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irish44j SuperDork
9/19/12 7:37 p.m.

lookin good!

Tom_Spangler HalfDork
9/20/12 9:20 a.m.

Minor, fiddly interior work continues. Nothing earth-shattering here, but I think these little details are what makes the difference between a good build and a crappy one.

My seatbelt mounting rods were looking a bit rusty and generally scuffed-up and crappy:

So I scuffed them up with a Scotchbrite pad and hit them with some black Rustoleum:

The driver's side door panel from the parts car was looking a little tatty in the corner, the fiberboard backing was broken and a lot of the stitching holding the facing on had pulled out:

First thing I did was glue the fiberboard back together with some wood glue:

To re-attach the facing, I decided to use Gorilla Glue:

I've used to to fix carpet and other fabric-related things in the past with good luck. So I applied a bead like so:

Clamped it with a piece of scrap wood and some clamps:

I need to do the lower edge, too, but I only have so many clamps. Yes, I am a bit worried that I've just glued the wood to my panel, but hopefully it'll come off without leaving too much of itself behind.

Adrian_Thompson SuperDork
9/20/12 9:32 a.m.
Tom_Spangler wrote: I've used to to fix carpet and other fabric-related things in the past with good luck. So I applied a bead like so: I need to do the lower edge, too, but I only have so many clamps. Yes, I am a bit worried that I've just glued the wood to my panel, but hopefully it'll come off without leaving too much of itself behind.

Me doth think you may be Borked, that's enough gorrila glue in those couple of inches to build a wooden boat. That E36 M3 expands and grips like a freeking, well gorilla!

Good work though, keep it up.

Tom_Spangler HalfDork
9/20/12 9:48 a.m.

Well, if it gets ugly, at least it's the back side of the panel. Live and learn, right?

Tom_Spangler HalfDork
9/21/12 1:13 p.m.

OK, Ade was right, it did expand and stick the board in place:

But fortunately, with a little gentle wiggling and persuasion, it came off without leaving any damage:

And the extra glue came off with a razor blade:

So, disaster averted. But I won't use so much glue next time!

CLNSC3 HalfDork
9/24/12 11:02 p.m.

Car is looking great! Keep up the good work!

Adrian_Thompson SuperDork
9/25/12 11:02 a.m.

The interior restoration looks fun.

Tom_Spangler HalfDork
10/2/12 9:03 p.m.

It runs! Replaced the crank position sensor and she fired right up. Startled me, if I'm honest.

It has a nasty exhaust leak and it feels like it's missing, but after running rough for a minute or so, it settled down and idled just fine. Now to put the rest of the interior back in so I can take it for a test drive.

Tom_Spangler HalfDork
11/22/12 11:17 a.m.

Time for a long-overdue update. I have gotten a a few things done on the car, but I've also been distracted with fall yardwork, a few mods on my truck, and family stuff.

My next major job was the dash swap. As you may recall, my parts car had a nice, crack-free dash. My dash wasn't too bad, but I figured I might as well swap it out while I had the rest of the interior out. The biggest PITA of this job is the wiring. I tried to label everything carefully so that it would all go back together correctly:

New dash part of the way in. It took a fair bit of wiggling and swearing:

Finally in place. It helps to have the windshield out for this job:

Swapping out the VIN plates:

I still have a few things to clean up, need to tiewrap off some of the wiring and install the glove box, but I had other priorities.....

Tom_Spangler HalfDork
11/22/12 11:18 a.m.

It finally moved under it's own power! After getting the dash in and throwing in a seat, I decided to take it for a spin. After letting it warm up for a couple of minutes, I slowly inched it out of my barn and toward my gate. My back yard is pretty good sized, so I had a bit of a scare when I got to the gate and the brake pedal went right to the floor. It did stop, however slowly. At that point I decided I didn't need to go out on the road, so I turned around and drove it a couple hundred feet back into the barn. Woohoo!

Things I discovered on my "test drive"

  • My alternator is shot, the bearings are screaming like a banshee when there's any load on it.

  • I have one hell of an exhaust leak. I knew this, it's on the midpipe.

  • The clutch seems OK, but the shifter feels like it's stuck in cold molasses

  • It's still not running well, I have to give it lots of gas and slip the clutch like crazy to get it moving, otherwise it'll die right out. Still feels like it's missing, too

  • I had a ton of noise from the top end under load, I'm thinking probably the valves need adjusting.

  • I looked in the master cylinder reservoir and it was bone dry. I'm sure there's some fluid somewhere in the system since it did stop, but it's very low.

Safe to say I have a lot of work to do.

irish44j UltraDork
11/22/12 9:14 p.m.

Looking good Tom. Hey, by the way - not sure what condition your old dash is in, but if it's too cracked/old to be worth trying to sell whole, shoot me an email. I want PART of it for a project I'm thinking of doing. Basically I want the "hood" part that goes over the gauges, which I would ask you to cut out and throw in a box (a bit easier to ship than a full dash). LMK, and keep up the good work.

Adrian_Thompson SuperDork
11/22/12 10:15 p.m.

Congrats Tom, it's good you got to work on your toy after helping out with mine last weekend. I'll check again tomorrow to see it all becuase right now all I see is red X's

Tom_Spangler HalfDork
11/30/12 12:45 p.m.

Last night I decided to do a bit of maintenance work on the car. As I mentioned in my previous post, when I drove the car the alternator bearings were screaming so loud I couldn't hear myself think. I decided to check and see if the alternator is even working. Looks like it is:

Rooting around in my parts boxes, I found this that I took off the parts car:

No idea if it works, but I'll give it a try. If not, I've seen replacement alternator bearings for sale, I might give those a shot on my original, since it is still producing a charge.

On to the next thing, oil change! As far as I know, this car hasn't run in years, but it did still have oil in it. I ran it for about 10 minutes, then drained the old nasty stuff out. This is what it looked like:

Put on a cheap filter and refilled:

Say, isn't that ATF? Yes it is! This is a trick I picked up from my Miata days. Use one quart of oil and fill the rest of the crankcase with ATF. Run it for about 10 minutes, DON'T DRIVE IT! Then drain it and fill with fresh oil and a new filter. It's supposed to clean out all the gunk. Might be a bit risky, but I figure I'm playing with house money with this motor.

While I was running it, I hit it with some Seafoam:

For those who aren't familiar, it's supposed to clean out your intake tract and top end. I put some in a jar and used one of the vacuum hoses on the intake to suck it up. Do it till it almost stalls, then stop, rev it a few times, then repeat until the Seafoam is gone. It makes for a pretty impressive smoke show:

The smoke was a lot worse than that behind the car.

After that, it was time to drain my ATF. This is what it looked like after running in the car for 10-15 minutes or so:

So, it looks like a fair amount of gunk was removed. What I've probably accomplished is to turn my leaking rear main seal into a gusher, but I felt like this 220k mile engine that hadn't run in a long time needed a little cleanout, so what the heck?

I wonder what's the worse oil filter, the generic one I used for the ATF treatment or the Orange Can of Death (hat tip to BITOG) that was on the car when I got it?

Then I refilled it with Quaker State 10w30 and a Mobil 1 filter. Results? Well, it seems to be running much better and smoother now. The miss is gone, and I'm not hearing any noise from the valvetrain. Now I need to swap out the alternator and bleed the brakes, then I can take it for a proper test drive before the snow flies!

Adrian_Thompson SuperDork
11/30/12 1:05 p.m.

I'm glad ATF and Seafoam seems to have made such a difference. I've done the ATF trick before on the Tracker, but never used Seafoam. Where do you pick it up localy, I havn'e seen it atmy local O'reilys. Loki is in for the full treatment soon

Tom_Spangler HalfDork
11/30/12 2:14 p.m.
Adrian_Thompson wrote: I'm glad ATF and Seafoam seems to have made such a difference. I've done the ATF trick before on the Tracker, but never used Seafoam. Where do you pick it up localy, I havn'e seen it atmy local O'reilys. Loki is in for the full treatment soon

Autozone has it.

Tom_Spangler Dork
12/13/12 9:00 a.m.

Mini-update. I swapped out the alternator last night. "New" one (from the parts car) is much quieter. To the point where I can actually hear the engien running, and it sounds pretty good, other than the exhaust leak. Still, I'm considering pulling it. This is the oil that leaked out of the rear main in the two weeks since I did the ATF treatment:

Still a pretty good leak, especially considering the car wasn't started that whole time, so the oil was cold.

I still need to put some fluid in and bleed the brakes, as I mentioned, the system seems to be nearly bone-dry:

Which of course leads to the question of where the fluid went in the first place. It doesn't just evaporate, after all. Also, I think I might want to hit that brake booster with some POR-15 or similar.

Other random thought, my car is the only E30 I've seen with this intake box:

Must be an early eta thing, I guess. Not only is it rusty and ugly, I bet it weighs 20 pounds, it's all steel. I plan on replacing it with the plastic one from my parts car.

Protege2886 New Reader
12/13/12 12:27 p.m.

Great project. Where did you find these cars for so cheap?!

Craigslist has failed me to date!

Adrian_Thompson SuperDork
12/13/12 12:50 p.m.
Protege2886 wrote: Great project. Where did you find these cars for so cheap?! Craigslist has failed me to date!

HE got luckey, the two of us spent the first 10 months looking for cheap rust free E30's in SE Michigan. Tom found UGLY, I found my SAAB instead. We followed up, looked at and passed on a lot of cars. HAving seen UGLY in the flesh I can atest to the fact it's one of those rare cars that photographs WORSE than it looks in real life. It's a really nice shell.

Tom_Spangler Dork
12/13/12 2:13 p.m.

It is a nice shell, but it was a non-runner with a trashed interior and a less-than-desirable engine when I got it, too. I also found it on the Port Huron Craigslist via a Craigslist app on my phone, so it was a bit below the radar, I had to go up into the Thumb area to get it.

Now it runs, the interior is half taken apart, and it still has the less-than-desirable engine. It's coming along, but more slowly than I'd like.

Apexcarver UberDork
12/13/12 3:16 p.m.

I sold my E30 for $800 the other year...

It was a 4 door Eta Automatic though.

I fixed so many problems on it with sandpaper and dielectric grease!

Tom_Spangler Dork
12/13/12 6:33 p.m.

Bled the brakes tonight. Notable things:

  • There was some fluid in it, albeit not much, and it looked AWFUL

  • It took several hard kicks on each wheel to get it loose from the hub

  • None of my bleeder screws were stuck or broken

  • There's some kind of blockage between the MC and the right rear caliper, because no fluid came out there no matter how hard I pushed the pedal

  • The other 3 bled out OK, but the front two calipers still seem to be sticking

Regardless, I now have a nice, firm, high brake pedal, so I'm ready for an actual test drive to get a better handle on the health of my engine. I would have done it tonight, but it was dark by the time I was done and I wanted to be able to see if it's smoking under load.

cdowd New Reader
12/14/12 2:16 p.m.

Good work so far. I alwasy like to test at night with a car behind me. That way i can realy see if it is smoking.


Tom_Spangler Dork
12/28/12 4:24 p.m.

Guess it's time for an update. I did take it for a test drive, and it did fine, other than being loud. Ran fine, pulled pretty good with a little hesitation, but that could be the years-old gas that's in it.

But, I'm feeling pretty frustrated. Wishing I'd never started the dash swap. What a huge PITA. I still don't have it sorted out, and it's just such piddly, finicky work, with wire bundles constantly in the way, parts not fitting like they should, mystery fasteners (despite my attempts to keep them organized), etc, etc. I'd be so far ahead with the drivetrain and suspension if I'd just decided to live with the cracked dash for a year. Now my marginal glovebox latch is stuck and I can't open the thing to save my life. And I still don't have the screws in the hinge!


Tom_Spangler Dork
1/5/13 4:10 p.m.

Went out today to work on the front suspension. Ugly had a little surprise for me:

At first I thought that my rear main leak had gotten WAY worse, but upon further investigation, it's brake fluid. Ah, that's not a shock. See, the car is very clean underneath, but there is one rusty spot right along the left-side frame rail, where 3 hardlines go:

Oh, yeah. That sucker split right open. And the fuel lines next to it don't look much better. I was always planning on replacing all of them before the car saw the road, so no big deal.

Anyhow, on to the front suspension. I expected to have trouble with the rotor retaining screw, and I wasn't disappointed. Tried moving it with an allen wrench and it laughed at me. Tried it with a hex socket and stripped it out good:

So I commenced trying to drill it out. I don't know what that screw is made of, but I didn't have the easiest time:

After drilling it out as much as I good, I went to a combination of a BFH and a little heat:

Success! Back of the rotor is a little beat up, but I'm replacing it anyhow:

Ball joint coming apart:

Another surprise, on the other side, the screw came right out:

I'm a little curious as to what this wire is for. My car doesn't have ABS. This is on the driver's side, there wasn't one on the passenger's:

So, the struts are off. The steering rack is from my E36 M3, I'm going to get it rebuilt and put it in this car.

Next steps will be to remove the rack, the front control arms, and the sway bar. I'm replacing nearly everything. Essentially the only part of the front suspension I'm going to reuse is the spindles. I have new (to me) Bav Auto springs on the way, I'll be getting Bilstein Sports, new control arms, new hubs, and I need to pick out a set of sway bars. The E36 rack will get new tie rods, as well.

irish44j UltraDork
1/5/13 11:34 p.m.

the mystery wire is the brake wear indicator. I just cut it off. If you twist the wires together where you cut them off, it will keep the "brake pads" light on the dash from coming on.

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