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Thread: The parts car that never got parted: a beater 325e, that refuses to die

  1. #1
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    Default The parts car that never got parted: a beater 325e, that refuses to die

    Hello Stance|Works community!

    With great pleasure, it is time to present my current project:
    A car, that is not special or quick nor is it good looking. But what it has to offer is something very unique - the joy of owning and driving a car, that you don't really care if it gets dented or scratched and yet it still delivers the smile on the face. It has a story behind it, which also contributes to the character of this car. My friends and I called this car Navesa, which translates into something like a shed and a canopy at the same time, as what it does best is shade.

    Before you continue, be advised - this is NOT going to be a stanced car, in fact it is more the opposite of stanced cars. The point of this thread is not to show off crazy low and/or fitment, craftsmanship or ingenuity.
    The point of this thread is to share another side of enthusiast car ownership, that kept me sane for the past few years.

    Prologue

    Most of us would agree, having an ambitious project car, that consumes way too much time and has blown the budget waaaay out of proportion is so stressful and can lead to frustration, desperation, depression, self-doubt, broken up relationships (not only with sexual partners but friends and relatives) and other negatives that can and will dilute the satisfaction of completing the project car or even feel disgust or shame when looking at it or driving it. These negatives can take away everything that we strive for, when we first dive into the project. Some of you may remember a discussion on that topic in another member's thread, you know what I'm on about here. These negatives are often hidden, suppressed by the owner of the car, we don't get to see or feel them in the flashy instaspace photos or faceswap posts. But they are there, and people involved in such slow and painful self-funded builds know it.
    This car is exactly the opposite of those builds. It has never gulped up unnecessary amounts of money, it has never developed hard to trace issues that don't let you sleep, it has never failed to take me to wherever I set off to. It has been there for me, each time, sure there is no such thing as repair free car, it has had issues, but always made it home safely under its own power. It gave me unforgettable memories simply by taking me to a place so secluded and beautiful, it takes away the day-to-day stress off my shoulders.
    I like to think of this car as a reflection to my other 325e, seen in a magical opposite mirror. One 325e got all the attention to detail, money, professional body repairmen and respray and is still bitchy and trying to ruin me. The other got neglect, patch repairs, abuse and A TON of miles, but still stood and refused to leave me stranded, in fact it never left any of my buddies down - whoever needed a tow, got a tow from it.
    So far, it has been an inexpensive, carefree journey, that I enjoyed and I think now it's time to return some of those favors. It's time to give this car a second life.

    Introduction/Storytime

    Back in January 2015, I had just started my restoration project on my alpine white 1985 325e. Check out the link in my signature if you care to see how this car kicked my ass. It is now 99% complete, so the thread gets updated only once in a while.
    Anyway, at the same time, Jan 2015, I started the awful task of replacing the rear subframe bushings on my daily driver, which was the first e30 I "built". It was nothing fancy, a simple 4-banger with an LPG system to get me round and about. Doing the bushings on the subframe was a good time to swap in disc brakes at the back and an LSD unit for some winter slides, I thought. So off with the whole frame. Only trouble was, the subframe came off with some of the inner rocker panels and some of the structure that supports the subframe itself. Guess bad weld jobs/repairs combined with salt on the roads for 7 winters would do that. Worst part was it was halfway through the garage door, stuck on jackstands and no subframe in it in the middle of January. It was OK during daytime, but once night fell ... this was one of the most miserable days in my life. That was the point I knew I had to get rid of this car, as I didn't have the means, time and money to have it properly fixed. At the same time I started looking for another daily driver. As chance would have it a 325e pops up in the classifieds and it is even in my hometown! A 325e is a very rare bird in my part of the world, so the possibility of owning TWO at the same time was very slim. Naturally, I asked my dad to go check it out for me, since I don't live there any more. The next day he sent me these pictures among many other. I picked these as the most informative ones.









    As you can see, some obvious sings of rust, but the structural elements were good, says my dad. He also sent me a video of the car running with popped expansion tank cap. What do you see? Yep you guessed it - exhaust gas coming from the cooling system's expansion tank. I was actually happy about it, because I had the engine out of the white car, I wasn't going to use the head for that build and it was recently redone. I tried using that as a bargaining chip, but to no avail. The car was listed for 900 euro, which is roughly 1100 USD, I low balled at about 700 USD (600 euro) and the guy told me to f*ck off. Oh well, moved on, bought other cars (they will get their own threads) and forgot about it.

    Fast and Furious Forward a year and half to August 2016

    A buddy of mine starts asking me all of a sudden to lend him some 325e specific parts, such as ECU, crank position sensor, idle control module, ignition parts etc over the course of about a month. I give him whatever parts he asks for next, no questions asked. One day I get curious and ask "what are these for, what's going on?" and he replies that he's trying to help out some guy having issues with starting up his US spec e30. Needless to say, that catches my attention and I say "well, if he doesn't get it running, I'm happy to buy it off his hands". Apparently the guy got fed up with the issues and wants to talk money, so we arrange to meet up where the car is parked. The address was a car wash right next to the building I moved out of a few years back, so I know the place and the neighborhood very well.
    I arrive at the spot and immediately recognize the same car! The exterior had gotten rougher and under the hood it was a mess - they short circuited the coil and it exploded all over the place, with the rocker cover removed. There was gunk all over the place and random wires hanging from under the dash and poking from under the carpet. Obvious signs of desperate attempts to start the car. We talk briefly, I tell him the story about the previous purchase attempt and we laugh a bit about it. He gave me a summary of what they tried to start the car and says in frustration he is fed up with this old piece of crap. It actually belongs to his cousin who is right now out of country and he doesn't want to sink any more time and effort into it, given he bought another e30 to rip in. So we made a great deal and for 500 euro (about 600 USD) I towed it to our workshop the next day.

    The troubleshooting of a lifetime

    My idea was to part out the car, as the parts in it were worth waay more than what I paid for it. My dad came over due to some business related stuff and we got talking - why don't we try to start it ourselves, at least see what condition the engine was in. And that's where it started - spent a ridiculous amount of time tidying up some of the wiring, removing a stupid alarm system, a humongous air horn that was inop and a bunch of other crap out of it, including removing all the molten coil pieces that were stuck all over the engine bay and in the rocker arm tray of the head. I don't have any pictures of it, but remember that exhaust leak into the cooling system? Someone had taken the head off to repair that and there was a weld under the camshaft from cyl 2 all the way to cyl 6. As I said and am going to repeat a lot in this thread - I didn't care, car was so cheap it would easily make all the money and some more, so I was chill about it.
    Someone had cut off the fuel pump harness to make the pump work all the time, instead of jumping the relay pins on the engine harness. That was the first sign of illiterates working on this car.
    I'll cut it short - to start the car, I replaced both fuel pumps with the units I had left over from my project 325e (it got brand new one), put some fresh gas in it and make a breakthrough discovery.
    One day I was thinking about the crank position sensor of the 325e. It was there, that I knew - it is located on the gearbox bell housing as opposed to other and later e30 models at the front of the engines. It takes the reading for TDC from a small square pin tacked onto the flywheel, which tends to fall off over time. I went under the car again and found out someone had cut a small square hole in the gearbox bell housing. Obviously they knew about the way the 325e ignition works and wanted to check if the pin is still there without removing the gearbox. I rotated the engine until I see the pin through that hole - what do you know, there is a small bolt welded in place of the pin, it has obviously fallen off. But why doesn't the car start, if someone "fixed" it already? I thought about it for a second and went to measure the height of the original pin on my flywheel from the other car, good thing I kept everything. Sure enough, the bolt they welded onto the flywheel was 4mm too tall. I took out the crank sensor - it was smashed by the too tall bolt. Put in another sensor with a 4mm washer and gave it a crank. It started right up and that was the moment, this car was no longer a parts car. This was early October 2016.
    I told my dad I'd just drive it around for a few months until it dies and then part it out. He said "Son, the temporary things are the longest lasting ones. Out of all your cars, you will drive this one the most"
    He was right.

    A time of adventure and careless motoring

    During the next three years and some months, I drove this car a total of about 110 000 kms, which is about 68 000 miles. For our 500 km long country, this is a lot. Me and my at the time fiance went on countless trips with it and it took us to magnificent places where there is no road to set camp at. I thought her how to drift in it on an abandoned go-cart track. Besides putting on some MSW wheels in 15x7 et12 with new rubber in 195/65/15 on it, and swapping out the horrific interior for a somewhat better one in tan color, I didn't do any cosmetic changes to it, mostly repairs and maintenance when needed. Below are some pictures of these times, as I can't find all of them.

    Woke up to this bullcrap one morning while sleeping over at her place, 4 minutes late for the parking fee.



    Found this beautiful place just off a country road.



    Took it on some high attitude adventures



    Put a roof rack on it for a while, then took it of due to too much wind noise.




    One of many camping trips to places with no roads. The brake hard line to the rear wheels broke and I had to squish it together with some pliers effectively disabling the rear brakes. Made it home safely (500 km trip).



    Another camping trip, the first night was one to remember ... there was such a savage thunderstorm, that we stayed in the car to make use of the Faraday cage.



    Checking the oil, after a loud bang while fooling around in this abandoned rock mine




    Of course, this sort of use and abuse doesn't come without some broken parts.
    During this time, I have replaced some broken or worn out parts, below is the cost break down of the whole car including these items, not chronological though. No labor cost, as I did all the work.

    Purchase of car - 500 euro
    Change of ownership/tax - 65 euro
    Fixing the chassis wiring harness - 0
    Replacing both fuel pumps - 0 euro, leftover from the white 325e
    Replacing crank position sensor - 0 euro, leftover from the white 325e
    Driveshaft central bearing - 20 euro
    Flex disc - 40 euro
    Brand new OEM BMW front shocks - 32 euro (old stock discount deal)
    Front upper McPhearson bushings - 50 euro
    Front sway bars - 25 euro
    Lower control arm bushings - 0 euro, gifted by a friend from a parts car
    Steering rack - 0 euro. I actually BROKE the steering rack. Used the original from the white 325e
    All four ball joints on the control arms - 40 euro
    Brake master cylinder - 0 euro, gifted by a friend from parts car
    Front brake calipers - 0 euro, gifted by a friend from parts car. Reason was one of the pistons seized and was crooked, couldn't get it out.
    Brake light switch - 7 euro
    Brake hoses and pipe to fix camping brake disaster - 25 euro
    Spark plugs wires and distributor plus distributor cap - 0 euro, left over from the white 325e
    Rear wheel bearings - 40 euro, these got SO loud on t he way home from one of the camping trips, we couldn't hear anything above 60km/h
    Rear spring perch rot - 5 euro, ordered some laser cut 5mm thick steel and welded that in quick and dirty. More on that later.
    Head cover gasket - 8 euro. Did the rocker adjustment while at it
    Timing belt kit including water pump, tensioner pulley and three seals for the transmission - 70 euro
    Thermostat - 20 euro
    Upper radiator hose - 25 euro
    Radiator - 0 euro, used the old one from the white 325e, which got a brand new one
    Cooling system reservoir - 0 euro, used one from a parts car
    LPG system sender unit - 65 euro
    Maintenance items for the LPG system - 13 euro
    Wheels - 75 euro
    Winter tires - 180 euro
    Front windshield - 0 euro, bought a brand new one for my m10 powered e30 and used the original one for this car
    Front passenger and driver side windows + window lift mechanisms - 0 euro , had my own parts car for those
    Door cards - 0 euro, had my own parts car for those
    Recaro seats - 65 euro (score)
    Rear seat - 0 euro, had my own parts car for that
    Throttle cable - 15 euro
    First clutch replacement - 0 euro, put in a used clutch and regretted that after 2 months
    Second clutch replacement - 110 euro
    First starter replacement - 110 euro, put in a brand new unit, which failed in 6 months, got my money back actually
    Second starter replacement - 0 euro, used the original one from the white e30, it got a OEM reconditioned one
    Rear brake hose and hard lines replacement (again, to fix the dirty job I did previosuly) - 34 euro
    Rear polyurethane bushing - 40 euro, yes I put poly bushings in that car. They popped up for cheap used.

    As you can see, the total amount of about 1170 euro is largely due to the fact I had parts from other cars at my disposal. If I had to buy them new or used if not available used, probably it would have gone to 2k. Which still isn't bad, considering the huge distance covered. My ODO doesn't work, so how do I know how many miles I did in it? I kept every single receipt for fuel and calculated based on the avarage MPG the car makes.


    Well, this is pretty much a good recap of what has been going on with the car up until end of February 2020.
    That's all I have time for right now. Until next time, stay tuned to find out what I uncover in Feb.
    "You could roll an E30 in a BMW showroom today and people would think:
    Well, they finally got the 1 series right!"

    3.0 L e30 ground up build

  2. #2
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    Finally have some time to continue this.

    All those fun times would leave their mark on any car and this one is no exception. I bought it in rough shape to begin, the chassis was feeling weak - it was spongy in the corners and was creaking on take-off. Any passenger would complain about their seat reclining backwards and to the right. While doing the repairs, I knew there was a hole in place of where the seat would bolt to the floor and some other rusted through places on the floor, as well as previous repairs in the footwells of driver and passenger - person who did these used rivets instead of welds.

    Jump to Feb 2020

    So, after snowing was done and I could use any other of my other cars, end of Feb 2020 I decided to take the carped out and do some welding to patch up the car. I've only owned a welder for some months and have never done repairs on sheet metal. I've fixed my exhaust piping and done some other small weld jobs, but it would be my first time to form patches and weld thin sheet metal. I've always wanted to learn how to do that and this is the best opportunity - if I do it right, I get a new skillset that will make car stuff much easier; if I fail, *SPOILER ALERT* there is no way this car gets worse than it already is.

    Took the car to the workshop and took some photos to show the overall condition of the body. Let me make it clear - I don't want to paint the car or correct any of the appearance flaws, I like it the way it is.






    As you can see, it has been poorly repainted at some point in time, the clear coat has peeled off a long time ago and the base coat is failing too. Let's take a closer look at some of the worse places.
    The worst part of the body is obviously the rear driver side wheel arch. You may have noticed it wan't like that when I first bought the car. What happened was, when I switched the wheels from stock alloys 14x6 ET35 to 15x7 ET12, which is a very common wheel size for an e30, the tire was rubbing the wheel arch VERY badly. Upon inspection I made the discovery, that the car has had a small accident in that area, which pushed the outer skin of the wheel well and the inner wheel tub inwards. Whoever repaired it, did the sloppiest job ever. Instead of pulling the damage out, they just formed the wheel arch SLIGHTLY and put a ton of bondo on it, leaving the wheel arch about 3 centimetres inwards from where it needs to be. I busted out the roller and bondo started falling off. Check out how thick it is.




    The driver's side trunk pocket is almost gone, I suspect they removed the coating when doing that "repair". You can see the bondo going all the way down.



    Same goes for the wheel arch part above the rocker



    The passenger's side wheel arch is actually in good condition, as there haven't been any poorly executed collision repairs. Apart from the small lip below the bumper, it's rust free.




    There is some accident damage in the front passenger's side. The fender is slightly bent outwards just above the bumper, the hood is crooked a bit, but the worse part is that the shock tower support is bent too. The dent on the wheel arch is my doing, I kicked it once when I got frustrated :/



    You can kind of see the crease in the sheet metal, just above the square hole. That crack over there at the battery tray didn't help withstand the impact either.



    Another impact I discovered just yesterday and thought this picture may portray good enough - a rear impact just above the exhaust muffler, which has lead to the crumbling of the rear support beam.
    Also, notice the crunched and rusty rear valance and the small spot under the tail light. That's a recently developed one.



    I am not going to try and show all the dents, far too many anyway. Here's a picture of the filthy engine bay instead, which has a very rich collection of dust, sand and dirt from around our beautiful country.



    Interior is ugly, mismatched seats and a ripped rear bench, cracked dash, worn out shift boot and gear knob. Keep in mind these are swapped seats, door cards, knob, boot and steering wheel. Imagine what the old ones looked like.




    Time to remove the interior and take the carpet out. Here's a picture of my fingers poking through where the passenger's seat would bolt onto the floor. That should give a hint of what's to come.



    But it was faaar worse than what I expected.



    Can you see the huge hole where the passenger side B-pillar should connect to the seat's footing? No? Let me help you, it's in the upper right corner of the picture, next to the other gigantic hole



    Same area, driver's side is already on the same route. Check out the seat footing there too, you can see the ground through the hole.





    Let's move to the passenger's footwell.




    You can kind of see the rivet patch work in this one



    Hole to the engine bay. The dirt in the background turned out to be more holes.



    Finally, the driver's footwell. It is actually worse than in this picture, as I have poked around with a screwdriver since I took it.



    Classy rivet patchwork



    In the small opening in the above picture, I found this suprise:



    I was genuinly scared, I thought it may be crack or some other illegal drugs.
    Turns out it's a big rusted bolt, wrapped in cloth then wrapped in a plastic bag. Guess that's the way to plug a hole.

    Naturally, I was sad to find out what I thought would be a quick repair turned out to be quite possibly the death of this car. I mean, look at it - it's unsafe, anyone would be scared to drive in this deathtrap.

    I parked it at the workshop and didn't touch it for 5 months, trying to decide what to do with it.
    Stay tuned.
    "You could roll an E30 in a BMW showroom today and people would think:
    Well, they finally got the 1 series right!"

    3.0 L e30 ground up build

  3. #3
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    This post will get us up to date!
    Hopefully.

    End of July 2020

    After debating with myself if I should junk the car or repair the rust, I made the decision to teach myself how to work with sheet metal. As stated in the previous post - it can't get any worse than that, so might as well give it a go.

    I made this rough plan, which isn't detailed on purpose, we all know plans never go to plan:
    - start with floor
    - continue with rockers
    - next up is firewall
    - rear wheel wells, spring perches
    - trunk floor and trunk pockets
    - rear valance

    The reason behind this order of work is - I need solid points in the car to support it while doing the wheel wells, which should be the rockers. Rockers and floor are connected, so while doing the floor I can do rockers. Also, I want to first seal off the cabin and then work on the other problem areas, as they are not crucial for the car being operational. I mean, if I have to I can still drive it with the chewed up wheel arch and rusted through trunk pockets and come back to that after winter.

    Well, that's good but what about all the metal pieces that need to be fabricated? Fear no more, dear StanceWorks reader.

    Enter the donor vehicle.




    It's a 1990 324td, which got into an accident and was totaled out by insurance. The control arm was jammed into the firewall and the wheel was ... in an interesting position to say the least. No pics, sorry. A buddy and I bought it and stripped it for parts back in Jan and kept the shell as a roller. Convenient for me.

    With a decision taken and a donor car present, I rolled the car into the shop, dropped the exhaust, driveshaft and fuel tank along with the fuel lines and removed the LPG tank. Ready to start cutting, which part of the floor do I start off?

    I decided to go with the worst offender - the area behind and beneath the passenger. That way if it turns out I suck at this job, I'll know from the start and not sink time into this car by doing small bits to feel good about myself, only to find at a later stage I suck and the car has to be junk.
    You are on this adventure along, as I still don't know if I suck too bad or will do the job.

    Look at that nasty hole with rot around it ... that's where the seat used to bolt onto to.



    Preparing to make the first cut.



    You can see, I cleaned the spot welds where the floor double overlaps with the piece above the fuel tank. When I drilled the spot welds, turns out the metal remaining is so thin, it would burn right through if I tried to weld to it. So I had to cut more, which made the task of making the piece fit even tougher.

    Point of no return



    From here on, I need to work from the outer rocker inwards. Cut back to rust free metal



    First piece welded in. Had to do it in two pieces, because the donor car didn't have a long enough straight piece for that portion :/




    Both pieces together



    Epoxy primed, I left the welds on the inside tall on purpose, the epoxy was later removed on the face where the inner rocker piece joins with the outer rocker.




    Test fitting the inner rocker piece



    And welded in



    A small hole was formed where one of the mounting points for the heat shield is spot welded to the floor.





    Final fitment for the floor piece, also you can see the mounting bracket for the heat shield was also welded in.




    And that's where I'm currently at. Can't believe a whole week of cutting, grinding and welding was fit into a post that took 30 minutes to write including picture resize and upload.
    It's a very tedious and dirty process, but so far I feel good about it. The welds are crappy, but I think they'll hold up good enough.
    What's holding me back from welding in the floor, is that I found a hidden rust spot with a hole in it, just beneath the beam that connects the trans tunnel, front beam and inner rocker panel. If the floor is in, I'll have to work on it from beneath the car and that's not comfortable and will result in a crappier job.

    In a few hours I'll head back to the workshop to try and take care of it.
    "You could roll an E30 in a BMW showroom today and people would think:
    Well, they finally got the 1 series right!"

    3.0 L e30 ground up build

  4. #4
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    The rust spot turned out to be a bit bigger than it seemed, not unexpected I have to say.



    Started cutting it out, not finished cutting yet, as more and more is revealed, but ran out of time yesterday eve.



    Contemplating on cutting it an inch or so back both directions so I can tie it to the other repairs. We'll see how it goes the next time I go over there and work on the car.
    "You could roll an E30 in a BMW showroom today and people would think:
    Well, they finally got the 1 series right!"

    3.0 L e30 ground up build

  5. #5

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    Props to you for even attempting rust repair, I would have sent the mf to the junkyard in a heartbeat

    FB: @DumbassCarCrew - IG: @fruttolo_dumbasscrew

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fruttolo View Post
    Props to you for even attempting rust repair, I would have sent the mf to the junkyard in a heartbeat
    Thanks, there was a time I sold my first e30 because of less rust (although on structural components) and I've been kicking myself ever since. This time around figured it's an opportunity to learn something new and maybe save an old car.

    Last night I was able to get only few hours of work in. Started by cutting off the damaged metal



    The first piece of metal formed by myself and not cut out from the donor car.



    It fit really well



    Unfortunately, when I welded it in and started grinding back the welds, I messed up and created a heat spot, which caused some of the welds to become weak. Had to cut out s portion of that piece and redo it. My phone died before that and was not able to take a picture of the f*ck up.

    Anyway, it's fixed now and coated in wash primer to prevent rust. Next time around I have to make a piece for the inner rocker and hopefully at least tack the floor pan into place. Excited for this milestone, but I won't have the time to do that for some days.

    It has taken me 2 weeks to do a quarter of the floor section. If I keep up this speed, there is a slim chance to drive this car before snow hits.
    Wish me luck!
    "You could roll an E30 in a BMW showroom today and people would think:
    Well, they finally got the 1 series right!"

    3.0 L e30 ground up build

  7. #7
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    Had some bad weather over the weekend - a good opportunity to move along on this project.

    Started with making the piece to repair the inner rocker below the middle brace on the floor. Somehow managed to leave a bigger gap than intended.



    Welded in, turned out good:



    Backside looked good as well, also is visible the small patch I had make on the big patch due to creating a big heat spot and thinning out the metal too much. Rookie mistake.



    Ground down some of it, but not too much, left the welds high intentionally for additional ruggedness.



    Time to tack in the floor pan, finally



    Shortly after, it was also fully welded in.



    While pausing to let the sheet metal cool down, crawled under the car and snapped some pictures of the welds on the opposite side.






    Looks good enough for my purposes. Of course, some stuff caught fire too, but the undercoating there needs to be redone anyway. On the vertical piece, I had much trouble with dispersing the heat and burnt through some spots. Managed to fix them however.




    There was some "behind the scenes" action too, in preparation for cutting out the rear driver side floor pan. Bled out the brakes and disconnected the hard brake line from the brake master cylinder to the rear brakes and the hard line for the LPG system, as well as the wiring for it. Still on the car, but will be easy to take out when I start on that section. Also removed the fuel tank expansion canister with the hoses prior welding in the floor. Didn't want any remaining fumes around me while welding. A few "surprises" popped up in that area, needless to say, but will save the reveal for when I start working on the wheel well.

    Next on the list is waiting for some seam sealer, epoxy primer and weld through primer to show up and weld in the seat bracket support. Meanwhile I can start cutting out the other rear floor pan and see what adventures await there.
    ​​​​​​​Till then!
    "You could roll an E30 in a BMW showroom today and people would think:
    Well, they finally got the 1 series right!"

    3.0 L e30 ground up build

  8. #8
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    During the past weekdays not much happened. I wanted to continue the project with replacing the other rear floor pan, as I have gained momentum and experience from the first floor pan. Looking at the driver's side rear floor pan and then at the donor vehicle's driver side floor gave me an idea. Here's both




    The whole driver's side floor on the donor vehicle looks mint all the way up to the middle of the front pan, where it has two rotted through areas besides the usual gas pedal bracket. I thought it would be a shame to do the job in pieces, especially when the middle section of my floor needs some attention too.
    Took a good look at the problem areas, did some measuring and decided it would be best to try and replace the whole driver's side floor at the same time. Only one "problem" with that - there were rust spots over the area where the tunnels for the transmission crossmember is spot welded onto the chassis. Did a whole bunch of measuring and decided to cut a straight line through both layers and weld them back together from top and bottom. There is plenty of metal left on both sides to do so.

    So, with that plan plotted out, time to start the lengthy process of tracking down spot welds in the rusted areas, drilling spot welds, wire wheeling, cutting and of course our all time favorite - tar removal. Also some other stuff was done, like removing the pedal assembly and brake booster (which turned out to be full of brake fluid and is now in the trash bin), removing the clutch lines and other miscellaneous
    disassembly stuff

    Almost all spot welds drilled, marked where I need to cut.



    Halfway through the process. You can see the rust spot that convinced me to go this route, right next to my drill's shadow.



    Literally three hours later. It was a tough fight.



    Now all the problem areas on the driver's side floor area are conveniently exposed.



    Frame rail doesn't look too bad actually. Firewall area is crunchy however and I'm contemplating on cutting it all out as 1 piece from the donor car.



    Crossbeam is also not bad, there is this one area that needs work though. It was under that rust spot on the center floor section that got me nervous. Glad I opened it up.



    Driver's side inner rocker has a good amount of rust plus a small hole besides the usual missing metal in the jack square area. Outer rocker is bent from all the rock crawling the car has done.



    And of course, the seat mounting bracket area is the same as on the passenger's side. I think this will be addressed first.



    After the pictures were taken, I cleaned up the areas, but no surprises were revealed.
    That's where I left off, next time will cut out the rot at the seat bracket area and start making new pieces.
    Until next time
    "You could roll an E30 in a BMW showroom today and people would think:
    Well, they finally got the 1 series right!"

    3.0 L e30 ground up build

  9. #9

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    christ. i just sold a car because it had a fraction of the rust this one has! good luck, always nice to see old cars given a second life

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by grumbles View Post
    christ. i just sold a car because it had a fraction of the rust this one has! good luck, always nice to see old cars given a second life
    Yeah, we all have and I feel guilty of letting go that first e30 I had because of less problems than this one has. Timing is everything I guess.

    Small update to not be off topic. Only got 3 hours of car time in the past few days, which was enough for the first small patch on the driver's side. Ground down only the tallest welds, pic from the inside, where it got welded, decided to try and keep the whole to spray rust protection later on into the rocker:



    And from the outside as well, got some good penetration on most of the welds:



    Unfortunately seems I won't have much time in the upcoming two weeks, which is a bummer. It is what it is. Until next time!
    "You could roll an E30 in a BMW showroom today and people would think:
    Well, they finally got the 1 series right!"

    3.0 L e30 ground up build

  11. #11
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    Hello everyone still reading this,

    No updates recently and excuses are due!
    I had a long working week with late hours until 10 pm after the last update, so no time to work on cars at all. Then some vacation time was due - again no car time.

    Last weekend I had all for myself though and the goal was to make the inner and outer rocker on the driver's side solid enough to be able to support the car jacked on them instead of the rear axle in preparation for the upcoming repairs on the rear end of the car. Here's what I did:

    First, the gaping hole in the inner rocker needs to be patched, the seat mounting point can be attached to it later on with the floor from the donor car.
    I went with a new weld through primer recommended by a buddy. Not amazing, but it does the job well enough.



    Welds got dirty, since I didn't clean up a wide enough area, but they are solid.



    Ground down to make enough space for the floor once it's time for it.



    Good enough for my purposes.
    Next item on the list is this area below the front of the driver's door.



    A small hole emerged under the rust as expected, note the chewed up rocker seam at the jacking point.



    Got bamboozled a bit by the jacking point piece. Thought it was held on by spot welds, turned out there are seam welds on its side and spotwelds to attach the inner jack point to the outer rocker.



    The area where the rust was formed and made a hole is quite intricate - it's a double layer sheet metal outer rocker and hence the step in the form was a bit different than the other part of the outer rocker. Decided to cut it out and replace as one piece, as recreating the dual layer would be just too much work to do and still a rust prone area.



    Used painter's tape to mark a template and transfer over to the donor car. That's just red marker, not blood.



    As you can see below, I screwed up the line a bit, which caused a bit of a headache to have it fit properly onto my car.



    Made the same mistake of not cleaning up enough of the area and the welds got dirty. There were some spots where I burnt through and also some where didn't get good penetration, but it's solid and no pinholes too. I can weld from the back side once I remove the damaged inner rocker on the opposite side of the repair.



    The welds cleaned up nicely and threw some of that weld through primer on it, because I was too lazy to mix the epoxy one and it was late in the night already. Did the same for the inner rocker piece I replaced earlier. I'll remove the primer and redo it with proper epoxy later one before the floor goes in.




    There was also some "behind the scene" action, that I didn't take pictures of.

    First, I removed the floor off the donor car as a complete piece all the way up to the point where I should have clean metal in my car. What a huge job that was on itself, it ate up about 6 hours to do, since I wanted to damage as little as possible on the donor car and the floor itself.

    Second, I made a cardboard template for the shape in the driver's footwell, where the inner rocker meets the floor. It's a complex shape, the replacement piece needs to fit properly and allow enough room for the wiring to pass without rubbing the carpet. I went hunting in the small scrap pile we have at the workshop and it turns out there is a very similar shape in a hood from an e38. I will be removing this part in the next few days and promise to take pictures.

    Last, but not least - I removed the fenders from my car, which was quite the effort. As previously stated, whoever worked on this car before me is a brainless, inconsiderate a-hole. At some point in time, the captive bolts for the bumper stripped and they just replaced them with bolts. Two different bolts. And as a result, you first need to figure out how to pop off the trim piece without breaking it and reach the bolt. Here's what I mean, that's the driver's side which had a hex bolt, the passenger's side had a 13mm bolt which was even tougher to get off.



    Unfortunately, upon removal of the fenders, I was greeted with the unpleasant discovery, that the passenger's side shock tower is badly damaged. No pics yet, but in short - where the crack in the battery tray is formed, on the back side of it the shock tower has separated from the firewall, is bent UPWARDs and inwards at the same time. An undamaged fender (mine is mangled) doesn't fit - at the A pillar the gaps are fine, but at the bottom of the door it's about 8 mm. The curve at the top no longer fits too and in front the fender is about half an inch too LONG to bolt onto the valance.



    Now, the valance itself is damaged, so it's difficult to tell, but the shock tower is going to have to be repaired one way or another.
    Still contemplating on that. Decided to follow the initial plan and finish up the floor, move to the rear end and fix the trunk floor and trunk pockets, both wheel wells and wheel arches and probably the rear valance (not too sure if I want to fix it or leave it as is) and the rear beams (one has some accident damage).
    After that, I should be experienced enough to take on the shock tower. Engine will have to come out for that operation, so not too sure what to do about it yet. There is no way this engine is going back in as is - wish I had a video of it starting cold ... people ask me if it's a diesel. Once it warms up it's okay-ish but it has its days numbered for sure.


    Thanks for reading, until next time!
    "You could roll an E30 in a BMW showroom today and people would think:
    Well, they finally got the 1 series right!"

    3.0 L e30 ground up build

  12. #12
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    Love all the welding progress. Glad to see this one being saved.
    Insta Mintyhinrichs

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    Thank you, for the prelude, and for the background story of this car. If it was not for the story, I would have wondered if you were insane, or just enjoyed punishment.

    I still shake my head at the amount of work that you are putting into this car, but you are doing a fine job and I am looking forward to you returning thanks for all the service it gave you over the years. Excellent.

    P.S. ... I laughed so hard at the list of expenses at the end of your first post. I am the same way. I remember every dollar and part I spent on my cars. Loved that.
    Last edited by Miroteknik; 09-22-2020 at 01:10 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by gnmzl View Post
    Hello Stance|Works community!




















    I was reading your intro and I thought what a bucket of rusty bolts you got here. Car is nearly dead.

    But on photos it looks like its in correct place, like its born there and should stay where it is. I cant describe it. Photos are so simple an amazing and car looks great in those photos even if it is piece of rust. We allways waiting for some nice spanking fresh painted cars on photos, but here I can see real talent to show car in its daily tough life. I will try to translate one very good russian proverb - not everything is gold what is shining in your mouth. Good luck to make that car shine again.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by hinrichs View Post
    Love all the welding progress. Glad to see this one being saved.
    Thanks man, practice is key I found out. Hopefully one day my skills will be good enough to confidently restore a car the right way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Miroteknik View Post
    Thank you, for the prelude, and for the background story of this car. If it was not for the story, I would have wondered if you were insane, or just enjoyed punishment.

    I still shake my head at the amount of work that you are putting into this car, but you are doing a fine job and I am looking forward to you returning thanks for all the service it gave you over the years. Excellent.

    P.S. ... I laughed so hard at the list of expenses at the end of your first post. I am the same way. I remember every dollar and part I spent on my cars. Loved that.
    I knew you would get it. Agree about the amount of work sunk into this car, anyone else would have junked it probably, but the way I see it, it's a challenge and an opportunity to do something I always wanted to AND "thank for all the fish". There was actually someone who wanted to take it off my hands for the very good price of 1500 euro. Declining that offer made my buddies doubt my sanity as well and as you put it - if I just enjoy punishment. Maybe I'm weird and have attachment issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jrs85 View Post
    I was reading your intro and I thought what a bucket of rusty bolts you got here. Car is nearly dead.

    But on photos it looks like its in correct place, like its born there and should stay where it is. I cant describe it. Photos are so simple an amazing and car looks great in those photos even if it is piece of rust. We allways waiting for some nice spanking fresh painted cars on photos, but here I can see real talent to show car in its daily tough life. I will try to translate one very good russian proverb - not everything is gold what is shining in your mouth. Good luck to make that car shine again.
    Thanks dude, it really felt at home doing all those trips and despite the looks, it's a very capable car. Happy the pictures captured the spirit of the moment, too.


    On topic

    Yesterday eve, I managed to remove the rest of the rotted out portion of the driver's side, but my phone was dead so no pictures. Turned out the portion of the e38 hood is not a great fit, so I'll have to fabricate the piece. When I removed it, the backside of the welds from the last repair were exposed and there are a few spots I need to redo.
    Tomorrow and during the weekend I'll do some work and promise you all some pictures with the progress.

    Thanks for the positive feedback.
    "You could roll an E30 in a BMW showroom today and people would think:
    Well, they finally got the 1 series right!"

    3.0 L e30 ground up build

  16. #16
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    Alright, so as promised, over the weekend got some car time and picked up where I left off. With my plan to have the inner rockers repaired and the floor put in before the jack stands are moved over to support the car by the rockers for the rear axle to drop, I started with the repair of the driver's side front inner rocker. Got a big sheet of 1mm thick sheet metal and got to work.

    First - cut it all out as one piece, as there were too many small holes or pitted areas to try and repair separately.



    Here's the shape I decided to go for the front portion, which is the tricky one due to the special concave area for the wiring loom.



    Took me about 3 hours to shape and then trim to exact fit in total, which isn't as bad as I expected for a newb doing such a complex patch as one piece.



    Final check for fitment



    And then tack weld



    Used compressed air to cool off the welds, still got some warping but think it'll be just fine after those welds are ground down. Sorry for the bad photo, it's not a convenient spot to take pictures of.



    You may notice the drain hole for the sunroof is missing. That was on purpose, since I plan on doing the draining a bit different and avoid water pooling inside the rockers in case the original drain hole (too small if you ask me) clogs.
    Outside view, the lower rocker piece looks pitted and weak, but it's plenty strong, trust me - I wacked it with a hammer to straighten out and that was really hard! Turns out this part of the e30 is made of much ticker sheet metal, so decided against cutting it out, rust prevention and correct chemical treatment will be good enough.



    Next area that is better to repair before putting the floor in and make use of the extra access the missing floor provides is of course the firewall area.



    By the looks of it, rot was getting onto the wheel well too, so stopped after the first few cuts. Had to see what it looks like from the back side, so out with the wire wheel.



    Not too bad, but a small rust trace made me look up and what do I find? You guessed it...



    This small hole will cause me a LOT of headaches. It was at this point, I realized there is no more putting it off - the dash needed to come out. Having the interior already stripped, made this task a breeze, having pulled out the dash off e30s at least about 10 times now helped a ton as well. So this being said, the process of removing it involved tracing the cruise control wiring harness to remove it completely. Turned out wouldn't be too hard, someone snipped the wires to the electric motor, maybe they had issues with it after repairing the control switch by twisting some wire around it.



    At lest they put insulating tape over the cut wires.
    Unfortunately, tracing wires around the firewall of a rusty car usually involves finding more rust, and this was not an exception.



    Looks like someone was spilling a lot of brake fluid while filling up. When I say a lot, I mean they probably didn't get any of it into the brake fluid reservoir. Then they didn't pour water onto it as well, which causes the paint and seam sealer to flake off upon touch. Thankfully, the rust on the frame member turned out to be just surface, wire wheeled it where I could reach.
    This joyful discovery not only changed the cutting plans a bit, let's say it expanded them.



    Although the frame is crowded with leaves and other trash, it's solid and nothing more than a few surface rust spots inside. It will clean up nice, I think.

    And this was the point where I realized the chassis wiring harness needs to be pulled off too, which I really really really didn't want to do. It's not the hassle and fiddling with connectors going through the firewall I don't want to deal with ... it's me going down the rabbit hole what bothers me. Knowing myself, I'll start luring my own mind into small tidying up tasks and then eventually tricking myself into more time consuming tasks until the wiring harness is completely restored.
    I've even started to do that, telling myself, that a repaired and gone through chassis wiring harness is way safer and not going to cause the car to spontaneously combust.

    Anyway, once this realization settled in, I started on the task of removing the wiring harness off the chassis. No pictures, but I had to resort to destroying the license plate lights, as the bolts were rusted and wouldn't budge, I found some interesting wiring decisions done by questionable individuals. Such as a stretched to it's limit piece of wire going to the passenger's front speaker and a fist sized ball of wire for the driver's side speaker, the dual wire used for the rear left speaker was first snaked through a tiny hole on the mounting point of the rear parcel shelf and then the terminals of the wire were soldered onto it. As a result, it had to be cut off to take out, as the terminals wouldn't go through the small hole. The radio is powered by a sketchy piece of wire taped (not soldered) to the cigarette lighter power cable. The connector for the radio itself was snaked through a metal casing to hold the radio in place and then soldered together with the aforementioned wiring nightmare and as a result there is no way to take it out of the metal casing as is there is no way to take that casing off the car without snipping all the wires ........ The last piece of intriguing wiring solved a mystery for me. Every time I open the trunk, the interior lights would come on, but not the light for the trunk. I had noticed the little switch for the passenger side rear door is missing and thought it was because of the small accident that caused the poorly repaired rear quarter panel. Turns out, someone took the wire for that switch, cut off the connector off of it, cut off the wire for the trunk light switch and twisted these two together. Brilliant I must say, despite the purpose of it eluding my understanding.

    As fun as it was, I wasn't able to take out the whole wiring harness out of the chassis, what's left is the check panel loom and the headlights and other engine bay stuff loom. Stopped at that point, as I was tired and didn't want to brake any of the clips and fasteners.
    Instead, I cut off some metal off the donor car.



    All these rust discoveries and acknowledgment of inevitable work that needs to be done had me admin - this car is not going on the road this winter. It's far too much work to do in two months AND keep my job. So ... I did what any sane person would.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    I bought another winter beater.



    Now I can do all the "while I'm in there" ideas I get, no rush.
    "You could roll an E30 in a BMW showroom today and people would think:
    Well, they finally got the 1 series right!"

    3.0 L e30 ground up build

  17. #17

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    Ah yes, a lovely e36 in "shitbox edition" trim, with the usual RostRot paint

    The perfect winter car

    FB: @DumbassCarCrew - IG: @fruttolo_dumbasscrew

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fruttolo View Post
    Ah yes, a lovely e36 in "shitbox edition" trim, with the usual RostRot paint

    The perfect winter car
    You called it - it's a total shitbox. Semi-op stereo, in-op sunroof, semi-op manual windows (not sure how these can even malfunction, but the driver's one is a "Lambo" window), a super annoying fart can instead of a silencer, cheap drift spec steering wheel, cheap gear knob, broken ash trays, in-op fuel gauge, interior mirror fallen off, side mirrors barely move, some rust on the doors.
    BUT! Body is straight, no rust holes on the floor or anywhere else, no accident damage at all (original paint), engine runs perfect and pulls good for a 1.8L and has maintenance records, only ONE oil leak from the oil filter housing which is a BMW trademark, no other leaks at all, has a good brand LPG system for those cheap refuel and the heater is totally functional.
    It is insured for 6 more months and is due for a technical check in 10 months.

    I paid 450 euro for this shed, winter tires on another set of wheels included.
    If it could be sold for the same amount of money come spring, that would be great.


    On topic

    Right now I still have to work until late to have some important stuff done before taking a week off, so no car time at all with working until 10 pm each day.
    Good news is the whole week off I have is for car stuff only, so in about 10 days, there should be a worthy update on the main character.

    Until then
    "You could roll an E30 in a BMW showroom today and people would think:
    Well, they finally got the 1 series right!"

    3.0 L e30 ground up build

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