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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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PostPosted: June 19, 2018, 10:22 pm 
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Location: Colorado
Photo Dump! I'll summarize after the photos:
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Starting out with a glamour shot of the new wheels and tires, and then a measurement of how much they stick out from the body. Need around two extra inches of fender flare. And speaking of flares, next is a few pictures of marking, and cutting for said flares. Next time I work on the car I'll have to get a picture of it actually sitting at ride height. The cuts definitely need finishing, but I'm not going to weld, seal, or actually attach the flares until I drive the car, and know if I need to adjust for the movement of the suspension. I'm optimistic about how these are looking, though I know the flares are actually going to bolt on higher up than this. The flares were sourced from a company called "Clinched" via ECS Tuning. In the mean time, I picked up this neat billet aluminum adapter, to attach an E36 Throttle Position Sensor onto an E30 Throttle Body. I was planning on making one myself, but I couldn't justify the effort when I could get this neat little piece for $22 shipped. Also started wiring. I'm still kind of terrified of burning up the ECU, but now that I have written stuff down, and actually started connecting wires, it is much less daunting than before.

Lastly, I've been trying to design a really nice bracket to hold the coil packs, and bolt them to the valve cover. Had to bring all this stuff up to my room, to measure while using CAD. The girlfriend was amused (fortunately) rather than annoyed, I think she's a keeper. Anywho, I do want to make a nice billet piece for the coil packs, but I don't want to hold up the project. Might just cobble something together to get the car driving, and make a nice one later. More immediately, I need to finish wiring everything else, make an intake, and get power to the ECU. I'm not fully clear on why the factory ECU doesn't just get switched power, but I have to use a diode and a transistor to get the Megasquirt ECU to trigger off of the main relay. Hoping to pick up the stuff I need for that this week.

The race shop that has been helping me with a lot of advice has an unfortunately long wait time for getting an alignment, so that will definitely be a delay on this project once it is running. I keep feeling like I'm forgetting something really important in the suspension... hopefully I remember before it bites me. Or it's nothing, time will tell.

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PostPosted: September 8, 2018, 6:26 pm 
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Location: Colorado
After an unintentional few month hiatus, I'm back at the E30. Went at the wiring pretty hard over the last week, finished up basically everything on the MegaSquirt wiring, except for the new cam sensor and the ignition system. Evan was a huge help, in tig welding some mounts I made for the LS2 coil packs onto a spare valve cover. That is now installed, as well as 19lb fuel injectors, sequential fuel injection wiring that I did, a distributor delete, and some Chevy truck spark plug wires that happened to be almost the perfect length for the application. Also picked up a small piece of mild steel exhaust, and an Edelbrock air filter for my intake. Threaded the IAT sensor into the factory rubber intake boot, which should work just fine until I add boost. Would love to post pictures but it's a busy day today. The goal right now is to finish ignition wiring tomorrow morning, hopefully get the cam sensor wired (though it's not necessary for starting it), and get power and ground to the ECU. If all goes well, we start it tomorrow evening!

I was doing some thinking on time, and if the car runs tomorrow, it will definitely make it to the last autocross of the season. If it doesn't run tomorrow, it probably won't be ready in time. The main thing driving this is there is a several week lead time at my local race shop for alignment and corner balance.

Except a photo dump in the next few days, and it's good to finally be back wrenching!

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PostPosted: September 11, 2018, 8:27 pm 
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It started! It ran poorly, but it ran!

https://youtu.be/LaM4ixCbp88

After clearing a bunch of (but not all) the junk off the E30, it was time to finish sorting out all of the ECU wiring, as well as finding a way to mount the coil packs. A while back, I took some measurements and modeled the LS2 coil packs in Fusion 360. Realized I was over engineering, and just went and turned out six bosses with tapped holes in them on the manual lathe at work. Bought some stainless steel 1/4-20 bolts for bling factor, and then brought them, and my spare valve cover over to Evan, who was a humongous help with tig welding everything together!

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There was a small amount of warping in the valve cover, but I don't think it was enough to cause an issue. The engine has only been running for a couple minutes, but it hasn't leaked yet. Will find out when the thing actually gets up to temperature. The next two pictures are a summary of pretty much all that has changed on either side of the engine bay over the last week or two.

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We experienced a pretty bad lean condition on startup, which ended up being ENTIRELY my fault, as I had left a small plate on the back of the intake manifold finger tight, so it was pulling air like crazy. The car is still idling at almost 2000 RPM, which may be caused by the Idle Control Valve being stuck open. I believe it is normally in an open condition until power is applied. For the moment, we are going to plug it, and just adjust the idle screw on the throttle body. The other two issues are timing, and the cam sensor. At the moment, I can't get the cam sensor working, but I believe it is parameters, not actual wiring. As for timing, it is WAY too advanced. As the car warms up it backfires constantly. I need to get a timing light on the car to verify that Tuner Studio is correct, but it is saying about 28 degrees advance at idle, and from the research I have done, it should really be down at about 10 degrees advance. Going to try and get out Thursday evening and iron some stuff out.

Stay tuned!

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PostPosted: September 23, 2018, 7:12 pm 
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Evan came by last weekend, helped out again on trying to tune the E30. We fixed up some wiring issues with the idle, and got it down to a more reasonable 1000 RPM. We're still experiencing really strange random changes in AFR, from high 13s, to all the way over 20. And that is just at idle. On top of that, we discovered that the Megasquirt is having a sync issue with the crank position sensor. Every half to one second, it loses sync, and then regains it, which is what happens every time it backfires. I don't believe the CKPS has a grounding issue, as it worked fine before the Megasquirt install. We tested the wiring from the CKPS Plug back to the ECU, and it appears to be good. Soon after, we discovered that the alternator isn't charging. The Megasquirt is only seeing about 12V while it's running, and I'm under the impression it really should have 13-14 while the alternator is charging. Starting to believe (and hope) that the CKPS problems are just caused by a low-voltage scenario. What are all your thoughts on that? The alternator is a very easy fix, so I am hoping that is the case. If not, then I have to dig deeper into the front of the engine.

Thoughts? Hopefully more to come soon.

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PostPosted: September 24, 2018, 1:41 am 
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I believe 12V should be sufficient to run the vehicle computer.
When I "live" load test a charging system, I turn on every ancillary piece of electrical that will draw on the battery (all lights, heater, w wipers, defogger, AC on defrost, rad fan). A proper working charge system (13.8V-14.2V) should maintain =or> than 12V under load at idle or near idle.

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PostPosted: September 24, 2018, 3:45 am 
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Is your dash alternator/charging/battery light working, ie. will it light when ignition is turned on? BMW's need that to activate alternator and faulty bulb will cause charging issues.
ThunderHeide wrote:
Starting to believe (and hope) that the CKPS problems are just caused by a low-voltage scenario. What are all your thoughts on that? The alternator is a very easy fix, so I am hoping that is the case. If not, then I have to dig deeper into the front of the engine.

Thoughts? Hopefully more to come soon.


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PostPosted: September 25, 2018, 9:24 am 
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horchoha-

Good to know, I'll have to test that out next time I get a chance to work on it. The only things I had running at the time were the ECU and engine systems, and the electric fan for air conditioning (no A/C compressor). And with a battery charger hooked up I was still only seeing about 12V.

petteriu-

I believe the battery light does work, didn't think to check it specifically, but I'm 90% it does work. Will have to figure out a way to check all the wiring between the cluster and the alternator, going to also pull the alternator and get it tested for free at the local auto parts store.

Would a dead-flat battery cause problems, do you think? The battery in the car is quite old, and has been run flat many times...

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PostPosted: November 2, 2018, 6:47 pm 
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Took out the alternator and got it tested at O'Reilly, they said it was fine. During the removal I found one of the bolts for the alternator bracket was snapped, and the other was cracked. So I replaced them, reinstalled the alternator, and put a belt on the power steering pump. The tensioner for the power steering pump is missing pieces, so I just pulled it tight with a pry bar and bolted it down for now, going to replace the missing pieces at some point. That's all the progress I've made for a while, still at a loss for handling the signal loss problem.

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PostPosted: January 6, 2019, 5:06 pm 
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Alright, made a lot of progress on a bunch of little things over the past couple months. To start out, my buddy Brian and I figured out the sync-loss issue. I took a variety of different logs while it was running, sent them off to DIY, and did some looking ourselves. On these cars, they can have signal break-up at high RPM, which can be solved by wiring a 10k resistor inline with the crank sensor. Since the toothed wheel is a 60-2 (2 missing teeth), the problem is the MegaSquirt will see a "phantom tooth," so it won't send a signal, since it is only seeing one missing tooth. The resistor can clean up that signal, but it didn't totally solve our problem. We ended up adjusting the trim pots for trim on the crank signal, didn't need to adjust hysteresis, and got it running nicely.

Another MegaSquirt problem was a discrepancy between the AFR readings that were on the AEM gauge, vs what the MegaSquirt was seeing. This ended up being fixed by moving the O2 sensor ground to the same place as the MegaSquirt. There is a little bit of calibration to be done still, but most of the problem is fixed. The rest of our issues are going to be purely tuning related, I hope.

Moving on to the other progress:

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I got in contact with an old school Hot Rod/VW guy just a few miles away from me who has a home-built hydraulic press and dies for stamping louvers. I've always liked the look of hood vents, and I know this kind of hood vent hasn't really been done much in the BMW community. I also know it got quite a lot of hate on one of the E30 Facebook groups, but I think there were as many or more people that did like them. Here is a picture of the hood on the car:

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Regardless of the looks, these vents are functional. E30s are known for high-pressure air building up under the hood, causing front end lift at high speed, and also limiting flow through the radiator. I kept the vents far enough forward of the dead-zone that happens at the base of the windshield, and the vents start immediately after the radiator, and over the intake and exhaust. Should be very helpful for heat management.

Next, part of the look I've always wanted for this car, is putting on euro grilles, instead of the US spec ones. They have kind of an eyebrow over the headlights, which gives a more aggressive appearance. They normally cost $90-$100 used, but I found a guy selling a bunch of sets for about $90 AUS, which translated to around $55 USD. Couldn't resist, so I picked them up:

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The car is apart right now, will post a picture once they are installed. Third to last: I'm not tuning the car at the moment, because I sent off the gauge cluster to a guy in California who rebuilds them for a reasonable cost, and also puts in some cool cosmetic changes. That should be back within two weeks. Found him through Instagram, his name is @e30_dad if anyone wants to take a look at his work.

Second to last: My Christmas gift to me this year was a Tig Welder! Ordered an AHP AlphaTig 200X, and a starter kit of cups and collets. The welder should be here next week, it was lost in the mail for a couple days.

Lastly, I got motivated this weekend to pull the Air conditioning out of the car. Took out the compressor, condenser, auxiliary fan, and all the lines in the engine bay, which pulled about 50 pounds off the nose of the car. While doing that, I decided now is as good a time as any to upgrade the cooling system, so I also pulled the stock clutch fan and radiator, and replaced the thermostat. Have a SPAL 16" pusher fan, and a Mishimoto all aluminum radiator in the mail. There is a lot more room than I thought in the front of this car now that the A/C is gone, should leave plenty of room for an intercooler:

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Current plan is to clean 30 years of grime out from where the A/C components were, and start planning out wiring for the electric fan until parts get here.

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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: February 25, 2019, 12:51 pm 
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No pictures yet, but got the Mishimoto radiator and a 16" Spal electric fan mounted in the car, but not yet wired. Got permits to add more power in my garage, and bought the supplies for that. I've been working crazy overtime the last few weeks, so I haven't done much else, and I'm on vacation in Florida for the week now. But when I get back, I'm going to do some cleaning and organizing in the garage, sell some parts I've been meaning to get rid of, and then knock out the electrical work in the garage.

On the E30, I just need to get a relay for the fan, wire it in to the MegaSquirt, and then tuning can resume. I think the first project for the Tig welder will be either making a little bracket to hold my ECU out of mild steel, or making some tabs for my intake tube.

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PostPosted: March 23, 2019, 7:21 pm 
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Cooling system is together and working great! Just need to hook the fan to the ECU and that is all done. Also, picked up the finished starter circuit that Brian was helping me build, and got that successfully wired in as well. Got the car running and up to temp, and then I started tackling the backfiring issue that has been going on. I did a little bit of reading, and started advancing the timing a fair amount, and tweaking the fuel. I reduced it slightly but really couldn't get rid of it. I tried to attach my tune here but .msq files aren't allowed, so here is a quick video illustrating what is happening.

https://youtu.be/QDkQ4Xetg9Y

It only does this after reaching operating temperature, if that helps. Any insight is greatly appreciated!

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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: March 24, 2019, 8:25 am 
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Check your injectors. [ try cleaning them, verify you have a good spray pattern ] Sounds like you have a fuel mixture from one injector that is not completely burnt.
Davew


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PostPosted: March 24, 2019, 9:42 pm 
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Update on the backfire:

Injectors are all firing, and they all have the correct resistance. Setup for the coil packs in Megasquirt is correct, as far as I have been able to tell. I took a thermometer to the headers however, and the #6 runner is basically room temperature, so it's clearly only running on five cylinders. The strange part is that when I unplug the #6 coil pack, it doesn't run any differently, but the backfire stops immediately. As soon as I plug it in again, it starts again. I tried two different coil packs, and wired in a different plug, and neither one of those fixed it. There really isn't much wiring between the coil pack and the ECU at this point, and all the connections seem solid. I'm unsure what problems could cause ONLY #6 to backfire, without affecting others.

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PostPosted: March 25, 2019, 4:33 am 
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I'd do compression and leakdown tests on #6 for peace of mind.

Does the backfire stop when you pull injector 6 as well?


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PostPosted: March 25, 2019, 7:48 am 
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The back firing is from slow burning raw fuel, i.e. still have fuel in the cylinder when the exhaust valve opens up.
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