's really common so I'm glad I caught it at the very start; the best way of sorting it was to remove it, rub down the top edge (that butt up against the wing), remove the rust, then etch prime and paint. It was all done with a brush because it's hidden when fitted and didn't need to be perfect:

    While the front was off I wanted to remove the aircon fan and clean all the leaves out:

    Now for the main job which was to replace my grumbly aircon compressor. I'd already sourced another one and cleaned it up:

    So to remove the old one, it's only 4 bolts that mount the body and two allen head bolts to hold the pipes in. After a good soaking in WD40 I got them off; you need to leave them in as you remove it as they're pretty long and there's no room between the compressor and chassis leg to get them out completely.

    I tied the pipes out of the way with string to stop them getting damaged as I wriggled it out:

    All off:

    After a bit of a clean I put the 'new' one in:

    Obviously new O-rings were used.
    It was much easier to do this with no bumper as I had room to crawl around underneath and there was more light.

    That's pretty much it, more updates later or later.

    Now time for the main change that's been happening lately

    As you may have seen from the earlier posts, I physically fitted the following:
    18 button OBC, Auto Dimming mirror, Cruise Control, PDC and 3rd brake light, however I'd not wired any of them in.
    With the help of my friend we've been slowly wiring them all in which has involved removing a lot of trim to route the wires etc and as my friend could only do it when he was free, it's taken a while and I've been driving around with all this trim missing which has driven me insane!

    I'm not going to even try and explain how everything was done, instead I'm just going to dump a load of pictures here with the odd comment:

    The cruise actuator wiring had to be fed through the fuse box where we tapped into all the relevant fuses to add everthing:

    We had an entire 328i loom to work with so tried to use the correct coloured wires were possible:

    I bought this clutch switch from ebay and had to modify the corner of a factory plug to make it all work:

    Random work in progress shots:
    We added various pins into various plugs so that everything could still be unplugged and not 'tied' in by splicing something to one side of a connection.

    I needed somewhere to mount the cruise module within the plastic housing that holds the ZKE module:

    With some cutting, it fits well with room for the plug:

    Everything has been routed with the factory wiring, the only difference is we've added some trunking behind the heater box to run everything from either side. All nice and tidy under the trim:

    Everything has been wired in so it can be read by the diagnostics too which is nice. We had a lot of fun messing around making things work/give readings via a laptop

    Now for the best upgrade, facelift sport leather:
    You can see a few pages back that I've swapped the backs and bases around so the drivers seat is not on the passenger seat to even out wear, I also scuffmastered the worn bits etc

    The later ones had this stitching in the door cards that breaks it up a bit and looks nicer.

    I love this view with all the buttons

    (yes, I'm looking for another steering wheel too but that can wait, I'm just glad it's all back together and working as it should do.)

    Oh and while I was re-fitting everything, I replaced the glovebox with a facelift item with the damping mechanism that stops the lid just 'flopping' open lol

    So there we have it, all retrofits are working as they should which I love

    Here's a few more pictures after I gave it a clean:

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    PAS Pump refurbish time...mainly because, well why not?

    I suspect my PAS pump is leaking from the seal a bit more than it should do (I've been told to expect a light misting of oil but this is more than that.) plus I noticed there was some lateral play in the shaft, again not a lot at all but enough to get me concerned.
    So....I bought another pump from a breaker on ebay and it turned out to be crap, so after I refund I figured I had nothing to lose by ripping it apart and seeing if anything could be done:


    Taken apart:

    The pump has an interesting system of blades that move out due to centrifugal force:

    This is where the play is; the shaft/pump is held in place by a circlip and over time things have worn slightly meaning you could pull the shaft in/out by a fraction of a mm.

    My initial idea was to use a 0.15mm shim I had and place is under the 'impeller' to take up the slack:

    This took up the slack perfectly!...unfortunately I wasn't thinking and this meant that with everything back together and tightened up, the impeller wouldn't move. We're talking about some tight tolerances here! :

    So, time for idea #2 (which was my original thinking but I was hoping to get away with the first attempt using shims I already had.)

    The factory circlip is 1.16mm thick:

    You can't buy circlips of this diameter in this thickness, they only come in 1mm. Sooooo, with a new circlip and some 0.1 and 0.2mm shims you get this:

    That's 0.1mm 'packed' at the circlip end of the shaft which takes up the play but still allows for ~0.05mm of play when things start to expand due to heat.

    Then I hit a snag I hoped I wouldn't; the circlip external diameter is larger than the factory one, which sits in a recess.

    I used a socket wrapped in 800 grade wet/dry to enlarge this recess by about 0.5mm and also filed down the circlip to it's bare minimum so it would fit:

    With it all put back together, it turns freely with no untoward noises and there is extremely fractional lateral play (as described earlier). More than anything, it's been interesting to see how the pump works and a nice mini project to get my brain working 8)

    I'll fit it next weekend along with the new track rod assemblies and see how it goes.

    I've been meaning to do the fuel filter for a while now as it was the only filter I'd not done. Having heard it was a bit of a pain, I put it off until the weather was better...being being the UK, it still rained half way through the job :roll:

    Well, once you remove the air box, alternator ducting and throttle cable (and cruise cable if you have it...which I now do ) you can see it...kind of:

    After a struggle, you'll hopefully get the mount off and be able to slide the filter down underneath the car so as to get the lower pipe:

    I stuck a small extension in the pipe to stop loads of fuel dripping out:

    Now this next picture can mean one of two things:

    1) That's the same filter that the car had when it was new and therefore WELL overdue for a change!
    2) It's been replaced at the dealer at some point, which is nice but still means nothing really.

    New one in:

    After a few seconds of cranking she fired up and ran fine, took it for a spin and it felt a bit smoother : but I think that was more in my head :?
    (for my own records, this was done at 111518 miles.)

    Well, as my laptop died I've not updated this for a while, so here goes:

    My brakes (that had done about 4000 miles...) were warped so I replace the lot again, this time with some brembo discs and pads though.
    Before they went on, I painted the bells and then used a blade to get the excess off the braking surface and keep a neat line:


    Next day I did the track rod assemblies, again, fairly simple job:
    Usual tip of counting the number of threads so they're kind of close when you fit them, but they still need proper tracking obviously.

    (tiny bit of copper grease used on the threads to hopefully avoid them seizing.)

    Time for a...I think...rather genius idea
    I always put smear of copper grease on the hub face of the discs (as you can see in the pictures) and that means that a bit of grease always gets on the threads of the wheel bolts. This means when I'm doing a job that involves taking the front wheels off, I end up with 10x bolts rolling around getting crap stuck to them. Soooooo
    Take one egg box, pack the insides with news paper to give it some structure and then tape it shut and stab some holes in the top:

    Et Voila! a lovely place to store wheel bolts while you work on the car:

    Time for some more work.
    I replaced the PAS pump with the one I re-built, all fitted with new washers of course.


    It was a bit of a pain to bleed as it was completely 'dry' when fitted, but got there in the end.

    Also, as this was done over the weekend, there was nowhere to get it tracked (after the track rod assemblies). So I did some DIY tracking.
    Take a piece of string and secure it level to the center of the hubs (height wise), also look up the front/rear track of the car and space the string so it's parallel (string will be closer to the rear wheels as the rear track it wider.)

    Then used a digital vernier to measure the space between the string and the lip of the wheel.

    You also need to have the steering wheel held in place, dead center of course, while you adjust everything.
    It's then a case of adjusting, measuring, adjusting, measuring etc etc until you're happy. I couldn't find the exact toe settings so I just set it to straight ahead; better than the miles out setting it had after I fitted the new rod assemblies. The car drives straight and true with the wheel nice and straight but I've not got around to getting it properly aligned just yet.

    Um...that's it for now 8)

    Oh! almost forgot the other update too:
    The expansion tank started leaking again :roll: you know?...the one I replaced the seals on a few months ago :roll:
    I took it out again and smeared some sealant around the o-rings in the hope that would fix it. You can see the grey sealant starting to squeeze out in the next picture:

    That didn't work so it seems the plastic had finally warped past the point of no return. There was nothing for it but to get another radiator, so, old one off:

    You can see how bowed the expansion tank is on the old one:

    New one in:

    I cleaned everything up before fitting it too :
    Now I had to strip off everything from the old rad in order for the new one to fit, things like the rubber feet etc. Also replaced the washer on the temp sensor:

    I did have a problem though in that the holes for the shroud clips to expand into were too small by a fraction of a mm, so I had to drill them out:

    One thing I noticed though was that the old (original) rad's bleed screw has a channel for the air to escape through when you crack it off slightly:

    Annoyingly the Nissens one didn't have this, which means when you go to bleed it you need to un-screw the bleed screw a lot further, at which point coolant sprays out all over the place :roll:
    Also, the threads were different so I couldn't even re-use the original one. To get around this I cut/sanded/replicated this groove in the Nissens screw (no pictures sorry), but it now works just like the one when you go to bleed it; you only need to undo it enough for the rubber o-ring to lose it's seal, then the air can come up through the channel in a controlled, predictable stream.

    A couple of odd jobs yesterday done.

    - Throttle pedal was squeaking so I took the trim off and WD40'd it: sorted.
    (no pics)

    I've been getting 'low washer fluid' warnings periodically which scare the crap out of me every time as the 'engine check' light comes up on the dash along with the warning on the OBC.
    Took the sensor out and it was filthy! It's just a magnetic switch but due to it being covered in crud it was starting to give false readings. Took the switch apart, popped the magnet out, cleaned it all up and Robert's your mothers brother:

    Next was the passenger washer jet which has always been a bit blocked; I've tried blasting it out (from behind) with the compressor but still no joy and it was starting to annoy me.
    Popped the jet out, slid the 'cover' off and soaked it in vinegar, again, sorted:

  19. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Sphinx For This Useful Post:

    Matt_83 (20-02-2015),Niall_farley (02-07-2012),WTF (19-04-2014)

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