Sunday, April 21, 2013

2013 BMW Club Nationals

For us, the 2013 Nationals was a tale of excitement, hard work, elation, heart ache and relief. To start, it may seem to be a huge commitment to travel across the country to go to a car meet in Victoria, but when I actually decided that we'd go, it was a snowy Winters day in Salt Lake City, Utah. That left Perth to Phillip Island seeming quite simple. How very wrong I was!

The plan was never really simple, but it all seemed like it would work out back in February 2012. So the plan in basics: Fly to East Coast, take the '75 e12 520i track car on the trailer and drive the '81 e12 M535i down "road-trip" style. The devil's in the detail though and the detail was a little crazy. The 520i was down on power and probably wanted a new set of rings. What I wanted was about 100 extra horse power and that meant new engine. The tale of "How the new motor went from good to bad, back to good and finally to disaster" is for another day, but suffice to say, after a huge amount of effort (we're talking months and thousands of kilometres of trips to the city) for my Dad, the head gasket blew the day before we were due to fly over to Sydney!

Plan B: still drive the e12 M535i from Nowra to Phillip Island, but now also to drive the e28 M535i of Dad's. All they needed was a new set of wheels and Tyres for he e28 and some last minute caliper rebuilds for the e12.

That left Thursday to pack, wash the cars, make some last minute mods to fit the new wheels on the e28 and load up all the tools and spares we thought we might need. Friday morning, 5 am was take off and the fun started immediately. Less than 2 km from home we were dodging a big wombat wandering across the road. There was also the vaguely worrying smell of burning rubber from the e28 where the tyres were rubbing over the big bumps. It was pretty smooth sailing after that though as we thundered over the Great Dividing Range at Kangaroo Valley, topped the tanks up at the Hume Freeway and headed for Victoria.

It continued to go amazingly well through Yass, with only the Good Friday crowds being a pain and down to Holbrook for a break at the oddly situated, inland submarine. At that point, the 32 year old Recaros in the e12 were causing some pain in my rear! My dearly beloved wife swapped into the e28 and we pushed on across the border. A lucky call to the crew from BMWDCNSW saw us take the freeways and not join the 2 hour traffic jam at some place called Koo Wee Rup via the back roads and saw us pulling into the Silver Water Resort just after 5 pm. 12 hours driving and not so much as a misfire. I love the old e12!

Bit of a freshen up and it was off to the welcome dinner to catch up with everyone. It had been some time since I'd last seen the crew from BMW Clubs, but all the familiar faces were there. It was good to catch up with the old crew from NSW, hear all the latest stories, tell some tales about what we'd been up to for the last 2 years and, most importantly, swap stories about which BMW we were now driving and ones that had been through the garage since we last met.

Saturday's Celebration of Excellence was not exactly our strong suit. We'd entered the e12, but it does regular road and track duties, so it's no show pony. We didn't even bother for with the e28, ostensibly because we needed to drive it around on Saturday, but really because we hadn't had any time to clean it. The cars all looked wonderful and I had real pleasure in being in the "old car" area. I had a lovely JPS e21 323i on one side and a beautiful e24 635Csi on the other. All in black, it was a wonderful display of 3, 5, 6! We headed out around Phillip Island for a bit of exploring. It was a cute little place, but my god, there were a lot of tourists there.

The Little Penguins came out on parade on Saturday night. After a meal of dubious quality at Nobbies, we headed out into the rain to watch the little fellas waddle their way home. It was wet and drizzly and looked miserable, but just as we headed out toward the beach, it stopped raining and we had a great view as the little penguins walked by. We were within a metre of some of them and it was a bit of a effort to drag ourselves away from them and head home.

Track Day Sunday. The big one and the main reason for travelling thousands of kilometres! With the tracks tyres on, we headed out to the Phillip Island GP circuit. Frighteningly, it wasn't just a sheen of damp road, but a steady drizzle that greeted us. The drivers briefing was terrifying with the officials warning us of how dangerous the track was, especially in the wet. Oh, and by the way, watch out for the great big wild geese that wander across the track! The sighting lap was a wide-eyed experience. Wet track, cold tyres and geese the size of wombats standing on the track! The sun broke through before the first session and the track was virtually dry. Someone must have liked us, because it stayed that way all day.

All the hard work and frustration faded away as we motored around the track. What a joy Phillip Island is! Terrifying? Yes, but such amazing fun. The high speed corners at turn 1, Lukey Heights and the last turn were one of the best feelings ever. The e12 acquitted itself very nicely too. It was the oldest car there, but still managed to beat out a dozen other cars including an e46 M3 and an e39 M5. The e28 did pretty well too, at least up until the second last session. A blown clutch ended the day a bit prematurely, but Dad still had plenty of fun and was closely chasing the lighter and more powerful e12 all day.
We wrapped up our weekend with the presentation dinner and more chances to reminisce about apexes clipped, slides caught and late braking manoeuvres pulled off. If we were even half as good as we sounded, I'm surprised we're not all giving Sebastian Vettel a hard time in F1. WA didn't rate real well in the trophies (3rd in class) but Belinda did get first prize in the poker run, so walked away with 1 trophy!

The drive home was much more relaxing although a lot less glamorous. Driving a Toyota Camry back from the BMW Nationals was never really in the plan, but sometimes you've just got to go with the flow. We have to say a massive thank you to all the team at BMWCCV who put the Nationals together. It was a great event with a great location and, most importantly, wonderful people. I can't wait for 2015!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

e21 Road to Rego

Sometimes you have to question your sanity if you're a BMW person. Maybe not new BMWs; they're just for rich people. Those of us who have old ones though, we need to take a good hard look at ourselves. The e21 is a great example. It seemed like a really smart idea to get it over to Perth. It would be fun to tinker with and we'd have a back-up car for when the e87 is busy. The lack of rego put a bit of a spanner in the works though. Shouldn't be a problem (I imagine all true BMW fans calling out), just fix the worn bits and get her over the pits. Ah yes, now the fun starts...

So step one shouldn't be hard. Get the car to the mechanic to get a list of all the stuff needing fixing. Being conscientious (and a little bit vain) I figured a wash would be the best thing for it so the mechanic doesn't think I don't care. Off to car wash (no yard at our place) and get on with washing. I took the degreaser with me thinking some removal of 34 years of grime build up would be a good idea. I wash the car and start spraying under the bonnet. I'd left the engine running to keep the thing hot and to ensure I didn't have to re-start it if it got wet. Obviously, there's some electrical connections under there that are not water tight because she died. It had to be something in the ignition circuit because it cranked, but there was no spark. After an hour of waiting (spent drying the car off of course!) it must have dried out enough because she fired back up on 4 cylinders and I limped home.

I also thoguht I'd managed to stuff the head gasket. As it was running badly, it was hard to tell. I had to top the coolant up and when I left the cap off the expansion tank, it created a "foam" on top. Got myself a compression tester and they call came out the same though. I think that was just air in the system.

Since then, I made it to the mechanic (after she dried out completely) although I still haven't received the list. While I've been waiting, there were a few things needing doing anyway. The most obvious was the crack in the windscreen. No possibility of getting past inspection with that, so a new one went in. Next stop was to fix up some surface rust and staining under the radiator expansion bottle. I doubt the rust is a reason for the inspector to knock it back, but I want it to look like it's well maintained. In typical fashion though, step one for rust removal was the bleed the clutch slave cylinder! Damn thing had leaked over the years and now had air in it. A proper degreasing (in the safety of my own garage in case of failure to start) was next. Man, did it take some degreaser. 5 litres of the good concentrated stuff and it's finally getting there.

Now that it was mobile, I could turn it around and get it up on the ramps and get on to pulling it down. Someone from BMW needs a good hard slap for what they did with the brake booster. The engine slant puts it in the way of the brake booster, so rather than do a remote booster, they stuck it out on the end of a "stick" with some rods and levers from the pedal. Pretty sloppy set up if you ask me. Came off surprisingly easily though. A bit too easy if you ask me. I want my brake system to be locked down.

Expansin tank came off easy, but that's about the 10th time for it. It's the cause of all this mess, so once I've cleaned all this up, I shoudl be able to work out what the hell is casuing the leakage. It's been going on since before I bought it though, so it could be anywhere.

Got the manifolds off and again, a bit scary as to how easy the nuts were to undo. I'm expcting broken studs and hours of swearing, but apart from some scratches on my arm where I had to insert my hand up inside to get to one nut, it was very easy.

Finally... two weeks and about 20 labour hours later, I got to wire brushing the engine bay. I've given it the once over to get the loose stuff off. Now I'll be on to some paint stripper and back in with the wire wheel to give it a proper tidy up. I've got a paint system from KBS for cleaner, rust "blaster" and rust "seal" that is supposed to be the business. It better be after all this.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Whole new World

It's been a year since my last post and boy, have we had some changes! Not just in cars either. The big news is that Bel and I have moved back to Australia. Of course, the good news is that this means out with the old cars and in with some new! On the other hand though, it was said to see the e46 330xi go after 2 years of dedicated service. The other thing that had to happen was to finish off the front end of the Mustang.

I got all the old paint, grime and surface rust off the inner guards. While I was there, I cut out the rust above the tyres and welded in some new steel. Little bit of bondo and she was looking better than new. I could then paint up the top of the inner guards all in matt black. I got the Chassis Saver paint on, but since it was freezing (not metaphorically, actually freezing!) I had to rig up some heaters to get it to go off! After that, I sprayed on some Rustoleum in matt black to give it the stock look again. Looked really smooth. I touched up some of the areas that hadn't been painted white by the idiot who'd painted the rest of the car. That left the car ready for suspension again. New upper control arm and pivot, new top ball joint, replaced spring perch rubbers (as the old ones were worn through). Everything else was in good condition, so just a good clean up and some new paint brought them back to scratch.
Once the underneath was sorted, it was time to get on with the outside. The headlight buckets just needed some paint and a polish. The fenders on the other hand, were bloody rough. The drivers side had to have all the inner side wire brushed off and repainted. the lip on the tyre side was also in bad shape, so that had to be sanded and fully redone. This was nothing compared to the passenger side though. While tyring to gently rub off some rust, i came across some bog in an old dent. After that, it just kept going! Thicker and thicker until it got over a centimetre thick! It was too much for me and I had to invest in a replacement panel. Luckily, they come quite easily from on line suppliers in the US, so I was soon sorted and applying some white paint. Sadly, Mum and  Dad arrived before I could really get it right, so I  can still see the imperfections (I'm probably the only one that notices though).

After sorting the metal stuff, I felt like the interior was a bit neglected. I took the back seat out and applied a coat of vinyl dye. It came up really well and made me thankful that I hadn't stumped up for the new upholstery. While I was in there, a new transmission lever cover and some new chrome work finished things off.

After selling the good old Audi Allroad and the 330xi (for a solid loss mind you) we dropped the Mustang off at the transport transport company and waved goodbye to the good ol' US of A. After a quick visit to the East Coast, it was over Perth and  back to work. Part of the package was access to the company car, which meant I was cruising around in a Honda Accord for 6 months. The shame was nearly as bad as the boredom! Luckily, when Belinda arrived, she insisted on us getting a car of our own. So after a quick look around, we ended up with a 2005, e87 120i. Nice little hatchback and so much more rewarding to drive than  the Honda.

After giving the Honda back, we found it a bit annoying to be without a car when the e87 needed servicing, so we decided to have the e21 323i shipped over. It made it safe and sound, but I didn't realise it wasn't registered anymore, so I'll need to get a whole lot of stuff fixed (windscreen, emissions system, etc) before it can be registered. Should be ready some time next year. So now we're back in the homeland, have bought another BMW and have a "spare" car in the garage to fiddle with and repair. Sounds like things are getting back to normal then.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Bel's New Baby

The Kilner family picked up a new family member today. With Bel moving to a new job in the resorts above Park City, the little MX-5 was never going to cut it. Sadly, after a year and a half's faithful service, we had to trade the Mazda in for something bigger and with more driven wheels. After an intensive 3 hour search where the car gods determined Bel was NOT destined to drive a Jeep, we found this nice Audi Allroad. She's done a few miles, but the price was right and she's already got snow tyres fitted.

Now Bel will be good to make the climb up and down the canyon each day.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tearing it Down to Build it Up

Work started on the Mustang this month to get the front end tidied up before Mum and Dad's next visit in 2012. It all started with the simple idea to whip the front fenders off and apply some rust proofing. This proved to be a major exercise as the previous owner was an idiot and had painted right over everything including the panel joints. I certainly spent some time cursing him over the last few weeks.

It's been a real learning experience to get the panels off. I read the workshop manual, but it is way too general. The number of little bolts and screws was amazing. Then there was the matter of all the extra bits and pieces that had to be taken off before you can get to the bolts. Things like splash guards, brackets, lights and wiring before you even get to the mud and rust. Despite all the mud and rust, there was only one bolt that had to be cut off.

After managing to get the panels off, it was time to attack the suspension. I needed to get everything off in order to get the build up off the inner guards. After successfully making my own ball joint splitter, I got the springs off and removed the masses of dirt that had built up over the last 40 years. The inner guards turned out to be OK, but the rust holes in the top of the guards was not a good sight! I've cut it out since the photo and it's ready to have a patch welded in. I just need to go buy a welder and find the time to get organised to do it.

Now that it's all torn down, it's time to start painting the parts and put things back together. The new angle grinder and wire brush have been getting a work out and there's plenty more to go. I have all the components to strip back and clean up. I want to get them all painted before I start work on the car itself.

The original paint is a matte or satin finish in the engine bay and it's hard to tell under the guards. It seems to be black with sound deadening bitumen, but it's also got layers of paint, especially the white over spray from the stupid owner. There's also a good layer of dirt and surface rust on everything.

I've got a gallon of Chassis Saver paint which is supposed to be the best for painting over light rust. I need this as I won't be able to completely clean up the surfaces under the guards. I got this in satin to match the classic look.

The components which are hard mounted to the car will be painted in satin as well. Things like brackets or supports. I decided that the parts that are not hard mounted - like springs, control arms, shock absorbers - will be painted in gloss to give a bit of contrast. The paint shop is a bit rough (since it's the garage) and one of my biggest problems is that it is bloody freezing which is not good for painting. Can't do much about that, so it's time to push on.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Lots of News and New Cars

It's been an absolute age since the last post. Four months to be exact, and hasn't some action occurred since then!

Firstly, and the biggest news is that there has been a major addition to Team Orange. Dad made the outrageous purchase of a classic e12 M535i! What a car it is too. The first of the real M cars for the road. 3.5 litre M30 in the still fairly light body gets this thing along in a real hurry.

Dad imported "Black Beauty" from England where it was sold by a typically crazy car enthusiast who wanted to get it away from England's salted roads!

It successfully made the journey and has since been imported, quarantined, washed and registered. Of course, being an e12, it has also burnt out its ventilation fan and has a misfire that is proving difficult to track down.

The only work completed so far is Dad covering the bottom of the car in a good layer of fish oil to keep the rust away and the remedying of the misfire. I've sourced some fresh badges for the rear and a new set of bellows for the rear CV joints and they're on their way to Dad to get installed.

In Mustang news, the old girl spent 2 months at the shop getting a new dash installed. Turned out to be slowest dash repair in history. By the time we got it back, we'd moved into our new house and Winter was long gone and it was stinking hot. I had to pick it up on the same day I got a root canal and it was 100 degrees outside. Nice timing by the workshop! Whatever; the results look really good (the dash, not the root canal) and it is a very respectable place inside the cabin now.

While it was in the shop, they also fixed the heater controls and fitted a new speaker in the new dash so the old dodgy speaker on the floor could go. I haven't had a chance to try the heater out since it's still in the thirties and there's no way to tell if it's working.

While I had the e46 in the shop getting the transmission serviced and the next worn out part of the cooling system replace and generally making a massive donation to BMW's service department, I had to fall back on driving the Mustang to work. Apart from losing several kg and nearly passing out from heat exhaustion, I also noticed the mysterious brake shudder had disappeared! Maybe the brakes were just tired and needed a couple of months to rest up? Unfortunately, it also developed a bad habit of overheating and embarrassing itself on the garage floor when I got home or stopped for any significant time. I flushed out the radiator and replaced the lower hose, but it didn't help. The fall back plan is just to leave it in the garage until Winter.

While I had the bonnet open, I took the change to tidy up a bit. I straightened out all those awful steel lines (fuel and vacuum) and re-ran the throttle switch wire to make things a bit nicer. Not a dramatic change, but all in the right direction.

In a rather strange coincidence, we developed a Mustang parking area at work during the time I was driving it. I always park over on the Southern end of the car park and then one day, there were three generations of Mustang there!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Small Steps

It's been small steps since the Mustang returned from its 2000 mile road trip. We still have a fairly firm pull to the right when you first go for the brakes which is rather disconcerting. We decided to buy in some new bushes and change the front brake drums.

It turned out the drums were chipped and worn, although the chipping shouldn't have made any difference as it was only the outside, sealing edge. I was planning on painting the drums to keep the rust away, but the spray can was missing the nozzle and I didn't have the motivation to go back and complain as we'd already been 3 times in 2 days!

We got on to the sway bar and straight away, we could see the main bushes were the wrong diameter. Back to O'Reillys but the proper ones had to be ordered. We'll get them on Tuesday. We put the old bush back in and changed the sway bar end links and bushes. The old ones were completely stuffed and the new ones certainly look better.

While we've been on the job, we changed the radio aerial for one that hadn't been snapped off, installed a battery clamp so the battery wouldn't rattle around and Dad fixed the hoses on the windscreen washer bottle so he could get some water on the screen. The washers now work so well you can clean the screen on the car behind if you want!

I also had some time to get some photos of the new head liner. It's all in and I added the new interior light to finish it off. Dad is going to get a new dash, so we didn't put the A pillar liners on as we'd just have to take them off again.