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Thread: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

  1. #1036
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    Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Got some more work done on the car this weekend. I pulled apart the driveshaft and changed the center support bearing, cleaned and repacked the CV joint, pressed in the new trailing arm ball joint, changed all 4 control arm ball joints and finally pressed out the subframe bushings. Now I just have to press the pesky front diff bushing out of the subframe, clean up the the subframe, POR15 it, clean up the trunk floor and throw in the new subframe bushings then reassembly can start. I was hoping to have it all done this weekend but I'd rather take few extra days to make sure it's all perfect.

    I found out POR15 can and does crack... It kind of seems like it cracked because of the epoxy so I'm going to be cleaning it up a bit and taking a look at it to see if I may have to actually pull off the plates and get them welded but because they're just there to distribute the load of the subframe it may not be necessary. If not then I'll just be spraying some of that rubberized undercoating on it but I want to make sure I do it right. So far it looks like I'm lucky though and no cracks have appeared even with the added stress from the turbo and drag racing.


    If I do have to pull the plates off I'll probably be upgrading to bigger plates made by a company in the UK.




    To get at the center support bearing for the driveshaft I had to disconnect the two halves just before the yoke on the front half. Once it was apart I took a dead blow hammer and hit the outer edge of the bushing area until the bearing/bushing assembly came apart, then I slid on the new bearing with a socket and a hammer and put the two halves back together. There wasn't much grease left but I did my best to clean out the CV joint, repack it, then throw on a cover so it doesn't make a mess since they don't originally come with a cover on the M3 for some reason.






    Once the driveshaft was done I turned my attention to the rear trailing arms. On Friday I removed the old bushings but trying to get the new ball joint housing assembly in was a really tight fit, I ended up having to use the ball joint press and a lot of force to get it in even after throwing the housings in the freezer and heating up the trailing arm. The housing used a cap on the one side and it's held on by three 2.5mm allen head screws with some blue loctite.





    The ball joints were up next. There was no play in the ball joints but they did move quite freely and I found one with the boot pulled back. Even with the ball joint press I had to get a bit creative with getting the old ones out and the new ones in. For some reason the ones on the left arm were quite rusty and quite a bit harder to get out. I had to remove the rotors and bend the dust shields forward to get the tool in place.






    Today I spent most of the day trying to get the damn subframe bushings out. After trying a few different methods I realized that if I were to cut off the lip on the bottom I could use the old heat shield from my original turbo motor mount to support it and use the shop press to get them out. Cutting and bending the lip and pressing the bushings out took me about 30 minutes each since I had to be careful when using the cut off wheel so that I wouldn't go all the way through the lip and into the subframe. I would first cut the excess rubber off the lip with a knife then cut the lip into sections and make a cut along the back edge of the lip using a cutoff wheel and finally I'd take a hammer and flat screwdriver to the lip to bend it back and break off the pieces.





    To press them out I used the old heat shield from the motor mount underneath the bushings then used a big flash washer, a piece off the ball joint press and another piece of something I had sitting around to press it through. The heat shield ended up being just a bit too shallow so for the very end I would throw my exhaust cutout downturn underneath and press the rest of the bushing into that.



    Last edited by Nabs; 05-02-2016 at 10:26 AM.
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

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  2. #1037
    Administrator test MarcGSR's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Well done, Nabs - looks like you've put in some good work this past week. Bushings are one of the least fun jobs but I feel like BMW's can sometimes be a pain in the butt to work on, haha. The coating on the manifold and turbo came out really nice. I'm confident between that and the new cooling system you should get a full 20 minutes on the road course without overheating. Keep up the good work and thanks for being so detailed with your write up.

  3. #1038
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Thanks Marc! The bushings weren't all that bad, it's just having the right tools that make all the difference. If I were able to fit everything in the shop press with the right tool to press the bushings out it would have been super easy, not that it wasn't already easy. BMW's area actually amazing to work on since everything is put together in a very logical way and it's easy to figure out how to take out what you need, and it's a plus that this car has practically no rust on it.

    Time for more pictures!

    I was finally able to get that pesky diff bushing out of the subframe, it was a little tricky and I quickly learned I was pressing it out the wrong way the whole time! Once I figured out it can only go in or out through the one side it made life a lot easier.




    I went and rewrote my list of things to do before I ran into a slight, yet major issue...




    As I had mentioned yesterday, I had noticed the POR15 on the reinforcement plates had cracked so I decided to strip it and see if it was just the paint that cracked or the epoxy itself. after I started to strip the paint using a paint/rust stripping disk I noticed some rust along the edges of the plates and by the frame. After a while I took a wire wheel to the plates and I noticed one of the plates was loose... I pulled that plate off then I figured well since that one came off so easy the others would probably be the same so I pried them apart with a little too much easy and I was greeted by a very unwelcome guest...







    Luckily it's all just very light surface rust on the frame but on the reinforcement plates themselves there was some slight pitting. While the plates pulled of relatively easily the epoxy was still stuck to the plates. I'm thinking that due to the twisting of the subframe from the diff the POR15 and epoxy cracked and started to separate from the frame and water slowly got in there. I'm glad I caught it early but it's obviously something I could have prevented had I properly sealed and coated the plates in the first place as well as having followed the actual instructions and getting the plates welded (James was right). Now I have to deal with cleaning all the rust up and finding someone who will actually come out and weld these damn plates in and it means that I'll have to wait a little while longer before I get the car back on the road. Definitely a case of a young person not listening...
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

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  4. #1039
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Haven't done much to the car lately, just little things while I wait for someone to come and weld the plates on the car. Everyone I asked so far is busy and can't do it until after the weekend.

    I changed the centering sleeve on the driveshaft with a slightly interesting technique I found on another forum. In the official technician's service manual BMW recommends backing the inside with grease then using a special tool and hammer to make the grease push out the bushing. I found someone recommending that you pack it with wet paper instead so there isn't a grease mess to clean up when you get it out, it works really well and it only took about 2 sheets of paper and the paper comes out in big clumps when you pull at it. I'm sure the guys who have been around for longer have already seen this method






    I also cleaned up the plates with only very minimal pitting on them. I'm still going to use a rust converter just to make sure there's absolutely nothing left.





    And finally I dropped the fuel tank. The tank was completely full so I drained about 40L before I pulled it by disconnecting the line just before the fuel filter and running the pump. After that I disconnected the fuel pump wiring and the left saddle level sensor from above and had to disconnect the 2 fuel lines coming from the tank as well as the filler neck before I could drop it. After that there was one nut holding the tank in the middle and the two straps, one on each side, but it still ended up being a pain since you have to disconnect three hoses, while it's suspended, and the hoses use pex clamps so they're an absolute pain to deal with.





    Once the tank was out I was able to fully clean the rust, paint and epoxy from the areas the plates sit. Luckily there was no pitting on the actual body. Now I just wait for a welder...
    Last edited by Nabs; 05-07-2016 at 01:42 PM.
    "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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  5. #1040
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Sucks yours had clips holding the lines in, all I did was take a pair of sidecutters to the old hoses lol. And consider yourself lucky you've got a plastic tank after the horrors I've been through so far...
    1997 BMW 740iL Arctic Silver Metallic, Decatted - "Silver Bullet"
    SHE AIN'T PRETTY, BUT SHE'S FAST. (FOR A STREET CAR ANYWAY).



  6. #1041
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Meh, it wasn't all that bad but I also didn't want to have to cut any lines. Your situation could have also been easily avoided...

    My luck seems to really suck. I was looking around under the rear end while doing a final super thorough clean on the trunk floor to get it ready for welding when I noticed 2 funny looking spot welds even though they were covered in dirt. I brushed the dirt away and realized that the welds had broken and there was a crack in the undercoating on the other side but it was mostly hidden by the shock. I had heard about this happening to other cars but it's usually one of the last parts to break and it's usually after the subframe mounting points develop cracks.





    I looked it up through the forums and it seems the best option is to weld the entire seam between the trunk floor and the rest of the body. Some people went a bit over kill with it and along with welding the seam they actually put bolts through in a couple spots.



    Because of the new discovery I decided to check one other area that is said to usually be the first place to develop cracks but it's kind of hidden in the trunk. The area that I cut lets you access the top of the mounts for the rear subframe attachment points. According to the reinforcement procedure followed by most you are supposed to cut the top layer off metal between the three welds in a trapezoidal shape and then weld the two layers of sheet metal together along the cut line.






    I had a welder lined up to come out last night and weld all this for me but something came up and he couldn't make it so hopefully today he'll be able to make it out.

    I also found a guy in Sweden who did a bit more of an intensive reinforcement and got custom bolts made to implement a bolt-thru reinforcement for both the front and rear mounts as well as welding in a bar to tie the two rear mounts together along with endplates to tie all of that to the frame rails. I'll probably go this route at a later date as all of this can be done without completely removing the rear subframe and all the welding is done on the top side. This is the sketch of his design and if you want you can check out his entire thread here
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

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  7. #1042
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Wow, this subframe is really making a lot of work for you. Hopefully it holds up now. I'd be very leery of adding much power to a non-M car after seeing this. Nice to see you are fixing it properly though. Are you shooting for more power down the road?

  8. #1043
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    It doesn't matter if you add power or not to any E46, M or non-M, there is a high likelihood that at one point or another the rear floor pan will develop cracks. It's just one of those things that are now done as preventative maintenance or done when it's already too late. The issue with the M cars is that while they only share 3 of the same exterior body panels with the non-M and drive train wise they are vitrually completely different, the chassis itself is the same and there was no real extra reinforcement other than 2 braces on the underside and the strut tower brace. It's also known that a 3 series sedan with no fold down seats is actually more rigid than an M3.

    As for power, my original plan was to try and get the car in the low 11's with the stage 1 kit by the first MAP then upgrade to an E85 tune. I'm not entirely sure if I'll go through with that this year now.

    Some may already know this but I was supposed to have a welder come on Sunday but he cancelled at the last minute and said he'd message me the Monday but I never heard from him so I decided that I wouldn't worry about the car for a while, possibly the whole summer, as I'm leaving town today and I was tired of stressing out over the car and getting all my stuff ready. Everything is all prepped and ready to go once the welding is done except for the subframe, which I was hoping to take to get sandblasted and powdercoated since it's starting to rust a bit, but with my luck the guy is out of town until today... I guess I'm just going to buy a sandblaster and por15 it when I get home, unless someone happens to be getting something powdercoated and wouldn't mind picking up my subframe, which is pretty much on the way there.


    "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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  9. #1044
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    I ended up ordering the beefier reinforcement plates since I figured I'm not in a rush to get this done and I might as well do it properly this time. The plates are quite a bit larger than the plates I originally put in and they also add extra contact area for the solid subframe bushings for more load distribution.


    I'll also be ordering the extended subframe bolts for both the front and rear so that they go all the way through the mount and have a nut on each end.


    The last couple things I will be making myself based off the design of the same person who gets the bolts custom made, since shipping from Sweden for larger pieces is ridiculous. The first of two will be these "pipe gussets" for the front mounts. It's essentially a piece of 2" pipe welded onto a giant washer and then welded onto the body of the car. I'll also be adding an additional piece around this just as extra insurance.


    The second of those pieces is a reinforcement bar for the rear mounts that ties the frame rails and subframe mounts all together using a square tubing, endplates and two "cups" for the nut to sit on. Now the guy has made the bar using three pieces of 1"x1" square tubing, one piece that runs the whole length between the frame rails and the other two that attach to the frame rails, the other piece of tube and the cups, but he cuts those pieces short so that they don't take up space in the trunk. Ideally I'd like to do that and not interfere with my trunk space but I'm slightly weary of the cups only being half attached to the bar. I was thinking about getting one large piece of rectangular tubing, say 1"x3" and cutting it so that it follows the contour of the floor. Anyone have any thoughts, ideas or suggestions on the bar or on something that might even be stronger?


    And to make sure everything is properly sealed and will not ever rust I've ordered some Fusor 803dtm seam sealer as well as some SEM beige rubberized undercoating and Wurth brushable seam sealer and their self etching primer. I'll also be ordering cavity wax just to make sure that the inner cavities are still covered just incase the welding burns away the factory coating.

    Theres a very good chance I won't be getting the car on the road this year but after all this I probably won't have to worry about doing anything major to the car for quite a few years.
    "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. #1045
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    If your worried about the cups not being fully in the bar for strength go with a thicker wall tube. There is lots of strength there still. Don't think it would be an issue.

  11. #1046
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Thanks Brain! This is all still relatively new to me so I really appreciate you chiming in. I've seen some people weld in a giant bar across the frame rails and up into the rear shock towers but I really don't want to give up my trunk space since this is a summer daily. I still have some time to figure it out and I'd like to see for myself how much room is actually under there, then go from there. I'm hoping by that point I'll have figured out this whole welding thing and will be able to weld at least the bar myself.
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

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  12. #1047
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    If Brian says you can get away with just using a thicker wall I'd trust him. Then again, the ammount of trunk space you'd be giving up to use a big bar going up the shock towers would be marginal. Props for trying your hand at welding, I think it will pay off

  13. #1048
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Oh I fully trust Brian, I always just like to weigh my options but after thinking about it, it makes sense that the cups aren't fully encompassed by the bar. I think I may just go with a 1"x2" bar so that I don't have to weld the two pieces together and just have to cut along the contour. But really all this may change as I'm not anywhere near the car to take measurements and something else may come up as well. Luckily I have plenty of time to research and figure this out.

    Thanks for the props! I got really lucky with being able to learn how to weld out here in the bush. One of the guys we hired this year has a shop back where he's from and he knows how to mig weld aluminum so we decided to buy a welder so we can repair our boats and I was lucky enough to find a multiprocess welder to teach myself both mig and tig at the same time. And since my work is seasonal I'm able to borrow it for the off-season so I won't have to wait on anyone to come and weld things for me anymore! I may even play around with my exhaust this winter
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

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  14. #1049
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    I finally started working on this again. Every time I look at the car and look at what I still need to do I get discouraged and don't end up doing much but it'll slowly get there.

    I started with drilling holes for the extended bolts for the front and rear mounts. Along with drilling the holes in the front I had to cut a 2" area around the holes to be able to access the bolt and to check on the factory welds.




    The left side was fine but I did find a hairline crack on the right side of the car. I'll have to stop drill the crack and weld that before I weld in the reinforcement pipe on top of it.


    I also mocked up the new, beefier plates to see how much undercoating needed to be removed.



    That's about it for now. I have to get some sheet metal and metal tubing for the bar going over the rear mounts. I also need to pick up some gas and wire and practice with mig before I feel confident enough to start welding in the plates.
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

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  15. #1050
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Cut a chunk out of my trunk yesterday. It took a while since my dremel would go through cut-off wheels too fast and my cut-off tool couldn't reach certain areas but I ended up finding a solution.



    This is one of the rear receivers where the 1" square tubing will be going across and will be welded on to a piece of sheet metal which will be tied into the frame rail seen on the left. In order for the tubing to fit I had to cut a slot in the 3 humps around the receiver and hammer them down flat. I still have to weld the slots and the area around the receiver which I cut out back in the spring. Once that's all welded I'll shoot some cavity wax on the underside through the two holes on either side to make sure it never rusts.




    Now I have to go pick up some 14 gauge sheet metal for the rear end plates that attach to the frame rails, 20 or 22 gauge to go around the front pipes, 4ft of 1" tubing (1/8" thick) for the rear bar, some MIG wire and C25 gas and I should be ready to start welding the car up
    "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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