This work was undertaken in the winter stop period of 2015 and was initially one of the blog pages.

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.

Next: New MAF Sensor

New Instrument Panel

This work was undertaken in the winter stop period of 2015 and was initially one of the blog pages.

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.

Next: Alarm and WAR chip installation

The original MAF Casing as shown at the top of the webpages was OK and seemed to attract enough attention at meetings but I had other ideas floating around in my head. It needed to match the engine more closely and how could I produce it. Eventually end of last year I had some drawings in Autodesk Inventor finished and was speaking to a neighbour of mine with a CNC machine about machining it from a block of aluminium. Unfortunately the finished drawing model turned out to be about 1.3 kilos, so it was back to the drawing board.

Too busy early in the season to do much work on it but the last few weeks I put on a spurt to finish it for the Santa Pod BMW event on the last weekend of September 2015. It’s now been fabricated on my milling machine from separate aluminium sections epoxied around the Bosch sensor tube with the sensor itself plugged in the back in the same way. There are some more descriptions with the photos.

The problem:

The problem is well  known within the e24 community, and probably other models but I don’t keep up with everything. Above a certain speed the orange ABS warning light comes on and although the brakes work OK the ABS assistance is turned off. The simple (and I mean simple as in not-so-intelligent) solution that I have seen on occasions suggested in fora is to remove the warning lamp. I had the problem for a number of years but only by fairly high speed levels, but the last couple of years it had started to happen under 100 kph so something had to be done.

A little theory:

An ABS system includes a central electronic control unit (ECU), four wheel speed sensors, and valves within the brake hydraulics. The ECU constantly monitors the rotational speed of each wheel; if it detects a wheel rotating significantly slower than the others, a condition indicative of impending wheel lock, it actuates the valves to reduce hydraulic pressure to the brake at the affected wheel, thus reducing the braking force on that wheel; the wheel then turns faster. Conversely, if the ECU detects a wheel turning significantly faster than the others, brake hydraulic pressure to the wheel is increased so the braking force is reapplied, slowing down the wheel. This process is repeated continuously and can be detected by the driver via brake pedal pulsation. The ECU is programmed to disregard differences in wheel rotative speed below a critical threshold, because when the car is turning, the two wheels towards the centre of the curve turn slower than the outer two. If a fault develops in any part of the ABS, a warning light will usually be illuminated on the vehicle instrument panel, and the ABS will be disabled until the fault is rectified.

The most common ABS problems are related to the sensors and the tone wheels in the hubs which are used to measure the rotational speed of the wheel. The sensors on most vehicles are magnetic and generate an alternating current (AC) signal that increases in frequency and amplitude with wheel speed. These are sometimes called “variable reluctance” (VR) or “passive” WSS sensors because they generate their own voltage signal when the vehicle is in motion. They have two wires: signal and ground.

Inside a passive WSS sensor is a permanent magnet core surrounded by copper wire windings. When the teeth on the tone ring rotate past the sensor tip, it changes the magnetic field and induces a current in the sensor windings. The result is a classic sine wave current pattern that changes with wheel speed. Since the voltage induced in the sensor is a result of the rotating wheel, this sensor can become inaccurate at slow speeds. The slower rotation of the wheel can cause inaccurate fluctuations in the magnetic field and thus cause inaccurate readings to the controller.

Traceable faults:

The sensors can malfunction but the basic functionality can be tested by connecting an ohmmeter across its terminals. The resistance specs will vary depending on the application, but most sensors should read between 450 and 2200 ohms (always look up the exact specifications because they can vary a great deal from one vehicle application to another). If a sensor reads open, shorted or is out of spec, it can’t generate an accurate signal and must be replaced. You can also test the sensor’s output by spinning the tyre by hand at a rate of about one revolution per second. With a voltmeter attached to the sensor’s terminals, a good sensor should generate between 50 and 700 millivolts AC. Other situations can occur due to metallic debris and dirt sticking to the magnetic tip of the sensor or degradation of the tone wheel affecting the air gap or the quality of the generated magnetic field.

My solution:

Although never having had an electrical problem with the sensors I have had to replace them as they had become rusted solid in the hub carrier when I refurbished the rear axle and front suspension assemblies. The tone wheels are another problem area and this where I used a little ingenuity and my workshop facility to solve the problem. The front tone wheels are easily accessible as they are relatively exposed on the hub and are as such easy to keep clean. The rears are very difficult to access as they sit deep inside the trailing arm mounted on the hub installed in the wheel bearings. As mine where untouched for 25 years they had deteriorated to the extent that there was very little left of the teeth. You can see this in the slide show at the bottom. To actually get at them means removing the drive (half) shafts so you can get at the drive flange which is fastened to the stub axle with a large nut. To remove this (and to replace it) you need a very large (torque) wrench. Once removed the state of the teeth was obviously the cause of the problem so I made enquiries at the dealer for replacements. The drive flanges are only sold complete, it is not possible to just buy the toothed tone wheel and so it starts to get expensive (€175,- each side).

In the slide show you can see that I turned the tone wheels off the flange and so found that they are separate parts. I made my own replacements by buying a short length of 70mm dia round steel bar for €20 and hollowing it out on the lathe deep enough to give me the two rings I needed. Next stage was to transfer it to the milling machine to cut the teeth. This meant setting it up between a rotary table and mini tailstock so that I could cut the teeth at the correct places on the circumference of the steel bar. I had counted the old teeth and needed 95, resulting in a spacing of 3.789 degrees between each tooth, so I created a spreadsheet to work out the degrees for each increment between 0 and 360. I have to confess that I needed 2 attempts to get it right as the first attempt was based on the assumption that the teeth were pointed like a normal gear wheel. Looking at the old ones it did seem like that as the teeth were so badly eaten away. So anyway I cut them with an angled cutter as you can see from the photo and re-assembled everything to find that it didn’t work. For the second attempt the teeth were cut with a 1mm slitting saw and this gave the correct profile for the pulse to be generated by the sensors. After re-assembling again I tested it and everything was OK, that was even the case when driving on the autobahn in Germany in 2013 at 200+ kph.

Now although this seems like a significant cost saving it has to be remembered that a) you need the workshop facilities and b) you don’t need to cost the time spent doing it. It gives you a tremendous amount of satisfaction to create something like this but it isn’t something you would do as a commercial undertaking, unless BMW stop producing the spares of course.

Next: New Instrument Panel

The one major area needing attention after the engine rebuild was the rear axle. All the various suspension rubbers were in pretty poor condition and had been on my list for some time. I decided that while the rear axle was out I would also fit a mild lowering kit and uprate the braking.

The first job was to remove the rear section of the exhaust, drive shaft, fuel tank, axle shafts, rear suspension struts and the trailing arms. The rear struts were discarded (well I say discarded, they were in pretty good condition and were put up for sale) as they would be replaced with the lowering kit. The differential was removed from the rear axle carrier which was then dropped out and I set about removing the old rubber bushes. There was very little over from the large rubber mounting bushes in the axle carrier, also the bushes in the trailing arms weren’t shot but needed replacing. Because they had been in for so long even a hydraulic press wouldn’t shift them, so I got the acetylene torch out and got them nice and hot 🙂 ,  most of the rubber burnt out through this process however and the workshop was full of smoke. It did manage to release them and they pressed out OK after that. The subframe, the trailing  arms and the brake backing plates were then sent away to be blasted and powder coated.

While those parts were away I got on with some other work.

Axle shafts and CV Joints
The CV joints from the axle shafts were dismantled, degreased and thoroughly inspected for wear. They were in surprisingly good condition considering the age, there were no splits or leaks in the boots, although the grease was starting to dry out, and no wear on the surface of the grooves where the balls are held. To dismantle them you need a system to mark and store the parts so that they can be put back together in exactly the same position, so I usually create some kind of tray from a cardboard box where I can make cut outs to place everything as it came out. The shafts were giving a coat of protective paint and then using a rebuild set new boots were installed. The CV joints were reassembled and filled with the correct amount of grease as supplied in the kit. I then finished it off with new set of boot clamps.

Although not bad the brakes needed to be uprated  a little to compensate for the extra performance from the Miller MAF conversion. After researching various options and having realised that the budget was not a bottomless pit I decided to replace just the front discs and calipers with a set from an e32 740i. These are a little larger in diameter and substantially thicker. The calipers I bought used but the discs were new as most used discs have no meat on them anyway. While the rear calipers were also off I had the whole set blasted and then treated them with heat resistant caliper paint. They were then reassembled with a repair kit. The e32 discs are a straight fit on the e24 front stub axles and fit millimetre perfect within the shape of the backing plate. When you think about it the e24 disc seems a bit small for the plate. Brakes were reassembled and finished off with a set of Goodridge SS brake lines.

Fuel tank, pump and filter
The tank was in good condition and also surprisingly clean inside. After removing the lift pump (which had been replaced a couple of years earlier) it was washed out and given a coat of protective paint and underbody coating. Filter was replaced, of course, and the main pump was dismantled to see if it was clean and intact inside. For the re-assembly I used new rubber piping and new rubber isolation mounts as the old stuff was no longer serviceable.

While this whole underbody area was exposed I took the opportunity to inspect it for any signs of rust forming or deterioration of the underbody coating. I gave some sensitive areas another coat just to be sure.

Rear axle carrier and suspension re-assembly
The axle carrier was fitted with new rubber mountings, and the trailing arms with new rubber bushes, using my neighbour’s hydraulic press. Axle carrier was lifted into position and re-attached. The differential which had been cleaned up and painted was then fitted and the drive shaft installed. Wheel bearings were refitted in the trailing arms which were then re-attached and loosely tightened. They would be torqued up later on a lift with some extra weight in the car to set the suspension at the correct height. The new suspension parts were fitted followed by the refurbished brakes and brake lines. The last piece in the puzzle was the rear section of the exhaust and we were ready to fire it up again and test it.

Generally speaking a rebuild with new or serviced parts is pretty straightforward and this time was no different.

Below is a slideshow of some of the refurbished parts prior to installation.

Next: ABS warning repair

Once the engine block was reinstalled the next job was the Miller chip conversion. I had received the kit plus the air intake some time earlier but was too busy with the engine overhaul to look at it. My ECU is the 059 model so the first job was to open it up and modify the board  to accept the 28 pin chip. Miller had supplied me with a couple of socket extensions to add to the existing 24 pin socket but I didn’t like the idea and decided to remove the existing socket and replace it with a new 28 pin. This can be a sensitive job as far as the temperature of the iron is concerned but I have a quality digital solder station and it all went smoothly. To remove the old socket I just used de-soldering braid to absorb the molten solder until all the pins were clean and free of the board. Next the new socket was soldered in place ready to accept the new chip. With the new chip in place the ECU casing can be re-assembled.

The Miller installation manual is good and if you follow it the installation is not difficult but I’m not always satisfied with a particular installation method and tend to make my own customisation. This was also the case with the re-wiring necessary to get the chip to work with the Bosch MAF sensor. I didn’t like the idea of completely rewiring the ECU plug and sealing it all up again as I might find myself in the situation that something breaks and I have  to revert to the old AFM and BMW chip. With this in mind I re-routed the wiring through a switch so it could easily be switched back to standard without having to do any resoldering.

The next thing I was not completely happy with was the Bosch MAF sensor. It is a standard modern Bosch unit which is used in various car models but it looks a bit plain and doesn’t exactly fit with the 80’s character of the engine bay. So I set about first making some drawings of an aluminium casing in Autocad and then created the two halves needed using my lathe and milling machine. The machine reliefs were painted black to match the powder coated valve cover and a plastified Miller logo was glued in a circular relief on the the top.

Lastly the air filter kit as supplied didn’t actually fit too well as I wanted it in the bay. It was also delivered with a blue silicon connecting tube which I also felt didn’t look right in the engine bay. So I ended up chopping the stainless tube down and making some modifications to get it to sit just like the original air filter box. It also makes use of the original black rubber elbow which connects the AFM with the filter box.

This is all shown in the following slide show.

Next: Rear Axle, Suspension & Brakes 2013-14

The damp in the old garage had had an insidious impact on the car in the years it had stood there while I was busy with the house restoration, although all the work I had done on the body in 2002 was pretty well protected from the inside with Waxoyl and on the underside with Tectyl. The engine compartment, though, had suffered quite badly and there were signs of mould and surface rust everywhere. The wiring loom was covered, as was normal back in the eighties, with a cotton based tape which had just disintegrated in places and it fell apart when moved. Any aluminium parts had also become badly oxidated and even the interior leather had patches of mildew. The only option was to pull the engine and transmission, remove anything else that was easily removable and repair, restore or replace as necessary. The following slideshow covers the period between May 2010 to the end of that year. After stripping everything down and creating a pretty long list of parts necessary I got it priced up at the BMW dealers. It was going to cost around €1800 just from them with a lot of other stuff on top of that, with a bit of discount as a long standing customer it came out at just under €1500 for the oem parts. So I started with other work through the winter of 2010/11 whilst trying to save some money for the parts I needed.

Following the strip down there followed a period of clean and repair of the engine compartment. There was no serious rust anywhere, just patches of surface rust which I power brushed away (Dremel) and treated with anti corrosion solution (just in case) followed by primer and colour using an air brush. Certain aluminium parts like the ABS brake module had developed some deposits which needed to be painstakingly cleaned away and that cost a lot of time with a tooth brush. The subframe was removed and treated to a coating to protect it for the future and various other parts like the power steering fluid reservoir and various brackets were also treated to a new coat of paint after blasting in my small blast cabinet. The headlight pods were also blasted and painted and the headlamp wiper motors needed to be completely restored due to being seized up. The wiring loom was also completely stripped of the old tape, recovered and fixed in place starting at the bulkhead, this alone took a couple of evenings to complete. The insulating foam on the underside of the hood was in a bad state, it was full of 20+ years of dirt and dust and was also starting to disintegrate. After cleaning up the paintwork in the same way as the engine compartment I replaced the insulating foam with some non-oem stuff purchased at Conrad Electronics. This had a nice smooth shiny surface which will be easier to keep clean and a pack sufficient for the hood cost €20, which is considerably less than the $80+ as listed on the site for the original parts.

Once the parts for the engine rebuild arrived the serious work of rebuilding the engine could take place. During the strip down I had measured all moving parts like valves to check that they were within tolerances. Although in pretty good condition with no wear on the crank bearing surfaces I opted to replace the main and big-end bearing shells. The cylinder walls were checked for any out of round or other wear from top to bottom of the bore with a telescopic internal bore gauge and were found to be well within tolerances and in pretty amazing condition considering the fairly high mileage (285k Km.) of the car. After cleaning the block (inside and out) the bores were honed out to remove the glaze that builds up from the process of igniting the fuel. This polished surface has to be removed because it inhibits the oil from forming a good seal between the rings and bore. The process of honing restores a cross hatch pattern of extremely fine scratches which then hold a thin film of oil to create the compression necessary for complete combustion. It also removes the lip of glazing which builds up at the very top of the bores. I built a home made jig to suspend a simple power drill from a sort of gimbal. This held a simple 3 bladed cylinder hone controlled by a variable foot pedal much like a sewing machine. This gave me the extra hand necessary to add some diesel fuel as lubricant while the other hand lifted the whole jig up and down and the foot controlled the speed of the drill. New rings were used and the compression when finished was back to where it should be. After cleaning again and painting, the block was turned upside down to fit the main bearing shells followed by the cleaned and polished crankshaft. The next check was the bearing clearances which I did by using Plastigauge. This is a thin strip of plasticene like material which, when compressed by the bearing cap, flattens to a width which can be measured by comparing it to a supplied chart which tells you the clearance. BMW only supplies two bearing shell sizes for these old engines, the blue set and the red set. In the past there more size variations available but these have been discontinued. Through using a combination of red in the block and blue in the main cap the correct tolerance was achieved.

The lateral play of the valves in the cylinder head was well within tolerance so the head was disassembled and all parts were kept in sets marked so that they can be reassembled in the original positions in the head. The head was sent to be skimmed to remove any deposits and get it absolutely flat to ensure good fitting with the head gasket. I had built a jig to compress the valve springs to be able to get the cam in and out without damaging anything, I’ll probably do a separate section in the workshop section to describe this but in short it cost me about €30 in steel stock and fasteners to build. the original BMW tool (if you can find one on eBay or something) will cost you a few hundred dollars. The dealers don’t lend out tools, even obsolete ones. The valves were pretty coked up so they were cleaned a polished in my lathe, then they were lapped in by hand in the original valve guide position. After cleaning again the valves were reassembled with the original springs which were well within tolerance with respect to height. The cam was also in really good condition so it was reused. I had considered a cam with a larger dwell but decided against it after reading some technical advice on the internet (see what Fritz has to say about tuning the M30). The rest of the rebuild was pretty straight forward, replacing parts where necessary. All the aluminium timing chain cover parts together with the valve cover and various other bits were blasted and powder coated gloss black. The coating on the ribs and BMW emblem on the valve cover was later carefully scraped away and the aluminium was buffed up to a good shine. Last photo is of the engine block ready for installation.

The next stage was to re-install the engine and transmission. I have no photo’s of the engine between removing it from the engine stand and installing it in the engine bay as I had my hands full :-). Basically the car was rolled from the workshop, the block was then hung from the hoist in the workshop, removed from the stand and lowered to a static support from where the clutch was fitted. Next the transmission was reinstalled and the complete assembly raised to clear the nose of the car. The car was rolled back into the workshop and the engine and transmission were manoeuvred into place in the engine bay using the same load leveller shown in one of the photo’s of the Mustang restoration. To be honest I could have used some help at this stage but eventually it was sitting on it’s engine mounts and after jacking the car up again the gearbox rear support was re-fitted. In the previous months I had found time to modify the gear stick and linkage to create a short shift system. Unfortunately no photo’s of this but the technique is well known, commercial kits are also available ready to just drop in. The top of the stick (in the car) is shortened, the part protruding under the tunnel is lengthened and the linkage to the box has to be slightly modified to clear the balance disc at the front of the prop shaft. I turned some new bushes for the linkage from some Delrin rod, inserted a new oem plastic bearing for the shift rod itself and when finished it felt a lot more tight and direct than before the strip-down. I had to fit a complete new prop-shaft assembly because the u-joints had dried out and are not serviceable (no grease nipples). By now it was May 2012 and I was itching to get back on the road.

Unfortunately there was quite a bit more work to do.

Next: Miller GEN III & MAF Conversion

Late in 2001 I noticed that there were a number of spots on the body where time and the weather had taken it’s toll on the beamer. I decided to take it off the road and start the slow process of dismantling and repairing all the damage. The car was completely stripped, so all the glass, all the trim, the (bolt-on) front wings (fenders), bumpers, bonnet (hood), boot (trunk) lid, door handles, lighting, also the interior was removed to keep it from harm. I decided to leave the engine compartment as it was for the time being as the costs were going to be fairly high as it was, the dashboard was also left in. First job was to deal with the rust. Some of it was superficial and was removed with a rotary wire brush and then primed. Some of it was pretty bad and needed to be cut out and new steel plate welded in. In the first slide show there are a couple of examples, notably the fabrication of the lower rear wing section which was hand formed and welded in place. After grinding, sanding and priming you couldn’t tell what had been done. It was suggested to me at the time that some replacement wings would have been easier. Although this is possibly true it would have a) cost more and b) due to the quality of replacement panels (even BMW) these days I doubt if the fit would have been as good as the originals.

There were also a few things that needed some attention to build the car back up to a state where it would match the new paint job.

  • The front bumper was absolutely full of rust, there are a couple of photo’s in the next slideshow, but the worst was in the rubber bumper strip itself. Inside the rubber is a thin steel C profile strip which serves to hold the flat heads of the fixing bolts. Apart from all the rusted bolts breaking off during dismantling, the C profile itself was all rust and when the rubber was bent it just disintegrated leaving a sloppy piece of rubber which was no longer any use. So that was one more expensive repair, more or less a complete bumper.
  • Secondly the chrome strips attached to the rail round the roof line once removed are so mis-formed as to be unusable. Another expensive item from BMW (Note from 2016 – no longer available).
  • The windscreen had a couple of cracks which after removing split right across the screen, so, new screen.
  • The cardboard like material used for the trim on the panels in the boot was warped and split from damp over the years. This was repaired by stripping the felt covering carefully and then using the cardboard as template to cut replacement panels from hardboard. The felt covering was glued to the new panel and the small fixing locks installed. Good as new.
  • The steel channel that holds the glass on the rear window winder assemblies was so rusted that the glass shifted and jammed during operation. I cut the old channel off and only being able to find a piece of rectangular steel tube of a size that would fit the glass (plus a thin rubber protective strip) I had to saw down the length to create two U channels. Welded them in place, primed and painted and that was also as good as new.
  • New BMW roundels as the old ones were damaged by damp between the layers, a known problem.

The last stage was the build up of course. When the spray shop was eventually finished the owner offered (as a sort of compensation for the wait) to let me use the back of his used car showroom to rebuild it. This had the advantage that:

  1. We didn’t need to push the car the 200 metres across the road back to my garage.
  2. I had much more space to work around the car.
  3. It served as good publicity for the work done as I spent a lot of time talking to his customers about what we had done and why.

Disadvantage was strangely enough tools, or rather the lack of them. They said I could use their tools but I couldn’t find much I was happy with so ended up dragging my toolchest tower across the road and parking it next to the car. You can see it in a couple of the photo’s.

So this was the result after this first phase.

I must add that I have always been happy with work that “Autoschade De Staart” has done for me. The owner Giuseppe di Spirito is an old school type of guy and I have always been able to come to some sort of arrangement over the cost and the time taken to do it. Having said that it always takes longer than initially agreed due to the fact that the ANWB (Dutch Travellers Association) are bringing accident damaged cars every day from the motorways near the town. This is not work that they can easily turn away, it’s their bread and butter.

Guiseppe di Spirito

Next: BMW Engine Rebuild 2010-12


This is my present possession which I have owned since 1998. Back then I had a Ford Mustang as hobby car and was running back and forth to work in a BMW 315 from 1981 which I had bought from an acquaintance through an ex-pat mate of mine who used to have a garage in the centre of Dordrecht. The winter of ’97-’98 was particularly cold but, although parked on the street, never once let me down when leaving home at six in the morning. Up till then I had never been a big BMW fan. Then one day my mate phoned me up and said in a rather excited voice “you gotta come and see what I’ve got in the workshop”. I knew it was going to be something relatively exotic as he normally only dealt with cheap daily drivers so I told him that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea as I had no real room for another project, what with the Mustang in the garage and the old 315 on the street. He insisted that I at least popped in for a coffee on the way home and at least have a look. So a couple of days later I called in to find this 635CSi standing there begging me to take it home. I have to admit it I’m a sucker for a gorgeous car and this was always a gorgeous car. Back in the day it was the sort of car that you looked at from a distance knowing that your pockets were just not that deep, but twelve years on and it begins to be a real possibility. Needless to say we had a deal and then I found myself needing another place to store a car off road. Eventually found someone who used to grow stuff commercially in very large greenhouses but had turned most of his space into storing caravans and campers. He had a small section where a handful of people with no garage of their own were storing old (semi) classics. There was also electrical power available so you could do some work on the site although it wasn’t the place to do big jobs. I had promised my wife that I would sell the Mustang as it was really only a ‘Big Boys Toy’ and was not very practical but finding a buyer turned out to be a waiting game. So until 2001 when I eventually sold it I was constantly swapping vehicles between the storage and my own garage at home.

When I first got the car it had a really awful set of alloys which just had to be replaced. The two front wheels were the same but on the back it had two completely different rims from different manufacturers and all the tyres were just about shot. Not having a lot of cash at the time I bought a new set of cheap alloys with a set of Michelins and this is what it looked like then.


This photo was actually taken in February 2001 and I was still using the car regularly. You can’t see much in this shot but there was quite a lot of rust lurking under the surface and later in the year I put it in the garage and started stripping it in order to restore the body. See link – BMW Restoration 2002 (bottom of page) for the full story.

Not long after phase 1 of the work was complete in 2002 we had decided that it was time to move house to a location where would would have a bit more outside space and a more congenial neighbourhood. We wanted somewhere in an older area outside the town, it also had to have character. After looking around and being disappointed (missing out) a couple of times by the (then) dynamic housing market we eventually found our present house, which we subsequently bought. We moved in in the spring of 2003 and set about rebuilding the place to fit our ideas for living. Needles to say it meant any plans I had for the BMW would be put on the back burner. I even put the car up for sale in 2004 as it was becoming difficult to work around it standing in the old garage most of the time.


Although being up for sale for a while I couldn’t find anybody prepared to pay anywhere near the agreed value so I eventually put it back in the garage and suspended the road tax. There it stood until I had eventually finished the house, the new garage and the garden in 2009. It was still driveable and got moved from the old garage in the picture to the new one I built at the back of the garden by cutting an enormous hole in the back wall and driving through it :-). Later the garage in the picture was demolished.

The old garage was not a healthy place to store a car. It was far too damp as it sat lower than the neighbours gardens and seemed to collect water in the lower walls. a burst water main across the road in 2005 made things even worse.

Not a good situation for a classic car!

Eventually in 2010 I found the time to start pulling the engine and making an inventory of the parts needed to complete the job. That eventually got finished in 2012 and in the winter of 2013-14 I stripped the rear axle out and did a total restoration there as well.

BMW Restoration 2002

BMW Restoration 2002

Late in 2001 I noticed that there were a number of spots on the body where time and the weather had taken it's toll on the beamer. I decided to take it off the road and start the slow process of dismantling and repairing all the damage. The car was completely ...
BMW Engine Rebuild 2010-12

BMW Engine Rebuild 2010-12

The damp in the old garage had had an insidious impact on the car in the years it had stood there while I was busy with the house restoration, although all the work I had done on the body in 2002 was pretty well protected from the inside with Waxoyl and...
Miller GEN III & MAF Conversion

Miller GEN III & MAF Conversion

Once the engine block was reinstalled the next job was the Miller chip conversion. I had received the kit plus the air intake some time earlier but was too busy with the engine overhaul to look at it. My ECU is the 059 model so the first job was to open ...
Rear Axle, Suspension & Brakes 2013-14

Rear Axle, Suspension & Brakes 2013-14

The one major area needing attention after the engine rebuild was the rear axle. All the various suspension rubbers were in pretty poor condition and had been on my list for some time. I decided that while the rear axle was out I would also fit a mild...
ABS warning repair

ABS warning repair

The problem: The problem is well  known within the e24 community, and probably other models but I don't keep up with everything. Above a certain speed the orange ABS warning light comes on and although the brakes work OK the ABS assistance is turned ...
New Instrument Panel

New Instrument Panel

This work was undertaken in the winter stop period of 2015 and was initially one of the blog pages. 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...
Alarm and WAR Chip installation

Alarm and WAR Chip installation

This work was undertaken in the winter stop period of 2015 and was initially one of the blog pages. 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...
New MAF Sensor

New MAF Sensor

The original MAF Casing as shown at the top of the webpages was OK and seemed to attract enough attention at meetings but I had other ideas floating around in my head. It needed to match the engine more closely and how could I produce it. Eventually ...

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.

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