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Thread: Laminar's M3 5.0 swap: Fünf-Null

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    Des Moines, IA
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    '97 M3/4/5.0

    Laminar's M3 5.0 swap

    I figure it's about time I started a build thread, as it appears that this really is going to happen.

    I picked up an Explorer 5.0 engine last summer knowing that I wanted to put it in something. I just didn't know what. I ended up grabbing a '97 M3/4/5 from Craigslist for cheap with "some valvetrain noise".

    There are some interior and exterior blemishes, but the basics are there:











    Looks like a perfect swap candidate to me.

    I'm sure I'll have plenty of questions along the way!
    Last edited by Laminar; 02-27-2015 at 10:57 AM.

  2. #2
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    '97 M3/4/5.0
    Progress so far.

    Day 1:


    Day 2:


    Engine mounts built, drivetrain angle set. About to commence wiring.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Last edited by Laminar; 02-22-2016 at 04:35 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
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    Tacoma
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    1994 E36
    Looks like a good start. Will the hood clear with the explorer intake? Any pics of your engine mounts?
    Will be watching this 5.0 build as I wish to do the same this summer.

  4. #4
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    I think the intake will clear, but I'm doubtful the IAC valve will clear. I might have to get creative.

  5. #5
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    The engine is in and I'm finalizing wiring.

    I hit my first real roadblock here. I don't want to rely on the BMW ECU to turn on the power relay and provide +12V to the red/white wires, so I grounded the brown signal wire to that relay and connected the positive signal post to the green wire from the ignition key to provide power to the engine in the run and start positions.

    So now when I turn the key to the ACC position, I have 0V on the red/white wire as expected. But when I turn the key to RUN, I see 2.048V on the red/white wire. Checking at the relay confirms that my red signal wire from the key is +12V, but the red power wire that the relay connects to the red/white wire is only showing 2.048V, same with the relay unplugged. Voltage at the battery post in the engine bay is +12V.

    What could be dragging down that voltage? I tried pulling each of the relays and fuses in the engine bay but there was no change to the 2.048V. Could the immobilizer be hurting me here? I have no idea what that does.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    It runs! From pulling the old engine to the new engine running in 13 days. That's pretty good, right?

    Still not sure what's going on with the previous post, but I was able to jumper +12V over to my fuel pump relay to get that working properly and test fire the engine for a few seconds.



    Obviously there is still a lot to do but I'm stuck on the other side of the world for a month. After that I'm back at it.
    Last edited by Laminar; 02-22-2016 at 04:35 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Canada
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    My Cars
    93 318is/94 CV/86 Stang
    Not too shabby there, Lammy. The fun stuff is the rest of it though. I haven't decided how but I have decided I don't like the BBK cone air filter I used and I want to put back the factory washer fluid reservoir. The little details are a bitch if you want to
    really make it look nice. Updates when you get back, right?

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    I have the stock Explorer intake tubing and airbox with MAF and a K&N to fit it, I'll have to figure out how to integrate it with the stock washer reservoir and make sure I'm getting cooler outside air.

    I have a more complete writeup with lots more pictures and details to come.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Buffalo, NY
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    My Cars
    2001 BMW 540i/6
    any progress? looks like a nice starting point.

    2001 BMW 560i 6.0 LSx/T56 SOLD


    2000 Corvette Hardtop FRC

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    '97 M3/4/5.0
    Yes! Running and driving. It's pulled apart to do a front suspension refresh right now and hopefully stop all of the clunking noises when turning corners or going over bumps.

    I'm working on a full build log with lots more details right now.



    Last edited by Laminar; 02-22-2016 at 04:36 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Raleigh NC
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    My Cars
    2006 Dodge Ram 1500
    Looking forward to reading the full build thread. Looks good man.
    2006 Dodge Ram 1500 - 5.7 Hemi 4x4

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Melbourne FL
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    My Cars
    2013 RAM, 98 BMW 323is
    Did you use e30 mounts or e36 mounts? I am not making my own mounts I am using some e36v8 mounts I picked up from ^89gtcs but am trying to determine if i should use e30 or 36 mounts with them.

  13. #13
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    I bought OEM-spec E30 engine mounts and built my own steel mounts to go from the engine to the E30 mounts.

    The E36V8 site recommends E30 mounts:
    Engine Mounts

    Our engine mounts connect the 5.0 engine to the E36 crossmember. You'll use BMW E30 325 rubber or polyurethane mounts between our brackets and the crossmember. We recommend poly mounts, available from Ireland Engineering. Why E30 mounts? They're cheaper, smaller, and simpler than E36 mounts. (BTW, E36 mounts are oil-filled and very prone to failing.

  14. #14
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    Laminar, hows the suspension refresh going? I think I am going to take your advice and do the suspension stuff now while the engine is out and I have plenty of room to work. Did you use any refresh kit or just buy the components separate? I am looking at the ECS tuning front and rear suspension refresh kit http://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-E36-323...its/ES2222307/ or the pelican parts stage 2 or 3 kit which comes with struts and springs http://www.pelicanparts.com/catalog/..._pg1.htm#item1

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    I tried to get it aligned today but after sitting at the shop for an hour after my scheduled appointment time, they finally pulled the car in only to find that their alignment machine is designed to wrap all the way around the tire and at stock ride height there wasn't enough clearance between the tire and fenders.

    I bought Driver's side and passenger side control arms, sway bar end links, driver's side and passenger side struts, driver's side and passenger side strut mounts, front control arm bushings, and driver's side and passenger side tie rod ends.

    The total for the above was about $580 shipped to my house in 2 days. The ECS kit for the M3 runs $685 and that doesn't include struts and I already had the reinforcement plates.

    I had the old bushings pressed out of the lollipops and the replacements pressed in by an auto shop a couple blocks away, I'm pretty sure I paid the BMW tax at $30 each. I should have told the guy they were for a Ford Escort.

    I also ended up picking up a Z3 rack from Detroit Axle as mine had high effort, appeared to be weeping some fluid, and I really didn't like how slow it was off center. Not to mention that the tie rod outers were so firmly rusted to the inners that I had to cut them apart.

    That was another $240.



    Once back together I eyeballed the alignment with a laser.



    Also, I swapped the strut mounts side to side to get a little extra negative camber up front in hopes of mitigating the excessive understeer.



    Even without a real alignment it feels great. The old driver's side control arm was totally loose in its rear bushing, everything feels much tighter now. I'm looking forward to a real alignment and seeing how this thing handles under more aggressive conditions.
    Last edited by Laminar; 02-22-2016 at 04:38 PM.

  16. #16
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    2001 BMW 540i/6
    looks great! where are the burnouts?

    2001 BMW 560i 6.0 LSx/T56 SOLD


    2000 Corvette Hardtop FRC

  17. #17
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    The only time I tried to do a burnout I blew a radiator hose off of its piping, turns out I shouldn't install the clamp directly on top of the pipe's lip, though I did get some sweet video, I'll post it up once I'm able to put something together. It does like to get sideways through first gear and the 255-width Potenzas are a lot of fun in the rain.

  18. #18
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    Well my build blog is up and I have entries completed through the inspection of the M3 pre-teardown. If you're interested, check it out at MikaelVroom.com.

  19. #19
    Join Date
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    I did some garage cleanup this weekend and found a spare 180 degree thermostat - Stant 45358. I ordered it from Amazon but got impatient and found one locally to install. If anyone could use it I'll send it their way free of charge, it's just taking up shelf space here.

  20. #20
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    My latest post details prepping the 5.0 for installation and I have a few more posts coming up - engine fitment, Megasquirt configuration, and complete systems integration info - fuel, electrical, exhaust, gauges, etc.

    In the meantime, I was able to autocross last weekend for the first time and had a blast.



    The bad front tires and excessive front camber gave me crippling oversteer, but those things can be fixed in time. Still had tons of fun.
    Last edited by Laminar; 10-05-2015 at 08:32 AM.

  21. #21
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    '10 X5, '98 M3 - 302
    Did you ever autocross the car prior to the engine swap? Any difference in handling?

  22. #22
    Join Date
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    I bought the car with a busted engine so I never got to drive it in its "before" state. There's at least one other E36 M3 in the region so hopefully once I get this thing sorted we can compare times.

  23. #23
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    With a sick kid at home, I had to take off early, but still got four runs in. I was gaining about a second on each run with plenty of room for improvement.

    Also played with datalogging with the Megasquirt and using RaceRender to overlay it onto the video.


  24. #24
    Join Date
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    1995 BMW M3
    So why the 5.0 swap?

    Arent they pretty much maxed out at 280-300 whp N/A with all bolt on mods? Seems like an S52 is a much better platform in terms of reliability, broader power band, etc. And are maxed out at 280-300 whp N/A as well. 5.0 seems like a solid swap for a 318/325/328. But an M3? Why?

    Im not knocking your build AT ALL. I think its sweet. Im genuinely curious as to why you chose the 5.0 for your m3? And maybe some of my statements above aren't correct.

    Thanks

  25. #25
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    Totally valid! I've spent a lot of time considering this and I wrote about what I wanted in a car in this article. What it came down to first is that I wanted a V8 "just because." V8s are going away, especially in reasonably-sized cars, and I want to get mine. On top of that, a replacement used S52 on eBay would be around $1800. I got the 5.0 for $250 and the T5 transmission for $150.

    The simplicity and proliferation of the 5.0 mean that it's stupid easy to work on and unbelievably easy to find parts. I wanted a cooler thermostat, so I went to the parts store closest to me and they had, in stock, at least three different temperature thermostats for about $6 each. Once I decide to start modifying it, the world is my oyster. Literally unlimited cams, aluminum heads, pistons, and more, and I can spend as little or as much as I want. With just headwork and long-tube headers on an Explorer engine, these guys made 294hp/328lb-ft. With just a cam swap they made 376hp/355lb-ft. So for less than $600 for a cam and headwork, they gained 160hp and 65lb-ft.

    As far as a broad power band, with the stock Explorer parts I'm pushing about 290ft-lb at 3500rpm. This makes for an awesome autocross experience, I have plenty of torque in 2nd gear from 20mph to 55mph. The S52 is pretty broad as far as M cars go, but it's below 200lb-ft until about 3500rpm and peaks at 240lb-ft. Don't get me wrong - the other E36 M3s are kicking my ass out there right now but it's not the fault of my engine.

    If I had plans for 400+hp an LS would be the only way to go. They make that much stock and by the time you get a 5.0 up to 400hp N/A, you've spent as much as you would have on an LS, your T5 transmission is past what it can handle, and you've reached the top of the what the engine can do N/A.
    Last edited by Laminar; 10-21-2015 at 09:28 AM.

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