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The MR E30 Project Thread - 97 M3 #2 Edition

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  • #16
    August 18th, 2020 Round 2

    After finishing up the guide linked above I was able to spend several more hours working on the M3.

    A lot of boring stuff happened, like reorganizing things on the garage shelves so I could finish pulling parts out of the trunk. Then it was onto cleaning those parts pulled out of the trunk and stashing them on the emptied shelf space.

    I took some Rust-Oleum 2x Flat Black paint to the windshield wiper arms in my very professional painting setup.

    10 - Painted Wiper Arms by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    I grabbed an extra grey center console piece that is too damaged to be reused and I hit it with the same flat black paint as the wiper arms and compared it to the OEM black piece in the picture below and was satisfied with the match. The photo after the first coat looks close, but after a second coat it looked much better in real life. So I have this alteration figured out.

    11 - Rustoleum 2X Flat Black Comparison by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    I touched up some of the black interior pieces I snagged from the JY to give them a nice fresh sheen. Worth the effort.

    I found this firewall insulation in the trunk and I need to determine what to do with it, as it is too cracked, and literally crumbling apart, to simply reinstall. Any ideas? I figured I'd peel the crumbly bits off and attempt to source a new piece of shielding to attach to the metal backing.

    12 - Engine Heat Shield by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    With all of that out of the way it was finally time to jump into the now empty trunk.

    Started out by vacuuming it out and pulling off all of the old wiring tape. Found some electrical taped tubing for the trunk to trunk lid wiring. Pulled all that off.

    13 - Butchered Trunk Wiring by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    This was the initial condition of the trunk.

    14 - Trunk Condition Right by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    15 - Trunk Condition Left by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Nothing out of the ordinary, just dirt and some small bangs and bumps. I bet the trunk was used without any carpeting of plastic pieces (this is how the car was sold to me) by the previous one or two owners and whatever was thrown back there just bounced around.

    Got that all cleaned up and all of the wiring retaped like everywhere else on the chassis. It looks much better now, though I will have to visit the JY again, probably tomorrow, to pick up a few missing trunk plastic pieces that I want, including the battery tray shelf. After I get those I can put back together most all of the trunk for now and get all of that stuff off of my shelving.

    One issue I did notice involved what I believe to be a battery acid spill, as the paint is completely gone, and this is located right next to where the battery lives.

    16 - Battery Acid Damage by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    It is just surface rust, so for now I am going to sand the rust away and then clear coat the area to keep it protected. This part of the trunk gets covered by a plastic piece, and I don't feel like addressing any paint issues right now (the exterior will require a lot of attention one day), so I'll clean it, protect it, and leave it be.

    My new heater core arrives tomorrow so I'll be able to get the heater box put back together. I'll have to do another order for trunk shocks and a trunk gasket soon as well.

    Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 91


    • #17
      August 21st, 2020

      Over the past couple days I spent some more time working on the M3 in various ways.

      Realized I hadn't updated the B pillar trim while working on the interior, so I pulled that out, disassembled it, and changed its color to black before reinstalling.

      This is what they looked like before, though I haven't taken an after picture yet.

      17 - Faded B Pillar Covers by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

      While doing this I knew my seat belts needed attention. They look fine, but they retract slowly, especially near the end of the belt, a problem which is common in many cars.

      This led me down a deep rabbit whole of opening up a seat belt, exploding a strip spring everywhere, finding the patent for the design to understand how it functioned, to coming up with and then documenting a disassembly/reassembly guide, learning how best to clean them, then to reinstalling them.

      This all went well, all in all 5 hours for me plus another hour from a buddy to help control the springs.

      And at the end I reinstalled everything I was feeling pretty good. That was until I went to try out the seat belt, and...... all that work barely made a difference. Passenger side still can't pull itself all the way back in, though the drivers side now barely does it on its own.

      So all of that work for very very marginal gains. Oh well. I'll probably still create and post up the how-to guide for the seat belt mechanism just so it exists on the internet, but I'll be sure to say that it probably isn't worth it.

      Anyways, I went to the local JY and was able to find a good condition blower motor door to finish my heater box refresh.

      I also scooped up a black center console from a 4 door. The bases are the same, but the shifter surround portions are different, as the slots on the sides accommodate (2) extra switches. It is in far better shape than the one that came with my car. So it got me thinking about what I could use those (2) extra clean OEM switches for. One thing has come to mind so far, but I'll keep stewing on it.

      After the JY I went to a friends house to help him diagnose non-functioning brake lights on his 1971 Plymouth Duster. When I got there he insisted on taking a spin in his recently finished 69 Camaro, 350 small block with a 5 speed. And he let me drive it.

      Untitled by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

      It was a hoot to say the least, offering plenty of power on hand to have fun with. I can definitely see the appeal associated with these muscle cars.

      The garage in the background of the photo above is most likely where I will be storing and working on my M3 during the winter months. I know. How sad. Haha

      After helping him out I spent part of the afternoon finishing the heater box, and I did a bit more work to it this morning. All that is left before re-installation into the chassis is cleaning the space in/near the firewall that is easier to access now without the box in the way. It's plenty dirty in there.

      Until next time.

      Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 100 (Woot!)


      • #18
        August 24th, 2020

        This weekend was a bit busier than usual (outside of the M3), though I did work on the car on Friday evening. I got the area around the heater box cleaned up of all of the dust and dirt that had accumulated in there.

        And then, the heater box was reinstalled! Which was a really good feeling surprisingly. I also got the passenger side steel structure bolted back into the car.

        I also decided I would create that guide on how to refurbish the seat belts. It also describes how they work. Which I think will be helpful for the community.

        Other than that I figured out what I am going to do with my brake setup, and I am ordering a Chase Bays BBE setup to replace my ABS and booster and all of that associated goodness. It will free up a lot of space in that area of the engine bay. Getting that ordered this morning. I won't be putting together any more of the interior until I get the BBE plate installed as it connects via nuts on the inside of the firewall, and it is conveniently accessed without anything in the way.

        In other news, on Saturday I took a friend who moved to the area a little over a year ago to a crash site from 1942 that has the remains of a B-24 Bomber. The site is located on the side of our main mountain here in town. The remains of the crash have never been cleaned up by any agency. It is a somber place to be. The photo is taken from very near the top of the mountain. Weird to think that another ~200 feet higher and the craft would have flown right over the earth without issue.

        B-24 Crash of 1942 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        Also did a gnarly mtn bike ride up another mountain in town.

        20+ Miles with 2400 Vertical by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        And finally, I have a friend that owns this incredibly rare and very expensive Renault Turbo 2 here in Flagstaff. He purchased it from a museum with super low KM's. He brought it out to a local car show last weekend and let me sit in it! Maybe one day I'll get to take it for a spin.

        Renault Turbo 2 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        Renault Turbo 2 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

        I'm going to start pulling the engine bay brake stuff next.


        Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 104


        • #19
          August 27th, 2020

          Not much going on with the M3, but I did finish the seat belt guide that describes how they function. It was another hefty chunk of time.

          My Brake Booster Eliminator is on its way to me. I need to pull apart the brake system in the engine bay.

          Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 110


          • #20
            Thanks for writing all this up. Interested to see what motor you decide to go with.


            • #21
              August 27th, 2020 Round 2

              Everything about this car, as far as the interior cabin is concerned, is going swimmingly. However, everything trunk related is just not quite right. Plastic bits aren't quite as tidy as they should be, things don't fit quite right, things like that.

              So, I have decided to keep the trunk bare, making it a space that is only about getting the job done. No plastic pieces, no carpet, nada.

              I will still keep the interior, where my passenger and I will be while driving, full of creature comforts, like the carpet, and headliner, and radio, and heater, etc.

              But the spaces where I won't be while driving? Those are purpose driven only.

              This fits into my vision of where the project has drifted since I made my initial post and first started diving into the car.

              Probably time to share engine plans:

              Vortec 5300/LM7/LM4 5.3 litre Iron Block V8
              LS6 intake
              Stock ECU modified with HP Tuners DIY Tuning Software
              7875 T4 or GT45 (Haven't decided yet) Single Turbo
              T56 6-speed
              Twin Disk Clutch
              Looking for 450-500 rwhp on pump gas at 14 psi

              *Some details, like the wastegate, are still being researched.

              Why oh why?

              Well it's simple really.

              The iron 5.3 is stupid reliable and easily capable of what I want right out of the box (Sloppy Mechanics on YouTube boost JY 5.3's all the time with terrible looking exhaust setups and reused head gaskets and make 400 hp all day). They are also very, very cheap. Local JY has a handful of them for 365 dollars each. They came in tons of Silverados, Tahoes, Yukons, etc. They are everywhere. They are also modular as hell. C6 vette accessory drives bolt right up to the front. LS6 intakes slip right on. The motor mounts are even ambidextrous and rotatable for crying out loud!

              * If I came across an LS1 and the timing was right, I would not hesitate to pick that up.

              The car has to have 3 pedals, so T56 it is. Twin disk to reliably handle the massive power.

              Stock ECU with HP Tuners because HP Tuners is 400 dollars and you can download tons of base maps from Sloppy Mechanics for free. Intuitive software from what I read as well.

              Turbo? Why the hell not! Chinesium GT45 turbos are 150 dollars on eBay! Who cares if it only lasts a year. At that price it can be a wear item without complaint. Plus it makes making high horsepower a piece of cake. No expensive blueprint engine builds. No fancy pistons. Just loads of boost on a bulletproof engine.

              500 hp at 14 psi on an engine that can do 20 psi? Because I want to get in some serious trouble. Alright, not really, but I mean, come on. This is most car guys dream HP. So screw it, let's do it.

              With this plan in mind some things about the car have to change. Radiator will most likely move to the trunk. I have a lot to learn and research about radiator design to ensure it has adequate flow. Fenders will have to be sliced up (poor rear quarters) to allow for big ol' fat rear meat.

              I'm sure more will have to change as well. With sticky enough rear tires the thing may twist itself up like a pretzel.

              I did some stuff to the car today but I have to prepare for a bike ride now so I'll update this puppy tomorrow!


              • #22
                August 31th, 2020

                Alright, quick update.

                Pulled the trunk carpet that is on the underside of the trunk lid. Butyl goop everywhere. The piece of carpet was scrapped. Trunk is staying empty, though finding out how to remove this stuff is hard.

                25 - Removed Trunk Lid Carpet by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                My BBE arrives tomorrow, so I pulled the stock brake booster, master cylinder, and ABS pump to prep this corner of the engine bay.

                01 - Cluttered Corner by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                I still have more scrubbing and cleaning to do before I install the BBE.

                03 - Emptier Corner by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                This evening I reinstalled the venting ducting as I was working on changing the dash color to black. I was confused for a minute since one of the pieces was rotated and I couldn't get the holes to line up on the heater box. But eventually I realized what was happening and got it sorted out. I'll dab small amounts of adhesive on all of the locations where BMW dabbed adhesive to secure the dash back to the ducting.

                18 - Reinstalled Vent Ducting by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                Other than that I cleaned and dyed the dash to black. Much much better.

                19 - Blacked Out Dash by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 117


                • #23
                  September 1st, 2020

                  Spent a few hours on the M3 today after running some wiring from my sub-panel through my attic to where the new kitchen will be. Also played a round of disc golf with an old friend.

                  Anyways, dash went back in very very smoothly.

                  20 - Dash Installed by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                  The color looks great in the sun and in the car. I color matched the various bits of trim that surround the dash to match. My cleverly marked bags of screws are making a thorough and 100% complete install go smoothly. No open hole left behind!

                  As I get more and more pieces installed over the next day or so I will get a list of all of the stuff I am missing so I can hunt it down at the local JY.

                  Some small upcoming decisions are:

                  - What to do, if anything, with the gauge cluster? Looking on Bimmerforums for potential insight into some cool refreshes.
                  - What steering wheel do I want? The car came with a very new aftermarket hub and small diameter wheel, but I don't know if I am sold on it at the moment. I really enjoy the late 98 and 99 E36 M3 steering wheels. Need to do more research.
                  - What to do with the backseat area. My first inclination was to create custom covers for the sides and seat back and bottom, but I don't know if I will be able to effectively mimic the numerous curves and shapes in a way that is satisfactory. I may try to source a coupe interior in black and just take that route.

                  My Chase Bays Brake Booster Eliminator arrived as I was finishing up for the day.

                  01 - Chase Bays BBE by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                  The thing is tiny! I did not expect that. I still need to devote some time to engine bay firewall clean up before installing this. Would like the bay to be cleaned of 23 years of dirt, though I have no intention of shaving it or pulling excess brackets. I did pull all of the brake stuff, but I cleaned it and stored it just in case I want to switch back.

                  'til next time.

                  Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 121


                  • #24
                    September 8th, 2020

                    Small things have happened since my last update.

                    I installed the BBE after making it a small 'gasket' which I stuck to the back of the mounting plate and then squished against the firewall with the nuts. The install was more difficult than I thought it would be, as it is tight near the pedal box and the mounting pin for the brake pedal. But after a few attempts, adjusting the U shaped piece on the BBE to the correct depth, I had the BBE installed and all is well.

                    I went out to the local junkyard again on Saturday morning to gather up a list of stuff. Most of it was small clips and screws for the dash and center console install.

                    I was able to snag an entire accelerator pedal assembly from one of the cars. Got it installed in my M3 with relative ease after giving it a thorough cleaning and light lubrication. Still no throttle cable, but I will cross that bridge when I get to that part of the build.

                    21 - New Accelerator Pedal by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                    I mounted up a whole bunch of the dash. This took quite a while as I wanted it to be done as well as possible. Doing things like installing the OBD2 port back on the metal knee piece, things like that.

                    Also while I was at the JY I decided to grab an armrest center console from a sedan with black interior. I am not sure if I will keep it, and I have a non armrest center console in my shed, but for 15 dollars for a complete setup in very nice condition I couldn't pass it up.

                    Installing the various center console bits literally took an entire day, 6 hours, as each piece was cleaned, color matched, and installed with the utmost care. I disassembled switches to clean the insides and to install the nicest faces I had in my collection.

                    22 - Installed Center - Left by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                    23 - Installed Center - Right by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                    While doing this I put together another small list of stuff to snag next time I'm out at the JY. I also put together a list of interior components that I will need to purchase online. Things like the knee bolster and functioning glove box, etc.

                    With all of that done I reevaluated my game plan. I decided what direction I want to take the rear seat area as well as how I want the front of the cabin to be.

                    I ordered brand new OEM M3 floor mats from FCP Euro. Never thought I would be big into floor mats, but after getting a legitimate set for my Tacoma and seeing how well they do their job I can't go without floor mats in any of my cars anymore.

                    I also ordered a set of gauge rings for my cluster, which I will paint black and install for a very subtle upgrade. I'll also be following a gauge cluster refresh DIY to help ensure my cluster functions properly when I need it to.

                    Next things are to keep looking for more interior pieces. I will disassemble the trunk locking mechanism and clean that out. Then I will finally jump into freshening up each of the two doors.

                    I have a 4 day camping trip to Southern Utah and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon coming up this weekend, so progress may be slow this week. But who knows!

                    Until next time.

                    Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 134


                    • #25
                      Great work so far. This thing was a mess. Lucky it ended up in your hands.


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Westopher View Post
                        Great work so far. This thing was a mess. Lucky it ended up in your hands.
                        Thanks Westopher. The E36 M3 is, hands down, my favorite automobile. It pained me to pick this thing up from the PO's backyard, clearly discarded and neglected.

                        But with each square inch that is cleaned up, and with each new part installed or existing part refurbished satisfactorily, a bit more life appears in the high mileage chassis.

                        I've been slow for the past week due to life activities, but I hope to spend some good time with the car this weekend.


                        • #27
                          They really are incredible cars. I'll keep my e36 m3 forever. They are so easy to take apart and put back together too, so once you do get the stuff done, it's going to have tons of life for you to really enjoy. Looking forward to seeing it all come together. Already clearly making great progress.


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Westopher View Post
                            They really are incredible cars. I'll keep my e36 m3 forever. They are so easy to take apart and put back together too, so once you do get the stuff done, it's going to have tons of life for you to really enjoy. Looking forward to seeing it all come together. Already clearly making great progress.
                            Agreed. This advertisement from an old car magazine sums it up perfectly for me.

                            E36 M3 Ad by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                            Thanks again. Itching to spend some time working on it as I went into random buying mode last night.


                            • #29
                              September 18th, 2020

                              I did some research on RealOEM last night and determined that the glovebox from a sedan is the same as a glove box from a coupe, so I added that piece to my JY list to snag next time I am out there.

                              After reading another members excellent build thread I noticed he had cracked metal near his trunk latch. Under closer investigation, as I was working on tidying up the trunk area, I noticed that mine too had cracked. So I ordered a 25 dollar reinforcement plate from MSportParts and it is already on its way to me.

                              Failing Trunk Latch Metal by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                              This is a common issue, even though my particular M3 never had a wing installed, which exacerbates the issue. I also realized that non-OEM bolts were used for the trunk latch, so I added those to my JY list as well, even though I think I may have what I need in the garage already.

                              I spent some time on the internet trying to find the few front interior pieces I still need. Knee Bolster, speaker covers, and steering wheel. I was able to find a good condition passenger side coupe speaker cover on eBay and promptly purchased it, but none of the other pieces are available right now. I'll keep looking.

                              I am debating what steering wheel to install in the car. I like the Late 98-99 M3 wheel, but I think I will start a thread in the E36 subforum to see what other OEM wheels people are using.

                              Still waiting on my gauge rings and small torx screwdrivers to show up so I can tidy up the cluster and get it installed.

                              Hoping to do some trunk area cleaning and then dive into the passenger side door for a full refresh this weekend. I will try to find a write-up on the process, but if I cant find one I will take the time to make one for the community.

                              Went over to a buddies to give him some engineering advice on the Vette Kart he is building while I am refreshing the M3. We will be working with each other as he is also doing a 5.3 iron block with turbo and HP Tuners in his kart, so it's nice to have someone to figure things out with.

                              Vette Kart - 1 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr


                              Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 136


                              • #30
                                September 19th, 2020

                                Spent a little time yesterday afternoon on the M3.

                                Started by cleaning the trunk area as best as I could. This included removing the shocks, which are in great shape, and a few small bits to get them adequately cleaned and to check their functionality. Cleaning the underside of the trunk lid, and the area around the trunk gasket took about two hours as it was fairly dirty.

                                24 - Cleaned Trunk Lid Underside by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                                I learned of a trick for the butyl goop on the trunk lid that involves getting it really cold and then basically breaking it off. They suggest dry ice, though I will simply wait until winter time when it is really cold anyways and attempt to pry it off then.

                                I also pulled the gasket, as it was in terrible shape, and threw it away. It doesn't really rain where I live this time of year so I have no worries closing the trunk without it until my new replacement arrives.

                                After that I opened up my E36 Bentley to determine what I was in for with these front doors. Specifically the window removal. And it sounds like I'll need to power up the chassis to raise and lower the window for removal and installation. I'll also need power to initialize the window afterwards. So I will start with a surface level cleaning until I get the cluster back in and then I will give power to the car and take out the window to inspect and clean the entire mechanism.

                                25 - Pass Door Ready for Cleaning by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                                To wrap up the day I did the simple task of installing my new floor mats.

                                26 - OEM M3 Floor Mats Installed by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

                                Slowly but surely it is coming together. Ok, very slowly. Haha

                                Tracking down interior parts is not easy, and WTB ads don't have a huge response, even on bf.c, I guess I will keep checking eBay until what I need becomes available.

                                I am unsure where to go after the doors are spruced up. I will continue to acquire the interior parts I need, but I'll need a new main task to begin working on. Maybe cleaning the engine bay.

                                I will pull the entire front and rear suspension out of the car, but I want to wait until the car is stored at its home for the winter before doing any of that.

                                Until next time.

                                Approximate Hours Invested in Project Since Purchase: 140