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  • My Grandpa's Car



    I'm not certain where to start with the story of this, I guess I'll start at the beginningish.

    At somepoint in 1989 my Grandpa bought the vehicle pictured above.  This car replaced a string of questionable vehicluar decions after he parted with his mid 70's Benz.  These questionable decions included a Lincoln Mark VII and a Range Rover...clearly this BMW was a step in the right direction!  Unfortunately, in the mid 90's after only a few years of ownership, he became unable to drive any longer.  The car then hung around as a spare car for the family / 2nd car for Grandma.  The years ticked by and maintenace became lax.  As anyone familar with high-end german cars can tell you, ignoring regular and rigorous maintnance is a death sentance for the car.  The only good news was that due to it's limited use, the mileage accumulated very slowly on the car.  By about the year 2000 the car had about 50K miles on it.  

    In 2003, after a string of breakdowns and other issues due to lack of maintenance and a crooked mechanic, Grandma was ready to send the car to the wrecker.  Now keep in mind, I had been in love with this car from the time Grandpa bought it.  At the, time I also happened to be paying the bills as a Certified BMW Mechanic at a local dealership.  i convinced Grandma to sign the car over to me.

    Late in 2003, I took over ownership of the car.  I was able to keep in garaged at Grandma's which was a bonus, as I had no garage space of my own.  I addressed the critical issues and started catching up on some deferred maintenance.  I put about 13K miles on the car over the next 2 years. At the end of the summer of 2005 during a road trip, the car developed a bad miss.  I did some diagnosis, which helped but I was unable to get it running perfectly.  It seemed like all that deferred mainenance had finally caught up with old girl.  At this time, I was in the thick of my Comp Sci program, no longer employed at BMW, and as such lacked the time and money to really fix the car, then life got in the way, etc.  The car sat in Grandma's garage for 6 years with 73,887 miles on it...waiting.

    This winter Grandma informed me, "I'm selling my house, you have to do something with the BMW."  I figured this was a was Time:

    Late in December, I rented a tow dollly from U-haul and hooked it up to my Jeep to tow the 750 the 30 miles home.  If the above looks like it was an extraordinarily bad was.  The Jeep is rated for 3500 lbs of tow capcaity, I have a 4000lb hitch.  The curb weight of a 750iL is about 4300 lbs.  I was just sure to take it easy and we made it home without incident.  As a side note, the 4.0 I6 in the Jeep is an amazing engine.  It pulled the addiitional 2 tons up hills and whatnot with out complaint.

    Unfortunately, with it being a pretty snow heavy winter, I was not able to get to the car until it all melted.  Once spring came, I looking longing at the car sitting in the driveway, washing it every couple of weekends. Finding the time can be difficult sometime.  Then, inspiration struck.  As it turns out, we're planning a trip to Iowa in July to visit my wife's family.  A couple weeks ago she said, "Gee wouldn't it be neat (and comfortable) to take the BMW?" 

    And so the project began in earnest.  I gave the car a pretty good going through, making a checklist as I went of everything that would need to be done to bring the car back to "perfect".  Currently the list stands at 53 items.  Obvioulsy not all 53 need to be done July (thankfully).  For the trip, I'm doing a full tune-up, changing all the coolant lines, rubber brake lines and the hydraulic accumulators for the rear self leveling suspension.  That should get us to reliable and comfortable. 

    That's the basic story and where we are today.  I started in earnest digging into the car this weekend...but that's for the next post.


  • Holy fluids Batman!

    As part of my rehabiliation of the car, I'm changing all the fluids.  I don't have good (any) service records from before I inherited the car and the records I do have from the year or two before it was parked are, let say sketchy at best.  I'm pretty sure most of the fluids in the car are original, save for Engine Oil and at possibly the transmission fluid. 

    It came as a bit of a surprise to me the obscene quantities of *everything* this car takes.  I"ll just list it below:

    Coolant: 16 quarts (yes, 3 gallons)

    Engine Oil: 8 quats (yes, 2 gallons of oil)

    Transmission: 4 quarts ATF (that what you can get in a change, the trans hold 13 quarts)

    Rear Differential: 2 quarts 90w oil

    Breaks: Dunno, just bought a fresh quart.

    Pentosin*: 3 Litres.


    And the collection of it all:

    All in all, the above represents $235.58 worth of various fluids.  Almost every drop is going in to the car (and an almost equal amount coming out).



    * Penstosin?  Yes, the Magical German Hydraulic Fluid that costs $20/ litre.  The central Hydralic system in this car runs the power steering rack, the power break booster, and the self-leveling rear suspension.  It's supposed to be a spearminty green color, mine was brown and smelled burnt.  So I'm changing it out while I'm replacing the hydraulic accumulators in the system.

  • The List


    Once I went through the entire car and figured out everything that needed to be done,  I realized it was far too long of a list to keep in my head.  So, I made a list a running task list that's been added to as I've found new and exciting issues to address.  The following represents what is needed to bring the car back to "perfect", so obviously some of them are things I'll address in the longer term. 

    1) Change Oil

    2) Change Transmission Fluid

    3) Replace Coolant/Heater hoses/Fresh Coolant

    4) Replace Brake Hoses / Fresh Brake Fluid

    5) Replace Serpentine Belts

    6) Replace Spark Plugs

    7) Replace Spark Plug Wires

    8) Replace Distributor Caps and Rotors

    9) Replace Air Filters

    10) Replace Fuel Filters

    11) Replace Wiper Blades

    12) Replace Headlight Washer Pump

    13) Replace Intensive Washer Pump

    14) Fill Washer Fluid

    15) Replace Missing Gasket in Driver's Door for Window Defrost vent

    16) Repalce Wheel Cap Roundells

    17) Replace Hood Struts

    18) Repalce Rear Suspension Hydraulic Accumulators

    19) Replace Brake Hydraulic Accumulator

    20) Replace Pentosin

    21) Fix Rear Sunshade

    22) Replace 3rd Brake Light Bulb

    23) Replace Tires

    24) Alignment

    25) Clean/Condition Leather

    26) Repair Sagging Headliner

    27) Replace Leaking Heater Core

    28) Investigate stuck IHKA blend door

    29) Replace Right Front Maker Light

    30) Install New Horns

    31) Attempt Repair of Factory CD Changer

    32) New Floor Mats

    33) Replace Faded/Discolored Felt on Rear Parcel Shelf

    34) Replace Speakers

    35) Replace Glove Box Flashlight

    36) Replace Missing Hazard Triangle from Tool Box

    37) Paintless Dent Removal for Minor Door Dings

    38) Shampoo Trunk Carpet

    39) Replace Cracked Grill Trim

    40) Check and Secure Battery & Vent

    41) Change Rear Diff Fluid

    42) Fill Intensive Washer Fluid

    43) Attempt Repair of Front Chin Spoiler

    44) Replair Driver's Door Lock

    45) Aquire Cassette Holder for Center Console

    46) Replace Burnt-out Bulbs in Gague Cluster

    47) Wash/Wax

    48) Scrub Baked on Brake Dust from Wheels

    49) Repair Rear Power HeadRest Power Connectors

    50) Devise a Battery Tie Down Solution

    51) Re-install Rear Seat Trim

    52) Purchase Car Cover

    53) Replace Glove Box Light Bulb

    54) Replace Glove Box Hydraulics

    55) Replace Splitting Fuel Line at Fuel Filter

    56) Replace Missing Exhaust Hanger Donut

    57) Replace Wornout Rear Pitman Arms


    Basically, this is what it takes to bring a 25 year old car, that's been sitting for 6 years up to snuff.

    I'm hoping this weekend will be productive.   I recieved the final round of parts today and should be able to knock out the big remaining items this weekend and possibly be ready for the first test drive by Sunday night!