Preparation – R: How to Prepare Your Ass for Seat Time on Race Day

Because race season is officially underway, with registration officially opening this weekend for some Midwest autocross events, we thought we’d repost our article on getting ready for race day!

For those of us who aren’t temporarily embarrassed millionaires, race days are about having fun and not clutch-dumping a career. Use our list as a guide to help you focus on having fun and not cursing the Sun on race day.

It won’t go without saying that you should have two things sorted before deferring to this list: Bring your friends and be reasonably sure that your car will make it home afterwards. Going autocrossing without a friend whose company you simply enjoy, or is a co-driver, is like going to the bathroom by yourself. Who’s going to hand you toilet paper? Who’s going to remind you that you need to wash your hands? Most importantly, making sure the car gets home afterwards should go without saying. Don’t let foreseen consequences turn your free weekend into a how-am-I-going-to-get-to-work-on-Monday pity party.

Friends, Food, and Canopies

“Test Driver” – Photo Courtesy of Duncan Millar

Standing around in the hot sun is for lizards. Since we don’t often see any of our underworld overlords at these events, we sprung for a small 10ft x 10ft canopy. Not surprisingly, our Harbor Freight canopy came with subpar staking hardware so we grabbed some heavier duty ones from a hardware store. Altogether we were only out $60.

The unintended and welcomed consequence was that we became a magnet for the weary sun-faded autocrosser. We were an entertainment hub for the rest-period racer with our tantalizing conversation skills, good view of the course, Bluetooth radio beats, and tuned-in two-way radios we used to listen to track times.

We race in and around the Chicagoland suburbs, so food and drink are never far, but we bring a cooler for drinks and snacks nonetheless. Take lots of water, sports drinks, and snack bars. If you’re inclined to do so on your rest period, hit up a local spot and support the local business. The club we usually participate with asks you to donate your receipts to a small recycled baby wipes container at the timing tent to show the municipality that we contribute to the economy if ever we were to get on the wrong side of the local Karen squad.

Essential Essentials

Sample Tools – Photo Courtesy of Duncan Millar

If you don’t expect anything catastrophic to happen to you or your car, then leave the defibrillator and engine hoist at home. The picture above shows a small kit we brought to use for tightening the wheels and for experimenting with advancing and retarding the intake camshaft. We also usually take a small assortment of common sockets and wrenches (3/8″ drive, 10mm-17mm), and other regular hand tools like screw drivers and pliers. That saved us last summer when an alternator housing screw backed out into its own cooling fan. It didn’t save us when the timing chain case profile gasket failed and our last stop at the finish line preceded a plume of white smoke. Fortunately the car survived the trip home as the coolant leak wasn’t as bad as we thought. Pack light by just bringing the basics.

Tire pressures should be taught in schools right along side how to manage your finances. The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, but if we don’t have enough grip, how can we effectively put that power down? Take an air supply, like an air tank or portable air pump, and a pressure gauge with so you can add or subtract air as needed. Pressure gauges with the convenient release button on the side are nice, but not necessary; pen gauges work just fine. Rule-of-thumb is that lower tire pressures help provide grip by giving up more rubber along the width of the tire, but too much can roll the tire over onto its sidewall and thus, negate the lower pressure’s effect. Do research on your specific tire to see what its limits are. Remember too that you gain about one to two PSI after heat builds up in the tire. Consider that when you’re setting your pressures.

I’m ready for my close-up

Dogs were made to have their pictures taken. Make it a true family affair by bringing your dog, your partner’s family, their dog, and enough water for all.

Take pictures with whatever you have, but if you have a DSLR that’s collecting dust, bring it out and test your know-how by playing with the manual mode. Leave your ISO low, and expect to adjust your shutter speed and F-stop (iris size) a lot because of the rapidly changing car and weather conditions. Consider your safety first and make sure you’re not in the “oops” path of any of the drivers. Stick to the outskirts or the designated areas where cone-catchers are posted.

An Intimate Setting – How to Dress Sexy When You’re in the Driver’s Seat

Photo courtesy of Juliana Marciniak

Loner helmets tend to be a bit…musty. For low stress driving events like parking lot autocrosses, you can get away with wearing any helmet you want as long as it’s not a bicycle helmet or one of those that infants wear to shape their skulls. Road course events on the other hand, will more than likely look for a Snell rating and consequently tag your helmet with an inspection sticker. If you’re sunglasses snobs like we are, bring a pair of polarized shades to stuff under the visor for those glare-heavy days.

Wearing gloves is all about preference. For the driver seen in the photo above, it’s more about fetishism, but you’ll catch that story in a different blog. Some find gloves to be too bulky or too sloppy. All understandable given the standardization of sizes and the un-standardized sizes of hands. Don’t worry about being required to wear gloves until you get to wheel-to-wheel events.

Print out a course map to tape to your dash as a quick reference before you hit the go button at the start line. Nothing will replace walking the course before-hand, but every little bit counts. Use the tape you brought to artistically apply your driver number to the windows or doors of your car, to stick it to the dash. Congratulations, you’re now a professional race car driver.

Preparation-R: Dont’ Forget your Decorative Meat Tenderizer

Photo Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

Lastly, it wouldn’t go on the list if we didn’t think it was essential to having fun on race day. Don’t forget your multi-purpose decorative butt plug and meat tenderizer to help you de-stress after each run. Carry it in a fanny pack or have your co-driver standing by with it on a small red pillow for a fanciful touch. A little bit of olive oil will aid installation.

Go race your E30!

When E30s Play Dress-Up: 5 Famous E30 Racing Liveries (Including Our Pick for Favorite)

Many things are “understood”. It’s understood that the Earth is round. That plugging a USB connector into a slot will take at least three attempts. That the E30 M3 was a devastating Iron Age implement that changed the tides of war so completely that they nicknamed it, “God’s Chariot.” How did they fuel it? Program the ECU? We may never know. What we do know, is that it was as ruthless of a weapon in competitive touring car racing!

Our, likely contentious, pick for Honorable Mention – The Marlboro/Sony

Bursting onto the scene in 1987 at 8,200 rpm, it graced the Australian Touring Car Championship, then the freshly minted World Touring Car Championship in stride. Tragedy struck immediately at the WTCC showing however, when the judges disqualified each E30 M3-owning team for thin body panels. The hiccups lasted all of one race with Roberto Ravaglia going on to win the driver’s championship in a factory-backed car. In Australia, it poled at the inaugural race of the 1987 ATCC. Even more impressively, it took fourth overall in the 1987 Australian James Hardie 1000, punching up at cars like the Holden Commodore and Nissan Skyline. After the folding of WTCC at the finale of its single season (don’t worry, they come back), the M3 went on to make itself synonymous with the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft, or, for those of us who took Spanish as an elective, the German Touring Car Championship.

It didn’t only make kidney shaped dents in DTM though. It went on to dominate plenty of other touring car series and endurance races (and didn’t do too bad in rally) from 1987 to 1993. We’ll give you a few examples of the most recognizable cars so you can impress your friends by mispronouncing the driver’s names in front of strangers at the next Radwood. We’ll ask you to leave politely in Spanish, after we leave you with the official RYE30 Racing “Favorite E30 M3 That We’d Gladly Wake Up in a Tub of Ice with a Missing Kidney to Own” pick.

#1 – The Warsteiner

If you’re seeing a Warsteiner livery, you’re usually looking at a BMW-blessed workhorse. The classic BMW Motorsport stripes bifurcate the front end of the car and are most often accompanied by the Warsteiner logo. This livery donned cars driven by the likes of Roberto Ravaglia and Eric van de Poele. It would be easier to name the championships it didn’t win during the E30 M3’s reign of terror.

Eric van de Poele at the Nürburgring

#2 – The Jagermeister

Armin Hahne deserves to be as well known as the Linder Team E30 M3 “Sport Evo” he piloted in the 1992 DTM season. He raced several touring car series and endurance events across several continents with respectable results that included two wins at the Spa 24 Hour, driving cars from our favorite manufacturer; BMW. The “Sport Evo” underneath all of that orange sported the adjustable rear wing and of course, more power. Other drivers included Wayne Gardner and Frank Schmickler.

Armin Hahne in the Linder Team Jagermeister E30 M3

#3 – The Bastos / Castrol

While the Bastos-Motul livery had been around since the beginning of the E30 M3s career, it’s probably best know for its appearances in rallies like the Tour de Corse, World Rally Championship, and Rally Isle of Man. Drivers like Patrick Snijers and Marc Duez carved out E30 M3 sized ruts in the dirt in blurs of white and red.

Snijers and Colebunder at Rally Manx (Rally Isle of Man) in 1988

#4 – The JPS (John Player Special)

Your eyes do not deceive you. That is the same JPS-styled livery that coated several Lotus F1 chassis throughout the ’70s and early ’80s. Interestingly, unlike with the F1 cars, John Player & Sons was deeply involved in the utilization of the cars via the namesake JPS Team BMW. Apparently opting out of works cars, the team built their own M3s to replace their 635 CSi fleet in 1987. Because we’re still blown away by the brashness of it all, we’ll mention again how it took first in class and fourth overall at the heavenly Mount Panorama on October 4, 1987 by drivers’ Jim Richards and Tony Longhurst.

The JPS Team BMW Richards/Longhurst E30 M3 at Bathurst in 1987

And now for the awarding of the “Favorite E30 M3 That We’d Gladly Wake Up in a Tub of Ice with a Missing Kidney to Own” prize. Otherwise known as the FEMTWGWUIATOIWAMKTO Award, we take great pains to be sure that we knight only the most worthy of this distinction. In this case, that worthiness is bestowed upon the Listerine/Securicor Omega Express E30 M3!

#5 – The Listerine / Securicor Omega Express

The British Touring Car Championship is likely as known for its swarms of E30 M3s as DTM was. Even today, ze German autos sweep the British circuits up like angry governesses upset that the children have again made a mess of the pantry. Why do we like this Vic Lee Motorsport car so much? It just looks cool! In our opinion, it’s only trailed by the classically liveried Marlboro E30 M3 rally cars. But we love its historic drama just as much. The eponymous Vic Lee pulled a John DeLorean in 1993 after £6,000,000 of winter wonderland dust was recovered from one of their car haulers by British customs after suspiciously numerous testing sessions at Zandvoort in Holland (Holland being arguably not-a-country-with-any-BTCC-tracks). Jalopnik has more on the scandal here. Considering the pink Listerine dragon on the hood, you’d think they would have been busted for more than cocaine, but don’t let the teams’ sordid history distract you from the gorgeous and bold Helvetica-esque styling of the black-on-blue Listerine/Securicor Omega Express E30 M3.

BTCC driver William Hoy, in one of the last appearances of the E30 M3 in professional touring car racing

Tell us your favorites in the comments or visit us on Instagram to make fun of our final choice on that platform.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow us here on the blog, Instagram @rye30racing, and Facebook @rye30racing. If you’ve read this far and you reside in the United States, give us a follow on Instagram and then DM us an address so we can send you two free 4″ RYE30Racing stickers! We appreciate your support! See a picture of the stickers below.

We’ll be racing plenty over the summer so we can bring you more high quality content like you read above. Our partnership with Diagonalt is still new and exciting, like that of a new romantic relationship, so check out Diagonalt.com for classic BMW prints and coasters (16% off using code “RYE30” at checkout) and calendars for the new year.

Featured photo by BMW

RE30urces – A Short List of E30 Tips, Tricks, and Tales

Millenials and Gen Z’ers grew up loving cars in a period of technological transition. Which is to say we know how to rotate the illegally downloaded repair manual PDFs for the era of cars that we consider superior and classic. Whether you grew up on Pole Position, Gran Turismo 2, or Burnout, you’ll have no trouble navigating this list of E30 resources to make you and your car faster, or just get it back on the road. If you’re new to E30s, this is not a comprehensbuyive list by far, but you can use it as a search terminology guide.

R3vlimited.com logo

ForumsSign up for one or more of these sites and be an active part of the online community.
E30 Zone
M42 Club
R3vlimited
BimmerForums (E30 subcategory)

Bimmertips.com

Parts Diagrams, Exploded Views, Manuals
Real OEM
Bimmer Tips

Blogs / VlogsFollow these folks and get the real dirt (especially from the rally drivers) on what it’s really like to own and race E30s.
Caswell Motorsport – Bill raced an E30 in WRC…in 2010!
Cooper Autoworks – St. Louis’ers Kelsey and Calvin rally race their M50-powered E30.
Restore It – YouTube rehab series focusing on the owner’s E30.
Everything Engineering – Interesting E30 M42 build from a UCF engineering student.

E30 Buyer’s GuidesIn all honesty, just go back and check out the Blogs / Vlogs section if you want to see first-hand knowledge.
Classicandsportscar.com
Hagerty.com
BMWBlog

Facebook GroupsI don’t need to warn you that sometimes, people online are assholes.
Midwest E30 Owners Gruppe
SpecE30
E30 Zone (sister group to the forum)
E30 Enthusiasts Australia

AutocrossYou don’t need to own a BMW to autocross with BMW clubs and vice versa. Take a look at these sites for locations, scheduling, and pricing to give you a general idea of whether autocrossing is going to be right for you (which it will be).
Chicago Region BMWCCA Autocross
New York Region BMWCCA Autocross
Los Angeles Area BMWCCA Autocross
Portland Area BMWCCA Autocross
Windy City Miata Club Autocross (I would be doing my Miata-owning heritage a disservice if I didn’t mention my home-turf club)

Thanks for reading. Check us out on Instagram @RYE30Racing or Facebook @RYE30 Racing. Our coupon code for 16% off classic BMW on diagonalt.com is “RYE30”. They have lots of cool prints, coasters, and calendars!

Beautiful Cars, Those Classic BMWs: An Interview with Diagonalt’s Pawel Bilas

Pawel hails from the land of the famous 80’s new wave band a-ha. We get the Norwegian’s “take on” his role as the owner and lead designer of Diagonalt, and its sister design firm Desagn. Our partnership with Diagonalt is a first for us and to celebrate, Pawel has given us his time in the interview below and a discount for our readers.

Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Pawel Bilas

RYE30 Racing: Your products are simple and modern. I feel like that style is a perfect fit for the subject matter because the classic BMWs you feature speak well for themselves. Can you talk about what might have inspired you to showcase the cars this way?

Well, I love the whole sensation of Bavarian cars. I can’t express myself what this nostalgic emotion does to my soul. I’m just simply, very into it. I think it’s the personalities, the mindset, the lifestyle…I’ve always been attracted to the simplicity and pure function. It kind of came out somehow. I wanted to give something from me to the enthusiasts – as a designer and enthusiast myself. It seems that everybody focuses on the most known models like M3 etc. I wanted to expose the cars that enthusiasts truly admire. The rarity, uniqueness and simple forms with personal touches. Back then, I didn’t know how to express it. One day I’ve noticed one drawing of the E30 – it was something. But I felt I can make it better, and here we are.

Photo courtesy of Pawel Bilas

RYE30 Racing: It’s easy to make products at home these days by simply outsourcing, or designing and manufacturing them at home with design programs, high-quality printers, and 3D printing technology. How involved are you in the manufacturing of any of the products?

I do as much as I can! To give an example: I prefer to shoot the real cars in the right angles, that I can later work on. I often spend late evenings getting the lines the way I want. It’s all about showing the basics until the car looks complete. I’ve produced a lot of prints at home. I still do, but now just the custom prints. The rest is produced by a print house that I’ve collaborated for a while. It came to that point that I can not afford doing it at home. It took a while to find good materials and processes that I’m happy with. I also have one friend that helps me with the calendars shipment. To be honest, it’s cheaper to outsource bigger orders. In that way, I get more time to deal with promotions, customers, ideas and design of the new products. It’s my pleasure to do so. 

RYE30 Racing: We noticed some fashionable displays of your One Model Prints on your Diagonalt homepage. What’s the best way to display your prints and calendars? Thank you! I’m trying to display my products in an honest and tasty kind of way. I think my minimalist side is talking there strong. I’m inspired by Dieter Ram, that once said that products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. He also meant that the product design should, therefore, be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression. Good design is thorough down to the last detail. Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. I would like it if people had that in mind, before displaying my products.

RYE30 Racing: RYE30 Racing has a mandate to practice the Four “R’s” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse) as much as possible in the course of our building and racing. Can you speak to any direct or indirect efforts to be sustainable or use recycled products?

Are we talking about car products? I love to search for used and rare BMW stuff! I like collecting, renovating and reusing old parts. I do also sell them sometimes when I realize that I don’t need them anymore.
This mindset translates to Diagonalt. Living nowadays and expressing nostalgic cars end its era couldn’t exist without a good sustainability story behind. All of my papers and materials are carefully selected to meet my imposed needs. Recycling suits my products very well. I think it’s the only way to do it.

RYE30 Racing: Do you have any products in development that you’re excited about offering?

Yes. I have plenty of car models that are not in the store yet. It takes quite a time preparing a good product presentation. You know, there is this thing, when you do things for yourself, you’re never happy and always find something that could be better. I’ve been planning to extend the horizon for stickers too. Everything is set, I just need to make some decisions about the model and color combination – it’s not that easy as it sounds.

Photo courtesy of Pawel Bilas

About Pawel:

RYE30 Racing: I know very little about Norway. What is the car culture like there?

Different. However, I’m focused on the BMW culture and events. We have strong sociality. There is always something happening. Even during the winter. We tend to have fun with the cars on the frozen lakes. It’s the cheapest way of racing cars and brings lots of fun. I think racing cars are popular in Norway. There are many possibilities to do it safely and legally. The best thing is, that enthusiasts help each other a lot. Have you, for example, heard the story behind the renovation of DTM E30 M3 Jägermeister? It’s the perfect example of how shared passion unites and helps people. That’s why I love being into it. It’s not really about the cars – it’s the people and atmosphere that make it worth it.

RYE30 Racing: I browsed your portfolio, Desagn and was very impressed! How long have you been practicing as a professional graphic designer?

Professional – it’s when you first get paid for your work, isn’t it? Then I’ve been doing it for over ten years I think. 

Photo courtesy of Pawel Bilas

RYE30 Racing: What was your first job as a professional?

I can’t remember. Maybe I have too many thoughts about the future in my head. I’ve started sole proprietorship already during my high school and did different, weird projects for people and companies in my hometown.

RYE30 Racing: What would your ideal BMW be?

That would be a perfect condition Henna red BMW E30 M3. Probably with a few racing and personal relishes.

RYE30 Racing: Do you own any BMWs now?

I own only BMW’s. I do have a Zinobber red 2-Door E30 with M42 engine. I’ve always wanted to have a red IS, almost like from the first catalog page – Meer motor, Meer auto, Meer sport. I’ve renovated engine, suspension and every moving part of it. It took me over a year to have it finished. The paint works are not perfect. Probably that’s why I’ve decided to take it on our vacation trips for the last two years. 
Another one is a 1983 E28 with M10 motor. Bought it cheaply from my friend and rescued from death. It was meant to be my winter car, back when I had the E30 Cabrio M-Technic II. The 5 Series has been with me for about 4-5 years now. We’ve been through a lot together.She brings me the most joy of all the cars that I’ve ever driven. My girl likes it a lot too and she doesn’t allow me to sell it. Funny that I’ve never liked the E28’s until I started to own one.
A few months ago I bought the brown E30 320i. Preface 2-doors.Original car in good condition and low mileage. She needs some love, but I guess she will be fine with me. The only thing is that I’m not sure what to do with her yet. 
And my daily. I’ve been driving classic cars for a long time, every day. But last year we’ve decided to buy a “new” car. The E92 325iA showed up. I said well, why not? It took me about one month and she was transformed as I wanted. It’s so easy to customize “new” cars. You can just go and buy parts, install them and… drive. Very easy compared to the oldies.

RYE30 Racing: Where do you see yourself, and Diagonalt or Desagn in five or ten years?

I hope it grows and I can do it for a living. I recently quit my daily job to start working only with these things. I do have expanding plans and I hope it will go somehow right. It’s still much work to get it all where I want it to be. But I enjoy combining my work and passion to shape my future. The best thing is that I get a lot of opportunities to meet new, fascinating and engaged people.

Check out Pawel’s products and work at Diagonalt.com and Desagn.com, and on Instagram @diagonalt.

We’d like to thank Pawel again for his time! Don’t forget to check out his site diagonalt.com and use our promo code “RYE30” for 16% off everything but calendars (which are our favorite product here at RYE30 Racing). Thanks for reading!

Can’t Stand Your E30 – How to Assemble a Stand and Mount Your M42 Block

Another lesson in frugality incoming: We picked up an early E36 M42 engine for $250 down in Indy for purposes unknown to use at the time. It was fortuitous however because we ended up using its cylinder head after the dreaded faulty profile gasket fault made itself apparent during a July 2018 autocross. We turned in our bad cylinder head as a core-return at local junkyard where we found a good replacement and now we have a fully unfunctional E36 M42 again to make an example of for you fine fuc…folks.

Step 1: A.B.C. – Always Be Craigslisting – ALWAYS BE CRAIGSLISTING

Photo Courtesy of Duncan Millar

Engine stands are cheap. Even brand new. We overpaid for our Harbor Freight brand “Central Machinery” stand. Rated at 750 lbs, it’s over-qualified, but for $40 on Craigslist, isn’t as great of a deal as we’d like considering we could get one for under $50 with a coupon and we’d have a warranty.

Step 2: Engine Stands – Assemble

The stand is essentially made up of two parts. The mounting bracket that sits in the head tube, and the stand itself. The stand is made of three parts. The two rectangular sections have the caster wheels and the other houses the mounting bracket. In our example, the two rectangular sections are already bolted together with the included hardware we received. If you’ve misplaced yours or never received any, they’re easy to replace (check your leftover nuts-and-bolts bag or buy new ones) and don’t require a specific thread because they’re slipped through simple through-holes.

After those are bolted together you can bolt the mounting bracket section to the wheels. Ours has a nut welded inside the bottom of the tubing to tie it to the wheels. Put the longer bolt through the wheels section and into the bottom of the mounting bracket section. Now you have a completed stand. If you have this stand in particular and you don’t have that bolt, it’s an M12x1.75 and approximately 100mm with a locking washer.

Step 3: Stick it to Me – The Mounting Bracket

The mounting bracket simple slips through the head tube on the mounting bracket section of the stand. Each of the four arms is adjustable. Again, if you don’t have any included hardware, hit up the nuts-and-bolts bag. These M12x1.75s might not be found as easily in your leftovers, so measure the lengths you’ll need and hit the hardware store. With ours we needed four shorter ones (about 3″), four longer ones (about 5″), and four nuts with washers.

With the block on a stable surface and all of the arms loose, mock-up your bracket thusly; bolt the bracket to the block hand-tight and then get the other side with the tube as square to the block as possible so that they are evenly horizontal to each other. Hand tighten those bolts and nuts. After that, tighten the bracket to the block fukentight and then tighten the tube section gutentight.

Put a towel down and grease up the head inside of the head tube. In your best parody of German porn, grab a friend or six and lift the block with the mounting bracket attached, and gently slide the whole thing into the head tube of the stand. Celebrate the event by sliding the swing lever and locking pin into their appropriate holes at the end of the tube. You’ll use those to lock the block in place and swing it around on its axis when necessary.

Word of advice whenever you do so, use two hands! A fully loaded engine is going to be very top or bottom heavy and will leave you in the dust when you try to rotate it. One of these we’ll get around to rebuilding our M42 and hopefully provide you with more scintillating and Pulitzer Prize worthy innuendo.

Rolling Blockout – A Proper Tutorial on the Deletion of an M42 Power Steering System (Part One)

Losing weight can be hard. Dieting. Exercising. Gastricly bypass your power steering system to shed pounds by installing a steering rack block and chucking the remaining components. Trust us. We’re MDs. Which of course stands for “Mostly Dumb.”

Our power steering delete block comes from a California manufacturer and retailer of BMW performance parts. The Denny’s coupons we asked for in quid pro quo of a felicitous name-drop are as yet mysteriously missing from our racecar budget coffers, so you’ll have to hit your favorite search engine to find out who it’s from.

It’s design is so simple that you’ll undoubtedly something like “Pshshsh. I coulda made this.” But that doesn’t betray it’s cleverness as a product likely, largely capitalized on by the manufacturer. The bleeder is a simple hex-keyed set screw instead of a more expensive traditional bleeder screw. A single passageway that intersects the banjo bolt holes to allow flow means one long straight through pass in lieu of other more complicated methods of facilitating a bleed. If it’s CNC’d from a pile of bandsaw cut lengths of mid-grade aluminum then there’s little waste lost to that process and the process of rounding the corners and running the through-holes.

At $40 a pop (when they’re not on sale for $25) they’re likely piling mounds of cash into duffle-bags and shipping them to yours, truly as sponsorship dough as we speak. By the time it gets here, we should be done installing the block and onto the removal of the offending power steering components (which will be covered in Part Two).

Because the weather is officially “fucking awful” here in the Midwest, we pulled out the trusty tent once again to shield us from the light drizzle. “Rolling around on the ground” was brought to you by “Harbor Freight Creeper” which, surprisingly, is not the guy outside the store’s front door trying to sell you coupon books with sticky pages.

Step 1: Just Lemme Squeeze Past Ya There

In a previously unreleased episode, we installed a Z3 steering rack so your experience with gaining clearance to the banjo bolts might be different. All of the related components for the power steering system are on the driver’s side of the car. You’ll find the banjo bolts you need to disconnect right below the connection of the steering shaft u-joint and the rack.

Getting these two free can be difficult for two main reasons: The clearance between the smaller, higher, 19mm bolt and the motor mount, and the blockading of the 19mm bolt by the 22mm bolt. The simple solution to the blockage was to remove the 22mm first. You can reach this one with a 1/2″ ratchet and a 22mm socket. Get your catch pan ready, because you’re going to recieve everything in the lines and in the reservoir once you let it loose.

As for the 19mm, our solution was to disconnect the rack from the subframe by the two 15mm bolts and scootch it over enough to get our working man’s 19mm combination wrench into the gap and onto the head to bust it free. Be ready to give it a few concussive blows though to knock it free because your steering rack will no longer be rigidly attached to the subframe. While the remaining goo flows, get your block ready.

Step 2: Clean Practices Will Ensure a Tight Screw

Because you’re dealing with an aluminum casted rack housing and a sealing surface, you’ll want to be extra cleanly to avoid stripping when you tighten the banjo bolts and to ensure a tight seal. Wipe any grime away from the rack surface and do your best not to wipe much (but preferably any) icky stuff down into the passageways. Clear the threads of the banjo bolts of any debris with a cloth or a spray like brake cleaner. There’s no need to pre-assemble it as seen above (apart from the loosened bleeder screw), because this is where it gets tricky.

The angle of the rack makes it puzzling to keep the crush washers lined up as you place the assembly. We recommend locating the block on the rack using the 19mm bolt and crush washers, and hand-tightening it in so that’s it’s approximately square. Prep your 22mm bolt by placing one washer on it. Back up the 19mm enough to easily slide the free 22mm washer into the gap between the block and the rack. Lastly, use your 22mm banjo bolt (with installed washer) to fish for the washer as you wiggle everything into place until you’ve hand-tightened the 22mm banjo bolt.

Don’t worry about being able to reach the 19mm. We found during the process of re-installation that there was just enough clearance to tighten the 19mm while the 22mm was in place. Unfortunately, reaching the 19mm with a torque wrench is improbable (impossible in our case) so don’t strip it! Re-secure your steering rack and move onto the next step.

Step Three: All Phasers set to ‘Bleed’

In a cosmically fortuitous turn of comedy, once you have it all screwed, you are now set up to give the courtesy of a reach-around. The official instructions guide you to turn the fully travel the rack back and forth “a couple of times” to “let any excess fluid bleed out”. Once you’re done up top, reach in from around the subframe with your 3/32″ hex key wrench and tighten the bleeder down nice and snug with some manufacturer-recommended thread locker dabbed on the threads (highly recommend by us as well given it’s not-an-actual-bleeder-screw nature).

Check back next Sunday for Part Two where we take perfectly good steering components out and then likely never test drive the car until the spring, where we’ll find that it’s now extremely difficult to wrestle the steering wheel in low speed, short radius turning conditions in the good name of weight reduction.

Spring Steel, Spray Paint, and Salvage: Our Anti-Roll Bar Brackets Get a Makeover

We have a friend named ‘Josue’ that we call ‘Sway’ for short. We can count on him to not let us down, unlike these sway bar brackets have.

Long term viability was not our strong suit in the early days of turning our once daily-driven sex-mobile into an inbred racehorse. Midwestern winter driving and near-SpecE30 suspension mix like Virgos and Scorpios. Which is to say that astrology is all made-up as it goes along and we shouldn’t have been driving this car in the winter. The parts that took the beating in particular were ones with a thin, eBay quality epoxy coating or none at all. In other words, all of them. Since we took the front ST anti-roll bar out with the fingers-crossed promise that we’d refinish the brackets, we took the opportunity to do just that in between some work on one of our significant-other’s work-and-school-mobile.

If you’re familiar enough with stock E30 suspension, you’ll notice the differences immediately. The original bracket leverages into place inside of the front subframe and then bolts into place to semi-permanently secure the bar. Because the replacement performance part is slightly larger in diameter and experiences higher torsional forces (that’s us making it up as we go), it came with a special bracket assembly that helps brace it flatter against the subframe with a large backing plate and a bracket that bolts into the original bolt hole. It also dual-purposes one of the subframe bolts.

Step 1: Safety First, Second, and Fourth (Third is Lunch)

As with any operation involving swinging phallic equipment attached to something with too much energy, you’ll want protection. Since we’re using our Harbor Freight bench grinder with included Harbor Freight wire wheel, safety glasses, underneath a face shield, behind ballistic glass would have been the wise decision. But for now, all we have are safety glasses. Gloves are generally not advised for using with rotating equipment, but since the actual bracket portion of the bracket assemblies are awkward to hold, we took the risk. Refinishing the other parts of the bracket was easier because of their straight-forward shapes.

Step 2: Stripping – Taking it all Off to Get Us Through Vocational School

Foreseeing difficulty in attacking these with the bench grinder, we took a whack at them with a nylon wheel and a hammer drill. The nylon wheel had been great at removing the surface rust on our cast iron lathe chuck because it removed it briskly and without damage to the chuck itself, but against the thick rust of our unknown-alloy steel brackets it was almost useless.

To the bench grinder we went. For the brackets, we made sure to get to the insides, outsides, and sides. This would seem obvious, but it’s easy to get caught up in this oh, so shiny metal as it appears before your eyes that it’s easy to skip the quality checks before you move onto the next piece. The part wasn’t as difficult as we expected it to be, but it did take some unusual angling to get to all the nooks on the piece. Specifically, on the outside of the bracket where it bends at 90 degrees. A tip for wheeling the smaller components like the washers and the fasteners; place them in a set of locking pliers. For the nuts and bolts, we spun them together with a fair amount of hand-tightness and ran them against the wire wheel without touching the threads. You’ll remove the special coating that accompanies hardened fasteners like these and will make them more difficult to remove the next time you need to (sometimes even with the application of anti-seize materials!).

After about 20 minutes of tiny projectiles to the stomach and a podcast we couldn’t hear over the drone of the bench grinder, everything was looking as if it had been freshly cast in a medieval blacksmiths forging facility. Blacksmithery? Correct us in the comments. Someone. Anyone. Please read our blog! Anyway, on to paint they go.

Step 3: Epoxy Paint Me Like One of Your American Anti-Roll Bar Brackets

Previous projects on our Alfa Romeo Spider left us with more than enough black epoxy paint. We double-fisted each pair of components on some bailing wire and coated each one three times. Normally, we wouldn’t coat the threads of a fastener with paint because it can negatively alter those threads capacities to have torque applied to them. In other words, they won’t tighten no good no more. But since we had the nylon nut already covering the only area of thread that it would ultimately be engaging, we went ahead and painted it with the intention of it being a rust preventative maintenance.

While we let them air dry between each application, it’s important to let them cure for whatever period of time is suggested on the back of the can. Since we won’t be installing them again any time soon, we let them rest on the bench to do the requisite curing, hoping all the while that they spring to life the moment we close the shed door and go on a Toy Store like adventure in the time it takes us to eat, sleep, kiss our loved ones (and pets), and return to the shed for the continued torture of not being inanimate objects that become sentient in the absence of people.

We hope you had a happy holiday season and that you slayed many no matter what belligerent you fought for in the war on Christmas.

Thank you for reading!

The Giant’s Despair: Climbing the Hill in Wilkes-Barre, PA

We’re taking a holiday break to reflect on all of the parts we should’ve bought ourselves instead of buying gifts for others. This is a short essay we were inspired to write a few years ago when we visited the Giant’s Despair Hill Climb site in Wilkes-Barre, PA while on a job. Enjoy this essay, and enjoy the war on Christmas, no matter what side you’re on.

The height of the climb is a ghost of the yearly event. Just outside of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, mud and cleared trees on the north edge of the road, where timing officials and spectators have matted the terrain, are adjacent to the permanent finish line spanning the breadth of the two-lane road. Just beyond its peak, a shining building I only caught a glimpse of in passing. A fortune-telling of the dynamics I would experiences as I made the journey down the road and through the town at the bottom of it.

Doing my best not to turn my rental Mazda 6 rotors into french fries, I cruised down the steep decline, taking in the view of the valley as my sinuses rapidly compressed. The first major turn came with plenty of warning that I simply had not headed. A sharp, banked right-hander made me do my best Cousin Eddie ‘woo!’ impression to the audience of empty seats in my sedan.

I won’t bore you with the details of the remaining ride because the obvious gem is the uphill. Tumbling out of the straightaway at the bottom, an officially named “Giant’s Despair” park simultaneously greets you and waves ‘goodbye’ with its brevity. Down through what feels like a landlocked seaside town, you wouldn’t be surprised to see someone taking a wicked pissa outside one of the countless (and windowless) bars. And almost as if the same poet that named the Giant’s Despair had been the city planner, the scenery changes drastically as you pass over onto the other side of the tracks. Porches and abandoned cars in driveways turn to projects and abandoned cars in parking lots. A pair of police cars turn off their emergency lights and disband as I pass through the first major intersection. I imagine the demarcating tracks separate color more than they do class. An unfortunate juxtaposition to the thrill of the nearby hill.

I turned around in the lot of the B’nai B’rith Senior Apartments and dodged potholes that would make a Chicagoan proud, as I made my way back to the starting line. By the time I arrived, it was just after dusk. Into manual mode I went, and up the hill and away from the despair I’d climb. The ascent was fantastic. Quick dips that turned into almost-hairpins and frequent undulations through the straighter portions of the steep grade made me feel like I was escaping feds in a cigar boat.

I reached the top and and book-ended my trip with the shining building; a building I’d come to realize was an adult addiction rehabilitation clinic. I felt the road was not the despairing one, but the region itself. Perhaps in naming it, they’d meant to embrace their trials as a method of coping. If you asked me where to start and end the course, I’d tell you to start at the bottom and work your way to the top as best you can like the rest of us. The finish line is up there somewhere and I hope we both make it.

Where Will You Hide When the Revolutions Come? A Proletariat’s Guide to Tachometer Installation

Photo courtesy of Duncan Millar

Cowering behind the steering wheel, you wonder if with all of the abuse you’ve reaped on your engine, will you be held to account when the guillotine (or ‘clutch’ in this metaphor) finally drops?

Beyond the faded paint, and rusted door corners. Beyond the hibernated, storage-unit affair of its interior.

Underneath the makeshift sunshade, used to protect only the most highly sensitive electronic equipment…

…lays a digital tachometer.

Photo courtesy of Duncan Millar

A purveyor of the most vital information besides water temperature, engine speed is an essential diagnostic measurement for maintenance and reference for track driving. Our preference is for a digital, as opposed to analog, readout of that information. We found a home-grown LED counter and sweeping shift light combination called the “SL10” on eBay from a French seller (and designer) named rgtracetech883 with a tonne of functionality for it’s size and price. But you can use any you prefer as long as it can read a 5 volt or higher pulse signal and be powered from a 12 volt system.

Even if you only have a tentative understanding of electricity, this really isn’t that hard! We’ll try not to drone on about theory, but getting you to understand your car (whether it’s an E30 or not) is what we’re here to do, so no promises. In this case, we’re going to try not to bore you with the installation of this simple power/ground/signal tachometer.

Step 1: Unfuck the Cluster

If the first word you think of after “cluster” is “fuck” then you’ve come to the right blog. We pulled this entire dashboard out for what was ostensibly no reason once, and in subsequent efforts, just the cluster at least a dozen times, so a few steps might be missing since we’ve left a few things out to streamline the process. As you’ll see in the picture, the plastic trim panel that hides the manufacturing nether-regions below the cluster has already been removed (and misplaced). After you’ve navigated to a better resource and figured out how to remove the outer-most panel, grab a PH1 screwdriver (or bit, extension, and impact gun) and remove the four screws imprisoning the bezel. Once that’s removed, there would normally be two more screws holding the cluster itself to the ceiling of the dashboard. Pop those out and get to wigglin’.

It’s in there pretty tight. This is normally where we’d say “that’s what she said” but our adjacent German-language erotic Scott Pilgrim fan-fiction blog only comes out once a month and we don’t want to spoil anything for you by going on a tangent. We found that if you pull up on the bottom, and swing it in towards the front of the car, you can use the space inside the dash to point the face at the floor and eject it like a DVD of Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

Here’s the part where we could just walk you through the details to make it easy for you, but knowledge is power, and power is something you’ll need when you have a 238,000-mile old M42-powered BMW.

Step 2.0: The Basics

The M42 tachometer is aesthetically analog, but is technically digital. It receives a digital signal that gets translated and represented by a sweeping needle across a handsome 6200 RPM redline face. That signal comes in a pulse directly from the computer. That pulse is a beat of 5 volts so-many times per second (where in the off-beat it sends nothing, like turning a light bulb on and off). That beat of so-many pulses-per-second is the hertz frequency or just hertz. So if the computer is sending 5v pulses 20 times per-second, that’s a 20 hz frequency. In the case of the M42 owner specifically, those 20 count, 5v pulses-per-second, represent 800-900 revolutions of the engine per minute.

Step 2.1: All the Right Signal

Now that you’re a little more knowledgeable, it’s time to test that theory on some of the wiring behind the cluster to confirm which wire you’re going to circumcise for the good of your new tachometer signal input. Remove the blue connector and disassemble it as shown in the pictures. Since we’ve already installed ours, you should be able to tell that the black wire is going to be the one sending that 5v, 20hz signal from the computer. Start your engine so you have a frequency to read and place the setting dial of your multimeter in the “Hz” position. With your black wire still attached to the blue connector, you should be able to stab the red lead of your multimeter down into the top of the harness and hopefully contact the bare metal of the wire, and complete the circuit by attaching the black lead to any metal that is attached to the frame of the car. Grounding circuits out to the frame is a concept we won’t go into here because we have to get back to the Planet of the Apes marathon and there simply isn’t time. If at idle, you see “.02 khz” (move the decimal over a few spaces and you’ve got 20 hz) come across the screen then by Jove, you’ve done it! Splice into the black wire and lead your new wire away from the cluster to a location that will let you hook it up to your new tach. Our old tach no longer worked, so we opted to cut it out completely before re-routing it to the top corner of the dashboard on the driver’s side. Turn the engine off for these next steps or you’ll risk turning components of your new tachometer into tiny mushroom clouds.

Photo courtesy of Duncan Millar

Step 2.2: POWER!

With the hard part over, and depending on the state of things in your car, you are now tasked with the trial of finding a way to power the damned thing. With most of our HVAC control and radio missing, we had a treasure trove of wires to choose from to give life to the tachometer. Specifically, one that would gain power when we turned the ignition to ON and would invariably lose power when we turned the car off. We determined that by testing the voltages of wires as we turned the ignition ON and OFF. A tedious process, but an effective one. An easier option would have been to defer to a repair manual with an updated wiring diagram, finding a circuit that met our needs, and confirming with our multimeter. Run that power line from its source to your digital tachometer and move on to the next step.

Step 2.3: Don’t forget the little people – Staying Grounded

Remember when we said we didn’t have time to go into series circuitry? We still don’t have the time. Battle for the Planet of the Apes just started and we’ve already missed the crash landing of the spaceship into the Forbidden Zone and we don’t want to miss Taylor’s first meeting with Nova. Oh, Nova. But we will tell you that it’s not like a battery. You don’t have to route the ground cable back to the battery, it can simply be grounded to a nearby bolt, as long as that bolt has an all-metal path back to the frame.

We’ve learned to always anticipate that things will be removed for maintenance or upgrade, so instead of crimping or soldering the tachometer directly to our newfound power, ground, and signal wires, we snapped them together using parts from the same connector kit we used to adapt the oxygen sensor in our exhaust manifold blog entry from last week.

If you haven’t already, go ahead and plug everything in and give it a test! If you see numbers that make more sense than the timeline of the five original Planet of the Apes movies, than you’re now basically an electrician. Go out into the world and remember that it’s not the voltage that’ll kill you, it’s the amperage. Luckily for us, our Hitachi Magic Wand only pulls about 1.5 amps at the most. Don’t ask us how we found that out.

Now get out there and use that new digital tachometer for good by racing your E30!

Exhausting – If It Ain’t Broke, Break It: How to Replace a Broken Exhaust Manifold with an even Broken-er One (Part 1)

Photo Courtesy of Duncan Millar

Countless comments and posts, in countless forums, reiterate relentlessly that the M42 exhaust manifold (on some accounts, to have been sketched by Da Vinci in his Italian artisanal workshop alongside drawings of the Vitruvian Man and the ornithopter flying machine), is more than perfect in its functions of rate and flow. But this isn’t a perfect car, and we’re not perfect people, but the following analogy will be; Da Vinci’s flying machine likely never flew, and neither will we! Wait…

Step 1: Target Acquisition

Because we’re as committed as is reasonable to reducing waste, we acquired an exhaust manifold in a parts lot after convincing ourselves that the crack in the old one that we welded shut, will likely crack open again anyway, and thus warranting replacement. We’ll do our local metal scrap guy a solid and leave the old one at the curb instead of throwing it in the recycling bin. We paid $100 for a used fuel tank, spare M42 ECU and the titular exhaust manifold from a guy on Craigslist after following him from his college dorm apartment to a barn in the sticks, disregarding every thing we learned in every true crime podcast we’ve ever listened to about not going to a second location. The deal was too good to pass up obviously.

If you want to make future removal of post-manifold exhaust bits easier, weld on a flange. We found this one for $25-shipped on FB Marketplace and you’ll see how we affix it properly later on after a few more riveting blocks of images and text.

Step 2: Swinging – Getting that lower control arm out of your face.

Make the entire process easier on yourself by in-order unbolting the lower control arm bushing brackets (also known by fuckboys as lollipops), anti-roll bar endlinks, and anti-roll bar bracket on the exhaust manifold side of the car. This will let you swing it away from the car so that there won’t be as much banging around as when you were smashing around blindly in the dark for that condom your dad gave you a year ago after you finally moved out.

We removed the entire 22mm ST anti-roll bar to touch it up in a few spots where rust has started to develop. Because it’s made of a spring steel, rusty spots will exacerbate a decline into un-spring-steel-like qualities. This was also a lesson in proper preventive care because one of the few things we did right in the early years of building this car was using a proper silicone grease inside the anti-roll bar bushings. While anti-seize is an alternative we used in other areas of the car, it would’ve been detrimental here. Most off-the-shelf anti-seize products eventually dry out by design, leaving a powdery barrier between metals, but, would have been abrasive to the painted surface of the bar, eventually leading to rust. We’re also going to recondition the fasteners, washers, spacers, and brackets before we re-install it all later.

Step 3: Manifold Removal – The only danger to it, was us.

Removal, surprisingly, was the easiest part. While it can be done with a simple combination of a 3/8″ ratchet, 11mm deepwell socket, and a short-ish extension, you’ll save yourself a sore chest by using some sort of right-angle device. We used one that chucks right into the 1/4″ drive of our knuckle-savior impact gun. That and a 6″ magnetic bit holder placed betwixt the gun and the right-angle attachment (not pictured), gave us all the access we needed to reach every nut without having to switch back to simple primitive, proletariat hand tools. Seizing the means of production doesn’t imply that we can’t use power tools. An air-powered ratchet is a cheap alternative if you have a tank and air hose available.

Photo courtesy of Duncan Millar

In our case, this manifold had been removed and retrofitted with a new flange once before, so your disassembly process after the 4-to-2 collector might be different, but moving the suspension components out of the way will still be necessary to a hassle-free extraction of the manifold itself. Once we had all of the fasteners removed, we unbolted it from the aforementioned flange, and snaked it out like a toilet rooter from a clogged septic tank.

Recommendation: You’ll find that the fasteners will come out as either the nut alone or the nut and stud together. If both come out, watch this surprisingly short (50 seconds) and effective video on how to remove the stuck nut so that you can re-install the studs and use them as guides during the new manifold’s installation.

Step 4: New Manifold Preparation

Apologies in advance, but this process will be a little pacific to our situation. As in, the wrong side of the ocean. This was our second time dealing with an incorrect manifold, both having been built for a right-hand driven car, and we weren’t ready to fuss about the time and money required to tool-up a new one. The original manifold’s third cylinder tubing, ( a manifold which we will euphemistically refer to as “eBay sourced”) didn’t clear the motor-mount by any reasonable stretch of the imagination and for lack of material and welding skill, had to be replaced.

We got lucky and found one that was known to be persuaded with minimal percussive maintenance, so we glad-handed the old one off to some sucker for 20 dollar-menu burgers, and got to work dinging the new one up (with a combination of propane heat and a claw hammer) and welding on the appropriate accouterments. Because this one was still more than a little wrong we had to open up the bolt holes on the base plate to help align it, and weld a new M18x1.5 02 sensor bung to a mirrored position near the end of the manifold since it was making kissey faces with the floorpan of the passenger-side of the cabin. After that, we cut down the flange to the necked-down smaller diameter and welded it to the end of the manifold. We accidentally used an E71TGS instead of our stainless flux core wire so we’ll have to keep an eye out for premature corrosion since there’s no chromium in the weld to help protect against it.

Next week, check back in for the thrilling conclusion, where we deliberately post pictures in conjunction with textual descriptions of all the ways this process went wrong and how we eventually struggled together as a crew to pay our copay for group therapy in the aftermath.