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.