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325i Touring
148 Posts
Discussion Starter · #122 ·
Don't have as much time anymore with being back to work but slowly chipping away at it as much as I can. Picked up a tired old auto gearbox from a fellow enthusiast and cut out a bracket to bolt the starter up to.
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Checked over all the nuts and bolts I had access to whilst being under there, everything is torqued to spec so don't think that would have been the issue. Just to be safe, took out the left side oil pan bolt, cleaned everything and replaced it with a clean bolt from the old engine. Used some thread sealer on it as well although there's no threads below the pan gasket anyway so unlikely that it'd make a difference.
Also managed to track down some UV dye finally. Only one I could find was this one that's technically meant for AC systems but should still do the job. Don't think it'd have anything in it that would do any damage to the gaskets or anything. Only thing I'm unsure about is how well it holds up to higher temperatures but I guess I'll find out. Not a cheap endeavour at NZ$200 retail (good guy at the counter gave me trade price at $120) but if it saves me from doing this all over again then it's money well spent.
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Will reassemble the intake and everything around it and try start the car back up over the weekend. Will hopefully help get on top of this BS.

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325i Touring
148 Posts
Discussion Starter · #124 ·
The UV dye thing turned out to be a dud. Didn't want to blindly pour sludge into the pride and joy so decided to try it out on the new daily, a Suzuki Swift Sport I had picked up a few weeks prior. Did an oil change on it the previous weekend and noticed it pissing out oil quite generously. Cleaned up what I could, poured in a dose of dye and went for a half hour drive onto my mate's hoist. Plenty of new oil dripping out but made absolutely no difference under the UV light. Tested it in some old oil in a measuring cup and looks like it just doesn't play well with oil, just settles to the bottom instead of dissolving in it so is no use in this application. Another expensive shelf filler but worth a try anyway.
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Checked over the crank sensor, no visible cracks or damage that I could see. Chucked on a new O-ring and drew a ring of RTV in behind it right under the metal plate for good measure. Should be solid enough this time. Got the flywheel bolted up and the intake reassembled, minus the intake boots to have a clearer view from the top.
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Engine started up very effortlessly, which is encouraging, barely half a crank. No signs of leaks from the sensor so jumped under the car and sure enough, oil started running down the left side of the RMS housing.


Hard to tell whether there's a leak from the RMS housing and/or oil pan but what's definite is a leak from the oil gallery plug further up, so it could be that running all the way down.
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Weird one. Thought I had cleaned and seated it all the way in with a healthy dose of sealant but looks like it refused to set altogether. Maybe I didn't drive it in hard enough. Then again, not really sure on the correct method of installation. Looking at the old engine block, the plug sat flush with the block surface so the sealant must have been doing all the work. Feels weird leaving it almost dangling there though as the Permatex sealant I'm using doesn't really harden so much unless tightened fully. There's also a passage that would be almost fully blocked if the plug is driven all the way in. From factory, the sealant looks to be similar to blue Loctite but I was more under the impression it's more to prevent loosening under vibration than stop oil seeping through, so suspect it must be some special BMW magic potion.
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Looked into ordering a whole new plug with whatever the right sealant is already pre-applied but wherever I've looked, there's 2-4 week wait on them being shipped. Might chuck an order in and have a few kicking around for the future but for now just cleaned up the hole & the plug, drenched the damn thing in sealant and made sure to drive it in as tight as it would go. Looks to have gone in maybe half a turn further than I had it previously. Pretty crude but seems to have worked for 50sKid.
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Will let it set overnight and try another startup tomorrow. I'm still sceptical whether this is the only source of the leak but nothing would make me happier than being wrong in this instance.

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325i Touring
148 Posts
Discussion Starter · #125 ·
Well, started her up and same thing, steady stream of oil within seconds. Took the flywheel off and sure enough it's still the gallery plug. Waited a few hours for the oil to drain down and removed the plug - the sealant still completely liquid and refused to harden at all, came right off wiping with a rag. Looks like the stuff is not cut up for the job at all, which is weird as that's the same one that worked for 50sKid.
One last shot before I go and seal it for good with something permanent. Cleaned everything up and reinstalled the plug with what looked like a small lake's worth of blue Loctite 243. Will let it cure for an extra day and see how it goes from there. If still no luck then might just epoxy the fucker in there and be done with it.

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I see Permatex #1 recommended as well, but that seems to be a more extreme solution and removal will not be as easy if needed in the future.

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325i Touring
148 Posts
Discussion Starter · #128 ·
Well, looks like we're onto a winner. Blue Loctite 243 seems to have done the job.
Thoroughly cleaned the threads and sat it in just a mm in from flush. At the same time did the same on the old engine as a test. Took it out the next morning to check and it looks to have set pretty well.
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Compare that to the Permatex 59235 that got completely washed out and didn't set at all.
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Anyway, ran the engine for a couple of minutes last night and so far so good. Haven't put it under any real load yet but previously the oil began dripping down within seconds. Removed the flywheel and didn't find any other signs of leaks, everything is bone dry. Happy days.
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Started putting everything back together now and hoping to finally go for a longer drive over the weekend.

Jumped on and reset the self-adjusting pressure plate. Looking at the before and afters, it doesn't look to have made much of a difference so it hadn't gone out of whack by much, but good to make sure anyway. Did it by bolting it down onto a piece of ply laid over a pallet instead of using jaw pullers, similar to this video.

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Also made up a couple of tidy plugs for the post-car O2 sensor wiring out of old sensors. These will properly clip into the brackets and keep the wires from rattling around under the beauty covers. Might later remove the redundant wiring altogether.
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Will just have the ABS light trifecta to clear away from the cluster after everything is back together. I suspect it's just a matter of going through the steering angle sensor calibration procedure as I did play around with it a bit. Will see how she goes.

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325i Touring
148 Posts
Discussion Starter · #129 ·
Kicked off the reassembly straight after work yesterday and couldn't stop myself until it was all put together... at 4am. Despite mustering up just the 3 hours, didn't manage to stay asleep past my usual 7am so got up and went for a drive. Did the steering angle sensor calibration with BMW Scanner which cleared the trifecta lights from the dash. Only annoying light that remained was the fuel level warning...
Did some varied driving, slow bits around the neighbourhood at first followed by a scenic ride through Sumner - Governor's Bay - Dyers Pass. Did a bunch of gentle rolling pulls from 2k to 4k RPM and coast down to 2k, then hit some hilly-twisty bits, frequently stopping to check for leaks and temps. Clocked up just over 100km.
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The car starts up fine but the starter seems to make a different sound than what I can remember, bit of a higher pitched whirring noise with a slight rattle. The last startup I did when checking for leaks I forgot that I hadn't put the flywheel on the night before so it spun over freely without and load for about a second. Don't know if that would have done anything but hope it didn't stuff it. The starter itself was from I believe 2012 so was replaced at some point, I took it apart, checked that the brushes were still good and lubed it up so does function as it should. Not sure what the issue might be but will monitor it. When removing the gearbox, it got caught on the sound deadening fabric and ripped it a bit so it could just be the extra noise coming through.
The engine feels super solid, got more used to the gearbox as the drive went on. Power feels good and effortless, idle is smooth but had a couple of patches of grumbling when sitting still at lights. The gearbox still feels lurchy / jittery at times in 1st & 2nd. Even when not changing gear but, for example, going over railway lines all the way in second, it starts lurching when getting back on the power. Hopefully it goes away as the clutch beds in properly. The 3.38 diff probably doesn't help either, first gear is virtually useless, definitely not sticking with it long-term.
Otherwise, absolutely buzzing to have gotten to this point. Small gremlins aside, the car is an absolute joy to drive, tracks nice and straight, the ride is smooth, and it'll only get better from here as I kick on with refurbing the rear subframe, suspension, brakes, wheel bearings etc.
Thanks to everyone that's chimed in with advice and encouragement along the way, couldn't have done it without yas.
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Probably overkill this soon but will do a quick oil change and do another 500km with the running in oil. Will take the bottom covers back off and give everything a once-over whilst I'm at it but nothing seems to be leaking past them so far anyway. Happy days.

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325i Touring
148 Posts
Discussion Starter · #130 ·
Figured out what the issue was with the starter - it didn't seat flush against the bell housing, instead resting on the rim of the pin at the top.
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A good few hours and a book's worth of swear words later, I realised what the problem was. When installing the transmission, the first thing I did was tighten down the big 4 bolts and lifted the transmission in place, onto the mounts. Only then did I go to install the starter and although the bolts (somehow) torqued up to spec, it jammed against the pin at the top and sat tilted upwards, the teeth making contact at an angle and rattling about. I'm surprised the car started up at all and didn't grenade the whole flywheel.
What happened was the backing plate between the engine and gearbox got tightened down just a millimetre or two out of whack and so the starter opening and the pin obviously couldn't both line up at once. No matter how much I jiggled it, either the bottom went in and the top pin rested on the rim or the pin got somewhat seated and the bottom of the starter stuck out.
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Ended up dropping the exhaust and driveshaft again, undid the trans mounts, tilted it backwards, undid all the bolts enough to get about a 5mm separation between engine and gearbox and in the starter went, smooth as butter. Super annoying to have spent another full day chasing such issues but learning things the hard way, got there in the end. Always more fun when you've got furry little helpers as well.
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One new issue I discovered is the rear driveshaft joint, the seals on which seem to be getting pretty tired. Something to address further down the line.
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On a positive note, not a single drop of fluids on the bottom covers. Taking bets on how long it remains like this 😄
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Oil change done. A good amount of magnetic sludge in there, as to be expected but nothing too concerning otherwise.
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The starter is back to singing its usual song now, startup is smooth, lifter tick is gone and all seems to be ticking along pretty smoothly. Knock on wood. Went for a quick 40km run after dinner to keep putting some longer k's on. Such a great cruiser machine this, missed it so much. The power difference from the extra displacement as well as new bearings and rebuilt components is definitely noticeable, the power delivery is way smoother and more effortless, and as much as the 3.38 diff is a nuisance in 1st & 2nd, it makes up for it by livening up 3rd & 4th. Have a local club run to Arthur's Pass coming up in a few weeks' time, can't bloody wait.
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Will book in the yearly inspection tomorrow and slowly start digging into rebuilding the brakes and rear subframe.

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325i Touring
148 Posts
Discussion Starter · #132 ·
Had a big scare on Friday morning. Was going about my business, got to a couple of km's from home and the car just died at an intersection. It would then start up, idle for just a second and die again.
Got a mate to tow me home, fearing the worst. First time the tow hook's come out in my 4 years of BMW ownership. Feel like I've done pretty well.
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Only code I pulled was 44 Activation, Solenoid Valve, Tank Ventilation, which I didn't feel would be enough to stall the engine altogether but went ahead and switched out the EVAP valve, as well as the fuel pump, both of which had come from the 330i donor car, dated 2001. I put back the EVAP valve and fuel pump original to the car, dated 2003 and looks like the issue's gone away. So far so good anyway.
Have now put roughly 200km on the the clock since the engine rebuild, looks like most of the niggly issues have been ironed out, bar one. When slowly coasting up to an intersection in 1st gear and not adding any throttle, when I press down the clutch, there's a weird rattle/thump coming somewhere from the drivetrain, seemingly from the rear.
Only seems to happen when depressing clutch in 1st gear with no throttle input. Doesn't seem to happen at higher revs when accelerating to switch into second so a bit of a weird one. I suspect it could be the diff or the driveshaft. Not particularly enjoying the 3.38 ratio altogether, 1st gear seems very short for regular driving so could be a contributing factor. Was going to tidy up the factory manual 5-speed 2.93 diff and drop it in along with the refurbished subframe after I've gotten reinforcement plates welded in but might do it on its own before doing the whole refurb to eliminate the diff as the culprit.
Another factor might be the CSB pre-load. The wording in the manual leaves a bit of ambiguity so not sure if I've done it right. Pushed the housing about 4mm forward from it's natural position. The manual called for 5-6mm but the rears of the bolts were already starting to hang out a bit too much for my liking so didn't want to push it further. The photos are facing up towards the front of the car.

CSB resting in its undisturbed position
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How I tightened it down
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With the car up and running, I ticked off a few secondary little missions. Chucked on the front Whiteline strut brace I'd ordered a while ago. Quite well priced and contrary to the product photos, the bar itself is black so fits in pretty well with the rest of the engine bay. Really like the minimal design and lack of any sort of logos or writing, keeps it nice and clean.
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Also went ahead and switched out the cluster strip I'd received earlier. Thanks again @yjsaabman & @blksab65! Didn't notice it previously but looks like the US-version has BRAKE and ABS written out as words instead of using logos. Funny little detail but not bothered about it.
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The cluster will have to come out again at some point. Seems like when I was switching out the main big backing plate I slightly misaligned the tachometer needle. Was getting a bit concerned as the idle revs looked to be sitting at just 500 RPM. Hooked up the scanner and they're actually at a healthy 700 RPM so will need to bump the needle up a bit.
Just clearing out the garage of all the accumulated spare parts / clutter and will jump onto refurbing the rear subframe and brake calipers.

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325i Touring
148 Posts
Discussion Starter · #133 ·
Starting to think ol' Barbara has it out for me. That and a dose of me being a bit of a numpty. Had a few weird adventures lately.
Both the alternator ducts were missing when I got the car so I found an upper one on one of my parts cars, ordered a new lower one and fitted them on once I got the car up and running. Fast forward about a week and found the lower one rattling around on the undertray. The fittings on it are a bit flimsy so it must have vibrated itself loose, jammed itself against the belt and chewed through it. Luckily doesn't look to have done any damage to the belts or pulleys.
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Last Friday was going about my business, filled the tank on my way to the auto store. Pull up to the parking lot and felt a strong whiff of petrol. Looked down to find a massive puddle of fuel spewing out from the bottom of the car. Either I didn't seat the seal properly / didn't tighten the fuel pump lock ring enough or just because I overfilled the tank but the fuel was overflowing through the seal on the pump side. Quickly got the staff to help, grabbed the spill kit to clean it up as it looked a fire hazard.
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Undid the fuel pump to find the tank up to the brim and overflowing. Luckily I was already at the auto store so bought a siphon and a fuel cannister and pumped a few litres out. Seated the seal properly this time and tightened down the lock ring as far as it wanted to go. Looks fine now but will take a wee while to air out the smell of fuel from the cabin.

Still have a persistent rattle from the engine for the first second or two on a cold start. At that point I'd done 500km on the special 15W-40 running in oil so figured it must be time to switch to the usual Castrol Edge 5W-30. Way less metallic sludge stuck to the magnetic drain plug than after the first 100km, the oil looked nice and clear still but the fresh 5W-30 didn't fix the either. Not quite sure what it might be still or whether to be too worried about it. Probably worth getting a set of new lifters at some point as the old ones did look a bit tired.

After the oil change, took the car out for its first proper drive, a small club run to Arthur's Pass. Very nice drive with some nice hilly and twisty bits. Just 8 cars in total with an E46 M3 vert, F30 335i and an X5 outside the picture.
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Mine was the only "project car" in the group and of course decided to be the problem child. Just before Sheffield heard a slight thump and the HVAC screen went blank. The fella behind me told me it also blew a black puff of smoke out the exhaust around the same time. Made it to the parking lot to discover the AC compressor had spat the dummy and spewed out some sort of sticky gunk all over.
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Out of everything under the hood, the AC was the only thing I hadn't touched so naturally it got jealous and started acting up. The compressor was due a replacement to be fair but didn't want to touch it until the engine was all sorted. Will have to expedite it a bit. Luckily had my toolbox with me (as is a must at this stage) so just took the AC belt off and carried on.
Apart from that, no major dramas. The car ran really well, temperatures kept steady, pulls nice and solid, especially with the auto diff, although taking off from a stand still is still an absolute pain so will switch it out for the manual diff shortly. The alignment is all over the place but holds the road steady enough. Will leave it until I get onto the rear subframe and suspension work. Still keeping it under 4k RPM for a few thousand km's so didn't go too crazy, although did try to keep pace with the E92 M3 to enjoy those V8 noises.
The drive back was a bit of a pain with no AC as the outside temperatures hit 30 degrees (celsius). Was absolutely drenched by the time I got home. Getting back into town I nearly got T-boned by an SUV that obliviously started pulling out from a side road right into the side of me which didn't help with the sweating. Luckily managed to swerve out of the way just in time.
But yeah, a few gremlins still but not totally unexpected. Will just keep chipping away.
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