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Old 04-06-2012, 09:41 AM   #1
cposk
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Auto>>Manual/Subframe Reinforcement/Rubber Replacement/Suspension Upgrade

As stated in the title, I'm in the process of:
1) Swapping my POS auto with a manual
2) Reinforcing the subframe mounting points via the TMS kit
3) Replacing all bushings/ball joints on the rear end
4) Lowering the car via coilovers

The source of all my frustration over the next weeks is a 99' 328i with 206k miles. I picked up this car as a cheap daily beater, but now that I totaled my viper, it has become my project.
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This is not meant to be a DIY thread, but I will list all of the issues I've had, and my solutions to them. My goal is to completely restore the entire car, and get it over 300k miles.

In order to get the car to pass inspection, I replaced the following in January:
- Steering rack
- Power steering lines except res to coil and coil to rack
- Power steering reservoir
- Front control arms
- Front control arm bushings
- Tie Rods
- Sway bar links
- Front wheel hubs/bearings

I also had to rewire the reverse lights. I picked up a set of new projector headlights/housings for $250 (don't remember where). I have the angel eyes set up as the turn signals.
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So, after doing all of that, the car still felt like crap (and it was automatic). The whole rear end felt loose when going over bumps or at high speeds (65+). I decided I better reinforce the subframe due to the mileage of the car and the fact that I was going to lower it, thus increasing stress on the mounts.

Wednesday night, I dropped and disassembled the subframe/rear suspension. Thanks to JSanders DIY thread: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=700468
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A problem I ran into: my diff had literally exploded at one point in its life. There is a good quarter inch of ""gunk" on everything around it, including the torx bolts holding the axles to the diff. I ended up stripping the head of one on each side. This required my angle grinder to remove the heads of the bolts once the subframe was dropped. If you can't get to the axle bolts while on the vehicle, drop the subframe first. Then insert 2 lug nuts in the hub across from each other. Use a 3ft socket extension between the lugs as a wedge against the ground to stop the axle from spinning. Now you can get your breaker bar on the torx heads without any extensions, no worries about stripping them.

Now that the subframe/rear suspension is out and disassembled, I inspected all of the rubber. To my surprise, everything looked to be in good condition. But everything is getting replaced anyway. My rear shocks completely shot though, I can easily bottom them out. Good thing new ones are on the way.

I ordered all of the bushings/ball joints from FCP. Great service and free shipping. I ordered the coilovers from Turner, along with the subframe reinforcement kit and strut/shock mounting kit. For coilovers, I went with the H&R Sport Cups.

So, on to the transmission. While under the car, I noticed my rear main seal is leaking. What better excuse to pull the auto and put a manual in. I've pretty much memorized Neil1138's swap thread: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=396320 so no big deal, right? Well it was a PITA, but it's out.
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My biggest problem here: the alignment pin going into the starter was seized beyond belief. The entire transmission was hanging from that quarter inch pin, with me pulling on it as hard as I could. My guess, it was holding about 300-400 lbs. I took my chain of socket extensions and a large hammer, whacked the crap out of the starter for 1-2 hours, still nothing. At that point, the whole starter was completely bent out of place (looks like I'm going to be replacing the starter). Finally, it somehow broke loose. Transmission removed. This took me from 5-11 yesterday, by far the worst job I have ever done, especially with 15 inches of ground clearance. Another note: my transmission mounts where completely broken in half, maybe the source of the banging noise when I put it in reverse.

Tomorrow I plan on getting up early and starting the bushing removal/install process for the rear end. Also getting the subframe reinforcement going. I still need to drop the gas tank. I plan on doing the welding myself (it's not weight bearing or anything, right? ) I have also put together a PDF doc. that lists all of the parts and part numbers needed for the auto>>manual swap. Hopefully the dealership can get back to me with prices early next week. I will be ordering the other parts (clutch, UUC Evo3, flywheel) from Turner.

Wish me luck, I might be in over my head.
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Old 04-06-2012, 10:34 AM   #2
dslboomer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cposk View Post
My biggest problem here: the alignment pin going into the starter was seized beyond belief. The entire transmission was hanging from that quarter inch pin, with me pulling on it as hard as I could. My guess, it was holding about 300-400 lbs. I took my chain of socket extensions and a large hammer, whacked the crap out of the starter for 1-2 hours, still nothing. At that point, the whole starter was completely bent out of place (looks like I'm going to be replacing the starter). Finally, it somehow broke loose. Transmission removed. This took me from 5-11 yesterday, by far the worst job I have ever done, especially with 15 inches of ground clearance.
Good luck!
Impressive and nice going!

I had the same struggle that guide pin locked up on the starter when I was rebuilding ZF trans for reverse drum problem. I didn't know why starter was holdign up the trans until I finally managed to free the trans. Needless to say, I put a chamfer on that pin before I put it back. That helped me later when I was replacing the starter

Last edited by dslboomer; 04-06-2012 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:51 PM   #3
cposk
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Wow those subframe bushings hard to get out... I went out and bought a 20ton shop press (impulse buy), but couldn't get the awkwardly shaped subframe positioned right. I almost killed myself using a bolt as an extension of the press head. It shot out from between the press and bushing like a bullet...

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So I ended up using a corded drill the get the rubber center out. Then I took a reciprocating saw and cut a couple of lines in each of the metal sleeves. Then a small sledge hammer and punch to bend the crap out of it. A little bit of PB Blaster and they finally came out.

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Hopefully I can get it sanded/painted and press the new bushings in this weekend. I still need to drop the gas tank to start welding in the reinforcements. I didn't plan ahead very well, considering I filled up about 20 miles before I started the project. So I disconnected the fuel lines and let them drain into gas cans. I got about 9 gallons out so far, hopefully it won't be too messy when I drop it on Saturday.

Transmission and driveshaft are on the way from my buddy's junkyard. I gave the closest BMW dealership the list of part numbers and they put together a quote for me. $1250 for everything, but they offered me a 20% discount! So $1000. I still need to order a clutch kit and flywheel from Turner. More to come this weekend.
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:55 PM   #4
ChicagoRY
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That's a totaled viper? Jeez can I buy it!?

That's funny about the shop press, I was thinking about getting one myself! Glad you escaped injury!

About the welding, have you seen there is a no-weld method now as a BMW TIS if you have either no visible cracks or X # of cracks less than or equal to Y length? Great thread about it on the e46 m3 site, towards the end I have a post with some update p/ns.
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Old 04-12-2012, 10:44 PM   #5
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I might've missed it but what kind of subframe bushes and diff bushes did you order ? OE replacement , poly , solid?
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Old 04-13-2012, 07:04 AM   #6
cposk
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I went with all OE replacement bushings/ball joints from FCP, various brands. I'm replacing every bushing/ball joint on the rear end of the car. This is the order list from FCP.

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Old 04-13-2012, 09:03 PM   #7
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Thanks for posting that! We are planning on doing a lot of the same stuff (well, you're fully in execution mode, I am not ). Too bad we're not closer I'd love to give you a hand or look over your shoulder.

Thanks for all the great info & pictoral updates on here, good stuff.
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Old 04-13-2012, 09:35 PM   #8
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Could've asked for some opinions first .

I dont like OE bushings at all , there are much better replacements , especially for the rear of our cars. But its too late now
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Old 04-13-2012, 09:40 PM   #9
ChicagoRY
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Originally Posted by Blocked Out View Post
Could've asked for some opinions first .

I dont like OE bushings at all , there are much better replacements , especially for the rear of our cars. But its too late now
Cough cough. . .not too late for everyone! Feel free to elaborate.
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Old 04-13-2012, 10:36 PM   #10
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We were talking about poly bushes in this thread http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...=554571&page=2

Started with front control arm and now on the subframe and diff bushes I was sharing my personal experience with the products . Id hate to retype it all .

I generally dont like OE bushes and always look for things to improve and I think our rear end can use alot of improvement.

There is a HUGE selection of Poly and Solid bushes for Rear trailing arms, rear subframe and the diff available now for our non-M cars that wasnt available before and I like most of them.

OP is planning to reinforce his subfloor , so I think he should've upgraded to Poly subframe and diff bushes to make things even stronger and stable back there.
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Old 04-15-2012, 08:12 PM   #11
cposk
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Originally Posted by Blocked Out View Post
We were talking about poly bushes in this thread http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...=554571&page=2

Started with front control arm and now on the subframe and diff bushes I was sharing my personal experience with the products . Id hate to retype it all .

I generally dont like OE bushes and always look for things to improve and I think our rear end can use alot of improvement.

There is a HUGE selection of Poly and Solid bushes for Rear trailing arms, rear subframe and the diff available now for our non-M cars that wasnt available before and I like most of them.

OP is planning to reinforce his subfloor , so I think he should've upgraded to Poly subframe and diff bushes to make things even stronger and stable back there.
Hmm, here is my take on stiffer bushings/mounts: Yes, using a stiffer compound will increase rigidity which improves handling characteristics and decreases comfort. But it will also increase the stress on the mounting points. With a softer compound, more energy is absorbed thus less energy transferred to the mounting point. I agree that it will make the car feel more "stable", but it will not make the rear end any "stronger".

OE bushing will be just fine for my goals. The only reason why I did the subframe reinforcement was because of the horror stories I have read about on this forum (oh and that it is getting lowered>>increased stress on mounts). See my next post, no cracks or signs of cracking. And the car has 206k miles with previous airbags deployed front end damage...
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Old 04-15-2012, 08:35 PM   #12
cposk
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Ok made good progress on the TMS subframe reinforcement install this weekend. I dropped the gas tank and slid it up to the front of the car (left the 2 vent lines that run into the passenger side of the car attached). I also removed the fuel filter assembly/expansion tank tubing (everything fuel related around the passenger rear mount area). There is still hope for high mileage e46's, I found no cracks or signs of cracking around any of the subframe mounting areas. My car has 206k miles and previous front end damage...
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I went to work with my welder. Please do not attack my welding ability, I am well aware of how ugly it is. I am not an experienced welder and welding upside down is damn hard. After welding, I sealed the welded areas with seam sealer.
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I also put a fresh coat of paint on the subframe. First I used a whole can of Gunk degreaser, then sanded with 80 grit, then used a grinder on the heavily rusted spots. 2 coats of primer, wet sanded with 150 grit, then a coat of glossy enamel. Here is a before and after picture.
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This week, I'm planning on getting the rest of the auto>manual swap parts ordered. The transmission and drive shaft should be here this week. I need to do the welding in the trunk, and prime/paint everything. Then I'll put the fuel system parts back in, and start assembling the rear end. I'm also adding all the nuts/bolts used in the rear suspension to my dealership order list. Mine as well replace them now.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:05 AM   #13
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I finished up the TMS reinforcement kit last night. I ended up setting the carpet under the back seat on fire while welding in the trunk. Luckily I caught it before it got out of hand. I laid a wet towel across the back of the seats to stop this from happening again. I used a heavy duty sealing foam after welding in the plates.

I also got all of the bushings pressed into the subframe. Since I am now terrified of the shop press, used a jaw puller for all but the 2 front differential bushings. I did use the shop press for those 2 (had my back seat cushion as a body shield and wore a welding mask, haha). All of the bushing went in without issue. I ended up lubing them with dish soap (which might have been a bad idea since I have always been told not to regularly wash a car with dish soap because it deteriorates rubber). For the rear differential bushing, I had to use some WD-40. Oh and I forgot to note the orientation of the original bushing, so I made an educated guess that the arrows point to the front and back of the car.

I'm hoping to get the suspension done by the end of the weekend. More to come tonight.
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Old 04-18-2012, 04:27 PM   #14
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I have finalized the parts list. This should be everything that is needed for auto>>manual and subframe reinforcement (not including bushings). I also included diagrams that mark which parts are from the dealership (green dot) and aftermarket (blue dot). Diagram part numbers are included in the spreadsheets for each item. I hope someone else will find these useful.
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Old 04-18-2012, 04:34 PM   #15
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Damn, my 328ci had 208k miles on it when I sold it. You should have no problem making it to 300k, especially with all of the work your putting into it. The only other point of concern would be your cooling system. When was it last done?
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Old 04-18-2012, 04:37 PM   #16
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Quite a lot of work that you're putting into the daily beater, but I'm sure it'll make it more fun to drive. Thumbs up to you
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Old 04-18-2012, 04:43 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicagoRY View Post
That's a totaled viper? Jeez can I buy it!?
Hey! I had first dibs when he posted said totaled viper a few days ago in a different thread!

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Old 04-18-2012, 04:49 PM   #18
cposk
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Quite a lot of work that you're putting into the daily beater, but I'm sure it'll make it more fun to drive. Thumbs up to you
I just have a passion for taking cars apart. Plus I have some bets that I'll have this car running past 300k. Cooling system is definitely on the list of things to do.

I have a 2012 WRX limited (white wagon) on the way (ordered it 1.5 weeks ago). I had to get something reliable to keep the girlfriend happy (I promised it would stay stock until the 36k/3yr factory warranty is up). She doesn't understand preventative maintenance or the phrase "while I'm in there".

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Old 04-18-2012, 04:56 PM   #19
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Can I have your totalled Viper? My dream car is an 02 Viper GTS
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Old 04-18-2012, 05:02 PM   #20
cposk
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Hey! I had first dibs when he posted said totaled viper a few days ago in a different thread!

Ha I sold it right away and made a pretty penny. It was actually my most lucrative investment yet. Here is the thread on the accident if anyone is interested.
http://forums.viperclub.org/threads/651902-Accident...

Here is what I took apart before the beamer/viper.
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RB20DET w/ GT3071R (2 liter straight 6, can you say rev happy)
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