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ralleah GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/4/22 1:41 a.m.

tldr: check all your relevant connection pins when troubleshooting. cheeky

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/4/22 8:46 a.m.

In reply to ralleah :

I literally must have connected and disconnected that connector 5 times and never noticed. 

It did not help that I had read about other people having the SWC problem and assumed it must be a software issue rather than hardware :/

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/6/22 10:13 p.m.

So while Black Friday shopping for the family, I did a bit of Black Friday shopping for myself. I had planned just to swap the GMRS 5w unit from my Raider, which I use for trail comms, to the Sequoia for adventure trips...but figured that's a hassle and would rather just have one permanently in the big rig since it will probably get a good bit of use.

Anyhow, picked this up. I already have an antenna on the Sequoia that I was going to run through a door seal when in use, but now I think I'll take it through the roof with a weatherproof connector or pass-through, TBD. I know some guys run it down the windshield side and through the firewall, but the Sequoia really doesn't have the type of windshield weatherstripping that you can run wiring behind (it's just a flat seal), and I don't want to have to tape it down the windshield. And frankly, I have no problem drilling the roof on a 12-year-old vehicle with 180k miles. So that's what I'll do. I use a Cable Clam on the Raider to pass-through, but I'll probably do a different kind of gland setup for this one. So, project for next week maybe.

I'll plan to stash the main unit somewhere out of sight (not on the dash like on the box) since all the controls are on the mic anyhow. We'll see how it goes.

java230 PowerDork
12/7/22 8:52 a.m.

Why not use an NMO mount for the roof?

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/7/22 3:57 p.m.

In reply to java230 :

That's actually what I have except for the antenna is on a bracket off the side of the roof rack. Main problem is I can't really mount it directly on the road because it will be underneath the rack, there's really not any open roof area up there. 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/10/22 1:38 p.m.

GMRS install on the Sequoia..... As noted, picked up the Midland MX275. It's not the setup overlanders out in the midwest would use, but for the East Coast, with plenty of repeaters and less distance I expect it will do well, especially since most of the use will be with other nearby vehicles and/or open roads vice the middle of a desert. My MX1105 has done well and this is more powerful, to boot.

Anyhow, for the interior install, the main unit tucks in nicely in the long slot in the center console, out of the way, and I ran the power wiring right to the factory cig-lighter-style plug inside the big center console, which I never use for anything anyhow. Less work than hardwiring it. For the handset, this is a crowded dash but found a good spot for it.




For the antenna, I finally bit the bullet and drilled the roof. Everyone acts as if this is a big deal since it's irreversible, but whatever.



Initially I thought about just putting the NMO right there and slapping the antenna at the hole, just forward of the roof rack, but due to the roof angle, that would cause the antenna to tilt forward and to the side, which would drive me crazy (but would probably work fine). Instead, I put a gland there to pass the cable through so I can mount the antenna up on the rack.

I did it up front here to make running the cable easier rather than taking apart half the interior to run it from elsewhere, and having to work underneath the roof rack.

Whoops, focus fail...



So the cable just runs right down the A-pillar and behind the dash, easy peazy.


I previously had an antenna mount at the rear corner of the rack, but I like to be able to haul plywood and stuff up there occasionally and the bracket there is kind of in the way, so decided to make a mount bracket outside the 4x8 footprint of the rack. At the ski shop I work at they were throwing out a bunch of metal ski boot display shelves, already powdercoated and everything, so figured I'd just cut one up to make a large bracket. I could have made it smaller, but may use it for additional antenna(s) at some future time so just made a large bracket with one cut and a couple holes drilled...



And just used some big stainless self-tappers to attach it for the time being. If I like this setup I'll probably just weld it on at some point in the future, but all my welding stuff is kind of inaccessible at the moment and that would be a hassle now... It looks less weird in person than in this photo from a strange angle lol...




I'm waiting for a new cable to come in so nothing mounted yet. I have a Baofeng shorty antenna (same as I use on my trail rig) that will go there for the time being, but will probably pick up a 6dB antenna in the future.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/28/22 8:40 p.m.

The rally car is still covered with stuff and I haven't even considered thinking about doing anything to it. I'm too busy not accomplishing much of anything on the other e30 either (yes, these are the two cars that are IN my garage so I can work on them over the winter). Just not feeling all that motivated for the e30s recently since both are oriented toward rally, obviously, and it's hard to get motivated for rally stuff when rally stuff is still a few months away.

In the meantime, I did get a nice soft-side tool carrier for Christmas. Usually I keep a small set in a tool roll (it's a very basic set that belongs to the rally car, but seems to move around to my other old cars when I'm taking them on road trips), and I keep all my bigger/heavier stuff in a larger stackable box, which is loud and disorganized and I generally don't like using it as tool box.  So, this thing is pretty nice and has a lot of pockets and space and places to stash stuff I need. So I spent some time kind of setting up a "getaway kit" of sorts that can move between all the cars and be more complete than the little roll.  I have so many duplicate tools, it's pretty easy to put something like this together. The soft-side and multi-pocket setup should keep things from clanging around since my stuff goes inside the vehicles, unlike my pickup truck friends who can toss them in the bed bad. 

I reserved one side pocket for non-tool things like various types of batteries, flashlights, multimeter, etc. So.....all the stuff that usually lives haphazardly in the Sequoia's center console.


Otherwise, mostly been doing small Sequoia improvement projects (more coming) since it's big and easy to work on and has tons of space to "do stuff" with....

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/31/22 10:17 p.m.

Quick 2022 Wrap-Up

Well, 2022 was a pretty E36 M3ty year from a personal point of view, regarding non-car-related stuff, so I'm pretty happy to see it go in the rearview. In terms of the vehicles and rally, a reasonably decent year, however. So here's a quick and dirty recap of things, followed by some of my favorite photos of those things from the year. 

2022, in a nutshell:

- We finished New England Forest Rally. We weren't particularly fast, we didn't podium, but we made it to the end, somewhere in the middle of the pack, and didn't crash or break anything - which is an accomplishment in its own right if you look at what a lot of poeple did there.....NEFR is a lot of fun as an event, but I don't love it as a rally, frankly. So happy to have completed it after failing the first time, so I don't have to go back and compete there for a few years. 

- Jim got on the Podium at Bristol Forest Rally riding with Brolin in the Mudwhale e30. Jim likes to win, so I'm happy he was able to get on a podium this year since I couldn't get him there. 

- I won the DC RallyCross championship in MR class for the 4th time. Didn't look like it was going to happen, and it came down to the last event where I made a big mistake to destroy my chances of winning, and literally 1 minute later Nick made an even bigger mistake to hand it back to me. I did win more events than anyone in the class, but wasn't the way I would have liked it to end. But, racing is racing and I'll take it. They threw out an earlier (muddy) event where I did well and Nick didn't do as well, which would have put me in better position if it had counted, so maybe it was karma, idk. Car did well, my driving was pretty good all season (though a lot of that group is just getting better and better while I pretty much stay the same). I'd be amazed if I win another championship in DC with this car, frankly. But I'll try. 

- Did a few rallysprints, which were fun but we'll see if they happen next year with SCCA changing things up with the program. Did one with a brand-new first-time codriver. Did a few runs with Sara Nonack. Sprints are easy and fun, wish there were more of them. 

- The rally car held up. Really no substantial/notable damage all year. The VANOS is rattling a lot, but that's an annoyance with no performance impact and no danger to anything (from what I've read). Overall, still happy with how this 37-year-old car hammers down - it's a shame my driving is so mediocre lol. 

- Some of our longest and best rally friends won some championships with ARA and SCCA. Among them, as you're well aware if you read stuff here on GRM:


Some others (ok, those same ones....) invented their own championship, which turned out to be the one that everyone ACTUALLY cared about.....

MudWhale Rules

(incidentally, I finished 27th in the SuperChampio, and Jim finished 20th for codrivers)

- I made good progress on the other e30, which is intended as a "nice" recce car for Stevie or Leah or whomever is crewing for us to drive comfortably to rallies so we don't have to do recce in tow rigs and pickups. I bought that car because I was bored, found 10x more rust than I was expecting, swapped in an M42, redid the entire interior, and it's close to being ready to run now after less than a year. 

- Made some upgrades to the Sequoia and to the Raider, which you've read about here. The trucks are fun, because you can do anything on them. Weight isn't a problem, space isn't a problem, good for imagination in a way that small cars really aren't. 

IDK, probably forgetting stuff, but whatever. Here's some pics. Ciao to 2022, here's hoping 2023 is better. 

Jim loves posing...

Oh yeah, and Jim and Amanda got married. Which is awesome in its own right because they're so perfect for each other. And makes me especially happy since I intro'd them with this very intent, and it *actually worked out*....

So, here's to 2023, from Stevie.


irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/1/23 6:09 p.m.

Was recently thinking about the fact that it's annoying not having roof lights on the sides, since my water tank and awning are bolted to the rack side rails, so no real estate there, and they're close to the truck itself since I intentionally made this rack as low-profile as possible. I was thinking about making some brackets to have the lights over the awning, but don't really like that idea. Instead, I decided to raise the awning up a couple inches, while at the same time making some tie-down eyes. So I grabbed some leftover metal scrap pieces and my plasma cutter and......grr, plasma cutter not working for some reason. So I did it the old-school way, with a jigsaw and a good blade, a hole saw, and an angle grinder.


I forgot to take pics of the "in progress" but it's nothing too fancy. But the pieces came out about 80% as nice as something CNC-cut, so that's good enough for me. The awning currently attaches with two rows of bolts (top/bottom) on the 3" side flat of the rack. The plan here is to use the upper holes already there as the bottom holes in the new position, so basically just extending the mounts upward. like so:





So, that worked out as planned and put the awning back up there. Now the tiedown eyes are a bit above it, which could be useful. I plan to make some eyes for the other side as well if we get another nice mid-winter day in the 60s 



I thought a bit about lighting, and went through a big box full of various floods and area lights I have in the garage from other projects, but didn't find anything that fit well. Then looked at the Raider sitting there. I have a set of rack lights on it, which I pretty much never use (and can replace for cheap if I need to) so I took those off and test-fitted and they're pretty much a perfect fit for my plan on the Sequoia, even using the old lower awning mount holes, so no new drilling...





I'll wire them up sometime this week, which should be easy since I already have two spare power wires to the roof junction box running into the vehicle (will add a new switch, since I have a new switch panel coming anyhow). So hopefully these will be good for camping/working near the truck at night without blinding everyone, tbd.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/2/23 8:05 p.m.

Hey, I have lights now. Rewired a bunch of stuff up on the rack today to clean up my old haphazard wiring. Anyhow, they work as expected. They hotspot a bit more than I like, so I'll probably get some diffusing film to put on the lenses. 

Also did a run about 100 miles away in the Porsche to pick up a used door handle, since the inner mechanism in mine snapped off, as these handles are wont to do. Hit some nice twisty roads and made a quick detour through the Battle of Antietam park to look at some cannons and stuff....

Incidentally, this car continues to be a near-perfect road tripper in almost every respect except the Porsche seats really do get uncomfortable after about 2-3 hours (and these Boxster seats are better than the old 924/944 seats, too.) I guess Gemrans are just tougher than me, lol. 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/4/23 8:06 p.m.

I know, I know, nobody cares about the other cars in this thread, but I really dont' have much planned for the  rally car at this point. And even if I did, it would just be boring maintenance or cleaning stuff, so not worth posting. In the meantime....

I try to DIY as much as possible, but sometimes just gotta pay for something small to keep things nice on the tow rig, since I spend a lot of time sitting in it when towing, and I plan to keep for the long haul hopefully. In this case, my different lighting buttons have always been scattered around the dash in various available blanks - left of the steering wheel, right of the steering wheel, on the center stack, etc. So I happened upon this switch panel while browsing around, which replaces the 3-switch + coin tray (?) pocket in front of the shifter. It's a nicely-made 3D-printed piece:

Installed nice, I did some wiring cleanup and moved all the buttons over to this from the disparate areas they previously were. Small project to help "get things how I want them, I guess. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/4/23 8:11 p.m.

You kidding?  The tow rig stuff is awesome.  I love that little DIN switch panel.


I'd had ideas of junkyarding something like that for DIN switches, and also using neeto switches like the IC spray button from an STI and stuff like that.


(teh red RX-7 has a 3D printed gauge pod that goes where the '81-83 tape deck sits.  It was nonfunctional and who can find/record tapes in 2020s anyway, so the gauges are nicer)

V2U_03 GRM+ Memberand New Reader
1/5/23 5:42 p.m.

Few things beat finally getting to the bottom of that type of irritant. Had the same feeling recently with a shifter stalk that wouldn't return to center quite right. Finally tried flipping the spring upside down (which apparently made it right side up) and it now shifts a treat (Edd China accent). 

RustBucketLegacy GRM+ Memberand New Reader
1/5/23 6:32 p.m.

The tow rig upgrades make me wish we weren't borrowing/renting one. Not enough to get us to go buy one, but those switches are great. I mean, who doesn't like buttons??

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/6/23 5:37 p.m.
RustBucketLegacy said:

The tow rig upgrades make me wish we weren't borrowing/renting one. Not enough to get us to go buy one, but those switches are great. I mean, who doesn't like buttons??

one thing at a time! Need racekar first, then towing stuff ;)

I drove this car to rallycrosses for the first 5 years or so before I got a trailer. 

84FSP UberDork
1/7/23 12:20 p.m.

You and your team look like you are really having a blast out there.  That is all.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/8/23 8:05 p.m.

Was bored today so went ahead and hand-cut six more tiedown eyes out of my last remaining scrap pieces of this 3/16" steel

So after breaking two jigsaw blades (teeth too fine, for thinner metal), and not having any more on-hand, I actually used my (new) cordless DeWalt sawzall with a short metal blade to make the rest of the cuts, then plenty of hand-shaping with a flap wheel to make them look decent.  Only after all this did I remember that literally 1 foot away I have a tabletop band saw that could have done this easily. I've had it for 2 years and never really used it, and usually forget it's there because it has stuff piled all over it lol....doh. 

Anyhow, I did four on the left side directly across from the ones I did previously on the right, although these aren't as tall since they're not doing double-duty as support pieces (for the awning), as the water tank mounts directly to the rack sides. I also added another pair (right and left) up near the front of the rack, even though I already have tiedowns up there. I supposed I did it mostly for cosmetic continuity lol.

Rack looks kinda janky without my grid panels mounted on top. You can see how crooked my center brace bars are lol (not visible with the panels on, so don't really care).

I also notched out the antenna mount I had previously made to accommodate the fourth of the flood lights I stole off the Raider (three on the other side under the awning, you'll recall). Figured it's worth while to have one over on the driver's side as well since I guess I might want stuff over there lit up at night too. That side also has one of the old VERY bright white floods still mounted just in front of the water tank. It's not hooked up any longer but I'm not removing it since that would just leave a big hole in the rack side. Guess I could just take it out and move the water tank 6" forward to cover the hole.....maybe next weekend lol. 

Annoyingly, to alter the antenna/light mount plate, I had to remove the NMO antenna base and I wasn't paying attention to where my lower box-end wrench was and I twisted the connector right off the mount, dammit. So I ordered a replacement end and I'll do some splicing and soldering once it gets here (rather than running a full new wire, since that's a pain in the ass). Lesson learned.....

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/8/23 8:16 p.m.

Oh, in mildly-related stuff - the white-colored grid that I have on this truck......so I use the gray-colored (with carbon) chicken coop flooring grid on the Raider, and it is super-strong and has held up for several years now perfectly. When I decided to use the white stuff on this one (after I had already ordered it, of course), I read some things indicating direct UV light breaks down the plastic on the white ones and makes them brittle (they're meant for indoor use, really, since chicken coops have roofs). Figured I'd give them a try anyhow. 

Well, those comments were correct. Being up on the rack doing wiring and stuff recently, I cracked them in several places from my own weight, which wasn't an issue when I first put them on. So, I'll be ordering some of the gray-colored carbon grid at some point to replace the white stuff. In any case, just pointing that out for anyone who planned to do the "chicken-coop flooring mod" on their racks: get the dark-colored one that is UV resistant, not the white-colored ones that aren't :/

ralleah GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/9/23 2:16 p.m.

thanks for the coup panel update, I'm starting to figure out what the flex needs.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/15/23 10:02 p.m.

Leah, just for another update on that topic lol. The gray carbon stuff came in, so I made a few cuts to clear the rear lights and the junction box and strapped them up there. May modify further, but that's not very interesting so I'll spare everyone that, lol


was staring at the rallycar thinking about trying to get motivated today and got to thinking that I miss when rally was all about staying in cheap hotel, fixing crap in parking lots, having a way-too-big crew of friends with us just to hang out, going out to bars with other rally folks until late, even the night before, and then just having fun being at the back of the pack and not even caring. The more serious we have gotten about trying to actually "do well," the less fun it seems, sometimes. Could just be that being more serious hasn't resulted in doing much better.  So in honor of having fun and not being serious, here's some pics from back in the day....


ralleah GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/16/23 1:48 p.m.

Some vintage snaps there! laugh

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/20/23 8:34 p.m.

Well, starting to think about rally again, I suppose. But still haven't touched the car.  But I did talk to Jim today and we did totally agree to DO rally this year. So, that's step one lol.

Anyhow, I was in California for 10 days  (most of for work), and then got COVID (after 3 years of not getting it), so it's been an unproductive February for all car-related things. Oh well. Here's some pics from my Cali trip, where I did the entire coastal highway (and then some) from San Francisco to Eureka, and back in a rental BMW 330i on my own dime (which I had to cash in for a CR-V on the fourth day, since the rest of the trip was on the taxpayer's dime). Anyhow, a couple pics since it was a lot of fun and those roads crush any rally roads in the US, period. I can honestly say that on the part of Rt1 from Leggett to Mendocino, I thought I was going to make MYSELF carsick....sooooo many curves and I was hitting them as hard as I felt I *should* in a rental car with fresh tires :)

In addition, more great roads a bit inland through all the redwood forests. Found a few unpaved ones too :)

Here's a random car in one of the swanky seaside towns I stopped in...

Oh, also got this officially from last season. Possibly the best action shot of my e30 on any WDCR rallycross trophy to date :)

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/28/23 11:07 p.m.

Hey, I guess I'll get back to work. First, need to clear out the garage of the other e30 project so I have room. This garage is too damn small for two cars at once....so now I'm 3-wide in the driveway of 80s cars under covers lol.

Had to strip the old door cards since ARA has new ones this year. As expected, paint underneath is a mess, peeled off some of it...hey, can even see some of the original black paint!

I plan to do a full repaint this summer, maybe. This car is looking pretty ragged for a couple years now, but I haven't decided what I want to do in terms of color, look, etc. TBD. I'll have to fix up the doors prior to the season though. IN the meantime, touching up some of the trim pieces that are all chipped and old looking (I mean, they are 38 years old...)

In semi-neat news, we were in the BMWCCA Roundel magazine. They had a writer at NEFR last year and we talked with her for a good amount of time and then sent her to the other e30s there. Good to see everyone got featured a bit!


¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
3/1/23 6:31 a.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

Is there somewhere I can read that article without being a member of the special BMW club?  Resolution is too low to just zoom in on it.  cheeky

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/1/23 4:00 p.m.

I'm not a member of said club either lol....Jim sent me those but yes, too low res to read. I'm trying to get a better version. 

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