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Thread: Project "Try Out Drifting" (with an old slushbox E36 sedan)

  1. #1
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    Project "Try Out Drifting" (with an old slushbox E36 sedan)

    As is normal for me, I hated to say too much about this until I actually did it, because the dumbness factor is high. In summary: I was working on another project that I hope to get back to soon now that I have this car pretty much functional for its intended purpose. Then, right in the middle of that project on a whim I bought the crappiest old E36 I could find for a learn-to-drift car, and got totally distracted by it for pretty much the next 6-7 months. Result: Got sideways, made smoke, got addicted to recreational drifting. (Oh, also pissed off my wife for having a junker sitting in the driveway, often out of commission)

    The car in question is a '97 328i Automatic, with about 223k miles on what may well be the complete original drivetrain. I bought this thing for $450, and that was probably paying too much. It ran, sort of, when you could convince the aftermarket anti-theft system to let it start, and when you had it jumped just right... But it was a major league death trap. Driving it home from the seller's house was far more exciting in a not-so-good way/scary than drifting seems to be. I think the main part of the sketchy handling was because the front control arm bushings had very little rubber left in them, and the right rear shock absorber was doing zero absorbing. Everything else was trashed too (including the brakes), but I think those are the things that created the giant "tank slapper" events any time you hit a bump at more than about 40mph.

    Here is the beaut when I got it home:

    IMG-20160506-WA0056.jpg

    IMG-20160506-WA0062.jpg

    20160506_135626-small.jpg

    Man those pictures make it look better than it really did. Neither front window worked because the little plastic track runner clips were destroyed, and the driver's door window mechanism was bent. The interior was absolutely disgusting in terms of being nasty dirty and all torn up. I didn't see any sense in taking pictures of the gross-ness, and pretty much just started by tearing out anything that disgusted me.

    That meant removing the seats, the center console, and most of the carpeting other than some left in the area under the pedals since I was too lazy to make a different floor piece to go under there. It turned out that not too much of the dash had to come out to allow me to extract the aftermarket anti-theft system, so that was nice.

    20160521_144504-small.jpg

    IMG-20160512-WA0007.jpg

    Continued in next post, BF.c only allows 5 photos per post.
    Last edited by tptrsn; 11-03-2016 at 04:36 PM.

  2. #2
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    IMG-20160512-WA0009.jpg

    At first I thought the floor was in pretty good shape, but the passenger side rocker panel area is a pretty big mess. Anyway, I got the front windows working so I could remove the packing tape from the front doors that had been stuck on them to keep some of the rain out. Haha... And I began a process of punching drain holes in the lowest parts of the floor so the water that does come in can just run out. This car is for fun, not headaches.

    At any rate, that is enough for pics of a partially gutted E36. Next I wanted to be able to actually move the car around, so I bought a new battery for it, and started fabricating up some simple mounts out of scrap angle iron for my kickass eBay seats ($230 for the pair, delivered):

    20160527_163645-small.jpg

    20160527_163955-small.jpg

    IMG-20160525-WA0007.jpg

    IMG-20160525-WA0004.jpg

  3. #3
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    IMG-20160713-WA0008-small.jpg

    That's it for now, gotta go do work. I'll pick it up next with (mostly) cheapass'd suspension and brakes.

  4. #4
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    Ok, back at this little writeup! I'm trying to keep things going in sort of the order that I worked on them so I can remember most of what I did. It has been a pretty hard thrash to get this car to the point that I could abuse it for days straight without it breaking, so it's extremely easy to forget stuff.

    I guess the next thing to cover is the suspension and brakes, as I said I would. The main pieces for the suspension kept with the theme of using as many el cheapo parts from eBay and RockAuto as possible. I started with a set of MaxSpeedingRods "24-way Adjustable Coilovers" for less than $400 delivered I think. Like this:

    Coilovers.jpg

    So far I think these ridiculously cheap coilovers are a fantastic bargain! One thing I didn't like about them very well was how the back of the car felt, so I got out my bin of old coilover springs, fired up the welder and ended up settling on some old 6" long, 800# Eibach springs on non-adjustable spring locators on the top and bottom. I used the ones that came with the coilovers on the bottom, and then I welded up some for the top out of 1/8" aluminum plate and aluminum tube I made into a short cone and welded to the plate. Works GREAT! (no rear sway bar.

    The main chunk of the front suspension and steering rebuild came from a kit I got on eBay for $105.75 shipped. Like this, and so far so excellent, although I did not use the included control arm bushings because I went with some offset hard poly ones from Revshift:

    FrtSusp.jpg

    Also, since I wanted to have easy adjustability for the rear camber, I grabbed some of these from eBay for about $60:

    camberarms.jpg

    Add to that some upper and lower outer ball joints from RockAuto, and you've got yourself one cheap, nice suspension and steering rebuild kit. Man I love me some E36!!

    As far as brakes go, I needed new rotors, pads, and fluid. I had some Ate Blue DOT 4 fluid ready to go, so I got some nice new rotors and "performance" pads from RockAuto for a very reasonable price.

    Unfortunately, I was planning on copying Chelsea Denofa's drifty handle for the factory parking brakes, so when my parking brake shoes fell in pieces out of the old rotors, I had to order those from ECS Tuning. RockAuto didn't carry them. But I like ECS Tuning, they have reasonable prices, good quality items (for the most part, more about that related to driveshaft travails), and they are only one state over, so shipping is pretty decent.

    Since we are on brakes, here is my version of the "drifty brake":

    Driftyhandle.jpg

    DriftyhandleInCar.jpg

    I drilled a hole through the retracted ratchet mechanism and ran a screw through it, then I welded up this handle extension out of some 1" O.D. (I think) DOM tubing. Works like a champ!

    Oh yeah, in that last pic you can also see my awesome "350mm Alcantara Suede/JDM Red Stitching 6-Bolt Deep Dish Drifting Steering Wheel" that is actually covered in nice, real suede. $30 shipped! It's mounted on a "Kylin" brand steering wheel adapter hub I got off eBay straight from China for $17.90 shipped. As received it was capable of mounting the steering wheel securely on the column, but it did not work with my slipring/clockspring.

    After about three hours with the die grinder and tig welder to reshape the hub for the slipring. Now I have a properly working horn, and almost perfectly functioning self-cancelling turn signals.
    Last edited by tptrsn; 11-03-2016 at 01:38 PM.

  5. #5
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    One big goal for this build was to try and keep weight down for all of the normal reasons, but also I didn't want to have a very loud car that would draw a lot of attention every time I found a nice deserted spot to work on my drifting chops a little. The factory exhaust system had seen better days, leaked, rattled, and of course it almost as heavy as the factory seats. The other thing that is important to me is to have something that is super easy to get on and off the car in a hurry.

    Starting from the front, I grabbed up some scraps of stuff I had laying around and made up a Y-pipe from the exhaust manifolds into a single 2.5" tube that dumps into an old (pretty big volume) oval body Magnaflow muffler I had on the shelf from some other project:

    IMG-20160618-WA0046.jpg

    IMG-20160523-WA0030.jpg

    Initially I had a little "turndown" or "dumptube" or whatever you want to call it right under the car from the end of that Magnaflow, just to see how it would sound. It was very nice at idle and cruise, but at full throttle it was super loud, and really sounded ugly. So, I cut the 2.5" Dynomax Superturbo muffler off of last year's exhaust for the 540i, made a mounting strap for it to mount it in the factory muffler mounts, made a little tip for it, and then made an aluminum mid-pipe to connect the two mufflers without adding much weight at all.

    LRS Exhaust Looking Forward.jpg

    20160724_173612-small.jpg

    20160723_121116-small.jpg

  6. #6
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    Your years of experience speak volumes in your build. Tigging stuff, knowing where to spend money when it's necessary, and knowing where not to spend money.

    You need tie rod spacers. But def waiting for updates on this thread. <3

    Status: Someone put glitter in my oil. Wait. Why's all my oil outside the engine? What's that knocking?

  7. #7
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    This version of the exhaust does pretty much what I want it to do. It isn't very loud, sounds "Ok" as far as its tone is concerned, it is still a very significant weight savings over stock (at least 40# savings) and I got to have some fun stacking some dimes to make it. All win!

    Dimes2.jpg

    20160723_121612-small.jpg

    I wanted to be able to drive around on the 17x8" Style 19 wheels from the 540i that normally have had 245/45-17 size tires on them, so I had to pull the living hell out of the fenders and quarters. Actually the fenders weren't too bad, but because the quarters were rusty at the back of the wheel arches, it was sort of difficult to get a good deformation on the them. They just wanted to flex out and pop back. It was more work than it should have been, but eventually I got them pretty well where I want them.

    FrontFenderRolling2.jpg

    FrontFenderRolling.jpg

    At that point it started to look like a decent car from certain angles... So misleading! Haha

    20160804_130252-small.jpg

    Oh, and in that shot you can see the new eBay headlights ($71.86 shipped), and the superphenomenal eBay tow loop ($9.59 shipped--seems kind of expensive compared to some of this other stuff...).

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by protomor View Post
    Your years of experience speak volumes in your build. Tigging stuff, knowing where to spend money when it's necessary, and knowing where not to spend money.

    You need tie rod spacers. But def waiting for updates on this thread. <3
    Thanks!!

    Regarding tie rod spacers, for bump steer correction, or something else?

  8. #8
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    tie rod spacers give you a tiny bit more steering angle. It's not a full angle kit. But you get like 3-5 degrees more angle for $5. It just spaces the inner tie rod a bit more from the rack itself.

    Status: Someone put glitter in my oil. Wait. Why's all my oil outside the engine? What's that knocking?

  9. #9
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    Oh man, I had no idea that was a thing -- THANKS!!

  10. #10
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    I'm surprised no one makes these. Anyone with a lathe and the right inner/outer diameter information can make them for TONS of cars. I think I ran 5mm. I've heard 7mm thick but you still want some threads attaching the tie rod to the steering rack.

    Status: Someone put glitter in my oil. Wait. Why's all my oil outside the engine? What's that knocking?

  11. #11
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    Yeah man, if I don't mod some knuckles for it before next spring, I will definitely whip up a pair of these. Just to make sure I understand this correctly, if I shorten the steering arm on the knuckle, and don't extend the control arm a lot, I will probably be angle limited by hitting the tire on the frame rail without adding any of these spacers, right?

    Ok, back to the build thread... Back tracking a bit, I guess from looking at the pictures I took with my phone, maybe the next thing to cover is the stuff in the engine bay if I can remember most of what I did while I was in there.. There was a ton of basic maintenance stuff to do, and I'm not going to pretend that I can remember it all, I just knocked it out fast. This picture seems to be when I was tearing down, before I started putting the new stuff back on:

    IMG-20160621-WA0002.jpg

    I do know that I put in a new radiator, a new cooling fan (new blades on the existing viscous drive since it seemed fine), deleted the SAP, deleted the ASC mechanism and welded up the holes where the ASC throttle shaft went through, new water pump, deleted the A/C parts completely, new belt, new plugs, new oil, hard green poly bushings from Revshift, medium blue trans mount bushings from Revshift..... Hmmmm, I don't know what all else.

    So, on to the back of the car. It has spent a lot of time like this:

    IMG-20160626-WA0001.jpg

    The first time around, I rebuilt the rear suspension, stuck in a poly front diff mount from ECS Tuning, medium blue RTABs from Revshift, and took my first crack at welding the diff. During this phase of work I also installed a Dorman giubo and Uro CSB from RockAuto, and freed up the U-joints on the driveshaft real well.

    The diff welding went like this. First I welded the pinion gears to the pinion shaft on both sides (sorry if I'm screwing up my diff part terminology, I don't feel like checking myself on it right now):

    _1200930-2.jpg

    Then I plated both sides with 1/8" steel that I cut out of something I had laying around:

    328i Diff Plated.jpg

    Of course, when I got all of this stuff slammed back together, the first thing I did was this:

    IMG-20160602-WA0000.jpg

    And then I proceeded to go out and beat the living hell out of everything as much and as often as possible. After all, that is the expressed sole intention for this car.

    But of course it broke... To be continued.

  12. #12
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    Subbed!


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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tptrsn View Post
    Yeah man, if I don't mod some knuckles for it before next spring, I will definitely whip up a pair of these. Just to make sure I understand this correctly, if I shorten the steering arm on the knuckle, and don't extend the control arm a lot, I will probably be angle limited by hitting the tire on the frame rail without adding any of these spacers, right?
    Mostly. Just got to be careful of ackerman and what not. It's easy to make it work well enough but not great.

    Status: Someone put glitter in my oil. Wait. Why's all my oil outside the engine? What's that knocking?

  14. #14
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    Makes sense. I guess I'll see how much work I do on this machine over the winter. If I concentrate on the project I was working on before I got sidetracked onto this one, then maybe I'll just whip up the tie rod spacers for this one before spring and keep things simple...

    So back to trying to finish up the description of the build, so I can start loading this up with great pictures of it that people took at a couple of events:

    I left off with the first version of my welded differential and no poly subframe bushings. The rear end of the car was apart several times over the next weeks, I really DID need new rear subframe bushings, so I put in some green poly ones from Revshift, I put in new rear axles from RockAuto for something crazy like $45 per side, and I dealt with a driveshaft problem.

    Turns out that the Uro and expensive Meyle brand Center Support Bearings share a very bad design for this car that makes them super floppy, and the picture on ECS Tuning's website is wrong -- it doesn't show this actual part, but one made correctly.

    IMG_0760 with markup.jpg

    The Febi brand one is actually made like they should be to avoid being floppily, so I slapped in one of those:

    Febi CSB.jpg

    The other problem that I think helped cause things to go bad at least one of the times is that when I initially went through the driveshaft and reinstalled it, I didn't realize that the slip fitting in the center is supposed to be able to slip lengthwise all the time. When I installed the driveshaft the first time, I got everything all located well and tightened up at each end, and then I cranked down on the slip fitting collar, basically locking the slip fitting in place.

    When I finally re-did the driveshaft what I hope is the last time for a while, with the Febi CSB and Febi giubo, I also replaced the slip bushing, and spent about an hour polishing the splines on the driveshaft, and then I lubricated them with Moly based engine assembly lube. This is the part that I replaced that seemed to really help the situation:

    705875_x800.jpg

    Oh, and I also installed a fresh chunk of butyl rubber goo around the CSB when I located that in its final resting position too... So far so good since this round of driveshaft work.

  15. #15
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    Somewhere along the way with having the rear subframe and diff in and out of the car, one time when I jacked up the car I noticed that I could turn a tire and the other tire would turn the opposite direction for an 1/8th of a turn or whatever, before turning in the same direction as the tire I was turning (as should happen with a welded diff). So out came the diff again, and I popped the cover off. What I found was that the welds from the pinion gear to the pinion shaft had apparently popped loose from the pinion shaft while allowing the 1/8" steel plate to flex and fatigue to the point that it broke and got mangled on both sides. It looked like this:

    BrokeDiff1.jpg

    BrokeDiff2.jpg

    This fits perfectly with something jalopi had posted in a thread on here where I was asking about how to weld a differential. The pertinent comment was to the effect that he had only seen welded diffs break when the person welding the diff didn't weld the eight corners solid where the side/spider gears and the pinion gears meet. I did NOT do that, and the stiffness of the 1/8" steel I used to tie the gears together just wasn't sufficient to hold up over time.

    And at the same time, the chunks of steel clanging around in the diff had bashed up the speed sensor flaps and smashed the plastic speed sensor itself, so I had a mostly inoperable speedo...

    Never one to do things the way I "should," I hosed down the diff with some non-chlorinated brake cleaner and went back to welding. This time though, I cut off some lengths of steel rod (5/16" diameter?), and jammed them into each of the eight corners of the gears the way jalopi mentioned, and then just welded the crap out of them to make a big messy bubblegum looking disaster like so:

    DiffHalfRefixed.jpg

    Difffixed1.jpg

    DiffFixed2.jpg

    To cap things off doing them other than the "right way," I eyeballed the speed sensor flaps back into what I thought might be the right position using some pliers and my finger for a ruler, and then I sort of smashed the mangled remains of the speed sensor innards back into position. Speedo works perfectly again haha...

  16. #16
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    The diff welding fix is pretty hilarious, just because of that #AintCare attitude. I got mine welded by Mike @ Detroit Drifting Co, but only because I never want to have to mess w/ it, and it was only 50 bucks.

  17. #17
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    House current mig welder? I wonder why they even sell the crappier CSB. I've only seen them the second way. Never that first picture.

    Status: Someone put glitter in my oil. Wait. Why's all my oil outside the engine? What's that knocking?

  18. #18
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    To have someone who really know what they are doing weld a diff for $50 is an absolute no-brainer! Especially since I met Mike at Back To Basics, and he is just a super nice dude on top of it.

    However, as you probably gathered, I like to do stuff myself just for the fun of it. And oftentimes part of the fun for me is to see just how crappily I can do something and have it hold up. Not a very common approach here on BF.c I know, but some of my heroes are the Sloppy Mechanic Matt Happel , and to a minor extent the roadkill guys haha.

    As far as that last version of the diff welding goes, I now have two full days of beating the living hell out of the car at Back to Basics and the Halloween Bash, plus a bit of street driving in addition to driving to the events and back. So far so good.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by protomor View Post
    House current mig welder? I wonder why they even sell the crappier CSB. I've only seen them the second way. Never that first picture.
    Everything I've shown in this thread was done with my AHP AlphaTig 200x I think it's called. There really hasn't been any lack of penetration or anything like that. The globby nastiness shown in the final version of the "fix" was just because I did about four passes over everything to make sure it was all very securely tied together.

    And yes, I am running the AHP on 115V in my garage because it has worked great so far so I keep being too lazy/cheap to get 220V run out to my garage.

    Regarding the crappy CSB, I don't know. At first I thought it was just a Uro brand being garbage thing, although I've used a ton of their garbage and it has all been great for me prior to this CSB. Then I got the expensive Meyle brand one and it was the exact same.... I had ECS Tuning send me the Febi one to replace the Meyle garbage one that didn't fit the picture on their website, and the Febi one was the stronger style. It's been good so far.

    OH! And by the way, the Meyle brand one that says Germany all over the place, also said "MADE IN CHINA" on it in little teeny letters. I was not amused.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I guess that brings me to the topic of tuning this pig. Being as it has over 220k miles on it, and is a slushbox, and was in a state of complete disrepair, I guess it wasn't surprising that it was slow. Actually it was super slow, because it would strangely hit the rev limiter before it would shift in the first couple of gears. This turned out to be a simple fix with RomRaider because there was some odd supplementary rev limiter that was easy to disable. I can't remember exactly what it was, so if I remember it later, I'll come back and fill in the details.

    After throwing new plugs, oil, and filters at it, I set up RomRaider for it and set about deleting all of the stuff that I didn't need the DME doing like running the muffler valve, running the SAP solenoid, running the EVAP solenoid, monitoring the rear O2 sensors, disable ASC operation, disable EWS function, raise the adjust the VANOS activation point, etc., and probably several more things I forgot to mention.

    First I need to say that I absolutely love RomRaider for these cars. It gives you the ability to do pretty much everything you could want to do to a N/A car for tuning it with the MAF in place. Forced induction will probably be a bit of a different story, we shall see.

    With the basics taken care of in the DME, went to the drag strip for a baseline. With the car autoshifting, it was just slow. At about 2900lbs with me in the car it was running about 16.2-16.3 at about 84-85mph. Online calculators indicate that it was making about 150hp of the 190 it was supposedly built with... Figuring that I needed as much power as I could get out of this engine since I didn't have a clutch to kick, I converted to E85 and started tuning.

    Another super cool thing is that when I say I "converted to E85," what I really mean is that I sucked the gasoline out of it as well as I could, and put in E85. That's it for what I did to the car other than a new fuel filter and an AEM UEGO wideband controller/gauge. Then I used RomRaider to get into the fuel tables that have units of injection time in them and multiplied them by 1.3. That got the car running nicely, and just a bit rich.

    RomRaider's tune altering ability isn't the only super cool aspect of it, the logger is also pretty fantastic, albeit just a little slow since it's monitoring OBD2 information. With the help of a couple of guys on the RomRaider forum though, I was able to do a tiny bit of hex code "changing" (for lack of the correct term), so that I could log my actual air fuel ratio through the DME/OBD2 port by running the AEM wideband 0-5V AFR output in through one of the unused rear O2 sensor signal wires.

    So without belaboring the process too much, I was able to log runs on the road enough to get my AFRs dialed in pretty close, and then go to the drag strip a couple of times. In the end I added a bit of timing, and found that the engine seems to like about 11.8-12.3ish AFRs. Doing this got me down to 15.0s at about 91mph. Not too shabby of a gain! And I was able to work specifically on the low end torque area right around where the converter stalls so that I could cut almost a couple of tenths off of the 60ft time. I figured that would apply well to drifty activities with a slushboxer sh1tbox like this one.

    For what it's worth, here is the main ignition advance table I ended up with:

    E85 Tune22 IgnitionMainTable.jpg

    And here are the two fueling tables as they ended up, Main, and WOT Enrichment:

    E85 Tune22 MainFuelTables.jpg

    And just for fun, here is the nice (and CHEAP) radio delete panel I got from ECS Tuning for mounting my AEM wideband controller/gauge:

    AEM UEGO.jpg

    And just in case anyone was wondering, yes that is mud on the dash. There is plenty of mud in the car it seems. From stuff like this I guess:

    14633655_788935167912069_4630937807495476703_o.jpg
    Last edited by tptrsn; 11-04-2016 at 04:27 PM.

  19. #19
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    I like how much effort you've put into the car short of the manual swap. I would have assumed E85 would be more of a pain than a manual swap. How expensive was the RomRaider? And will it hook up to OBD1 E36s? Cuz that sounds dope.

    Status: Someone put glitter in my oil. Wait. Why's all my oil outside the engine? What's that knocking?

  20. #20
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    Thanks man, I appreciate it!!

    As for the RomRaider, I have to confess I don't know what DME is in the OBD1 cars, but currently I believe RomRaider is only defined for BMW Siemens DMEs MS41.0, MS41.1, and MS41.2, and they are working on defining MS42 I think... Aren't the OBD1 E36 DMEs Bosch M5.2s or something? If yes, then no dice. Probably WinOLS is your only option then I guess, and that is no walk in the park.

    Regarding the E85 conversion, it really couldn't have been much easier than it was. I could have spent just as much effort dialing in the tune for gasoline. I bumped up the cold start curves some recently and drastically improved the little bit of cold-bloodedness the car was showing on E85. I think I can get it pretty much nailed.

    OTHER THAN FOR THE FACT that one of these days I will probably throw in a set of Siemens Deka 80# injectors I have sitting, just for the heck of it lol. That will throw a monkey wrench in the works. At that point though, I will have a lot of the groundwork done for slapping on a little turbo setup.
    Last edited by tptrsn; 11-04-2016 at 09:14 PM.

  21. #21
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    My Cars
    2 E30s and a maxima
    Be aware that the E85 can make fuel lines internally burst since they aren't designed for such high levels of ethanol. I had a line in the tank burst so I never noticed it. Took me months to diagnose what was wrong.

    Status: Someone put glitter in my oil. Wait. Why's all my oil outside the engine? What's that knocking?

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    DeWitt, Michigan
    Posts
    6,055
    My Cars
    '97 540i/6, '97 328i
    Thanks, I will keep an eye on it!

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Lake Orion, MI
    Posts
    167
    My Cars
    2000 328i, B5 VW Passat
    Sub'd. Love the work youre doing. I am basically trying to do the same thing with a e46 i bought for $900. I wanted to make it out to back to basics and the halloween bash but was rear ended in the daily the first week of oct so ive been dealing with that. If you ever need help on a weekend id be more than happy to lend a hand or tools and learn from someone like yourself.
    IG: allen_union

  24. #24
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    fairfax,va, usa
    Posts
    6,539
    My Cars
    2 E30s and a maxima
    Remember that E46s have more weight and less power than E36s.

    Status: Someone put glitter in my oil. Wait. Why's all my oil outside the engine? What's that knocking?

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    1,443
    My Cars
    99 328i, a few more
    Yeah, but they're so much better looking! lol

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