Tuesday, 9 October 2012

New Thermostat working well.

The coolant problems from this post [Coolant/Radiator Troubleshooting] have been truly rectified with the installation of this new thermostat.

The temp. gauge hasn't risen above halfway since, despite some hard and motorway driving, which is great, but the car seems to take a bit longer than before to reach normal temp. It could mean the thermostat is slightly the wrong temperature range, but both the one I removed and the new one are confirmed 80 CEL, so I think it's likely the car now has a more average heat up time and I'm just not used to it!

PROCESS:

BMW thermostat units are built into tube-housings so replacing them couldn't be simpler, simple pop the hose clamps off each pipe and it pulls straight out.

1. Use a flathead screwdriver to loosen the jubilee-clip holding the lower hose in place on the thermostat, pull the hose clear and allow the coolant to drain from the engine into a container.

2. Loosen the jubilee clip to the top hose on the thermostat and pull the hose clear.

3. Loosen the jubilee clip to the hose on the nearside of the thermostat coming from the coolant-return and pull the thermostat unit clear of the hose.

4. Reverse the process with you're new thermostat.

5. Re-fill the radiator with 3.5-5 litres of coolant. ** It's probably best to back flush the engine and radiator while the hoses are off and the system is drained.


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Coolant/Radiator Troubleshooting

The car has no overheating issues, it's running like a dream, but the temp. gauge does have a habit of wandering between slightly over normal during slow driving or standing at idle. With cool air blowing into the cabin the needle goes slightly higher again, but never goes above about half way between normal and 3/4, even going uphill or driven hard. On a clear motorway run with lots of cool air the needle drops and sits about the same distance below centre, reaching as low as half way between 1/4 and normal. I'm thinking either a clogged radiator or a stuck thermostat and everyone has backed me up, but I thought I'd take a hard look at it this weekend and try to diagnose the problem in clarity before swapping anything.

Symptoms:
Needle fluctuates between slightly cold and slightly too hot in mixed driving conditions. With heater controls set to hot and the fans turned off temperature fluctuates least, but any attempt to blow air into the cabin, hot or cold, causes the temperature to vary more and only cold air blows regardless of heater setting. 
The radiator is plenty full of coolant, but there doesn't appear to be a lot of circulation. The return pipe from the engine to the radiator is red hot, while the send pipe from the radiator to the engine is cool. This pipe should be cooler than the other, but not this cool, so it looks like the radiator valve is not releasing cooled water once the engine has warmed up. Hot water also flows through the heater-core to warm the air, which would explain why I'm not getting any. 

Diagnosis:
It's definitely looking like a thermostat stuck in the closed position and not releasing water from the radiator, but the pipe to the thermostat, even where it exits the radiator is also cool to the touch. My temp. gauge also doesn't just go up and up, it fluctuates to cool as well, so it could still just be a case of a clogged radiator. Let's hope it's the latter, because the first thing I'll be doing is a full radiator-flush to see if there's an improvement, then changing the thermostat if the problem persists. If this fails, then it could be a new, and expensive, radiator or one of the harder to source temp. sensors or even the water-pump. Hmm.

Flushing:
Went to Halford's this morning and bought a pack of Holt's 2-part RAD-Flush [£6.99] and 2 litres of engine-coolant [£15.98]. Drained the system and found plenty of blue coolant in there and no oil, but quite a bit of rusty sludge. The car holds 7 litres of coolant, but I only got about 5 out of it. I removed the radiator [the hoses are off anyway as there's no drain plug] and gave it a good flush with the hose. A lot of rusty sludge and orange water poured out and the water appeared to contain no coolant at all, but once the water had run clear there was no sign of a blockage. I re-fitted and filled the radiator, it took about 5L of water, and poured in the first stage of RAD-Flush, though I'm not sure how it will flush the system if the thermostat won't release coolant. 
The instructions say to run the car at fast-idle for 30 minutes, but without knowing if there's water pumping round the block I decided to abort if the engine went hotter than normal. I stopped running the engine at 13.5 minutes as the needle started to reach 3/4 on the gauge. A quick check of the radiator hoses revealed the same story - in-hose red hot and out-hose now freezing, so I'm guessing there's no coolant in the engine itself at all now. This means I can no longer drive the car as I have been until the problem is fixed, unless I back-fill the engine with water through some other hose, but it will require draining again anyway when the new thermostat arrives.

Thermostat:
All signs now point to the thermostat. Here's a couple of good checklists posted on eHow to help diagnose a broken thermostat, or other possible causes with similar symptoms - http://www.ehow.com/list_6018650_signs-car-thermostat-broken.htmlhttp://www.ehow.co.uk/list_6018650_signs-car-thermostat-broken.html.
I re-drained the radiator and it ran almost as clear and cold as it went in. A little hot water came from the thermostat side of the hose, but it seemed to be more of the blue coolant mixture. I removed the top hose to the thermostat and about a litre of the warm blue coolant mixture gushed out, another litre coming as I removed the hose in the thermostat's side. It would seem that the radiator hasn't been part of the cooling-system since I've owned the car!
I got the thermostat completely out and immediately I could see it's stuck completely closed to the radiator hose, and only partially open to the bypass valve. Water is being pumped through the thermostat and straight back to the engine and this, along with the non-viscous fan, is the only thing cooling the engine. Quite frankly, I'm amazed the overheating problem hasn't been more severe! I guess with it being summer I never noticed the lack of hot air and not using the cold-air blower kept it close to normal. I could live without the cold-air during a British summer, but as winter rolls around I've noticed that the side-windows are impossible to de-mist. Warmth from the engine itself does de-mist the screen, but as the weather grows colder I can't be sure - best to fix this problem sooner rather than later.
Just bought a new budget thermostat from GSF car-parts on eBay. It's not OEM quality, but it is guaranteed and is much, much cheaper @ £12.50 with free postage, although I paid £20.40 for included next-day delivery, which is still good. I really hope this proves to be the only problem with the cooling!


Saturday, 6 October 2012

Finally decided on wheels - period Cross-Wires

The gleaming new look of the respray was being let down a bit by the tiny 13x5 steel wheels, so I've been looking for some 15x7 in the right offset [~12mm] to make the car a bit more sure-footed in the twists and give it some real stance. I'd like to have got 8" or 9" wide on the rear, but I think 7 is the maximum for the E21 without arch modification. The question was which way to go with the rims?

First I had my heart set on banded-steel wheels for a ratty deep-dish look and to keep costs down. The stud-pattern is the same as early VW Golfs, so there are plenty of sets around, but the lowest offset I could find was 33mm and that's just too big for an E21 without using spacers, which I am loathe to do without being ready to hack the arches yet. Having my own set made was the only option, but we'd now be talking around £500 and still finding 15" steels with a low enough offset is all but impossible. I even enquired about having the stock 13" steels banded to 7J, which is possible for about £200 unpainted, but they informed me that the band would be in the middle of these wheels, giving the width without the deep-dish look. Calamity! With all avenues now exhausted, it was time to look into alloys...

But what alloys? Modern ones look rubbish on classics and there's still the offset problem, so I found myself limited to ones designed specifically for the old BMW fit. Of the modern rims, ATS Euro Cup are probably the most retro friendly and have the lowest offset at 20mm, but the previous owner had these on my E21 and he says they still rubbed a fair bit. To guarantee a good fitment and do justice to the look of the car I began looking for period alloys from the late '70s and early '80s. The choice is a bit limited and seemed to come down to between the Alpina style multi-spokes, which are done to death, or BBS style cross-wires, so I chose the latter. An original set of BBS in the E21 fitment could be thousands, but thankfully there were several companies at the time making decent one-piecers in a similar style, which are a bit easier to get hold of.

They're still thin on the ground though, so I've been scanning eBay for a couple of months and have finally got hold of a set of Melber light-weight 15x7 with the magic 12mm offset.These are proper German period items, well made and Melber have a good rep. in club-sport circles. Best of all they fit the retro-racer bill perfectly, but were still a bit more than I wanted to spend @ £275. They're well used too and don't include tyres either, but thats for the best as I want to stretch under-sized ones on myself and I'm just glad to finally put my massive wheel conundrum to bed...




Sunday, 9 September 2012

E21 Complete Buyer's Guide - PC Magazine

A superb and pretty comprehensive buyer's guide taken from Practical Classics magazine, packed with useful buying and owner's information. The article is from Feb. 2008 and claims a mint E21 can be picked up for £2000. Have values gone up or down in four years? Well, I'd say they've stayed more or less the same, but a mint 1980 320/6 like Andrew Henry's blue one here would be an absolute snip at two-grand! Four years must have seen a few more cars to the scrapyard too, so my advice would be to buy soon if you're after a decent E21 for sub 2k!



E21 Road/Track Nürburgring Challenge - PC Magazine




Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Engine-Bay Painting 1.

Brake servo and 'Puralator' air-filter were in need a revamp, thought I'd do the scuttle-panel cover as well.


Quick rub-down, blast of zinc-primer and then a good coat of BMW Black spray.

The engine looks a bit more cared for now!

Monday, 27 August 2012

MOT + New Brake Hoses.

Took the car in for MOT last week expecting to come home with a great long list of costly repairs, like split bushes or the back being too low and fouling the tyres, so I was hugely relieved to find out it had failed only on a wiper-blade and one brake hose was swelling under pressure!

To celebrate the victory I treated the car to a full set of Goodridge stainless-steel brake-hoses, front and rear, as I figured if one is beginning to swell then they could all do with replacing. The set cost me £93 from CAM Motorsport on eBay, which was slightly dearer than average, but they were the only stockist who could guarantee them in time for my re-test. For the price you also get two 1L cans of Super Blue Racing Brake-Fluid, worth about £30, which has a higher boiling-point than normal, though I doubt I'll ever get to try that out, but hey at least I had some fluid.





Oh, and I also bought the best dang Bosch wiper-blades I could find!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Finishing Touch - New Ash-Tray!

With the new radio-fascia installed the ash-tray was looking rather dated and the broken corner was sticking out like a sore-thumb. As luck would have it, a full set of ash-trays removed from a 323i came up on eBay, but were a bit steep at £20, though I managed to wangle free delivery.


Friday, 17 August 2012

RETROFIT - Stereo / CD Player.

Yep, the old adage of BMWs not coming with a radio is true. For higher models an FM-radio or 8-track tape player (this was the '70s) was an expensive add-on, but for the 316 they weren't even included in the list of options. There are holes in the console where a previous owner has had some sort of radio installed and there are Pioneer 4x6 speakers already mounted in the footwells and wired in, although they're only paper cones and are going to need upgrading. I bought Alpine 5x5 with the intention of making an MDF riser to fit them into the car's apertures, but it turns out they would foul the glove-box on the passenger side and require a chunk cutting out of the steering-column trim so they had to go back. The flappy paper ones will have to do until I get hold of some decent 4x6.

I got given a fascia-adaptor with the car, which replaces the ash-tray / lighter trim with a deeper one that adds a radio slot above. It's a period OEM item, bought from BMW Classic, Park Lane, and is rather nice, but I'd hoped not to use it and conceal the radio in the back of the dash somewhere. It doesn't look like there's space in the console after all so I reluctantly tore open the sealed BMW parts bag and decided to fit the new fascia.






Friday, 10 August 2012

Some Paint-Job Pics...

Gonna take some proper pics when i've finished cleaning and refitting all the trim, but for now here's a few I took in the dark.





Monday, 30 July 2012

Re-Spray Update!

I managed to sell the engine and crank to another BMW enthusiast who is keen to do the 2-litre upgrade that I can't stomach on his E30 Baur convertible. Nice. He's picking the engine up tomorrow and the block was still in the boot of my car in the paint-shop, so I decided to pay an impromptu visit after work and see how the car is coming along.



All masked and ready to paint. I wasn't expecting them to do any filler work for the money, but you can see from the 328ci behind that my Beemer is in the right hands. They've sorted out that front wing panel for me and smoothed out even the minute blemishes I was going to leave. Turns out that line of rust from the door bottom was actually a ridge - the whole bottom edge had been pushed in, probably slammed into a high kerb - and they've sorted that out, so I've got to give them props there. Can't wait to see it finished!

** Couple more pics the guys sent me as they wheeled her into the spray booth - today's the day.



Sunday, 29 July 2012

Recaro seats and re-trim!

These weren't planned like, they just fell into my lap yesterday. A workmate has been after an old mini-moto quad-bike I have for his son's birthday present. Only thing is he's skint, but I ain't used the bike since last summer so agreed to swap it for these awesome Recaro bucket-seats. They're a little bit more modern than the E21 is, but similar to the Recaros in the 323i so they wouldn't look too out of place and they're in great nick. These are from an Escort RS Turbo though, so the centres are trimmed in naff Ford patterned velour and need something a bit more in keeping with the beige 316 interior. I bought the most tan looking alcantara type material I could find today and it's still turned out looking a bit orangey and bright. It was Sunday afternoon I guess and the seats look and feel good, but I may have to hold out on the colour.



Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Re-Spray Day!


With the trim off and loads of extra fettling right up to last night the car went in today for respray. Can't wait. By doing the prep and stripping it down beforehand I saved an absolute packet on the spray job too and it should make turnaround a lot quicker.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Suspension dreaming...

Ok, it's not the ideal time to be to looking at expensive suspension mods when I'm about to shell out a fair few hundred for the re-spray, but I've found the solution to getting the front down as low as it's going to need to be.

Check out these shortened struts from SPAX - http://www.larkspeed.com/index.pl?p=SPX116TAS156I&a=i - available from Larkspeed.

Why chop springs when you can chop struts? These are 40mm shorter than the stock SPAX struts I have and they're already a 60mm drop, so these would give a full 4 inches up front and that should be getting the front down something similar to the rear.

The website says they accept any spring of 45mm drop or more, so I'm guessing my SPAX will slot straight on,  but at least I have a few weeks to reel from the spray-job and save up as the only drawback is they're £99 each. Not a huge outlay on an already £650 setup, but a way off for now :(

** After a bit more research I decided to chop the SPAX springs first to get a bit more low and only buy the short-inserts if my current SPAX ones start to bottom out. Yes, it is possible to further chop lowered-springs - see how I got on here - The Spring Chop Chronicles: 1

Sunday, 22 July 2012

E21 Quattro...

Just messing around with an old Audi 80 grille for a bit of German juxtaposition fun, but was thinking that a 20V 5-cylinder Audi-engine and Quattro drivetrain in the E21 - that really would be something unique...



HOW TO: Re-Spray Strip-Down 3 - Wipers + Washer Nozzle Removal.

A. Washer-Jet Nozzles:

1. Twist and pull the hose off from below the washer-nozzles.

2. The nozzles have a plastic at the base that spreads when they're pushed into the body, so working them out is pretty easy by pressing the flaps in with your finger one at a time.




B. Windscreen Wiper-Arms + Bases:

1. Lift the cap at each wiper-arm base and, using an adjustable-spanner, remove the top-nut and washer.

2. Raise the wiper-arm to an upright position and wiggle it off the spline.

3. Remove the large diameter nut and washer from the base-mount and remove the mount. *The rubber seal will likely be perished and hard to find a replacement, but you can just cut a new one out of sheet-rubber as I did, or I will supply a set for £1.99 inc. postage to mainland UK - see here.