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Old 02-03-2012, 04:56 PM   #1
Nervous
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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:
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...ght=speed+swap
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...light=flywheel
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=659314
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=396320
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...l+smolck+speed
http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showt...t+transmission
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=514381
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=885228
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=889867

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 01:05 PM.
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Old 02-03-2012, 05:51 PM   #2
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Subbed!! ... Good luck to you!
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:06 PM   #3
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A small update. I removed pedal assembly, disconnected everything from transmission (2 electrical connectors, cooler pipes, gear selector), removed the gear selector. Actually, now I need to remove the transmission, everything is ready for this.

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Old 02-05-2012, 08:35 PM   #4
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:37 PM   #5
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I have a question: do I need to remove the accelerator pedal and left side kick panel to route a high pressure clutch pipe under the carpet? I tried to remove the accel pedal with no success so far (I am pressing the white tab down by the flat screwdriver, but it doesn't want to slide off....)?
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nervous View Post
I have a question: do I need to remove the accelerator pedal and left side kick panel to route a high pressure clutch pipe under the carpet? I tried to remove the accel pedal with no success so far (I am pressing the white tab down by the flat screwdriver, but it doesn't want to slide off....)?
You don't need to take off the accelerator pedal. This little tidbit of information should save you quite a bit of time if you can make it work and depending on what you've done so far.

I started off taking all the stuff off to lift the carpet and rolled the carpet to one side, trying to figure out where the clutch line came through. I tried to pull the accelerator pedal out so I could find the hole. After too much time, I decided to go under the car and see if I could feed the line up and snake it into position that way. If figured out this is the easiest if not only way to do it.

After I pushed the clutch line up into position I realized I didn't need to have even taken the carpet up because it just slides up and pokes out a v-notch in the carpet. Although you have probably taken the carpet up by this time you probably didn't have to.

Note - when you go to put the grommet in place for the clutch line, this is a two part grommet. There is an outer and inner grommet. IIRC the inner grommet was already on the clutch line and there is an outter grommet that plugs the hole in the firewall/floorboard that the inner grommet fits up into. Make sure you have this in place before you route the flexible line to the slave cylinder and bleed your clutch!

Hope this helps - good luck.
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:36 PM   #7
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Thanks, man, that helps a lot! (and the hint about the dual grommet is very useful, since I already poked out that another grommet by a finger thinking it is not necessary; I'll put it back, thanks!).
I didn't lift the carpet yet, btw, everything is in the same state as on pics above.
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:46 PM   #8
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Old 02-13-2012, 10:34 AM   #9
Nervous
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A small update. Due to cold weather I didn't have much time to work. I started replacement of transmission seals.
This Lesley puller I ordered off Amazon and it worked well for shifter shaft seal:



Ordered 36mm thin walled deep impact socket (12 pts) off ebay for $20 shipped, worked like a charm:


BTW, Bentley manual has a bug: in the chapter about removing the output flange they say it is 30mm nut. Wrong, it is 36mm one (at least on 6 spd tranny).

To remove the output flange I used a puller I usually use for my Toyota when I replace a timing belt (to remove the harmonic balancer pulley):



To remove the output shaft seal I used a different seal puller, also bought from Amazon (Mountain (MTN1893) Heavy Duty Seal Puller):




Also unbolted 3 bolts (17mm) that hold a torque converter to a flywheel. Note, they are pretty short (about a half inch in length) and 2 of these bolts fell into the bell housing and stuck between the flywheel and engine. Not a big deal for me, since all the stuff is coming off anyway but be aware of this if you install the auto transmission, use magnetic extension instead of regular one.


Next nearest steps: a) finish seals (including the front one) b) finally remove the autotranny.

Last edited by Nervous; 02-13-2012 at 10:57 AM.
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Old 02-13-2012, 10:44 AM   #10
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BTW, is there any use in transmission cooling pipes? They are original, I believe, 150Kmiles, 11 years. I disconnected them from tranny cooler with the proper BMW tool and they did not leak at all. I need to remove them from the engine compartment now. I can remove them gently, but I'd need to unbolt steering knuckle off the rack to do so. Or, I can just cut them in half and be done with them.... Is there any chance to sold these pipes or don't bother?
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Old 02-13-2012, 10:53 AM   #11
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How much do you expect to spend on the whole swap? Just curious.
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Old 02-13-2012, 10:58 AM   #12
Nervous
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I prefer not to think about this You can see all the prices in spreadsheet (the link in the first post). At the moment, roughly it is about 3K
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Old 02-13-2012, 10:59 AM   #13
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^ Just wondering why you didn't just sell and rebuy a MT 330? I'm sure you already thought of that, but cool project none the less. SUB'd
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Old 02-13-2012, 11:09 AM   #14
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Because:
0) I bought the car from my friend for very cheap price (he bought a new e92 and needed to get rid of this one);
1) already have invested substantial amount of money and efforts in the car;
2) mechanically it is in much better shape than many newer e46s on the market;
3) I like pre-facelifted coupes and don't like facelifted ones; there are no 6 spd manual pre-facelifted coupes (other than M3s), so I am making a kind of unique car!
4) even if extend the search to facelifted ones - still, way too overpriced and pretty rare;
5) selling the car and buying another one - guaranteed loss of money due to taxes, registration, etc; my previous fixes to the car will not be payed due to the car's age and mileage regardless to the item 2;
6) and finally - this is just a fun project, I like to work on the car and it is a pleasure to do something like this.

Last edited by Nervous; 02-13-2012 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 02-13-2012, 11:15 AM   #15
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Because:
3) it is hard to find a decent 6 spd manual pre-facelifted coupe (I don't like facelifted ones);
4) even if extend the search to facelifted ones - still, way too overpriced and pretty rare;
that's because 6-speed prefacelifts don't exist. Unless you're counting M3s. Every manual facelift 330 coupe is a 6-speed. BMW switched to the 6MT in 03/2003. The coupe was also face lifted in that month. So anything before (which all prefacelifts coupes would be) would be a 5-speed.
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Old 02-13-2012, 11:17 AM   #16
Nervous
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I though they do. 2003 ZHP coupes must be prefacelifted since facelifting for coupes occurred in 2004. Am I wrong here?
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Old 02-13-2012, 11:22 AM   #17
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I though they do. 2003 ZHP coupes must be prefacelifted since facelifting for coupes occurred in 2004. Am I wrong here?
I am not aware of single 2003 zhp coupe. Sedans yes (only 03/2003+ models). ZHP coupes didn't launch until 09/2003 (and 03/2003 models were sold as MY04 in the case of coupes anyway)
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Old 02-13-2012, 11:24 AM   #18
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I see. Well, in this case I can transform the item 3 to the following one:
3) I like pre-facelifted coupes and don't like facelifted ones; there are no 6 spd manual pre-facelifted coupes (other than M3s), so I am making a kind of unique car!
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Old 02-13-2012, 11:27 AM   #19
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I see. Well, in this case I can transform the item 3 to the following one:
3) I like pre-facelifted coupes and don't like facelifted ones; there are no 6 spd manual pre-facelifted coupes (other than M3s), so I am making a kind of unique car!
Haha well, in any case good luck with the swap. If you need any help with the electronic part, feel free to PM me
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Old 02-13-2012, 11:28 AM   #20
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Thanks, man!
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