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  • The Garage

    The current list of stuff to be done at MechanicJay's garage is:
    Complete the restoration of the 750.
    Clean out a bay for the Rx-7 to live in.
    Rebuild the block on the 323.
    SID repair on the Saab.
    Completed Todos:
    1989 323 - Rebuild and swap the old head backon.  I'm just not happy with the new head.
     2002 Saab 9-3.  New Rear Shocks, Swap Snow tires on, Install Baby seat, Swap Radio, repair, replace Driver's seat trim.
    2006 Jeep.  New front PCV grommet.
    1989 BMW 750iL. Tow it to the garage to start rehab.
    1994 Toyota Camry -- Complete tuneup, wash, wax, vacuum, SELL! -- Done and Sold.
    1989 323 -- Finish the epic project.  -- Done and driving.
    2001 Miata -- Timing Belt service -- Done and sold

  • The Epic 323 project.

    As I've been fighting with "The Best Car in the World" over the last couple of weeks, I've reached a level of frustration that has tested even my happy-go-lucky demeanor.   This is sort of an epic saga which..well, perhaps I should just start at the beginning.


    2 years ago after an unfortunate overheating incident, I purchased a new cylinder head and installed it.  The car was never quite right afterwards.  The bottom end knock that appears a couple thousand miles later was the end of it.

    I hit up Harry's U-Pull it in Hazelton PA during one of their specials.  I found an '89 323 that looked well cared for, but had been rear-ended pretty hard....cost $60.

     The engine had high miles, but the car looked well cared for.  I replaced all the oil seals, chucked the engine in and said, "Let's see how far $60 gets us."

     20,000 miles.

    The head-gasket gave up the ghost:



    I wasn't too upset as this car is dead-simple to work on, I knew I could knock it out in a Saturday and after a quick discussion with friends over the topic knew what my approach would be.    But, I was wrestling with a question.  Do I send out the head to get machined, or just use the 2K mile old head sitting on the dead engine in the garage?

     After putting the old head and seeing a burned exhaust valve, I said, "What the Hell?" and went with the 2K mile head.  I started about 2pm on a Saturday and by 7:00 was starting to button stuff up.


    This is where the epic battle begins.

     Mazda B6 engines have apparently always come with Hydraulic Valve lifters.  My new head did not.  The reman company had solid adjustable lifters on the head.  Being concerned about the slight lack of power and the fact the car sounded like a diesel with all the valve-clatter, I said, "ah well, I'll just adjust the valves".

    Did I mention, the B6 didn't really come from the factory with Solid lifters.  This makes it very difficult to find a spec to adjust them to.  After about a week’s worth of trial and error, I found about 8 thousands on the Intake and Exhaust made the car pretty responsive, but there was still quite a bit of noise.  I adjusted down until the noise stopped.  I then had another problem.  No power in the upper RPM band -- I was floating the valves...damn it.

    Of course while noise/power was messing me, I was having a problem with the distributor as well.  A hunk of loose metal was jamming the vacuum advance mechanism, making my "adjust valves for power" routine, actually impossible.  Anyway, once I got that straightened out, I was able to dial in on the valve adjustment much better.

    Out of frustration I pulled the rocker arms off the new head and noticed that the oil channels were there for the hydraulic lifter assembly.  AH-HA!  I swapped the hydraulics on, buttoned everything up and about after about 30 seconds the damn thing sounded like a dump-truck.  The oil channels are there, there just doesn't seem to be any pressure through them to pump up the hydraulic lifters.  Back to the solid lifters....

    Anyway, so I scoured teh intarwebs some more and found on a dusty cobweb ridden corner, a spec for a 1600 cc B6, with solid lifters.  The spec:  .30 mm -- hot.


    Hot?  Really?  Great.


    So, after work yesterday, with the engine hot, I adjusted the valves to 11 thousandths.  Power is now pretty good throughout the rpm bad, but the noise is still significant.  I'm going to call it good for now, I just don't think there is anything else I can really do for now safe for sending the old head to get machined and putting back on the car...which I may do over the summer.

    The only remaining issue I have, is an little unevenness in the power band.  I'll be Ohm-ing out sensors and whatnot this weekend according to the Factory Service Manual to see what component is going bad. 

    But, the old girl is back in action, competetantly whisking me around NJ on my daily100 mile commute!



  • 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!