actletpone

E30 325i Alpine

45 posts in this topic

This car is my third E30 which I bought back in October 2013. I started with a tidy 320i auto which I sold to buy a mint NZ new 320i manual.

I have always wanted a 325i and thought allot about building my mint 320 into one. After months of searching I eventually found an NZ new Alpine White 325i manual which is my current daily. Last I heard the 320i auto got rear ended and the 320i manual which I sold to a forum member was getting a b25 motor.

The 325 certainly has some good points, however there has been and still is allot to do to get it to where I want it to be.

Below is my old 320 next to the 325. Having two NZ new E30 SE’s in the drive sure was fun.

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Edited by actletpone

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So why the year gap between buying the car and creating this thread?

I was excited to finally have a 325 and couldn’t wait to start working on it. One of the first things on the to-do list was sort out the oil in the coolant. Shortly after I got the car it rained and I found there was no gasket on the rear tail light which allowed water to pour in the boot all night. Easy fix. I also found drainage holes had been drilled into the rear floor. Why someone would do that instead of fixing the leak I do not know. Then I noticed some of the roof lining was wet, sunroof drain clearing and alignment added to the to-do list.

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Despite trying to shine a torch into the sunroof cavity during inspection and it all looking good, further exploration of the sunroof led to the discovery of this...

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The black tube on the right is one of the rear sunroof drains. :o

Only a few days into ownership it was crossing my mind to sell it and keep my 320. The cons of this car were quickly outweighing the pros. However I had wanted a 325 for so long it seemed like now or never. Also what could I do with it anyway, if I sold it honestly I stood to lose some $$ and considering any buyer of the car would most likely be an enthusiast, flicking it on without mentioning what I found simply wasn’t an option.

Still at uni and unsure of what I would do with the car I didn’t have the time or funds to get involved with fixing it. I knew as soon as I cut the roof lining out to see the full extent there would be no going back. It was not long since a completely rebuilt cylinder head had been put on the car, I did not know why the head had been replaced. So I said goodbye to my 320, flushed out the coolant taped up the sunroof, changed the oil + filter and did nothing but drive it for a while.

More to come...

Edited by actletpone

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Last October I decided the uncertain future of this car had gone on long enough. So exactly one year after purchasing it I took a knife to the roof lining to find out the extent of the damage.

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And cut out the back half of the sunroof tray.

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Then I stripped the roof skin back to bare metal. Luckily it was not too far gone.

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Had the roof skin been beyond saving I do not know what I would of done. Luckily as the sunroof tray had disintegrated it had dropped away from it.

I considered replacing the sunroof assembly, it sure is nice driving with it open on a hot day and they certainly make for good photos in that tilted position. However they are such a common rust trap and I did not want to give history a chance to repeat itself. So... I decided to convert it to a slick top.

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Good save bro, I had the same issue with mine back in the uk. Apart from where they drain down the A-Pillar down into the box section, along with salt being thrown up in the winter, pretty much the whole structure of the car had rusted away. I'd wondered why the passenger side carpet was getting wet, it turns out you could put you're hand through into the wheel arch and touch the strut. No idea where the previous owner had been getting MOT's plus I definitely shouldn't have bought it on a dark evening : s

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Edited by trottsky

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Good save bro, I had the same issue with mine back in the uk. Apart from where they drain down the A-Pillar down into the box section, along with salt being thrown up in the winter, pretty much the whole structure of the car had rusted away. I'd wondered why the passenger side carpet was getting wet, it turns out you could put you're hand through into the wheel arch and touch the strut. No idea where the previous owner had been getting MOT's plus I definitely shouldn't have bought it on a dark evening : s

Sure looks nice

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This was the top of the sunroof panel. It had the usual rust bubbles along the edge but didn't look too bad.

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Out came the angle grinder..

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Weight reduction. I'm not sure exactly how much the whole sunroof assembly weighs. I would guess at least 10kg including motor etc, which is a good thing to remove from the highest point of the car.

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This is when I split the inner sunroof skin of the panel. I saw a picture online somewhere, where someone had carefully used an angle grinder to cut it all the way around without cutting through the roof skin. I would not recommend doing it this way, it took ages.

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Inner sunroof skin..

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Rust is like an iceberg, you only see the tip. The inner sunroof skin was too far gone. As well as being heavily pitted these are the holes I poked in it with a screw driver.

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Edited by actletpone

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Picked up this from pick-a-part. It was siliconed into the roof. I actually cut it out while on my lunch break a few weeks earlier but didn't have the tools to remove it. Luckily it was still there. No rust bubbles...

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Ground it back to be sure, All good...

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Lets see what the inner skin is like.. This is a much easier way of separating the sunroof skin from its frame. Grind out the bottom of the spot welds and then use a knife/screw driver to work your way around splitting the seam. Once the seam has been split work a knife/wall paper scraper from the inner foam part towards the outside edge to separate the glue.

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Inner skin was good. Only minor rust at the edges.

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Stripped..(ignore the black dot from my stupid phone)

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Por15 Metal ready

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Por15

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Edited by actletpone

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I have never welded or painted a car before and this was not a job to be learning on. So I pulled off the trim and left it to the pro's. The instruction was to weld in the sunroof panel and sand back+rust treat+repaint the outer roof. They did a good job....

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No rust was found around the front or rear windows either :)

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Looking good!

Cheers!

The entire underside of the roof got the por15 treatment for good measure

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Shame you lost the sunroof, Good save though

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Next I started working on the motor. Car had a brand new cylinder head at 192,000 k's and new cambelt / waterpump etc at 225.000. I got it in the early 240's. After flushing out the coolant when I bought it the oil slowly came back into the reservoir. Compression tested it with perfect results and flushed it out again, but once again it slowly came back.

Other notes about the motor:

Oil leaks: Oil cooler o-ring, sump plug, cam seal, valve cover and head gasket leaking down the exhaust side of the block.

Vacuum leaks: Previous owner left air-con button on to get it idling properly.

Miller maf. Wires for the maf were only twisted together when I got the car but have been soldered now.

Pod filter a.k.a hot-air-intake

General dirtiness. Although I do have a thing for clean engine bays.

This is how the engine bay looked when I got it...

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Edited by actletpone

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Shame you lost the sunroof, Good save though

Dunno - The sunroof is the thing that makes in E30 in immosibility for me to own. For one, they do nothing for me... but mostly because I get a sore neck everythimer I go in Dads - the sunroof is right where my head need to be - the extra clearance is needed for us tall, fat clumps...

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Shame you lost the sunroof, Good save though

I don't miss the rust trap. Same reason I was so keen to build my non sunroof 320 into a 325

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The oily cooling reservoir, oil leak down the exhaust side of the block and branding on the exhaust heat shields all made me suspicious that a victor reinz head gasket kit had been used during the head replacement. Each to their own, the rest of their gaskets may be fine but issues with the vr head gasket on the m20 are reasonably well documented. So head gasket replacement it was...

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Despite a bit of sludge reappearing in the reservoir the coolant drained from the motor was clean. Bubbles are from a detergent. There is a chance the oil in the reservoir was just excess from in the lines, who knows, decided to press on.

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Check out the split that was on the underside of the fuel supply hose :blink: ...

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Bores still had cross hatching on them :)

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Took the opportunity to clean everything up a bit. Degreased the engine bay, flushed out all the cooling lines, also painted the headers and valve cover...

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Cleaned up the surfaces, head checked fine with a straight edge and couldn't see any signs of cracking. Never had temp problems in the time i've owned it. Fairly sure my hunch on the vr head gasket was right, so far so good. New Goetze head gasket..

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Cam seal replacement.. To do the camshaft seal I sat the bolt hole parts of the holder on the two bots of wood then carefully tapped it out. Then used the old seal to carefully tap the new one in.

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Reassembly...

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All nice and clean...

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Nice work. Block looks good.

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Did you bake the rocker cover to cure it...what paint did you use?

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interesting way to deal with the sun roof, I was thinking I was going to have to reskin the whole roof on my car, might look into doing that instead.

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Nice work. Block looks good.

Cheers.

Did you bake the rocker cover to cure it...what paint did you use?

Rocker cover was done with Dupli-Color Engine Enamel Low Gloss Black.

Headers were done with VHT Flame Proof Flat Black.

I used the on-vehicle curing instructions of the header paint, idle for 10 minutes, cool for 20 etc. Consequently this was used for the valve cover too. It also worked in well with checking the motor over after reassembly.

Both surfaces were degreased and prepared with por15 metal ready prior to painting. Followed coating instructions to a 'T'. No problems after 1 month and counting.

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Next up I gave it a valve adjustment and managed to drop the drill bit I was using to rotate the eccentrics down Into the sump. There is no way my nerves would of been ok with leaving it there. I also had a spare sump gasket + fresh oil + filter waiting to go in the car. I was dreading the sump gasket job but it was honestly easier than I thought it would be. Loosened the motor mounts + gearbox mounts, jacked motor up using the AC bracket, unbolted + lowered the pan then unbolted the oil pump to pull the pan out. Checked the oil pump strainer while I was in there but it was mostly clean.

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Next I removed the hot air intake setup by plumbing the miller maf into the original air box.

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Original air box + afm meter adaptor + silicone reducer + bolts..

I got the 'e30 air flow meter adaptor' off ebay for $15. It is meant to be for connecting a pod filter to the stock afm, however in reverse it works great for plumbing the original air box into the maf.

The silicone reducer 3" to 2.75" ID and 3" long. It also has a 5mm 4-ply reinforced thickness which is good considering it is going to be under vacuum.

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You need to remove the little positioning pins on the air box to allow the adapter to sit flush. I decided to carefully line up the holes and drill through the adapter to help keep it in the right place. Not that it should go anywhere with 4 bolts holding it, just being fussy really. Some adapter plates don't have the square shape, notice how this one matches the outlet on the air box.

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Nice...

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The bracket bit for the stock afm on the air box had to be cut off to make room for the maf plug..

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It turned out just as clean and tidy as I hoped it would :) Feels better knowing I'm not sucking air from the middle of the engine bay anymore too.

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looking good bro...pod filters never really gain hp in e30 imo

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It has been a while since an update, it is my daily driver and there are only so many hours outside of work, also been busy with other things lately. That aside I have some updates, here is some smaller stuff,

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Nothing too interesting here:

Replaced faulty reverse light switch

Replaced the standard power steering reservoir hose clamps which had a loose fit causing a seep to run down the hoses

Replaced fuel filter

The car has idle issues I am still chasing, but more on that later. The short metal piece of tube is a stent I made for the silicone hose between the ICV and intake elbow as I noticed it was collapsing under vacuum.

Replaced cracked exhaust hanger

Replaced yellowed bonnet badge

Also replaced spark plugs, oil filler cap, cracked intake boot and tightened loose ground nut on temp gauge.

Edited by actletpone

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Such a mint turn around on that engine bay dude!

Well done. So keen to buy a project E30 once I have the E36 all up to my preferred maintenance level.

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Rear subframe bushings...

The rear end felt loose and shoddy. Diff mount is good, had the same thing with my last e30. With my last car I removed the entire rear suspension and took it to a shop to get new subframe + trailing arm bushings pressed in, it was a bit of a mission. Looking for an easier solution I found the pitman arm puller method, basically lets you replace the rear subframe bushings without removing the subframe. Basically the pitman arm puller sits on the bottom of the subframe while the gear puller pushes against it and pulls the bushing down inside of it.

I got an ampro pitman arm puller off trademe for about $30.

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And a 6" 2 jaw gear puller from bunnings for about $35

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You need to cut the pitman arm puller so it is wide enough for the bushing where the two slots are. Don't cut it too wide otherwise it will slip off the bottom lip of the subframe and you will probably need a new arm puller. It is a narrow margin between been wide enough for the bushing and too wide for the subframe lip. It is also hard to tell how wide to make the gap when the bushings are still in the car, so it basically came down to trial and error. The one I made has an opening of about 60.5mm. I would aim for 60.0mm and go from there a.k.a i'm not taking responsibility if your does not fit, remember you can always make it bigger but making it smaller basically means you need to start again. Also angle grinders are not the most precise method of cutting, so try keep it straight.

Rough cutting guide lines to remove the bulk of the opening before the trial and error process...

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Here you can see the opening cut away. You also need to grind out the inside of the arm puller to allow enough width for the bushing. Allow as much length as possible for the bushing to be pulled down inside the arm puller.

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The bolt on the arm puller gets cut off to allow space for the gear puller to push against it. You basically end up with this... (In this photo I had not grinded down the full length of the arm puller, you need to otherwise there won't be enough length to pull the bushing)

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Edited by actletpone

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