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Thread: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

  1. #1066
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    It's the most common problem on the E46 chassis, pretty much every single vehicle is effected at some point or another, from the 318i with a 1.8L engine and 117hp all the way to the M3. There was a class action lawsuit against BMW back in 2009 and the end result was that for 1 year BMW would inspect and "repair" vehicles for free, after that window closed you were pretty much out of luck. If you google "E46 subframe failure" you'll see thousands of pictures of E46's with a cracked or torn rear floor.
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

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  2. #1067
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Progress has been a bit slow on this. I drilled all the holes in the end plates for the plug welds to the frame, not I just have to use my spot weld cutter and drill through the first layer of the frame rail so that all three layers are connected.





    I also stop drilled the ends of the cracks on the bottom 2 mounts, and on the top mount. I still have to grind them a little to prep them for welding. I also started drilling the holes for the plug welds on the reinforcement plates. Some of them for the front plates have to be done after the plates are tacked since you have to hammer the plates to the shape of the body. What I find odd is that they tell you to drill carefully through only the first layer of sheet metal, yet there are some spots where there is only one layer so you just end up with a hole. There are a few spots I drilled for the old plates that have to be filled in and ground back before I get the plates welded.





    I have someone lined up to come and weld the bottom reinforcement plates this weekend. I don't want to do it myself since there is a big difference in thickness between the plates (14 gauge) and the floor (20 gauge), so I don't feel comfortable with it and I don't want to screw it up and end up with a hole in my floor. I will be welding the top side reinforcements since those are all the same thickness.
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

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  3. #1068
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    As always certain things didn't go as planned on my end and as a result the plates didn't get welded on the weekend. The welder is coming tonight and tomorrow to weld the plates in, and while thats a big chunk of what needs to get done I still have the top side reinforcements to get done as well.

    For the rear bar I spent a few days getting everything as close to perfect as I could. There were many hours of grinding and fitting. I got the main rear bar cut and ground to length with the proper angle to get as tight a fit with the end plates as possible. I was originally thinking about using TIG on the bar but decided against it. After the main rear bar was done I had to cut the additional pieces on the end that tie the bolt through to the bar. These were a bit more involved since I had 2 pieces to make.

    I first cut each piece to the approximate length I wanted then cut the angle for the end plate side. Once I was happy with that I marked the spot where I would cut a piece out to bend part of the bar over so it would follow the contour of the floor and stay hidden once everything is reinstalled in the trunk.




    Once I had those pieces done I mocked up all the pieces to see where the cups would be going. Because I couldn't run a bolt through the bar at the time I marked the general area of the cup and where the bolt would go though the bar and cut a small piece out to put the bolt through and get the exact position of the cup. Once I had the proper position of the cup I cut those sections out and test fitted the cup to make sure it would sit properly within the bar. Now I just have to tack the cup to the bar, tack the bars to the end plates then I can pull it all out and get to welding everything together.






    I still have to weld this section and grind everything flush before I can permanently install the bar. Once that's all done I'll finish up the front mount reinforcements and that should be it for fabrication and welding.



    My goal is to have everything welded, seam sealed, undercoated and/or painted and waxed by Friday and start reinstalling the subframe on Saturday. If I can get everything done in time I also have a power steering line I'd like to replace as well as some new tie rods since the left one is seized so getting alignments get expensive with the extra time need to free that up.
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

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  4. #1069
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    looking good.
    70 nova 4 speed lsx

  5. #1070
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    The plates are finally in!!! If you can't tell I'm excited to finally get this thing done!

    Before the plates went in I wire wheeled the car one last time and then sprayed a layer of weld through primer on the 4 mounting points. I also sand blasted the inside of the plates and sprayed those with primer as well. I did leave an area exposed on the the front mounts to be able to weld the cracks then once those were welded the welds were ground back flush and quickly sprayed with more weld through primer.





    The instructions for the plates were to tack weld them in 6-8 places on the lower part then hammer everything to shape. It turned out we needed a few more tacks in certain places to be able to hammer it properly and make sure there were no major gaps.




    It took about 3-3.5 hours to tack, hammer and weld everything in. The welder was welding about an inch at time in a couple different spots on each plate then switching to the next plate just to make sure nothing warped. I'm quite glad I got someone else to do this and I didn't try and do it myself. The metal was quite a bit thinner in certain areas than I expected, going as thin as 20-22 gauge, so welding in the plates which are twice as thick wouldn't have ended well had I done it myself. At certain points I could see the heat from the weld glowing all the way through to the topside of the mounts in the trunk.



    Now all the plug welds on the bottom of the plates need to be ground down and then everything can be sealed but I'll wait until I weld everything in on the topside so that I don't burn through the seam sealer and undercoating. Today's plan is to weld the topside of the rear mounts, grind those back flat then fit everything for the rear bar to tack that all together and pull it out to weld it the rest of the way.
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

    ///M3 Journal | E39 540i Journal | Turbo Install | Carbon Roof Time-Lapse Install

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  6. #1071
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Things have been taking a little longer than I was hoping/expecting. I've been super busy getting ready to go out of town for work again so I've only had a few days in the last week to actually work on the car. Nothing is in chronological order since I would jump from one thing to the next depending on if I was waiting for paint to dry or for welds to cool down, pretty much.

    I noticed that you could actually see the welds from the reinforcement plates on the topside. Good to know it penetrated all the way through



    Did a little more work on the front top mounts. I got the pipes ground to shape, leaving a little lip extending past the floor for the extra plate that I'm going to put around the area. I also took the extra metal that came with the reinforcement plates and cut out 2 washers to weld to the inside of the pipe. The hole saw centre piece that I used was slightly bent and cause the washers to be a bit small but I made due. The welds aren't the best but they penetrated both pieces and considering I haven't welded much I'm happy with it.







    For the reinforcement plates for the front mounts I traced and cut a template out of paper so that it would properly fit the pipes with the curves and them traced it onto the 4.5"x5.5" plates and started cutting it out with a 3" wheel. I got one done and bent it to the shape of the floor and made a few cuts to clear the seat belt buckle attachment point and the baby seat tether points, but I forgot to take a picture of it. The second plate should be ready in the morning and I'll probably weld that in some time during the day.





    For the rear bar I coated everything with some weld through primer. I probably didn't need to but for whatever reason I'm super paranoid about rust. I then put everything in place, tacked it and pulled it out to finish welding everything. I had to grind back all the welds on the top and bottom so that everything will fit properly for final assembly. I decided to POR 15 the bar since I had some laying around. As I said, I'm paranoid about rust.






    While I was waiting for the 1st coat on the bar to dry I sprayed the top of the rear mounts with self etching primer and sprayed the rails with weld through primer after drilling the holes for the plug welds. After the self etching primer I sprayed the entire area where the bar goes with high build primer and then with some colour matching Alpine White I had sitting around.





    I was hoping to weld the bar in today but the 2nd coat of POR15 was still quite tacky so I decided to wait until the morning to finish that up. Once that's welded I'll be painting everything pretty much the same way with the self-etching primer, high build primer, seam sealer and Alpine White for the top, and for the bottom I'll skip the Alpine White and go straight for the tan rubberized undercoating. I also still have to grind a couple more plug welds on the bottom plates before those are fully ready for paint. Since I'm leaving on Wednesday my goal at this point is to get everything welded, primed and painted before I leave so I don't have to worry about rust. I should be home in a few weeks for a week and I'll finish the reassembly then.
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

    ///M3 Journal | E39 540i Journal | Turbo Install | Carbon Roof Time-Lapse Install

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  7. #1072
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Last round of pictures for a while.

    Here's the reinforcement plate I made for the top part of the front mounts. It's one of those just incase things and doubles the thickness of the sheet metal the pipe will be welded to. I didn't get a chance to weld on the front mounts since theres a large gap on the left side mount since the hole saw wasn't lined up correctly when I initially cut the metal so I'd like to cut a piece for that since I don't want to fill in a 1/2" gap between the 20 gauge metal of the floor and the 16 gauge of the pipe. I did coat everything in weld through primer just for the zinc protection for now.




    The rear bar dried overnight and I welded it in on Tuesday morning. They're not the best looking welds but they penetrated the 2 layers of the actual frame rail so all 3 layers are welded together properly. I was up until 4am Tuesday night/Wednesday morning priming the frame rails and putting seam sealer on all the welds and a couple other spots.







    I also taped off everything on the bottom after I ground down all the plug welds then I remembered I had to tack in the provided spacers for one area so that it sits level with the added height from the plates. After those were tacked in I coated everything with the self etching primer, high build primer and seam sealer around the welded areas. I didn't get around to putting on the brushable seam sealer around the vertical portions of reinforcement plates since it was 4am and I was ready to pass out after doing the seam sealer around the welds. I'm thinking it shouldn't rust before I get home in the next couple weeks to do the brushable seam sealer and rubberized undercoating on the areas where the bushings won't be in contact. For the areas the bushings will be pressed against I've decided to paint and 2k clear coat those areas similar to what it was like from the factory.


    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

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  8. #1073
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Looking good Dave! I didn't realize those M3's were so weak! Should be good for rally cross now!
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  9. #1074
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Quote Originally Posted by Yota View Post
    Looking good Dave! I didn't realize those M3's were so weak! Should be good for rally cross now!
    Thanks James! It definitely sucks that they're weak and it's taken a lot of work to fix but at least I'll have addressed all the major weak points of this car. Rally cross sounds like fun, but only if there's jumps!
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

    ///M3 Journal | E39 540i Journal | Turbo Install | Carbon Roof Time-Lapse Install

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  10. #1075
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    I was home for a day so I finished up the seam sealer on the bottom plates. After the edges were dried up I put a coat of brushable seam sealer everywhere except for where the bushings contact the floor. I should be home in a week so I'm hoping I'll be able to finish welding the top front mounts, get everything painted, undercoated and spray cavity wax by then.


    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

    ///M3 Journal | E39 540i Journal | Turbo Install | Carbon Roof Time-Lapse Install

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  11. #1076
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Did a little more work to the car last week. I wanted to get all the welding done but didn't have enough time to get the cover over the rear bar stitched back in. Other than that last piece everything else that's structural has been welded.

    The top front left (driver's side) hole wasn't cut very well so I had a few good size gaps near the top of the pipe. I ended up cutting a small piece to the shape of the pipe and a little larger than the area of the gaps and welded that in on the underside of the floor. I ground down all the welds so that the reinforcement plate I'd put in later would sit flush with the rest of the floor.





    For the right side I just put the pipe in and welded it to the floor, all the way around. Turned out I did a shitty job on one side of it so when I ground it down it became obvious the welds didn't penetrate. I ended up going pack and welding just past that entire half of the pipe and ground it down again and it' held much better.




    The left side welds seemed to have penetrated properly and there was no visible crack even after pounding on it with a dead blow.




    After both sides were properly welded and the welds ground back and prepped I welded on the reinforcement plates I had made around the pipes and directly to them. I decided against going around the entire perimeter since it's just there to help distribute the load to the floor over a larger area.



    Next time I'm home I'll finish up the trunk and get back to assembling everything. I figure it'll be another full day to weld the trunk, seam seal everything and paint and then at least another day to get the rear end back in the car. I'd also like to change the tie rods if I have enough time since they're just sitting in the basement already.
    Last edited by Nabs; 05-15-2017 at 11:09 PM.
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

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  12. #1077
    Administrator test MarcGSR's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    I need to say, you've done a really great job reinforcing this car. I feel like it would survive an atomic blast so hopefully you can keep your mind at ease that a subframe tear is the least of your worries now, haha. Extra points for learning and welding yourself. Well done Dave, the car looks solid!

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