GM shares are worth…less

21 02 2009

General Motors or GM, once the worlds largest producers of vehicles has taken it’s second and probably final blow. In 2007, Toyota overtook GM for the number 1 spot. In that same year the Toyota Camry became the best seeling sedan in the U.S! Today or more accurately yesterday as the American trading day came to an end, shares of General Motors were traded at a 74 year low of US$1.52. That is down from a price of US$25 just a year ago. Read here what some analyst have to say about the company. GM is now a “sell” counter, meaning most analyst will advise you to sell all your stocks of GM even at this historically low price. Why? If you read carefully, one guy calle dit’s restructuring plan “worthless”.  Another said it would be better if GM were to go into bankrupcy proceedings. Translated, all this means GM shares are actuallyt worthless.  So folks, it looks like this once before giant of the industry is set to go down into history. My bet is that it will not survive 2009.

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BMW E30 restoration Project part 4

17 02 2009

Weekdays are a little slow. Blogging about my project is even slower. After a day at work, followed by a few hours on my project leaves me very tired but often satisfied. I will attempt to keep you (my readers)  up to date with the project.

first-divisionaxle-nut-circlip

Last Saturday afternoon I managed to drive into Kuala Lumpur to buy some more spares from this shop which specializes in parts for continental cars. The service was horrendously slow considering the fact that I was one of only two customers there. But they were the only shop that carried the parts I wanted, namely a paper gasket for the differential gearbox, circlips for the wheel bearing and the driveshaft or axle nuts. Including the cost of 2 headlamps (RM12 each) all these items cost me a grand RM100. If you ever pull out your car’s axle it is important that you renew the axle nut. it costs only a few ringgit but a failed axle nut could cause your wheel assembly to detach from your car. This is the last thing you would like happening to you. I also bought a few allen key bolts and a couple of replacement allen keys at a shop nearby which specialises in bolts and fasteners. Total cost of 4 bolts and 2 allen keys? RM 5!

new-toolAnd the reason I had to purchase the allen keys? well a couple of days ago while trying to remove the nut which hold the pinion shaft on the differential gearbox, we bent a rather large high quality allen key thus creating our very own new tool which I shall call the “Offset Allen Key”. We found it kinda neat when removing an already loosened bolt. I am wondering if I should patent this new tool. But it does go to show the kind of brute forces we had to apply in our attempts to remove some of the parts from this car.

corrosion-1corrosion-2corrosion-3

corrosion-4

The first 3 pictures above show the subframe and trailing arms before removal of corrosion. You can see that 23 years of operation has not had much affect to these components. All the corrosion you see here is merely on the surface. The last picture above was taken after these parts had gone though a process called grit blasting. This process blasts these parts with a jet of very fine plastic or aluminum oxide particles (you can see some of it in the picture) to take off rust and paint, leaving naked metal exposed.  Believe me they look as good as new. The process is still unfinished. Tomorrow I will send these parts to a machine shop to get it completed.

off-the-groundoff-the-ground-1Then late yesterday (Sunday) working on my own, I managed to finally get the car totally off the ground and onto the two 6 tonne jack stands. Using a block of wood I boosted the height of the jacks by a full 3 inches. Jacking very very slowly I found that I could finally position the much higher 6 tonne jack under the front end of the car. But then I happen to glance back at the aft and  found to my horror I had lifted the whole right side of the car off the 2 tonne jackstand. This meant the whole right side of the car was being supported by the jack placed 3 inches off the ground a wooden block! It was not the most stable of arrangements. I lowered the car quite quickly and phone my friend who assured me that this is quite ok. He told me to jack it up once again and drop the car (gently of course) onto the 6 tonner. Then move on the the left side to repeat the procedure. In the end I should find the car on all 4 stands. With a bit of apprehension I started the process again and found that the car would indeed end up stiitng very nicely on all four stands. it was then I noticed the 2 tonne stand at the right side was set a few stops lower then the one on the left. So this was why I managed to lift the whol eright side off. I then repeated the jacking on the right but this time resetting the 2 tonne jack stand to the same level as the one on the left.

helping-hand

This evening I had Woon Hwan come over to help me remove the main gearbox. Here is the pro sitting on the engine trying to remove the bolts that mount the starter motor to the gearbox.  We later decided to leave the starter attached to the gearbox and remove the gearbox and starter motor as a unit. We did this because the Haynes repair manual that we were using as a guide did NOT mention the need to first detach the starter motor when attempting to remove the main gearbox. needless to say we failed in the attempt. We gave up at about 8.30 p.m leaving the gearbox supported on the trolley jack.

It was later after dinner that we walked to a workshop which apparently specialises in BMW’s. I asked the technician who was working on a BMW 3 series (this one was an E36 with a M40 engine) how to go about removing a gearbox from the E30. He told us that we had to first remove the bolts that attached the starter motor to the gearbox! So much for the instructions in the manual. It just goes to show that experience trumps any written instructions anyday.





BMW E30 Restoration Project part 3

13 02 2009

Today we made a lot of progress on the project. So much so that we are starting to put things back together.

diff-3

Remember the differential that was leaking? Well here it is all opened up. You can clearly see the ring gear, pinion and side gears. We had removed the back plate and given it a good flushing using diesel which I had bought a few days ago. Diesel makes for an excellent degreaser. Do not ever use water to wash out any of these parts. Thankfully I did not see any metal swarfs in the oil that came out of the unit. After letting the diesel drain out we had brought it in to reassemble it. We replaced the drive shaft seal and the mounting plate seal on both sides and put those parts back together. The back plate was also washed (again with only diesel) and left to dry. Tomorrow we are goign to attempt to change the gearbox mount which lives on this plate. If you look carefully at the flange where the back plate mounts onto the differential, you will se what are remnants of a paper gasket. I managed to remove most of it with my fingernails whilst I was flushing the “diff” but I could not get all of it out. Do not ever ever use a metal instrument to scrape the gasket out or it will score the mating surface. This will render the gearbox almost useless as it will leak like a sieve.  drive-shaft

cv-joint

Next we managed to pull aprt the drive shafts and had a look at the Constant Velocity joints or CV joints as they as popurlarly called. Tomorrow I intend to give these pieces a good clean before reaasembling them. Got to remember to buy a can of grease to repack these joints. These CV joints are protected from dirt and grime by a rubber boot that is installed ont he shafts over these units.  For those of you operating a car, you would do well to get down under the car and inspect these rubber boots from time to time. A torn boot will allow dirt and sand to contaminate the grease leading to a premature failure of these joints.

input-shaftEarlier on, after removing the backplate to the dfferential gearbox, we had a go at removing the drive input shaft in order to replace the seal. But we failed miserably and bent a rather large allen key in the process. I shall post some picture of the tool when I get a chance. We decided to build up the rest of the diferential and take it to a gearbox specialist for the replacement of this seal.

6-tonnertooling

puller-set

Above are some of the many tools we have used to carry out the work so far. Most of it belongs to my friend Beadon and some were loaned from an engineering outift nearby. A good set of quality tools is a prerequisite before you even plan to work on your own car. These set of tools cost approximately RM4000-5000. An equivalent set made by Snap-On would have cost in the region of RM12000!
The jackstand you see above is too high to fit under my car. The jacks we have now cannot lift my car high enough to allow the use of these 6 tonne jackstands. It will be used when we attempt to remve and service the main gearbox, so we will need to find a way to boost the height of the jacks themselves. For that i will be looking for a 2″ by 4″ piece of wood.

housekeepingBeadon left at about 8 p.m and I set about cleanng the tools and the floors of the house. When you deal with tools and machinery it is inevitable you and the area around you get looking like the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Housekeeping is a good habit to cultivate. This will ensure that you have a clean work space the next time to come back the your project. It also reduces the possiblity that you will lose some of the small bits and pieces. With that in mind, I collected all the tools we had used and wiped them down with a cloth dipped in diesel. Then the floors got the same treatment followed by soap and water. Finally before leaving the house I arranged the parts so I would know which side of the car they belong to. More to come in the following days.





BMW E30 Restoration Project part 2

11 02 2009

After dismantling the subframe last Sunday, the project slowed down due to my commitments at work. believe me I wul drather spend time working on my car rather than at work. On Monday I had some help from Woon Hwan. Together we tried to remove the left hand trailing arm bushes. We had earlier gone to look for a bolt suitable to act as a puller but the shops nearby did not sell what we wanted. What we bought was a 6 foot long threaded rod which we cut into a suitable length. The addition of 3 nuts converted it into a puller. Two nuts would sit on each other hence acting as lock nuts while the third one was fitted to the other end completing the puller. We had some success removing one bush partially but as the rod only had fine threads on it the going was somewhat tough. It took a lot of force trying to move the bush just a few millimeters. We sort of gave up after managing to pull one of the bushes part way out. Mutalib later came by. he is the friend who sold me this car, which to his credit is in superb condition due to his care. Thanks for selling me the car dude and thanks for coming by to tell me what to do and not to do. He was kinda mad that he did not notice the faulty wheel bearings that was probably the cause of the high speed vibration he told me about. Those too will be renewed. i suspec he drove some 60 kilometres just to see his former car and ensure it will be put back on the road soon.
diff-2left-trailing-arm

Earlier in the day I and a few colleagues came by to inspect the parts and managed to open up the differential to see where it was leaking. You can see above that the differential is somewhat dismantled. We found that the O-ring seal was the culprit causing the gearbox leak. This would be renewed together with it’s pair on the left side. Pictured above are the bushes that were removed from the right hand trailing arms.

boltDuring lunch hour yesterday I went out to buy a pair of bolt of different lengths hoping to convert them into suitable pullers so I may remove the rest of the bushes. Back at work I went to work adding more threads on the longer one. Unfortunately after trying to pull out the first bushing on the left hand trailing arm, the bolt sheared! I guess tapping those extra threads on the shank made it a whole lot weaker. With that I gave up on the day’s work.

new-parts

Today I made a list of all the parts I would need to carry out the first part of the restoration project. yes folks, there are more projects in store to aee this E30 restored to it’s full glory. Being 23 years old with the last of the model discontinued some 17 years ago, I doubt BMW still makes replacement parts for this car. But having achieved an iconic stature in the motoring world, parts for the E30 are still readily available on the market manufactured by OEM’s. In total the parts you see above cost me RM1030. Not bad considering it would cost just as much if not more to buy replacement parts for some models of the National car!

wheel-bearings

Shortly after I arrived at the house where the project is on going, Beadon and Arnaiz made a surprise visit. I did not expect them to come today but it was great that they did. Being somewhat new to this game as Beadon aptly put it, I had not plan for any big jobs today but he sure did. He had brought along some tools to help us remove the wheel bearings that were to be replaced. Here above you can see one of the bearings after it was removed (albiet in pieces) from the right trailing arm. The piece on the right in front of it is the wheel hub (that is where you mount the wheel). The bearing’s outer race is held in by a large circlip which you can see just under the driveshaft on the far left.  it’s all there, the inner race still stuck on the stub axle, the bearings and the outer race still inthe boss of the drum brake assembly. In it’s place will be the spanking new sealed bearing you see at the bottom left hand corner.

After they left for hme I managed to continue a little bit more before locking up. It will be in the next update. Tomorrow we will borrow a puller form an engineering outfit nearby and attempt to seperate the inner and outer races from the stub axle and boss respectively. After this is done the rear subframe and trailing arms will be cleaned and sent for re painting. There are small areas which are starting to corrode so removal will be neccessary. See you all soon in the next update.





The E30 Restoration Project

8 02 2009

As my friend and I planned, the work to restore my new ‘old’ BMW E30 began today but not without some minor hitches. Meeting up for breakfast we discussed what we were going to do. Basically my friend Beadon would take charge of the project as he has had many (succesful and unsuccessful) automotive restoration projects under his belt. From his stories, more of the latter than the former hahaha! But still, experience counts, and from failures we learn not to repeat the same mistakes…..or so we hope.
We were supposed to start at around 1 p.m but we first had to pick up a jack stand belonging to Beadon. he had loaned it to an ex colleague who is also very much in automotive modifications. However his D.I.Y projects are far more ambitious than what we are attempting to do today.

E30 on Jack Stands

E30 on Jack Stands

The first job was to jack the rear of the car and put it on jack stands. never go UNDER a vehicle which has been lifted only on jacks. No telling when it might fail. The jack stand and it’s partner on the other side are each rated to support a load of 2 metric tonnes. My E30 only weighs in at 1285 kilogrammes.

Rear Brake & Suspension

Rear Brake & Suspension

Shocks & Antiroll bar

Shocks & Antiroll bar

The leaking diffential

The leaking diffential

The work started by removing the wheels and then the brake drum and calipers. Wheels were marked to indicate which side it came from. Then the suspension was disconnected. We had to unload the shock absorbers before they can be disconnected. this is done by jacking the brake mounting just inboard of the brake unit. You can see the antiroll bar connection just forward of the shocks. Those will come off too. However since the car is on jacks the bar is already unloaded. Last week I had the undercarriage and engine washed so that I will be able to detect the source of any oil and fluid leaks in the car. You will notice that the rear differential is definitely leaking form the right hand drive shaft seal. The seals will all be replaced in due course.

Brake line

Brake line

Next were the brake lines and the propeller shaft rear universal joint connection to the differential gearbox. The next few steps have not beeb photographed as we were busy doing the work and had nobody to take pictures. The aim was to lower the whole dirvetrain and rear suspension as a unit. With the differential supported by a jack, we disconnected the lower arms from the chassis and started to lower the jack but the assembly would not come off the car. We later discovered that the input shft to the differential was blocked by a fuel line. So up went the jack again and we proceeded to remove the propeller shaft and centre support bearing from the main gearbox. on-the-floor

Propeller shaft

Propeller shaft

Finally everything was free of the chassis and could be brought down. We had a minor problem earlier in the day causing us to lose valuable time. After removing the brake calipers we found that we could not undo the nut that secured the drive shafts to the wheel. They were quite content to sit snugly no matter how much force we applied to them. Decision was made to drive the car to a shop so we could use a pneumatic drill to remove the nuts. So at 3 o’clock, both of us reassembled part of the rear brakes and  I drove the car to find s shop which was open. Remember what I said about learning from mistakes? Well, it didn’t happen hahaha! My friend had a few days prior to this replaced a leaking gearbox seal on nhis Volvo. He found that he could not remove one of the driveshaft nuts. he even broke a 1/2″ torque bar attempting to remove the nut! Fortunately the nut on the side that was leaking could be removed.  Then on testing the car, we forgot to tighten the wheel nuts!  What proceeded was a very noisy test drive.

When I drove the my E30 to the shop, I found out that not only did I not have much braking power (remember we had only partially restored the brakes), there was an awful noise coming from the wheels. I finally found a shop that was willing to loosen the axle nuts for us. It wa shere I noticed we had NOT fastened any of the wheel nuts before I drove off! Maybe this time we will learn our lesson.

All laid out

All laid out

Exhaust and prop shaft

Exhaust and prop shaft

rear-suspension-diffWe had bought some linoleum to cover the floor of the house so we could lay everything out for cleaning and inspection. Tomorrow I will spend some time cleaning and dismantling the rear suspension and attempt to remove all the bushing. I intend to replaced every single seal and bushing on the car before the end of this project.





My New ‘Old’ Ride

5 02 2009

Hello everyone! I have been away for quite a while. Been kinda busy with wrk and some private matters. My computer suffered a virus attack and had to be reformatted. The new year is here and now already 35 days old! Even the Chinese New year has passed. Gong Xi Fa Chai to all my Chinese friends and readers. And 2 weeks ago I bought myself a new ‘old’ car! Here she is in all her beauty.

BMW E30 2.0L manual

BMW E30 2.0L manual

It’s a 1986 BMW E30 model with a 2.0 litre engine and manual 5 speed transmission driving the rear wheels.  Why did I buy such an old car? Well, I owned one just like it in the 90’s and it provided me the best motoring fun I ever had in my 25 years or driving.  Those who have followe dmy blog will know that i did quite a lot fo driving in ym younger days. Most of them was done in my first E30. Apart form mbeing such a fun car to drive, I really like it’s looks. I think it’s one of the most handsome cars ever to be made and the E30 is already an Icon if the motorign world. Here’s more reasons why I am in love withthe car.

Chrome everywhere

Chrome everywhere

Original Wheels

Original Wheels

It’s got chrome trims everywhere you look and I love it. Chrome bumpers, chrome kidney’s (BMW’s famous signature), chrome window trims and even the windshield is supposed to have a chrome lining. The car is almost in original form except for very very minor modifications by it’s previous owners.

Master Caution lights!

Master Caution lights!

What you see above is a bank of lights which can be found just above and behind the rear view mirror. It’s a sort of master caution system which warns the driver of any immediate failures in the car’s systems. Just keep in mind that the first of these cars were produced in 1984! if you’ll notice it even has a light that warns the driver of a low oil quantity condition. Most cars nowadays only have a low oil pressure light which might come a little too late if you’re at high revs. This feature saved the engine in my first E30 when the oil sump developed a leak. Even before the oil pressure became dangerously low, the low oil quantity light and it’s corresponding “Check” light in the instrument cluster warned me that I was losing engine oil.

The meters are in Imperial units

The meters are in Imperial units

After 23 years of operation the meters still work but you’ll notice that they are all in imperial units. The  “check” light I mentioned earlier appears in the little box that sits in between the speedometer and the tachometer should any of the warning light in the master caution cluster light up. This will prompt the driver to look up the problem. This system is very much the same as the one employed on modern aircraft.

The car does come with a few problems but nothing that is impossible to fix. if you’re looking to buy a second hand car or a classic, avoid the ones which shows signs major corrosion or what laymen call rust. This is a problem which is almost impossible to fix.

Prop & Tranny

Prop & Tranny

Leaky Differential

Leaky Differential

Rear Universal Joint

Rear Universal Joint

Here are some of the problems my friend and I intend to fix this coming weekend.  The first picture shows the main gearbox and propeller shaft connections. You can see  that the aft gearbox mounting have been contaminated by oil and are starting to deteriorate. The rubber bushing which sits between the drive output and the propeller shaft is torn in several places. This rubber bushing isolates some of the vibrations that would otherwise be transmitted by rear differential thru the prop shaft.

In the next picture is the rear differential itself which is leaking from a seal on the right half shaft or drive shaft. We intend to remove the “diff’, change all its seals and reservice it with fresh oil. Then in the last picture you can see the rear universal joint which is part of the porpeller shaft. If you look closely, you will see that someone has welded a  round metal washer onto  one of the bearings in this assembly. The original bearing cover is a press fit. The metal washer shows that the original bearing has been changed at some point in the life of this car. The bearing would have lost it’s original ‘fit” in the process of removal, so what you see is method employed to retain the bearing in its boss. The problem with the universal in my car is that the bearings are failing and as a result I am experiencing some vibrations at speeds in excess of 90 mp/h. There is also a loud rattle  at low speeds coming from the back end when the transmission is put into neutral. This is most probably coming from the same bearings as the propeller shaft losses it’s “drive” from the gearbox and starts to coast down.

The previous owner has told me that the cam shaft seal on the engine has developed a leak. If left to continue ,  can lead to a catastrophic failure of the engine, the last thing I would like to happen. So with this piece of valuable information, my friend and I have decided to carry out a top overhaul of the engine replacing any parts that are worn including the leaking cam shaft seal.

I will be taking pictures of the whole process as we progress with the work starting this saturday. My friend estimates the work will take us two weekends to complete. I am planning to spend a few hours after each working day working on the car. Those of you interested in learning more about motoring and willing to lend a helping hand are welcome to come by. But be warned, you’ll probably end up LOOKING like an oil rag by the end of the day hahaha!