January 2017 has been a very productive month. I hooked up the fuel lines, primary electrical systems, installed a brand-new battery (Xmas present from Mum), pulled a spare radiator from my stash, topped off all the fluids and double-checked my work. Good thing I did, too. I had missed one final critical connection, a little green/black wire to the starter – it fires up the unloader relays when the starter is energized. I replaced five or six questionable hose clamps and a few vac lines. It felt ready…so I waited for some tolerable weather. This Sunday was clear and slightly over freezing. Good enough. I rolled it outside, hooked up the battery, plugged in the relays & DME. When I turned the key to position 1, there was no drama. So I turned it one more ‘click’ to position 2. No dramatic puff of smoke, no sparks, nothing remotely worrisome. I had planned to pump out the twelve-year-old gasoline…but when I heard the fuel pumps power up, I gingerly cranked it over. She coughed a little…and that’s always a promising sound. I let the car rest and came back inside to warm up.
It was high time to fortify my inner man…two cups of coffee and a little sandwich perhaps? Never underestimate the troubleshooting potential of a proper lunch break! I whipped up some nice homemade egg salad. I know it’s an odd choice for the middle of winter…but when life gives you too many eggs…what other choice does one have? It’s also a great excuse for getting a bit more Dijon mustard, dill relish and some pickled banana peppers into my life. I don’t mean to brag, but it was good.
Then I came back out, twirled the key, she caught once or twice, then she roared to life!
I live for moments like this. The sublime sense of accomplishment in a job well done is a powerful drug. It’s easy to forget all the discomfort, stress and toil when you’ve turned a pile of inert metal into a running car. And it only took me two years and three months! Undoubtedly, that’s a long time…but this was a pretty ambitious project for me. I found a few minor problems (clutch is soft, throttle is a little sticky, lots of oil smoke) but nothing looked really critical. There are a few new problems, no doubt, but so very much has been completed. Here’s a shot of the installed engine:
Remaining tasks on the E24 now include:
- Register, insure & transfer a plate to the car. It might be a classic plate, now that I’m thinking about it.
- Figure out shifting trouble. First and reverse are hard to shift, occasionally jumping out of gear. If I leave it in neutral and de-clutch, it clangs. I’m thinking a bad slave cyl or dragging clutch fork.
- Fix a few significant leaks (new low-pressure power steering & brake booster hoses required, brand-new radiator ordered). (New radiator installed Jan 20, new high pressure booster lines installed too.). I found one final leak in the upper radiator hose at the coolant neck, no biggie. (hose ordered)
- Swap out M20 alternator with a refurbished M30 unit. (probably unnecessary, now that I’ve checked it out).
- Replace or lube troublesome HVAC heater fan, install whatever random size A/C belt she needs. (fan lubed Jan 20)
- Installing the exhaust and buttoning up the installation (in progress).
- Repair the O2 sensor harness (completed Jan 18) & integrate a wideband unit (working on Jan 21).
- Cover up the oh-so-sparkly coil HT lead. I had to cut the thick plug boot off for it to fit in the skinny distributor cap, and it sparks quite prettily.
- Figure out how to fix that loose sunroof drain hose. (This might not be loose after all. Still checking)
- Hook up cruise control (need more parts – extend wires & modify or replace E30 bowden cable).
- Selling off the dismantled S38B35 (mostly done).
- Hook up the differential speed sensor, test out the new torsen limited slip.
- Troubleshoot flaky headlights, ditto the reverse switch. (High beams flickering on randomly. Reverse just started working. Headlight fuses were undersized for the upgraded E-Code H4 bulbs – upgrading to 15A is working well).
- Research some upgrades.
Upgrades are always fun. I’ve been finding information posted by others along the way. I’ll try to give credit where it’s due, but it’s difficult to remember where the sources might have been. Most of my best info is posted at MyE28.com, BimmerForums.com, BigCoupe.com or even the old Roadfly.com forums. One excellent example is the M30B35 upgrade. I didn’t use that motor (since my high-compression B34 is better, LOL), but I did use a B35 Motronic 1.3. I’m still working on a few wiring snags, but 95% of it is correct. Brad’s writeup over at MyE28.com made it almost easy!
As for brakes, E34 540i front & rear calipers are apparently just the ticket. More details here. I’m told that the E32 740i & 750iL are almost as good but the rear calipers aren’t 100% compatible. E32 750iL also has a slightly larger 25mm master cylinder. That E32 V12 also has improved front thrust bushings and rear semi-trailing arms. I believe one of the spark plug wire sets is also compatible with my M30.
I’ve also been following the trend toward smaller Li-ion starting batteries. I just bought another flooded lead-acid, but maybe next time.
Don’t fret – I’ll share whatever I end up doing. I’m on the hunt! I’ve posted a borrowed picture – this is where I’d like to see the car end up. That car is just gorgeous, isn’t it? I’ve forgotten where I found that image, so if you’re reading this and it’s your car, please let me know!