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Last Post 19 Dec 2011 10:36 AM by  Fair
Vorshlag BMW E46: DSP Auto-x Project
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Fair
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10 Jun 2010 04:24 PM
[U][B]Update from the first NASA event in the E46, March 13, 2010:[/B][/U] This was the first NASA Texas event that I could make this season, and the only 2nd time to have this car on track since purchasing it late last year. The first time it was run on the same AST 4200s and the same 18x10 wheels & 265mm Yokohama tires, but without any fender rolling so I had lots of tire rub out back, and it was raining. Since then we'd installed a few more go fast goodies, clearenced the fenders, and performed lots of preventative maintenance and repair work.

First off, let's start with the gallery of photos: [url]http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-...;/url] - 168 some odd pictures from Saturday

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The E46 ran flawlessly, other than feeling down on power, as usual. I'm used to running Amy's E36 M3 on track, which has only "15 more hp" but feels more like +75. ;) The 265/35/18 Yokohama A032 tires on the D-Force 18x10's were the only saving grace on the E46, making plenty of grip.

My biggest concern was the tire clearancing done the night before, as well as the completely untested cooling system upgrades. Before putting the car onto the trailer the night before I drove around the block and immediately noticed a significant leak from the lower radiator hose. When I installed the new hose I forgot to order a new coolant sensor, which clips into place in the hose. Just as it did when I did the same hose swap on the '99 323i a couple of months ago, the re-use of the old sensor (and O-ring) in a new hose caused an identical leak on the 330Ci. Stupid mistake - not learning from a previous mistake. There was no solution to be found at 10 pm at night other than a bit of RTV around the O-ring, which somehow actually worked, and even lasted the weekend.

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[I]Of course in Time Trials there was open passing, but this is the track we ran, in a Clockwise direction[/I]

The fender rolling in the rear seemed to be adequate. With a stock exhaust the car was deathly quiet on track, the only noise coming from the tires. So it was obvious that the tires were clearing the fenders, and a quick check after each session proved this out. I only noticed a slight tire noise when I clipped the inside curbing when entering Little Bend, coming from the left rear. It proved to be a non-issue, and I could avoid the curbing with no impact on lap times.

I struggled a bit on my first session, exploring the limit of the tires in the cool morning air and finding the proper gear changes on the MSR 1.7 mile course. I missed my 1st of 4 sessions, due to an exceedingly long tech line where I shuffled the E46 and the M3 through simultaneously. I quickly realized that my car and TTD in general was going to be in the slower half of the cars in the Time Trial group. But oddly enough, the 330 was only really losing ground on the straights (power), and keeping up with or passing the majority of the TT cars in the big corners like Big Bend and into heaving braking, entering Rattlesnake and Little Bend. The tires, a year old set of well used Yokohama A032 medium-hard compound 265/35/18s, worked great after a barely a few turns, and were well up to operating temps within 2 laps. My fastest laps in the 3 sessions coming on my 3rd, 4th or 5th laps. By days end I had picked up more rubber than had been used - literally.

The Hawk HP+ front pads proved to be a good improvement from the old stock pads used at ECR in December, but the car still had stock replacement pads on the rear, old fluid, stock rubber brake lines, and since we didn't change those we didn't bleed the system. The pedal was unsurprisingly mushy, but overall the brakes proved to be still very effective. The only cars out-braking the E46 were KenO's E46 M3 on Stop Techs and a few of the faster TTU Corvettes. I hope with new lines, fluid and upgraded Hawk rear pads it will be even better.

The handling was quite good straight off, with the compression on the AST 4200 shocks set at full soft (0) and the rebound started at +6 from full soft all around, -3.9° front camber, and 1/4" of front toe out. We had no time to schedule a proper alignment, thrashing to finish the other repairs the week before, so I checked and adjusted the front toe in the pits before my first (which was the 2nd TT) session.

Brian Hanchey of AST-USA was there offering track side support to AST customers, and was kind enough to pass along some outside observations. He noticed a bit of front wheel bouncing going into the bumpier sections of the track, so I upper the rebound +2 and +3 clicks at each end, which really smoothed things out. He was watching all of the cars, and noted that the AST equipped cars all looked VERY composed than the rest in the bumpy sections and through the tight bits like Rattlesnake. Many other racers were bouncing about the track, as we normally see.

After my first session (Group C, Trial 2) my fastest lap was in the 1:33's... yeesh. That looked pretty bad on the results sheet from that session, with only 2 cars running slower. I recall Hanchey running 1:24's last year on street tires in the TTA EVO X, and we both ran quicker than that in the TTU V8 E36 (of course). I had never driven a car this slow at MSR, and the only gauge I had at the time were the other competitors in TT. The car felt SO SLOW on the straights, and I was trying pretty hard to keep out of everyone's way. The next 7 closest cars faster than me were running 1:29-1:30 fastest times, so I pushed harder in Trial 3 to catch that little group. In Trial 3 I manged a 1:29.811 fast lap. Not really what I'd call fast, but it was still a TTD track record, and I was now passing a few TTC cars, even one TTA car, and the car was keeping up with almost everything in the corners.

In this session on most corners I was previously doing a check-up or even considerable braking into, I realized could be taken flat out in the 330. It was a total momentum car now, with so little power. I suspect there was another 1-2 seconds in just deeper braking as well, which we'll see with a proper flush and real pads. I've got to get the VANOS repair done, get the bigger Hoosiers on, and the headers/exhaust installed!

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[I]Flat-out in Big Bend, after passing a TTA C5 Z06 (who followed me for a few laps and repassed me)[/I]

The open diff and the crazy tall rear gearing wasn't hurting me as much on this 1.7 mile track, but it sure wasn't helping, either. I did most of the course in 3rd gear, only touching 4th in 2 places, but I couldn't use 2nd gear in the tighter "Rattlesnake" (?) complex of turns at all, as it would just ignite the inside rear tire in plumes of smoke, so I lugged around there in 3rd... still catching most of the non-autocrossers in this section (plus in Big Bend, which the car could take flat). I was getting killed on the power sections and spent plenty of time giving point-bys to the faster cars, though. It felt "RX8 weak".

I drove offline into the klag more than a few times trying to give some faster folks room to go around, and actually GAINED considerable rubber on the tires after the event was over. These Yokohamas wear like stone but make GREAT grip. I cannot count how many track laps we've done on this set of tires on the EVO X, Amy's M3 and my E46: Its in the [I]hundreds[/I] over the past 12+ months.

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Ken O was flying on Saturday and ripped off a new TTA track record in his AST 4200 equipped E46 M3, to the tune of a 1:22.8. Wow. I tried to follow him in 2 different sessions and didn't hang with him for long, as you could imagine with an 8 second difference in lap times. That car had power, brakes, and grip galore. He was hustling around the track looking for more Hoosier contingency in the larger TTA class, and getting it done once again in a TTB car, as he did at the last NASA race at MSR-Houston. The new 18x10" D-Force wheels and 285 Hoosier R6 rubber made for some phenomenal cornering speeds, and he's still learning the setup on his ASTs. Dave B's E36 325i (aka: Goldmember) was into the 1:28's on Saturday and 1:27s on Sunday, also on AST4200s, and moved up from HPDE4 to TT in the 4th run group after a checkout ride from Ken. He was super-psyched to be moved up to TTS, and the flares we both worked so hard on in previous weeks looked good over the fat 18x10" D-Force wheels and 285mm R1 rubber, and most importantly: they didn't rub. There's more time on track easily available for Dave once he gets a proper tune on his very recent (first fired last week!) S50 swap.

MER hosted a [I]GREAT [/I]party Saturday after the day of races. They served up some badass Texas chili and lots of [I]ICE [/I]cold beer. After being dehydrated that cold beer went down fast! Great bash - thanks to all the folks at MER for opening their doors and serving the grub and drinks.

At the end of the day its hard to be proud of a 1:29 lap time at MSR on the 1.7, which is the slowest I can ever remember recording here, but its at least a good starting point to build upon with the 330. Sliding around in stock seats/belts all day really sucked, and my back and arms were really sore the next day. The new OS Giken-equipped 3.38 rear end arrived the following Monday morning, so we've got a lot of work to do to get that in, the poly diff bushings installed, and the fenders clearanced for the 285mm tires before the SCCA Regional/Pennington Field auto-x next weekend, and the National Tour the week after that. A new employee is starting tomorrow to help turn wrenches around here, so hopefully we don't get so backed up working on our shop cars.

Until next time...
Fair
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10 Jun 2010 04:24 PM
[B][U]Update for Friday March 19, 2010:[/U][/B] We didn't get a chance to install a lot of the parts we had before the NASA TT event last weekend, and the new diff had arrived from DiffsOnline Monday, so we had a lot to do this week. On Monday I interviewed a guy and hired him on Tuesday, with a ton of work for him on the shop E46. Matt and I pitched in as well, and I spent a couple of nights pounding away at work with some of the GRM E30 V8 Project team also. Here's what we got accomplished on the 330 this week:

[LIST]
[*][URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Instructions/Rear-subframe-and-differential/11550792_Yxh5B#813506372_wqhoN"]Poly rear subframe bushing replacement[/URL] - Powerflex subframe bushings. New HD rubber rear diff mount bushing (old rear mount was torn badly; fronts looked fine), as there is no poly version.
[*][URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Instructions/Rear-Trailing-Arm-Bushing-RTAB/11549062_R6Dk8#813380341_6fZvL"]RTAB bushing replacement and RTAB limiter install[/URL] - this is a common upgrade/repair
[*]New 3.38 geared OS Giken rear differential install + [URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Instructions/Rear-subframe-and-differential/11550792_Yxh5B#814942208_ZfQYH"]OS Giken fluid[/URL] (@ $60/liter) - from the folks at DiffsOnline.com
[*]E-brake cable adjustment - it didn't work at all before
[*]Rear Hawk HPS rear pad install
[*]Goodridge stainless brake line install and Motul fluid flush
[*]SCCAForums Image - which at the moment was an E46 M3 front fender swap and testing (temporarily)
[*][URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Projects/BMW-E46-fender-rolling/11548906_JtHpK#813988169_k2fep"]Rear fender rolling[/URL] to clear 285s - that turned into massive hammering
[*][URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Projects/BMW-E46-fender-rolling/11548906_JtHpK#814952042_RcL4d"]Front and rear bumper cover tweaks[/URL] to line up with newly "flared" fenders
[/LIST]

The rear subframe came out on Sean's first day, and the fun really began. He and Matt spent the better part of a day removing the old subframe, RTAB and rear diff mount bushings and installing poly bushing replacements, and they had proper tools. This is not a procedure for the faint of heart, but I'm glad its done. Of course we should have aligned the car after this, as the rear toe is likely way off now, and the rear camber has never been checked or tweaked. Oh well, after the next autocross...

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Once that was wrapped up the rear brake pads, all of the flex lines and the brake fluid were swapped and bled, and the e-brake was adjusted back into a working state. Thursday night me, Derek and Chris from the GRM team knocked out the majority of the "fender flaring" needed to clear the bigger autocross rubber. The rolled rear fenders and flattened inner lips on the front, which were adequate to clear the 265/35/18s, were not enough for the big 285/30/18 Hoosiers. The front fenders could have been heavily rolled/messaged to "kind of clear" the 285s, but not with any real bump travel. The rear looked like they would HAVE to be cut to have any clearance, but Derek and Chris convinced me to at least try to push them out to test. I have a lot of hammers, so why not?

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After a good 4 hours they had the front fenders on and partially aligned and I had the rear fenders beat to absolute pulp, but they cleared the tires. This is how the E46 DSP winner from 2008 had done it, and I really didn't want to fire up the plasma cutter and make a huge mess and get into flares. Buying 2 front E46 M3 fenders was already expensive enough ($600) and I didn't want to go through the cost and hassle of grafting another pair to the rear.

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Now I wasn't sure the M3 front fenders would even fit, but I had a pretty good idea. They were perfect - every bodyline and trim recess lines up perfectly with the E46 non-M Coupe. This was the single best, sexiest mod we've done to the car to date. Wow... it really makes the car look like an M3, and clears the 285mm tires with ease. Now I really wonder: How do people have ANY trouble clearing 285s on an E46 M3??? These flares are freagin HUGE!!!

The M3 and non-M Coupe front fenders are a direct copy of each other, except for the flare section and the little "m3 side gill" insert holes. These fenders, even though they bolt on, are not technically legal for a 330 in DSP. I will graft these to a pair of stock 330 front fenders, and they will be legit, soon. This was just a test fit, to check tire clearance. To that end it was a successful test.

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We all wailed on the rear fenders, for hours, both Thursday night and Friday morning. We'd periodically stick a wheel on there and compress the suspension with the rear springs removed. Once the rear shock was into the bump stop, we'd check for clearance. With enough hammering, and the right backspace, its possible to get 18x10s and 285s to clear on an E46 coupe rear. Lots and lots of hammering. The front fender lips were even flattened in, with the poly hammer. That takes no time at all - like 2 minutes each. The rears take hours.

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Once we had the front fenders on (Thursday night) we spent a little time re-aligning the fenders and then the front bumper cover to get it all to square up perfectly on Friday. McCall stopped by around 2 pm to help and we slid the front bumper cover forward 1/4" and pulled it outwards about the same amount and it lined up with the wider outside edges and larger wheel arch diameters of the M3 fenders. Did the same tweaks on the rear bumper cover as well. No paint was harmed on either cover.

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We got it all wrapped up, Hoosier decals applied, and a quick test drive with the Hoosiers by 5 pm, McCall riding shotgun. Did one test launch with a 5000 rpm clutch dump - wow, it hooked hard. Loaded the car and everything in the trailer, ready to race by 6pm.

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There was a test session/annual SCCA tech/beginner's solo school the next day and we needed the brief testing we could get between student classroom sessions to dial in some semblance of an autocross setting before the Texas National Tour the next week. It was not to be... Saturday morning it was pouring rain, and all but the classroom sessions were canceled. No worry, we'll get some seat time at the autocross Sunday? Nope - six inches of snow dumped in a freak Spring time Texas winter storm Saturday night, and the event was pushed. So I guess the first autocross laps we'll turn will be at the National Tour. [I]Great. [/I]We'll get it aligned this week, modify the inner fender panels so they fit better, and make the front fenders 100% DSP legal before then, at least.

More soon.
Fair
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10 Jun 2010 04:25 PM
[U][B]Project Update for April 1, 2010:[/B][/U] Well after getting snowed out on our SCCA region's first event of the year March 21st, we finally got to get the E46 DSP car to an autocross event last weekend - at the [URL="http://www.scca.com/newsarticle.aspx?hub=3&news=3879"]2010 SCCA Texas National Tour[/URL] and Test-N-Tune. But first, here's what we did to the 330 last week...
[LIST]
[*][URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/gallery/10265982_73QZS#824936429_tzdX5"]Dual VANOS repair[/URL] - other than our tech not remembering the left hand threading on the tiny M4 bolts, it went off without a hitch
[*][URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/gallery/11548906_JtHpK#824961843_BiL4b"]BMW E46 330 + E46 M3 front fender merge[/URL] - finished this project at 4 am Thursday!
[*][URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/SCCA-Texas-National-Tour/11674217_m2Aop#823665114_j8zxD"]New VoMo Logo Stickers[/URL] - we did these out at the event, amidst 50 mph winds. That was fun
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Vorshlag was a sponsor of this event (the Friday night food, beer, drinks and festivities) so we had to be there all weekend - Friday through Sunday. It was good, though, as Friday had hours of testing available on a small ~30 second Andy Hollis prepared course, where we made upwards of 14 runs. Amy and I had never autocrossed the 330 yet so we used this time to get familiar with the car, make some shock and tire pressure adjustments, and see where the performance was compared to other cars testing. The car came out of the trailer quick, and we were happy with the overall feel of the car straight away.

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[I]The Texas Tour had more BMW E46 models than I've ever seen at one SCCA event[/I]

From driving it the handling on the E46 felt great, but after looking at photos I can see a lot more body roll than I like. The GTR spring rates (600F/750R) we started with worked great on the 265mm Yokohamas on track, but now seem a tad soft for the 285mm Hoosier A6 grip levels, so we'll likely be stepping up the spring rates both front and rear and playing with the front bar settings.

Once again I left the event battered and sore from hanging on - the slick leather seats and old 3-point belts do nothing to hold my butt in place. My seating position just flat out SUCKED and really made it a challenge to drive and look ahead. My tall torso (6'3") coupled with the stock seat, a new helmet purchased at the event (thanks SPS!) and the stock sunroof headliner jammed my head squarely into the roof. I ended up sitting with the seat leaned WAAAY back and my head cocked sideways to fit inside the sunroof pocket, now moving the COBRA seat install way up the priority list.

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The 330 slalomed very well, and the new OS Giken diff and 3.38 rear gearing were a huge improvement, not to mention the now functional dual VANOS system, after some quick repairs back at the shop last week. The tires and diff were working SO well in fact that I smoked the stock 100K mile clutch. 4000 rpm launches and it was [I]hooking up hard! [/I]It got pretty bad on Day 1 and we had to lower our launch to 2500 rpm, and baby the (many) 2-3 shifts. The stock "CDV" (clutch delay valve) is still in place (doh!), so that's causing more clutch slip than necessary. Oh well, we were going to slip in this Aluminum Fidanza flywheel soon, as well as a new shifter and clutch/pp. Tire rub was nonexistent, so I guess our extra testing in the shop paid off.

The course was long and hard... wow, that sounded too graphic. 90 second course with tons of slaloms and tricky offsets, but these played well to the strengths of the ASTs and BMW overall. We did outrun the power steering a couple of times (mostly during the tighter slalom at Friday's TNT), and could use more power of course. My driving was "meh" and I PAXed poorly as a result, but we were glad just to get through this monster course with minimal cone carnage. The larger course put our straight away speeds right beyond the limit of 2nd gear and the engine rpm limit (7000), so Amy spent a lot of time on the limiter, and I spent a lot of time shifting (like a lot of racers, she's still hit-or-miss on busy heel-toe downshifts). On my fastest runs I did a total of 6 up and down shifts between 2nd and 3rd. [I]Busy busy! [/I]Made for a lot of fancy footwork, switching between left foot braking and right foot braking/heel-toe downshifting.

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[LIST]
[*][URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/SCCA-Texas-National-Tour/11674217_m2Aop#823627133_Mbcrd"]Pictures from the event[/URL]
[*][URL="http://www.scca.com/documents/resultfiles/results9.pdf"]Final Results[/URL]
[*][URL="http://sccaforums.com/forums/storage/16/409938/TexasTour.PAX-RTP.Final.pdf"]PAX results[/URL] (58th out of 206 is bad)
[/LIST]

There's still some suspension tuning to do, at a proper all day autox test session, but overall we were happy. My poor PAX result means I have a lot of work left to do, on the car and on the driver. The 330 passed the sound regs with flying colors, only registering 78 dB - one of the lowest at the event! I guess the stock exhaust is choking both sound levels and power potential. There were several ST cars in the 101 dB range.

With 2 drivers pounding on the car for 3 days at [I]THE [/I]absolute most abrasive event site in all of Dallas/Ft. Worth, the new set of sticker Hoosier A6s took a massive beating. We might get 2-3 more "little site" autox events out of this set, but they're pretty used up. We did a lot of Test runs Friday, which we needed to learn the car, but it was a costly event. Luckily we had 3 in class so I won 2 new Hoosiers for the weekend (Amy would have won another tire for 2nd place if we would have had 5). I'll probably get some 285 R6 tires coming for use at the April 24-25th NASA TT event at Texas World Speedway, and get some more A6s coming later in April. I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of tire purchasing.... this ain't as cheap as STU, that's for sure! :D

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The new BMW roof and headliner are flying here from Germany now, and the 4-point Kirk Racing roll bar are inbound on a freight truck. I'll order some stainless mandrel 3" bends for the exhaust and slap the headers in at the same time. Lots to do in the coming weeks.

Still pondering 3" (quiet) muffler and single disc clutch choices - [B]any suggestions are appreciated[/B]. We'll add a 3" catalyst to cut down on the sound, and to keep it a little more earth friendly.

Until next time...
Fair
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11 Jun 2010 04:55 PM
[U][B]Autocross # 2 in the E46:[/B][/U] After a hectic track day on Saturday, [URL="http://www.vorshlag.com/forums/showthread.php?p=55249#post55249"]where Amy ran her M3[/URL], we motored back and swapped the cars inside the trailer to get ready for an autocross on Sunday in the E46. This was just a regional SCCA autocross at a smaller lot, but it was a concrete surface, so we had to go for the seat time. The location is called Pennington Field, and its the smallest lot we race on here in Dallas/Ft. Worth.

[URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/SCCA-Penn-April-11-2010/"]Picture Gallery[/URL]

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The course was pretty quick, with straights exceeding 60 mph in 3 places (I topped out 2nd gear all 3 times), but was only about 33 seconds long. I didn't have any competition in DSP, as usual, but Amy ran the car in the local "W" class, where the ladies can run together in a PAX format. She won her class handily, and was .5 sec off of my best time.

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The car felt great, other than still having the stock seats/belts/sunroof, so my seating position sucked. The new roof & headliner are in transit from Germany, so that's coming soon. The 4-point Kirk Racing roll bar is waiting for me to pick it up at the powder coaters, and the seats are sitting here ready to have brackets fabbed up. All of this goes in at once. I found out the fuel level limit - with about 1/8th of a tank it fuel starved badly my first 2 runs. I had a noobie passenger with me and rode through with her after my 1st run, barely making it back for my 2nd run. After that run I made a mad dash down the street for fuel. But my 3rd and 4th runs went fine, so I can't blame that for my slow-ish times.

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[I]Left: Madderash uses a tiny steering wheel - like 11" dia! Right: Foley was stinkin fast in his C6[/I]

The gearing we picked for the new OS Giken diff (3.38:1) may be a bit short, as this is only letting the car get to 61 mph at 7000 rpm. Once we get a chip for this car I'll raise that to 7500 revs, and that will net us 66 mph (8000 rpm = 70 mph). Might have been better off with a taller SP legal ratio. Oh well, it works for the tighter courses, and it will get better once we unleash the revs.

[U][B]Results/Excuses:[/B][/U] My times were still off of what we need to be running. Multi-time Nationals winning Mark Madderash was on hand in his ESP Firebird, and we need to be a lot closer to him than we were. He's my gauge for competitiveness, and he PAXed #1, like he does often. I was disappointed when I looked at the [URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/SCCA-Penn-April-11-2010/11813028_X3eyo#834834955_YHrex"]PAX results[/URL], stuck all the way back in 8th, which isn't a good showing for the car. I've got my excuses ready! First, well... I ran first (about the 4th car out in the morning) in the first heat, so the course cleaned up a bit in the afternoon. Still, I had Foley and Wagner in the SS C6 Z06 in Heat 1 to gauge by, and J-Fo put a solid 1.3 seconds on me, raw. Next: seating position is killing me. I'm hanging onto the wheel for dear life, but sitting leaned way back to clear my helmet to the roof. And I sat on the rev limiter for a lot of tenths of seconds, especially at the finish. I think the rev limiter bump would have been good for at least .5 sec. Still, we have lots to work on...

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As you can see in these pictures there's just way to much pitch/roll/lean, and stiffer spring rates will go in this week. Then we'll finally corner balance the car and see how it does at the next event - which is Texas World Speedway April 24-25 with NASA. The R6s I won at the Tour arrived today (they are going on another set of D-Force 18x10s for TWS) and I bought another set of A6s on Saturday while I was out at MSR (PST is the trackside Hoosier supplier for our area). The first set of A6s that we beat up at the Mineral Wells Tour made it through the Pennington event in pretty good shape, so I'll save the new A6s for when these get to cord. The wear is perfectly flat front and rear so far, so I've got the tire pressures and alignment [I]pretty [/I]close.

I got to play with a MaxQ (about $600 new, for mounts, iPaq PDA, GPS sensor, etc) data system on Saturday, thanks to KenO. I really like the system overall - super easy to use, and with a real time and predictive lap display its comparable to much more expensive data logging systems. We'll be rounding up the pieces needed for one of these systems in the next 2 weeks and I'll post up about it here.

Cheers,
Fair
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11 Jun 2010 04:56 PM
[U][B]Update for April 16, 2010:[/B][/U] We got the lightweight battery in last week, just didn't have time to update the thread. The bracket was a simple one I built for Redwood's E46 sedan years ago, also to hold a PC680 Odyssey. Sean bolted it to the E46 battery tray, took it apart and re-primed and painted the old stock tray, put it all in the car, and the install was a breeze. This bracket can be made with parts sourced from Home Depot and Autozone for under $20 - no welding needed.

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[I]Left: Stock battery is huge. Right: Stock E46 battery next to PC680.[/I]

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[I]Left: The old bracket I made for Redwood. Right: PC680 in my 330[/I]

To make the Tech guys happier I will install a rubber cover over both terminals. The stock plastic battery tray covers all of this anyway.

After talking to JeffD of Sachs last night, who was at the shop [URL="http://www.vorshlag.com/forums/showthread.php?p=55267#post55267"]lending a hand on the GRM $2010 E30[/URL], he thinks he has a solution for a clutch and pressure plate to work with the Fidanza 12 pound aluminum flywheel I have already purchased (below, left) for the 330. 240mm clutch disc, sintered organic material face, and a lightweight E36 M3 Sachs pressure plate. We've recently purchased a replacement rear trunk lid "handle lip" that always breaks away from the body. It was only about $76 for everything shown (below, right) and we'll just re-use the painted part that's on the car. The 4 plastic screw holds in the black piece fractured and fell out of the old part.

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Sean pulled the stock manual seat out of the driver's side (57 pounds) and popped in the Suzuka for a quick test fit. Wow... even with 1.24" of spacer under the seat (about the thickness of my custom brackets/slider I made for the E36) I have 2-3" more head room than before... we're still going to swap the roof and headliner of course. We'll run the driver's seat for TWS if we get it all in by next weekend, and the 4-point roll bar is back from the powder coater. Its going in when the sunroof delete roof panel stuff gets here.

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Just ordered some new springs for the rear (2.25" dia x 5" x 900#/in) and we'll put the 750s currently out back in the front. Need to control the roll a bit better. MaxQ data system inbound soon as well. A third set of 18x10" D-Force wheels and some 285 Hoosier R6s are on hand for TWS... in a week!

More soon,
Fair
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11 Jun 2010 04:57 PM
[U][B]Update for May 1, 2010:[/B][/U] Not much to show in the way of mods since the last update. We did swap the springs to stiffer rates after looking at pictures of the car loaded up with large amounts of bodyroll.

This was the 3rd autocross for me and Amy in the E46 330Ci. We ran again with the SCCA at the Texas Motor speedway's bus lot (asphalt) against the same crowd we always do, so we can compare to previous PAX listings and see if we're improving the car. The course was a normal ~60 second length and the grip levels were good for a sealed asphalt site. Speeds were topping 62 mph (that's the limit in 2nd gear @ 7000rpms) for me in 4-5 spots, but the improved (lower) gearing was helpful for corner exits.

Amy won the PAXed 6-car Women's class and I won the 2-car DSP class, with my co-driver Paul M getting a close second (.47 sec back). I PAXed 4th out of 111 drivers this time, which is getting better, so I think the new spring rates are helping. Paul PAXed 7th and we're still awaiting updated results to see where Amy PAXed (they seemed to have lost 3 of her 5 runs - they had a newbie on the timing computer in the 3rd heat, which never works out well). Great event, great weather, and our last autocross before going to Spain in 2 days.

Results: [url]http://www.autocross.com/tr/modules...;/url]
PAX: [url]http://www.autocross.com/tr/modules/content/index.php?id=100[/url]

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[I]The car on the 600F/750R springs had more roll than I like[/I]

The 60mm x 6" x 600 #/in fronts and 60x5.5x750 rear Hyperco springs were removed. We put the rear springs up front, which allowed us to lower the ride height another 1/4" on that end (it finally "looks" right) and then we went with 2.25" x 5" x 900#/in Hypercos in the rear. I re-machined the AST ride height adjusters to be able to fit the smaller diameter 2.25" onto them, which is something we do with the AST adjusters that are made for 60mm springs. We lowered the rear 1/4" as well.

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[I]The sits lower at rest (left) and car corners flatter (right) on the new 750F/900R springs. Amy still loves to hit cones.[/I]

These rates are getting close to what we settled on when we raced the Alpha car before on big R compounds (800F/900R with 17x11 wheels and 315mm Hoosiers). It feels great and is easy to drive. Paul had never driven this car and hasn't raced in a BMW or on R comps in nearly a decade and hopped right in and got 7th in PAX. He normally races in Subarus and was blown away at the faster steering, the effortless brakes and incredible turn-in of the car.

Cheers,
Fair
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29 Jun 2010 06:38 PM
[U][B]Update for June 28, 2010:[/B][/U] We have had about a two month lapse since the last update, and since the last autocross in the E46, but a lot has happened since then!

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First, we tackled the dreaded [URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Projects/BMW-E46-Roof-Swap/"]E46 non-sunroof roof panel swap[/URL]. We cut off the stock roof, welded in the new roof bow and then the new BMW supplied roof panel. Then we put in the new headliner, A-, B-, and C-pillar interior panels (changed colors and replaced raggedy worn out parts) and the assorted bits that differed between the sunroof and sunroof-less E46 Coupes:

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Then we [URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Projects/E46-roll-bar-install/"]installed the roll bar[/URL]. We had the Kirk Racing 4-point competition roll bar powder coated locally, and then did the install. It fits so damn tight, and its great place to hang harnesses from. I am worried about tracking a car with just a "harness bar" or stock 3-point belts. This 4-point was a bit trickier to install than the Kirk bar we did in McCall's E30, but it finally went in with some added muscle. Its touching the headliner and we had to notch the rear interior panels a tick, but it couldn't fit much better if was made one-off.

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And finally, this past weekend we got the Cobra fixed back racing seats and G-Force 6-point harnesses installed. This meant: [URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Projects/Race-Seat-Brackets/"]making custom seat brackets[/URL]. Costas helped me for a couple of hours on the driver's side bracket, which uses a Sparco dual-locking slider and Cobra side mounts. I spent way too many hours making these seat brackets - this is a job always put off until the last minute, somehow.

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Amy and I raced it with the SCCA last Sunday at TMS Bus Lot, and the car felt great. Its the first time I'm raced this car where my head didn't hit the damn roof and I wasn't sliding around on the stock leather seats in lousy 3-point belts. What a relief!

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The car felt really hooked up at this autocross - it had tons of grip, it went wherever you pointed it, gearing was perfect on 90% of the course, brakes felt great, the diff worked like magic, and it was super easy to drive fast. Only complaint was the shifter (Amy and I both missed 3rd gear more than once and had to compromise our shifting to drive around this) and the slipping clutch (100K stocker in there...still!), but those are both getting replaced soon. We each did well in our classes, but I only PAXed 11th, so I need to work on the set-up and my driving, for sure.

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Next up: new shifter, clutch, pressure plate, and lightweight flywheel. Two SCCA SW Divisional 3-day events in July, so we've got some work to do before then.

More soon.
Fair
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28 Jul 2010 05:56 PM
[U][B]Update for July 28, 2010:[/B][/U] The E46 has been largely ignored the last several weeks while we thrashed on our $2010 GRM E30, but this week we finally peeled off some time to install the new Sashs race clutch/PP, Fidanza aluminum flywheel, UUC shifter, and cheap fleaBay headers. There's an SCCA Solo Divisional this weekend so we're pressed for time to get the work done - as usual!

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Oh yea, here's a little work we had knocked out last week. Did I show the armrest delete console? Got this from KenO's M3 and it replaced the stock armrest. Lighter and more roomy (my elbow would hit the old one on track). The entire sound system has been removed - it was heavy! The Harmon Kardon speakers and amplifier and the BMW CD head unit will be for sale soon (I'll link it here). The stock airbag steering wheel is gone and replaced with a 330mm MOMO suede wheel and Sparco hub adapter. Fits well, feels good - but I haven't driven it yet.

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And the shoulder harnesses are now secured to the roll bar, so they can't slide around the curve of the horizontal bar. These 2-piece shaft collar clamps worked great.

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Getting the old trans (ZF 5-spd) out proved to be much more difficult than any of us imagined. It took one of my techs (Sean) 2 working days to get the damn thing out, on a lift, with air tools. Those E-torx head bolts SUUUUUCK. Never seen anything like it (well, except for on other BMWs!). Anyway, the old flywheel and clutch were indeed shot at 100K miles (mostly from 4 autocrosses worth of launching at 4500 rpm on 285 Hoosiers). Glazed clutch, flywheel and pp faces. If there's a Clutch Delay Valve on this car we damn sure can't find one.

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Sean insisted it would be easier to install the headers now, so he pulled the old manifolds off. Bad idea... all the stock manifold studs were rusted and the nuts are fused to 21 of 24 of them. And nobody has them in town - air freight! These atrocious piece of crap stock exhaust manifolds are the WORST factory manifolds I've ever seen. But alas - the cheap-ass fleaBay headers don't fit. [I]They aren't even close! They don't even fit the exhaust ports, much less the chassis or around the motor mount. [/I]And I know better than to buy Chinese built headers - [B]shame on me! [/B]The "real" header options seem to include Super Sprint and Active Autowerke (both of which these Chinese headers are copying - and are not all that impressive to me; too short) and the Kromer Kraft 6-2-1 header. I [I]really[/I] like the KK's ($$$), from the [I]handful [/I]of pictures I've managed to find (not a one shown on their damn website! That thing is circa 1995!!), but I've rear horror stories about shipping delays. Hmrph. I might try to build them myself, but I know better than to even [I]try [/I]that craziness before this year's Nationals. Looks like the 330 is going to stay quiet and slow for the time being. :( Flowmaster liked our exhaust test videos so much they just sent us another Hushpower 3" for this car, so I'll [I]at least [/I]build an after-header 3" mandrel bent exhaust before Nationals.

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The shifter fought us a bit but I managed to fit it together after about an hour or tweaking. The overall quality seems nice, but the arm doesn't look like a much shorter than stock. I guess they've changed the ratio - it looks different. The OEM shifter was worn out - it can be wiggled a lot and the rubber bushing in the shift handle is gone. This will be an improvement, for sure.

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The new Fidanza aluminum E46 flywheel has a 20mm thinner flange thickness so the stock flywheel bolts (made to work with the dual-mass OEM lump) are 20 too long. I needed 8 qty M12-1.5x30mm 12.9 grade head headed bolts... none in all of Dallas. So I shortened, squared, chamfered and cleaned the stock bolts and put them in with blue Loctite. Oh well, so much for doing it right! :mad

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So right now the new Fidanza flywheel (11.9 pounds) and Sach racing clutch and PP (sintered iron + organic disc) are in. Trans and crossmember are cleaned up to perfection and ready to go back in tomorrow (dreading this!). The UUC EVO3 shifter is fitted and installed. We didn't think to order a new knob so we'll re-use the stock knob for now, and maybe machine one here out of Nylon if we get time. There's all sorts of options out there, both long and SUPER long, but I want to try the new shifter with the normal small stock knob first to see how I like the placement before we go and buy or make one.

We've got a whole day and a half to wrap this trans work up and get the stock exhaust back on as well as a new flex disc for the driveshaft. Practice starts mid-day Friday.

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More soon.
Fair
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29 Jul 2010 09:04 AM
[U][B]Mini-update July 29, 2010:[/B][/U] Today is looking better - the ZF went back into the car, aligned into the clutch, in under 30 minutes. I'm confident we can get this car done today now. Running to BMW to get the overnighted exhaust studs shortly, then to Stett's for some of their E46 headers. :)

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I just went out in the shop and weighed the manifolds, eBay headers and even the stock after-header exhaust.

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If we had time I'd get that stock exhaust replaced with a ~25 pound custom system. I'll tackle this before Nats, though.

Since I'm always in a hurry and doing things like this the week before a race, Murphy's Law dictates that problems like these are bound to bite me in the ass, every time.

It'll be "done" enough to run at Nationals, but its not nearly as far along as I'd have liked for 2010. If I keep racing the car in 2011 (and I might - I like driving it) its going to need a properly SP-prepped ZHP motor and a serious revamp of the intake and EFI system. It can get a little boring (power-wise) compared to some of our other past (E36 LS2/490 whp) and "soon to be" current autocross cars (412hp Mustang, ???hp V8 E30).

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When we get time soon (probably after this weekend's Divisional event, where former FStock National Champion Casey Weiss is co-driving with me in the 330 in DSP) I'll do a couple [URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Projects/Exhaust-Sound-Testing/"]Exhaust Sound Test videos[/URL] for this car with the headers installed and the stock after-header exhaust. Then when we get time to make the new exhaust I'll do yet another sound test. Somewhere in there I'll get the car to Dallas Performance and get a dyno on the damn thing, too.

Cheers,
Fair
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29 Jul 2010 09:27 PM
Almost done... [B][U]midnight update for July 29, 2010:[/U][/B] Sean worked on the E46 until 6, and then I picked up and finished the header install until about 8:45. We've been working on the GRM E30 and McCall's E30 the rest of the evening.

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[URL="http://www.stettperformance.com/"]Stett Performance[/URL] indeed had stainless headers that fit - thanks guys! They are on the car, and all we have left to do in the morning is to bolt up the heat shield and the stock after-cat exhaust. The 3" Hushpower got here late today, so we'll get crackin' on a new single 3" exhaust next week.

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Tomorrow morning, on my way to the Divisional event, I'm dropping by Stett for a reflash of the stock ECM - to raise the redline to 7500 rpm, have the rear O2s turned off, and some other power adding tweaks. Then hopefully I'll be at the test-n-tune around 12 noon. I'll pack the on-board video camera and roll bar mount.

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More soon!
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04 Aug 2010 09:20 AM
[U][B]Update for Aug 3, 2010:[/B][/U] OK, I was up late Thursday night finishing the header install, and Friday was quite hectic getting the exhaust back on and the car loaded into the trailer, so we got to Stett's rather late. We were rushing to try to make the Divisional Test-N-Tune at LoneStarPark from 12-3 pm Friday. The retune was supposed to take an hour but the ECM was fighting them and it took close to 3 hours. I was rushing them at Stett's and we got zero test time... after the last program loaded we drove it onto the trailer and double timed it across town. We missed the TnT by about 15 minutes. That sucked, because we could have figured out some things then and there, instead of on race day.

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Regardless - the results from the Divisional event are up and the car did great, despite some significant issues stemming from our rushed modifications last week:
[LIST]
[*][url]http://autocross.com/tr/2010swdiv2_pax.htm[/url] - Weiss PAXed 5th out of 107 at the entire event in our DSP car!
[*][url]http://autocross.com/tr/2010swdiv2_fin.htm#DSP[/url] - just ignore those cones on Day 2, okay thanks!
[*][url]http://autocross.com/tr/2010swdiv2_fin.htm#W[/url] - Amy won the PAXed and optional Women's class (instead of having 100% duplicate classing, most of the ladies run in the big "W" class in our region)
[/LIST]
Casey Weiss co-drove with me in DSP and we both did well... if you ignore my coned runs from Day 2. ;) Our first day times were .15 apart and day two were hundredths apart (raw), and the overall times compared favorably to other drivers that are Nationally competitive, which was good. My best clean run on Day 2 was done in 5th gear for half the course - kinda tells you the fun I was having.

OK, so let me see if I can remember everything. Day one my first run felt quick, but I had several areas I could have improved on that run. It turned out to be my fastest run that day, which is NEVER good. The handling was spot on, but I fought with both the shifter and the low redline the rest of the day. The reflash didn't take and we were stuck with 6500 rpm redline... not 7500, so this meant we had to make several 2-3 shifts each day on the fast courses laid out (62 mph was the max speed in 2nd - not enough!)

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[I]Two of the 4 driver's in Chris Ledbetter's STX E36 328is[/I]

Weiss took a couple of runs to get used to the car (he usually runs in FStock, including in his past National Championship and last year when he grabbed 2nd), and he loved the crisp turn-in, easy slalom ability, and MASSIVE grip of the DSP prepped BMW. He said the car lacked power (of course) and upshifting was [I]very difficult [/I]- we both missed the 2-3 upshift numerous times both days (it would balk on the shift gate or go straight into 5th). The stock shift knob came off once, and I had to use the "racers tape around the shifter handle" trick to get it to stay in place. I think I adjusted one shock knob one time (was running a lot more compression than before and it felt great, even on this bumpy site's surface) and we did run higher tire pressures than I have been at the previous 4 autcocrosses, thanks to his input from running Hoosiers for the past many years. Car was neutral and had perfect handing - when we were in the correct gear.

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[I]Weiss and me, plus Amy in her Vettel/RBR shirt (RBR won the F1 race that day, arg!)[/I]

Since I was the Impound Chief I needed to test the scales on site, I weighed the E46 to get a new number - it hasn't been back on the scales since it was bone stock (3164 lbs w/ 1/4 tank). Fuel level was just under 1/4 tank again, and it now sits at 3015 lbs, with 52% of the weight on the rear wheels. Remember: the roll bar weighed over 60 pounds, and its right over the rear tires. We've knocked a net 150 pounds out of the car (really is closer to 210 if you remove the roll bar), and the rear bias looks GREAT, but the total weight is higher than I'd hoped. I've seen E36 DSP cars in the mid 2700 pound range, so we've got our work cut out for us. We've added race seats, performed the roof surgery/swap, added a lightweight battery, light 18x10s and 285 Hoosiers, lighter headers, and removed the radio, amp & speakers. We've still got the stock 62 lb exhaust on there as well as the fully functional air conditioning system, both of which need to come out this week or next. I'd be happy with 2900 even at this point, or even a tick under that. If we spent a few hours making a harness bar and removed the 4-point roll bar it would probably get to 2850, but.... we'll see. I like the security of having the roll bar for track events, but I might have 2 faster and more track worthy cars in the stable soon (Mustang and E30 V8), so I need to decide [I]what this 330 is better suited at.[/I]

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The new Sachs clutch & pressure plate worked GREAT with the lighter Fidanza flywheel. We had 3 driver's pounding on the car for 24 runs with brutal 4000-5000 rpm launches and the clutch never slipped once. Day 2 we were even launching uphill, on the e-brake - that's actually kind of fun. Big thanks to Jeff D of Sachs/ZF for sourcing the unusual Sachs race clutch/pp parts he found for us. [I]Perfection![/I] The new steering wheel felt GREAT but it totally blocks the view of the tach, so we need to add a shift light. Its better enough that I want to keep using this wheel, of course.

OK, so I was pretty upset during the event, but I'm not going to make a big deal further about the shifting. Something wasn't right, I don't know what it was, so I scrambled on Monday morning to try to find something different to test. No blame is being placed on anyone's parts, just need to try to tweak the variables. When three Nationally competitive drivers all have the same issue in the car after new parts were added, something has to be an changed. Please, let's not get into a shifter discussion here, OK? It could still be something else in the equation. Thanks.

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So Ben at Rogue Engineering built us a race version of their popular Octane shifter, complete with their CF shift knob. It looks good, just arrived an hour ago, and its being installed as I write this update. I'm going to round up some 3" stainless bends and tubing today so we can build the new lightweight exhaust for the car this week, using the Hushpower. Talked to Stett and we've scheduled a time to re-flash the tune again on Friday, hoping to get that elusive 7500 rpm redline programmed into the ECM.

Since Amy was so far off the pace that Weiss and I ran we're going to try to squeeze in as many autocross events for her in the 330 between now and Nationals (maybe 4, starting this weekend with the BMWCCA at TMS Bus Lot). With a newly added new shifter, new exhaust and (hopefully) a raised redline being added this week we both need more seat time with the set-up, and we've only had 5 autocross events in the car anyway.

I've got in-car video from all 3 drivers that I'll try to get edited and uploaded later today. More soon...
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05 Aug 2010 10:53 AM
[U][B]Update for Aug 5, 2010:[/B][/U] OK, Sean and I are knocking out the lightweight 3" exhaust for the E46. The hardest part of this entire system has been merging the two small header flange sections to the 3" main 304 SS, .049" wall tubing.

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On the front portion of the main OEM exhaust, the two exhaust pipes that mate to the stock exhaust manifolds are different sizes. One is almost 2.00" and the other is close to 1-7/8" outer diameter. No telling what the BMW Brain Trust had in mind there, but I couldn't find either sizes of tubing or bends in town in 304 stainless, so we hacked off the front portion of the OEM exhaust and used the stock flanges and short sections of tubing. These were then bolted to the headers snugly and a temporary cross brace was welded in place. Then we cut a slight V section out of one pipe and bent it towards the other until the touched, tacked them together there, and filled in the V cut with the MIG.

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Then I took a piece short of 3" tubing and smashed it in the vice on one end, making it oval in shape. Then we filled in the "V" sections between the two round pipes that were side by side. 20 gauge sheet was used for that and the custom "merge" section we then built. I cut out squares and spaced the 3" oval section back about 2", then tacked the patches on top and bottom. We hammer formed them around to the edges. Then I made trapezoidal sections of 20 gauge and we tacked and hammer formed around the curved ends.

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Everything is tacked up now and Sean is going to TIG everything up with 308L rod, then we can start on the 3" section back to the muffler.

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No, this isn't a perfect merge, and yes, there are sections of overlapping sheet in there. But this part isn't made for a beauty contest - it needs to flow exhaust gasses, and from looking inside the merge portion if looks nice and smooth inside where it matters. :) The rest of the exhaust should be done by end of today, I hope! Tuning and dyno tomorrow if everything goes as planned...
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10 Aug 2010 05:17 PM
[U][B]Update for Aug 10, 2010:[/B][/U] I've been dreading this update for days. The 330 is on the lift at Stett's with the oil pan and valve cover both off, and the [B]engine damage isn't as catastrophic as we thought[/B]... wait, let me back up a bit. Let's rewind to Thursday and the new exhaust we put together last week for the car...

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After the 2-into-1 merge collector was wrapped up and finish TIG welded Sean got to work on the rest of the 3" stainless exhaust, laying it out exactly how I had asked him to. I was out picking up the trailer and other parts and in about 3 hours he had it tacked together, and it fit the car great. We worked on the rear muffler mount a bit and then yanked it off to finish weld all of the mandrel bent joints. We first got a weight on the entire after-header system at 28.1 lbs. Remember - that's with a full sized and quiet muffler, 3" pipe, and a full length exhaust exiting at the rear bumper, with a turn down. Then Sean got to TIG welding the system. Of course he ran out of Argon at 4:45 pm, so I spent the afternoon blasting to the gas supply shop, getting this and that, and he jumped back on it in the morning and had it finished up Friday mid-day.

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I test drove it early Friday afternoon. Wow... it was LOUD inside the shop, and still pretty loud on my test drive on our little test route (we didn't stop long enough to do the sound tests), then it went on the trailer and I took it to Stett. The guys at Stett Performance put the 7500 rpm redline in and retuned it for the new exhaust. They got it all wrapped up and the test drive was great - it had plenty of zip and would bury the 7000 rpm tach before getting into the rev limiter. Just what the doctor ordered! The test drives also let me do about a dozen 2-3 shifts and each one was fast, accurate and Terry Proof. ;) Big thanks to Ben @ Rogue for putting together this race-ready shifter and getting it to us overnight last week!

Got the car back from Stett's and was loaded for the Saturday autocross at Texas Motor Speedway with the Lone Star Chapter of the BMWCCA the next morning. Now here's where I screwed up one of many things - loading the trailer I forgot my air gauge (WTF did that go??), the jump box/air compressor, the SD card for my D90 camera, and I didn't bring the extra batteries for the vidcam. So guess [B]how many pictures[/B] we have from the autocross? [B]None[/B]. And [B]videos[/B]? [B]One [/B]- but at least its Amy's fastest run (#3).

[url]http://www.lscbmwcca.org/autox_results/event6%2808-07-10%29_all.htm[/url] - results from Last Saturday's BMWCCA autocross

Now the BMWCCA club here splits their autocross competitors (60 at this event) into 3 heats, with 4 runs for each driver in their morning heat and 4 more in the afternoon. Lots of seat time, but your 4 runs are back-to-back with zero waiting between runs. Hot lapping, in the hot Texas sun. AST equipped Miata STS driver Jarrett Jan along with help from AST/Vorshlag equipped E46 M3 Ken O set-up a beautiful course... with lots of speed in 3 spots. Walking the course I was pretty sure we'd still need 3rd gear, but I wasn't positive. After Amy's 1st run (on dead cold, under-aired tires and 3 seconds off her best run), we quickly realized she could stay in 2nd gear the entire time, I thought that our new [I]7500 redline was the smartest money spent on the car so far[/I]. (oh, how [B]wrong [/B]I was!) She avoided 3 different 2-3-2 shifts per run, and by her 3rd run she was FAST - setting FTD up to that point, and just edging out Ken O (who was running in G class with us, but on his Dunlops on his M3).

But it was hot... Africa hot. 100 degrees and climbing, and the Hoosier equipped cars were getting greasy by their 2nd runs. AST-USA employee Stuart Maxcy and his dad Doug were both driving their SS classed Lotus and spraying their Hoosiers like mad. Ken O was even spraying his Dunlops between runs, quickly, but its always a rush for the guys running at BMWCCA trying to keep their tires cool, especially with 2 drivers. The hot lapping. So after Amy's 4 runs, during which I sprayed her tires like mad and used a TON of water, I had to hop in and make my runs. Remember - we've got no tire gauge, air tank, and I'm frustrated about the lack of video and photos. And I'm sweating like mad - did I mention it is hot in august in Texas?? Zero shade, anywhere.

[URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/VIDEOS/4882794_PPm2C#965625684_hhRiH-A-LB"]SCCAForums Image
[I]Amy's 3rd run, where she just edged out Ken O (temporarily) and set FTD for that heat[/I][/URL]

So by then I'm already [I]drenched [/I]in sweat, I hop in and make a run - [I]OMFG the tires are boiling! [/I]I'm yelling at Amy and she of course is yelling back at me. ;) The rears were on fire and the car was sideways everywhere on that run. My 2nd run was even worse, with full tilt drift action going on I took out a 3 cone wall. I had to un-belt, yank off my helmet, and get out of the car to spray the damn tires myself, cursing up a blue streak. I realized Amy was only spraying the outer edge of the tires, and they were just unbelievably steaming hot - too hot to touch out back. I spent a good 3-4 minutes getting the tires cooled off to a usable temp and then piled back into the car and belting back in, holding up the line and waving cars frantically around. It was a total clusterf*ck.

On that run the car hooked up off the line with a HARD launch at 4500 rpm and by the 3rd slalom cone after the start - where the car was sideways on both previous runs, it had a LOT more stick in the rear, and I just drove over the base of a damned cone. Doh! (too bad, because I later figured out that 59.820 run would have set FTD for the entire event by a few thousandths - instead Stuart pulled out a 59.826 clean in the afternoon). Oh well, I had 1 more morning run after this and 4 more in the afternoon - [I]no rush. [/I]The car was [B]stupid fast [/B]on run #3, with properly cooled Hoosiers, and pulling out of the corners HARD and flying down the straights, just touching the 7500 rpm redline in 3 places. Finally - the car is freakin fast! Its never felt this good, and everything seemed to be coming together - the new shifter, the new clutch, the new shock settings, the new exhaust/headers added some much needed power (and finally some engine note - I couldn't hear it with the stock exhaust!), and especially the raised redline. Hallelujah!

I stayed in the car after run #3 and waited for Amy to spray the tires for my 4th run, but we were being rushed - the entire run group was almost done. So she rushed it and I knew by the 2nd slalom cone that the rear tires were too damned hot. Man, I'm already regretting not going to 315mm, at least tires out back. The tired old arguments of "You can't get them hot enough! They won't ever get up to temp!" I know that's bullsh!t - it takes me or Amy only [I]one [/I]60 second run in August to [I][B]BOIL [/B][/I]a 285mm Hoosier on this car. If we didn't spray the tires it would be a total joke by the 2nd run.

Anyway, so I am fighting the car on my 4th run but I've found a couple of spots from my faster 3rd run where I can let the car corner exit better and I'm going noticeably faster down the three main straights, even riding the 7500 redline a bit more than before on the longest straight. Pushing the braking zones DEEP, letting the car corner hard in the sweepers. Other than it being loose from the overheated rears, its faster in some spots, which will be good for the afternoon runs. I cringe as the engine is bumping the redline for a good 1-2 seconds on one straight, thinking "OK, for the afternoon runs I'm going to short-shift to 3rd there and then take it back to 2nd under trail braking". But alas... that was all it took.

I pulled into the finish with a [I]clean [/I]60.3, which was about 1 second ahead of Amy and then Ken O in G class for the morning runs (Ken later went faster than that in the afternoon, as did 3 other drivers at the event). I pulled up a few feet to load up our gear and heard the loudest engine ticking I've ever heard from Any BMW - and I know the tricks to avoid that (running 20W50 synthetic with 1 extra quart in the pan). Oh no, that's bad. I hopped out and yanked open the hood - maybe that's just a massive exhaust leak? Nope... its FUBAR. I shut it off and shook my head. Oil level is still +1 qt, and the oil light is on solid, meaning - low oil pressure. CRAP! We limped it over by the trailer and we sat inside of the trailer for a good 45 minutes and ate a sandwich and guzzled water, trying to cool off and figure out what to do.

We checked in with the BMWCCA event guys after heat #3 and they let us out early, since we weren't taking our afternoon runs (thanks, Mark W) and had just had the worst luck of the day. Loaded the E46 in the trailer and started making calls, sending a video of it running to some friends. Matteucci could tell from the sound - it lost the oil pump nut. "Time for a new longblock." He gave me some internet sites for leads and I found several 2001-2005 M54B30 motors for $2500 complete on the drive back home. But Nationals is only 4 weeks away, and I've gotta finish the E30 V8 and maybe another car that we might also take to Nationals, so when will we have time to swap the longblock? And my lone tech that works for me is out for most of the week at a funeral. Hmm...

So Monday I called Stett and they agreed to put it on high priority and after we discussed motor replacement options Monday, they tore into it today to have a better look. I had found the best deal on a local longblock but man, I didn't want to spend $2500 just for another weaknut stock M54. GRR... luckily Chad Stett as been keeping me up to date today with hourly updates... here's the prognoses:
[LIST]
[*]There's not a noticeable rod knock when idling, which is good
[*]Oil pan came off and yep - no oil pump nut. That figures.
[*]A few cam journals were removed and they have minimal scoring
[*]Rod bearings look a little scored but none spun, which is good
[/LIST]

So the motor won't have to be pulled, and they're just going to throw some bearings and an oil pump (with a welded on nut!) into it and some new gaskets and we'll take it to Nationals as-is. Hell, I'm not even going to paint the damn car like I had planned - there's so little time, and I might seriously consider going to 315s now that I've seen how easily we can overheat 285s (meaning: might need real rear flares).

Over the winter I'll evaluate the performance of the car and see if its worth building a DSP-legal motor + modifying the Euro E36M3 6 TB intake + the Motec it will need to run + adding rear flares, then paining the whole mess. I am [I]finally [/I]enjoying the car now, after being pretty underwhelmed by the weaksauce lump M54 and the high weight of the car. I think this 330 Coupe would be [I]just now [/I]finally faster than our 140K mile STU prepped E36 M3 on track - that old S52 is a whole lot more motor than the M54.

When Stett and crew have it running we'll take it to another autocross before Nats to check out everything and I'll make sure we get real video/pics then.

Until next time!
Fair
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12 Aug 2010 01:26 PM
[U][B]Update for Aug 12, 2010:[/B][/U] I went by Stett's yesterday and surveyed the damaged - its not that bad, which is good news.

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The rod bearings have some light scoring but nothing you can hang a fingernail in, so Stett is going to roll in some new bearings and an oil pump and weld on the nut, and we'll run it again this weekend. Yea, I'll be more gentle with the RPMs, and we just ordered a programmable shift light.

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OK, so I'm pretty disgusted with this car and BMW in general after this incident, for all the good it does me now. I'm just sick of the fact that BMW motors are both fragile [I]and [/I]underwhelming - apparently this is nothing new. One more quirk to put on the M54's problem list is "bad harmonics"... even with the oil pump nut secured with Loctite/safety wire/tack weld, they still have high RPM issues that break the oil pump drive and other things, apparently. I've learned a bit reading about some other M54 horror stories on [URL="http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=758308"]E46 Fanatics[/URL], and some guys there (PEI330Ci then F1004fun) have had ATI make a better balancer for the M54. This ATI aftermarket harmonic damper/balancer (shown above/right) is [I]only [/I]$650 and takes an elaborate and custom tool to install. Apparently since there's such a tiny demand for these they cost a fortune (I've got Koenig trying to find a better price for me). That's disappointing, but none too surprising.

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While I was there with the car up on the lift I finally snapped some pics of the new exhaust. We've ordered some snap-in harness ends for the 3" lap belts (for this car and the E30 V8), and the shift light should be here for the E46 soon. Other than the repairs and the new anchors for the lap belts, I think this is all we're going to do before Nationals. We'll do a sound test after we get the car back from Stett, hopefully on Friday...

More soon,
Fair
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17 Aug 2010 05:05 PM
[U][B]Update for August 17, 2010:[/B][/U] Well the repairs done by the guys at [URL="http://www.stettperformance.com/"]Stett Performance[/URL] in Plano worked flawlessly at the autocross last Sunday. Thanks guys! They did a helluva repair job, especially considering the tight time line and minimal money they charged. So glad I took them the car! The new oil pump, rod bearings, and MOTUL oil never made a tick all weekend once it was fired up. Great work!!! :buttrock

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[LIST]
[*]Pictures: [url]http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/SCCA-TMS-Bus-Lot-081510/[/url]
[*]In-Car video: [url]http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/VIDEOS/4882794_PPm2C#971773058_5szUB-A-LB[/url]
[*]Class Results: [url]http://www.autocross.com/tr/modules/content/index.php?id=107[/url]
[*]PAX results: [url]http://www.autocross.com/tr/modules/content/index.php?id=106[/url]
[/LIST]

So they finished the car Friday and we took the E46 on Sunday to a Texas Region SCCA autocross at Texas World Speedway (Bus Lot), with another excellent course set-up by JJ and a very well run event by the Texas Region. Hot as Hell but worth the hard work and effort to get to this event to test the repairs and final Nationals suspension set-up. The car ran stupendously well, handled nearly perfectly (considering it had very worn rear tires), and Amy and I posted two class wins (Womens & DSP) and placed 4th and 3rd in overall PAX results (that's where they multiply your time by a class handicapping factor). Amy was fast right out of the box, but it took me a few runs to find my groove. You can see me frighting the rear grip in my video run, but it was Full Driftoro Terry in my other runs. I finally calmed down, cooled down (it was 105°F) and let the rear tires give all they had and didn't push further. With fresh rears it could have been considerably faster.

[URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-Events/VIDEOS/4882794_PPm2C#971773058_5szUB-A-LB"]SCCAForums Image
Click for in-car video of my fastest run[/URL]

The previous 4 runs I was in the 56.0 to 56.1 second range, making huge mistakes each time. I missed 2nd gear twice (something is wacky on shifting this car while cornering!), and I let the car slide ass first around most of the turn-arounds, plus got way behind on the rhythm sections. OK, about that 55.2 run - there's still plenty of driving mistakes, for sure. Amy was already in the 55.3's on her 2nd run. I ran over a cone in the first slalom and it threw my concentration - but the cone flipped up and fell back down in the box, I sh!t you not! In my 20+ years of autocrossing I've only seen that happen a few times, and never to me. Guess I was due for some luck. I was still way behind on the last slalom and had to back off a lot in transitions, due to the rears being worn to hell. The gearing was perfect to keep it in 2nd gear for the whole course, but it pushed past 7000 rpm on one spot. I was dousing the tires after each run, as well as the radiator, but it was barely enough. It was Africa hot.

The motor and oil pump stayed together for all 10 runs by both drivers, with nary a tick or grumble from the engine, so I am not backing off the revs. I didn't touch a shock knob, kept tire pressures where we had them at the Divisional, and its going to Nats [I]just like this[/I] (on a set of fresh A6 Hoosiers, with this worn set mounted and ready for emergency spares/practice runs, as well as some Yokohama A032 on standby as wets - 3 sets of 18x10s should about do it!)

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This week we did finally drill and install proper clip-in floor anchors for the lap belts, so now they are in there correctly. I re-did some of the exhaust fab work and repairs to the heat shielding and front undertray I wasn't happy with last night, too. The shoulder harnesses are re-routed and tight to the harness cross bar, too. I do have a shift light I am going to try to sneak in before Nats, but we'll deal with it if time isn't there (the E30 GRM Project deadline is looming!).

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The coolest part of this event was the placement of AST equipped drivers and Vorshlag Testers:
[LIST]
[*]1st-4th in overall PAX results (all Vorshlag testers)
[*]1st and 2nd in SS (both Vorshlag testers, AST 5200 equipped)
[*]1st and 2nd in STX (both Vorshlag testers, AST 4200 equipped)
[*]1st in STU (Vorshlag tester, AST 4200 equipped)
[*]1st and 2nd in SM (both Vorshlag testers, AST 4200 equipped)
[*]1st in DSP (Vorshlag testers, AST 4200 equipped)
[*]1st in W (Vorshlag tester, AST 4200 equipped)
[*]1st in FP (Vorshlag tester, AST 5200 equipped)
[*]1st and 2nd in CSP (Vorshlag testers, soon to be AST 4210 equipped)
[/LIST]

We're starting to see this pattern in areas that have woken up to potential of AST shocks. :) Nice job, guys and gals! If we run our DSP car one more time before Nats, it might just be Amy driving, as I need to be testing the E30 set-up for GRM event. There's 3 more events we could hit locally, so we'll see how close the GRM car gets - I need to get at least one event in with that thing before Nats.

Cheers,
Fair
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19 Aug 2010 08:07 AM
[U][B]Update for August 18, 2010:[/B][/U] We finally got time to do some sound testing today. First we did the "After" sound tests on Hanchey's unmuffled turbo [URL="http://www.vorshlag.com/forums/showthread.php?p=55739#post55739"]Subaru Legacy race car[/URL]. Then we finally tested the DSP prepped E46 330Ci with the new custom 3" exhaust, Stett headers, and 3" Hushpower muffler.

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We never sound tested it with the stock manifolds and after-cat exhaust (no "before"), but it was as quiet as a sewing machine, but as choked up as if it had the proverbial banana in the tailpipe. Even with the Stett headers added it was still hard to hear the engine note to know when to shift - super quiet, because it still had a choked up, poor flowing after-header exhaust. The factory after-cat system, which itself weighed 62 pounds, was the reason. Once we removed this monstrosity, made up of two factory catalysts, a secondary catalyst, a resonator and a huge rear-mounted muffler with a bypass valve on one of the exhaust tips, it of course got a LOT louder. But that was to be expected, and with more exhaust flow comes more potential for added horsepower.

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Completely "uncorked" 6 cylinder BMWs are usually [B]ear-splitting loud[/B], so we wanted to use a fairly quiet muffler for this car, as it would see sound testing regulations at SCCA events, including at the 2010 SCCA Solo Nationals. But we didn't want to choke off the flow, either.

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This time Flowmaster came to us and offered up one of their latest and greatest mufflers - the 3" Hushpower part number 13016100 - for us to test and use on the DSP car, and we were glad to give it a go! This muffler is popping up on all sorts of street and race cars, and we love the unit. It is fairly lightweight, free flowing, and it knocks the hell out of exhaust noise - yet makes for a pleasant sound on everything we've used them on so far. The was the same unit that worked so well to knock down drone and Wide Open Throttle exhaust noises on our [URL="http://www.vorshlag.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7694"]STU prepped E36 M3 we sound tested[/URL] before, as well as their [URL="http://www.vorshlag.com/forums/showthread.php?p=55662#post55662"]HP2 Hushpower we sound tested on McCall's E30 318is ST car[/URL]. Its available in many case lengths, materials, diameters, and with or without an integral turn-down tip.

[URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Projects/Exhaust-Sound-Testing/12871330_8BLAa#974637416_V3dpq-A-LB"]SCCAForums Image
Sound Test 1: 102 db at WOT in 3rd gear[/URL]

We were hoping for a ~100-102 dB number at WOT and that guess was right on the money. The near 100 dB number we got on our test set-up (which admittedly has a much closer placement of the sound meter to the car than than proper SAE sound testing) means we're in the clear for SCCA sound regs, and we'll update this thread with any test data we get from SCCA at Nationals in a few weeks. The 86 dB note at cruising speed was exceptionally quiet, given the otherwise unrestricted (and not emissions legal!) exhaust on this race car.

[URL="http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/gallery/12871330_8BLAa#974674231_8bNKt-A-LB"]SCCAForums Image
Sound Test 2: 86 db at 40 mph cruising speed[/URL]

Now folks building a BMW like this and using it for street use would have to use some sort of catalytic converter(s), which themselves reduce sound levels significantly. And remember - our sound testing method is way different from SAE tests, or even SCCA Sound Regulation testing - they place the sound meter 50-75 feet from the car, and our meter is only 10 feet from the tip as the car goes by. So the ultimate numbers we tested are always going to be higher than "proper" sound tests. Look at some of our other tests with the Hushpower muffler to see the before/after numbers we've generated, and the HP series muffler is proven to be a good bet for lower noise emissions.

[B]Big thanks to the folks at Flowmaster[/B] for the Hushpower muffler they sent us for this test. After the results we've seen, its a keeper! :)

Cheers,
Fair
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18 Oct 2010 05:54 PM
[U][B]Update for Oct 18, 2010:[/B][/U] I've been slow to update this project thread because I had very little good news to talk about. I never even looked at the final DSP results, because thinking about the fiasco after Nationals that was the "E46 330Ci Project" makes me sick to my stomach. Looking at the budget spreadsheet on what we spent on this car... staggering. I don't know how it got so far out of hand, or how it turned out so underwhelming. Prepare for... Excuse-a-palooza! :D

OK, so we got [I]killed [/I]in this DSP class in this 330 at Nats, and nobody likes to recount in gory detail about how badly they had their ass handed to them, but here goes. ;) To add "injury" to the "insult", the oil pump drive issue we had weeks before Nationals (and fixed with a new oil pump, welded on nut, and rod bearings - none of it cheap) has apparently cropped up [I]again [/I]this past weekend, and the motor really is "injured" this time. Don't know how badly its damaged yet, but it doesn't sound good and barely cranks anymore. I'll explain more on that at the end. Let's touch on the 2010 SCCA Solo Nationals debacle, first, then briefly on the 3 other events the car has done since, including its [I]Final Event[/I].

Picture gallery of 773 pics from Nationals: [url]http://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-...;/url] (I hadn't even looked at them until today)

I'll try to remember what I can about Nationals - a lot of alcohol was consumed that week, especially after the bleeding started. So we got the new 285/30/18 Hoosiers mounted at the event, and Amy, John and I each ran some practice laps in the car. It felt fine but our times were a bit slower (1/2 second) than what we saw the more seasoned DSP drivers running in practice ... but I don't put much stock in that tiny practice course compared to the full sized Nationals courses. Some of the other DSP cars also made 40+ practice laps, so we thought that might have been the difference? I was hoping we would still be close to the top cars at the actual event.

[B]I was wrong.[/B]

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We were a solid 3 seconds off the pace of the class leaders in the dry each day, and closer to [I]4 seconds off[/I] in the wet on Day 2. I don't remember precisely because I can't make myself look at the results again. :stickoutt

I can't put my finger on one obvious thing that we screwed up that made the car so slow, other than "everyone else was a lot faster". The car turned in well, cornered flat, put down power well, but it just didn't have much [I]power [/I]to put down. We had 3 drivers that don't suck running the car and we were all well off the pace in both Open and Ladies.

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[I]Amy gave it her best, but was nowhere near the fastest car in class[/I]

Between my own runs, I watched the rest of the class drive as my co-driver John was on course, and the top cars all looked quite a bit more powerful than our stock motored E46. It was pretty obvious - they had a lot more power, and they had a lot more grip. I talked to some other DSP racers and some tuners who had worked on other cars in the class and we were [I]way off [/I]the power number we needed for the weight of this car, to be on equal ground. The top ~10 cars were flying down the slalom sections and launching from corner to corner, and we were not. Our car had the right suspension bits, and had a feeble header and a cold air, but we probably left a good 50-60 hp on the table by keeping the stock motor and stock EFI, not building a purpose-built motor for SP. And my suspension set-up was obviously way off - the spring rates were too stiff, the tire pressures too high, etc. I've learned one thing from all this - DSP is a serious class, and if you want to do well there you'll need to invest several years and some serious coin into the prep of the car.

With all of the massive work (1500+ hours) we poured into our $2010 GRM Challenge BMW E30 V8 entry through the second half of 2009 and into 2010 (which was barely finished in time and also didn't do extremely well at that event), we didn't have much time left over to properly develop this E46 for Solo use, and it showed. With only 6 autocross events in the car before taking it to Nationals, and never with any other DSP class competition, we were judging the car's performance based solely on PAX results at the handful of events we ran it in (Regionals, one Divisional & one National Tour). At track events it felt great, and we set numerous TTD records in the car, but none of that matters for autocross. Even PAX'ing top 3 in our Regional events didn't mean the car was competitive - we were fooling ourselves - because everyone knows you have GOT to take your car on the road and race against the top drivers first hand before going to Nationals, if you want to know the truth.

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[I]John put in good drives for someone who had never driven it - like he does every year we prep a slow car for him to co-drive (sorry, John!)[/I]

The brakes worked fine, the limited slip felt great, the clutch was flawless, the launches seemed good, the shifting was... about normal, the car pretty much felt great. It was just dog ass slow. It eeked under the 100 dB sound limit, so we at least got that right.

I'm not saying we drove perfectly, and it would be easier to just blame the driving for our poor showings, but with 3 drivers' that had won or trophied top 3 at several previous National Championships, we had to have had [I]one [/I]driver among us that put down a good time for the car. And we were all pretty close to each other (as usual), none of us felt like we totally botched each run, and we were all well off the pace. I have to blame lack of testing and poor set-up, and lack of power, which was all my fault.

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[I]The car would [B]almost [/B]get some bite, then you'd totally hydroplane and have to hang on for the ride[/I]

One other prep item we [B]totally missed[/B] was [U]not having real Hoosier Wets[/U] for the rain. And in late September in Lincoln, NE, guess what? [B]It is going to rain. A lot. [/B]We're 2 for 2 at this site for rain, so far. So on day 2, the DSP Open class had a deluge to deal with, so we put our "rain" tires on, like everyone else (who, all but one other car, had Hoosier Wets). Our wet tires were an old set of 265/35/18 Yokohama A032 medium hard road race tires, with lots of tread left, that we got in early 2009 for track use on the EVO X. We were promptly [I]7 seconds off the pace[/I] for both John and I on these old, "compounded-out" Yokes. We quickly swapped back to the Hoosier A6 "Drys" and settled for a 4 second determent, splashing around like fools. We were sprinting from dry patch to patch, trying to go straight over the puddles, and it was all we could do to keep it on course. There were large patches of [I]inches deep water[/I] to contend with. It was not fun. I felt like I put in the drive of my life to get the times I did in the wet, on these A6s - but who cares when you're this slow?

I'll post up videos of our wet runs for a laugh sometime. Here's some of the faster DSP competitors that cleaned our clocks:

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[I]Above: This car, and others in the DSP class, had 315mm tires at all 4 corners[/I]

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[I]Left: This E30's two drivers beat us. Right: So did this car's drivers, even carrying the inside tires 6" in the air.[/I]

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[I]Left: Brian Peters and his car put the hurt on the class. Right: Tom Bleh was quick in his E30, too[/I]

I won't discuss the DSP Ladies class in much detail, such as the last second class/car jumping shenanigans, but suffice it to say Amy got a distant 2nd place in class. She drove damn well to get that, but she was also well off the pace of the fastest car in DSP Ladies. The same car that won open won Ladies, unsurprisingly. It looked damn quick, no matter who drove it. No disrespect meant - kudos to Brian for building such a fine car.

And congratulations to everyone else that did well in DSP - my hats off to you guys. You folks have some serious hardware and drove your butts off. We weren't even in the same ballpark, and since we have a lot of other race cars to develop and play with around here, I am happy to say we won't be back to stink up the bottom half of the class again next year. I dunno... I just don't have the time, energy or capital that it would take to develop the E46 for the this class - especially when we have multiple V8 powered cars with a lot more power, and lots more reliability, to race with. Fixing broken motors always sucks. Fixing broken motors on cars with 200 hp is not something I ever want to get stuck doing again. :stickoutt

One good piece of news - Amy and Costas took the 330 to a NASA event at Eagles Canyon a couple of weeks ago (while we drove back from Florida, after the GRM Challenge event) and they had a blast. They put those same old Yokohamas on the car (which, when given enough laps can get [I]some [/I]heat in them, and [I]some [/I]stick) and had a blast running in HPDE (Amy) and Time Trial (Costas). Costas set a TTD track record in it, instructed for Amy, and she got signed off for her TT Comp license driving the 330, which was cool. This E46 seems to shine on a road course, but it still sucks on the autocross course. We've got a lot more road course time in the car than we do autocrossing it, and it shows. I know better than to go to Nationals without a single test day and no data-logging on a given car, but I guess sometimes I need to re-learn the same lessons many times. Idiot...

We ran the car again at two autocrosses this past weekend, which was an expensive mistake. I had already decided to sell the car, but figured "well it hasn' broken [I]in a whole month[/I], why not give it two more events before we put it up for sale!" Dumb. On Saturday we ran at a new site in Paris, Texas, and trashed a front tire down to cords doing the 3 tight turn-arounds at the ends of the narrow 120' runway site. Its just not wide enough to do an autox on. And its in Paris, Texas. So the next day (Sunday) we were both supposed to run it one last time at the best autox of the year in Texas - the annual TMS Road Course SCCA autocross.

Long story short: Amy popped the motor in our 330 on Sunday before I got to turn a wheel in anger. I guess we'll get a replacement (junkyard) engine and put it into the car before we sell it. I think something happened to the oil pump drive (again - the nut was WELDED on this time) but she didn't hear it/notice the massive bad noises it was making, and made a full high speed run on the Texas Motor Speedway infield road course w/o any oil pressure. I was working in the timing trailer and didn't hear anything amiss until her 4th run... when it was making LOUD ticking noises from the top end (meaning: no oil pressure) at the starting line (just like it did last time the oil pump nut came off - which I luckily stopped in time to save the motor that time). It was so loud I heard it from 50' away, inside the timing trailer. So I got on the P.A. and yelled for them to hold her at the start, but the starter had headphones on another radio band and didn't hear me... she left the line, made a full 60 second run without oil pressure, and when she stuck it in neutral at the finish line, the motor stalled and sounds like it seized. Its toast.

Then we pushed it into the trailer and I promptly locked the truck keys inside. That was just about [I]perfect! [/I]

So, I'm done. This aluminum 3 liter, double Vanos, hot sh!t whiz-bang M54 motor made [I]pathetic [/I]power numbers, has been nothing but unreliable, and it is expensive to repair and upgrade. The EFI tuning choices (CAN-BUS) for this motor [I]suck [/I]and a Motec to properly control the double Vanos was going to be another $5000 + tuning. I was looking at $8,000-10,000 to build a full-tilt-SP legal motor. All that to make, what? 250 whp? Uhh... no thanks. I'm gonna fold on this one before I kept dumping more money into this bottomless pit. I'm prepping our E36 M3 to sell as well, just because I'm [I]so [/I]pissed off at all BMWs at the moment. :D

I'll post up with more pics and videos soon, and will show the steps it takes to salvage [I]some [/I]of your investment in a poorly planned, poorly executed autocross build. If someone wants to end the suffering early, please drop me a note on our website (linked below), and I'll gladly cut you a deal on the car as-is. :) Otherwise we'll find a solid M54 long block to put in the car, remove some of the expensive bits we can use on the 2011 Mustang or maybe on the E30 (Cobra seats, Sparco steering wheel, 18x10s), rip off the decals, and get it painted one color again. Then I'll let it go at a huge loss.

Thanks for reading, and sorry this project was such a dud.
Fair
Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Posts:1021


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20 Oct 2010 01:21 PM
from another forum/same thread:

[quote]This thread has taken a disappointing turn. It is very unfortunate (to me at least) to read about a Supporting Vendor, who makes products for our community, call our cars "slow" and our motors "turds". How are people supposed to react to this rant? You are speaking to BMW enthusiasts and racers, and now one of our top (arguably) parts suppliers drops these comments on us, it just does not sit well with me.

I don't have any blind loyalty to any marquee. I mean, that should be pretty obvious, since one of our product lines is a kit to put a GM V8 into BMWs. That's not a disappointing turn - that's just more of the same.

And the truth is what it is: this M54 engine [I]is [/I]a [B]gutless turd [/B]of a motor that is unbelievably fragile, impossible to make substantially more powerful cost effectively, and literally eats itself if it exceeds its rather low factory redline. Making barely 200 whp with a race header/exhaust and no cat [I][B]is slow[/B][/I]. I have zero patience for low rpm, low performance, expensive yet fragile engines - so I'm not going to own an M54 powered car [I]ever again. [/I]

They can put that on my tombstone, proudly - "Here lies Terry Fair, he hated M54 engines and only ever owned one!"

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[I]Its a beautiful car, but with an M54 underhood, I want nothing to do with it![/I]

[quote]Blind brand loyalty isn't all that great either. While BMW makes some great products, just because it has a roundel on it doesn't make it the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Thank you. Exactly my point.

Look, BMW makes a [B]great [U]luxury[/U] sports car[/B], but most of what we make and sell here at Vorshlag is about [I]fixing what BMW got wrong [/I]for true sports car enthusiasts, autocrossers and track guys. Replacing squishy drivetrain mounts that are filled with goo and allow their top heavy/tall engines to flop around like a dead fish (and tear up all the lines and radiator necks and allow "money shifts"), replacing giant marshmallow rubber strut top mounts that allow a huge loss of camber under load, getting the lame wheel bolts off and going to real screw-in wheel studs, replacing skinny "staggered" wheel set-ups with much wider "square" set-ups, removing noodle OEM shocks and installing real monotube adjustable dampers with 3x-6x the spring rates, etc. Nothing we make is about adding bling or luxury - its about making a BMW [I]more [/I]of the "ultimate driving machine" they claim it to be.

If us making non-BMW-like parts to replace factory BMW bits is wrong, I don't want to be right. [:P]

SCCAForums Image
[I]This is an image I don't ever want to see again in a car I own - missing oil pump nut or sheered shaft[/I]

So yea... I'm sick of the M54 engine in this otherwise nicely prepped E46 coupe here. We spent a lot of money and a good bit of time prepping this car (brakes, bushings, shocks, plates, bars, seats, roll bar, fenders, wheels, tires, shifter, exhaust, and on and on), and it turns and stops great, but its now [B]worth almost nothing[/B] as it sits with yet another blown M54. Putting another $2500 M54 junkyard longblock in the car is going to improve it... how? The same ridiculously low power limits, lower RPM limits, and stupid expensive power upgrade path will still be there. I'm not dying to delve into an expensive "3 year build" to make a 250-ish whp DSP car.

But for $2500, guess what else we can buy?

SCCAForums Image
[I]Hello, remember me? My name is El es Jaun![/I]

That why we're seriously considering doing what should have been done to this car from the beginning: [B]LS1 + T56 swap[/B]. I get 3-4 calls every week asking for an E46 LS1 kit, so maybe this second M54 engine craptastrophy is a sign. That's what my wife is pushing me towards.

Maybe I should do another thread with a poll for the E46 here...

1. Fix
2. Sell
3. LS1

Thoughts?
OasisTan
Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Posts:1355


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20 Oct 2010 02:07 PM

#3 LS1!!!!

Bullitt2954
Advanced Member
Advanced Member
Posts:673


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20 Oct 2010 02:46 PM
OasisTan wrote:

#3 LS1!!!!

Hell, I'm not a "Chevy Guy", but the LS1 IS a Damn Fine motor...........

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