Sunday, May 29, 2011

Vintage Fail

After bleeding the coolant system for the fourth time, quickly installing a small amplifier and some speakers and retightening the exhaust, we set out for Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where the Vintage would take place. Around town, the temperature seemed to stay at a steady and comfortable place on the temperature scale. We made one stop and then fought our way through the tourists to leave the city. Once on the highway, the car really showed me what a good idea the M42 was.

It hummed along for about 30 miles before I noticed the temperature slowly increasing in a way that might suggest that it was hotter outside now than it was a few minutes ago and the engine's temperature increased in turn. But it kept rising. Eventually, it was close enough to the red to demand a roadside stop. So, we stopped. After a quick cool down, we were on the road again, only to stop 5 more miles down the road, and again in another few miles. By now, I had posted a message on and made a few calls to Jake, who pioneered the swap and fabricated my mounts. The consensus was that I still just didn't have all of the air out of the system.

So we located an Autozone about 10 miles away in Warrenton, VA (isn't technology grand?) and inched there, a mile or two at a time. In the parking lot, I spent the next few hours attempting to rebleed the system and swapping out the 12" electric fan for a 16" unit. After a test drive, I returned to the Autozone parking lot a broken man. I had no idea what was wrong but I knew that I wasn't going to make it to Vintage.

After a few phonecalls, the Ivy Street Red Car Gang braintrust concluded that the only thing left to do was replace the water pump and thermostat. Steve from Blunt Tech overnighted me a new water pump and thermostat to the Hampton Inn in Warrenton, where Dana and I decided to stay. That night, I tore the engine apart in the parking lot. We also blew a small hose on the way over that was conveniently located under the intake manifold and required its removal. 

Here is the carnage:

Blown hose under the intake:

Working through the grille:

...I was able to remove the water pump:

I bent up the impeller while trying to remove it and I might have broken the casing, but the important thing to note here is the scorched shaft. I imagine that the impeller slipped a little at low speeds, but then began to really slip (and burn) when things warmed up, expanding the metal of the impeller. 

So, after a full day of reinstallation and slow, tedious coolant bleeding, we stayed an extra night in Warrenton to make the best of things and babied the car for the 40 miles home.

Maybe next year.

Since I didn't have them loaded up for the last post, here are some shots of the exhaust manifold:

I had a rusty equal-length 2002 header welded to an M42 flange. It took an extra trip to the muffler shop to get it to fit, since I couldn't ge the car there, but Jay at the Meineke on Richmond Highway in Arlington, VA deserves any business teh locals can give him. The clamped-together section will get welded together soon and I'll probably wrap the whole thing in header wrap.

And say "Hello" to Dudley:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Like a Banshee

Dudley and I bolted the exhaust up, tightened the suspension up and aligned the steering last night before easing it out of the garage for a test run at midnight. The exhaust note is decidedly different than the M10.

The 1600 howled down the Beltway, pausing only for quick-throw gear shifts.The new suspension feels wonderful.

Then, the plastic to which the top radiator hose crumbled and emptied the coolant at a stoplight. We let it cool and nursed it to a gas station, where we filled the unsealed system with water and babied the car home.

Last weekend, I put a gallon of water into the coolant system to see if a slightly bent part of the aluminum one the salvage yard radiator was leaking. A slow but steady drip told me that it was. I immediately ordered a replacement, but, not knowing if I would get it in time, we sealed the radiator with some epoxy-like radiator sealant, which worked. So, had the salvage yard radiator not leaked to begin with, I would never have ordered the new radiator, which arrived yesterday. Enjoy the irony.

Still to do:
Replace radiator
Install switch to override the fan relay
Secure ECU cabling
Readjust rear brakes
Wire and calibrate speedometer (which looks awesome, by the way)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Electronic Speedometer

One of the reasons that 2002/1600 guys tend to stay away from the M42 swap is that it necessitates the use of a transmission that doesn't have an output for a mechanical speedometer. The only option with an M42 is to fit an electronic speedometer. Of course, many 02ers aren't crazy about the addition of a universal speedometer in their vintage looking cluster. 

So, with some help from Tom at 02 Again, I came up with this:

I still need to test it, but it's looking good.

Otherwise, I'm just waiting on my exhaust guy to finish a header modification. After that, I can align the steering and torque down the suspension.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I tackled some smaller things today. First, the hall effect driveshaft sensor for the electronic speedometer, that I may or may not be finished with in time for the trip to Vintage. VDO universal electronic speedometers can operate on either hall effect sensors or variable resistance (VR) sensors. This one was cheap.

Still no exhaust until tomorrow, but I cleaned everything up. I filled the radiator with 50/50 distilled water and coolant and made a new bracket for the AFM box to hold it in place.

I also needed to plug an unused port in the rubber intake elbow. I couldn't find a bolt big enough, but I did find the perfect plug. For now, I'll just pretend that it's a super-high-tech performance measure.

Here's another gratuitous shot of the engine bay.

For more ridiculously loud engine revving, here you go:

Sunday, May 22, 2011


No exhaust, but it runs!

I'm still working on the exhaust, but here is what the tailpipe looks like from the ANSA muffler.

I also added the necessary fuel filter and cleaned up the fuel pump wiring, and clearly nothing else.

Left to to:
Wire up reverse lights
Finish exhaust manifold
Torque down axle nuts
Align the front wheels

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fuel Pump and Coils-On-Plug Kit

I dropped an E30 318is fuel pump in the tank and wired it up. The fuel pump fits nicely, uses the same range of resistance for the fuel level gauge and was engineered to work perfectly with the M42, so it's a good choice with one disadvantage; it's just a little short. This means that it leaves a gallon or so of gas in the bottom of the tank. I will probably re-engineer a, external pump solution later, but, for now, I'm happy with this pump's simplicity.

I'll have to tidy up the wiring and mount the fuel filter back there, but it's close to being done.

I received an M42 Coil-On-Plug kit int eh mail today. The stock E30 318is uses four individual coils, one per cylinder, that are mounted in the fender. Spark plug wires originally ran from each coil to a boot on each plug. Since the replacement cost for a set of OEM wires cost around $175, some innovative soul designed a mounting plate and hardware solution that utilizes coils from another BMW, negating the need for spark plug wires. The kit costs less than a new set of wires.

First, mounting studs replace the center valve cover bolts.

Then the mounting plate goes on.

Then the coils get bolted in place. The coils are Bremi 11860 units, for anyone playing at home.

The great part about this kit is that no custom wiring was necessary; it's just plug and play.

EDIT: The above wiring is not correct. In order to ensure proper spark plug wiring, one needs to do a continuity test per the following:

Coil 1 = Pin 25 at the ECU plug
Coil 2 = Pin 52 at the ECU plug
Coil 3 = Pin 24 at the ECU plug
Coil 4 = Pin 51 at the ECU plug

Monday, May 16, 2011

Engine Wiring Done

I spent quite a few hours redoing part of the electrical system and wiring up the M42's connectors. First, I replaced the battery cable with an E30 cable. It works with the M42's wiring harness and the E30s had a really cool positive power distribution block. I mounted it where it was in the E30; on the passenger's side of the firewall. If I were to guess, I'd say that BMW's engineers calculated the necessary size of cable to handle the voltage load with a healthy margin of error, and then they doubled it. It's gauge "00". I've seen lightning protection systems with smaller gauge wire.

Here it is mounted in the neat little E30 holder.

The cable has a post on the end of it, and the engine wiring harness attaches to it with a standard battery terminal. The copper eye and cable supply the chassis positive circuit. Here it is with the cover.

Tidy and protected from the random grounding through and errant wrench.

Now, on to the less than tidy wiring in the car. I installed the positive power distribution block from a fourth generation Volkswagen Jetta. This thing is pretty great for safely and easily powering to everything that you need to power and leaving you with the option for future expansion. There are even three fused outputs with a built-in waterproof connector.

It too has a neat little cover.

I did have to drill two holes in it with some spacers and bolts to mount it. Overall, it is definitely worth pulling out of a salvage yard, though I got mine on eBay.

And, lastly, I wired up the C101 connector, which neatly houses all of the connections from the M42 to the chassis. Only six or seven connections need to be made here, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. The connectors between the chassis and engine harnesses also have a nice little firewall mount. The big round one on the right with the cap is the diagnostic port. You can also see that I connected the fuel feed and return lines to the engine. 

Left to do:

Wire the electric fan
Wire and install the fuel pump
Install the fuel filter
Bleed brakes
Install and adjust emergency brake
Torque down axle nuts
Add coolant, transmission fluid and engine oil to the appropriate places
Install AFM box and air filter
Finish and install electronic speedometer
Install driveshaft speed sensor
Install Coil-On-Plug kit
Drive like the wind

One more thing: I was and am determined not to modify or grind down the steering center link, though there is  an interference with the M42's transmission. I decided (on Marshall's advice) to do all the clearancing on the transmission, so Dudley grinded away a section of the transmission's ribs and I documented it in an earlier post. As it turns out, Dudley and I needed to take out a bit more once the transmission and engine were mounted properly. Here is the proper amount of clearancing that is needed. Just be careful not to grind yourself a new drain.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Driveshaft, Coolant Lines and an Electric Fan

I found this 12" electric fan and mounted it on the radiator with the little plastic ties that go through the radiator core. I also spent some quality time in the back of an Advance Auto Parts store, selecting appropriate hoses to cut up and use to close the cooling system on the M42. For now, I looped the heater input and output to each other because I will soon be removing the heater box in lieu of another HVAC system. More on that later.

Dudley and I also scoured the local salvage yard for a collar nut for the driveshaft, since I misplaced the original one. After returning from that adventure, we bolted in the driveshaft, complete with a new pilot bushing.

I just have to wire up the reverse lights and fill the transmission with gear oil.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Marching Forward

This week was filled with small yet important steps forward. First of all, I procured a used M42 radiator, made the parts to mount it and installed it. This, to my chagrin, required the removal of the car's "snorkel". There has been much debate about the worth and usefulness of the snorkel; BMW used it to provide cooler air from forward of the firewall to the stock intake. I had previously modified my stock air cleaner to mount atop the non-stock Weber carburetor, just so that I could utilize the original engineering. I had secretly hoped to find another use for it, but, alas, it had to be removed to make room for the massive M42 radiator.

I still have the plumbing connections to make and I'm waiting on an electric fan. Jay and I strategized on wiring, which should be done this week. I picked up this neat little power distribution box from a fourth generation VW Jetta. It will tidy up a lot of the wiring and provide three fused and watertight connections.

Here is the center support bearing (CSB) for the stock E30 driveshaft. The driveshaft has a splined section, allowing for it to bolt right up to the length that is needed for an M42 in a 1600 or 2002. For those of you playing at home, the center-to-center dimension for the mounting holes is 7-3/4".

I made the bracket for the accelerator cable at the pedal box, but, honestly, it's so ugly from trial and error that I didn't want to photograph it.

I also made this:

It's a gear shifter knob made from a 1920s ceramic door knob that I found in a pecan farm store in Georgetown, Texas. The base is a piece of plumbing pipe that has been drilled and tapped for an M6 bolt that I ground down. It feels nice and seems to fit the character of the car.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Shifter Linkage Done

At some point, I realized that I may need to shift gears with the new motor and transmission. Since this swap is not a common one, no one sells a conversion kit that deals with the custom shift linkage. So, after some careful measurement and judicious research, I found a good combination of usable parts that required the least amount of fabrication.

I began with a gifted E21 shifter platform (Thanks, Jim!). I cut 12-15mm off of it and drilled new mounting holes, which should be about 97mm apart.

Then I bolted up new mounts with new hardware. It's important to note that I previously drilled and tapped the bosses for the mounts on the transmission. You can see here the finished piece. Note the mount/vibration dampener on the aft end of the platform. It's a mount from the air filter box from a 1984-85 318i. 

I still had the E21 shifter in at this point, but a test fit enlightened me to the wear on the bushings that manifested itself in huge amounts of shifter play. I swapped in the E30 shifter, which has a considerably long throw. I may search for a shorter throw shifter later.

Here's everything in the car.

The shifter link is from a 1995-99 E36 M3/328i. As it turns out, the "knuckle" at the transmission end needs to be the stock E30 piece. I bought the E36 M3/328i part, but it is about 5mm shorter than the E30 part.

Here is the aft mount/vibration dampener. 

It's just a piece of 3/4" bar stock with an M8 bolt through it. If I had taken more time, the hole might be centered. I guess I'll just have to live with the shame of less-than-perfect fabrication where no one will ever see it.

I also bolted up the guibo. As soon as I get another scrap of angle iron, I'll make the other bracket to relocate the center support bearing.

The shifter is about 1/4" forward of the center of the shifter hole. Now I just need to find or make a shifter knob.