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.

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