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Unread 02-25-2011, 06:23 PM
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Fair! Fair! is offline
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Default Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

Project Up-date for Feb 25, 2011: "I'm not quite dead yet..."

Our $2010 Challenge LSx powered BMW E30 has been ignored for many months while we worked on a number of other Vorshlag project cars. I've enjoyed not working 20-40 extra hours each week on this time-suck project, but its time to get back into the groove and fix some things and tune/improve others on this car.

We were waiting over the winter to find a deal on another Camaro V6 T5, which we did, and its been in Costas' hands for a while. I picked it up last weekend on the way back from the dragstrip; brought the T5 back in the 2011 Mustang's trunk (after running that 12.9@108.6 mph in the 1/4 mile!). Costas had pulled this one apart, eye-balled everything inside, and it looks... like a normal, used T5 in there. Nothing bent or broken, so that's good enough for this $2011 hoopty. Looking is free. Fingers still crossed that it doesn't explode the first time we track it, which is in 2 weeks at a NASA Time Trial event at MSR-Cresson. I'm already signed up in TTU for this car, so here's to wishful thinking!

So last Sunday I put the E30 on the lift and and Paul M and I started tearing into the trans swap. Famous last words: "We'll be done in 2 hours, tops!"

We went for the easy route, of course. We planned on just swapping the busted unit for the "new" one, all from underneath, with as little work as possible. We have air tools and a lift and 50+ years of combined wrenching experience between the two of us - how hard could it be?? To get the driveshaft out of this mess of an engine swap (due to the slip yoke into the T5 and the captured rear flange in the E30 rear subframe) you have to either pull the drivetrain forward (and nearly out) or pull the rear axle center section out, so we chose the latter. The hope was to just slide the diff back far enough to get the front yoke to slide out of the trans...

So we're about 2 hours in and we have the trans crossmember out, the engine sitting on the main motor mounts and leaning on a screw-type trans jack and the diff disconnected from the halfshafts and slid backwards several inches, sitting on a trans jack. It was pretty hilarious looking, but remember - we're old and lazy! We got the shifter out, exhaust off, and then removed the 4 bellhousing-to-trans bolts (which took some uber-long extensions and U-joint sockets). We're home free.

Hmm... why won't this damn thing come loose?!? Pulling & prying on the old T5, and then it hit me - we're both old and our memory sucks. So I jumped on the computer and looked at install pics from our own project thread, where I saw/rememberd that we have a trans that was never really meant to go onto this bellhousing! The scattershield (made for an LS1 motor and an old school Ford Toploader 4-spd but, that accidentally bolts to this weird V6 T5) had a port on the side for a clutch FORK but we had a hydraulic throw out bearing/slave cylinder that was BOLTED to the front of the trans, with hydraulic lines sticking through the fork hole. The fork hole which was captive at the rear, so the TOB has to be unbolted to let the trans slide back out of the bellhousing. See where I'm going here? Its not super obvious until you try to remove just the trans from the bellhousing... we had always put the trans onto the scattershield out of the car, then bolted that to the engine, then put the drivetrain in as a unit. With a crazy tilt angle on the cherry picker and lots of muscle to get it pointed WAY downwards, then fighting it unto the cramped engine bay and trans tunnel of the E30. Not. Much. Fun.

We can't access the two bolts on the TOB, of course, so we have to pull the bellhousing off. And to get to all the bolts... the drivetrain has to come out. *insert expletives here*

Off and on this week after work we've managed to disconnect the headers, suspension, wiring & plumbing and have dropped the K-member and drivetrain out of the car as a unit, lifting the car upwards with the lift. This is, unfortunately, the "easy way". Unlike on an E36, the E30's front radiator support bits don't just unbolt so you can slide the drivetrain out from the front on a cherry picker. Not a big deal - this is how you do a drivetrain extraction on many cars with cramped engine bays, like 4th gen Camaros.

Gah, it pains me to look at that home-built header out of the car - what a heap of crap. I really want to make a better looking set, but I don't want to spend the time or budget $ to re-do these anytime soon. So even without the busted transmissions we already had a LOT of sorting to do on the car, mostly with the low-buck suspension and the HORRIBLE brakes (non-working ABS, inconsistent stops, and locking the tires). The car was completely untested before we loaded onto the trailer to drive to Florida for the GRM Challenge event last October, and our 24th place showing (as printed in this month's GRM magazine) shows that. Gotta get the car down the dragstrip under its own power to improve that crap placing, so we've got some drag testing to tackle in the car, too. Our trip to the dragstrip last weekend was partly to scope out the track's "flexibility" with respect to drag racing in a crap can like our e30.

So, about the lingering problems - most of the braking problem was likely the master cylinder we used is hydraulically mismatched for the E36 rotors and calipers utilized, and the car still has too much caster, even with our hacked up strut towers and home-brew camber plates we added. Since we plan on running the car on the BIG COURSE (ie: fast speeds) at VIR on July 22nd at the GRM UTCC event, as well as at NASA Texas TT events up until then, we wanted to upgrade some things to deal with the added speed and dangers.

We're also planning to use these 18x11" CCW wheels for track events (not the GRM-cheap 15x10" steel wheels), so we can temporarily fit larger diameter brakes than the 15" wheels allowed for. So long story short - over the winter we landed a smoking deal on used E36 M3 spindles/hubs/calipers/master cylinder and we're swapping that all in now. These are 12.5" front diameter rotors, which should help shed some brake heat. Since we saved some money on this particular T5 we have a little money left to spare in our budget, and we could actually afford this upgrade for the GRM event budget, but not the 18" wheels, so we'll figure out what to do with these brakes when we get past VIR. Might be just going back to the 11.5" E36 non-M front brakes and spindles for the autocross events, which easily fit inside the steel 15" wheels.

The sad thing about this trans removal debacle is that I made the damn motor mounts and trans crossmember, installed the trans and TOB, and helped put this drivetrain in and out of the car several times, so I should have remembered the trans has to come out with the drivetrain. Its just been so many months... forgot about the TOB limitation. Getting old sucks. Anyway, the drivetrain is going back in tonight and hopefully I can tackle some minor fixes along the way as I work on it more this weekend.

Pulling the drivetrain uncovered a lot of little mistakes and issues. So many important bolts we removed this past week were "hand tight or looser" when the drivetrain came out. Scary stuff - but I suppose when you have 9 guys working on one car, starting and stopping a lot, and someone else picking up the work the next work night, and a time table that slipped, things do get missed. There was also a hole worn in the heat jacket around one fuel line in the engine bay (now fixed), a few small leaks (surprisingly few, actually) we found and repaired, things like that. And the gauges will finally be connected to the engine and not just window dressing. Many unpainted brackets that were removed will be cleaned-up and spray-bombed this weekend. We're also going to swap in a set of E36 AST 4200s again just for use at the track events - I don't trust the rusty and locked-up Koni fronts or Gas-A-Just rears. And a passenger seat and harness will be added, but removed again for the GRM event in October.

Next update will be after the E30 is running and (hopefully soon) driving again. Then we'll have a post track event report after the March 12th NASA weekend. Going to head out to MSR-Cresson to do some testing on that Friday before, along with AST-USA's WC Subaru and Costas' GT-1 race car. Then (hopefully) run TTU in the E30 on that Saturday (assuming it survives Friday), then autocross the Mustang GT (its 1st!) at an SCCA event in STX class that Sunday. Busy weekend, lots of "firsts" to tackle in both cars, and lots to do before then to prepare. There's a total of 5 track or autocross events we're doing in March, including a ProSolo and National Tour. The winter racing break is over and it doesn't let up again until November...

More soon,
Terry Fair -

Vorshlag project cars: $2010 GRM Challenge E30 V8 + E46 DSP Autox Build + 2011 Mustang GT autox/track car

Last edited by Fair!; 02-25-2011 at 06:35 PM.
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