• BMW 2002 The engine and axles are in, but springs have proved a pain

    / #BMW-2002 / #BMW

    Moving the 2002 to a more suitable location – a workshop rather than a conservatory – has meant that it’s been possible to carry out some real mechanical work on it. But before I could fit any major components, such as the engine and axles, I had to remake all of the hard brake lines that run through the engine bay and down the length of the car.

    It was a job I really wasn’t looking forward to, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to bend each pipe to the perfect angles to match my ludicrously high standards. And I was right. But I did manage to make them look neater than I ever thought I would, even if achieving this took me around six weeks of working on them every weekend.
    As well as making new brake lines I had to incorporate a new restrictor valve. OK, I didn’t have to – as I’ll be fitting the same rear drums I used before I could have just reinstalled the original unit that limited the pressure to the back axle at a fixed rate. But I wanted to install a variable one so that if, one day in the future, I decide to put disc brakes on the back, I can tone down their effectiveness.

    So while the braking system was apart it seemed silly not to include the valve, plus I’d also get the opportunity to tweak and fettle the brake bias. But where to put it? I bought it months ago, but only recently decided that just to the left of the handbrake was the ideal place for access and neatness of brake lines.

    After all that, the back axle was ready to go on. I refurbished the driveshafts with new gaiters and a lick of paint, and tidied up the diff casing with plenty of smooth black Hammerite – I think 50 per cent of the car’s final weight will be made up of smooth black Hammerite…

    The Gripper limited-slip differential will remain as before, with its same low 4.11:1 final-drive ratio and hilariously aggressive locking action. Next was the front axle and engine. For this I needed as many hands and eyes as possible to install it in without anything colliding with the immaculate bodywork. With the motor and gearbox on the front subframe, my dad, brother and I suspended the lot from a hoist through the bonnet. We then lowered the car on the ramp while raising the engine and front subframe, doing both at a glacial pace, until it all lined up. It was tense, but with many hands and reams of blue 3M masking tape, the blue paint remained blemish-free and my sanity intact.

    With the subframes and suspension arms attached, the Bilstein dampers and Gaz top mounts could go on. And the springs. Oh, what a debacle the springs have been. Bilstein suggested a set that sounded way too stiff, so Eibach helped out by testing the stiffness of my old springs and suggesting options it had available. After consulting with the technicians at Bilstein again, we settled on an 80N/mm main spring with a 20N/mm tender at the front, and progressive rears that are at 72N/ mm when static. The springs are proportionally a little softer at the front than the rear, which is the opposite way round to before, and exactly what I wanted to compensate for the slightly-too-stiff front anti-roll bar. However, overall the springs are 100 per cent stiffer than my old ones…
    Is it going to be too stiff? For most people, probably. For the person (me) who thinks a full roll-cage, harnesses, brake-bias adjustment, a diff that locks up with only the merest hint of any torque and a sprint-like final-drive ratio is acceptable on a road car, probably not.

    Will Beaumont (@ Wil-lBeaumont)
    Date acquired July 2008
    Total mileage 145,050-ish
    Mileage this month 0
    Costs this month £298 brake fittings and lines
    £500.40 springs (plus as much smooth black Hammerite as I can afford)
    Mpg this month n/a

    Above: work on the Beemer has forged ahead now that the 2002 is in the workshop, with engine, gearbox and suspension now all in place. Left: making new brake lines proved time-consuming.