M3AN

M3AN E36 M3 PLOG (Project Log)

312 posts in this topic

14 May 2017 - Because DropBox is crap they've made all my images private & broken all the links. I'm moving everything to another host but it's a massive job - if you need pics in the meantime hit me up with a PM.

So I thought I'd start a plog to document some of the things I'm doing to my car now that I've decided to return to NZ for the time being. I'll probably end up needing this thread to remember all the things I want to do.

I was going to call this a "Tidy Up" thread but euroriffic already took that for his cool thread here which I took much inspiration from.

Vehicle is a 9/96 Estoril Blue on Lotus White manual coupe, 3.2. Years ago now it picked up a Remus exhaust, carbon intake and BBS 18" RC's and I'm very happy with the combo. She also has aluminum doors from the Lightweight model as well which is a bonus. It's in "tidy" condition but far from mint and I want to see what I can do to bring her up to spec.

In no particular order I want to (or have completed):

  • Get the wheels stripped, smoothed and refinished. (done, finally!)
  • Paint needs a touch up in some spots and the clear coat is coming off a corner of one door
  • Restore/recover front seats (some fixes applied)
  • New shocks (done: Bilstein B8)
  • Uprated sway bars and springs (done: Eibach Pro Plus)
  • New OE front swaybar end links (done)
  • X-Brace (done)
  • Front strut tower bar (done)
  • Vibra-Technics engine mounts (done)
  • 3 spoke steering wheel (done)
  • ZHP shift knob (done)
  • BMW USB charger for lighter socket (done - waste of time)
  • Braided clutch hose (done)
  • New glove box (done)
  • Drivers door side molding is cracked (done)
  • New headliner (done, including rear shelf and all pillars)
  • Replace slider clips for front windows (preventative)
  • VANOS seals and rattle kit (have required parts and tools) (done)
  • Suspension reinforcement plates (done - Rally Road RTAB and sway bar reinforcements + Z3 rear shock tower reinforcements)
  • Rear side window weather stripping (done)
  • Rear window weather stripping (done)
  • Rewire stereo (done, new head, amp and speakers)
  • Fix aircon control capacitor (done)
  • Fix aircon itself, doesn't blow cold, need to diagnose...
  • Potentially a different ratio diff... 3.61 or something perhaps... $$$
  • Or just diff seals, plugs and bolts. (done)
  • Poly RTAB's (done - SuperPro)
  • Laser alignment (done)
  • Replace plastic panel under wipers (done)
  • Fix/replace slow retracting seat belt on drivers side (done)
  • New leather shift and hand brake boots with ///M stitching (done)
  • Fix loose front door cards/clips (done)
  • Replace spoiler stop light, original is cracked and leaking (done)
  • Braided brake lines (done)
  • New belts (done)
  • Tensioners and pulleys (done)
  • New water pump, thermostat, lines and gaskets (done)
  • Quick ratio steering rack (done)
  • New steering tie rods (done, including adaptation for E46 rack)

I've already fixed some other bits and replaced various tools, screws, caps and covers so the car's pretty complete but there's still lots to do.

I've also purchased a code tool and cable so we'll see what that turns up to add to the list.

Most of this stuff shouldn't be too expensive and I'll be seeing how much I can do myself over summer because I'm not likely to be working for a little while. Have lots of parts waiting in NZ for me and I am bringing back this collection that I picked up from Germany (should be enough panel clips to last a lifetime).

Parts.JPG

Edited by M3AN

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It Begins

So the process of rejuvenating my car has begun now that I'm back in the country for a while. As above I sourced a lot of stuff from Germany when I was living over there and brought that back with me (thank goodness for 56kg of luggage allowance on Emirates, I used nearly all of it and MAF didn't even x-ray my bags!).

I've not had a lot of time leading up to Christmas nor will I have much until the new year so I've just tooled around and done some basic things that have good bang-for-the buck.

First up was a warrant and rego, wow registration is expensive now. Got the warrant with 3mm/3mm/3mm/3mm tread so that was lucky, will need new tyres for the next one obviously.

Second up was a good wash and polish... wash completed but the polish is still waiting because 1) it was too hot out and 2) I needed a beer. So she'll get another wash and then a proper polish in the coming days.

I also fixed my slow retracting driver side seat belt... seems like lots of opinions on the web but no firm answers, possible everybody has a different problem. My problem turned out to be that the b pillar trim was a little proud of the actual pillar causing the belt to rub. Removed the trim, adjusted the clip at the bottom, remounted the trim (a real PITA if you want to get that bottom clip on correctly) and voila, seat belt retracts at an acceptable speed.

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Window Trim

As per most E36's I've seen the window trim starts to fall apart over time. I find the worst to be the rear vent window trim but also noticed that the lower windshield trim is rooted and the bottom tabs on the upper rear window trim was also stuffed.

Rear Window Trim:

RearWindowTrim01.JPG

Fixed:

RearWindowTrim02.JPG

That was pretty easy to do, took about 30 mins including a good clean of the crevice once the old trim was out. Cost me EUR11 all up. If you're doing this then be careful of the black tar-like adhesive that comes pre-applied, it's a bugger to clean off hands and surfaces. I recommend reinstalling from one top corner to the other then pressing the sides in, this allows for the best alignment I found.

Vent Window Trim

VentWindowTrim01.JPG

VentWindowTrim02.JPG

I didn't get pics of the old trim here but it was in shocking condition. As I removed both the upper and lower trim it simply disintegrated in my hands. This took me about an hour each side and the results are stunning, so much of an improvement. I could probably do it in less time now that I know all the tricks but I didn't want to rush this job and get it wrong and I spent AGES cleaning up under the old trim and removing all the adhesive so I got a near factory finish. I did note that BMW don't clear coat to the edge of the paint under that trim which I found interesting and this explains why some of my clear is chipping off right at the edges.

This cost me EUR18 per side.

Edited by M3AN

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Some Interior

My gear knob was disgusting so I installed the ZHP one which is just fantastic, it's shorter and weighted and really improves the shift movement and engagement. Just get one. Also thanks to tips and advice here on Bimmersport I purchased Top Gaiters shift and handbrake leather boots with M coloured stitching. After initially being concerned about the fit I'm now quite satisfied and think it all looks quite good together.

ZHPandBoot01.JPG

HandbrakeBoot.JPG

I also picked up a BMW USB Adapter for EUR8 but it sucks for the E36. I thought it would fit but BMW have obviously retreated from the shallow lighter of the E36 and this thing is a little too long to sit securely in the lighter socket. It's functional but doesn't look "standard" enough for me to keep it plugged in which was my intention. And it wobbles about.

BMWUSBAdaptor.JPG

Edited by M3AN

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I also added this decal which is slowly growing on me actually... I'm not usually one for decals and we'll see how I feel about this in Feb/Mar... I like this photo though...

Decal.jpg

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Clutch Hose

Edit: see further down the thread for an update.

Edited by M3AN

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Looks like your making good progress. Good work! Need to give mine some loving over the holidays too...

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I also picked up a BMW USB Adapter for EUR8 but it sucks for the E36. I thought it would fit but BMW have obviously retreated from the shallow lighter of the E36 and this thing is a little too long to sit securely in the lighter socket. It's functional but doesn't look "standard" enough for me to keep it plugged in which was my intention. And it wobbles about.

Where did you pick it up from , I have been looking for something like this.

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Awesome.

Looks like your driver seat bolsters need a good revamp though! Is that on the to do list?

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Where did you pick it up from , I have been looking for something like this.

I walked into a dealer in DE and picked it up on special. Part number 65 41 2 166 411. There's also one available with two USB slots. Will fit better in more modern BMW's I think but it's a good design and has a built in grab handle for easy extraction.

Awesome.

Looks like your driver seat bolsters need a good revamp though! Is that on the to do list?

Yes, seats are on the list. I'm going to see Retro in the new year to discuss options but I imagine I'll be swapping the seats over left-to-right at some time anyway to even out the harm.

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So I lied a little and didn't do the clutch hose next, I'll revisit that in the new year. Since I'm 'The Transporter' this holiday period for four 16 year old girls I thought it best to get the stereo sorted.

Everything was a mess so we stripped out the dash, centre console and rear seats and installed a Clarion head, Alpine amp and JBL components front and rear. I left the sub out for the time being because I'm going to need luggage space.

I stuck with the head unit I had in a box because 1) it was there 2) it has multiple colours including a custom setting which you can match nearly exactly to the BMW amber and 3) because it's feature packed including a record feature for capturing stuff off radio, CD's or AUX and it's dual zone if I ever want to put a screen in the back somewhere.

Turned out sweet.

CarRadio.jpg

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More Interior

A few things not really on my list but driving me crazy anyway were a missing horizontal slat in my centre aircon vent, loose internal door panels and a broken mount for the warning triangle in the trunk.

I fixed the aircon vent with a bit of cumbersome effort, that thing's a bitch to get out. I purchased a whole new (used) unit from Ray (they're not cheap, even old, filthy, seized ones!) because I thought I might need to replace the whole thing. Luckily I discovered I could swap bits out without complete removal. Although even partial removal was a PITA I managed to replace the missing pin and broken slat and am happy with the results. $60 plus a trip to Silverdale and an hour of cursing but it's fixed now.

The warning triangle mount was driving me crazy, the forward mount had been pulled from the trunk ceiling by a careless valet and the tiny clip was ex-Germany and unavailable in single units. To the best of my knowledge that clip and cap (51478117523 and 51711934930) is not used anywhere else in the car... nowhere (seriously BMW?). So in the end I used plastic versions of these that I picked up from Bunnings and chopped the pointy ends off, even more secure that the OEM part now... $5 and 5 mins.

img54p90.jpg

And now that I've done both doors I'm pretty happy. Both now close with a reassuring BMW thud and absolutely no rattle! It's seriously like the car sounded as new when I slam the doors, I'm pretty happy with this.

EDIT 21 Jan: EPIC FAIL SEE THIS POST

When I removed the door panel both lower pockets and the top bracket remained attached to the door! The only thing holding the panel on was the Torx screws and the side clips, all of the glue had failed including some on the side brackets... no wonder they rattled!

I used this DIY: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GghftCXKaDA

And carefully hot glued everything back together and replaced all of the clips:

Door%20Cards.JPG

I'm pretty impressed with how solid it all feels now. $30 (gun + glue + clips) and 2 hours to get both doors done really well.

Edited by M3AN

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Rear Spoiler Stop Light

Mine was cracked right down the middle, leaking and rusting. Picked up a good condition one from Ray and slotted that in without any drama. $30 and 5 mins.

At the same time I noticed that my spoiler has a scratch on the back of it which bums me out but it can wait.

I just want somebody to throw a brick through my rear window so I can get an insurance replacement (no excess on glass) that doesn't have the redundant stop light. I'll need a compatible parcel shelf of course but that shouldn't be too difficult and would look much better. Although I often think e36's look good (from the side, not the rear) without the spoiler...

Edited by M3AN

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Codes

Edit: now I use INPA (BMW software) and get more reliable codes.

As I discuss in this thread I have also had a #78, #36 and #169 code that I need to understand and investigate. I'm pretty sure I shouldn't need somebody to endlessly swap out parts, drive, check codes and tell me they can't find the problem (I can do that myself). I don't mind paying to have it "solved" but nobody seems willing to give me a fixed price to diagnose the problem... :( And I'm not willing to drop it off to find that $500 and two days later I know nothing more than I do now.

Open to suggestions... (but perhaps reply to this thread instead if you do have ideas).

Edited by M3AN

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36 is tank vent valve, 78 is engine coolant temp sens and 169 doesn't seem to exist...

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Just saw the other thread, ^^^my bad haha. Replacing temp sensor will be easy enough and have a look here to the tank vent

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=699663

And here

http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=195548

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Yep, so I've asked the supplier to explain the 169 and some other strange behaviour of their software. I have another reader too now so am comparing results tomorrow.

78 was cleared and didn't come back, 36 returns after clearing so hopefully that's the cause of the hesitation.

I did find two shops willing to provide a fixed cost for component testing which was refreshing so that's a positive.

Edit: saw your other reply, thanks for the links, am pricing up a vent valve now...

Edited by M3AN

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Strut Tower Bar

Woohoo! It arrived today despite Track & Trace telling my it's still in Chicago. That was a nice surprise because I thought it was being held up by the weather. It's a lovely piece of kit, emulating the LTW/GT OEM bar. I got it off Road Rally who are great to deal with and seem to know everything about these cars. It's not inexpensive but I wanted the OEM look.

http://www.rallyroad.net/content/rally-road-bmw-e36-strut-tower-bar

StrutBar01.JPG

It's a very heavy duty piece but surprisingly light at the same time.

StrutBar02.JPG

Fitting was challenging at first because it can be adjusted and tightened in multiple places but on she went.

StrutBar06.JPG

And I just had to add ///M badges as per the OEM version...

StrutBar07.JPG

I'm delighted with the aesthetic appeal and it will compliment the x-brace I have down there.

Edited by M3AN
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Reinforcement Plates

Along with the strut brace I picked up some reinforcing places from Rally Road as well. They were inexpensive and contributed nothing additional to the shipping cost. I don't need them (yet) and likely won't bother installing them unless I need to drop the rear end out of the car for another reason.

Laser cut sway bar and rear trailing arm reinforcement plates.

RSBT01.JPG

RTAB01.JPG

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I want one!

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So I got this installed today and holy crap it's awesome!

ClutchHose.JPG

I got it from BMSport (Bexley) in the UK (link). Top blokes BTW.

I'm astonished at the difference it makes. I know my OE hose was knackered even though it's only done 30k km's but I have never had the clutch feel this good, even when it was a new clutch and hose. This thing works perfectly and predictably across all temp ranges and the engagement point is now 1" from the top of travel, not 1" from the bottom of pedal travel. Clutch engagement itself is also more positive and much smoother. It's like driving a new car (and I will have to relearn the correct muscle memory, a few poor changes so far today already).

I was going to do it myself but after a fixed quote by Bellar's came in at a whole 45 mins it became illogical for me to do so. It would have taken me 20 mins to get the car up on stands lol. And that included a full three step bleed (gravity then bleeder then manual) to make sure it was 100% and a code read to compare with my results at home. Dropped the car off, had breakfast nearby, picked the car up, done. The job, including fluid, cost me less than the hose. Awesome.

Best. Upgrade. Ever. Just do it! :D

Edited by M3AN
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I want one!

The guys at Rally Road are actually pretty good and know their M3's, shipping is painful of course but I think it was worth it when you see some of the lame versions that are available.

I'm not going to claim it adds 10 HP or that I'll even notice a handing difference but it compliments the engine bay for sure.

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Brake Duct Intake Mod

I've read a lot (for a long time) about how the US e36 owners in particular try to improve intake volume/airflow and it's always interested me but I've never had the patience to get in and see what it's all about. Because of the significant differences between their M3 and ours any mods they do are likely to require some adaptation to work with our cars. Fortunately there's way less work for us to do! BMW has done most of it for us and I'm left wondering why they didn't complete the job.

In early "Euro" S50B32's the left hand brake duct routes air to 1) the brakes and 2) the rear of the alternator (alternator duct was removed by BMW some time in 1997 - not sure why). The "snorkel" running into the airbox routes air from the front of the car but, on the S50B32 it also has an extension that is blanked off that runs down to the brake duct. The brake duct has a corresponding blanked off port for this extension.

I wanted to use these redundant parts to route additional air to the airbox, here's what I did.

1. Removed brake duct (have to remove wheel well liner for access) and using a Dremel cut out a 65mm hole inside the template that BMW kindly left for us. Indeed the diameter of the required hole is even stamped on the brake duct itself. The left hand hole in this picture routes to the alternator and the right one is the one I just cut.

BrakeDuct01.jpg

2. Then I needed to allow air to flow into the snorkel via the bottom of the unused extension. I for the life of me could not get the snorkel out of the car without removing the radiator so I did this in situ with a Dremel from under the car (I tidied it up after this pic).

BrakeDuct02.jpg

3. Using 65mm flexible ducting (nice that it comes in the correct size!) I then added an 'adapter' to the duct to seal the gap I thought would exist. I test fit this with a messy silicon job.

BrakeDuct04.jpg

4. But in the end I removed my adapter for a couple of reasons - 1) the gap, when the duct is clipped in correctly is not very big and 2) the irregular shape of the snorkel made an exact fitment impossible. As it turns out there's very little gap anyway.

BrakeDuct03.jpg

So essentially no new parts needed, just a little time and patience (the wheel well liner is a PITA to get back in correctly).

No, I didn't gain 10HP and no I can't notice the difference but I'm happy that I've done it. I will get a small brushed fan from one of my RC car esc's one day and test the airflow through the extra leg of the snorkel.

Still don't know why BMW did 90% of the work and stopped there?

Edited by M3AN

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Was it your E36 M3 Estoril at McMillan's this week?

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Was it your E36 M3 Estoril at McMillan's this week?

No, not mine. Not many in Auckland though.

Edited by M3AN

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