aka the wallet diet

new 3″ exhaust first fire

March 10th, 2010 Pierre

Uploaded to youtube.

Note:  my camera was not able to fully capture the sound. Lower frequencies are truncated.  Better recording this weekend.

Sounds pretty good. It should get a bit more mellow once I drive it around some.  I’m going to keep the band clamps connecting the collector and cat, everything else will be welded.

UPDATE:  View a newer video with better audio here.

Home brew e30 m3 exhaust, intro…

February 28th, 2010 Pierre

I’m a cheap kind of E30 M3 owner. Kind of oxymoronish, but true. So when I set off to replace my clogged original exhaust, the prices of most pre-fabbed systems were pretty high. For example, using a VSR1 mid section and Stromung rear would be around $1,300. Add $100 for installation. This is a tried and tested combination that works great on the E30 m3. I also looked at “custom” stainless systems from Europe, about $700 but without a proper cat. Plus shipping would be mad!

Not finding a nice modest sporty exhaust, I went on to do my own for about $500. This is including 3″ mild steel mandrel bent tubing (16 gauge), a large polished 22″ Magnaflow muffler, 50-state legal catalytic converter, and band clamps. To my relief, it is possible. In states other than California, where  a “special” cat isn’t needed, subtract $100; or for a track car, where one isn’t needed all, subtract $200.

Now, I know 3″ is pretty radical for a stock 2.3 S14,  but I’ll be building up a high tech lump in the near future.  Might as well do some R&D now.  Plus, I wanted it to fit my new Burn Stainless Y-pipe collector.

Parts List:

Magnaflow Polished 3″ in/out Muffler 5″ x 11″ x 22″ (part number 14589) – $124

Magnaflow “California) catalytic converter (part number 41409) – $200 eBay price

4 x 45° 3″ mandrel bent 16 gauge pipe (link) – 4 x $12.50 = $50

1 x 18° 3″ mandrel bent 16 gauge pipe (link) – $12.00

4′ 3″ mandrel bent 16 gauge pipe, straight (link) – 4 x $5.50/ft = $22

2 lap joint exhaust clamps (link) – 2 x $9.50 = $19.00

4 butt joint exhaust clamps (link) – 6 x $7.75 = $46.50

All the above comes out to be around $500 with shipping and taxes (much of it was non taxed and shipped free)

Part 2 coming next week…teaser picture below:

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This time, I win.

February 13th, 2010 Pierre

Crankshaft hub nuts are notoriously difficult to remove. I’ve heard stories of raging weekend battles between man, machine, and leverage. Everything from 3/4″ drive sockets, long trolley jack handles, various impact wrenches, and breaker bars all were mentioned at some point. I even heard of starting the car with a breaker bar and socket attached to break it loose! Nah, not for me. I’ve got a new son, plus I like my fenders.

Recently, I got an itch to open up the timing cover on my spare s14 to observe wear. The engine currently in the car is a little tired; so the spare is a viable option as an in-betweener. A quick reference shows the crank hub bolt should be torqued at 325 lbs/ft. Nothing a little leverage or impact can’t handle, you say. This value doesn’t take the years of heat cycling and microscopic corrosion between the nut and crank threads. Nonetheless I gave it a shot. Nada. No budging with a 1/2″ drive breaker bar…the only thing breaking was the bar! My impact gun didn’t work either.  Plan B time.

So, I plotted my next move:

1. Splash on some PB blaster a week before work begins

2. Use a propane torch to mildly heat up the nut.  Not any more than normal driving temperature.  Used the torch on the nut for about 10 seconds or so, repeated once.

3.  Set my little twin tank compressor to 100 psi

4. Use my Harbor Freight $80 “Earthquake” 1/2″ drive impact wrench…maximum torque (rated at 625 lbs/ft).


The bolt came off after a few seconds of gunning it.

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Lesson? Don’t be afraid of the crank hub bolt!  I know it looks easy with the engine removed, but the torch and impact gun can still be used with an installed engine.  The fans and radiator may need to go, but it’ll be worth the effort.

Been MIA lately, but still thinking of the M

September 25th, 2009 Pierre

With my first child coming, the M is on hiatus. I have a lot of parts that need installation. Maybe I’ll do a little this weekend. At least to not flat spot the tires.

new projects in the works

July 25th, 2009 Pierre

I’m currently in the middle of the following projects:

- custom exhaust

- a/f ratio metering by a NGK afx system

- single fuel pump conversion (in-tank only)

- updated interior

- oil vapor pipe capped with K/N filter

- recently added a sparco strut brace

Posts and pictures forthcoming…

exhaustive constipation?

June 14th, 2009 Pierre

Looooong time since last post.  Work’s been keeping me busy; and now with a pregnant wife…worse.  This just means the time with the M is even better!

This morning I took out the M on a run with other s14′ers.  The engine felt a little flat, like it has for a few weeks now.  Nothing really new, now its more pronounced.   There used to be a nice kick in the higher rpm.  I’m thinking the exhaust is clogged.  As a laymans test I placed a piece of cardboard over the exhaust pipes, and saw something odd.  The driver side pipe was coming out faster and warmer than the other.  It was also spitting out a sooty mist.  Clogged!  I’m not shocked as its the original system and was sitting for many years.   Rust and/or little creatures set their sites on my pipes.  Shucks, now its time for a new exhaust!

memorable day

April 18th, 2009 Pierre

We found out today that my wife Diana is definately carrying our baby.  The heartbeat was very pronounced.  I’m happy, humbled, and ready for a new era in my life.  It makes the M shrink…just a little.

my new aluminum radiator

April 16th, 2009 Pierre

So, my temperature was still rising slowly while driving.  Only turning on the heater made it go down.  Even though I had cleaned out the radiator, and worked ok for a few days, the temps rose.  Everything had been changed, except the rad, until now.  My wife bought me this Mishimoto radiator for by birthday last week.  It cost about $230 shipped.  Not bad considering the OEM piece is about that price.   The fit was almost perfect.  The lower support mounts with the rubber stops needed a little grinding, no biggie.  But here she is!  Now to see if it still gets warm…


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I’ve had this radiator on for a couple of weeks now. It’s great! No more overheating issues. The temp is pegged between 1/4 and 1/2, even in L.A. traffic. This piece is recommended!

Since this radiator is wider than the original, there is a minor hitch in installation. The stock lower supports need to be grinded a bit where they are tacked to the body. Just shave the areas down as flush as possible.  Not doing so will definately gouge the soft aluminum.  Shown below:

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Valve adjustment spreadsheet

April 5th, 2009 Pierre

Check this out.  I created a spreadsheet that will calculate the numbers for you and give you the BMW part number of the shim needed.  Please try it out and give feedback. 

BMW S14/S38 Valve Adjustment Calculator

update II…for one

March 23rd, 2009 Pierre

Second issue besides running rich is the coolant temperature.  The engine temps like the creep past the halfway point after normal driving.  Sometimes reaching the 3/4 mark.  I’ve changed almost all of the cooling, except for the radiator and heater core.  On a good note, the past weekend I took apart the AC condenser in front of the radiator and guess what?  There was a wad of debris; almost like a nest.  Maybe there was a critter living there for a while.  I didn’t get to drive the car, so I don’t know if this was the problem.  I’m thinking it may be an inefficecient radiator or a tiny leak somewhere.  I’ll keep you updated.