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HalfJobHarry

Hello! Amateur engine (re)builder and sometime BMW enthusiast :D

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Hi all,

Moved to Auckland back in 2016 from London. Owned a 335i and 330i over there and didn't need a vehicle for a good few years here so wasn't sure if I'd ever rekindle my BMW love. However finally dived back in opting for a sensible daily (more like weekly driver, I really don't drive often) in a 120i E87 which gets the job done. 

Over the last 7 years I've rebuilt a couple of engines, the M54 from my 330i (this engine eventually ended up in a Z4 project car in Holland), a K20A (here in Auckland which I had planned to put into a Civic but eventually just sold the completed engine, I presume it's still running fine.......). This brought me to my next BMW project. I'm just about at the end of an N54 rebuild (having decided that 400 HP+ is where I'm going) and will be wanting to drop that into a chassis soon enough....

I don't seem to have any decent pics of my 120i (will take some once it's clean and I can use the waterblaster again...damn droughts). Hope a pic of the N54 project the day it arrived and my old 330i when I'd finished it's paint cut and polish will do for now :D

 

 

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Edited by HalfJobHarry
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Welcome to the community.

 

Good thing you are an engine builder seeing as you have a 120i 😛 

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Welcome Peter!

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On 5/23/2020 at 12:34 AM, zero said:

Welcome to the community.

 

Good thing you are an engine builder seeing as you have a 120i 😛 

Thanks! 

The N46 gets a really unfair rap as far as I can see The real issue seems to be timing chain tensioner on the earlier models is a poor design. I changed mine for the revised part (good ol BMW) prior to 30,000 km and not and no signs of issue. It appears that the engine will pretty much self destruct once premature timing chain failure creeps in due to the bad tensioner. If there are any sources of solid info on other weak points to be aware of on these engines I'd love to hear. I'm all about preventative maintenance. 

Had the leaky vac pump, which was a simple if somewhat awkward job. Stuck a new valve cover gasket on too, and have the oil housing and vanos gaskets 'in stock' for when they start go on me. I'm sure the valvetronic motor will go at some point..it's a 13 year old car. 

I cannot help but feel that at high revs the oil pump setup is a cause of issues too...although I imagine a lot of that would generally come from people ragging the little 4 cylinders like it's a 5.0 V8 or something :D. I seldom break 3,500 in mine as it's my runaround.  

 

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The valve stem seals fail on these engines too as they were faulty from the factory.

Not a cheap job.

 

That 330i looks nice though, and I'd be keen to hear more about your engine building experiences, or some pics?

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14 hours ago, zero said:

The valve stem seals fail on these engines too as they were faulty from the factory.

Not a cheap job.

 

That 330i looks nice though, and I'd be keen to hear more about your engine building experiences, or some pics?

Thanks, I miss the 330i.....no idea why I didn't import it to NZ in hindsight. Corrosion gets at the older British cars and there was some 

Valve stems seals seem to be a weak point on many of the engines around this time, it's quite annoying. I cannot see myself ever being motivated enough to do this job on a 120i (just not attached enough to the vehicle).

Happy to share what I know, with the caveat that I'm far from professional, my rebuilds ran, and to my knowledge the M54B30 is still okay 5+ years on. the K20A ran...and I haven't heard that it had a problem. Basic foundation knowledge was from engine rebuilding books (I have found "automotive engine repair and rebuilding" by Chris Hadfield a great reference) among some others. To supplement that youtube videos, although there are some very questionable practices shown on youtube so they of course shouldn't be blindly followed. I've also leaned heavily for advice on a performance builder that was just two units down from the workshop I had use of back in the UK (very handy). 

Building up a good relationship with a machine shop is vital too....I used one in Auckland for the K20A build , which will remain nameless that ended up causing no end of unnecessary complications on the build. I've learned to not trust the statement "don't worry we do this all the time we know what you want!". 

I'll dig out some pics of the various builds, in hindsight I wish I had documented my efforts in a more organised way as I'm not always sure looking back over 5+ years what pics related to exactly what stage (or problem I was having). 

I think looking back, that engine rebuilding at least in a home garage setting cannot be something you do with any sense of urgency for a vehicle you rely on or need/hope to get running anytime soon. I've always approached my builds as a learning experience, and have certainly learned a lot along the way. I'd say unless you are seriously motivated to do it, it's almost just nearly too much like "hard work". I'd like the opportunity in the future to follow/assist a build for myself through a professional rebuild shop, to really get a feel for if it can be 'easy' given access to all the right tools at the exact time. 

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Yea, I've only built two engines in my life.

A 2 litre pinto engine for my 1976 ford escort when I was a teenager, and a n46 a few years back.

I've done heaps of other car projects so i guess i'm a bit surprised at only building two. Done a few headgasket replacements too.

 

My current build is more ambitious - a m62b46 with a m122 blower and dry sump system.

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21 minutes ago, zero said:

Yea, I've only built two engines in my life.

A 2 litre pinto engine for my 1976 ford escort when I was a teenager, and a n46 a few years back.

I've done heaps of other car projects so i guess i'm a bit surprised at only building two. Done a few headgasket replacements too.

 

My current build is more ambitious - a m62b46 with a m122 blower and dry sump system.

Great stuff! :D The older engines are a lot less fiddly. I don't really count it as a build but in college we did a 1.8L project from the British Ford Escort. I may have been from the XR3. My dad was a mechanic so grew up with it. Didn't go into the field professionally despite a strong interest for whatever reasons. 

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