Wednesday, December 10, 2008

E30 to E34 suspension

I have been getting a lot of hits to my blog from people searching for ways to upgrade their E30 suspension to E34 suspension. My guess would be to go from 4 lug to 5 lug. I haven't heard anything about doing this, but since I have access to the parts, I thought I would investigate. I went out in the yard and grabbed an E30 rear control arm and an E34 525i rear control arm. Just by laying them side by side I can say that if it is possible to use E34 rear suspension it would require some heavy mods.

For starters the E34 is 2 inches wider that the E30. Also, I don't know if you can see it, the E34 shock mount is on the top of the control arm. The E30 shock mount is on the bottom of the arm.

Finally, E34's use coil over shocks where as E30's use springs separate from the shock, so there is no spring perch on the arm. I suppose you could us a coil over set-up on your E30, but for the sake of argument, the perch is missing from the E34 arm.

As for the front struts, I don't think E34is going to work because of the different control arm set-up.

If any one has any more info on doing an E30/E34 swap, feel free to leave me a comment.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I changed out my Tach. Since my car is a 1986 325, I have the white backed gauge cluster, with a 5,000 rpm tach. I put in a 1984 318i tach which goes to 7,000 rpm. It still doesn't work, I have tried several wires to get it to work. I've been on R3vlimited. Checked my fuses. Checked wiring diagrams from the ETM. Still no signal. My economy gauge has been intermittently working.

I may try a blue backed 325i cluster this weekend.

I've got my fingers crossed!

I got my tach working. I kept my original cluster, and used the 84 318i 7,000 rpm tach. I connected a wire from the C101 plug under the dash to the solid black wire on the X20 plug. It works great! I also got my oil level senor working and my coolant sensor working. Now if I could just get my temp gauge working.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dinan Chip 413 brain

Today I installed a Dinan Chipped silver 413 brain. After I got the exhaust put in and the O2 sensor connected, the car started to stumble and not idle very well. It probably needed to learn the car, but we had the chipped brain at work, so I used it. Now it runs great.

A comment on the red vs. silver 413 brains - the silver brain is found in all the EWS equipped cars. However, you can get silver 413 from a Non-EWS car if the brain has been replaced by the dealer. New 413 brains have a silver sticker EWS or Non-EWS. Red is the safe bet, but if you know the production date of the car, a pre 1/95 silver brain will work.

You could use a 506 brain from a 95 M3. I read that this is a learning brain. It makes adjustments on air to fuel mixture based on O2 sensor readings, where the 413 can only make small adjustments. I think the 506 only came in the pre 1/95 M3's.

No tach yet. I can't figure out which wire to hook up. I guess I'll hunt it down this weekend. I made a split harness to try and use the 528i dual temp sensor. I made a pigtail for the oil level sensor since I used the E36 injection harness instead of the E34. I got the bracket from the E30 318i to make the injection brain bolt up.

I see quite a few people searching for Dinan chips for other model cars. It is my understanding that any car 1996 and newer cannot be chipped. You will need a programmer to download the info or a lap top. Here in Sacramento, Shatz and Krum is a Dinan Distributor.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Exhaust

I took the car over to the Exhaust Shop today for a custom exhaust. Drove it yesterday for the first time. What a difference in power!

I had the exhaust guys use a stock muffler assy and put a custom head pipe with a Magna Flow high flow cat. Sounds a little tinny, but not bad.

I had to take the car back to the muffler guys again. I couldn't get the O2 sensor out, with a pipe wrench and a 4 foot cheater bar. And the sensor was hitting the fire wall. The muffler guy cut it out, turned it and installed another O2 sensor for me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Night

It's Sunday Night and I'm spent. The motor's in and running, started up today for the first time. It would have started Saturday, but I left the unloader positive cable off the starter. I took it out for a hot lap tonight without the exhaust. Man is it L-O-U-D!!! After work tomorrow I hope to hang the exhaust, bleed the brakes again and bleed the clutch.

I still have a lot to do, but it's driveable.

Tune in for more as it happens


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tomorrows the Big Day

Tomorrow's the Big Day! The engine is as ready as it's going to be. I have the E36 harness converted and should be ready to plug into the car. I'm going to put the harness on the engine tomorrow before installing it. I haven't quite figured out the power steering config yet. I might use the E30 p/s canister instead of the E36. I'll see once it's in the car. The Z3 rack is adding a few extra problems I hadn't anticipated. Here's what I've got:

Used Modified 320i brake booster
Used E34 M5 25mm brake master cylinder - didn't fit / used my E30 master
Used Z3 1.9 steering rack - I'll use my E30 tie rods and modified my steering knuckle
528i Long block
E34 525i M50 oil pan and dipstick
E36 325i Metal Motor Mount Brackets
Used E28 88 535i Green Rubber Motor Mounts
New E21 320i Transmission Rubber Mounts
Used OBDI Intake with throttle body
Used Dinan 506 V8 mass air flow sensor
Used 95 325i Std trans wiring harness (NON ASC)
Used 413 injection brain (Non EWS)
Used 328i accessories - Alternator, Starter, P/S pump. A/C compressor
Used 328i belt tensioners with new pulleys and new idler pulley/belts
Used E30 front crossmember
Used 328i flywheel with new Sachs clutch kit
New Crank Sensor - 95 325i installed on front timing cover
New knock sensors
Used All Aluminum 95 M3 Radiator3 Fan Shroud and Reservoir
New E36 water hoses
Used 97 M3 manual transmission with shift tower
Used Z3 shift lever - didn't use measured same as M3
96 328i manual driveline with new E30 center carrier bearing
Used 95 326i m50 OBDI complete exhaust w/O2 sensors and manifolds - didn't work see below
Custom headpipe with Magnaflow high flow cat $600.00
Used Dinan muffler assembly

The plan is to drop out my engine and trans tomorrow night after work. I'll drop everything out the bottom the same way we dismantle the car. I have my M50 engine all ready setting on another E30 subframe with the steering rack installed. Once the old motor is out, I'll remove the E30 brake booster and master and the E30 radiator. I'll install the 320 brake booster/master and then pull my tie rods, control arms and 5 lug struts from the E30 set-up and put all of these on the new assembly. With everything mounted, I'll put the M50 assembly into the car from the bottom. With the car on the lift I'll lower it down and bolt the subframe in and hang the struts and control arms. With that done, I can raise the car up and put in the drive line and exhaust.

I hope to drive my car home Saturday night. Keep your fingers crossed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

M52 OBDI Change-over Update

So, I'm shooting for this weekend to put in my change-over. I have my 328 engine. I'm putting it in used. I don't want to get into the long block. It has a good comp and doesn't look to have any leaks. Changed to oil pan to an E34 525 M50 one. Had to wait for the stupid little gasket for the oil pump pick-up tube. Changed my crank seals. Put on the alternator, power steering pump and a/c compressor. New belts and tensioner pulleys. Tonight I'll throw the new thermostat and metal housing on it. Still need to put in the pilot bearing so I can bolt the tranny up.

I'm going to set the engine and trans on a subframe and drop my old engine out the bottom and then slide the M52 in from under neath. Hopefully I can get every thing done in one weekend.

I'm going to put a Z3 steering rack in now while I have everything out. My struts seem like they are blown, so I want to change those out too.

Hopefully the next post you read will be me talking about how easy everything went!


Saturday, September 13, 2008

OBDI M52 Change Over

Coming Soon - The OBDI M52 change over.

I am going to take the big leap. I have purchased a 1997 328i change-over with an OBDI in take and wiring harness. I am going to use a 97 M3 5 speed to go with it and make the install a little easier.

Small Changes - Mods

Window Trim - I'm not big on chrome. The front and rear window mylar on my car were chrome. The sun kindly turned them brown. When I took a rock to my windshield, I changed the mylar to the black kind used on the 88 to 91 E30's. I also changed my rear window mylar when I put in a tinted rear window.

The E30 M3 has black trim around the door glass and the rear quarter windows. At work we got in a totaled S14 M3 with tinted windows. I swapped out my quarter windows with the tinted M3 ones and as a bonus got the black trim on the outside. I then carefully popped off the front door trim around the glass and installed it on mine. Voila, black window trim.

Window Switches -

I was roaming around the web one day and came across a site where the guy had installed E36 window switches in his E30. Looked cool. Why not. There is no real advantage. Your not going to get a one-touch down option from the switch (That's in the window motor). I liked the look, so let's do it.

-that's my custom cup holder in the picture with my Ipod hook-up. I'm not much on form, but I love some function-

What you need - A pair of 92-93 325/318 rear window switches and the trim bezels that they mount into. Not the ones in the front center console, but the ones from the rear doors themselves. They need to be blue. You'll also need the pigtails from each door switch.

How - The switch hole in the center console needs to be enlarged so your going to need a dremel. The center console has metal reinforcing inside that is a real bear to grind. Once the hole is sized to fit the switch bezel, you need to cut the factory sockets out and install the new ones from the E36 doors. Now this is where it gets tricky. The wire colors are not the same from E30 to E36. The web site I originally saw the swap on had a wiring diagram for the swap, but I found it to be inaccurate at the time I did it. I was able to muddle through and in the end I got the look I wanted. Always make sure you have a wiring diagram around when you need one!

Deck Lid Spoiler

My car has the rear deck lid spoiler from a E28 535is. One of the guys at work did it and again I liked the look. The factory E30 spoiler is pretty common and small. The e28 is alot bigger without being gaudy. It's pretty straight forward. Mark and drill the holes in your deck lid and install.

Lighted Rear View Mirror

The E30 dome light's are great for lighting the entry way to your car when the door is open. However once inside the car, your head blocks any light from getting to the middle of the vehicle. Enter the M3/IS lighted rear view mirror. It mounts in the same spot as the non lighted factory mirror. The only real challenge is getting power to it. For power sunroof cars, you can steal power from the sunroof motor. I read there is a way to get power off the check display, but I saw that after i had all ready installed mine. I ran a wire over to the Dome light and grabbed power there. The hot side of the dome light always has power. The dome light switch is on the ground connection. My mirror lights work if the cars is off or on.

Glass Sunroof Panel

If you can find it, there is a rare factory glass sunroof panel. I was able to get one and put it in my car. The headliner panel that goes with it was pretty ratty so I didn't install it. The glass panel mounted right onto the same spots as the metal one. Took like an hour to do. I currently have a manual sunroof. I thought about putting power, but it's the running of the power down to the distribution box that looks like a pain in ass. So for now it's manual. maybe if I ever have to take the dash out I'll do it then.

Short Shifter - As you can tell, I am budget conscious. I do what's cheap for me. When I got my car the shifter was pretty sloppy. How sloppy I didn't know until I drove a friends 95 M3 with a short shifter. I definitely liked the feel, but short shifters are not cheap. My five speed has the early stamped steel shift arm. I don't even know if they make a short shifter for this car.

You gotta love the web. As I 'm looking around one day, I read that the factory Z3 shift lever has a shorter throw and will swap into my E30. All you need is the shift lever (the part that the shift knob slides over). The Z3 has an aluminum shift arm with a plastic ball holding the shift lever in. The aluminum arm is a lot longer than the E30 so you can't use it in the E30. And it bolts on to the transmission differently.

To free the shift lever, I set the Z3 arm on the ground and stomped on it to pop the lever out. I also got the shims and clips that attach the shift lever to the selector rod. They looked low mileage and were in great shape. The shims alone, I think, made a big difference. Try and get the counter weight that attaches to the shift lever, just under the shift boot.

To remove the old shift lever, take off the shift knob and the shift boot. You can change the shift lever without getting under the car. My car used a C-clip to hold the shift lever into the metal shift arm. You can access it from inside the car. Once the clip is off, pull up on the lever and remove the C-clip holding the selector rod on. Slide the lever of the selector rod. The shift lever should come out. There will be a plastic piece on the old shift lever you will need to cut off and re-use on the Z3 shift lever. Put the plastic on the Z3 shift lever. As you put the Z3 shift lever in the shift arm re-install the selector rod with the new shims and clips. Once the Z3 shift lever is seated in the shift arm, push the plastic down and re-install the top C-clip. Put the counter weight on the Z3 shift arm and install the shift boot and shift knob.

Be sure to replace the shim/washers (#11 and #15 in the diagram)these help remove any slop in the shifter.
#11 - 25-11-1-220-439
#15 - 25-11-1-220-199

13 button OBC

My car came with a 6 button clock. So I thought I would upgrade it to the 13 button OBC. This is pretty simple. What you need:
13 Button OBC - with the correct coding plug on the back. "E"'s and "I"'s are different
Wiring harness - the OBC harness is separate from the dash harness and can be unplugged from the car
OBC Brain - this little black box with the green plug is to enable the alarm portion of the OBC. When you push code and enter 4 numbers, the OBC grounds the injection brain and disables the spark signal so the car will not start until the correct 4 digits are entered.
OBC turn signal switch - This allows you to scroll through the obc menu without taking your hands off the wheel

Remove 6 button clock front the dash and install the 13 button in the same spot. Plug the harness for the 113 button into the dash. Install the OBC brain and plug into OBC harness. It helps if you can remove the harness yourself from the donor car, so you know where to plug everything back in. You should all ready have the ambient temp sensor and the obc gong located in the under dash panel.

The gong is for when the temp drops below 35 degrees (Freeze warning) and the gong also is used for the MPH setting. It dings if you go over the set MPH.
Here is the E30 OBC Wiring Schematic, click to enlarge

Front Strut Brace - I was able to get a front strut brace off a wrecked E30. I'm glad I drilled the holes for the E36 strut bearing caps to fit the E30 strut towers. This way the E30 strut brace fit easily. One of the guys I work with drilled the strut towers to mach the E36 strut bearing caps. When he tried to install a strut brace later on, there wasn't room on the strut brace to drill new holes to match the E36 studs.

Bumpers and Side Skirts

Front Bumper - Who doesn't love the bumpers on the 84-6/88 E30's? I believe these are referred to as diving boards! You can drill holes in the shocks and compress the bumpers down about a 1 1/2". Then you still have to deal with the wavy bumper fillers. Here is what I know about E30 bumpers

84-85 have the fat square marker light
86-87 have the long skinny marker light
88 metal bumpers have the long skinny marker light, but also have the metal valance that holds the fog lights. These fillers (88 only) are thinner than the 86-87's and won't work with the 86-87 bumper shocks.

6/88 -91 Plastic bumpers

These year splits apply to 2dr and 4dr cars. The E30 convertible uses the metal bumper up to 10/90 and then goes to plastic.

The valance ( the metal below the front bumper) also changes at the same time as the fillers.

The front spoiler on the bottom of the valance also changes on these year splits. Not counting the ES/IS spoiler with the fog lights mounted in it.

I opted to lose my metal front bumpers and go with a plastic factory front bumper. Here's what I changed

Bumper Assembly - Plastic - 6/88 - 91 E30
Turn signals - Metal bumper and Plastic bumper turn signals are not the same
Bumper Shocks - Again metal bumper and plastic bumper shocks are not the same
Valance - the 1988 metal bumper valance will work, but it has provision for the early fillers to mount to it. I used one from a 89-91 E30
Fog lights - 88-91 Valance mounted fog lights
Brake Ducts - 88-91 brake ducts and inner fenders
Lip Spoiler - I opted for the 3 inch "IS " spoiler for 1988 to 1991 cars. You could use the 1"
Engine Splash Shield - 88-91 black plastic cover below the engine

The swap is pretty straight forward. I was able to get all the parts in the same color as my car (Delphine Gray). Simply unbolt all the old parts from the car and install the new ones.

It makes for a much better look.

Rear Bumper - For the rear bumper I opted for a 88-91 S14 M3 rear bumper. Since my car is a 1986, I have the 2 row tail lights as does the M3. When you remove the metal bumper off the early E30 there is no valance panel below the bumper. A plastic rear bumper is slightly thinner and the 88 to 1991 E30 with the 3 row tail light has a valance/tail light panel that continues down below the bumper. The plastic bumper is also longer on the sides. You would need to cut the plastic bumper down and make some kind of valance to go below the bumper. The M3 bolts up and only requires a little modification to the quarter panel to make the bracket snug that holds the sides against the car. I was not lucky enough to get a rear bumper in Delphine Gray. I believe the M3 only came in red, white and black.

Side Skirts - As I mentioned, I work for a BMW dismantler. I have my pick of parts, I'm not going to lie. We also sell parts, so I try not to take the high dollar stuff. We had a 325is come in one day with a set of factory side skirts that I thought looked quite nice. Not to flashy, but they brought the body lines more in line with the front and rear bumpers. Once again they were not in Delphine Gray. I tried painting them my self with some factory paint a friend gave me. I think they came out fairly nice.

I used all new factory hardware with the skirts. The hardest apart was drilling all the holes and making sure I kept everything straight.

5 lug

The 4 lug wheel. There are no great 4 lug wheels. Fortunately the E36 has an assortment of parts that allow you to change over to a 5 lug wheel. I'm not going to get too technical but here's what I did to change from 4 lug to 5 lug.

The rear - I used E36 95-99 318ti rear control arms. They are a direct bolt up. 318ti control arms are fairly cheap and easy to get. Make sure you get the rear calipers and rotors to go with the arms as you not only go 5 lug but get slightly bigger brakes. You should probably use 318ti axles shafts, but you will need to use E28 differential flanges to make them work. I kept my E30 axles but there are only about 2 threads showing past the axle nut. The e36 hubs are about a 1/4 inch wider. You will use your E30 E-brake cables on the new arms.

You could use Z3 control arms to change to 5 lug, but it is my understanding you need to bend the metal brake line on the control arm. The ultimate control arm is the MZ3. Then you get huge vented rear rotors. But you will need the brakes and the axles to go with these. Expect to spend a lot of $$$$ and have fun trying to find them. You can keep your E30 lowering springs or use some E36 lowering springs as they look exactly the same. The spring perch on the E36/Z3 control arms is in the same spot. The rear shock mount is also in the same spot.

Differential - While changing the control arms and axles, I changed my differential over to a LSD 3.25 from an 87 535is. My original diff was 2.93 one legger that loved to spin every time I turned the corner in the rain. Now with the S3.25 I stay in the power band running through the gears and it's a lot more fun changing lanes going through traffic. I get around 21mpg with the S3.25.

You will need to change the rear differential cover to an E30 rear cover to use the E28 differential. If you can get the Z3 M3 rear diff cover, this will also work, plus give you cooling fins. I believe it also holds an extra quart of fluid.

I chose the S3.25 differential because this is supposed to be the optimal gear ratio for a M50/S50 conversion. After doing the swap, I find that the S3.25 is the perfect gear ratio. In 5th gear at 80mph on the free way I am running close to 3,000 rpm.

The front - The front requires a little customizing, but is pretty straight forward. The parts list I used goes something like this:

96-99 M3 S52 front control arms
88-91 M3 S14 control arm bushings
95 M3 Complete front struts with kingpins (Knuckles or Spindles)
95-99 M3 Brake calipers (M logo cast into the caliper)
95-99 M3 Brake Rotors and Pads
Braided Steel Brake lines - Always nice, especially when you come across a good used set

To make the struts bolt up to the car, you will need to change the bolt pattern of the strut cap. The three studs that bolt the cap to the car are spaced differently than the E30. I punch the studs out of the cap, then marked new holes on it by putting it in place on the car. M3 strut caps have camber adjustment built into them. You need to make the strut lean as far in toward the engine as possible without the spring hitting the wheelhouse. With new holes marked and drilled I pushed the studs into the new holes and hung the struts.

You need to change the control arm bushing over to the E30 S14 m3 bushing. It has an offset center hole rather than the hole being centered. The geometry of the M3 control arm plus the offset bushing help stand the wheel back up, otherwise it leans out. That is also why you need to lean the strut as far in when re-drilling the bearing cap holes. It takes modified coil overs to get your struts to lean in any more. DO NOT use 325 struts. The spring is a much larger diameter and the strut itself will not work with a M3 strut cap. E36 M3 springs and E30 springs are the same diameter, so if you have E30 lowering springs they should work with the E36 M3 struts.

The M3 control arms bolt into place the same as the old E30 ones. You have to press of the old bushings and press on the new ones before installing. The E30 Sway bar links also bolt to the new control arms.

Brakes - My ABS was not working before I did the swap, so I did not try to make it work with the new components. I kept my stock master cylinder. With the new bigger brakes my car stops exceptionally well. Even with the stock master cylinder, my brakes lock up with no problems.

Wheels - Once converting to 5 Lug there are a lot of wheel choices. Because you used E36 parts to swap to 5 lug it is best to stick to 3 series wheels. E36 and E46 wheels are the same offset, which is similar to a front wheel drive car. The inside of the wheel is a lot deeper than say a 5, 6 or 7 series. 3 series wheels will not fit a 5,6 or 7. The inside lip hits the strut before the hub surface. If you use a 5,6 or 7 wheel with the 5 lug E36 conversion the wheel may stick out past the fender. All 5 lug BMW's use the same bolt pattern.

Originally I went with a 6 spoke E46 16" wheel because I had access to a set. Now I have a staggered set of Style 42 Light Alloy Cross Spoke II wheels from a 2000 Z3 3.0. I think they really set the car off. 7 1/2Jx17 up front and 8 1/2Jx17 in the rear with 235/45ZR17 and 245/45ZR17 tires.

Changes - Seats and a Cup Holder


So, once I decided to keep the car, I needed to make some changes. I wanted this car to be a daily driver and like I mentioned I'm 6'3". I grabbed a set of 318ti manual sport seats from a car we were scrapping at work. Black leather with gray cloth centers. I considered power seats, but the manual ones actually sit lower in the car when dropped down.

E36 seats are about 2" wider and 3" longer than E30 seats. To make them fit I went to Home Depot and picked up some flat bar stock drilled holes in it and bolted the bar stock to the seat rails. Then I bolted the bar stock to the floor of the car. Pretty simple. My car is a 2dr, so I had to take out that bar on the rocker panel that the seat belt connects to. I opted to use 4dr e30 seat belts and bolted the end of the belt into the hole where the bar was secured in front of the back seat. I used the E30 seat belt receiver on the new seats with no problem.

The nice thing with the E36 seats for me is more leg room. With the seat back and down, I have all the leg room I need. My head doesn't touch the ceiling any more either. My 9 year old daughter can still sit behind me without moving the seat up.

My original interior was pearl beige, so with the new black and gray fronts, I needed black backs. I got a hold of a set of 325ix black leather rears with the fold down arm rest and head rests. The kids like the arm rest so no one touches each other. I also put a sub in the trunk and used the ski bag hole to let the sound come through.

I was also able to get a hold of black door panels. I came across a front seat center console arm rest too and put that in. At first, with the 5 speed, I thought the arm rest might be in the way. But it actually works really nice.

Cup Holders

Why is BMW so against cup holders? There is no great cup holder for an E30 that I've seen. The arm rest I put in has a cup holder that slides out from underneath, but then I can't shift. My idea was to lose the ashtray since I don't smoke.

I got some 3" black PVC pipe and attached it to a board cut to fit the ashtray spot. I added the cigarette lighter back to it so I have power. It works quite well. It's not necessarily pretty, but it's quite functional.

thats my I-pod hook-up next to the cup holder

Now I had a great Daily Driver.