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All posts for the year 2015

I was invited by a mate of mine, Kos from London, to show the car on their E30 Club stand. On the day there were a couple of unexpected extra guests so Kos and I put the Sharks in the Show’n’Shine Arena.

Well not a lot to show for a day at the Pod – 10 pics. By the Show’n’Shine it was busy from the moment I opened the bonnet with punters interested in the classics. Eventually got round to looking around myself later in the day. The big E65 760 won the Best of Show apparently due to the level of detailing. Mine’s got a way to go to catch up with that, but then again I never built it specifically for Concours.

There are a couple of interesting E30’s here. The red one had an S85 V10 installed – now that’s tight! The black one has a twin turbo small block 5.7L Chevy – WTF!!!! Insane or what?

Saw some reactions from other Dutch owners on a couple of FB pages that they wanted to go with me next year. don’t know yet if that’s going to work as they’ve moved it to June so it might clash with Bimmerfest (Arnhem, NL) or my usual holiday dates.

  • My E24 parked next to my mate Kos' E24 in the Show'n'Shine arena.

There are more photo’s to be found on FB taken by Kos under his alter-ego C-Unit: Santa Pod 2015

Another invite from the E30 guys. This time to the Grote E30.be meeting at Sint Niklaas in Belgium. A nice little drive for me, just over an hour across the border to our southern neighbours. Just went for the crack to be honest and on driving onto the town square I was directed to one side where all the non E30’s were standing. Opening the hood generated the usual interest and then I was asked if I’d take part in the concours. I got a form thrust into my hand with the request to put the top half, filled in with the car’s details, on the windscreen and the bottom half should be filled in with my choice in each category. I managed to get away to look around the other cars and dutifully filled in the form and handed it in. Went back to the car and continued talking with interested folks and never thought any more about it until somebody came over to tell me that I’d won a prize, “Best Non E30”. The presentation took place in front of the town hall and I was really pleased to accept one of the nicest trophies I’d seen for years. Much better than the usual silver plastic cups it’s a little piece of auto art, various engine parts tack welded together on a solid wooden base. Best part is that the choice was made by your peers and not the usual team of judges who generally choose the car with the most money thrown at it – and usually not even done by the owner himself.

  • Town Square in Sint Niklaas, Belgium

Some of the E30 guys I know invited me to the E30 Summer Meet at Gemert, The Netherlands on 22-23 August 2015. I think there’s a bit of a click because they’re mostly modders like me. I don’t hold quite the same views as the typical restorers who tend to be traditional E24 owners. But anyway I decided to go and packed the tent and a bottle of Raki brought back from Greece with a few shot glasses and hit the road for the east of the country. Didn’t actually take a lot of photo’s but shot a little bit of video too which was edited into this:

Probably a bit late as it’s almost summer but I just didn’t find the time to write up the rest of the winter work. At the moment I’m waiting to get the car back from the spray shop (De Staart Autoschade, Dordrecht) where the nose is having a small scratch and stone chips put right. They’ve had the car since Monday morning but still haven’t phoned to say it’s finished – it’s Thursday evening. Disappointing but at least I’ve now time to update the site.

The second part of the winter work was more electricals, new alarm and replacing the Miller GENIII with their WAR programmable chip. I couldn’t decide what to tackle next but seeing as how the loom needed opening up to remove the old alarm stuff and put in the new, plus I had to connect the gauges with the senders, I started on the alarm first. I bought a Toad A101CL alarm on eBay last year from Southern Car Security and got it delivered to friends in England. I picked it up when we went over to visit. I chose the Toad as it was reasonably priced and seemed popular on various forums. Strangely enough I couldn’t find much in the way of reviews for stuff like this here in the Netherlands although I did find a couple of sites offering diy alarms reasonably priced. Miguel the owner of Southern Security was really helpful with the installation although he is really busy and a reply to the mail is sometimes the same day but sometimes a day or two later. I’ve not taken any pictures of the alarm installation as it would give the game away a bit if you see what I mean. Everything is neatly taped up in the loom or routed tidily under and in the dash. The installation itself went reasonably but finding the correct connections even with the BMW ETM (Electrical Troubleshooting Manual). If you don’t know of this Google it – you’ll need one for your exact model and year anyway. When I finished connecting it all up I got the necessary chirps from it but it kept giving me 3 when arming thereby informing me that either the doors, bonnet or boot were still open. I disconnected the bonnet and boot and found that the doors were working correctly but it took me a couple of evenings testing and tracing to work out what was wrong. Both bonnet and boot switches work, as with the doors, by grounding the switch connection, so that’s how I’d wired it up. However when closed (switch open) I was still getting a signal to ground. Eventually I found that the positive feed to the lamp itself was showing me a connection to ground except when the lights were on when it gave me 12v. I think BMW must use some sort of relay system which I haven’t bothered to delve into but I solved it by putting a 5A diode in both feeds. Problem 1 was now solved. Secondly the central door locking was not working and I eventually found the answer on a blogsite from another BMW owner. As I understood the ETM it was using positive switching but again due to the complexity of the BMW wiring system this was again wrong and after connecting the two alarm wires to earth, instead of the 12v feed, problem 2 was solved. Lastly I needed to adjust the ultrasonic sensor and so needed to get into the service mode, that took me a while to get right. Once in service mode you need to be pretty quick switching the ignition on and off to get it to work but eventually I got it to chirp and then proceeded to check everything including the ultrasonic sensor. That is now adjusted so that if the window is open it doesn’t go off until you stick your arm right in.

OK so the last part of the work was actually the easiest, installing the new WAR chip. Now the WAR chip is not actually a simple eprom like the oem chip or the GENIII, its a small printed circuit board with a set of pins through it to fit in the IC socket. It has a couple of larger chips and other components on it for the engine management, ram storage and the usb connection I presume.

So the first job was to open up the DME casing and fold the hinged boards open to reveal the old GENIII chip top left, the silver one.

Once removed you can see the 28 pin eprom socket I installed when I did the original MAF conversion

The WAR chip plugs in just like the old one. Here you can see the two supplied cables attached, the USB from the horizontal socket on the right and the cable for the tune selector switch from the vertical socket. Top left is a grommet round the cables to stop the casing chafing the cables.

Here a shot of the casing with slot cut in it with the Dremel. Grommet takes on an oval shape in the slot to accommodate both cables snugly.

Once reassembled it looks like this ready to be refitted in the car.

The last job was installing Windows XP on an old laptop to use for the interface to the chip. The present WAR software won’t run on Windows 7 or later.

Well winters here again, well it’s been here for a while actually. Under Dutch Oldtimer reduced tax laws I’m not allowed to drive the Beamer on the roads in December, January and February. Not a big problem as I haven’t used it in the winter for donkey’s years. It also gives me some time to get some jobs done. Last year I did the rear axle and the brake upgrade, this year I have some lighter work – a new alarm installation, an updated Miller chip and set of gauges to check on things modern cars don’t do any more.

Before Christmas I was busy doing some online shopping to get hold of the gauges and the Miller WAR programmable chip. The Toad Alarm system I bought last year when we were in England. The set of gauges included an oil pressure gauge, oil temperature gauge and a volt meter but after the WAR chip arrived I decided to get an AEM Wide Band UEGO O2 sensor and gauge to help me with the chip programming (it measures the fuel/air ratio), So after everything arrived I first set about stripping out the old alarm and the wiring behind the centre console for the radio which was also in a bit of a state from previous owners. I had been thinking for a while about a design to fit the gauges in the lower part of the centre console where the original cassette holders were situated. I also decided to replace the ashtray and lighter which are situated in the horizontal section in front of the cassette holder. After removing these sections I made templates from some cardboard packaging.

From the two templates I created a single section from MDF to fit in the space.

After a certain amount of adjustment and trial and error I got it to fit reasonably but not quite as I wanted it. The two holes were just to put my finger and thumb through to pull it into place. Not being completely happy I decided to remove the centre console completely, making access from the rear much easier than the turn and twist from the front.

The next step was the the fitting of the gauges. It would have been simple to just cut some holes in the panel and job done but I had earlier realised that the visibility wouldn’t have been brilliant as they sit so low. They needed to be turned slightly upward and to the left and I first thought about making square box like sections to attach to the front. After playing around with a cardboard mockup I decided that it looked bit naff and decided to try and do something like the windscreen post pods which are available. What I needed was an MDF tube but nothing like that is available so I had to make my own. Step 1 glue some pieces of MDF together and let it dry overnight (sorry, too busy, forgot the photo’s again). Step 2 find the centres at the two ends and mount it in the lathe. Step 3 turn it into a solid cylinder. Step 4 divide it into four sections and using a fine blade as it turns in the lathe cut partly through each of the three cuts, finish the cuts off the lathe. Step 5 hollow out each section to the diameter necessary to allow the rear attachment, and here’s a photo (the duct tape is just to protect the surface a bit from the chuck jaws).

The mole wrench attached to the bed is just a quick fix to create a stop for the carriage so that I left the correct lip thickness to mount the gauge in place. The next photo shows a couple of the pods after completing this step. You can see the material left on what would be the front.

Step 6 is to put the pods back in the lathe and finish off the front so that the gauge fits. Round off the edge with some sandpaper to create the correct shape and the lathe work was finished.

Step 7: Create the correct angle to the back of the pod plus the shape to fit them together on the belt sander (again no photo’s, too much mess). Step 8: place the pods together on the front of the replacement lower panel and draw round them with a fine tip marker. Step 9: I machined around the inside of the marked lines on the milling machine to about half the thickness of the panel. All done slowly by hand as it’s not a CNC. This was done to create a better bond between the pod and the panel. After glueing and holding in place with some duct tape to dry overnight it looked like this.

Just a question of finishing now. After cleaning the glue off it started to look like it might be something and I made a start at getting it into shape with some polyester filler.

The back needed some extras to help mount the cigarette lighter (on the left) which I decided to keep rather than build in just a USB adapter. Also the control for the sub woofer and the rotary switch for the WAR chip tune selection. I needed to sink the knobs because the shafts wouldn’t fit on the 5mm thickness of the panel. Best solution seemed to be the aluminium strip which doubled as extra support for the sub control.

After priming plus liberal coats of spray filler and much sanding we were getting there.

A last trial fitting before some colour was applied and it was beginning to look like what I’d seen in my mind’s eye.

The initial result after spraying with matt black just didn’t look right, for one thing the paint wasn’t matt it had a slight shine which just didn’t look right with the rest of the dashboard. I ended up creating a textured finish by blowing some of the sawdust I’d created onto the wet paint and as it dried brushing off the excess.

After a bit of judicial work with some Scotchbrite it eventually seemed to be part of the interior. This is what it will look like when it gets replaced in the car although the console will need a bit of a polish of course.

After all that the workshop needed a lot of clearing up so I spent one evening with the vacuum cleaner, broom and dustpan and brush so I could begin with the electrics. Below you can see that I’ve been busy making a mini wiring loom which will attach to the rest of the electrics under the dash with the multi-plug. A few more wires to attach but it’s as good as finished and I can move on to the next job. Haven’t made up my mind if that’s going to be the alarm or the WAR chip upgrade.

Post Script: Wasn’t very satisfied with the Equus gauges I initially bought – cheap doesn’t cut it. So I bought a set of VDO and sold the Equus set.