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Thread: Just another boring LS swap into an E36 M3

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
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    1997 M3- LS1/T56

    Just another boring LS swap into an E36 M3

    Decided to finally jump headfirst into my first real "build" after years of messing around with a variety of Jeeps and other vehicles. Got into the BMW world about a year and a half ago when I bought my current daily, a 330i ZHP 6MT. Picked up this car in the fall, and it sat over the winter while I stockpiled parts. Finally got a space to work on it a few weeks ago (about 900 square feet that I'm splitting with two good friends), so this is where I'm jumping headfirst into this. Here's where I'm at so far with my plans.

    Car
    -1997 M3 with around 160k on it, bought it without a motor, trans, or rear end and a really rough Mulberry lux interior. Bought an even rougher Modena interior with vaders, probably going to put that in because I dig the PB&J look.

    Engine
    -L33 with around 158k on it got this from a local JY as a long block- swapping out the truck intake for LS6 and cable TB. Going to chop up the L33 harness I bought and make it work with a DBC ecu I also bought.
    -Going F body FEAD, have some ICT billet brackets, 145a alternator, etc
    -NAHR mounts and 1 5/8" headers, probably going to use the mounts for mockup and then end up making my own

    Trans
    -T56 out of a GTO, shorter first gear for more fasts, changed shift selector, have a B&M ripper set up for F body as well

    Planned stuff
    -LS7 clutch and lightweight flywheel
    -3.91 LSD rear
    -Custom driveshaft
    -Bay shave and wire tuck (at least mild of both, not sure how crazy this will get)
    -Leaving the outside as it is, with the exception of some fatter rear tires

    Anyways, some pictures showing the mess I've made so far:

    When I got it in the fall:


    At the new shop:


    Front clip off:



    Here's the modification summary, as of 5/26/2019. Things are a little different than initially planned.

    Engine:
    -1999 Corvette LS1, 138k miles when swapped
    -CX Racing mounts and longtube headers. Motor mount bushings replaced with Energy Suspension
    -LS6 intake manifold/fuel rails/injectors
    -Modified C5 Corvette wiring harness
    -Current Performance fuse block
    -Ported/polished throttle body
    -Truck MAF, 4" intake
    -ICT billet brackets, F body style
    -Small block Chevrolet aluminum radiator, custom hoses
    -3" into 2.5" true dual exhaust, Magnaflow high flow cats, and dual 2.5" in/out Magnaflow muffler
    -Walbro 255 in Rallyroad mount
    -C5 Corvette FPR/fuel filter
    -Euro air duct in place of US version
    -A/C delete

    Transmission:
    -GTO T56, stage 1 rebuild by Tick
    -Tick 48" remote bleeder line
    -Braided clutch line
    -LS7 clutch and flywheel
    -3" Coleman racing aluminum driveshaft
    -JTR diff flange
    -B&M short throw shifter

    Differential:
    -325is medium case, 3.91 ratio with factory LSD
    -M3 axles
    -AKG 95A bushings and M14 front diff bolt

    Suspension:
    -AKG 95A differential mounts
    -SPC Adjustable rear lower control arms
    -AKG front LCA bushings
    -AKG front subframe, rear trailing arm, rear sway bar, and rear upper shock mount reinforcement plates
    -Plated upper rear control arms
    -Bilstein Group N coilovers
    -RTAB limiters
    -Completely rebuilt rear suspension

    Brakes:
    -ECS 345mm front rotor conversion
    -Relocated ABS pump

    Wheels/Tires:
    -Front- Apex ARC8 17x9 ET30, 10mm ECS spacer, 245/40R17 Sumitomo HTRZIII
    -Rear- Apex ARC8 17x9.5 ET25, 255/40R17 Sumitomo HTRZIII
    -Rolled/pulled front and rear fenders
    -BavAuto stud conversion (90mm)

    Interior:
    -Modena front sport seats, Vader style rear seats (swapped from Mulberry interior)
    -Sport package Modena door panels
    -Prosport oil pressure and coolant temp gauges
    -Late model E36 M3 steering wheel

    Exterior:
    -20" light bar behind front grill
    -CF sunroof delete
    -Depo glass headlights with city lights
    -Fog lights deleted
    -Thule roof rack
    Last edited by squashman702; 05-29-2019 at 08:57 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    CT
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    My Cars
    318ti M3
    Nice shop! Glad haven't been down to those frame horns in a while. How's the swap going?

  3. #3
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    1997 M3- LS1/T56
    Quote Originally Posted by tiplusm3 View Post
    Nice shop! Glad haven't been down to those frame horns in a while. How's the swap going?
    Compression tested the motor, which came out decent. Did a leakdown test on a cylinder that was a little lower than the others- it passed. Spark plug electrodes were worn away to almost nothing, so that was a little worrisome. Started to tear down the motor.

    Been doing a lot to set up the shop. Just bought a HF sandblast cabinet so that I can get a bunch of the parts for the motor cleaned up in there (coil brackets, valve covers, etc). The weekend wasn't super productive besides tearing the car down to where you see it now.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Not much time spent in the shop today, and the minutes I had there, I spent changing the oil in the ZHP. Did manage to grab another piece of the puzzle this evening, however. 3.91 LSD, don't think it's blue enough. T56 is lurking in the background.


  5. #5
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    Bouncing around a bit- made some more progress on the motor. Decided to pull the heads off and get a look see. Got one pulled tonight after cleaning the motor up some. Lots of dirt built up on it.



    Anyone need some extra carbon for their motor? Got plenty.



    Cross hatching still visible though.




    Plan is to get some ARP head bolts, not sure what I'm doing for head gaskets yet. Open to suggestions there.
    Last edited by squashman702; 03-22-2016 at 09:34 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    1997 M3- LS1/T56
    Ordered the following for the engine today:

    14061685- Pilot bearing
    12573460- Oil barbell/restrictor
    134-3610- ARP head bolts
    12498544- GM MLS head gaskets
    12557840- Crank bolt

    And a pulley install tool for the harmonic balancer. Didn't want to pay 4x the cost for ARP for the crank pulley bolt so I went with the OEM TTY bolt instead.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    2001 BMW 540i/6
    Right, but you have to buy a new bolt every time you reinstall the balancer. TTY=one time use. The ARP saves you in the long run if you're going to be pulling the balancer off every so often.

    Go with OEM MLS headgaskets, can't go wrong with them. Cheap and effective.

    2001 BMW 560i 6.0 LSx/T56 SOLD


    2000 Corvette Hardtop FRC

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsogiba View Post
    Right, but you have to buy a new bolt every time you reinstall the balancer. TTY=one time use. The ARP saves you in the long run if you're going to be pulling the balancer off every so often.

    Go with OEM MLS headgaskets, can't go wrong with them. Cheap and effective.
    I get that they're one time use- I can't see a reason why I'll be pulling the balancer too frequently. I was able to get the bolt for $7.xx shipped off ebay, so I'd have to pull the balancer five times before I saved any money (hoping I don't eat my words on this one). I have a new front cover seal to put on when I swap to the underdrive balancer, so that will obviously get done when I pull the truck balancer. There's a cam swap at some point in the future- at that point I'll probably go with ARP, just because that's not really a needed modification and more of a fun one, and it'll be a good time to upgrade.

    I went with the OEM MLS- did some research this AM and saw that a ton of people have had good luck with the stock stuff in much wilder applications, so I feel confident they'll hold up to a mild bolt-on L33.

  9. #9
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    More progress tonight. Pulled the driver's side head off the motor. Lots more carbon. Cleaned some but still a lot to go.






  10. #10
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    Aus
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    328i Manual Coupe
    What did you use to clean the head up? Looks nice!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by octanematty View Post
    What did you use to clean the head up? Looks nice!
    Carb clean, a scotch brite pad, and a brass wire brush. And a shitload of elbow grease.

  12. #12
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    oven cleaner can work pretty good as well.

    If you dont mind me asking what did you pay for the L33?

  13. #13
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    E36 - 1998 328iS - LS2
    Quote Originally Posted by squashman702 View Post
    Carb clean, a scotch brite pad, and a brass wire brush. And a shitload of elbow grease.
    I don't want to derail your thread and I'm definitely not an expert on the subject but there's lots of info out there that suggests Scotch Brite shouldn't be used on gasket surfaces.

    Tipsy
    Last edited by TipsyMcStagger; 03-24-2016 at 10:55 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by fallguy View Post
    oven cleaner can work pretty good as well.

    If you dont mind me asking what did you pay for the L33?
    I read in a lot of places that oven cleaner can be too corrosive when left on aluminum too long.

    I paid $810 out the door for the L33 at a local salvage yard. Came with intake, fuel rails, etc, exhaust manifolds, but no power steering, A/C compressor, or alternator.

    Quote Originally Posted by TipsyMcStagger View Post
    I don't want to derail your thread and I'm definitely not an expert on the subject but there's lots of info out there that suggests Scoth Brite shouldn't be used on gasket surfaces.

    Tipsy
    Good to know, going to do some more research on this. I was using a pad and not a disc on a rotary tool, so hopefully I kept damage down to a minimum.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by squashman702 View Post
    Good to know, going to do some more research on this. I was using a pad and not a disc on a rotary tool, so hopefully I kept damage down to a minimum.

    guys do that all the time, it seems to hold.

    i think GM LS9 headgaskets are the ones to use.
    Last edited by fallguy; 03-24-2016 at 03:48 PM.

  16. #16
    Join Date
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    E46M3 SWC, E90325 GAC, E36 ITS, 04 2500HD
    Which kit and headers are you planning on using? Getting ready to start buying stuff to do a swap myself.
    Rob Birkhead | Principal


  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by M Rob View Post
    Which kit and headers are you planning on using? Getting ready to start buying stuff to do a swap myself.
    I bought some New Age Hot Rods headers and mounts used. Mounts are super nice looking, headers I'm not as impressed. I'll let you know what fitment is like once I get to that point. Probably going to end up remaking the mounts then selling these to be honest.

    More progress last night:


    Block is next.

  18. #18
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    Been grinding away at this, finally started making some progress in the other direction.

    Cleaned the pistons and the block surface, new OE headgasket. Used permatex gasket remover, a shit load of carb clean, and a razor blade on the block surface.


    Head cleaned up. Tried to avoid the scotchbrite pad as much as I could, but I did cave to get them looking decent. Light use of a red pad by hand got me to this point. Heads then got dunked in some hot soapy water, blown out with the compressor, brake cleaned again, blown out with the compressor again, then the mounting surface wiped with carb clean and a new rag. Hope this works out alright.



    Rockers/pushrods reinstalled on the driver's side head. ARP head bolts used, torqued to 70 foot pounds in three stages. Passenger head should get knocked out tomorrow. Feels good to be putting parts back on the motor.


  19. #19
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    Put the other head on tonight, also started cleaning around the oil pan. Going to pull it and check the main bearings this week. Ordered a Melling oil pump today too, just an M295. Much easier to do out of the car.




  20. #20
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    Well, did things backwards and it bit me in the ass. Checking the bottom end first next time, especially after seeing the condition of the heads. Going to talk to the place I bought the motor from tomorrow and see what they can do.


    That's not moisture on the bearing, that's pitting. Scratches were deep enough to catch my fingernail on as well.



    Not weird lighting on the bearing- the part on the bottom is what the surface should look like, the rest is wear.


  21. #21
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    That sucks.

    Tipsy

  22. #22
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    This is why I don't even look at the bearings in stock motors. What do the cylinder walls look like?
    95 M3, 5.3 LS, PTE 7675CEA, TH400/Gear Vendors OD
    10.4@136 Pump gas at 3530lbs.

    Build thread
    http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...LS-Turbo-build

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by jon volk View Post
    This is why I don't even look at the bearings in stock motors. What do the cylinder walls look like?
    Cylinder walls still showed the cross hatching. They looked good to me, but I don't do this professionally. Does the wear seem excessive to you?

    Between the bearings, the carbon buildup in the motor, the 1/4" of sludge in the oil pan, and the plug electrodes that were worn down to nothing, I didn't want to gamble on this one, since it was under warranty anyway. Called the yard I bought it from on Saturday, they seem willing to work with me so far, but they don't have another L33 in stock.

  24. #24
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    Depends on how much the motor cost. Generally speaking the salvage yards will warranty the motor if it is not in usable condition...knocking, spewing smoke, consuming large amounts of oil. Some sludge and bearing wear wouldnt really qualify.

    New bearings cant hurt at this point since it is apart, but be sure to check clearances. The bearing looks weird with the pitting, but it probably would have run fine. A junkyard engine cant be expected to look like a race motor, but it doesnt come with a race motor price tag either.
    Last edited by jon volk; 04-11-2016 at 12:43 PM.
    95 M3, 5.3 LS, PTE 7675CEA, TH400/Gear Vendors OD
    10.4@136 Pump gas at 3530lbs.

    Build thread
    http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...LS-Turbo-build

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by jon volk View Post
    Depends on how much the motor cost. Generally speaking the salvage yards will warranty the motor if it is not in usable condition...knocking, spewing smoke, consuming large amounts of oil. Some sludge and bearing wear wouldnt really qualify.

    New bearings cant hurt at this point since it is apart, but be sure to check clearances. The bearing looks weird with the pitting, but it probably would have run fine. A junkyard engine cant be expected to look like a race motor, but it doesnt come with a race motor price tag either.
    I paid $810 plus tax for it and a 6 month warranty.

    Based on the overall condition, I didn't have a lot of faith that this was going to hold up long term. I'm definitely not expecting perfection or brand new looking bearings, but I don't think this motor or the truck it was in got much or any love. The yard didn't ask for pictures or give me a hard time about it, just asked that I don't bring the motor back in pieces.
    Last edited by squashman702; 04-11-2016 at 01:13 PM.

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