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Thursday, September 21, 2017

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Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Back to Summer Tires

For those wondering where I've been the last three months, the answer is "working like a dog and generally ignoring the E36". Of course, to help preserve my sanity I do take the occasional day off and today was one of those days. With temperatures forecast in the upper 60s and the long range forecast promising no below-freezing temperatures I decided to swap the winter tires for my Pilot Super Sports about a week early.

The swap went like clockwork, though my inspection of the rear end revealed corrosion forming on the bottom loop of the springs. This is a well known issue caused by the manufacturer's use of crappy eco-friendly paint. I am now expecting a spring failure in the next few years. The inspection on the front end continued to show a good bit of oil seepage on both the oil pan and the forward transmission sump but I assume the latter is simply oil being flung off the engine at speed. I used some towels to clean it up so I could track the rate of accumulation (as I plan to be under the car again shortly when I do an oil service) but don't plan to do anything else about it until the engine overhaul.

Starter Woes

While running errands today I experienced another case of the starter bendix refusing to engage. This is probably the third or fourth time in the last year this has occurred. My guess is this is due to a failing starter solenoid. This is clear evidence that I need to replace the starter. However, doing it with the engine out of the car is a lot easier than the alternative, so my hope is to hold off on that work until I pull the engine -- tentatively scheduled for the June/July timeframe. We'll have to wait and see if the vehicle has other plans for me.

Engine Overhaul Plan Change

Given my insane work schedule I've reluctantly concluded that I may need to take a different approach for this project than originally planned and outsource most of the work. While I haven't ruled out grabbing some space in my brother's shop for a couple months and taking the bulk of the summer doing this very big job the only way I can (part time), I'm considering having my tech do the R&R while I coordinate the overhaul of the components and return them to him for installation when ready. I spoke to him about this and asked him to come up with a quote.

While researching head work I recently found a shop in Alabama that specializes in BMW heads called Autohead Performance. Based on the information on their website and our brief discussion it appears they have the knowledge and equipment to do the job I want done, which is a turn-key overhaul to new specs including the Vanos unit. Completely unprompted, one of the guys I spoke with there mentioned that he knew of my site so I went out on a limb and asked if they would be willing to help me document the process for inclusion in the blog. They agreed, so if I do wind up using Autohead I hope to have decent coverage of that process.

Gauge Cluster Odometer Segment Dropout

While getting gas the other day I was clearing the trip odometer when I noticed one of the known-intermittent segments of the LCD turning on/off in response to pressing the reset button. I think this has proven my theory that the issue is caused by cold / mechanically stressed solder joints, which is very likely the result of 20 years worth of pushing that button and flexing the PCB. If this is the case, as I surmised in an earlier blog entry, reflowing the affected pins should address the issue. Check out the video that illustrates the problem.

Mileage: 265365