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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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PostPosted: November 26, 2015, 5:22 pm 
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Joined: March 14, 2012, 1:03 am
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Location: Colorado
Hi all!

As I will post in my Haynes roadster build log, life and financial situations have dictated that I need to prioritize projects, and focus on just one at a time. So therefore, my Lotus is now in storage, and my 1989 BMW 325is has taken the forefront as a project car. So, a brief history first:

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This is Sparky. My dad bought this car in I believe 2001 as a new daily driver, since his turbocharged M3 was becoming too aggressive for everyday use. At a track day at (now closed) Second Creek Raceway, the motor blew up. It turned out the PO had media blasted the intake manifold with glass beads, and not cleaned it properly. So a few hard pulls down the main straight were enough to knock them loose and suck them through the engine. Miraculously, the head survived. A new bottom end later and the car was back on the road.

When I got my learner's permit at 15 it became the car I learned to drive in. When I was close to getting my license, and shopping for a car, I was given the option of rebuilding the whole front suspension of the car, in exchange for it becoming mine, which was the first real car work I had ever done on my own. I put over 110,000 miles on it in the next five years, and a lot of abuse, being a reckless teenager's first car. When I came back from my one year of engineering school, I realized it was a little worse for wear. Oil smoke, blown suspension, trashed bushings, ruined paint. A year or so later, the car was in a hit and run that would have totalled it, had I made an insurance claim. The front left fender, bumper, valence, and side markers were all heavily damaged, though the chassis stayed straight.

Last year, I decided 270,000 miles was a good enough time to rebuild the upgrade the engine. So, out it came, and in went a new cylinder head casting, Schrick 272 cam, upgraded valve springs, Ireland Engineering HD rockers, Ireland Engineering Stage 2 long-tube race headers, full custom catless Magnaflow exhaust, and a JB Racing 8 pound aluminum flywheel. Still on the list for the engine is a Miller Mass-Airflow conversion, W.A.R. tuneable chip, and 19lb. Injectors.

My goal for the car is a reliable autocross and track toy, that can go out and trade punches with E36 M3s and the like. The goal is more out of necessity, than ambition, as the engine modifications alone have pushed it out of the class where E30s normally compete with BMWCCA. In a few days, when I collate a list of everything I want to do to the car, I will post that, and more pictures.

I know this is not nearly as intense or unique as a lot of the other non-traditional builds, but I hope you will welcome by attempt at giving my old, worn-out first car new life!

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"Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the psychic predecessor of all real understanding." --Robert Pirsig

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PostPosted: December 28, 2015, 12:09 am 
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Happy holidays to everyone, and hope you have a wonderful new year! Been a little slow in the garage with the holiday season, but I received an interesting book called "BMW 3-Series (E30) Performance Guide" for Christmas. It contains a ton of information, and I will probably be basing most of my suspension work off of information in this book, starting with replacing all of the bushings in the car with new polyurethane. In anticipation of the new springs and shocks, I have to get the rear subframe slotted for eccentric bolts, so I can mess with the rear camber some, since it is not adjustable from the factory.

For now, I have some 19lb Bosch Gen 3 injectors in the mail from ebay, should be arriving Tuesday. Following that, I am talking with a sales person at Miller Performance about buying a MAF conversion and W.A.R. tuneable chip. The big thing holding me back at the moment is that the software for the chip allegedly only runs on computers with Windows XP.

More later.

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"Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the psychic predecessor of all real understanding." --Robert Pirsig

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PostPosted: December 28, 2015, 1:38 am 
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Seems like a fun project!
XP will run happily inside a VirtualBox VM, and If needed Win7 has "XP Mode" which uses the microsoft virtualization solution.

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PostPosted: December 29, 2015, 12:17 am 
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Hey 300D50!

The problem is I don't have Win7, I recently upgraded both my computers to Win10. I recently dug up a laptop that has XP on it, but I haven't tried to start it yet. I also don't know if it would be compatible with my modem with how old the hardware is. I'll try soon, also will try to find a USB stick that is compatible with it.

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"Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the psychic predecessor of all real understanding." --Robert Pirsig

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PostPosted: January 26, 2016, 11:31 pm 
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So busy! I overloaded myself this semester, finishing an associates in business, and getting more machining training. I'm also training for my first triathlon!

Small amounts of progress though, mostly spending $$$! I got a big box at work, had a Miller Pro Street Induction Kit, and a W.A.R. Chip! The intake was pricier than I wanted, but the chip is cheap compared to a name brand ECU, so I splurged. Gonna try to install the intake this weekend. What I'm excited about, is that I didn't know the W.A.R. chip holds four tunes at once, with a four position switch that you mount on the dash! A couple weeks ago I got out into the shop long enough to install new injectors:

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These are 19lb/hr injectors out of a V8 Mustang. Both use Bosch Motronic, but these are Gen-III four pintle, so I'm hoping for much more efficient atomization. Now that the new injectors are installed, the stock ECU can no longer reliably run the car, so it won't start again until the intake and chip are installed.

In the mean time, I'm doing some research into the suspension. Right now I'm probably going to just get polyurethane bushings and drivetrain mounts and replace everything. I know it's going to be rough, but I'm not building a comfortable car. I want to feel absolutely everything going on, so I will deal with the extra vibration! I'm also going to get a weld in chassis reinforcement kit, that strengthens all of the known weak points of the E30.

Photo dump!

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The cylinder head just after installing the new cam.

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Ireland Engineering Stage 2 long tube headers, ceramic coated inside and out.

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Shift knob I turned on a manual lathe, picture in my old E36. (now in the E30) This one is super rough, but I've been considering producing more on a CNC and selling different designs, as well as custom ones, though that would take a substantial upfront investment.

More soon, I hope!

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"Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the psychic predecessor of all real understanding." --Robert Pirsig

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PostPosted: January 27, 2016, 1:21 am 
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Hey Eric! Nice E30!!! I am very familiar with the chassis having owned a few and currently have one thats a major distraction to this build. Let me know if you have any questions, I would love to help. First thing I would do if you want to make this an autox/ track rat is to check the rear diff and make sure you have a LSD. Theres both writing on the diff (usually under a thick layer of crud) and also a tag. Most likely says 3.73, if you're lucky it says S3.73

Or you could just do a burnout and see how many lines you left :twisted:

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-1968 Datsun Fairlady Roadster - the weekend canyon car


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PostPosted: January 27, 2016, 5:51 pm 
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Good luck. I've been looking for an E30 with an S52 for quite some time, but they are rather rare in Canada.

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PostPosted: January 27, 2016, 6:34 pm 
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2mAn-

It has LSD, had enough trips to the drag strip to know that one! Even with 276,000 miles it still lights both tires, though I think I'm going to add a third clutch into the pack for tighter locking. I lucked out, the car has every option you could get minus heated seats and the auto. 325is, sport seats, LSD, Mtech 1 wheel, power everything, 13 button OBC, the works! My dad and I used to co drive a spec E30 that we built about the same time I got this car.

Trochu-

They are relatively common around here, though people tend to hold onto them after they build them. Good luck on your search!

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"Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the psychic predecessor of all real understanding." --Robert Pirsig

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PostPosted: May 22, 2016, 9:15 pm 
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Alright! Lot of stuff going on in the last few months. I've been limited on progress because of some other projects. For instance, I found out what it is like to do five transmission swaps for one car in a week! I've been very heavily in the planning and research phase of this project, but I have broken ground so to speak. First big step, the major bodywork is mostly done. It took two and a half months to get the new parts from Germany, but the car has a brand new fender and front bumper, for when I need to roll or flare the fenders.

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Unfortunately, after driving 30 miles back to the shop, the fender liner already came unattached. I'm tempted to fix it myself, but the body shop gave me a life time warranty, so I might just make them fix it to save me the effort. Also, I just received the new sway bars in the mail. H&R adjustable front and rear bars, plus I got some weld in chassis and subframe reinforcement kits, to fix all of the weak points in that chassis.

I also managed to be a colossal moron, and lose the key to the car. It was on a cheap dealership key chain that broke coming out of my pocket, and the key is gone. I have a spare key, but it is very broken, so I need to take it to a lock smith/key cutter to get a new one made. Lastly, I got my hands on a computer that has Windows XP, so I can actually install my chip and new intake and get the car running properly!

More soon...or...eventually....

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"Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the psychic predecessor of all real understanding." --Robert Pirsig

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PostPosted: July 24, 2016, 11:45 am 
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I'm still here! I ended up bringing the E30 back to the body shop, and getting the warranty work done. They ended up buying and installing the missing parts, and taking a bunch of time to rework all of the panel gaps, because almost nothing they installed fit right at first. Fortunately, second time around they got it just about right. The panel gaps are really good, and all the trim is there, but somehow they still missed bolting on the bottom of the fender by the door. I'll deal with that one myself though. The fender and bumper are the factory finish, like that dull black color. They told me that it is rust resistant, so I wouldn't need to paint it, but the car lives outside right now, so should I shoot some paint on it just to be safe? Anyone have any experience with that?

On the mechanical side:
I spent some time at the autocross yesterday talking to the owner of one of the big local BMW shops, and got a lot of advice on the build. As soon as I told him I was planning on more power, possibly boost, the first thing he said was that the factory wheel bearings and hubs would not survive. They are nice and light, but can't handle the torque. Moving up to the top of the list now, is a five lug conversion. The rear conversion is easy: the entire rear subframe from a six cylinder Z3 or an E36 318ti bolt straight into an E30 without modification. They are a little hard to find, but definitely out there. The Z3 one is what I really want, because the 318ti is a four cylinder, and the whole drivetrain is much weaker. As for the front, I need to swap in E36 parts, but I'm not sure exactly which ones, so more research is needed. There are a few key advantages to this conversion: The first being strength. The hubs can handle vastly more power, and last for a long time. The second advantage being selection in wheels. The 4x100 E30 wheels are much harder to find with wide tires, but there is a huge selection in all sizes of 5x120 wheels. The disadvantage is the car will gain something like 100 lbs. I really don't want that, but I would rather take the hit in weight than rebuild wheel bearings every year.

I was also working on installing that big intake that I have (didn't take any pictures), and am still running into problems. The intake goes down under the car and bolts to the chassis in front of the front left wheel. The problem I was having is the intake just would not bolt up to the chassis, I had to put a ton of pressure on it just to get within like an inch of the frame. I have to jack the car up again, but I think the car has collapsed engine mounts, since I BELIEVE they are original...from 280,000 miles ago... So, it's a great time to upgrade to polyurethane mounts! Doing some research on which ones to buy, but that should happen soon I think.

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"Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the psychic predecessor of all real understanding." --Robert Pirsig

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PostPosted: September 5, 2016, 11:35 pm 
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I've been collecting parts, that is about it. Too much overtime and school for much else, but work is coming soon! I picked up a laptop running XP that I can tune the car with for next to nothing. I need to get new engine mounts for the car before I can do more engine work though. I was surprised how fast it has been to find all the parts for the five lug suspension swap.

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This is the complete front subframe and suspension off a 1995 BMW M3. I can use the faster steering rack with new tie rod ends, and it will bolt up. I'm also using the strut housings, knuckles, and BIG brakes. I need to find control arms from a '96-'98 M3, because they had different geometry than the '95. If you use '95 control arms in this swap, it puts the front wheels like an inch back from center in the wheel wells.

For the rear suspension, I was at the local Pull and Pay yard, and found a 2000 Z3 with a complete rear subframe and suspension. This Sunday that yard is holding a Pull-a-thon, where everything you can carry is $60, no matter what it is. So I guess this Sunday we find out how in shape I am, haha! After that, and the new control arms, all I need is bushings, coilovers, and a new master cylinder, and I'm ready to swap the whole suspension!





Also....a preview of things to come, found this at the Pull and Pay today for $45, it's in great shape!

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"Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the psychic predecessor of all real understanding." --Robert Pirsig

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PostPosted: September 6, 2016, 9:23 am 
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That's going to be fun and sound great. What did the blower come off of?


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PostPosted: September 6, 2016, 8:41 pm 
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It's a Gen 3 Eaton M90 off a 2000 Grand Prix GTP. I wanted a Gen 5, because they are way more efficient at managing heat. But they are more expensive and harder to find. The Gen3 is pretty good, and has the same bolt pattern as the Gen 5, so I will swap somewhere down the road when I know this one fits.

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"Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the psychic predecessor of all real understanding." --Robert Pirsig

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PostPosted: September 26, 2016, 8:47 pm 
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Alright, there are two words that have been floating in my head for a week or so now, and I need to let them out:

Laminova intercooler.

Anyone ever used these? It looks like an air to air intercooler will be almost impossible to plumb in the E30 engine bay. Plus, the stock intake manifold and throttle body are not anything really special for air flow. I think I'm going to exercise my skills as a machinist, and a friend who can tig weld, and make a new intake manifold.

Obvious disadvantage is that this will take a long time, and a lot of effort. Probably a good amount of money too.

The advantages include an integrated water-air charge cooler, better air flow, bigger throttle body with additions of TPS, MAP sensor, Intake Temp, and Boost sensors, none of which are particularly easy to fit in the stock manifold. Has anyone used this type of intercooler before? I did some googling and can't figure out exactly how they should be oriented. Should I have dividers inside the intake that funnel 100% of air through the cores, or can they just be close together? Is it better to flow the coolant sequentially or parallel through the multiple cores? I've seen it done all different ways. Thoughts?

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"Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the psychic predecessor of all real understanding." --Robert Pirsig

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PostPosted: October 6, 2016, 7:43 pm 
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I've looked at those cores, they are indeed quite a thing of beauty. Compact, great heat transfer, good flow.
They are eye-wateringly expensive though, at least when I last looked.

I've read that a parallel water flow arrangement is usually preferred, with half the cores being fed left-right, and half right-left, with a single pass of coolant.

You can use the Bosch aux water pumps from Saturn sedans or Mercedes diesel vehicles to pump the coolant. They are efficient, cheap, and designed for hot glycol.

Designed properly, you can have the intercooler loop share the expansion tank for the radiator, so you only have one fill port.
You won't get an appreciable heat soak from the engine coolant loop, and it keeps things tidy.

All air needs to be diverted through the core fins, otherwise it will just flow around them.

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Walt
06 RX-8 Shinka
91 3000GT VR4
01 Tibb
04 RX-8 Touring RIP
Some people never have anything except ideas. Go do it.
Emissions & fuel economy haven't exactly been areas of strength for past rotary power plants, but absolutely no one with a soul has ever cared.


Last edited by 300D50 on October 7, 2016, 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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