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Thread: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

  1. #1051
    Administrator MarcGSR's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Wow Nabs, that's a crazy amount of work to prevent problems down the road. I must not be the only one thinking, I can't believe BMW designed their platform to require all this! You would expect an M series to come from the factory beefed up, I can't imagine modifying an Integra or S2K (Honda 4 life, peace) this much to not rip apart with power adders. I get that it might not happen to yours if you didn't reinforce it but the peace of mind is always nice, you are one dedicated owner! Did you considered just throwing a cage in to tie everything to the frame instead? Because you might be running in the 10's sooner then you think. I'm excited to see your adventure into welding, props for learning and doing it yourself, good for you. Keep up the great work!

  2. #1052
    Premium Member Nabs's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Thanks Marc! The idea of welding the car myself is slightly scary, but I think with a little more practice before I start on the car, it will be worth it in the end. And finding a welder to come out to my place and do all this will probably more than double the cost of this already expensive project


    As for BMW, they didn't technically design it to need this much work. The e46 platform is pretty much based on the e36 with quite a few upgrades, and the e36 had a lot of chassis issues itself, from the same rear axle carrier panel tears to the rear shock mounts tearing, tearing the sway bar mounts, tearing the rear trailing arm bushing pockets and I may be missing some. I guess BMW became aware of the issue with the e46 early on and in February 2000 they added more spot welds to the panel thinking that it would be enough to reinforce it, obviously it wasn't enough. It also doesn't matter what version it was, everything from the 1.8L engine to the 3.2L in the M3 sees the failure eventually. It's more a matter of when and not if, though my 323i has no visible cracks at 240,000km. And by the time you have visible cracks it just means that they're bigger than the subframe bushings. And while the M3 didn't develop cracks, probably thanks to the plates, it did pop 2 spot welds on the inside bottom edge of the left wheel well.

    Back in 2009 there was a class action lawsuit against BMWNA (us only) regarding the rear axle carrier panel (RACP) tearing and for one year they offered free inspections and repair. If there was a crack less than 20mm they would simply inject a special foam into the cavity around the rear mounts, and if it was bigger than 20mm they would replace the entire panel. Before 2009 they would repair a lot under goodwill.

    One of the main reasons this happens is because of the thin sheet metal, which is only like 1mm thick (19-20 gauge) so that gets fatigued over time but also because the subframe was placed pretty far in from the frame rails.

    I've considered a cage but only a bolt in. I really don't want to weld a cage in the car and lose the back seat considering how much I use it. I also want to keep it a street car first and foremost, with it also being a somewhat track car.

    As for 10's, if I upgrade to e85 that's pretty much guaranteed and I'm pretty much just waiting to see if Maximum PSI develops a shippable kit or gets their flex fuel kit finally done, but that might be a while since they only do in house installs now.
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

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  3. #1053
    Premium Member Nabs's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Made an initial template for the plates on the frame rails at the ends of the bar... and I got bored. It also turns out that for whatever reason the frame rails are open in the one area where the plates are going...



    Went back and decided to make the template a little bit bigger.


    I picked up the square tubing and the 20 gauge sheet metal for the front mounts but I'm finding it extremely difficult to find 14 gauge sheet metal in town that doesn't come in massive sheets and most places also have a minimum purchase limit. I really only need a 1'x2' piece to make both end plates, but I wouldn't mind some more just incase.


    I figure while I'm welding all this other shit I might as well finally fix up the front reinforcement plate that I had to cut so that my charge pipe would fit (top left). I was thinking either get a few pieces of 1/8" flat bar and bend/cut them to shape and weld them in with gaps in between or just get 1/8" aluminum sheet and bend/cut something to shape and weld that in. I'm not sure which method would be stronger/better. Any advice?
    "Exhaust gases go into the turbocharger and spin it, witchcraft happens and you go faster"

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  4. #1054
    Premium Member Nabs's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    I haven't been able to get any work done on this recently because we finally got our garage insulated after 15 years. We spent 3 days with 4 people cleaning the place out and even then there is still a bunch of stuff we couldn't get out, including the m3. I didn't get the subframe back in time to bolt it up temporarily to move the car around so I had to improvise with 2x4's, not ideal at all, and I forgot to take into consideration that I had to drop the front end onto dollies as well. It's holding up fine and we've moved it across the garage 3 times now but we're trying to minimize the amount of times we move it.



    The garage after being "decluttered". We had so much stuff in there that we completely filled our trailer and a 20x10 shelter and still had quite a bit left over.


    They did all the insulation and vapour barrier in a day. Pretty much we pushed everything to one side until they finished the other side of the garage then moved it over to the finished side.


    Drywall took 2 days to put up, still has to be taped and mudded. They also blew insulation in the roof, which is the pink hose is for.



    Now I can finally work on the M3 all winter without having to rush and get 3 months of work done in 1 month before it's back on the road. Once all the garage work is done and everything is reorganized I'll get back to work on this.

    I also finally picked up my subframe yesterday after it sat for 5 months at the powdercoater's due to miscommunication. I'm quite happy how it turned out and it was a decent price.
    Last edited by Nabs; 12-10-2016 at 08:17 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. #1055
    n00b bANONYMOUS's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Holy fuck, your garage <3
    I love that the garage reno was done around the car.

    What place did you get the powdercoating done? I've heard a lot of mixed stories about FixAuto, just wondering if it was there?

  6. #1056
    Premium Member Nabs's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Quote Originally Posted by bANONYMOUS View Post
    What place did you get the powdercoating done? I've heard a lot of mixed stories about FixAuto, just wondering if it was there?
    It was Hupe's. I dropped it off back in July with the kid that works there and left a phone number but I guess he didn't actually get it or it got misplaced and I didn't call until a few weeks ago. I was hoping to pick it up back in September but I wasn't home permanently until the end of October and just kept forgetting to call them.
    "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. #1057
    Administrator MarcGSR's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Sick garage mod, you're going to love working in there now in the middle of winter, haha. The subframe looks like it turned out great.

  8. #1058
    Premium Member Nabs's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Garage is finally done, the M3 will be back on stands in the next few days. Still have to put all my tools and pars back in place to be able to finish it, but it may be a while since I have to get a few other cars fixed and I may be ordering some more stuff.




    I also found a guy who makes powder coated metal signs out of Seattle and ordered a ///M logo sign to hang in the finished garage. I also bought a caster/camber gauge for $130 so that I can start doing my own alignments along with the good old string method for toe. I'll probably makes some stands with turntables for the front so I can get under the car and adjust the toe without having to jack it up a bunch of times.
    "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. #1059
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Garage looks mint. Time for A LIFT!!

  10. #1060
    Premium Member Nabs's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    It's been a long time since I've really done anything to this car. Ever since we finished insulating the garage it sat in the corner for a few weeks then I had surgery and I couldn't do much work to it for a month and then I got busy with other things. T-bone's comment in the 540i thread kind of gave me the kick in the pants I needed to get back to working on it.

    I changed out the shifter for one with an even shorter throw. The one on the left is the stock one from the 540i, middle is the one that was in the car from a E46 330d, and the one on the right is the new one and comes from an E60 545i.



    While I was still recovering I worked on the beer tap handle shifter. The paint had turned out horribly when I had originally painted it back in 2015 and while I liked the colour scheme I figured I'd try something different so I sanded it all down and wrapped it with vinyl. I picked up a few 1x'5' rolls of matte metallic copper, purple and black. Stuck with black for the metal pieces and eventually went with copper for the plastic part of the handle since I figured it would be better suited to the interior. It proved to be quite difficult to wrap the pieces, especially while trying to hide the seam, since that was unavoidable, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, which is way better than before.




    Today I finally got around to fully removing all the undercoating where the new larger reinforcement plates are going. Just for comparisons sake, here's a before and after of the front mounts





    And here's the rear





    Now the shitty part is that I had drilled some areas for the old smaller plates since I figured I would get it welded before I left but the welder never showed up. The new larger plates use smaller holes and in slightly different or offset spots so I have to weld in the 1/2" spots from before, grind them flat then drill the new spots.

    I also went through our trailer full of all the stuff that used to be in the garage to find the plates and was welcomed to some slight surface rust when I finally found them. Not a big deal but I'll probably sandblast them before I weld them in, along with the underside of the car since there were a couple spots there that would repeatedly rust because of the old plates. Once everything is cleaned up properly I'll be putting a layer of weld through primer on the plates and car just to be safe.

    The only thing left to prep for welding is the trunk. I also finally picked up all the sheet metal I need for the frame rails, but now I can't find the square tubing I need to make the brace in between the rails. I also have to address the small crack on the top side of the front right mount.
    "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. #1061
    Senior Member Tremblay's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Sick?

    You going to make it to MAP in June? I need a road course buddy again.
    ALL THE HONDAS!!!

  12. #1062
    Premium Member Nabs's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Quote Originally Posted by Tremblay View Post
    You going to make it to MAP in June? I need a road course buddy again.
    I highly doubt I'll make it to MAP, June is super busy and I won't be able to get 5 days off of work. I will be taking it to the track sometime this year, I just don't know when exactly, but probably in September. I gotta get this thing in the 10's!
    "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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  13. #1063
    Premium Member Nabs's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Did a little bit of work on the car yesterday. I finally got around to doing some very rough cuts for the end plates of the trunk brace that will be welded to the frame rail. I left a little extra material on these since I was cutting with an angle grinder and ground them down a little later to shape. I have to take a little more off as the design changed since the frame rails have a weld on them that gets in the way of where I wanted to plates. You can see the marker lines on the rails where I wanted the plates to extend to originally. I also have to grind down one weld on each side so that the extra flap of the plates can sit flush with the mounts and drill the holes in the plates for the plug welds.






    Other than finalizing the end plates I still have to cut the pipe for the front mounts and cut a piece of sheet to reinforce those, stop drill the crack in the right front mount, sandblast the plates, find the square tubing and prime everything then I can get to the welding.

    I cut a whole bunch of pieces out of the leftover 18 gauge sheet that I had so I'll spend a day practicing MIG on those before I attempt the plates and everything else.

    If everything goes to plan, which it never does, I'd like to have everything welded, painted and waxed by the end of next week then I can start the reassembly.
    "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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  14. #1064
    Premium Member Nabs's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Yesterday I while I was cleaning some stuff up under the car I was double checking for any cracks and stubbed upon one definite crack on the front right mount, which is already cracked on top, and a possible crack on the front left mount. I wasn't entirely sure at first but someone pointed out that on the right mount the line didn't follow the radius of the bolt hole and when I double checked it with a USB microscope it was definitely a crack. The left mount I'm not so sure about, it looks like a crack and under the microscope it looked similar but different. I'm not going to take a chance on the left one so I'm going to stop drill the ends of each crack and weld them.


    Right mount




    Left mount



    The quality of the USB microscope pictures sucks but here's a look at the crack on the right mount





    Today I finished up the end plates for the trunk. It took way longer than I expected to get them the shape I wanted and to get the bend right, which still turned out kind of shitty. I don't really have a bench to work on right now and I don't have my bench grinder set up so I was doing all the grinding with an angle grinder. Once I had the first one to shape I clamped them together and used it as a template for grinding the other. I kind of wish I just bought the laser cut plates, would have been so much faster.






    Now I just have to drill the 4 holes in the plates, and 2 on the bent portion for the plug welds and then if I can find my square tubing I can cut that to size and cut the one piece for the cup that the bolt goes through and connects to the nut.
    "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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  15. #1065
    Senior Member bgodin23's Avatar
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    Re: Nabs' Alpine White/Imola Red E46 M3

    Is this a common problem Dave? Or just your OCD lol
    2013 Kawasaki ZX14r- 8.72@158
    2016 Ford F-150
    2004 Kawasaki zx10r-9.45@150(sold)
    2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport-sold
    2013 Ford Focus ST- sold
    2006 Yamaha R6- sold

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