Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: MD, USA
My Ride: 01 330CI 6MT ZSP EU3
Progress thread: my auto to 6 speed transmission swap (w/pics)
(NOTE: This is not a 'diy writeup' thread. See links below for DIY writeups, they are quite comprehensive. The purpose of this thread is to share my progress, ask questions and to encourage me to keep momentum).
I finally decided to start the auto-to-6 speed swap. My car is 2001 330ci with 155K miles, the steptronic tranny (ZF) was replaced by the previous owner at 80kmiles due to infamous no-reverse issue. I have to admit I liked driving steptronic, especially after I retrofitted paddle shifters. I also didn't like the idea of the 3rd pedal, and the last time I drove 3 pedal cars was more than 10 years ago. However, I don't like the torque converter, knowing that it wastes power and I like the idea of dry friction between the engine and wheels. Technically speaking, the ideal transmission for me would be something like M3's SMG. But it is available only on M3 and very unreliable. So, anyway, I've decided to swap to 6 speed MT.
What changed my mind? I don't know. I just want something different, plus, I like the challenge of such an ambitious project. I am not a noob in cars and in e46's, I did quite a lot of projects on my 330ci, including oil pan gasket replacement with dropping front subframe. On other cars I replaced timing belts, steering racks, steering pumps, exhausts, suspension, etc.
So, I feel that I am able to do this project. I found a 6 speed ZF MT with 57kmiles on ebay for less than 1K. I also bought another 6 speed ZF MT off craiglist for $200 for parts: according to an owner it has bent shift forks for 2nd gear. Hopefully all gears and synchros are fine in it, thus, if I have problems with them I'd have parts to fix.
I want to thank many people on this forum who made diy threads for 5 and 6 speed swap. Here are the links I am using in my swap:
I made the list of parts for 6 speed swap, it is available here
So, the swap officially is started. I started from removal of radiator and transmission cooler. Well, it wasn't even a part of 6spd-swap project, I just needed to replace a condenser too. I am not going to replace the radiator (it was replaced in 2008), but I am going to "convert" it to manual, so the tranny oil cooler won't be necessary at all. I'll describe later how.
Next - exhaust. The flange bolts were really rusted, but Wurth Rost Off Ice and Craftsman 19.2V impact wrench convinced them to give up.... Well.... Almost.... One bolt broke.
I'll have fun time drilling the remaining part of it (it is not even a bolt, it is a pressed-in stud or something like this; I don't see any other way to remove it other than drill it out).
It was relatively simple and pretty much one-man job.
Next - heat insulation removal (4 screws) and - the driveshaft. Unbolting is simple, just release the parking brake and put the transmission on neutral, so you can rotate the driveshaft. Since I used an impact wrench I didn't need to lock the driveshaft rotation during unbolting.
But I have hard time trying to separate it from the differential input flange. The driveshaft has 3 slots between it and the input flange; so, theoretically, using a pry bar you should be able to separate them. Well... Not that simple. The slots are very shallow and doesn't give enough leverage for the pry bar. I found a solution that worked like a charm: I have an impact driver (again, Craftsman, 19.2V, I love these tools!). I inserted a flat screwdriver tip into it, put the tip into one of the slots and pulled the trigger. The driveshaft started to move out off the flange. Rotate, find another slot, repeat. And one more time. Then a light hit by rubber mallet and it is off. The flex in U-joint (after central mount is unbolted) is just enough to remove the driveshaft.
Here is the pic of old auto driveshaft (on top) in comparison with a new 6 spd one (longer one). The difference in length is very small (6 spd - 1444MM, zf auto - 1403MM, so the difference is 41 mm or about 1.5 inches). You also can see that 6 spd driveshaft has different construction with U-joint on a different side from central support):
This is basically it for now. Next target - transmission removal and I am debating the necessity of transmission jack for it. I'll probably try to rent one for 1 day ($31). Knowing how heavy the auto tranny is I don't want to drop it on floor and ruin the.... floor and the transmission, since it is in perfect working order with only 75Kmiles on it with reinforced reverse drum and I am planning to sell it and a torque converter later.
The brief nearest plan after the transmission is removed:
0) replace the starter (preventively, I bet it is an original with 155Kmiles on it; I have one with 24Kmiles to replace by)
1) remove the flywheel
2) replace the rear main seal
3) install a new dual mass flywheel
4) install clutch
5) install pedals, route hydraulic hoses
6) remove auto shifter
7) install the manual tranny
8) install the shifter
I am also planning to replace all 3 seals in the tranny (input, output and shifter ones).
Last edited by Nervous; 02-06-2012 at 02:05 PM.