I finally got to get the car back on the road after nearly two months of downtime between the cooling system and a shifter bushing rebuild from hell.
After getting the wiring all wrapped up for the Spal fan, bleeding the system twice, and making sure the whole system was back to 100% I decided the next thing to tackle was something that has been in my parts pile since February. I had gotten the Shifter Rebuild kit assembled by ECS Tuning to try and clean up some of the play in the shifter, specifically when it was in gear.
In order to access the shifter assembly the exhaust needs to be dropped and the transmission/driveshaft lowered to give you some space to work. Well, this was the first hiccup in a series of “I hate this car” hiccups. As usual for a 90’s car that has lived through some harsh winters, almost ALL of the bolts from the headers to the midpipe snapped off. Okay, that was to be expected. What WASN’T expected was to find that someone had done some AWFUL welding on the header previously, effectively making it impossible to hammer the old studs out. See below.
Gross. It got worse as it was flipped over and saw what the inside of the flange looked like.
Crrrrriiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnge. At first I thought “Eh, I’ll just find another OEM one” because quality aftermarket replacements are too much money for what they’re worth, in my opinion. I put up a couple of threads on local groups and Bf.C thinking I’d have one by the end of the day. WRONG. Turns out the OEM S52 manifolds are what SPEC E46 guys run so they’re apparently in high demand. Luckily for me, my co-worker who made my battery tie down broke this apart, cleaned up the slag and re-welded it cleanly and perfect.
Another unplanned $100 or so and a couple days of waiting I ended up with BW’s kit with all new exhaust studs, bolts and gaskets.
Okay, manifolds are back on with new o2 sensors, replacing the bushings and pins, we encounter the next headache. All of the replacements went in fine except one, the rear carrier bushing was circular and the kit form ECS had oval ones. After a bunch of researching I finally figured out what short shift kit the car had in it when I bought it, an old Auto Solutions kit. Turns out these kits are so old, presumably, that they used the round bushings used in the E30 and before, as almost all E36’s used the oval shaped bushings. So another $25 and couple days of waiting, I got the derlin oval bushings for the E30 from Garagistic.
Last piece of the puzzle, they went in fine and the car is finally back on the road. The kit really cleaned up the notchy-ness of the shifter, I’d definitely recommend the kit to anyone who has slop in theirs. The only thing that was a bit different was that the shifter feels “pushed back” towards the rear a bit more. Before my shift boot would get taught going up into 5th, but now it’s loose there and taught going down into 4th. It feels like 3rd gear is just a bit higher of where neutral used to be. Oh well, just have to reacclimatize to it’s position.
Next object to tackle is to track down some up/down/side play in the steering wheel, likely the main bearings in the upper column, and to replace the tie rods, front lower control arm bushings and the steering guibo. For now, just enjoying having it back on the road and one step closer to being track ready!