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artur1808
artur1808 Reader
1/13/19 4:36 p.m.

Since I've got a few weeks until the next rallycross, I decided to make some more upgrades. Scored an e46 steering rack from the junkyard for $32 today:

 

Should be a nice improvement from the 4 turns lock-to-lock that the stock e30 rack has. Looking forward to getting this in and trying it out.

artur1808
artur1808 Reader
1/28/19 6:37 a.m.

Finally got that e46 rack cleaned up and swapped in. Decided to delete the power steering while I was at it. Bought a simple aluminum piece that allows fluid to flow between the two banjo bolts, so its effectively the same as looping the lines, without the mess of actually looping lines.

An E46 rack in an e30 needs e36 tie rod ends to be at the correct width. So I got new OEM parts for both sides, and got the overall width as close to the e30 rack as I could, hopefully I'll be able to get it in for an alignment this week.

 

Had some time to swap out the Poly trans mounts for "upgraded" rubber ones. I forgot to take pictures, but they are an OEM design in that they have two separate studs, isolated by some stiff rubber. 

Despite having a fairly rust-free chassis, the rubber and plastic still deteriorates. Case in point: brake lines.

I swapped those out with some nice stainless steel pieces and flushed the system with some ATE fluid. The previous owner already installed fresh pads and some sort of drilled/slotted rotors, so I think my braking system will be sufficient for now. I may upgrade to some more aggressive pads when I make the shift to stage rally.

 

My plans of doing electrical work this week might need to be put off since I'm working in a detached garage without any insulation and our forecast looks like this:

We'll see. 

artur1808
artur1808 Reader
2/7/19 2:15 p.m.

Quick rallycross update:

After a week of sub-zero temperatures, we had a huge temperature swing immediately before our rallycross. When I pulled up to the parking lot, it was hard to even walk because the surface was slowly thawing ice. Thankfully, the temperature got up above freezing quickly and the first run group of cars broke up nearly all of the ice on the course. As the day went on, the course degraded a bit, but thankfully it was frozen underneath so we were able to keep the course changes to a minimum. 

Final results looked like this:

I made a last minute decision to switch to gravel tires despite the cold temperatures, and this proved to be a wise choice. Managed to pull of 3rd place, just barely missing second. Which is especially frustrating because the 2nd place Volvo is piloted by a close friend of mine. I have no one but myself to blame though because I was getting a little careless with the cones at times:

That particular cone was from a few gates prior, but I essentially hit it head on and dragged it under the car for a while. Needless to say, my runs could have been a bit cleaner.

I did enjoy the new e46 rack without power steering. I was nervous at first because lack of power steering was a huge pain at parking lot speeds, but once I was out on course I found the increased feedback through the wheel to be helpful. Unfortunately, the misfire condition that this car has always had seemed to get considerably worse partway through the day. Cleared up a bit at high RPMs, but the car bogged pretty hard at low RPM. I'm hoping its nothing too serious, I wasn't planning on doing an engine swap for a while. Fingers crossed!

AWSX1686
AWSX1686 SuperDork
2/7/19 2:24 p.m.

In reply to artur1808 :

I guess you have an M20 which is going to be a bit different than my M30 cars, but both of mine had different misfire issues recently.

The first sounded a lot like yours, low end and idle was rough, but it seemed fine at the top end. I did plugs, wires, and a coil, which helped a bit, but it really went away once I did the cap and rotor. In a cinch I might have been able to just clean the cap and rotor because the soot buildup seems to have been the issue. Not sure how the M20 cap and rotors are, but I'd check you ignition parts first. 

My other one turned out to be a clogged injector as best I cen tell. 

 

Either way, both the M20 and M30 engines are tough, I wouldn't worry too much. 

 

P.S.

That looks like a BLAST!

EDMSolutions
EDMSolutions New Reader
2/7/19 3:18 p.m.

How do you like the manual rack for rallycross? I was warned away from manual racks for stage rally, and all the top spec Open Class cars in the Canadian Rally Championship that I've looked at run power steering. I assume there must be a reason to keep that extra bit of weight.

I like the pins for the lexan windows, I'm going to have to do the same setup for mine. We have the same rule and I had really been wondering how I would make the windows easily removable in the event of an accident. 

I might have glossed over it but you can buy clear window film and apply it over the Lexan, which will help reduce scratches the same way a screen cover does on your phone. Once the film is due for replacement you can peel it off and stick a new one on. 

I'm building an '87 190E, makes me want to attend the same rallies down the road as you and see if the Bimmer or Benz does better!

AxeHealey
AxeHealey Reader
2/7/19 5:58 p.m.

Great to meet you this weekend! Sorry I couldn't stick around for a ride along.

artur1808
artur1808 Reader
2/7/19 7:16 p.m.
AxeHealey said:

Great to meet you this weekend! Sorry I couldn't stick around for a ride along.

Great to meet you as well! If you're ever in the area again, the offer still stands. 

artur1808
artur1808 Reader
2/7/19 7:26 p.m.
EDMSolutions said:

How do you like the manual rack for rallycross? I was warned away from manual racks for stage rally, and all the top spec Open Class cars in the Canadian Rally Championship that I've looked at run power steering. I assume there must be a reason to keep that extra bit of weight.

I like the pins for the lexan windows, I'm going to have to do the same setup for mine. We have the same rule and I had really been wondering how I would make the windows easily removable in the event of an accident. 

I might have glossed over it but you can buy clear window film and apply it over the Lexan, which will help reduce scratches the same way a screen cover does on your phone. Once the film is due for replacement you can peel it off and stick a new one on. 

I'm building an '87 190E, makes me want to attend the same rallies down the road as you and see if the Bimmer or Benz does better!

I've heard arguments both for and against power steering, I think it really just comes down to preference. My longest running rallycross car was a miata with a similarly depowered rack (looped lines), and my only stage rally experience was in a Jetta with a rather aggressive limited slip, so that retained power steering. In this case, I felt comfortable without power steering because the car is rear wheel drive, and it's a bit of a pain to retrofit e30 power steering lines to an e46 rack. So I decided to just delete it and simplify things as much as possible. 

As far as the windows, irish44j was spot on earlier in this thread when he said the pins would fall out. The original pins I used had a simple ball detent and I found that between the vibrations of rallycross and the force of shutting the door, those pins would fall out pretty often. The solution I came up with was to swap them out for pins that have holes and use a cotter pin. This way, I could put the cotter pin between the lexan and the door to keep it from falling out. This does complicate the process for removing the window a bit because you essentially have to pull 4 pins instead of 2. 

artur1808
artur1808 Reader
2/7/19 7:44 p.m.

Alright internet friends, I need some help diagnosing a no-start condition now. I'll try to be as thorough as possible in the explanation so bear with me:

Background:

The car has idled rough since day one. Occasionally stumbled coming off of idle, but would usually run past 1500rpm or so.

Sometimes the car would die when coasting to a stop.

Partway through our latest rallycross, the engine developed a pretty serious hesitation below about 4,000rpm and was noticably down on power.

Today, I went to take it for a quick drive and when I pulled out onto the gravel road in my neighborhood, it died. 

I went to start it again, it would crank well but no start. I also noticed that I could no longer hear the fuel pump kicking on.

 

My troubleshooting:

Rather that my typical approach of throwing parts at the car, I decided to dust off the multimeter and try to actually figure out whats going on.

1. Unplugged the fuel pump, turned the key to "on", saw zero volts across that connector. 

2. Swapped the fuel pump relay with a known good relay; no change.

3. Bypassed the relay with a jumper wire and heard the fuel pump kick on.

4. Signal wire at the fuel pump relay had zero volts regardless of key position. 

5. I happen to have bough spare "main" relays and swapped one of those in, still nothing. 

6. Turned on the fuel pump with that jumper wire and tried to start the car: Same thing. Cranks well but no start.

at this point I assume there's no spark, but I live alone and couldn't come up with a clever way to test spark by myself

7. Crank position sensor is a known failure point on these cars. I test resistance and it is in range, no wires look frayed, but the sensor is real dirty. I clean it off and still no change. 

 

So at this point I'm starting to run out of electrical troubleshooting abilities. Could it be that the ECU itself is dead, with that death being accelerated by vibrations from rallycross and dirt road? Is it worth getting a new CPS to swap out? Am I missing something obvious?

 

[e30 fuel pump wiring diagram for reference]

irish44j
irish44j MegaDork
2/7/19 9:24 p.m.

IIRC fuel pump relay doesn't get power until the crank position sensor tells it to, while you're cranking the engine . Did you try to actually crank it when you swapped relays? 

EDMSolutions
EDMSolutions New Reader
2/7/19 10:08 p.m.

Main relay control also has source voltage on pin 86 (I think, hard to read) and the ground switches on at pin 85 when the key is turned? If ground is being switched at pin 85, the ECU is at least operating in some capacity which would point more to CPS first, especially if the ECU requires a crank signal to do anything other than prime the fuel pump. However, it sounds like the main relay is not being switched at all which could indicate an ECU problem. 

Which is easier to find used? Sometimes swapping parts is an acceptable diagnostic strategy.

Regarding the window pins, that's a great idea. My other option includes 3D printing some brackets with an intentionally designed weak spot so the window can be forced down in the event of an incident. I'll probably look into that first because it means I get to mess around in CAD, but the pins are going to be my go-to if the printed part decides to be a pain.

artur1808
artur1808 Reader
2/8/19 6:20 a.m.
irish44j said:

IIRC fuel pump relay doesn't get power until the crank position sensor tells it to, while you're cranking the engine . Did you try to actually crank it when you swapped relays? 

I did crank it with the relays swapped, but I thought that it would at least turn the pump on for a few seconds to prime the system? 

 

EDMSolutions said:

Main relay control also has source voltage on pin 86 (I think, hard to read) and the ground switches on at pin 85 when the key is turned? If ground is being switched at pin 85, the ECU is at least operating in some capacity which would point more to CPS first, especially if the ECU requires a crank signal to do anything other than prime the fuel pump. However, it sounds like the main relay is not being switched at all which could indicate an ECU problem. 

Which is easier to find used? Sometimes swapping parts is an acceptable diagnostic strategy.

Regarding the window pins, that's a great idea. My other option includes 3D printing some brackets with an intentionally designed weak spot so the window can be forced down in the event of an incident. I'll probably look into that first because it means I get to mess around in CAD, but the pins are going to be my go-to if the printed part decides to be a pain.

Right, I never saw a signal voltage at the fuel pump relay in any key position (including cranking). 

A new CPS and used ECU are similar in price. I have been considering upgrading the ECU to a later model unit anyway, so maybe I'll start there.  

AxeHealey
AxeHealey Reader
2/8/19 7:53 a.m.

That's the troubleshooting order I would have suggested/used (keeping in mind I'm far from a professional). I had a similar issue with my E28 and it stemmed from a cracked solder joint in the ECU. This was suggested to me by an E28 forum guy and one day I pulled the ECU, checked the pin(s?) and sure enough it was bad. Not saying that's definitely your issue but I got to the point where I always carried an extra and could swap it on the side of the road in <2min. I was taking pretty regular trips to the junkyard in those days and would check every E28/24 that I saw and if it had the correct ECU, I'd grab it. I think including the factory ECU I ended up using 3 in my ownership - all because of cracks. 

In my case, I believe that the punishment of sitting outside in the Florida sun was the culprit but I could definitely see an already fragile solder point giving up with rallycross abuse.

artur1808
artur1808 Reader
2/8/19 8:10 a.m.

In reply to AxeHealey :

Wow, I have heard of some people experiencing ECU issues but that seems like a lot of repeat failures! I just ordered a used one off of eBay, but maybe I'll have to get another eventually as a spare.

I also just remembered that when I bought the car, the previous owner gave me an engine from a 325e that he had, so I'll check if that engine has a CPS and try swapping it out before buying a new one as that was allegedly a known good running engine.

AxeHealey
AxeHealey Reader
2/8/19 8:31 a.m.

I also had a CPS go bad on the E28. I remember that it was a strong-crank-no-fire situation but I don't remember if it showed itself starting to go bad before it wouldn't start (like your misfire/rough idle). 

AWSX1686
AWSX1686 SuperDork
2/8/19 8:58 a.m.

In reply to AxeHealey :

I would venture the guess that the no start and the misfire/rough idle are likely not caused by the same thing. At least not completely. 

maschinenbau
maschinenbau Dork
2/8/19 9:19 a.m.

I love your thread and it's making me really want to rally-cross my Challenge car. Are thin, tall snow tires a good cheap tire strategy? Will I destroy my car?

AxeHealey
AxeHealey Reader
2/8/19 9:28 a.m.

In reply to AWSX1686 :

Yeah, agreed. My mind was trying to connect two things that are probably unrelated.

artur1808
artur1808 Reader
2/8/19 9:32 a.m.
maschinenbau said:

I love your thread and it's making me really want to rally-cross my Challenge car. Are thin, tall snow tires a good cheap tire strategy? Will I destroy my car?

Glad you're enjoying it! Rallycross venues tend to vary quite a bit and some are rougher than others. In the detroit region we have some that are essentially grass fields that rut up over the course of a day, and others that are clay ovals that will dry up so much that they leave tire marks in the summer. I've found that at worst, you will accelerate wear and anything that fails was probably already on its way to failing. 

Regarding tires, snow tires are a very common choice and tend to be the best option short of full-on rally tires. Typically ones with a more open tread pattern work better in muddy conditions. If you choose to go with skinny tires, make sure your wheels are also skinny so you maintain enough pressure on the bead of the tire or else you'll have issues with debeading tires. 

I'm not sure where you're located, but I would highly recommend finding a rallycross program near you and checking out an event. Rallycross people tend to be very friendly and many are open to having someone ride along in their passenger seat. It would be a great way to get a feel for how the events go if you're not yet comfortable bringing your own car.

artur1808
artur1808 Reader
2/14/19 6:12 a.m.

Welp, back to troubleshooting. I replaced the ECU with a claimed functioning one from Ebay, which had no affect on the condition. New CPS came in the mail yesterday, swapped it out and it had no change. 

I'll be getting back out there this weekend to try diagnosing the issue, but I'm all ears if anyone has suggestions of things to look at.

AxeHealey
AxeHealey Reader
2/14/19 7:24 a.m.

Shoot, that's frustrating.

It may seem kind of silly but have you checked all grounds? Bad grounds and 80's electrics can cause some seriously strange issues.

artur1808
artur1808 Reader
2/14/19 8:45 a.m.

In reply to AxeHealey :

Not silly at all, it's easy to forget the simple things sometimes. That'll be the first thing I look at when I have some time to get back into the garage.

adam525i
adam525i Reader
2/14/19 11:32 a.m.

Where did your new main relay come from? I've bought new ones before that were supposed to be the right part for my E28 (there's an E28 theme going on here) and it wasn't actually the right one and didn't work. Make sure your main relay is actually working, if it is not figure out why.

I haven't read that you've pulled the distributor cap either to inspect it and the rotor, it's worth doing for piece of mind at a minimum. Vacuum leaks can also cause hesitations and poor running, especially at lower engine speeds when the ecu is relying on the Air Flow Meter to figure out how much air there should be. Speaking of the AFM, once you get this thing running it might be worth cracking that open and checking the sweeper trace and seeing what condition it is in, that can really change how the motor responds. http://www.clarks-garage.com/shop-manual/elect-22.htm

Good luck!

Adam

adam525i
adam525i Reader
2/14/19 11:39 a.m.

Also, it looks like you've already found the ETM for your car, here is a link to the factory repair manual (also E12, E21, E24, E28, E30, E31, E32 and E34) -https://www.bmwtechinfo.com/repair/main/index.htm

For the newer cars (E36+) there is this link - https://www.newtis.info/tisv2/a/en/

Adam

artur1808
artur1808 Reader
2/18/19 7:38 a.m.

Great news, the e30 lives again! 

I appreciate all the advice, I feel like it's definitely helped my electrical troubleshooting abilities. Turns out that the no-start condition was a result of small jumper wire at an obscure connector coming loose, which happened to be tied to some sort of anti-theft immobilizer function. Car fired up once that was reconnected, but was still misfiring and generally running poorly. I took it for a drive and I'm pretty sure the neighborhood kids thought I was testing out some sort of anti-lag system, when in reality the car was just misfiring really badly. 

Plugs were new as of a few months ago, so those were fine. I checked the resistance across each plug wire and they all seemed fine. Next step was the distributor cap/rotor. I pulled the cap off and found that the points were quite worn. 

The cap on the spare engine I had was in better shape, so I cleaned that one up a bit and swapped it on. Next, I noticed that the I still had an occasional belt squeal. Since the alternator is the only accessory belt I have left, I suspected that may be part of my problem. The small gauge wire coming from the alternator (voltage regulator?) had a very corroded connector. So begins alternator overhaul, which I unfortunately didn't take any pictures of. Note to self: I really need to get better at actually documenting things as they're happening. 

I crimped a new connector onto that wire, pulled out the alternator and found that one of the brushes was very worn. Luckily, despite being very corroded and having bad bearings, the brushes on a spare alternator I had were quite nice. With the new Frankenstein alternator assembled, I snagged the tensioner from the spare engine as well because the one on the car was stripped in exactly the spot I needed it to apply tension. While I was down there I replaced the 32 year old oil pan-to-chassis ground. 

After all of this I started the car up and it immediately seemed to run smoother. Still a little lumpy on idle, but much smoother operation through the rpm range and *fingers crossed* the misfire seemed to be gone. 

 

Only had a few hours of garage time on Sunday so I decided to begin some wiring. 

 

This gauge panel will be going where the center dash vents used to be, and the factory gauge cluster will be replaced with a tach and some warning lights. I trust these gauges more than the factory cluster, and having them in the middle will double the chances that some sort of issue gets noticed as it'll be within view of the co-driver. I'm trying to actually do things "correctly" on this car rather than my previous electrical projects, in which I prioritized minimizing my own labor and getting things done as quickly as possible. In other words, I have been lazy about electrical work in the past. 

The plan is to have all gauges and electrical panels installed with waterproof connectors, which will allow for me to actually remove them easily if needed. I'll run everything through a couple of busbars to simplify the wiring behind the dash as much as I can. Hate to say it, but I actually enjoyed taking my time and doing this (albeit simple) wiring last night.

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