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Thread: 1998 E39 Touring LS Swap - Build Thread

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Central VA
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    My Cars
    1999 528i

    1998 E39 Touring LS Swap - Build Thread

    Hey all. Figured I'd start a thread, maybe mostly as a record for myself, but also hopefully to share info on the swap. I'm going to do my best to have a very tight accounting of money spent, which I'll share here as I go and at the end.

    Just as a preface, I'm very much not a mechanic. I've done some work on cars over the years but this is diving in at the deep end. Needless to say, I'm going to make some mistakes along the way, and this project is going to take a long time. I'm a home-builder by trade, so I fancy myself good at making things with my hands, lets see how that translates!

    So, I found this 1998 528iT on CL last winter. It had around 242k miles on it, a blown head gasket, dead battery, and an $800 price tag. It had been in a fender bender (hence the two tone bumper) but otherwise was in great condition.

    Attachment 664832

    I thought I would fix the head gasket, get it running, and swap later on down the line after "cutting my teeth" on minor repairs, but when I opened up the motor:

    Attachment 664833

    Cylinders 5/6 had some real rust (not merely surface rust) due to coolant just hanging out in there for a year or so. So I decided to jump headlong into the swap.

    Attachment 664834

    Attachment 664835

    So my plan is to do a Sloppy Mechanics build. For those unfamiliar, google Sloppy Mechanics and you'll get the gist. That is:

    5.3/4.8 truck/van LS with the Sloppy Stage II cam, pac 1218 springs, and a VS Racing 78/75 turbo. Very much like what Lantz is finishing up now.

    I'm using a z32 trans out of a 1990-1996 Nissan 300zx. They're cheap ($400 out of the yard), widely available, and have been said to handle up to 700hp in stock form. According to this thread, the trans is 34.5" from bellhousing to center pivot, so it's in the range of a t56 (33" for GTO), and there are relocation kits available if I need to adjust it forwards. The adapter is made by a company called Gforce, and costs $600. I'm sourcing an E39 M5 diff and half shafts, and I'll get a custom driveshaft made.

    The thing I'm least comfortable with is the wiring, so I'm going to spend up on a Holley Terminator X.

    Anyway, this is going to be a slow moving project, but I'll keep it updated as often as I do work on it. Thanks to all who have done it already for sharing information.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Apparently my photos might not be working, I'm posting from a chromebook. Anyway I'll figure it out.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
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    198
    My Cars
    1999 BMW 323i vert
    Looking forward to it!
    Diving in at the shallow end!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    Louisiana
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    152
    My Cars
    Bmw E39 528i
    Dang I love the wagons, glad you'r going to keep it on the road, also with more power under it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    Central VA
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    1999 528i
    Letís try again.




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  5. #5
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    Feb 2019
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    Central VA
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    1999 528i
    There we go. So thatís the car.

    Hereís the lovely M52 cylinder condition:



    Hereís the current status:




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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Houston, Tx.
    Posts
    5,627
    My Cars
    '10 X5, '98 M3 - 302
    Seems like wagon ls swaps are becoming more popular. Good luck!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Central VA
    Posts
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    My Cars
    1999 528i
    Having a hell of a time with the bolts holding the diff to the half shafts. Got all but three out and one of those is now stripped completely.

    Any tips out there for these? Iíve been pouring on the PB but to no avail. Torching too.


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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Washington
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    My Cars
    BMW 525i
    You stripped the etorx bolts? Was the socket fully on or crooked?

    You may need to adjust your setup so itís fully engaged. Helps to rotate half shaft to the spot with best clearance.


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    2002 BMW 525i - 5.3L LS Turbo Swap
    Follow me on Instagram at Lantz_E39
    Link to my build page

  9. #9
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    Feb 2019
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    Central VA
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    1999 528i
    Mustíve been on crooked. Most came out in, but these last three are proving difficult.

    Definitely have to rotate. I have half a mind just to cut the shafts out, as I plan on getting new when I swap the diff


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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Washington
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    BMW 525i
    If you are sure you are using the right size, can you pound it on with a hammer? I would put a ratchet directly on the socket so an extension isnít making it crooked.


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    2002 BMW 525i - 5.3L LS Turbo Swap
    Follow me on Instagram at Lantz_E39
    Link to my build page

  11. #11
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    Feb 2019
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    Central VA
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    1999 528i
    Pretty sure i have the right socket. The rest (9 of 12 i think) came off ok. The rubber boot throws it off a little, even after rotating half shafts. As a last resort before cutting, I may try to tack a nut on the stripped head.

    All a good learning experience anyway!


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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Washington
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    BMW 525i
    You should be able to get a 3/8" etorx and ratchet without extension on there no problem even with the boot. Your socket should be tight to one of the bolts already removed if you have the right size. Etrox should still have some bite if you just stripped the outer taper and its fully seated.

    I would try that before welding unless they are already toast. After you start welding you can't go back.
    2002 BMW 525i - 5.3L LS Turbo Swap
    Follow me on Instagram at Lantz_E39
    Link to my build page

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    Central VA
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    1999 528i
    M5 rear subframe with diff, half shafts, control arms on the way. $1405 shipped from EBay.

    Anyone need a subframe?


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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Pittsburgh, PA / TN
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    2002 BMW 525iT
    Getting straight to it, great work so far! That cylinder is cruuuuusty haha

  15. #15
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    Feb 2019
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    Central VA
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    1999 528i
    Got the diff and half shafts out. Just went ahead and cut a bolt head off on one side with a dremel, that allowed me room to drop one side out and remove the diff/other shaft as one piece. Not the prettiest job but itís gone now. Going to be way more careful when I disassemble the subframe Iím getting on the 26th. Lesson learned.





    Also removed the old fuel pump/sending unit and holy cow the assembly is jacked up. Insulation on the wiring is basically gone, the fuel sock crumbled completely away. Rust on the lever for the float switch. Gonna have to run through some fuel filters I think in the early days. Also the in-tank section of the fuel line broke in about 3 places as I was gingerly removing the unit. I definitely wasnít forcing it, the line was just extremely brittle.



    Now I think I should open up the other side and check on that sending unit. Need to order one anyway. Should I be considering replacing the tank?

    Also, has anyone considered doing a remote mount turbo in one of these? Seems like thereís a ton of space in the area where the muffler was.




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  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    Louisiana
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    My Cars
    Bmw E39 528i
    i like ur thinking.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Washington
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    BMW 525i
    Wow, my 525i had 220K on it and had no issues so it makes you wonder what kind of fuel they put in your tank?
    2002 BMW 525i - 5.3L LS Turbo Swap
    Follow me on Instagram at Lantz_E39
    Link to my build page

  18. #18
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    Feb 2019
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    Central VA
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    1999 528i
    Yeah. Iím basically replacing the fuel system anyway (new 3/8 line and pump) but it was alarming to see how gone that wiring was. Having only paid $800 for the car I imagined there might be some iffy ďunforeseen conditionsĒ.


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  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Charleston, SC
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    99 528iT
    I have wanted to run a rear mount turbo forever.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    Central VA
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    1999 528i
    M5 rear end arrived way earlier than expected. Disassembly pending.



    Anyone done a rear mount on anything before? Only worry I have would be turbo sizing, and Iím sure i could find resources on that. Itís going to be a street car and definitely not a daily at that, so most of the downsides are moot for me.


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  21. #21
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    I think the question would be why? Rear mounts add complexity.


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    2002 BMW 525i - 5.3L LS Turbo Swap
    Follow me on Instagram at Lantz_E39
    Link to my build page

  22. #22
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    For sure there are trade offs (oiling, for example), just saw that huge space back there and thought it could work. Less heat in the engine bay, less ďintricateĒ piping, maybe? Mostly spit-balling.


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  23. #23
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    Central VA
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    1999 528i


    Differential out of the m5 subframe. Half shafts next. Much easier to get those (on the m5) e14 bolts out with added access.

    Ordering up some fuel system stuff. New sending units (approx $200), fuel pressure regulator, 3/8 hose and fittings (around $160).


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  24. #24
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    Feb 2019
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    1999 528i
    For those of you that ran a return fuel line, did you just use the stock line as the return? Or did you add a new line both ways?


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  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Washington
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    BMW 525i
    I tried to cheap out on my fuel system and ended up redoing it all. Got to complicated with fittings and everything so I bit the bullet and dropped the coin. It is easy enough to run fuel lines from the engine up through drivers side under seat access port. Then I ran fish tape from passenger to driver side under seat holes to pull the supply line through. I was able to shove the fuel line into the stock metal fuel line clamps under the car. Pulled the drivers fender well liner and used two cushion clamps in the fender well and called it done. I used rubber push lock fuel hose and a aeromotive filter.
    2002 BMW 525i - 5.3L LS Turbo Swap
    Follow me on Instagram at Lantz_E39
    Link to my build page

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