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Rusting away on the drive with 200k miles & counting.



Hi folks, I have reposted this content again hopefully the pictures wont move around this time, not sure why that happened but the picture sequence is important to make the write up content meaningful. Hopefully it will work.

Bmw rebuild 2015-updated 19/12/15

Hi folks welcome to my BMW e46 330i touring refurb, I've owned this 330i 2001 supercharged touring for over 10years with a 200k miles on the odometer. I really enjoy the e46 chassis setup and was needing it to last at least another 10 years to have some fun for weekends and track days. 
It is a fast road car setup and was not intended to be a full on track day monster but something slightly more interesting that the stock setup.


Image 1.1/ Picture taken before the restoration began. No MOT and SORN, 10months sat idle on the driveway.

The hope is this journal documents the restoration and mechanical works undertaken since May 2015, I've been lucky in that I have had the use of another vehicle which has enabled this project work to be done without any time pressure. 

Over the years I've added a few mechanical upgrades but have endeavoured to keep it close to OEM aesthetically, I quite like the idea of a sleeper car and hope the final outcome will be on the mark.
I intend to also cover the existing mechanical mods and future plans in subsequent posts. I'm afraid that I am no computer wiz kid and will update via several edits over the next couple of weeks.

Journal Entry 1- Rusting away on the drive. Under Chassis rust treatment.

A trip to Rust Master to get the under chassis rust treated and sealed. They were doing a special deal at the time was about £250 irc, there were pockets of rust starting to form in all the usual places fortunately the engineer seemed to think we had caught it just in the nick of time.


Image 1.2/ pre-clean down and treatment application. Generally tidy but small pockets of rust evident.

Image 1.3/ surface corrosion.

Image 1.4/ Build in 2001 March, 14years old and the rust is on the go!

Image 1.5/ The Rust exorcist at work, this is a rather messy unpleasant task and I don't have access to a ramp, best to get someone to do it for you as it rains waxoly literally.

Image 1.6/ Glad I'm not covered in waxoly like this man!

Image 1.7/ Looking nice & shiny with rust treated the work also comes with a warranty.

Image 1.8/ Lovin the shininess, won't have to worry about the chassis underside for a while. 






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Journal entry 2- Exterior rust treatment.

After the undersealing was completed and dry the next step was to remove the side skirts panels to assess the condition of the sills.


Image 2.1/ Superficial rusting & corrosion at both the bottom of all wheels arch sills which is fairly common for e46's. Both front wings will need to be replaced due to rust on the top of the wheel arches.

Image 2.2/ Superficial surface rust on the bottom of the back wheel arches and sills.
Time to get wire wheel out, strip back and expose the bare metal ready for rust curing treatment.

Image 2.3/The drivers side front wheel arch sill area has seen better days again nothing too severe that a wire brush and Furtan can not resolve. (http://www.fertan.co.uk/how_to_use_fertan.htm)

Image 2.4/After some vigorous wiring brushing it was time for a couple coats of anti-rust gel. If you are using the green gel (A Hammerite product I believe) make sure you leave it on for longer than the instructions recommend) I discovered that the advice was to apply several coats and leave on for 24hours but did obtain much better results when leaving it on for 48hours or longer. I was in no rush and the weather was good so as the old saying goes 'patience is a virtue' especially when rust treatment is concerned.


Image 2.5/Back lower wheel arch sill area prepped.

Image 2.6/Zinc anti-rust primer left to dry for at least 24hours.

Image 2.7/More zinc anti-rust primer coat.

Image 2.8/The lacquer and Stahl Grey 400 paint isn't too bad a colour match for a Flea bay spray can effort.

Image 2.9/Drivers side front arm with 3coats of Waxoly treatment complete. Yes that is a green bonnet it is a long story.....


Image 2.10/Waxoly to sills complete, this was a underestimated job with a tendency to be messy make sure you wear old cloths and cover the ground from splashes and spills. 


Image 2.11/Glad the waxoly is done and the AC Schnitzer side skirt panels ready to be carefully put back on.


Image 2.12/Unexpectedly there was rust forming on the inside drivers side passenger door sill from where rain water had been discharging from the bottom of the door and was pooling under the sill guard. 


Image 2.13/ A couple coats of Furtan later.


Image 2.14/ Another spot of rust requiring treatment included a bubbling on the drivers door just beneath the window trim, I decided to get my local Bodywork specialist to repair this since it needed to be blended into the adjacent wing panel.



Edited by MoreBHP

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Journal entry 3- Water pump & supercharger overhaul.

I have consistently read on many e46 enthusiast forums that the coolant system is the archilles heel, this said, I knew a full overhaul was due so the plan is to replace with OEM parts as much as possible but I also needed scope to upgrade the supercharger PSI at a later stage. The brief was a robust coolant setup, the existing radiator was sagging at the bottom and was on its last legs and OEM water pump didn't look good or sound great for that matter infact the deeper I looked the worse it got. By the end of the cooling system overhaul the only parts reused were the coolant level & temperature sensor.

Parts used:
1/EMP Stewart high flow water pump. (Aftermarket upgrade) 
2/Radiator (Hella part no. 203111235) £73.32
3/Expansion Tank (Hella part no.205110290) £42.11
4/Upper radiator hose (BMW part no. 32416796390) £40.50
5/Lower radiator hose (BMW part no.11531436408) £30.50
6/AC Condenser (EIS part no.22110271) £59.28
7/Antifreeze  2x 1.5L (BMW part no.83512355290) £18.46
8/Water pump USC pulley metal upgrade
9/Alternator USC pulley upgrade

Image 3.1/ The saggy 200k radiator and AC condenser were on their last legs.

Image 3.2/ Electric fan housing removed.

Image 3.3/ Old radiator removed providing better access to the pulleys, belts and water pump area.

Image 3.4/ OEM Water pump and thermostat before removal. The s/c Idle pulleys look suspect too!

Image 3.5/ Thermostat off, water pump next!

Image 3.6/ Water pump finally removed, be gentle when removing so not to damage the aluminium housing. 

Image 3.7/ OEM water pump with plastic composite impellar.

In the end I decided to upgrade the OEM water pump to a EMP Stewart high flow pump sourced from Bimmerbum based in the USA. I knew the pump had done 80k and running a supercharger exerts additional strain on the pump's bearing so I wanted to address the weakest link. 
The last thing I need was a warp engine from a catastrophic water pump bearing failure! 

Image 3.8/ The New EMP Stuart high flow water pump finally arrives, I waited 6 weeks for this bad boy to be imported from USA. Unfortunately USPS were terribly slow and damaged the first shipment thanks to Ed at Bimmerbum for his good customer service and communications.

Image 3.9/ EMP Stuart upgrade will it worth it? guess I have to wait and see.....

Image 3.10/ The weight & build feel of the pump suggests a worthwhile investment. Will have to see.

Image 3.11/ The Stewart high flow water pump claims to provide a increased 20% flow rate which can't be a bad thing. It was about £200 quid Incl. delivery & uk import tax but definitely provides the added peace of mind.

Whilst doing the water pump install it made sense to think about a new thermostat, the debate at the time, was it going to be OEM or the aluminium encased upgrade?

After a little research I discovered that based on users experiences the connecting hoses had a tendency to detach on occasion.  I presume this may relate to the plastic and aluminium material properties expanding and contracting at different rates. So a like for like OEM replacement it was down to BMW Reading I went.....I'm on first name terms with them now.

Image 3.12/ The new thermostat with old, thought since everything else on the engine coolant system had been replaced it made sense to change the Thermostat too. Maybe a false economy but at least I have a spare.

You may have noted that on the earlier picture the s/c idle pulleys were looking tired and rusty they had infact also seized in place so 2new Koyo pulleys and a supercharger belt were ordered via Hans and Asbojn at ESS Tuning.

Image 3.13/ Ess tuning bits have arrived. 

Image 3.14/ With the water pump, thermostat, s/c idle pulleys installed it was time to get the AC condenser, Radiator & expansion tanks in. The Hella radiator and expansion tank were sourced from Europarts, as I was fairly confident these were manufactured by the OEM supplier so there should be no difference in quality apart from the price £££ ? 

The old AC condenser was in a right poor state, as AC was a non-essential id not want to fork out £280 for the OEM part, I ended up buying a EIS condenser from Car Parts for less at fraction of the BMW list price.

Image 3.15/ All back together just as well, as it is October and winter was on its way. I ended up using a 50/50 coolant to de-ionised water mix, whilst the airbox was old it was a good opportunity to carfully drain the old power steering fluid making sure that the alternator (underneath) is protected from spills and refilled with QX ATF DX power steering fluid.
I put into the local garage for the MOT and it passed ??? .???

Edited by MoreBHP

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Thanks Simon, hopefully this will help others out when it comes to identifying specific areas that degrade and need to be considered when undertaking a similar scale refurb. I would have done more but not having access to a lift ramp and budget limited the scope of works.





Edited by MoreBHP

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Nice, like a bit of a sleeper. It's not an understated car but so many E46's with MV2s etc. are all show and no go, I doubt many people would expect 300bhp+(?) to be unleashed if you put your foot down.


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