1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

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

Post by keehn »

Continued washing the engine parts.

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Here, I'm washing the oil pump housing. The Zep degreaser solution was surprisingly effective on removing gunk from the engine components.

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I pressed the sprocket bracket and inner oil pump mechanism apart and finished cleaning the remainder of the oil pump housing.

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The next chore was to clean the rust off from all the nuts, bolts, and washers from disassembling the engine.

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I decided to collect all the nuts, bolts, and washers from all over the engine and lump them together in the same rust-removal solution at the same time.

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Here, everything I didn't want to electrolytically rust remove was placed in an off-the-shelf rust removal solution.

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While the bolts, etc., sat in the rust-removal solution, I moved onto cleaning the distributor.

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Before I got too crazy with cleaning the distributor with full-strength solvent, I removed the Pertronix solid-state component so it didn't get damaged by the solvent.

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I also noticed that the ground wire was frayed...

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...And that the damage was worse than I expected when I pulled the wire away. The ground wire was hanging on by just a couple strands.

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With the knowledge of the frayed ground wire, I continued the teardown of the distributor...

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Removing the top plate was simple. Removing the ball bearing and twisting the plate clockwise allowed me to lift it up and remove it. It hung by the grounding wire until I was able to remove the plate underneath.

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Once both plates were removed, the governor was exposed.

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When I pulled the Pertronix unit, I noticed that the silicon insulation around the wires were frayed. I took some clear Gorilla glue and patched the holes. As these units are over $100, I didn't see any reason to trash this unit simply because of frayed insulation.

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I also decided to sand down the crankshaft mains and journals. Here's what I had to work with.

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I decided to polish in two stages. The first was 500 grit, to knock down gouge ridges, and using a shoestring, wrapped around the sandpaper, rotated it around the bearing surface, and used WD-40 as a wet lubricant. I finished each surface with 1200 grit to then further level and polish the surfaces.

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A better picture of how I wrapped the sanding paper and shoestring around the bearing surface.

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And one of the surfaces during sanding.

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The crankshaft surfaces post-sand and polishing. Much better than before!

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And one more shot.

Much more to come.

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

Post by canada karl »

Good thing you found that frayed ground wire. That alone would have caused a lot of mysterious dead engine episodes. Nice job on the crank journals. :)
1976 530i. BMW 59 Triumph TR3A(rolling resto). 67 Triumph TR4A(salvageable). 86 900S Winter car
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Lock
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by Lock »

One great thing about this thread is the amount of "you can do this yourself" information.

I did not know you could sand crank journals at home. I thought polishing cranks was confined to being one of those dark arts that could only be done by expensive machines. Not something that just requires at most some WD-40, sandpaper and a shoelace.

Mike I planned to open up and refresh an M30B34 and put B35 pistons in it this summer so this thread is very helpful, thanks!
1979 528i 5-speed conversion G260/6, Motronic 1.3 179
1980 Honda CX-500
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keehn
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by keehn »

Thanks both of you on the crankshaft compliments. LOL, no...crankshaft polishing isn't a "dark art." If you see the machines that shops use, it's effectively a belt sander that rides on the crankshaft as it's being rotated by the crankshaft "lathe" (? on actual machine name). So the shoestring/strip of sanding paper method is identical, except that more elbow grease is required the way I chose to polish the surfaces.

While I'm going a bit overboard in certain build particulars (e.g. cerakote piston heads and dry lube film on bearings/piston skirts), the rest is just a normal rebuild. As I have no plans to race Eleanor, crankshaft balancing isn't as critical than if I were to track her.

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

Post by keehn »

It's been a little bit since my last posting, but the past few weeks have been a whole bunch of tedious parts-cleaning...

However, I have received most of my ordered parts. Some parts, such as the distributor vacuum advance, is being flown directly from Germany, since it's apparently unobtainium here in the states.

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This is one of three boxes from FCP Euro. I had a chuckle with this one, as I could imagine the parts guy literally tossing parts into this box. It was packed with crumpled paper on top, and this is the bottom of the box. One can root through this box looking for parts like looking for bricks in a lego box, LOL!

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I'll need to take a picture of my solvent/pump brush setup, but this is the post-rust removal, post-blasting, post-degreasing parts cleanup operation. It's not centered, but note in the box the metal coolant pipe. I had done some polishing, but this is the pipe post-electrolytic rust removal...it turned out EXCELLENT! The parts in bottom-left are from a chemical rust removal solution. I put all small parts into the solution, as performing electrolytic rust removal would prove onerous.

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So most everyone here who shops at Harbor Freight is familiar with their cheap "dremel" kit that can usually be purchased for ten bucks. I opted to use this, vice the cordless drill because of its weight and rotary speed (16k rpm). One major downside to this tool is that it gets really hot during continual use. I opted to remove the motor assembly and put three hose clamps on it. The hose clamps serve as a rudimentary heat sink and radiator, allowing me to use the tool as long as I want. I also have my directional fan pointed at it during use to further aid in cooling.

It's a cheap, quick solution for a disposable tool. Bearings in cheap motors like this are junk, so I'll pick up another one when this burns out.

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I already cleaned the cold air valve but wanted to show how dirty the gasket surface was. There were calcified remains I had to pick off to bring down the gasket surface for reassembly.

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Here, you can see the damage that coolant over decades has done to the steel. It is literally pitted, but still salvageable with gasket maker.

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One feature I hadn't expected to find was the effect that the steel wire brushes had on aluminum and steel; the polishing. Here, you can see how using the rotary tool allowed me to "polish" the oil filter housing. I'm going to use this technique on the intake manifold and runners to give the engine a bit of show-quality look.

More to come.

Mike
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Robert Bondi
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by Robert Bondi »

As far as polishing the manifold and runners, I've been told by many it's a sand casting and therefore has a lot of voids and pits throughout, which prevents achieving a mirror-like finish. When I rebuilt my engine a few years ago, I simply had many of those aluminum pieces glass-bead blasted which creates a nice, bright uniform matte look and fairly stock in appearance.
Robert
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by 528i-1981 »

Ditto to Robert's experience with glass-bead or vapor blasting. My log and thermostat housing are on their way to a shop now, after having the valve cover and runners vapor blasted last year. An alleged benefit is that many of the small surface irregularities of the sand castings are peened closed, making the surface less capable of holding dirt and easier to clean. This cannot be achieved by soda or shell blasting. My blasting guy recommends Lear ACF-50 anti-corrosion spray as a protectant to prevent oxidation and preserve the as-new stock look.
(oo=00=oo) Eric
1981 528i Manual
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keehn
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by keehn »

I haven't updated in a bit as progress has...been slow, to put it mildly.

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I've been in the process of media blasting parts...

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And have even more parts yet to blast.

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THIS is the reason why blasting has been super-slow! I've been using a 21 gallon air compressor. It's a great machine for pumping up car tires, NOT for media blasting for any sustainable time. I've only been able to blast for a minute at a time, and then wait for the compressor to fill up the tank.

This has been VERY frustrating to say the least!

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I finally broke down and got a 60 gallon two-stage compressor that's capable of 11CFM at 90PSI (what I blast at). This should provide a MUCH better blasting experience

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One of the other items I got was a Harbor Freight ultrasonic cleaner. I've heard great things about these, as they can clean small cracks and crevasses that normal brush cleaning cannot.

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Don't believe me? Take a look at my now-clean conrods and related parts. I did nothing, except wipe them dry and spray on WD-40 to inhibit rust.

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The "magic" continued with my main bearing half retainers. Again, nothing done except wipe them dry.

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As a matter of fact, the ultrasonic cleaner was SO effective, it even revealed details I didn't know existed before! Here, you can see the "5" and "6" have been cleaned to the point of visibility. The other half retainer stamps were either half-visible or not at all. I determined this wasn't because any grease was still remaining, but because the factory didn't stamp the other parts as hard as they did with "5."

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Elsewhere on this site, the cold air aux valve assembly is referred to as the "Jules Verne" device. I can see why...looking at it, if it were brass, it would look at home on Capt. Nemo's Nautilus.

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I learned while polishing the intake manifolds that it IS possible to mess this process up! Here, the manifold is polished, but it is "burnt" as well.

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It's easier to see the contrast between the bright shine and the "burnt" shine. Also, these pictures were taken BEFORE I blasted them. I opted to blast in the end so I could press the "reset" button and start over with both. Otherwise, I think this would look like a hot mess installed on the engine.

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One of the last major pieces to clean was the intake log. Here, I separated the throttle body from the log itself. Between is a very thin gasket.

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This deep in the project, it is remarkable to see the compare/contrast between the clean and dirty parts. Of course, the throttle body is no exception to the smeg that persisted through the engine exterior.

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Again, this gasket is remarkable. It's paper-thin, but feels like plastic. I'm not sure as to its composition, but it looks to be in good shape, and I see no reason to reuse it. I'll of course measure the intake log and throttle body mating surfaces for straightness regardless before I reinstall.

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I took off the electric throttle switch sensor prior to degreasing the body housing. The cover is easily removed by merely prying the cover over the two base tabs. I was surprised, but not as much (given what I saw with the ECU innards) as to the simplicity of this device. Here, the switch is at full butterfly valve closed.

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And here is the switch at WOT. It is a simple three-contact switch with a "low" and "high" setting, using the middle terminal as the common between the two settings.

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One other electronic item I removed was the cold start injector valve. It's pretty dirty as well, so I'm toying with placing it in the ultrasonic cleaner for a short 5-minute cycle.

That's it for now. I'm still in the process of installing the new air compressor. Once done, I'm confident that this rebuild will get back on track. However, I do need to trek out to Harbor Freight for a pressure regulator and some other related pneumatic parts. Every day, I'm getting more and more worried, as this COVID-19 pandemic is steadily getting worse with no end in sight...

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

Post by canada karl »

The parts sure look great when their cleaned up like that. Rebuilding that motor is a good way to stay occupied and keep your mind off the virus. Keep us posted. 8)
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 »

After several weeks of blasting and retool my setup, the parts are finally done and ready for paint!

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After a while, I got too annoyed with the harbor freight blast cabinet as it was, as it leaked like a sieve. Two tubes of caulk later, I was able to tamp down on the dust outside. I wore a 3M hazardous particulates mask both before and after. I was blasting with glass, and didn't want to get a case of silicosis from inhaling the dust.

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I put all blasted parts on this tool tray and took them outside today for a final blowdown.

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The bottom half of the tool tray. All of the parts except for the oil pickup tube were blasted. They all turned out great and I can now move ahead with further prep and paint as necessary. All steel pieces WILL get painted and those aluminum parts that match up with the engine block (e.g. timing chain covers) will be painted along with the block itself.

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So, all the while I've been working elsewhere, the cast iron block formed a very mild flash rust on the surface. I resisted spraying it down with WD-40 right after electrolytic rust removal because I felt it would be harder to prep for paint. Instead, I am taking a dremel to remove the flash rust to prepare it for paint. I'm also considering using rustoleum's rust reformer as a primer coat to ensure 100% of the surface will have no issues accepting the final paint.

As always, more to come :)

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

Post by 528i-1981 »

Parts look great.

Is that a case of Drumstick Sundae Cones I see back there?
(oo=00=oo) Eric
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keehn
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by keehn »

Eric, yes, it WAS a case of ice cream cones :lol:

Chest freezer in garage + hungry me = empty cases of ice cream :wink: Seriously though, it's just part of a larger pile of cardboard boxes and paper I'm separating out for recycling (note the Harbor Freight ultrasonic cleaner box right by it).

So, I'm heading out to Lowes to pick up some rust reformer paint shortly. It will of course be documented like everything else here.

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

Post by keehn »

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Since I went to town with the sandblaster, I included my throttle body as part of the mix. However, some of the media made its way into the moving parts, so I needed to break it down and do a proper component cleaning.

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The first step I took was to unscrew the electronic throttle switch bracket from the throttle body housing, which reveals a snap clip holding the butterfly shaft in place. I removed the clip with a small pick.

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And of course, there are two flat-headed screws that hold the butterfly valve itself to the shaft. They were snug, but not overly so. I suspect locktite was used, so I will use blue when I reassemble.

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On the other side, there is another snap ring that holds the throttle assembly in place. Removal is necessary as the butterfly spring mechanism is right behind it.

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Note the nylon bushings that the throttle assembly uses. I'm pretty sure these are replaced with a rebuild kit but even with 262k miles, my bushings didn't have any noticeable slop. I will continue using these bushings.

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With the throttle assembly removed, access to the butterfly spring mechanism is now possible. I removed the springs so I could freely rotate the 10mm nut upwards for my socket wrench.

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I thought it was interesting that the spring assembly has no splines; the tension of the bolt alone provides a secure compression fitment to the butterfly shaft.

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The butterfly valve itself is oblong in shape, and it will pull straight out.

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With the butterfly valve out, the shaft is free to be removed. It's rather greasy when pulled, despite surviving a blast cabinet.

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I noticed that the butterfly shaft rides on needle bearings. These look in great shape and also, I see no reason to replace.

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After I saw this, I was glad I opted to media blast the throttle body; it exposed a hole in the coolant line nipple.

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I removed the coolant cover and it was literally just a cavity inside the throttle body with input and output nipples.

I have since cleaned the throttle body and parts in the ultrasonic cleaner but I didn't take any pics.

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I didn't want ANY dremel marks on the bearing housings, so I wheeled the block outside and did another round of media blasting, as I didn't want to muscle the block BACK into the blasting cabinet! I made a mess outside on my driveway, but that's what a pressure washer's for :wink: .

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The block looks a LOT better post-blast. I didn't get 100% of the flash rust, but I got rust reformer spray that I'm using as a primer coat. It will ensure that the final paint will hold fast.

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Behold! The first parts to be installed on the block; the freeze plugs!

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22mm and 30mm sockets fit the respective plugs well. I used a socket extension and a 5lb hammer to tap each plug into their holes. BE CAREFUL! as it is very easy to hammer the plugs deeper than they should be! If you do this job and encounter this scenario, just hammer the plug all the way through until it is freely moving inside the water jacket. Taking a large prybar, lever against the freeze plug downwards until you distort the circle into a clear oval. You can then lever it out with channel-locks at the narrow-point of the oval shape. To reform the plug, place it in a vice and CAREFULLY press it back into a circle shape, ensuring that only the sidewalls of the plug are encountering compression.

....I had to do this TWICE.... :roll:

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And the block, now with freeze plugs properly installed!

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Another side project I had to do was replacement of the speedometer assembly. I sourced a working unit that was zero'd out on eBay. When I pulled off my old needle (in order to remove the speedometer face), it broke the brass fixture, leaving the plastic parts intact, but requiring me to source replacement pieces. Fortunately, the eBay speedometer came with a fully-intact needle. However, the needle was yellowed and mine is white. So, I decided to carefully disassemble the needle assembly itself so I can use my white needle.

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One thing I found interesting was that the half-brass circle (? as to name) was facing outwards on the yellowed needle, but inwards on my white needle. I used an x-acto knife to cut the plastic rivet tops off. I was then able to lever off the two brass pieces.

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Installation consisted of clear gorilla glue...not much more to be explained here...

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I moved back to the engine and began taping and blocking off non-paint surfaces. Here, I'm placing painters tape along the oil pan bolt surface.

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Now, the entire bottom-half is covered with tape, but I still need to cut the tape to conform with the block's contours.

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In order to cut the tape to contours, I drag a box wrench over the edge, and like a pair of scissors, it cuts the tape.

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Just pull the excess tape away....

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...And I'm left with a perfectly-contoured taped surface.

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A view of the block's bottom.

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And here's a view inside my bedside trash can. Why? You may ask?

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Because my used ear plugs can be used to plug up the thread holes, leaving the rest of the surface exposed to paint.

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Outside, the inconsistencies between blasted surfaces is apparent. No worries though, as this block will very shortly see primer. Also note the white "sand" on the driveway caused by the outdoor media blasting.

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A can of Rustoleum Rust Reformer will be used as the primer for this block. I got this can from Lowes.

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Tah! Dah! The first coat of primer is on! I'm going to spray a second coat and then switch to the final black coat tomorrow.

More to follow (MTF).

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

Post by 528i-1981 »

Genius use of earplugs, Mike.
(oo=00=oo) Eric
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keehn
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Re: 1976 BMW 530i "Eleanor" rebuild project

Post by keehn »

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I sprayed two coats of the rust reformer and let it dry overnight. The next day, I sprayed a single coat of the black high-heat paint. It didn't look any different then the rust reformer, but I wanted the peace of mind to know that the black will remain black.

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Of course, spraying the exhaust manifolds with high heat paint was also in order. I'm using earplugs again with the bolt threads.

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The grey paint turned out...grey.

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I finished out the exhaust manifold spray with the high-temp black paint. I painted the balancer, heat shields, and water pump pulley with the black.

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Miscellaneous parts, such as the coolant pipe and engine mount brackets were painted with the grey paint. A bit of deviation from OEM, but I wanted some parts grey to serve as "tattletales," should there be future oil leaks. Leaks on black paint are more difficult to spot, especially when everything is installed in the engine bay.

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I moved onto the only part that I plan to paint red; the oil canister. BMW paints the oil canister red, so I kept with OEM.

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I...sprayed a bit too much... Unfortunately, you can see the excess paint streaking down the canister. The positive however, is that the canister feels as slick as it looks. I'm debating whether or not I should sand the high paint points down and do a re-spray...

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I tested a bit of the intake manifold log to see how it shines up with a steel dremel wheel. It looks pretty good, so I went ahead and "shined" up the rest of the log. I still have the intake runners to do.

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I got this tabletop convection oven from a Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $20 dollars. It has officially been designated the garage "Easy-Bake Oven" :lol: This was used for the Cerakote ceramic and dry film applications.

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Before I sprayed the pistons with Cerakote, I baked them dry at 350 for an hour. This ensures that the surface is free of any grease or oil, to ensure maximum adherence of the Cerakote spray.

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I set it 20 minutes longer to allow the "Easy-Bake Oven" to heat up, so 80 minutes total. I could have put these in here over night at 350 and it would have made no difference. I mean...they're pistons...

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I bought two products from Prismatic Powders, the ceramic coating (small bottle) and the dry film lubricant. Since I'm only planning on coating the pistons, I opted for the smallest size they sell. It was something like $35 for the small bottle. The dry-film on the other hand is getting sprayed on bearing surfaces. I have even seen it sprayed on camshafts...I just might do that as well. But for now, I'm sticking with the mains and conrod bearings.

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Here's my setup, an HVLP touch-up gun from Harbor Freight and some painters paper to catch overspray.

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I opted not to go with high-temp tape, mainly because I didn't have any, but because at the temps the pistons will be baked at, there's no fire hazard.

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After 80 minutes at 350, the pistons are ready to come out of the oven. The tape glue got VERY sticky at this point. I'll need to use brake cleaner to clean off the mess.

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I also untaped the block, now that the paint had fully dried. There was some leakage, but nothing a quick blip with the wire brush wheel and dremel can't fix.

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The side of the block. You can see some of the paint leakage on the oil filter housing location and some overspray on the freeze plug walls. Again, I'm going to use the dremel.

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Here are the bearings I will be using. They are standard Glyco bearings from FCP Euro. The crankshaft clearances are a BIT over tolerance, but I'm not particularly worried. I anticipated slightly excessive clearance issues, so that's why I chose to rebuild the oil pump. I want to ensure the synthetic oil I will be running is being pumped at maximum volume.

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I also chose to tackle the cylinder honing. Here, I have a honing tool that looks kind of like a toilet bowl cleaner.

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This is one of the few times where engine building is more of an art than science. Absent a honing machine, hand-honing requires steady up and down motions. Also, NEVER stop the hone while the stones are still inside the block! Additionally, use both the forward and reverse on your power drill. The 45-degree angles are best etched when the stones are brought up and down in both directions.

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Here's a close-up of one of the cylinders. I'm debating on whether or not I want to hone any further, given the etching damage that is present in several of the cylinders. Now...if I were building this engine for performance/racing, I would have already sent the crankshaft and block to the machine shop to oversize to the next tolerances. However, something to think about is that this engine was running perfectly fine before the rebuild (aside from stretched spark plug wires that started this whole project). Eleanor will continue to be a normal driving car, so these tolerance/etching issues aren't exactly keeping me up at night. But perhaps most importantly, I was determined to keep as many of Eleanor's parts intact, and to avoid a "Ship of Theseus" problem (Google if you don't understand the reference).

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The last thing I did last night was bake the bearings like I did the pistons...

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And spray the dry-film lubricant. They got baked as well. Those pictures will be in my next post.

Until next time.

Mike
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