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E30 coupe detailed m54b30 zf recaro 5 stud build

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Intro

This is my 1989 BMW E30 coupe project.  I've built cars my whole life, and this one is #68 of those I've owned.   

I'd spent 4 years pursuing a coupe, particularly a non-sunroof facelift version.   I finally found this on Facebook and after a quick drive I bought it in December 2018.

Prior to this was an E46 coupe that I ZF manual swapped - which was awesome, but plagued me with electrical headaches.  So I wanted something simpler to work on, but with the same drivetrain....queue the E30!
 

The Plan

Originally it was going to be a facelift M3 body swap. After working out costs (even performing the bodywork myself),  I moved to an Mtech2 goal   However as this project has now cost way more than originally planned, I've subsequently sold the MTech2 kit to progress finishing it off as is and enjoy it.

In a way it suits the original car better.  It is / was a 318i base model, with only electric windows, a/c and pop out rear windows - a nice, simple car!

I always wanted an M54B30 and ZF to go in it, so that's what's happened.  Just, a little more complicatedly than expected.IMG_2162.thumb.JPG.c96ab19653dd2176489f3efbd6167a70.JPG

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Edited by modz
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First task was to drive it for a bit (was my daily for 2 months) and work out how to achieve the goal.

I sold the tow bar (weight saving lol) and picked up an M54B30 that was set to be turbo'd by the previous owner.   

After getting it home I had the head crack tested, skimmed and valve seats checked and made an inventory of all that was needed.  Queue the first of many, many boxes from FCP Euro!

 

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After getting the engine on it's stand, cleaned, checked and painted, I figured I'd use the time waiting for parts to pull the old M40 lump and auto out

Subsequently sold for the same price as I paid for the the M54B30 block :) winning!

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Now I HATE dirty cars and parts.  So, the engine bay received a nice pressure wash. Possibly the first it's ever had.

I also spent over an hour with Simple green, a paint scraper and rags cleaning the old oil and crud off the underside of the frame rails and cross member. (pic shows the Before...)

 

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And now the fun part.

I had noticed the battery tray had some rust and bitumen patches had kindly been laid over it.  Inspector screwdriver went for a look and discovered it was a mess of silicone, bitumen patches and more.  Great.

 

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So out came the grinder and dremel for a battery tray removal job.  (Dremel's are a must have btw, they're awesome). 

I work on an 'it'll look worse before it looks better' philosophy with cars, having built a number of rust buckets up before. 

Once it was out I was STOKED (?!?!?!?) to find out that BMW had discontinued the battery tray replacement section, and that all suppliers showing stock actually had none / were on back order.

Time to get the cardboard out....

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Luckily arts and crafts was taught at my kindergarten as it is a life skill.  Clearly.

A couple of hours and a couple of beers later, I had a 4 piece template worked out to fold up at work (I work for an engineering company)

A few days later of test fitting, I welded it up (from the back for tidiness), cut the loom hole (52mm if you're interested) and drilled holes where I planned to plug weld it.

After cleaning, rust proofing and spraying weld thru primer on everywhere I'd never see again, it was welded into place.

I do still need to go back and weld in under the drivers strut tower section, but that's no biggie. 

 

Observant folks will have noticed that the new version doesn't stick out into the engine bay as much, which is for tidiness, more engine bay room and also because the battery was always going to be in the boot.

 

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But that's not all!  I'd noticed the passenger floor was damp after the engine bay / car wash, which was odd.   

As the carpet was fubar'd and was to be replaced, I removed the passenger door, pulled out the seats, sold them (strangely both passenger seats..), cut / pulled / tore the carpet out to discover more joy at the bottom of the A pillar and in the inner fender area.

Not a biggie to tidy up, but the lower A was inside and out involving some tricky welding

For those who haven't noticed, my garage is small.  Taking the door off allows me quick access in and out, but also had the bonus of removing a door that was to be replaced as it too had rust in the bottom of it.

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The earlier post mentioned about boot-mounting the battery.  So Inspector Screwdriver went looking there too, and ended up cutting the entire battery tray out (rotten in the seams).

While I was there I lent on the spare wheel mount, and pushed it straight through the floor.  Queue much bleeding, swearing and how the F did that happen's,  I looked underneath more closely.

A previous owner had managed to apply bitumen patches over rust from underneath, then sprayed with underseal.  Drive it on dirt roads for a couple of kms and no one's the wiser.....apparently.

Closer inspection revealed they'd done this in the boot floor also.   I know some cars have bitumen sound deadening, but this stuff was repco-grade stuff, complete with what appeared to be chinese branding still visible in places.

 

Around this time I should also mention - I checked this car over pretty thoroughly. It's not my first rodeo, so places like behind the fuse box, upper scuttle area, inner arches and lower arch areas I had been pretty thorough on.

Being this far in I could only cut more out, and fix it PROPERLY.    And possibly buy more whiskey.

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A  replacement battery section and spare wheel well were sourced, spot welds drilled out of both and everything prepped for replacement

This took about a day solid - not rushing almost always means less re-work, and a tidier job.

 

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Hmmm where'd we get to.....  The above rust work took the better part of 4 months and isn't all finished yet.

Being VERY much over body work, and having landed a ZF 5 speed, I started working on the driveline build.

First port of call was to clean up and re-detent the gearbox.   All 5 shift pins were replaced. 

Next up, a new throw out bearing, throw out arm, bushing and clip were ordered; along with a new slave cylinder.

I'll add the pics when I find them, for now a placeholder.

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Next up was clutch and flywheel.   I'd previously used an RHD Engineering flywheel and M30 style (E28 535i) clutch in my E46 so I knew it worked. 

However this time for the flywheel I didn't get the super lightweight version, as the old one 'hung' at high RPM.  Essentially letting the engine continue revving past when you depress the clutch.  

http://racehead.com.au/products-page/engine-components/bmw-lightweight-performance-flywheel-m50-m52-m54-s50-s52-s54-heavy-duty/

 

The clutch this time was an E28 M5 pressure plate and new 240mm clutch plate from FCP Euro (surprisingly cheap FYI).   It's not a performance 2 stage or whatever, but I'm not turboing the car so this will be plenty.

Also ordered new flywheel and clutch bolts.

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Back to the engine.

Many. many boxes of parts had arrived from FCP including:  All new seals, gaskets,  timing chain, chain guides, rear main seal,  headgasket, oil filter, full PCV replacement and much more. Basically if it was able to be replaced, it was.  Even the O-rings on the dipstick weren't missed.

Remembering the engine was basically a short block, I hunted around and picked up the other random engine conversion parts needed, namely starter motor, a/c setup, alternator, gearbox shied, all the bolts, e36 engine mount arms, e28 m5 engine mount rubbers, throttle body, DISA valve, ignitiors and loom.

I'd also secured an e34 sump, pickup and dipstick.

I spent a fair few hours cleaning and painting the block and head, as well as checking, cleaning or replacing everything I could.

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The engine went back together fairly well, with a few gotchas.
 

1) The engine was an early 2001 engine which had the early oil pick up.  After working out how to get the e34 one to fit, and even cutting down and welding the e46 (330i) original pickup, I wasn't happy with either.  (PIC TO COME)

A call to GreshM racing in Aus landed an early 7 series (730i) pickup which fits perfectly.  These go for north of $150 USD each, so it was a score getting it for less out of aussie.  (See later post)

2) Wiring the oil pump nut.  This was super easy.  Remove nut (REVERSE THREAD), tap a mark for the drill, drill through, reinstall on pump, wire up (See later post)

3) The E34 oil pan baffles had to mostly be removed for the pickup to work and for it to fit the block.  In the end I put the M54 baffle back on, and am happy with that. (See later post)

 

HORROR!

I also got all the way to stage 2 of the head bolt torque sequence when (bolts 12 and 13 of 14!) when I felt the torque wrench go slack on me.   Gut wrenching panic quickly pulled the bolts back out, only to discover that they had brought part of the head back out with them....

Queue a very rapid Time Sert install. 

 

A few days later, with crisis averted, a few hairs less on my head and less whiskey in the bottle, the engine was reassembled and mated up to the clutch, flywheel and gearbox.

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Now the engine is in the hole, that largely brings me up to today, October 2019.

The next big items are:

Finish rust work

Wire engine

Install Renault Clio Mk2 brake booster

Adjustables

5 stud conversion (E36 328i)

Dash replacement

Driveshaft hoop and seatbelt plates

Install carpet

Mount seats

 

While all this is happening, I am ticking away at small jobs around the body such as replacing the rear quarter windows, prepping the new passenger door, installing an IS front lip, chrome-deleting the trim. 

Most of this I've documented and will upload.

 

 

Items to document:

E46 purple tag install

Barina U Joint

Reverse plug wiring

Pedal install

 

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Fantastic - following this project!

I'm just starting an M54B30 swap into an E36 touring, and while I'm not tearing the engine down, this is a very interesting write up. Cheers!

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Nice detailed write up mark!

(you need a better thread title...)

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Great to see your thread, Mark.  Inspirational too!  Followed 😊

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11 hours ago, qube said:

Nice detailed write up mark!

(you need a better thread title...)

Sorted now mate :) thanks

should be able to get more pics up today

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Oil Pickup detail:

Square style pickup is E34, rounded is M54.  Neither work. 

After mocking up where the oil pan sat with a bent section of flat bar, I cut and mig'd the M54 pickup to get in location.   I used playdough to check the depth to the base of the sump, and a torch through the oil level sensor hole.

However I still wasn't comfortable with how it sat. And at the end of the day this one piece could fudge my whole engine, so - pay the man and get the thing! 

Correct oil pickup pic added and link below.

https://greshmperformance.com.au/collections/bmw-swap-parts/products/m52tu-m54-into-e30-oil-pickup-tube-pre-01-2000-motors

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E34 Oil Sump and Pump Wiring

 

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Purple tag

I purchased an E46 330ci purple tag rack to go in the car.  Sold the E30 rack which then paid for the E36 tie rod ends I needed - score.

Very simple job to whip the old tie rods off, and install new ones.  Actually took longer to clean the rack so I wasn't dealing with or installing dirty parts

 

 

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Intake Manifold

Man these things get FILTHY with age.   I digress. 

Having done a full PCV removal and replacement on my old 330ci, I figured this was a much easier time to do it. 

Parts arrived from FCP, I also took the opportunity to replace the air-injection seal o-rings.   Like most things in a car of this age, they were brittle as, so a scalpel was used to remove the old ones.

 

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Intake Idle Control Valve

These things are almost always seized with gunk from years of driving.  Generally this means rough idle (funnily enough, given the name...)

A trick to check is to shake it side to side in a twisting motion and see if it rattles.  If it does, its free of gunk and can be actuated by the controller inside.

Mine was gunked up, but soaking the open / valve end overnight in a small container of thinners and a quick knock on the bench it was good as new.

 

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Gearbox Detents

There's a stack of info online for this.  Particularly 50s kid (again)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRHjnROfRxU

 

I bought the punch set from ebay and the detents from FCP.  This isn't a hard job, but there are some tricks to doing it well,  as I've learnt now doing 5 of these boxes....

In short: 

Start with 5th and Reverse pins (big pins)

These used to have different pin size oil holes, now they don't.  But the springs are different, and the detents need to be installed facing each other.

Move on to 2,3,4 (small) detents

  1. Punch out the welsh plugs
  2. remove spring
  3. remove detent
  4. insert sleeve (use punch to not damage the lining!)
  5. Insert new detent
  6. insert new spring
  7. insert new welsh plug

I now offer Detent replacement as a service to BMW owners - $500 drop in / pickup with a 1 week turn around.  This includes me supplying the detents.

 

While I had the box on the bench I also pressed in new front and rear seals.  What a prick of a job.

 

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