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    PIERS’ E46 330i TOURING / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330i-Touring / #BMW-330i-Touring-E46 / #BMW-330i-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E46/3 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E46

    As promised I am finally getting on with re-suspending the old girl! The old subframe that I pulled apart too long ago was taken down to Trestan, a powder coating specialist local to me in Southampton. They have been around for years and do a top-quality job. It was interesting going down there and seeing all the different things they were doing for customers: big brakes, railings, BMX bike frames, wheels and motorcycle frames. If it’s metal they will strip it and coat it!

    One of the things that I am really enjoying about my journey with cars is the people I am meeting and how there is a community in all things metal and powered by fossil fuels! My buddy from the garage with the T-Rex arms has just finished his bike build with Attitude Cycles in Southampton.

    We have joked that he had to have a custom build in order to deal with his shortcomings! Mickeytaking aside, his bike is awesome and I got to go down and have a look around Attitude Cycles, total respect, blown away with what they do! With everything powder coated I have started getting bearings in with the aid of Preston the press at KWR. B and B Components have again sorted out all of the wheel bearings and new Meyle lower control arms and tie rods, they really are a super-easy internet company to deal with! Once I have completed the initial work of preparing everything, one day with Kirk at KWR should see the whole shooting match on the car. Exciting stuff!

    It is going to be a bit of a journey into the unknown… Will things be too extreme? Will I have ruined my comfortable daily? Getting a bit lower, staying flatter, greater control, I think those will be a given. Once this is all done, I think you know what will be next on the list of things to do… more power! Oh and the UUC shifter has bedded down and I love it, it just works!

    No powder coating job too big or too small for Trestan.
    Subframe and E30 Touring wheels prior to powder coating.
    Looking shiny and new after powder coating.
    Fitting bearings an easy job with help from Preston the press.
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    PIERS’ E46 330i TOURING / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330i-Touring / #BMW-330i-Touring-E46 / #BMW-330i-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46

    When you have your BMW aftermarket dealer’s number saved in your phone it is cause for concern. And when you are considering setting up a monthly direct debit to him it’s really time to start worrying! Last month was about unboxing the suspension but unfortunately this month isn’t about fitting it as I have more bits being sorted before a mammoth day down at #KWR services in Southampton. Kirk and I will be fitting front and rear subframes and all the new suspension components, including new front hubs and all wheel bearings. I’ll probably fit new #ABS-sensors as well as I had an E46 ‘Christmas tree’ dash moment driving in torrential rain. Wild speedo readings: 60mph whilst stationary at lights and zero at 70mph on the motorway… yes, only 70! Along with ABS traction control and handbrake lights on!

    As I mentioned a few moons ago, my significant other has a Mazda MX-5 which has possibly one of the best shifts of any OE gearbox. The shift has been one of the constant frustrations of the E46 so I have finally had enough and have decided to do something about it. So I hit up my dealer, Roy at CA, and asked him what the deal was when it came to shortshifts?

    I kind of didn’t really need to ask as #UUC has been making one of the most wellengineered solutions for many years. One of the things that I am enjoying about breathing new life into the E46 is the really great companies that support older BMWs. As an aside my old man lives in Oz and he loves cars and one of the trends he is seeing more and more of is people driving older, modified, updated whips instead of new cars. People are shunning the overly complicated expensive to fix new cars for older ones which are more fun and enjoyable to run modify and bond with. His choices are a bit older than mine: Volvo Amazons and Alfasuds (apparently they don’t rust as much in Oz!)

    So back to the short-shift kit. I love things which have been thought through, designed and engineered. I’m 6’2” and, unlike my friend Dan, I don’t have T-rex arms. I don’t want a shifter that becomes a bit TVR i.e a ball on top of the transmission tunnel. I need to still be able to clear the armrest. And this is where the UUC shifter comes into its own with its adjustable height feature. In addition, the design of the double shear linkage means that a large amount of slop is taken out of the whole gear throw mechanism. The theory is all good but once fitted I will let you know what the reality is like.
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    PIERS’ #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330i-Touring / #BMW-330i-Touring-E46 / #BMW-330i-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46

    Suspension month! A couple of weeks ago I travelled to #CA-Automotive and picked up my stockpile of suspension components. I did this on my birthday and I did it in my second BMW, a little E30 #BMW-3-Series-Touring I may have recently bought… Yes I did say the #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E46 was the one car to do it all, but I was wrong and the slope is slippery!

    There may be more on the #BMW-E30 in the future but this is about my journey with the E46. As you may know from previous installments, I have changed the front lower control arm bushes and rear trailing arm bushes for Powerflex ones, which in both instances have made a world of difference. The rest of the suspension is no longer factory fresh at 103k miles. I thought long and hard about what I was going to do suspension-wise and decided that I was going to go extreme. If it really was too much for the road then I could re-do the beam that comes off the car to a less extreme version and swap it out.

    Bilstein B16s and Eibach anti-roll bars form the bones of the upgrade and, whatever happens with bushes, these will stay the same. Ground Control and Rogue Engineering provide supporting roles, with Ground Control top mounts and drop links for the front suspension and rear upper inner bearings. Rogue Engineering provides reinforcement for the front turrets and ties them together with one of its strut braces. At the rear it also provides top mounts (a smart solution for a Touring as I only have to pull apart the interior once – after this the bolts are accessible from under the car!), spring perch reinforcement and trailing arm spherical bearings. Powerflex Black Series bushes step in for rear subframe and diff duties.

    I have an ongoing debate with Kirk (his M50 turbo E36 Touring is alive and is now on its wheels and is on the home stretch!) and boys down at KWR Services; will I be turning the E46 into a boneshaker or will it be firm and controlled? I also have another dilemma: do I have the rear floor reinforcements including a brace done before bolting all of this on? Find out in my next installment!
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    PIERS’ #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330i-Touring / #BMW-330i-Touring-E46 / #BMW-330i-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E46 / #BMW

    Autumn reminds me of the lyrics: “Years slip away and I get older, leaves hit the ground and it gets colder” (Jungle Brothers – Beyond This World). I only have a simple update for you this month but it’s important! One Sunday the car didn’t start! No sparks, nothing, dead as the perverbial dodo! I live on a hill and the car is a manual so once we pushed the old girl off the drive we got rolling and a bump start later we were on our way. On Tuesday the weather turned colder and the same thing happened. It always surprises me how heavy steering and brakes are without the assistance!

    I decided to buy a new battery at Euro Car Parts to hopefully cure the problem. The one I removed looked like the original BMW one so after 13 years of service it was probably time for it to go to battery heaven. I bought a #Bosch-S4-008 model costing £108 and the sockets required are a 10mm, a 13mm and a Phillips screwdriver. I took the negative terminal off first, pulled the old battery out, put the new one in (not forgetting to transfer and reconnect the vent tube) and that was it! The car starts much more easily now and everything seems brighter but maybe that’s just my imagination! Next month things will get interesting as the modifications start in earnest: coilovers, top mounts, reinforcement plates, anti-roll bars, strut brace and more… much more!
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    PIERS’ #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330i-E46 / Touring / #BMW-330i-Touring / #BMW-330i-Touring-E46 / #BMW

    After a quick weekend break across the most expensive stretch of water in the world to the IOW, summer hols have given me a bit of time to get on with another major job, the dreaded Vanos seals. Like most of the things that I have already done on the wagon, the Vanos seals are another thing that needs sorting because of perished rubber/plastic. The double Vanos system on the #M54 engine varies the cams on both the intake and exhaust in order to increase power and torque for any given engine speed and throttle position. After time, the four rubber O-rings on the pistons inside the system harden and perish because of the material they’re made from. A Vanos rebuild centres around changing the old seals and the O-rings are upgraded from Buna rubber to Viton; Viton copes much better with the oil and heat inside the engine.

    So all of that sounds simple and it kind of is, except you have to pull apart all of the usual things when working on the M54 engine: the air intake, radiator fan and cabin filter housing and rocker cover. The ’50s Kid on YouTube has a great tutorial on how to do these things. He also has a Vanos rebuild tutorial, which includes the antirattle rings (which I don’t need to do… yet!). I have watched the videos of ’50s Kid several times now so was pretty happy with how to do things. I had stockpiled all of the parts to do the job with the replacement seals themselves where from I6 Automotive.

    Whilst taking on this job it is a good idea to change the gasket between the block and the Vanos unit and then, whilst the rocker cover is off, all of the gaskets on that. I also decided to change the spark plugs whilst everything was off as it was easier. Six NKGs sorted out the pretty tired-looking Bosch plugs!

    Once the system is off it’s fairly straightforward to swap out the seals for new ones. Like everything you just take your time and work in a clean environment! Make sure you have plenty of rags around when you are getting the unit off as there is quite a bit of oil which will come out and happily cover all of your radiator hoses and drive belts – not something you want to happen!

    With the seals done it is just a case of getting everything back together again. On start up the engine will sound a bit rough but that is just the system having to refill with oil. I am currently pootling around for 100 miles below 3000 revs to bed things in, so will let you all know next month how things have changed, if at all!

    What has happened every time I have done a major job to the engine? You guessed it, a coil pack went down, the engine light went on and the car started running on five cylinders! So I sorted the problem for good and replaced all of the remaining old ones. Apparently if one goes they all start to go, as the next weakest one becomes the weakest link!

    I am hoping that now the Vanos seals, spark plugs and coil packs are all new the engine will have a new lease of life and fuel economy will improve that little bit more as well. Next time I should have changed the fuel filter, as I’m not sure when that was last done. Also the rear suspension will hopefully be back from the powdercoaters!
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    PIERS’ #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330i / TOURING / #BMW-330i-E46 / #BMW-330i-Touring / #BMW-330i-Touring-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-E46 /

    Last month we sorted the brakes and that meant no more seized pistons, knackered discs and pads, 13 year-old lines and fluid of an undetermined age! Considering what my brakes were like before, after a thousand miles of bedding in what is the new EBC setup like? It is a revelation, that’s what!

    Starting with the point of interaction, the pedal is much firmer but still offers modulation. Having ridden push bikes for years, both mountain and road, modulation of brakes is possibly one of the most important aspects – power without control is an unruly beast! New fluid and the braided hoses probably account for a lot of this new feel. The firmer pedal also gives me a better pivot for trying to heel-and-toe.

    The YellowStuff pads and BSD discs work really well together, even in the hustle and bustle of daily driving. I have never had that ‘nothing there’ feeling that you can get from a harder pad before they are warmed up, which was my only real concern going with this setup.

    Once the pads were bedded in I engaged in some more spirited driving and braking to explore the performance. I have found the noise of the slotted discs strangely addictive! It is a pleasant drone which lets you know things are working. Pad squeaking has been minimal and has reduced as things have bedded in. Once up to temperature the pad and disc combo is great, I can’t really think how I would have to drive on the road to over tax things, let’s just say it would be Reckless with a capital R. A couple of emergency situations requiring a lunge at the brakes have definitely confirmed that there is no problem with initial bite.

    As you can see from the pictures, OE dust issues have been significantly reduced. This is after a week of driving. The OE setup would mean the alloys looked like they had been painted gunmetal! I am also impressed with the Geomet finish, which has remained on all surfaces not touched by the pads. Much nicer than a rusting disc surface behind your wheels!

    Big brake kits are nice to have but like a lot of things at what point is there a diminishing return on an investment? Until I bolt on the supercharger the EBC disc, pad and braided hose upgrade is going to be more than up to what I’m going to throw at them. I would recommend it to anyone looking for more than OE but not wanting to spend a fortune on a BBK. Many thanks to Gareth and the EBC team!

    CONTACT EBC www.ebcbrakes.com 01604 583344
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