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mcbacon New Reader
11/14/17 3:15 p.m.

That experience from the first shop was beyond terrible.  I feel for you.  I've had shop experiences like that.

Re: the 1/4 turn at a time bolts, I've found a set of ratcheting box end wrenches to be super helpful for limited access stuff like that.  You can even get them  cheap at Hazard Frought!

docwyte SuperDork
11/14/17 3:38 p.m.

I have a set of those racheting wrenches, not sure I had a big enough one for the front control arm bolt tho.  Now I'll have to look and get mad at myself if I do, in fact, have one!


Hopefully on the drive home the check engine light stays off, if it does, I think I can call this good.  I've got a letter drafted up that I plan to send to the original shop.  I don't expect them to take any action on it but it'll make me feel better...

docwyte SuperDork
11/15/17 8:52 a.m.

Check engine light shortly after start up last night to go home.  Codes were the vanos, secondary air pump and one other one I don't remember.

Seems the car is grumpy when first cold started now and if you don't catch it with the throttle the engine will die.  Then at restart I get goofy codes thrown.

I cleared the codes and drove it to work today, no codes on the drive in.  Will see what happens tonight.

docwyte SuperDork
11/16/17 8:52 a.m.

Getting into a pattern here.  Car starts and runs fine, no check engine lights in the morning on the way to work.  After sitting outside the office all day (hasn't been that cold tho, maybe 60-70 degrees) when I start it to drive home, it throws a check engine light.  Two codes lately, secondary air injection and the vanos code.

I talked to VAC yesterday about it, they said to drive the car for 200 miles or so and that the vanos seal should work in by that point.  I've gone maybe 75 miles so far....

mcbacon New Reader
11/16/17 9:25 a.m.

It'll be interesting to see if that's the case.  Thanks for the updates!

docwyte SuperDork
11/17/17 2:35 p.m.

So the first key cycle after I clear the code the light stays off.  Next key cycle it pops back on.  Will be taking the car back to the shop next Friday, we know the vanos is working properly, but there's something that the dme doesn't like.  Shop has another E36 M3 there that he's going to compare with mine to see what he can find.

Took the car last night to my study club dinner and got stuck in stop n go traffic.  A glance at the auxiliary water temp gauge showed it climbing.  Hmm, that means my front pusher fan isn't working.  Click on the AC to see if I could force the pusher fan on.  Nope!  Luckily I was sitting at a red stop light, about to turn left onto a clear road.  So I just turned the car off until the light turned green.  Once I started driving, temps dropped immediately.

So this morning I checked all the fuses and wiring, which were good.  Then I pulled both the low and high speed fan relays.  I'd replaced the low speed relay last summer, but not the high speed one.  Contact cleaner into the spades in the fuse box of both relays and I cleaned up the spades on the high speed relay with fan sand paper. 

Reseated both relays, started the car and hit the AC.  Success!  Both fans came on.  Did that a few times and cycled the key too, so far, so good.  Will have the shop double check tho, as I don't want to get stuck in traffic in the summer without both fans working.

docwyte SuperDork
11/24/17 11:00 a.m.

Well, exercised my credit card for some Black Friday deals.  Trackspec Motorsports is having a 20% off sale, so I bought a set of their hood louvers. 


I'll be fabbing up some new underpanels to seal off the radiator/oil cooler since my old panel was just for the radiator.  Since the oil cooler hangs below the radiator, it doesn't fit now.

BMW guys said adding the louvers lowered their water temps by 10-20 degrees, so hopefully I see the same...

Dropping the car at the shop this Sunday for the tech to have another crack at the vanos code.

docwyte SuperDork
11/24/17 11:10 a.m.

NASA Time Trial rules for the new TT5 class are supposed to be released November 29th.  I did a little math based on the old power to weight to see what I'd have to weigh to stay in class. 

I made a few assumptions, one being that the tire and weight modifiers would stay the same.  Right now I get a 0.70 modifier for running a 245 DOT R tire, as well as a 0.10 weight modifier if the car weighs 3300-3400lbs.

Base power to weight is 14.5, so I can have a 13.7 power to weight and still stay in TTC, and hopefully the new TT5.  NASA doesn't allow you to add more than 250lbs of ballast over base weight, which is 3175lbs for me, so a max weight of 3450lbs.

I think I can get to a max weight of 3350lbs with a full tank of gas and a full sized battery.  The car weighed 3200lbs with me in it and 1/8th tank.  Tank holds 16.5 gallons, so basically 100lbs of fuel.  Weight difference between my ltw battery and a full sized one is probably 40-50lbs.  So that's 150lbs right there.  I'm using 3300lbs to give myself a 50lb window for fuel burn.  If NASA gets rid of the modifiers, then I'll have to figure out how to add ballast, or move up to TT4.

NASA also uses an average wheel horsepower measurement, 4 points are used.  Max horsepower, than 2500rpm before/after max horsepower.  For the M3, that really means max hp and 4 points below it.  You pick the highest 4 and divide by 4.  

Using that formula and a 3300lb weight, I can't make more than 238whp to stay in class, as that is 14.56 hp:lb.  Before I added the cams and bored throttle body I was making ~223whp average.  With any luck, rebuilding the head and adding the cams/throttle body won't add more than 15 average whp...

So I need to get my car on the dyno and see what it makes and see what the new rules are.  If I get pushed into TT4, I'm not going to be happy as I can't easily/cheaply add more power or remove weight.  At that point I'm debating buying a used Active Autowerke supercharger system that popped up locally and just having fun.  

docwyte SuperDork
11/25/17 1:32 p.m.

A little housekeeping this morning.

Swapped out the broken center hvac vent for a used one I picked up from eBay.  Luckily I was able to pop the bowden cable off the "new" vent so I didn't have to remove the drivers underpanels.  Just popped off the cable from the vent in the car and reattach.  

Interestingly it looked like the vent had been replaced before in the past, as the bowden cable on my existing vent wasn't routed correctly.  

Then I had to fix the drivers brake duct hose, it was basically cut threw.  Can anyone tell me why the metal pipe is 3" and the metal wire reinforced hose is also 3"?  Would be a LOT easier to slip the hose onto the pipe if it was 3.25"...

While underneath the car I noticed that I had a broken wire on the left/drivers side of the transmission.  No idea what its for, it was in a two wire bundle and was just snapped clean in two.  Went ahead and fixed it, kinda curious what happens now.

While underneath the car I also was shocked to see that the trans mounts are still stock.  These usually get upgraded very early in the cars life as the stock mounts allow the trans to twist on the track under load, making a "money shift" a very distinct possibility.  Hard to believe that with the amount of track time this car has seen over the 20 years of existence they haven't been upgraded.

So ordered a set of AKG Motorsports poly trans mounts/metal track cups to match the poly AKG motor mounts I have from Pelican.  Needed oil filters for my Cayenne so was able to get free shipping, woot!

Tomorrow I take the car to the shop to continue chasing down the vanos issue.   Then I'll install the poly trans mounts and man up to cut three gaping holes in my hood for the hood vents....

docwyte SuperDork
11/30/17 11:14 a.m.

Well, NASA released the new rules for TT5, where they're combining TTD and TTC.  Basically they've just boned over all the TTC guys and made it a TTD only class.

Before you'd get a bonus back to hp/lb if you ran a 245 or smaller tire.  That's been deleted.

I used to have to take points for my front splitter and brake calipers, but I had the points to give there.  Now both those items cost me in the hp/lb area.

They've also changed how they calculate average hp/lb.  Used to be highest hp and the next highest three at 500rpm increments.  Now it's the highest hp and the next highest five and 250rpm increments.  So that gives me a higher overall total.

Needless to say, I can't add enough weight to my car to stay in this new class.  I'd have to add a whole bunch of weight, remove my front splitter, lower my rear wing to avoid an aero imbalance and still have to run a restrictor plate/detune.

Looks like they've basically turned it into a miata class.  I'm totally bummed about this, as my car is at least 50rwhp low for the next class up, TT4.  So I'll be totally uncompetitive there.  Anything I try to do to add that 50rwhp will be very expensive and ironically probably add far more than 50rwhp, so then I'll have to jump up 2 to 3 classes to either TT3 or TT2. 



dannyzabolotny Reader
11/30/17 2:59 p.m.

Man, racing rules are so convoluted. I just want to drive a car on a track, not think about silly rules and restrictions. That's why I've stuck to drag racing so far, because it doesn't matter what you bring to the track.

Mad_Ratel Dork
11/30/17 3:20 p.m.

If you just want to drive, then an HPDE is perfect. The rules are there to try get you racing with people of similar speed and skill. That way you dont show up to a race in a miata and get destroyed by a Turbo Flying Miata or Exocet... 

docwyte SuperDork
11/30/17 4:34 p.m.

Local NASA puts HPDE3 and 4 together.  That's leads to uncomfortable decisions for me, since I'm usually quite a bit quicker than pretty much everyone in that group.  There's also not open passing, so I end up in trains and my breathing down peoples necks makes them uncomfortable.

I've been an instructor and running TT with NASA for years and years now, stepping back into HPDE would be weird.  I ran HPDE with the BMW club once last spring, for the first time in probably over a decade.  It was an odd experience dealing with passing zones and having another instructor in the car with me.  While I wasn't running my usual time trials pace, it was still too fast for their highest run group. 

So right now it looks like I'll just put the car into TT4 and just have fun, since I won't be competitive at all there.

docwyte SuperDork
12/3/17 9:03 a.m.

Well happy days!  The 2nd shop was able to fix the "vanos mechanically stuck code".  Turned out the first shop had installed the intake cam too far advanced, which was freaking the computer out.  So between setting the cam timing correctly and installing the vanos correctly, I no longer have any codes.

Next up is installing my AKG Motorsports poly tranny mounts, with reinforcement cups and putting in the Trackspec hood louver.  I had ordered the entire package of all three vents, center and two sides.  After talking to them tho I decided to just go with the center vent for now.

I'm also meeting my friend today to check out his supercharger setup.  I'm still on the fence with this as it'll bump me up a few more classes time trial wise, but mostly I'm worried about whether I can keep the water temps on track under control with it installed.  I also want to try and develop my driving and feel that if I have eleventy billion HP that may not happen.

Another local posted up a set of double adjustable MCS shocks/struts for my car, if I don't buy the supercharger I'll probably pick them up to replace my current Ground Control single adjustable konis.  I can keep the konis so if I don't like the MCS' I'll be able to turn them for pretty much what I paid for them...

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth MegaDork
12/3/17 9:16 a.m.

I will say that running TT is much better than HPDE even if you're not competitive. In my experience the drivers have a higher level of awareness and experience. In a lot of ways I'd rather drive a slow car in 1-2 than a fastish car in 3-4.  

I keep waiting for the TT rules to settle down. I know they're working hard to make it a fair non-cheaty series, and for the most part they're succeeding, but things keep moving faster than I can keep up. I do need another track car. 

jfryjfry HalfDork
12/3/17 9:28 a.m.

Let me know if you'd want to pass along those side vents!


and very glad to hear that the vanos issue was discovered and fixed.  That's great news!



docwyte SuperDork
12/3/17 11:05 a.m.

Seth, I have a big issue with what they did with this new TT5 class.  Basically they combined TTD and TTC but wrote the new rule set to the TTD cars.  If you had a highly prepped TTC car, like mine, there was no way it'd fit into the new class.

They basically told all the prepared TTC guys to pound sand.  Either spend a bunch of money detuning and adding weight to stay in TT5 or spend a bunch of money to add power and lose weight to jump up to TT4. 

They also changed the rules of TT4, despite that being a new class last year.  I'm kinda done with them in that regard, I want to prep my car to a stable rule set so I don't have to continually change all sorts of (expensive!) things every off season.

jfryjfry, I ended up only buying the center vent, so I don't have the side vents as spares.  TrackSpec told me they'd honor the sale price for the side vents if I feel I need them and order them later.

Really happy about the vanos codes.  I knew it was a question of properly clocking the vanos and cams, it just took a tech experienced enough to know how to do it.

docwyte SuperDork
12/3/17 5:06 p.m.

Went to look at the supercharger system this afternoon.  It's basically complete, missing the tune ($$$) MAF, supercharger traction oil (Rotrex blower) and maybe a bolt.

To fit the intercooler it looks like I'd have to either remove my front bumper beam completely or notch the heck out of it.  The missing tune is the biggest issue, I can source a tune from multiple sources, but it'd cost $900.  Add that to the cost of the other parts and it's probably $1500 worth of gear.

So I think I may pass on it (can't believe I'm saying this) unless I can get a tune for a more reasonable amount.  I'm also not thrilled with having to cut the bumper beam and I have questions about whether I can keep my water temps under control once I've added a huge intercooler in front of my radiator and another 150+hp.

docwyte SuperDork
12/8/17 8:27 p.m.

So I went shopping a bit.  So far I've picked up a set of AKG Motorsports poly trans mounts with metal cup reinforcements, a trackspec hood louver/vent, a Harbor Freight really tall 4000lb screw jack and the crowning touch, an almost new set of MCS  double adjustable Shocks/Struts.

Yes, the same ones I was waffling over previously.  Since getting a tune for that AA blower is stupid money, which then makes the entire supercharger system rather expensive, I passed on it.  I was offered another supercharger system, an RMS Stage 2, which is Vortech based.  However the system itself is probably 12 years old, so I'm not thrilled about that.   Then there's a Techniques Tuning turbo system I could get, but I'd have to farm out some of that installation job, so again, mo money!  Of all the systems, if I decide to pull the trigger it'll be the Techniques Turbo system.  Way more power and torque under the curve at 8-9psi vs a supercharger at 11-12psi. 

In the end, I just decided to spend a bunch of money to replace the Ground Control single adjustable Koni's I currently have.  That are probably just fine and I doubt that I'm overwhelming with my Senna like driving skills, LOL!

The MCS' were local to me, so I was able to check them out in person.  They're in like new shape with maybe 5000 miles on them, none of which were winter miles.  Got em for 1/2 price compared to new, so pretty hard to beat since they're obscenely expensive new. 

Anyways, I figure I'll keep the Koni's and if I don't feel the MCS' are doing it, I'll pull them off and resell them, or be able to pull them off when I sell the car eventually.  Or something.  Whatever.  Let's look at pretty car part pron now!



docwyte SuperDork
12/10/17 1:14 p.m.

OK, let's do some wrenching, since the rest of the family is out for a few hours.  Time to get the AKG Motorsports trans mounts in.

So this HF screw jack thing works really well.  Did a great job of supporting the transmission.

Stock tranmission mounts.  The rubber does a really poor job of keeping the transmission in place during cornering.  They twist, which then make it really easy to jump gears while downshifting, then mechanically over rev the motor, the dreaded "money shift".

Here the replacements.  I would've liked to have seen a tighter fit between the metal reinforcement cup and the bushing...

Handily BMW slots the spot on the transmission where the bolt goes through.  I was able to sneak the bushing out by just lifting the transmission up with the screw jack, didn't need to actually remove the transmission crossmember.

So I'd read the UUC install instructions and they said to torque these to 16 ft lbs.  My torque wrench never clicked, so I don't know if the transmission mount was already bad, but regardless, it's cracked now.  crying  Good news is a brand new BMW one from ECS Tuning is $29.  Looks like I'll be removing the transmission mount after all...

Here's what it looks like installed.  Will be redoing this when I get the new trans crossmember.  Doh!

Mad_Ratel Dork
12/11/17 6:18 a.m.

In reply to docwyte :

Just saw your response.  I was not telling you to do HPDE but the poster prior to mine.  (who was complaining about rules)

docwyte SuperDork
12/13/17 8:41 a.m.

So I've been investigating forced induction, since I'll be down on HP for TT4.  Friend of mine locally has an AA Rotrex kit laying around, but unfortunately he doesn't have the tune for it.  By the time I added the tune, I'd be into the kit for close to $4500, which is more than I want to spend.

Then I found an old (like 12-14 years!) Vortech based RMS Stage 2 kit, which was complete with software etc.  However the supercharger impeller has two large chips in it.  I talked to vortech and the replace the impeller and rebuild the charger would cost $1350!  So with that, I'd be into that kit for $4500, so again, a non starter.

So right now it doesn't look good for me adding power.  I'll keep looking, I'd like an intercooled setup and need a complete kit.  Sigh...

Next up is I have to run my car through smog testing here in a few months.  For my car that means an OBD2 scan for readiness codes as well as running it on the dyno.  I talked to my tuner as my tune deletes the rear O2 sensors.  Turns out they don't read "ready" then, so I asked him to send me the same tune but with the rear O2's turned back on. 

I then bought an O2 simulator box, that way I can plug it into the rear O2's and leave my track pipe on, readiness will be set and no CE's.  I'll swap out the track pipe for my OEM cats before the test, then swap back after the test.  No need to swap tunes, which is a PITA and have to deal with setting readiness over again...

docwyte SuperDork
12/13/17 11:32 a.m.

The plot thickens!  I may have found a stage 2 Vortech based kit online.  Doesn't have the tune I need and I assume its missing parts, so I threw out a low offer based on the suspicion I'll need to add $1500 worth of stuff to complete it.  We'll see what happens!

Shawnb New Reader
12/13/17 11:53 a.m.

In reply to docwyte :


Dang, the price of tunes has gone way up!


I had a fully built E36 M3, with a single gt35r making about 600hp. I had someone remote tune it on a local dyno, which took a ton of revisions over two nights. I paid under $500 for which I thought was fair at the time. Considering a custom tune on my Evo only ran me $300. 


Enjoy this build, hopefully you find a setup that works within your budget!

docwyte SuperDork
12/13/17 12:15 p.m.

In reply to Shawnb :

Yeah, what tunes cost now is ridiculous.  Especially since these aren't custom dyno tunes, they're box stock tunes.  You tell the tuner what you have and he looks at his archive of tunes and puts something together for you and emails it over. Might take in ten minutes? 

Of course at some point he had a car on the dyno and created the tune but just seems like a box tune like what I need should be more like $350, not $900...

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