Friday, May 30, 2014

Cup holder, washer bottle and dash lights

So I've been doing a couple of things to make the car easier to live with since I've driven it to work a couple of times in the last month.

The first is a cup holder. I can't live without a morning coffee, and also I've got to put my logbook somewhere. It's out of some sort of Nissan and I've just drilled holes and screwed it into the trans tunnel in front of the shifter. It works well.

I've also cable tied and tidied some of the wiring mess. The original wiring was fairly well tied up out of the way but I've been adding bits and pieces that were lacking as I went so there were quite a few extra wires to tie up out of the way.

I also properly mounted the kick plate to stop passengers kicking the wiring and risking damaging it. It originally had one screw in the bottom left and just a wire tie at the top - now there are two screws at the bottom and two at the top.

I also mounted the fuse holder for the main ECU/ancillary power supply lead and used that mounting to tie all the battery leads together.

I made a thicker, uprated battery feed to the power switch and to the ground, as well as replacing the terminal on the engine-to-engine-bay ground.

I mounted a falcon washer bottle and wired the pump in. The factory BMW hose was long enough to work with this.

Aluminium checkerplate straps were perfect to secure it at the top.

Along with a slot at the bottom.

I also hooked up an LED strip to light up the cluster. Driving at night before with only the oil pressure gauge lit up was a bit odd.

Also worked out the timing was off (way too much advance) which is why it was a real struggle to start the vehicle especially when warm. Retarded it about 5 degrees and it now has no traction in second, as well as first. Scary... but fun.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Desktop Wallpapers - 1920x1200

Took the E21 out for a little photoshoot the other evening after work. I thought I'd missed the sunset but in fact managed to capture some amazing colours regardless. A tripod would have made it a bit easier to get the shots I wanted.

You can right click to download as 1920x1200 res which should scale for most computers. If you want a higher resolution let me know and I'll see how I go sorting it out for you.

The drive to take these shots highlighted a few issues with the car; the first two I have sorted -
There was a slight leak around the seal of fuel cell. I have tightened the screws in the past but it still has a minor weep, I've now put a bead of threebond black around the filler ring. Hopefully sorted now!I also purchased a fire extinguisher which I'll be fitting soon. Also, the steering wheel wasn't quite on straight. Easy fixed.

Also a few issues which only had temporary solutions and need re-doing - washer reservoir, proper sealing between cabin and under bonnet, seam sealer to bellhousing, weld & seam seal rear corner of passenger compartment near tailshaft hump, clutch pedal stop... the list goes on, as always!

The biggest issues are the lack of a bash plate to protect the sump (as it hangs quite low) and also the brakes. The brakes are terrible given the vehicle's new found power. I'm not sure if a re-bedding process will sort them out (as they've hardly been used in 4 or so years!) or if I need to move forward my plans for upgrades in this area to suit. I'll try bedding them again first, and replacing/rebleeding the fluid.

All photos taken with Canon EOS 5D MkI and 50mm f/1.4 Lens.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Freshly washed

Washed all five of our cars today. Things might be getting a bit out of hand.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Driveable once again

Since I attended the Warrnambool Drag Races on the 13th of April, I knew there was another event scheduled for the 27th. I decided it would be nice to try and get the car up and going again for that event.

Before we go too in-depth, here's the go-pro footage Michael Hamilton took at the first meet, of the two runs prior to breaking the CV.

Note the amount of negative camber under load. I need stiffer springs or coil overs.

Anyway, first step, look for replacement CVs or complete half-shafts.

Shit out of luck there. I did find a CV which looked like it might suit on eBay internationally but it was around $90 with no freight option to Australia... I found some vague references to Land Rover half shafts or using Porsche 930 CVs.

I decided to measure what I had, since nobody would actually confirm what was or was not usable. Charbel refers to using "Early Datsun" Halfshafts but didn't respond when I asked what model datsun he was referring to. Since I think he's from the states perhaps he's referring to early Z cars - 240Z etc? I am still unsure if those are just a bolt-in item.

Either way, this is only really a temporary fix - I fully expected the axles/CVs to outlast the diff center itself, so you can imagine my surpise when that didn't happen.

The next step, then, was to remove what was left of the broken CV from the driveshaft so I could count the splines and measure the diameter. I also measured the CV itself as well as the bolt PCD. Bugger, 26mm OD 24 spline. Porsche 930 CVs are 28 spline, they won't work.

Neither will anything else as it turns out. To use a 930 CV (assuming they run the same 6x M10 bolts at 86mm PCD on a 100mm CV) you would also need custom made axles. Perhaps with an R200 center down the track...

The longer term plan at this stage involves a Nissan R200 center, modified (again) tailshaft, and either modified subframe with custom axles, or replacing the whole subframe with one from a Silvia or Skyline... This still needs more research before I decide which way I'll go; I am not too afraid of widening the rear track but packaging of the strut towers could prove to be the biggest hurdle. If the rear track gets widened then I'll just build Group 5 style guards and do something with the front as well.

I post links to this blog on a number of Facebook groups, as well as four or five different forums. Statistically, you're most likely to be reading this right now as a result of the Facebook posts, rather than clicking through on a forum.

A true gentleman by the name of Craig Saxon who hails from the ACT spotted my post on one such Facebook group and responded that he had spare half shafts that I could have for the cost of postage. At this stage I still had a week until the next drag meet.

One problem though. Easter. Easter Public Holidays. Anzac Day. Australia Post. The combination of these things does not work at all well, according to many of the people on my Facebook friends list. Complaints of 12 days wait for items to arrive from Melbourne and Sydney worried me.

Craig tried to get the CV from his parts car which is located some distance from his normal place of residence, but lost his Allen Key part way through. Instead of just putting it off until the next time he could make it there, he removed one from another vehicle closer to his home in Canberra, and I decided that despite being Wednesday it was worth sending Express Post rather than regular (for ~$65 instead of ~$25).

Thursday (the last working day of the week) rolled around, and no parcel arrived. I held out the hope that AusPost would have contractors working Saturday due to the horror stories I'd seen on Facebook re: delivery time (they do it at Christmas time to ease the load). No such luck.

Sunday rolled around and I attended the drags. I took my camera gear and got some fantastic photos which I've posted to flickr (

As a result of not having a drive-shaft, I couldn't test or compete. I was tempted to put the E39 in but since it's my daily, decided it wasn't such a great idea.

Monday came - the half shaft arrived! Craig had thoughtfully decided to send me all the bolts along with it... except for one which went missing somewhere along the line.

I figure, that's ok as I have more - until I test fit one:

What's this? The bolt is WAY too long and will foul on the diff housing or suspension upright.

The replacement half shaft is from an '83 323i. Mine is a '79. I figured I had the later CV because of the 10mm bolts, but it appears that besides from the change to 10mm bolts around 1979, there were more changes along the way. Perhaps this one won't break so easy. The overall length is the same, so off to the local bolt shop to buy a replacement bolt.

$2, some time with an allen bit socket and my breaker-bar, and the half shaft is installed with the bolts torqued to 40ft/lb (this was the best guess I could ascertain from a google search)

Test-drive time! Oh, the battery is flat again. Bastard.

Oh well, there's the time to fit the front bumper. I use the two end bolts, and then just wedge some rubber falcon sway bar end link bushes between the "bumper" and the front bar to keep it level. I can't use the factory mounts because there's kind of a radiator in the way!

I also fitted the front 79 Paderborn plate I got from Marvin Gloger to whom I sent some Victorian plates for his Ford Australia Fairlane that's somehow found it's way to Europe!

The vehicle fires up and off she goes for a test drive. Heat cycling the tyres have made them a bit grippier as pulling in and out of the driveway the welded diff shows itself a little less subtly than before.

The "turn on the throttle" feeling and odd axle tramping from the single driven wheel has gone. No odd vibrations or noises. We're all good again....

What's next?