1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

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keehn
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1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by keehn »

Hello everyone!

I quick refresh: "Eleanor" may have spun a bearing several weeks ago when I was dialing in ignition timing. While I had already planned a full engine rebuild this winter, this project turned from preventative to corrective maintenance.

As such, here's Eleanor up on jack stands, bonnet removed, and awaiting surgery. I have an upcoming trip the first couple weeks of December, but once I get back, I intend to get right to work!

*EDIT* The blue fluid on the floor is simply the windshield wiper fluid that drained itself from the holding tank.

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Last edited by keehn on Sun Dec 29, 2019 3:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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keehn
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Re: Prepped for surgery

Post by keehn »

Update:

I've removed the exhaust, prop shaft, 5-speed, and bell housing, but I wanted to share the "smeg" I'll be dealing with:

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While having a look over underneath Eleanor, I noticed the flexible brake lines in both wheel wells are dry-rotted AND appear to be ORIGINAL!!!

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Also, while this may be no surprise to anyone on this board, the A/C compressor is HUGE! I wear XL size gloves and this makes my hands small! The old adage of "they don't make things like this anymore" is very true with this vehicle.

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Next I'll be tackling the topside and completing the engine removal via engine hoist.
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keehn
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Re: Prepped for surgery

Post by keehn »

The project continues...

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Next, I had to remove the ECU and route its wire.

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From under the glovebox, I tried to push the rubber grommet through the first hole but I was getting frustrated with the process (big hands, little work space). Instead, I opted to cut the grommet and removed it from the wire harness.

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I pushed the ECU connector and harness through the first hole and routed it through the "intermediate" firewall (? on what it's actually called).

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But...the zip tie that held the rubber protector on the ECU connector had the thick part facing outwards, making removal of the zip tie necessary to fit the harness and ECU connector through both holes.

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I replaced the zip tie BUT I positioned the bulk part downwards so it no longer interferes with routing it back through the holes.

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Next, I focused on removing the radiator. I started with unbolting the right-side bracket.

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On the left side, I removed the outlet hose and positioned it upright in anticipation of removal. I also removed the overflow hose.

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I went back to the ECU harness again (I was switching between disconnections throughout the process) and focused on the left-side relays.

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However, in attempting to disconnect the ECU harness, I managed to break the brittle plastic connector....ugh...

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Instead, I realized I could remove the entire relay plate from the brake booster, thereby avoiding damaging the connector any further.

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In completely removing the relay plate, I had to turn it upside down and remove the relay connector from the chassis harness. Thankfully, there was no issue in removing the connector.

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In the BMW blue book, it states NOT mix up the heater hoses. With these early models, BMW didn't make the connectors "idiot-proof", like newer models that are either color-coded, or can only fit where it belongs. I took a grease pencil and marked "T" for the top hose.

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When I removed the top hose, I then marked "B" for the bottom hose. Marking both hoses will aid in reassembly, making guesswork moot.

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Next, I turned to the ignition coil. For anyone doing this job, make sure you reconnect the wires in the proper order. Fortunately, these wires ARE color-coded.

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After dealing with the ignition coil, I removed the distributor cap to get better clearance for removing the radiator. Of note: to make radiator removal easier, remove the radiator intake hose from underneath PRIOR to this step. I removed it when the radiator was halfway up. The floor was covered in coolant, so I chose the easy method.

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Radiator is FINALLY removed. That thing is heavier than it looks. Also, pardon the mess (and the coolant).

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Engine bay, sans radiator. I plan to install an E28 aluminum radiator...I'll need to find a source that shows dimensions of the replacement radiator.

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Holy smeg Batman!! My garage dishwasher will be working overtime! LOL

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I removed a power steering hose, but it wasn't necessary for the engine removal. So long as you remove the power steering pump from its motor bracket, the entire assembly will remain with the chassis.

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Also, don't forget to remove the grounding wire.

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Now, everything is ready for engine removal. I have all of the wires and hoses sitting on top of the engine as they will stay with it as it's removed.

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Okay...if I had to do this all over again, there are a few things I would have done differently:
1. Completely remove right-side motor mount (exhaust-side)
2. I would have removed the clutch and flywheel from underneath (BMW blue book shows clutch attached while being removed). There is very LITTLE clearance to work with, and should you leave it on, expect to chew up some of the heat shield on the firewall.
3. Use an engine-leveler. I used a pry-bar to keep the fan and A/C bracket from chewing up the A/C condenser too badly.
4. The harness connecting to the fuse box is routed underneath some other hoses on the left-side. This harness will bind on the hoses as the engine is being raised. Be CAREFUL that you don't damage the wires.
5. The oil pressure switch on the cylinder head WILL be damaged with the hoist chain. Remove the switch PRIOR to hoisting the engine. The switch is located near the firewall...it will be obvious to you when you see where the chain connects.

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A little out of sequence, but remove the fuse box harness and ensure the harness wires don't bind when pulling the engine.

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A very tedious process. I found I had to remove the right-side motor mount and...refer to my comments three images ago for completeness. I used the pry bar that is partially out of bottom frame to aid in keeping the engine from damaging the firewall and A/C condenser (too badly).

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The engine is finally clear of the engine bay!

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Carefully moved the engine forward. Note: I did not have to remove the left motor mount. Also, note the long slim bar with ball joint connectors hanging; this is the gas pedal connector. I simply popped it off the ball that is connected to the firewall.

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I have a lot of cleaning to do. I'm planning on pushing "Eleanor" outside for a through degreasing and pressure wash. Same for my garage floor.

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As I've stated before, the engine is equally as dirty....

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I've removed the clutch, flywheel, and bolts to the rear main seal (easier to do before mounting on engine hoist). I'm also draining the old, nasty, conventional oil. After the rebuild, I will only run synthetic oil.

That's it for now. I'll post more soon.
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528i-1981
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by 528i-1981 »

This is great. Thanks for the photos. As a 528i owner this is the closest I can come to experiencing a 530i.
(oo=00=oo) Eric
1981 528i Manual
canada karl
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by canada karl »

Great post. Looking forward to seeing more. :D
1976 530i. BMW 59 Triumph TR3A(rolling resto). 67 Triumph TR4A(salvageable). 86 900S Winter car
Champie12
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by Champie12 »

Sweet write up! Looking forward to seeing more! I'm currently doing a 5 speed swap on my 76 530i so I'm sure I can learn a thing or two from you. Also I really wish the bolts on top of my brake booster support hadn't rusted and snapped off. Now I have that relay bracket and all the relays just zip-tied to the booster support :lol: Its nice seeing yours and how its supposed to look!
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keehn
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by keehn »

Thanks everyone :)

More to come. I have put the engine on the stand and have begun the teardown process. I'm also waiting for a good day to roll Eleanor outside for a thorough degrease and cleaning.

I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but her final drive is just as "smeggy" as the engine...meaning that seals are leaking. I'll be dropping the final drive and I'll show my teardown of that component along with everything going on right now.

But...please be patient with me. I'm recently medically retired from the Navy, one of my issues is severe spinal degradation, including continual left-leg sciatica that slows me down quite a bit. However, I have plenty of recliner time, hence my ability to donate my rebuild project to our forum.

Mike
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keehn
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by keehn »

Now, I'm moving on to degreasing the engine bay with degreaser and a pressure washer.

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Lowering "Eleanor's" front-end. I use a floor jack on the center portion of the subframe to remove both jacks. Eleanor is still supported by the rear jacks, so sideways movement is not an issue (Yes, I am VERY careful when I use this method - I have used it on every vehicle I've worked on).

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Not a great shot, but Eleanor is back on the ground. Again, I use a floor jack on the center rear subframe to remove both jacks from the rear.

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Over to the engine. It's important to mount the stand mount in the proper location. There are extra bolt locations on the engine that can be used for this very purpose. Why is the location of the stand mount important? Because if the engine weight is not evenly distributed, there will be extra force needed to rotate the block during disassembly. In extreme cases, the stand could also tip over.

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This is a better image that shows what bolt holes I used, and how the stand mount is aligned.

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I didn't have the correct size bolts needed to secure the block to the stand mount, so I went to Lowes and picked up the correct sizes. You will need two M8-1.25 x 80 for the upper portion and two M10-1.50 x 75 for the lower. Also make sure you get 8.8 grade or higher, as this engine weighs somewhere around 400 pounds, and you will want bolts with a high shear strength.

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Not sure how other people do it, but I put the engine stand on the stand mount while the engine is still suspended. I carefully lower the engine, ensuring the stand rolls back with the engine.

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With the engine securely on the stand, I could remove the hoist chain. You can see the broken oil pressure switch that was difficult to photograph, due to the firewall being in the way. The male spade connector was pulled out from the switch from the chain. Fortunately, the wire was already disconnected beforehand.

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The engine is securely on the stand. I was able to rotate the engine with little effort, meaning that I found the imaginary centerline of weight distribution for a fully-loaded block. Weight distribution will of course change when I remove the head and intake manifold.

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It's fascinating to see issues with the engine once it's out of the car. I didn't notice how tight the #6 spark plug wire was until it was right in my face!

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I began by removing the numerous zip ties that held the plug harness together. Perhaps the #6 wire was simply too short?

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How the #6 wire looks in the harness.

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Turns out there was PLENTY of slack in the harness... The PO must have installed the harness as it arrived from BavAuto without adjusting the wires.... Oh, and #6 wire did not feel like it was connected to the plug when I removed it.

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Now, with the plug wires removed, I chose to remove both manifolds. Removing the head will come later.

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I noticed the stamped writing on the right-side of the block.

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On the left-side of the image, it says "12M75". I assume this is the production month and year?? If anyone knows what these letters/numbers mean, please post and let everyone know.

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I've removed the exhaust manifolds and placed them in order from 1 to 6. I'm curious to hear from anyone why #1 and #4 are sooty, while the rest are ashy-white?

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A closer look at #4 - 6 manifold. I have reason to believe that #6 spark plug was disconnected or had intermittent connection.

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Moved over to removing the fan. Please note that the center fan nut can be removed counter-clockwise. I used an impact gun, as I there was too much slack on the pulley to remove the bolt by hand.

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Removed the alternator and alternator/PS pump brackets. I always screw the bolts back in their holes to keep track of them.

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The alternator, fan, and both brackets.

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This fan connector is the old style. Newer years had a different fastener.

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Now, with the fan bracket and pulley out of the way, I have access to the water pump.

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I moved onto the crankshaft balancer and pulleys. Note that a 36mm impact socket is required to remove the center nut, which holds both the balancer and pulley setup to the crankshaft. The nut came off relatively easy - I guess I was expecting a fight with such an old engine.

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The crankshaft has a very nice divot in the center in which a 3-arm puller can push from. Oddly enough, when I was hand-tightening the puller, I noticed the balancer began moving. Turns out I was able to remove the balancer by hand by merely turning the screw with my gripped palm.

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Now, with the balancer removed, I was able to scrape off some smeg and behold! the BMW marque sees the light of day again!

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I switched back to the water pump and removed it with no issues. Thankfully, I don't see any immediate issues, but further examination will tell...

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The pump impeller was severely corroded; A sign that the coolant hasn't been changed regularly, or did not have a proper 50/50 mix ratio.

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The thermostat housing is removed. Again, no issues. I do have to say that I enjoy working on engines when they are outside a vehicle. I can sit down and not have to bend over much...it's much better on my spine is what I'm trying to say.





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We had a nice day yesterday, so I took the chance and rolled Eleanor outside for a degrease and pressure wash. Also, with the garage bay cleared, I could degrease the garage floor as well.

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I used the Zep industrial purple cleaner in a spray bottle. I matched the cleaner to water ratio per the instructions on the bottle and went to town on spraying everything down in the engine bay. Also, I would HIGHLY suggest wearing a mask during this part, as the cleaner in vapor form is pretty nasty. I also have asthma, so this didn't do my lungs any favor. One breath of the vapor mist and I put on my 3m particulate mask for the duration of the spray-down.

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The obligatory "before" picture of the engine bay. Note the amount of smeg on the AC compressor.

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I've had this Ryobi electric pressure washer for a few years now and its been working great. I make sure I get out the air bubbles by running water through the nozzle before I turn it on. Running the pump without doing this step can potentially damage the moving parts, as the pump relies on continual water for cooling.

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The first stage of degreasing/pressure washing. Note how the AC compressor changes color from black to a lovely silver color, LOL. Also, is that a sticker on the top that I see?

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I did the same with the PS pump and holy cats! there is a metal plate on top with writing as well!!!

...I'm conveying surprised sarcasm with the last two posts for those who think I'm truly amazed...LOL

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The subframe is looking MUCH better than before. I also sprayed off the sway bar and steering rods.

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I'll admit, this part was surprising. I didn't know how far the blue paint went, but it appears that even the body frame was painted the same color to the firewall. A secondary project for me is to take the rusty surface portions, sand down to bare metal, and primer/paint everything back to factory color. The PO left a bottle of touchup paint in the rear toolbox that has the exact name of this color, so I know exactly what paint to order for this restoration.

The cracked sections appear to be some sort of noise/vibration damper? I would liken it to Dynamat's sound-deadening stick-on rubber pads.

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Of no particular surprise, the battery floor had ample surface rust, no doubt caused by decades of intermittent acid spills, besides normal rust buildup. It is still structurally sound, so I'll sand it down also and paint it the OEM color.

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Here's the steering box cleaned. I find it remarkable that BMW used this type of steering box (maybe that was the only thing available in 1976??). It looks like a "Saginaw" steering box that I have in my 04 F350 truck. Fortunately, these types of steering boxes can be tightened up by adjusting the set screw on top, should it be needed.

Also, notice the amount of surface rust on the brake booster.

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The AC compressor is finally cleaned!

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There is a LOT of surface rust to take care of on the subframe. I suspect I'll need to drop it and do a proper rust converter spray and rubber sealant on it for a long-lasting rust preventer. The rubber undercoating spray would be to prevent rocks from chipping the rust converter away and exposing the steel all over again.

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And of course, I took the opportunity to degrease the garage floor. To the right is the 5-speed I pulled, and to the left are the exhaust pipes and the propeller shaft. On these cars, the propeller shaft is exposed to the elements, thus making the shaft susceptible to corrosion. Once I put everything back together, I'm going to steal an idea from the newer E46's, in that they use a thin sheet of aluminum that protects the shaft from undercarriage exposure. I have NEVER had a corroded prop shaft on any E46 I've worked on that had an intact aluminum sheet. Also, the aluminum serves as a heat shield for the exhaust pipes, which the E12's don't have.

This is it for now. Eleanor is back in the garage, fully dried and ready for the next steps. More to come!
canada karl
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by canada karl »

Your doing a great job. Enjoying the progress your making. I have a parts car and many miscellaneous E12 bits and pieces if you need anything.
Karl
1976 530i. BMW 59 Triumph TR3A(rolling resto). 67 Triumph TR4A(salvageable). 86 900S Winter car
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keehn
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by keehn »

With Eleanor's engine bay semi-cleaned (I'll need to do a further hand scrubbing), I've moved back to the engine.

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While some of these pictures seem...redundant or not really worth an upload, I'm making these photos for myself as much as I am for everyone else. Unlike newer BMW's that are practically "idiot-proof", these older models have a lot of hoses and connectors that could be easily mixed up.

That being said, Here I'm disconnecting the vacuum line, getting ready to remove the distributor.

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The distributor wasn't difficult to remove - just loosen the tightening bolt and pull the distributor out of the hole. It does help to also push the rotor along with the direction of sprocket travel.

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So...yes, the electrical tape is MY doing. The "S" hose is a special BMW only that is pretty expensive. I was patching it up to use for this past fall but...the engine failed during my attempt to time it.

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I'm prepping the intake manifold for removal. First off, I disconnected the air intake hose from the aux. air valve and left it connected to the manifold.

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With a prybar, I disconnected the throttle body line by giving the prybar a small tap with a hammer.

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The upper throttle body is now disconnected.

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Removing the blowby hose from the valve cover.

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Center image is the lower coolant line that also connects to the throttle body. The positioning of the hose screw made it impossible to get the hose off...so I just cut the hose (I'm going to replace all the hoses anyway). Yes, I could have removed the throttle body from the manifold, but at this point, I'm just interesting in getting the large components off the block.

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When I tried to remove intake runner #1, this coolant hose (screwdriver is pointing to it) was blocking the runner from being removed. Removed the hose and got the runner removed no problem.

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Back when I tried to remove the lower fuel hose from the throttle body, I removed intake runner #4. I kept it off when I realized I couldn't remove the intake log and runners as a unit.

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A look of the intake log, sans runners.

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All of the runners removed. Note that I used my grease pen to label each runners corresponding cylinder.

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Center-lower of the image (right below the cylinder head), you can see the cut fuel line. On the left side, I was able to remove the hose clamp, now that the intake log was freely moving onto the engine.

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Ugh, dirty throttle body and intake log. I'm thinking of making a custom oil catch can (I made one out of a Harbor Freight lube gun for our Enclave that works VERY well). I'll document that as well, come time.

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And, just like that, the intake log is in the parts pile.

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Now, the left-side of the engine exposed.

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I wanted to include this image as well, mainly to visually show how the fuel flows into and out of the injector rails. The silver fuel filter I'm holding routes to the fuel intake line, which enters the "T" of the injector rail. The fuel returns to the tank via the silver fuel pressure regulator (center-photo). The hose coming off the rail (left-photo) is for the cold start valve that mounts to the intake log.

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Moving onto the valve cover.

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The valve cover removed. I don't notice any immediate damage or anything that would explain the engine dying during ignition timing.

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I removed the timing chain tensioner bolt and the spring and tensioner to prep the lower timing chain cover removal.

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I'm now working on removing the camshaft timing chain sprocket. The four outer bolts need to be removed.

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Also, here's an image of the inner upper timing chain cover with the distributor sprocket still attached. The distributor sprocket is a simple insert-remove part.

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Back to the timing chain camshaft sprocket, there are bent tabs that prevent the bolts from backing out. Use a flathead screwdriver and light hammer taps to back the tabs from the bolts. The tabs do NOT require much force to back out.

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I'm not sure if it's required, but I grease-penciled the sprocket's alignment to the camshaft. Also, not pictured, I grease marked three of the chain links to the corresponding marks on the sprocket....also don't think it's necessary, as BMW no doubt has a chain timing procedure, but I always like to have a contingency plan.

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At this point, my back wasn't letting me continue, so I finished the day out with removing the head bolts. All but one came out oil-soaked. I don't believe this to be an issue, as oil seepage occurs over time. The critical time you don't want oil in the threads is during installation. Oil can cause false torque readings (hydrolock), and, more destructive, can cause block cracks due to the oil expansion during heating.

More to come when I'm able to get back to work :)
Last edited by keehn on Mon Jan 06, 2020 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
canada karl
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by canada karl »

Have you seen the E21 Intake Runner FAQ in the Technical FAQ section on this forum? It might be something you want to do since you have everything apart.
Karl
1976 530i. BMW 59 Triumph TR3A(rolling resto). 67 Triumph TR4A(salvageable). 86 900S Winter car
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keehn
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by keehn »

Karl,

Yes, I have seen it, but I've not been able to locate a donor E21 to poach its runners.

Mike
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dsw99a
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by dsw99a »

subscribed!! want to see more about the oil catch system. :shock:
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keehn
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by keehn »

Here's a few pictures of the oil separator I made for our 2013 Buick Enclave. The issue with these SUV's (Traverse, Acadia, anything else on the "Lambda" GM platform) is that the right-side EGR valve is too small to adequately remove the blowby, thereby causing the oil to prematurely coke on the right cylinder head. If left untreated, it can also destroy the timing chain...hence, the engine.

...Gotta love GM's, LOL.


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I got this grease gun from Harbor Freight.

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I sandwiched steel wool between two wire nets. The nets were soldered in place; I had to use a propane torch on the outer wall to get enough heat built up to flow the solder.

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Here's the completed oil separator. I painted it black, mainly to cover the torch scorch marks, but also to not make it look like a "Red Green" contraption! LOL

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Here's the oil separator installed in our Enclave. All of the red hoses are either EGR or intake suction. You can't see it in this picture, but at the very bottom is a 3/8 steel brake line that drains the collected oil back into the oil pan.

I had to remove the oil dipstick tube and carefully drill a hole for the receiving 3/8 brake line, which I also soldered to the dipstick tube. The two hard lines are connected with a rubber hose in the intermediary.

I made this contraption last year after doing a complete rebuild of the engine and transmission. The initial problem was that the transmission cooler embedded in the radiator was leaking, hence coolant making its way into the transmission case. I had to get a master rebuild kit with steels for the transmission due to the extent of the damage. I fixed the problem by "deleting" the radiator/transmission cooler, instead opting for an external transmission cooler that sits in front of the radiator. Now, there is no physical way coolant can get into the transmission.

Oh, and the separator works like a charm. However, for Eleanor, I'm looking to make the separator "cyclonic", meaning to angle the blowby intake tube, so the blowby effectively cyclones in the separator, thereby increasing the oil/vapor separation efficiency.

Mike
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dsw99a
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by dsw99a »

Im definetly a neophyte when it comes to all things auto modifications. Im a steady pro at thing general maintenance. Im slowly getting more into it. I know this oil catch isnt anything major, but i have been trying to picture the implementation of the thing?!. i am getting a fair amount of oil "blow thru", on my 78 530i. im pretty sure ill have a nice sized job of renewing the bottom end on this motor sometime. Hoping a nice engine crosses my path, WHEN, i have a pocketfull of money to get a 3.5 hoonmaker.

So ill stay glued to your posts , especially when you get to your e12 version of an oil catch can "plan"!

Im continually inspired by the thorough work many of you (us) guys do and share on these forums.

Thanks immensely :P
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