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The LONG road to a S14 swap

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No brakes!

blog-0461614001422663761.jpgAt the time of the test drive I the car pulled to the left pretty hard, I figured this was due to not being driven for quite some time. After getting it home and doing a couple laps of the neighborhood I realized that the right front caliper was not functioning properly, the surface rust on the disc was still present after several attempts at hard stops. I got a brake bleed kit and attempted to bleed the caliper but no fluid came out. I pulled the caliper off and no fluid exited the line, I also attempted to push the pistons back into the caliper with a clamp but neither one moved. I called the usual places looking for a caliper but because I have a ’68 built car I needed the single line calipers and those are in short supply, I hit the faq and Stuff hooked me up with a take off pair of calipers. I also picked up a brake hose hoping that worst case the hose to the caliper was clogged.


Super fast red calipers. Peek-a-boo.


New passenger side line.

We had a few warm days in December here in Michigan and I was able to swap in the new, old calipers. They are painted red so now my car is faster. Install was fairly easy and uneventful, the rubber hose on the passenger side was clogged and replacing it did fix the brake fluid flow problem. The drivers side hose and caliper had been replaced some time in the past few years but I swapped in the matching caliper that Stuff sent me. I bled the brakes and the fronts worked great.

It was at this time that I decided to check the rear brakes, just to see if I needed to bleed them while I had the bleed kit and fluid out. Neither one functioned, yikes. I assumed they were working because other than the pull to the left the car seemed to brake normally, although it must have been the downshifting that arrested the rear wheels.

I loosened the bleed nipple on the passenger drum and there was no fluid flow, then I pulled the lines at the drums, no fluid flow there either. The drivers side drum was missing the bleed nipple. SO MANY THINGS WRONG! The rubber brake lines that run between the body and the rear suspension seemed to be clogged, like the front. Those were bastards to loosen; it was hard enough getting one end off (rear) the other (front) was in a valley that was impossible to access with any tools I own. I couldn’t get the hose off without damaging the hard lines and mounting brackets. After 2 days fighting with the rear brakes I gave up. I am going to wait for the weather to break and I am going to go with the big brake kit IE sells. I am also going to replace all the body lines. The pictures below were shot with the car put back together and with poor light.



Sorry for the lack of pics, I wasn’t thinking about the blog.


Brake light problems

blog-0991160001422664403.jpgI had 2 major issues that needed to be addressed with the brake lights.

The first problem I had was that the fuse for the brake lights kept blowing, the PO had changed the carb over and there is a wire that runs from the carb to the #5 fuse. I am not sure what the carb needs power for, thoughts? The brake lights would stop operating at the same time an extremely rough idle would occur. I traced the wire from the fuse back to the carb and found that the insulation had rubbed off and the wire was grounding on the air filter mount. I bent the connector 90 degrees and the fuse hasn’t blown since.



It is a little difficult to see in this photo, the bent clip is in the center of the frame. Where it was grounding before being bent is the black post just to the left of center (air cleaner support.)

The second issue I had was the brake light switch. The brake lights worked properly at the time of purchase but they stopped operating after I took ownership (go figure.) I ran a jump wire across the terminals of the stop light switch and the lights operated properly so I knew a bad switch was to blame. I picked up a replacement switch from O’Reiley, but the part they gave me was not correct. I wasn’t sure where to order a correct one so I chose to drill the smallest hole I could in the back of the switch and hose it with dielectric cleaner. I filled the hole with hot glue and the part now functions as it should. I am going to replace the switch when the weather is better.


Oh overheating.

Driving the car around the neighborhood and taking it for a few drives close to home the temperature spiked a couple times. Some times it would get close to red on the temp gage and cool off, some times it would go into the red. When it didn’t correct itself quickly I shut the car off and waited for it to cool down. The coolant was topped off and the radiator didn’t overflow when it got hot. After reading some info on the site the next time it got hot I felt the radiator hoses and they were cool to the touch. I figured a bad thermostat was to blame.

I ordered a thermostat, a water pump, and silicone hose set. The hoses on the car were pretty perished, and if I was going to change the thermostat and the hoses why not the water pump. I should’ve just done the hoses and thermostat. Draining the radiator and pulling the hoses was a breeze, although quite messy. I have a few animals and the 3 gallon Rubbermaid catch pan I used was probably half as big as I needed. Marshall posted a pic of a kiddie pool for this type of job and I wish I had gone that route. Oh well, nothing 20 minutes of watering the driveway couldn’t fix. When it came to removing the water pump work ground to a halt, I was able to remove most of the bolts but I rounded off 2 of the ones on the top of the water pump. Fortunately these were easy to get to and I was able to get them off with vise grips. I ran a garden hose in the block for a few minutes until clear water started coming out; I wasn’t able to locate the block drain plug (under the #4 exhaust?) This should suffice, right? Someone please tell me yes :) Putting everything back together was easy enough. I got replacement bolts for the ones I mangled they are the same size thread but different material than OEM, is this a problem? I picked up some copper washers to replace the ones that were on the pump but had eroded to almost nothing. Pulling the fan and pulley off the old water pump was a PITA but this job I was able to do inside, where there is heat!

I have driven the car a few times since the repair and everything works great! Good warm up, heater works well as it should, chased a leak to a loose clamp. The only thing I need is to replace the radiator overflow hose that I lost when towing the car home.

I have some questions about the work I did. They are below.

Are the bolts I used as a replacement for OEM going to be a problem? They are the same size, thread, and pitch. I am just a little concerned about them turning into a sacrificial metal in the engine block. I did replace all the copper washers.


The gold one is the replacement, black is original.

Second question: I used a nylon lock washer for the radiator; I figured this would be better than reusing the one I took off. Is the nylon a problem?

Third: I ran cool water through a warm block. I let the car cool for about 4 hrs and the block was only slightly warm to the touch but the water I flushed with was probably in the 50’s. I know it is a huge no-no to flush a hot engine with cold water, but at what temperature differential does it become a problem? There is some coolant on the block and I'm concerned. blogentry-48020-0-71228400-1422661739_th blogentry-48020-0-22342500-1422661750_th


blog-0026229001422664493.jpgKernel, kernel, kernel… the answer to door problems is (almost always) kernel. I had never heard of this amazing piece of German engineering, critical to keeping owners from furiously slamming their doors. I may or may not have called a welding friend to add material to the latch in the are where it looked like it had warn away over time. I also may or may not have seen a kernel on a door latch in a CoupeKing restoration picture and asked Erik what that “thimble” like device was and where I could get one, sorry Erik.


Have you seen me?

The biggest problem the car had from purchase, and the easiest to fix (seemingly,) was the necessity to slam the doors to close them. I actually fractured the drivers side catch after loading it on the trailer after purchase (S***.) blogentry-48020-0-22802500-1422661105_th

Operating the latch by hand was quite difficult. So the first nice day after I got the car home I pulled the door card to inspect the latch to see if I could figure out what was causing the friction in the latch. I could see the caked on white lithium grease on the inside of the door, I wiped some excess off and added more while rotating the latch back and forth. I also sprayed the locking mechanism. This made both the latch and the lock function 1000x easier. The windows didn’t move too easily so they got some grease as well, also improved function exponentially. (No pics with the door apart, not thinking of the blog.) When I had passenger door card off I noticed the rust repair running the length of the door… Bummer. After greasing everything up and putting the doors back together the doors still would not close easily. I could see a notch on the door latch on both sides of the car where it looked like material had warn away over time and this was causing the latch to not engage the second click necessary for a tight seal. I thought about it and just before I had material welded on I took to the forum to see if there was any info, I had searched previously but couldn’t find anything on the subject (obviously didn’t look hard enough.) There it was! An old thread that had been brought back from the dead with all the pertinent kernel info, with part numbers ta boot!! So I got the parts and now the doors close as they should.

Pro tip: any time you need to pull your door card don’t attack the quarterlight window knobs with a flathead screwdriver, there is a small hole in the back of the knob so an allen key can be used to push the front cover off. Now I know too :)



Finding my car

blog-0340201001422660406.jpgThanks for looking in on this blog. I have been reading this site for a while and you guys have all imparted a great deal of knowledge. Your restoration, conversion, and upgrade blogs stoked a desire for me to purchase, restore, and upgrade a 2002 of my own.

My car is a 1969 2002 in Polaris silver.

I have been a huge fan of BMW’s for as long as I remember, not sure if it was mom’s E30 325i or dads K1100LT, both? The first car I ever purchased was an 83 633csi, and I’ve had 2 BMW motorcycles. I've wanted another BMW car for a while and as appealing as the older 3, 5, and 6 series cars are I wanted something that was smaller, lighter, easier to work on, and “cooler.” I remember a friend of mine seeing a 2002 tooling around and saying, “what does that guy know that I don’t.” That sentiment, my fathers incessant “those cars are so cool,” and another friend’s acquisition of a 1602 steered me to the 2002’s.

I have been looking at cars for the past few months across a number of sites, I was hoping to find a running, rust free, roundie for $7-ish-K, I figured this would be difficult but I had no money and plenty of time. I knew I wanted to so a S14 swap on the car but the cars that I had seen that had already been converted were not to my taste (budget be damned.) The biggest problem I had with my hunt was the location of cars for sale; there are not a ton of 2002’s in the Detroit area, and fewer for sale. I’ve maybe seen 5 different cars in 8 years. I would most likely have to rely on a ppi and an out of state purchase. Cars came and went; there was a salvage title, some too far away, and a couple I thought a few were overpriced. (I wasn’t prepared to put out a cash, low-ball, offer from 1800 miles away) so I kept searching…

I was forwarded my eventual car from my 1600 owner friend, it had been posted on Craigslist and Autotrader Classic, and it was a reasonable 380 miles away. If I remember correctly the car was posted sometime in July or August for $9000. The car showed really well but the price was just too high for me to justify the drive just for a look. I communicated with the seller and he gave me some of the info on the car. He was the third owner, the first owner kept it in an airplane hanger, his body repairman friend (owner #2) bought it from the first owner and he eventually sold it to the current owner/seller. I was told that there was some surface rust that was repaired by owner #2 before the car was repainted the current 2-tone color. The shock towers were original and in excellent condition. I was told that the car ran well although it had not been registered for an extended period of time. The pictures and description of the car seemed to be honest and I told the owner that I was interested and that I would be in touch although coming to see the car was not possible for the foreseeable future.

I kept looking for cars, all the while keeping an eye on the Autotrader ad for my eventual car. Prior to driving out east for vacation the price of the car dropped to $7500, this was all the motivation I needed to make a detour on the way home to check it out.

FINALLY it is in front of me. I must keep my wits about me... must check everything… don’t get nervous… remember all you’ve read… Great in theory, didn’t pan out so well. I looked the car over, got under the hood, checked that all the info he gave me was correct, went for an extremely short test drive (no tags.) I did the whole damn thing and didn’t get under the car… IDIOT! Well almost. I got under the rear and noticed that the spare tire well had rotted through in a dime size spot and after seeing this I got down under the passenger side but that looked really clean. I walked around a couple more times, checked the indicators, brake lights, driving lights, and looked for more evidence of disguised rust. The car was as described other than the spare tire well rust, doors that you had to slam, and some tire rub. I thanked the owner for sharing it, he told me of a couple calls he had on the car and one dealer who gave him a ridiculously low offer, and I told him I was still interested and that I would look into putting together some money for the car. He said he would take $7000.

I spent the drive home and the next week trying to make the numbers work. I had to have this car, pictured driving around town, working on it, making it my own… Even with all of those thoughts I still sat down and did the math and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to buy the car, I had a motorcycle that I couldn’t sell (November in Michigan, go figure) and I had just gotten home from back to back trips. I emailed the seller and told him that much to my dismay I wouldn’t be able to buy the car, not now, I just couldn’t afford it. He told me that he knew I wanted it and he would sit on it for a while. Three more weeks passed and I got an email asking if I was still interested, I replied that I just couldn’t buy the car. He asked if it was the price. I replied “Isn’t it always?” he asked me where I was at and doing some quick math I figured that I could swing $5500. He accepted!!!

Towing the car back the almost 400 miles proved uneventful despite it being my first time really towing and the first 100 miles driving out of the mountains of West Virginia. It is amazing all the things you notice wrong with a car after you’ve forked over the money and the title has your name!!! As I was loading the car the radiator overflowed a bit, making me think I had bought a POS. The now previous owner explained he just topped off the rad and the “leak” was traced to the overflow tank.

I got the car home unloaded it, got insurance, changed the title and got historical plates. I went with historical for now as I knew it was going to spend a fair bit of time over the next few months in the shop/storage and not out-and-about. As I was working on the car I noticed two areas of rust repair. The first was the passenger door; almost the entire bottom was replaced. The pop-rivets can be seen when the door card is removed. The other was behind the driver’s side front tire, not the fender, more the foot well area. Again pop rivets can be seen. The pop rivets concern me because if the “body guy, repaired for himself to keep, former owner” was any good he wouldn’t have used pop rivets. Right?



I will do a couple quick follow up posts to outline what I have already changed.

The short term needs for the car-

Tire rub: The car has 15” Konig wheels with 195/55/15 tires. It is rubbing the wheel well on full lock as well as the fender lip (front and rear.) I just purchased a set of the Rota R20, 15” Alpina replicas. I am not a huge fan of the Alpina 20 spoke wheels but I feel like these might look really great when the car changes color down the road. I would like to keep 15’s to accommodate larger brakes.

Brakes: The front passenger caliper was in-op when I took delivery of the car, the car pulled under breaking on the test drive but I didn’t realize that the caliper was completely worthless. I was able to replace the front calipers thanks to a faq-er who had a pair of take off single line calipers. I swapped both front calipers and I decided to test the rear brakes. Nothing on either one, one out of four brakes worked for the test drive. Good thing I hadn’t driven far! The car is currently parked with in-op rear brakes, I will most likely just install the Willwood kit in the spring.

Clutch slip/rear main seal: Taking the car out for a few short drives after getting the front brakes operable I noticed that there is quite a bit of clutch slip. Under the car there is evidence of an oil leak at the back of the engine (oil drip at bell housing.) I think that changing the rear main seal and the clutch should fix that. This might be one of the few basic jobs I pay to have done; I don’t have much more than jack stands and a few tools. I don’t want to lie on my back, drop a trans on my face and try to wrench off a flywheel just to save a few bucks. If anyone knows a guy in the metro Detroit area that has a garage and a lift for rent it really help me out!


Fuel flow: Below is a pic of the fuel filter at the carb; the car was running when the picture was taken. The first few times I drove the car the fuel filter was about half full of fuel, now it is less than a quarter full. I have filled up the car twice, could there be sediment in the tank that I stirred up? Could it be a clogged vent line? A bad fuel sender? I haven’t noticed any other filters, is there one in-tank? Related or not the car seems to studder pretty hard and bog down at the 1-2 shift. I am not sure if this is the cold weather, if it is bad carb tuning, or it is a fuel flow problem. Running half or full choke almost eliminates the studder.


Below is a quick outline of what I wish to do to the car over the next year or so, the plan for further down the road being a S14 swap. I would love feedback and insight, you all are a wealth of knowledge and I know you guys will be a huge help as this moves along.

Here it goes:

Wheels and tires- this needs to get done before I start driving too much, paying to have the fender lips repaired in the future because I don’t change the wheels now isn’t in my plan. (Between typing this up and posting it I have purchased Rota R20 wheels.)

Replace clutch and fix rear main leak.

I would like to get the underbody steamed, reading the Surf car resto, danco spoke pretty highly of it and if I can get the oil leak fixed and the underside clean it should make subsequent jobs much easer.

Brakes – IE Willwood conversion for 15” wheels, new lines. New master cylinder.

Suspension - IE kit. Shocks, springs, sway bar, strut brace, poly bushings. How is this kit working for those of you that have tried it? I have seen mention of other brands of shocks, is one better than the other? The car will be used on terrible Michigan roads, it might get one or two track outings. Is there a benefit with going to a coilover kit for a street car?

Get carb tuned, fix fuel flow problem

Door and window seals – I am getting a little water inside and wind noise; the gaskets on the front and rear are totally dry rotted.


Lights – These need work all around, the fog lights need to be wired up. The front drivers side turn lamp housing is cracked. The rear passenger side driving light is in-op. I would like to restore/brighten the rear lights. I am open to a LED conversion, and I am thinking about getting a third stop light (as much as I hate the look I’d kick myself if I got rear-ended because of too little lighting.)

Pedal box rebuild – There is going to be a ton of penetrant needed for this job, from what I can see now the threads of the bolts look terribly dirty.

Battery relocation – I think this will be my last spring/summer job. Everything else will wait until fall.

Fall/winter jobs are:

Getrag 265/5 CR swap – Along with all necessary trans tunnel mods. I am still not sure how much I need to blow the tunnel out, I’ve seen a couple articles on here from people that have done it. I would prefer not having to beat the crap out of the tunnel with a BFH, would an auto ’02 tunnel be large enough?How much "massaging" is necessary?

LSD diff with gearing to complement the CR trans

New interior

-Recaro front seats, 6 series rears

Rust repair

Chrome work

New color

S14 swap in 2016

Thanks again for viewing/reading. I will keep future posts shorter. My goal with the build is to have a great street car. I know many things will need to be reworked as the car comes together but I desperately want to avoid replacing items because they aren’t robust enough for what the car will end up being (I’m looking at you struts.) With that, thank you for sharing your thoughts!


p.s. I didn’t take pics of the first few jobs I did, sorry.