Spent a little time today working on another project for the car; sanding down and prepping my spare door cards for new material. My last attempt at this did not go so well, but this time I’m prepping them properly and will be installing the new material with a heat gun and more patience.

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After driving the car around for a full year without any sort of radio/audio, I ended up purchasing a new Pioneer head unit. I picked the DEH-S6010BS over the standard CD43 for two main reasons; 1. The backlighting color can be chosen from some 20,000 colors so I knew I could match the OEM lighting pretty good 2. Bluetooth streaming/Spotify control.

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Now obviously it’s not period correct by any means, but if I can dull down some of the  trim and paint the volume knob black, it will be tolerable. So I started with sanding the gloss black surround trim with 2000 grit, here’s what it looked like to start with;

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After a couple of passes:

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Not bad. After wiring everything up and installing the head unit, everything worked but no audio. Quick Google search yielded that you have to wire the blue wire to blue wire, which is labeled “Steering Wheel Controls” which I figured I didn’t need. After those were connected, all was well.

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Close enough for me, until I paint that volume knob. Now I need to replace all the speakers, the 22 year old Harmon Kardon stuff is JUNK.

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Still chasing down the P0121 that has plagued me ever since installing the Riot Racing 68mm throttle body. I’ve adjusted the manual idle screw probably a half a dozen times now, trying to get it as close to closed as possible without inviting the throttle plate to stick on hard-close or high heat situations. I’ve got it just about perfect now, where it sticks only in the slightest bit, but the P0121 keeps popping up after 20-30 minutes. I think my next step is to order a new TPS and hand it over to my local Indie who has the proper scan tools to get it sorted correctly.

The IACV got a good cleaning while I was in there, but made no difference.

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Also, looks like I’ve started to develop a small oil leak around the front valve cover gasket/Vanos assembly. *sighs*

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Back on the road, finally.

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.

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Gross. It got worse as it was flipped over and saw what the inside of the flange looked like.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Cooling System Update

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Nothing much new as of now. About 90% done with the cooling system overhaul:

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–Z3MS54 Radiator

-Upper, lower and heater core return hoses

-80/88*C Temp Switch

-80* Thermostat

-Expansion Tank

-Coolant Level Sensor

-Fan Delete / Highest CFM 16″ Spall Puller

I was concerned about fitting this fan in the factory shroud while clearing the water pump nut. Some had said that it would NOT fit without offsetting it and losing the factory shroud, some said it would. I ended up biting the bullet and I’m glad I did. Pushed all the way to the driver side it fits, snugly, within the factory shroud with plenty of room between the fan motor and the water pump nut.

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Looking at the coolant level sensor was pretty gross. I’m glad I’m flushing this all out and putting all new everything in.

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Small hiccup, I somehow got the wrong temp switch. Turns out this one is OBD1…. luckily JB at BimmerWorld is great and sent out the OBD2 one ASAP.

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While the car was up in the air I went ahead and pulled the transmission mount out of the car and the driver side mount practically crumbled apart. Yikes.

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I wonder how long this UUC mount has been in there…

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New Rogue mounts in. Although I’ve read mixed reviews about the enforer caps, I decided to put them back on. A little NVH never hurt anyone.

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The car has been parked behind work while I wait for some time to work on it. Looks like I’ve made some new friends:

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All that’s left is the wiring, I’m doing the fan wiring the traditional way, into the temp switch, but running a backup “switch” to the factory foglight button. Looking forward to getting this all wrapped up and hopefully to the track soon to start shaking the car down.

Riot Racing Throttle Body Install

Finally ended up having some free time to start throwing the parts I recently bought on the car. Since this doesn’t need a tune or any other supporting mods I started with the Riot Racing throttle body. This is a factory throttle body that was sent out and bored from the factory 63.8mm to 68mm.

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These cars came with a really dumb traction control system in that the car essentially has two throttle bodies. The one pictured above, with the butterfly open, is for the tractional control system. The butterfly is open 100% of the time, however whenever the car sense any sort of traction loss it shuts this baffle, preventing any airflow. As you can see this doesn’t exactly create a smooth intake tract.

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For the time being until I install my Bimmerworld ASC delete boot with the upgraded MAF and injectors I simply removed the plate entirely. It’s very easy to do and helps clean up the intake tract for maximum airflow. That being said, I think this will throw the ASC light up on the gauge cluster when it self checks. The traction control system is junk anyways and it’s likely you never intentionally use it. I intend to just remove the bulb in the cluster at a later date.

 

Like most things that are rubber on the E36, the throttle cable bushings almost completely disintegrated upon removal. If you are taking your throttle apart for any reason I would highly highly recommend replacing these bushings. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem that these rubber bushings are sold separately and instead sold as one piece with a whole new cable, so I opted for some CNC’d pieces from Garagistic.  Super easy install, just thread on and lock it into place with a snap ring.

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I installed the throttle body with the old rubber bushings and the throttle response with the new TB and the ACS butterfly removed was night and day. The butt dyno also seemed to yield a couple of extra ponies as well, definitely a good upgrade for the money. Once I added the CNC’d bushing it was even more crisp. So crisp it’s hard to imagine what it was like before as I thought the response was already pretty good. Anyways, these bushing replacements were about $35 or so for both throttle and cruise control and they are a must have.

After reinstalling everything and putting some miles on the car testing the new throttle body I noticed that the initial 1-5% of throttle seemed to stick a little bit. It was intermittent and seemed to get worse whenever I would do hard throttle open/close pulls. After a couple of hours and failed diagnoses, my friend finally noticed the problem. The new throttle plate provided by Riot Racing to fit the new 68mm bore was *slightly* too big. When the throttle would snap shut the edges of the valve would contact the housing itself, as seen in the pictures above. The way we adjusted it was to adjust the manual stop on the throttle body for the idle. We nudged it forward just barely so that it fully closes just very very very slightly higher than how it was set. We reinstalled and now it’s perfect!

As I said before, this is one of the best modifications you can make on a NA E36. I felt more response and more power than I expected and couldn’t be happier.

FINALLY.

Finally found a full day to dedicate to wrenching on the car and installing the APEX stud kit. I’ve been looking forward to getting this done so I can add the spacers and lower the front.

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Before

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After

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Had new sway bar end links laying around so while I was adjusting ride height I threw these on as well.

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Here is the final height I settled on. It will likely settle a little bit lower after I put some miles on the car. This seems to be a pretty safe height so that it won’t rub under any heavy loads.

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Finally. Happy with the end result!