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The MR E30 Project Thread - 97 M3 #2 Edition

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  • The MR E30 Project Thread - 97 M3 #2 Edition

    Welcome to an MR E30 build thread. The time has finally come to partake in another car-based adventure! It's been years and years since I sold my last BMW, a highly modified 1991 318is with an S52, and it feels great to own another great BMW, the 1997 E36 M3.

    This thread will be post dated for the first 5-6 weeks as I started the restoration documentation before finding this forum.

    This car, this build, this experience, this journey is to memorialize the life of my father, an avid car guy, who unfortunately did not have the time or finances to pursue his hobby before his sudden passing earlier this year. What is so cool about this car in relationship to this adventure, is that for the couple of years that my father and I lived near each other in San Diego, CA, this is the exact year, body style, and colors that I previously owned and that we would cruise around in together every chance we got. Road trips up to Julian from the I-15 were frequent, and we always had a blast in the car. It is incredibly fitting that I was able to find another 1997 Estoril on Dove M3 Coupe to restore.

    Unfortunately, he is gone, but I am here, with this car, and this inner desire that requires attention. So, let us begin.

    What do we have here?
    - 1997 M3
    - Estoril on Dove
    - ~220,000 miles (the car came with no battery, so assuming this mileage for now until I verify it, though likely much much higher).
    - I am the seventh owner. The first two owners owned it until 2011, and it traded hands frequently until it ended up with me. This car has been registered in Maricopa County (Phx, AZ) since the day it was purchased. I will be the first person to register it in another county (Coconino County, still in AZ). So, what does that mean? While it is severely sun damaged, it has zero traces of rust. Which is a huge win for me.
    - European Delivery by the first owner.
    - Service records from day one. Huge folder full of hundreds of pieces of paper, painting a very detailed picture of the cars history. It even includes all but one set of title transfers, so I know the exact date that it was sold. It even has old Autotrader ads printed in it!
    - Original Owner’s Manual and associated paraphernalia.
    - Very straight body with all original panels.
    - Limited modifications apart from drilled brakes, front coilovers, and aftermarket steering wheel
    - A very recently (past few years) neglected machine. It is interesting to see such intensity in documentation, and high dollars spent on maintaining it back when it was newer (through 2013 basically) and then a serious lack of care until today. The guy I bought it from bought it from someone else to take the S54 out of it, and then let it wither away in his backyard. I won’t ever understand this.

    So, what is the idea here? What am I going to do with this thing?

    To be honest, at the time I am typing this, I don’t really know. All I do know is that I really, really want to enjoy the journey, not the destination, with this thing. My last build was very rushed, as the car was my DD, so little attention could be paid to making things oh so right. They just had to get done. But I am grown now, and don’t face that constraint, so I am going to focus on doing things the right way. The attention to details that I have not previously valued will be at the top of the list.

    I am not sure of the order of events at this time. I’m going to start by organizing and cleaning things up for now. I just know that I want to save this thing from wasting away. And I want to use this project and its rough state as an excuse to get creative with some things.

    Other than that, I am thinking OEM+, with a turboed V8 for the time being. Though I do want to retain the ability to go back to a more OEM setup if the inner need ever arises, so I won’t be making any extreme changes to the structure of the car without serious thought beforehand.

    Now, with that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. The pictures and the story!

    It all started with the posting of a WTB ad on a local Facebook E36 page. Immediately after posting I was surprised to find someone with something very close to what I desired. I thought about it for a while and then made plans to grab the trailer and pick it up from Phoenix, roughly three hours away.

    Spent a couple days with my brother while I was down there. The car was loaded onto the trailer at 9:30 PM on Monday, July 27th, 2020. Three guys and a couple of come-alongs got the job done without any fanfare. Though the car did not come with a steering rack, so keeping the wheels straight as it was being loaded was fun.

    With it loaded I bid Ryan and Brenden ado, and left.

    A couple of days later I headed back up the long and steep hill to the much more pleasant mountain town where I live. 130.6 miles at 13.3 mpg went off without a hitch, the first time pulling a load this heavy and at these speeds with my new truck.

    M3 Trailered Home by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    I was warned by the seller that he has a spider infestation in his backyard, so I took the opportunity to pressure wash off the underside while the car was raised on the trailer. Lots of spider webs down there.

    Pressure Washing Underside by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Pressure Washing Underside by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    A couple of buddies came over during lunch and we pushed the car up into the driveway, its resting place for the time being. Damn Covid has closed all of the gyms in AZ, so my garage is currently a gym until this event gets resolved.

    After that, it was time to go through all of the paperwork. I found the original window sticker amongst the paperwork, which is super cool to me. Recent receipts (4 years ago) show some decent money spent on hard to do tasks, like the front wheel bearings. Older paperwork shows a doctor who did a ton of driving in the first few years he owned the car. Like 70,000 miles in three and a half years. Always serviced at the dealer, until the second owner had it serviced at Bo’s Motorwerks in Phoenix.

    I set up an Excel sheet of all of the maintenance history, documenting dates, mileage, and price, as well as all of the ownership, emissions, and registration history that was available (almost all of it). The second owner even had a vanity plate in the guise of ‘TIMAAHH’ mounted to the car during his ownership. I of course will be continuing with my own nomenclature, MR E36, a plate that has been on every E36 M3 that I have owned.

  • #2
    July 30th, 2020

    Organizing the paperwork took a legitimate amount of time, but after it was done it was time to start looking over what I had purchased.

    The following photos document what I have in front of me. Viewer beware, it ain’t pretty.

    The car came with the front end disassembled, which was done to facilitate the removal of the S54 from its grasp.

    1 - Disassembled Front End by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The front end is extremely pitted and will require a full strip and repaint before being remounted.

    2 - Pitted Front Clip by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The years of the direct, hot, Phoenix sun did a serious number on every flat painted surface of the car. Most rubber/plastic bits did not fare any better.

    3 - Sun Damaged Hood by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The windshield has seen better days. According to the receipts, this cracked mess is the cars ninth windshield. That seems like way too many to me.

    4 - Cracked Windshield by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The engine bay is basically all but empty

    5 - Mostly Empty Engine Bay by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The car is scratched all over, and even the underside of the hood wasn’t spared.

    6 - Scratched Hood Underside by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Some hot gold tape on the firewall, with a driveshaft and shifter beyond.

    7 - Gold Firewall by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Arbitrary sticker shot. Notice the absolutely destroyed rubber and plastic.

    8 - Windshield Sticker by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The roof is no better

    9 - Sun Damaged Roof by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The shadowline is toast

    10 - Cracking Shadowline by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The car came with 1 Series wheels all around. Drilled rotors and red brake calipers are on all four corners as well.

    11 - 1 Series Wheel Rear by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Some of the fender lips are banged up, but other than that the body is very true.

    12 - 1 Series Wheel Front by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The rear end is mostly unscathed

    13 - Rear End by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Somebody snagged the toolkit, something I will want to replace.

    14 - Missing Toolkit by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Trunk full of parts and no battery. I still need to sort through all of this to figure out exactly what I have.

    15 - Trunk of Parts by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The rear shock towers are in great shape

    16 - Clean Shock Towers by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    No rear interior and more failed weatherstripping

    17 - Failed Trunk Weatherstripping by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The driver’s front area is the most scratched place. I think that is where the previous owner had one end of the front bumper resting.

    18 - Scratched Drivers Front by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    No front door cards, though I have a creative solution brewing for that.

    19 - No Door Cards by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The car has powered vaders, which I have never had before. They are both in rough shape, so I am thinking of recovering the frames with black leather instead.

    20 - Powered Dove Vaders by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    No throttle pedal in this thing.

    21 - No Throttle Pedal by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Disassembled interior, and what looks like some sound deadening material placed randomly. This is an upgrade that I will be doing before long.

    22 - Disassembled Center Console by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    One of the previous owners wanted to drift missile this sucker, so he pulled the ratcheting piece out of the e-brake, so that’s what that piece of wood is about.

    23 - Passenger Interior by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    And last but not least, to my absolute amazement, the headliner is in impeccable shape! Pardon the crappy photo.

    24 - Clean Headliner by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Next I am going to gather up all of the loose nuts and bolts and clips, pull everything out of the interior, organize that, and then wash the exterior (not sure why, but it’s getting done) and do a preliminary cleaning on the interior carpet before it gets removed.

    ‘til next time.
    Last edited by MR E30; 09-06-2020, 01:34 PM.


    • #3
      July 31st, 2020

      The day with the car started early for me, 6 AM to be a bit more precise, as I was excited to spend the day getting to know the car a bit better.

      I started by gathering all of the small nuts, bolts, and screws that were strewn about the car. It’s clear that I am missing a lot of them, so RealOEM will be my new best friend, as I will be replacing every missing fastener with the appropriate replacement.

      I then pulled out every loose piece that was in the trunk and backseat area. After a preliminary look, I think I have most all of the interior pieces (minus door cards and back seat, which I admit is a lot of the interior), though some of the more fragile pieces have damage that is too great for them to be reinstalled.

      The entire interior was vacuumed out. Even though the carpet is coming out, this made it more pleasurable to work in the car for the rest of the morning.

      01 - Vacuuming Interior by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

      I came inside to have some breakfast and did some research on recoloring the interior plastic pieces from Dove to Black. It seems like SEM has a decent, albeit expensive, system and I will pursue that idea. The car came with some extra interior pieces that I will experiment on to see if the color change meets my standards. There are (4) distributors in my town, one close by, so I’ll get on that soon.

      I want to attempt to recondition and reuse any parts that I can, since the exterior is all original I think it is valuable to attempt to keep as many interior pieces the same as I can as well. Though I will be replacing physically damaged pieces.

      After that was done it was time to get on removing the dash.

      Started with the center console and discovered some creative mounting ideas from one of the PO’s. I’m going to ditch the arm rest center console in favor of the non-arm rest style, so I won’t be reinstalling this piece like this.

      02 - Creative Mounting Solution by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

      The rest of the interior came apart easily with the little plastic 10mm nut and Philips head screws we all are aware of. The car did have a plethora of extra wiring, all of it spliced together poorly. I’ll be cutting out any non-factory additions and then soldering and heat shrinking the wiring back together.

      03 - Excess Wiring Removed by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

      Taking my time, I had the dash out in 2 hours. All bolts and screws were retightened back into the holes that they live in after a piece was removed. This strategy has been very effective for me in the past, so I am carrying it forward with this one. Any that couldn’t do that went into well labeled bags and got stashed on a shelf for later.

      I took extra time to organize and move things around as I went about removing the dash. Before I would simply tear stuff apart and leave it strewn about the interior. But not this time! This time I worked diligently, piece by piece. I am really enjoying this way of working, though I do realize it is very near the beginning of the project, but I will keep it up.

      I’m going to run by Harbor Freight to grab an ultrasonic cleaner, as well as a bunch of other stuff, so I can get all the hardware nice and clean.

      Dash removal was easy in the end.

      04 - Dash Removed - Far by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

      05 - Dash Removed - Close by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

      Now it’s time to remove the heater core and get this carpet out of here.

      The metal structure behind the dash has to go.

      06 - Heater Box Removal by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

      These are very clean, with factory like hardware so they came out with ease.

      Next, I stepped (literally) into the engine bay to remove the wipers, cowl cover and AC and heater hosing. Not having an engine in the way was the way to go and reinforced to me that I need to work through this thing step by step, no rushing it.

      I was surprised, and a bit disheartened, when I stumbled across this unsightly hole through the firewall. I’ll need to resolve this before moving on much further.

      07 - Ghetto Hole by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

      That aside, I kept pulling bolts and nuts and labeling them to be cleaned later.

      My wife brought out a smoothie for me to enjoy as it was a hot for here 94 degrees today.

      08 - Refreshing Smoothie by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

      At one point it looked like it was going to rain, so I loaded up the truck and took a bunch of parts to my storage shed to be retrieved and spruced up/fixed/replaced when the time comes. These powered Vaders are wayyyyyy too heavy to go back in the car, so I think the chore of moving them once solidified my path towards an aftermarket seat of sorts. I don’t need powered seats, so I don’t see the point of having all that weight just sitting there, never being used. Even if I still wanted Vaders I would find manual ones to install over these. For now, they are stored away.

      09 - Truck Full of Parts by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

      I found a sped-up YouTube video of a gentlemen removing a heater core from an E36 and used that to get the heater box out of the M3. The video didn’t stress some important facets of the removal that needed to be done, but in the end, it came out without anything breaking.

      The steering column had to be dropped, so to facilitate any future modifications or needs, I am going to slice the two bolts that have no heads on them, which separate the steering column from the metal structure that holds it up. As you cannot get to the metal structure with the dash in place.

      10 - Heater Box Removed - Far by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

      11 - Heater Box Removed - Close by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

      And now I am typing this out, as the day with the car is done. The carpet is ready to be removed and will be pulled tomorrow. I need to find a black carpet to purchase to replace this one, as it is too damaged to be reused.

      I also thought I would do my best to track how much time I spend working on this thing, if for no reason other than to have that information on hand. The time includes actual labor, project specific research, and writing up this build thread. Maybe it will also help someone understand the magnitude of a project of this type. Or maybe it will be a waste of time. Who knows.

      ‘til tomorrow.

      Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 26


      • #4
        August 1st, 2020

        The day started early again, with the first task being the removal of the steering column and metal support structure so I could get the carpet out of the way.

        I did some quick research on how to free the steering knuckle assembly from the steering column itself. The finely splined shaft bites onto the knuckle very effectively, so after removing the bolt that slides through a notch in the column, you have to spread the knuckle apart ever so slightly to get it free.

        I thought about it for a moment and realized the ‘splitter’ needed to be tapered, rather pointed at the end, and with a degree of taper that would allow it to spread the aluminum. The perfect household tool came to mind: the flatbar. Place it on the slot, and 8 blows of the hammer drove it in deep enough to set the knuckle free. Pry it back out by twisting it back and forth and you are home free and onto the next step.

        12 - Steering Knuckle Removal by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        Having removed the metal structure yesterday, the only thing holding in the steering column was a few electrical connections, all disconnected and then labeled, and (2) 13mm bolts on the firewall, accessed from inside the cabin. Undo that and the whole setup slid out with ease.

        13 - Steering Column Removed by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        Removing this led me to find another spliced wire connection that will need to be patched up correctly.

        After that I pulled the e-brake assembly to facilitate the removal of the carpet. Then out came the carpet in all its dirty glory.

        14 - Carpet Removed by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        Stashing that aside in case I need it. On the prowl for a black coupe carpet now.

        After that was removed I was happy to see that the floor pans all looked very very nice. Except for the top of the transmission tunnel. It has numerous bumps in it. Maybe this happened when the S54 was swapped in. Either way I’ll look for a way to rectify this.

        15 - More Empty Interior by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        16 - Barren Dash by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        The floor had venting and plastic covers covering important wiring. This picture is for my future reference.

        17 - Drivers Side Interior by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        With the carpet removed I was able to chase down even more non-factory wiring. One bundle led me to the passenger side fuel pump cover. Underneath I found some janky work. I need to figure out where the brown and green wires are supposed to go and then get them re-wired correctly. I don’t want to have any excess issues getting whatever engine I am going to throw in this thing going, so handling these problems as they come is paramount.

        18 - Modified Fuel Wiring by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        I also pulled all electrical tape off of any wiring and pulled off all of the failing factory cloth tape. The wiring that is normally accessed more often (under the center console, under the rear seat, etc.) had failing cloth tape, while the rest of the factory tape looks good enough for me. I am researching through Jordan’s fantastic 318is thread to find out what and how he used what he used.

        19 - Removed Electrical Tape by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        Close up of the dinged transmission tunnel.

        20 - Damaged Transmission Tunnel by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        This is the ‘frequently’ accessed wiring that will get rewrapped like it was when new.

        21 - Messy Wiring by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        As an effort to share the level of detail I am currently employing, these are the types of things I do to keep things as they should be. This bundle of wires is zip tied to the passenger side rear floor vent. I know I could be more precise, but this feels very natural to me.

        22 - Level of Detail by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        After that it was finally time to vacuum the interior once again. A lot of dirt makes it under the driver’s side foot area, so that was nice to clean up. I could tell the backseat had been out for a while, as the rear seat area is much dirtier than the area covered by the carpet. Tomorrow I will steam clean and degrease the front interior before moving on to the trunk area.

        23 - Revacuumed Stripped Interior by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        I wrapped up the day by heading over to Harbor Freight to purchase an ultrasonic cleaner. Ended up spending 1.5 hours there, going up and down every row filling up a cart, finding all sorts of random tools that I don't necessarily need, but may be super helpful when I am trying to solve a problem, or get access to something, or things like that. Definitely a cool resource to have around.

        ‘til tomorrow.

        Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 34


        • #5
          August 4th, 2020

          On the second of August I spent the morning out at a local do-it-yourself junkyard Northeast of town. I normally do a morning mountain bike ride with a group of guys, but we all got invited to do a road bike ride instead, which isn’t my style, so it was a good time to get dirty in a junkyard.

          The yard had (3) E36’s in it. None of them were Estoril (not surprising), none of them were coupes (a bit surprising), none were manual (surprising), and (2) were 318’s while (1) was a 325i.

          Junkyard E36’s by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

          Junkyard E36’s by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

          My hunt started off rather simply, but then quickly spiraled out of control when I saw the condition of the Calypso E36 pictured above. It had an interior that was in incredible shape. Like it had been garage stored its entire existence. And everything in the trunk, of which my M3 has absolutely nothing, was in pristine condition.

          So, I began squirreling away nuts, bolts, clips, etc. that I definitely did not have in my M3 or that I might need somewhere else. I pulled all sorts of plastic covers and the ‘carpeted’ trunk panels to put into the M. I found the OEM piece of sound deadening for beneath the back seat, a piece that isn’t glued down, and snagged that as well. None of the E36’s were coupes, but one had black carpet, so I grabbed the rear portion of the carpet to see if it transferred over to a coupe, but it is slightly different, so I wasted 3 dollars on that piece, but oh well.

          I met a buddy there and helped him pull a Camaro front clip for potential use on his turbo V8 Vette kart build.

          After that it was finally time to grab what I had originally came for. An e-brake handle that still has the ratcheting mechanism installed, so I don’t have to chock the tires anymore (once I am ready to reinstall interior components that is, still need to steam clean interior). This was an easy find, and I grabbed the actual mounting hardware that BMW used, not some Allen headed bolts one of the PO’s installed.

          Next was a steering rack so that the two front wheels are tied together so that moving the car around is less of a hassle. I will be getting (or potentially doing myself) a refurbished steering rack to install in the car, but I don’t think I will get to that point before I trailer the car somewhere else for the winter. Thankfully one of the E36’s had the engine pulled, and one of the tie-rods already disconnected, so getting the rack out was a 5-minute affair. I also grabbed the two bolts that hold the steering knuckle to the column and the rack, as my M3 did not come with either of those two.

          With my rolling cart overflowing with parts I went to the check out and paid a tidy 89 dollars for my loot.

          I didn’t spend much time doing actual work on the car the rest of Sunday, or Monday, as one of my rentals needed some love and attention, but I did start diving deep into engine choices. Just like picking a car out of the myriad choices (I was contemplating all sorts of cars before finding this M, such as E24’s, 300zx, 280z, etc.), the choices for engines is widespread as well.

          Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 42


          • #6
            August 4th, 2020 Round 2

            Spent a little time during lunch getting the temporary steering rack installed as well as the front clip bolted back up.

            The front clip is back on, and it looks straight and true (albeit the paint is destroyed), except for the drivers side edge near the wheel. I think the metal corner of the piece that supports the kidney grills got slightly rotated and bent sometime while the front end was disassembled. Also, the plastic clip at the end on the drivers side that holds the bumper edge needs to be adjusted outwards slightly. I took the time to reinstall these just so I didn't have to keep moving them around, as my garage is still my gym.

            01 - Front Bumper Reinstalled by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

            The steering rack went in to make the car easier to move around. The car had outer tie rods, but that was it. Pulling the outer tie rods off of the junkyard rack was a pain as they were rusted on, but it was done. It's dirty, but it serves it's purpose for now.

            02 - Temporary Steering Rack by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

            Hopefully I'll have some time tomorrow to get back on the interior cleaning, though I need to research how to best remove these dings from the transmission tunnel to smooth that metal out again. Never done any metal work before, so I'll search YouTube for the good stuff.

            'til next time.

            Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 44


            • #7
              August 5th, 2020

              Alright, logged some more time with the M3 today, though no pictures worthy of uploading this time around.

              Started out by scrubbing the interior in front of the back seat to the firewall. Had to pound down (2) bumps in the floor pan, behind the drivers and passenger seats due to some previous damage. Used a 3 lb sledge and a piece of 2x cut to size. The scrubbing paid off, as lots of stuck in dirt and grime was wiped away. Anything more stubborn got a dose of Goof Off from a huge jug of the stuff.

              I reinstalled the (4) floor wiring covers, and the (2) backseat floor heat vents. I need to order one clip to secure the drivers side floor vent. I'll vacuum out the bare floor one more time just before I put the carpet back in, but for now it is good.

              I went over to a buddies at lunch to help him pull the windshield out of his Vette kart after his Level 2 DMV inspection this morning. I should have snapped a picture but the build will be awesome.

              He happened to have a hammer and dolly set from HF that someone had gifted him that he had never used. Like all good friends he lent it to me to use on my transmission tunnel and wherever else I may need to straighten sheet metal.

              Straightening the transmission tunnel was pretty straightforward. Put the universal dolly inside the transmission tunnel via your left hand through the shifter hole. Use the hammer in your right hand to lightly pound the pointy dents flat, using the 'on dolly' method.

              Took ~10 minutes and it looks 95% better, which is good enough for me.

              I wrapped up the day by cleaning each individual wire in any bundle of wires that people 'normally' mess with (gauge wiring, all the wiring down the center console, wiring under the back seat, etc.) and any other wiring that had clearly failing cloth tape. This was oddly therapeutic, carefully wiping each wire inch by inch. Almost makes you forget that the rest of the car needs some serious attention!

              My Tesa cloth tape arrives tomorrow, so before it gets here I will fix several wiring issues due to aftermarket splices or wire taps that left behind exposed wiring. If that all gets done I'll pull out the parcel shelf and start cleaning the back seat area.

              Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 51


              • #8
                August 7th, 2020

                Over the past two days I have accomplished a few tasks and invested numerous hours into research for future engine plans.

                My Tesa tape arrived, and I was able to wrap all of the interior wiring that I wanted to cover. The stuff works great, is pretty sticky, and really cleans up the wiring by tying it all together.

                The rear seat area was vacuumed, scrubbed, and vacuumed again. I cleaned up and installed the sound deadening mat over the back seat.

                I reviewed how to properly solder and fixed the modified fuel pump wiring by connecting in a piece I pulled from a junkyard car. I need to do the same thing to the cigarette lighter wiring, but realized I won't have enough wire leftover to reach the outlet, so I will cut off another chunk from a junkyard car next time I go out. I need an accelerator pedal anyways, so I have to go back out to snag one.

                I have a ratcheting e-brake handle that got cleaned, lubricated with lithium grease, and installed. Happy to report that the emergency brake functions as intended, and I can now remove the wheel chocks from behind the rear wheels. Small victory, but fun none the less.

                Pulled the rear parcel covering as it needs to be dyed black due to the fact that it is grey, and that is no good for me. One of the PO's enjoyed sound systems (I have a bunch of receipts in my huge stack) and modified the rear shelf by putting weatherstripping around the edges and stuffing a full size towel underneath it. Haha, now I have a new garage towel to destroy.

                Ended today by pressure washing my interior carpet to be dyed. My search for a black coupe carpet is coming up empty, and I need the carpet back in to install the dash, so I will attempt the dying option and see how I like it. Nobody local has any, so I'll be ordering SEM from online.

                I'll spend a lot of time tomorrow prepping all of the dash components for install so they're ready to go when the time comes. I'll focus on the steering column and disassembling and cleaning that as well.

                Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 58


                • #9
                  August 8th, 2020

                  A buddy let me know he was going by the local junkyard this morning, so I had him pocket the cigarette lighter wiring for me so I could wrap that repair up.

                  It ended up coming out pretty well, definitely an improvement over the multiple connectors it had before.

                  01 - Soldered Cig lighter Wiring by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                  I attempted to make a conduit/pull cord system from the drivers footwell back into the trunk, by following the stock wiring harness to the back of the car. Unfortunately, after finding a piece of conduit small enough to fit beneath the wiring covers pictured above, there was too much friction between the pull cords for the system to work. So I scraped it and I'll try to think of something else before installing the carpet.

                  Ordered carpet dye and also ordered some dynaliner for the transmission tunnel. Should arrive this Tuesday.

                  Did some research on heater core replacement practices so I can be ready when I order a new Behr heater core from RMEuropean. Figured for 70 dollars I might as well replace it while the heater box is on a shelf. Especially since the part is Behr, which is the OEM. I will throw in a new cabin filter as well at that time.

                  Wrapped up the day by cleaning up the steering column. This included cleaning and repairing and wrapping all of the wires for the turn signals, cruise control, and windshield wipers. The column was wiped down and the splined section that mates to the steering knuckle got violently attacked with a bristly brush until it was as shiny as I could make it.

                  02 - Shiny Steering Column and Knuckle by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                  It was rust brown before, due to the dissimilar metal contact between the column and the knuckle.

                  Next step is to get the carpet and rear parcel shelf dyed black and then installed so I can begin putting the interior back together. While I wait for that to arrive I think I am going to dive into the passenger door and begin cleaning that up and fixing anything that needs attention so that it can function properly well into the future.

                  Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 64


                  • #10
                    August 11th, 2020

                    Things have still been moving along with the M3, though this is a busy time of year for rental maintenance for me, so a lot of my time has been spent upgrading appliances, doing yard work, painting, things like that.

                    Anyways, I thought I found the transmission I need for my engine swap, but learned after researching that it wouldn't work without a lot of new parts, so I am continuing the search.

                    My heat insulation pads arrived today and I'll install them tomorrow or Thursday.

                    I've been doing a lot of cleaning of parts outside of the car. A lot of the trunk plastic has been shined up right, and I just switched to the heater box. I am working to disassemble the entire thing as far as it will go and fix/clean each piece. The flaps near the blower motor don't slide smoothly, for example, and the blower motor itself doesn't spin as well as I think it should. Linkages are getting cleaned and lubricated for ease of use. It's a fun time diving into this box, as it provides a lot of crucial comfort and I think it's important that it functions as well as it can.

                    Dye arrival was postponed til Thursday, so I have to wait a couple more days to see if I can modify the color of the carpet to an acceptable feel.

                    Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 68


                    • #11
                      August 12th, 2020

                      The ‘Let’s Make This Wayyyyy Too Complex’ Steering Column to Interior Firewall Gasket Creation

                      As I was tinkering around in the garage working on my heater box, I noticed that the lower bracket that holds the steering column to the firewall has an old, dilapidated foam gasket on the interior side.

                      Instead of trying to find a new gasket online, I figured, let’s make ourselves a new one from scratch. The heat insulation I had just purchased had a sticky side and is very close in thickness to the foam that is on the bracket already.

                      So, I grabbed the bracket and plopped it down on a sheet of paper to trace out the gaskets shape.

                      One problem. There is a spherical portion of the bracket that bites onto the ball that is on the column, so you can’t get a clean trace of the shape.

                      03 - Non Flat Bracket by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                      Alright, so I’ll try to peel the gasket off and just trace that. Despite my best efforts, this was also not possible, as the gasket was too frail and simply disintegrated as it was being pulled off.

                      So my brain started going, thinking I was going to have to square the bracket to my camera lens, snap a photo, upload it to AutoCAD, get a reference dimension, scale and then trace the image, print out the lines on a piece of paper and then finally transcribe that to the foam.

                      But as I was thinking through all of this It occurred to me that if I can simply get an accurate hole in the new gasket that corresponds to the spherical portion of the bracket, I would then be able to effectively trace the shape.

                      So, I head into the kitchen and I find a set of perfectly round cookie cutters of all sizes. And lo and behold, one of the rounds is precisely the right size. With a word of caution from my wife about not getting it greasy, I take it out to the garage and transfer it to the foam.

                      04 - Round Template by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                      Transfer that round to the insulation, X-Acto knife it out, and place the insulation on the bracket, which is now flush and easily traceable. Trace around the outside and get to cutting.

                      After a few minutes you have created a new gasket

                      05 - Finished Product by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                      Is it perfect? Not really, you can definitely tell it wasn’t cut by a machine. Is it worth it? Arguable, as nobody will ever know that this was done when looking at the car. But hell, I’m somebody, and I know, so screw it. Is it better than it was before? You bet, and I suppose that’s all we can really do. Attempt to put some time and effort into things to make them just a bit better than they were initially.

                      To me, it was a fun mini project. The exact type of thing I am looking at doing with this car.

                      I am working through a very definitive heater box tear down and reassembly, so hopefully it goes well, but that will be my next big post after the carpet gets dyed.

                      ‘til next time.

                      Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 69 (nice)


                      • #12
                        August 13th, 2020

                        A visit from the local USPS driver around 11 this morning brought with it a surprise box of goodies that I had recently ordered. It was time to change the color of the carpet and see how it turns out!

                        But first, here is a picture of the heat insulation I added to the transmission tunnel. I added it in areas of the transmission tunnel that had lower levels of backside foam on the carpet. Not attempting to go overkill here and cover every square inch of the interior, I would just like to help mitigate some heat if possible.

                        06 - Trans Tunnel Heat Insulation by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                        The insulation was easy to work with and easy to cut/shape. It has high levels of stickiness, so it stayed planted where it was placed. One thing I noticed is that I couldn’t get too aggressive with rubbing it into the crevices/nooks of the chassis, so I swapped from a rubbing motion to more of a dab and press motion to get it into the gaps. Remember to only pull a small portion of the backing off at a time and work it down/over into all the grooves as you go.

                        With that small task out of the way it was time to try out this color modification.

                        This is the stuff I purchased from Amazon.

                        07 - Carpet Dye by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                        It states that it covers 7 sq. ft, but that is a vast compliment for these cans. 3 sq. ft would be much more accurate.

                        Shake those cans up and set up your well ventilated work area. I used a cindery area near my garage. Grabbed a pad to kneel on, a blanket for underneath the carpet, the paint (with handy paint sprayer attachment), shopvac for cleaning as you go, and a nylon brush to work the paint into the fibers as you spray.

                        08 - Dye Station Setup by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                        The color out of the cans initially came out very grey, and I was concerned that it wasn’t the ‘black’ (a very easy color to create IMO) that the can said it was, a complaint I had read about in online reviews. You can see here that it doesn’t appear to be super dark, which is what I was after.

                        09 - Partially Dyed by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                        However, it didn’t feel bad to the touch. I couldn’t really discern a difference, except a minute one, between dyed and undyed portions of the carpet. I was excited about this, as my hunt for a black coupe carpet was still turning up empty.

                        Also, the paint darkened as it dried, which was a nice plus.

                        The key here is to work slowly, spraying a small section and then working it into the fibers with the brush, though not too aggressively as I found out early. Thankfully, I had the foresight to start on unseen sections (i.e. under the heater box, under where the floor mats will be, and under the seats) so I learned as I went along, before doing the more visible sections like the sides of the trans tunnel (an area that you will always see).

                        I figure, once seats are in, the center console and dash, and the floor mats, any differences in color due to how hard I scrubbed or how long it had been since I sprayed will be broken up and difficult, if not impossible, to see. However, this is speculation, so time will tell once I begin reassembly.

                        After a long couple of hours, you end up with this:

                        10 - Fully Dyed by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                        It’s pretty uniform throughout, though the picture highlights different shades on the carpet, but I think this is a by-product of the brushing aspect of this modification.

                        As of now, I am pleased with it. I will let it bake in the sun the rest of today and tomorrow morning, and I’ll get it into the car sometime tomorrow afternoon.

                        After that it is time to get this heater box all spruced up.

                        Ah, I ran by the local junkyard today and was able to grab more black interior plastic pieces that my M3 either didn’t come with or were damaged in some way. My JY does not value interior bits that much as I walked out with (4) speaker covers, knee bolster, and some trunk trim for $10.70. Plus all of the little clips and bolts and nuts that I could get my greazynux on, of course. These parts will get cleaned up and put on the shelf for later.

                        ‘til next time.

                        Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 74


                        • #13
                          August 14th, 2020

                          The carpet is back in! Had to look at some old photos to figure out where all of the wiring popped through the carpet, but it wasn't too bad. Not having an engine in the way let me stand in the engine bay and pull on the carpet through the hole for the heater box to get it in place with ease.

                          It looks better in the car, and i'ts good to have the floor covered up so I can move on to the next thing.

                          Speaking of that, I tore down the heater box, documenting each step as I went. It took a few hours to do this, and another two hours and 3600 words to write up the tear down portion of the how-to guide. I'll host that on Bimmerforums in the E36 subsection, as that makes the most sense, but I will link to it here in this thread in case any of you care to check it out.

                          Ordering parts from RMEuropean now, and I'll get to cleaning all of the heater box components tomorrow.

                          I'll also prep and recolor the rear parcel shelf tomorrow to get that, along with the black speaker covers I found at the JY, reinstalled in the interior.

                          While I am waiting for the heater core to arrive I will begin working on the trunk. I originally said I would dive into the doors next but I changed my mind.

                          'til tomorrow.

                          Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 81


                          • #14
                            August 17th, 2020

                            The heater box has been fully disassembled and cleaned. One of the hinge components for the passenger side blower motor door was cracked, so I need to go to the JY and find a replacement from one of the (3) E36's they have. Parts were ordered and should arrive later this week. The write-up should be done soon after the parts arrive.

                            In the meantime I was able to get the rear parcel shelf changed to black, install the black speaker covers I found, and clean and install the C-Pillar covers after cleaning and rewrapping the wiring for the C-Pillar lights inside the car. It looks much much better back there now.

                            Haven't spent nearly as much time with the M3 this past week, as I rode my mountain bike 81 miles in 7 days.

                            I'll keep pulling parts out of the trunk and cleaning them so I can tackle the refurbishing of the trunk space.

                            Been taking it slow, which I am still finding to be an enjoyable way of doing things.

                            Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 84


                            • #15
                              August 18th, 2020

                              My comprehensive How-To guide for the E36 heater box refresh has finally been completed! You can find it linked on Bimmerforums below:


                              With that out of the way (for now, box still needs reassembled after heater core shows up), I'll be spending a good chunk of today on continued cleaning of the trunk space.