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About this blog

This is the story about the restoration of a 1-owner car, a 1975 2002 by a reasonably experienced and mechanically inclined 7 car owner.  This is my 14th BMW and 5th complete car restoration. The goal is to have this car complete and show ready in time for the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix in July of 2018.  I want the car to be mostly stock, with a slightly more modern, aggressive stance.  I will try to write about the journey and will show pictures along the way.    

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4 months.  That's how long I've had this 2002.  And it has been sitting in the garage on jack stands for nearly 3!  The problem I've had is the same problem many of us have had this winter: It's just too damn cold in the garage to work!  Especially with the wife coming and going in her car.    Well, today was a really bad day, weather-wise.  So bad that my wife did not try to go anywhere all day so the garage was relatively warm.  So I took the day and worked on the car a little.  I've been doing a little here and there for the past few months, but today I feel like I accomplished something.  The last of the emissions controls are gone!   


Back in November, I discovered that I needed to remove the A/C compressor to get access to the lower exhaust manifold nuts.   

In December, I discovered that the A/C compressor support bracket was held in place by two bolts that could only be accessed if you removed the fan. 

Of course, removing the fan involved draining and removing much of the cooling system.  

Since I also need to replace the water pump, All of the A/C equipment in front of the radiator needed to be removed as well.  

And part of the plan has always been to replace a lot of the tired and worn ancillary components, like the alternator, starter, coolant diverter, thermostat, all the hoses, etc.  


So out it all came.  That left me with a lot more room to work and a much clearer picture of how much sludge was covering the engine. 

Here's an image of the A/C parts I removed, along with the fan, shroud and radiator:



What a boat anchor that A/C compressor is!  No way that's going back in!  New units are 1/2 he size and weight. 





  Here's an image of the engine bay with those parts removed: 



And here is an image through the grill that shows just how much sludge has built up on the engine:



And the sludge isn't just on the front of the engine or even just the engine. It is all over the front end of the car.  


In January, I was able to take a day to continue working on removing the emissions control stuff.   I removed the alternator, the air pump (Which I was able to drop through the bottom of the engine bay after removing one of the support brackets), and finally, the reactor.  Funny thing about the reactor, though.  As I disconnected the downpipe from the reactor, I noticed that some coolant leaked out of the engine.  Wouldn't have noticed except that it leaked onto me.  The angle of the engine had changed a little.  Then when I disconnected the downpipe from the chassis, there was more coolant.  And finally, when I was pulling the reactor, I could not get it to clear the studs so I could remove it from the engine bay.  So I put a wooden block on my floor jack and went under the car to loosen the passenger side engine mount.  That's when I discovered.....the motor mount was not attached to the engine!   It was completely loose!   The only thing holding the engine up on the passenger side was the exhaust system!  I didn't have the necessary M10 bolts, so I had to leave the engine jacked up until I could get some.  Here's what it looked like with the engine jacked up slightly.  Note the missing motor mount bolts. More sludge, too.   I replaced the bolts, washers and wave washers supporting the mount today.  I have new mounts, but will wait until the engine is clean to install them.  



Oh.  Part of the article I will eventually write about emissions control removal will include that you can safely remove the bracket below.  What a massive, stupid piece of metal just to support an air pump! 




That brings us pretty much up to today.  Today, I removed the emissions control wiring harness and remaining relays, disconnecting the harness from underneath fuse number 12 on the fuse box.  The collection of removed parts is impressive.


All that is left to do that is associated with the emissions control removal is to wire a lead from the fusebox under fuse 12 over to the condenser coil.  That should conclude the emissions control removal portion of the program...well...except for the intake manifold.....    



My original goal with the emissions control removal was to do JUST THAT and then put everything back together so I can run the engine again.  That was before I discovered all of the other systems I had to remove to get the reactor and air pump and now the intake manifold out.  Somewhere along the line, I came to the realization that it made no sense to put the engine back together and make necessary adjustments to run it until I had it cleaned the engine, and identified and fixed the leaks.  So I've been removing parts and cleaning a little as I go.  I also decided to replace the bulky, swiss cheese intake manifold with one of the more compact and less perforated versions from Ireland Engineering.  I really need to remove the old one anyway so I can clean under it.  Here is where I am now. 



I pulled a lot of cooling, vacuum and breather hoses today, too.  Some of these lines, like that gold braided brake booster vacuum hose line, are original to the car!  I had to break a lot of original BMW crimps and clamps today.  And almost every hose except the fuel line was brittle and broke as I was removing it.  If ever there was a car that could demonstrate how important it is to maintain and replace hoses, this car was it.  


Notice that you can actually see the engine now with most of the sludge gone, but only on's an image of under the intake manifold from the front.  See all that sludge?  And those nuts are a pain.....




And finally here is an image of the shiny new manifold that arrived from Ireland Engineering (Well...except for the grease marks that somebody put on it before I got it....)   




So today I secured the passenger side engine mount to the engine, finished removing the emissions control stuff, continued cleaning everything, removed the flow diverter on the block and pulled the carburetor.  


I stopped today because I need a 1/4 inch universal joint for my socket to get the intake manifold off.  I'll get one of those in the next couple of days and get the manifold off so I can continue cleaning and, hopefully, isolate the oil leaks.  I suspect they are just coming from the valve and timing chain covers, but I won't know for sure for a while.  


Next I'll finish removing the intake manifold and will probably remove other components from the engine and engine bay in order to clean it all up.  Then I'll pull the valve and timing chain covers to replace the gaskets.  


Oh, and the master cylinder is leaking, that is on the list, too.  In fact, I have replacement parts or rebuilds planned for almost the entire brake system.  That will be another chapter.  









I was finally in a position to set an entire day aside to work on the 2002 today. (Well, really about 4 hours.)  The first item on the agenda was removing the reactor/exhaust manifold and installing a new header as part of removing the emissions controls.  I will try to make an article out of this emissions control removal process.  But not today because, you know, gauntlets.    

Today I discovered 3 things: 

1) The Previous owner or his mechanic tried to remove the manifold/reactor before.  2 of the 4 upper bolts were actually loose and all 4 lower bolts that you access from under the car were stripped. I should have known something was up when all of the nuts to the heat shields came off so easily.  

2) You can't get a pair of vice-grips onto the nuts under the manifold because there isn't enough room.  Why?  Because my car has A/C and the huge compressor sits under the manifold. 

3) You can't remove the compressor without removing a lot of other components.  The compressor bolts are not accessible and the compressor bracket bolts attach immediately behind the fan.  A couple of compressor bracket bolts were missing, meaning I'm following in the PO's (or his bad mechanic's) footsteps.  

4) Normally, to get to the water pump for example, you can pull the radiator, remove the grill and go through the front of the car with a long ratchet extension. I thought maybe I'd do this since I have to replace the water pump anyway.  Nope, the A/C condenser and an auxiliary fan sit in front of the radiator.  


So one way or another, I'm going to have to pretty much remove the entire A/C system from the car before I can finish with the manifold/reactor/header.  


Oh, and I think I mentioned earlier how bad the fluid leaks are.  I spent a full day cleaning the engine from above, but I completely neglected to get underneath.  There is anywhere from 1/8 of an inch to 1/2 of an inch of congealed oil covering the bottom half of the engine and all of the front suspension components.  Now it looks like I'm going to have to clean everything by hand and I won't know where the leaks are until I get a few more parts off the car and the block cleaned up. 



Here's a shot showing the A/C compressor and the lack of space to get anything bigger than a box wrench into the space by the manifold. No way a pair of Vice Grips will fit up there. Note the missing bracket bolt from somebody's prior attempt to remove it. 





Here are the compressor mounting bolts up by the fan. 




Here's the A/C condenser and auxiliary fan in front of the radiator. 



And this image pretty much sums up how far I got today.  Heat shields off, a couple of connections off, that's it.  I put the plug wires back on to avoid damaging them.  



So I did not get as far as I had hoped today.  That's pretty normal.  There is one small silver lining to all this.  While I was under the car, I found the Weber air cleaner cover C-clip that the previous owner lost a long time ago.  It was embedded in about 1/4 inch of oil sludge. If the engine had been clean, this would have bounced out ages ago.  








The OZ wheels I ordered arrived from Budapest.  I thought they were coming from Vienna, Austria, but I guess somebody was confused about that whole World War One Austria-Hungary thing.  These wheels were packed really really well and they look awesome.  I am going to have a hard time deciding which set to use on the car, these or the euro weaves.  I still need to take the weaves over to my reconditioning guy.  The weaves came with a set of tires, so I'll mount tires on two OZ and two reconditioned weaves to see what they look like.  I'm also going to have to spend some time figuring out what spacers I'm going to need, if any.  Image of the wheels below. 








I've been travelling and tied up with other projects and have not had a chance to start working on the 2002 but I'm almost, almost, almost ready to begin work.  Most of the parts I ordered have arrived.  I figured an image of all the stuff going into the car is in order, and laying it all out helps me get organized.  I also wanted to identify duplicates (there are a few duplicates for various reasons....).    So here are some of the parts I'll be working with over the next couple of months.    





Arrived so far (in image):  

All new cooling system components (water pump, thermostat, silicone hoses, belts) except for the radiator, which I will evaluate when I pull.  I do no think I will be putting the fan shroud back on. 

A new alternator (and bushings) and voltage regulator

New plugs

A new header as part of the emissions-control removal (2 headers, actually...)   

New cloth braided fuel and vacuum lines

All new brake components including pistons, drums, discs, calipers, pads and flexible lines.  I'll examine the hard lines once I start on this. 

All new suspension components including bushings, struts, shocks, springs, mounting hardware and sway bars.

New World Upholstery seat covers and new seat back/release/hinge cover hardware. 

A shifter rebuild kit

That foam pedal cover so I don't see the road through the pedal box anymore. 

New door hardware (gaskets, inside handles, some knobs)

 A new passenger side mirror (none on car originally) 

A lot of gaskets (Valve cover, timing chain cover, manifold, etc.) 

Motor mounts 

Nuts, bolts, studs, wave washers....

New badges and emblems.  (I can't stand seeing a BMW with faded badges or bent emblems.  It's like wearing a suit but having dirty shoes.) 

A few of the many stickers that I will be replacing when I paint.   

One of the two sets of wheels I purchased.  (The other set is coming from idea when it will get here.)  

A custom Noah car cover from the Cover Store.   These covers are really terrific and they use the same material that BMW uses on their branded covers.   I have 4 or 5 of these.    


A few things are on their way:  

A new OEM valve cover because I'm pretty sure mine is warped.

Carpet from Esty.  No hurry on that as it will be a while before I am ready for it.  

I ordered some single-stage acrylic Urethane (I think) paint in Polaris Silver to paint the under-body and engine compartment.  


A few things I still need to deal with/purchase:

Rear differential gasket, once I confirm I need one. 

All of the aluminum trim on the car, once I pull it all off.  

A brake master cylinder rebuilt kit and possibly a brake booster (Something in there is leaking pretty bad)  

A steering box rebuild kit, possibly.

Drive train components, once I evaluate them. (Guibo, CV joints, wheel bearings, etc.) 

Distributor, condenser, spark plug wires, etc.  Considering a 123/Tune+   

All of the exterior trim strips. 



The To-Do list is forming:

1.  The first order of business is relatively simple, but important in the grand scheme of things.  I need to fix the fuel line leak/flow issue so that the car starts right up when I turn it over.  Knowing it should start right up will help a lot when dealing with other systems (if it doesn't)  

2.  Then I'll tackle the emissions control items.

3.  Replace the water pump, thermostat and related components  

4.  Replace brake components 

5.  Evaluate drive train components


Those of you who are Project Management people know that this is a rolling wave process.   Detail is high in the immediate tasks, not so high right now in the more distant tasks, with future-task detail increasing as current tasks are completed.   Overall, I first want to eliminate and clean up after any and all fluid leaks and get the engine running optimally. Then I need to address the suspension/drive train and determine how/what/when I want to paint the under body and engine compartment.   I'm not really set up to pull the engine, drive train and front/rear sub frames but haven't completely eliminated the idea.  And there is soda blasting to be done to expose rust and remove a really awful Maaco paint job from 1985.   


Today I rented a two car storage space and will be storing my Alfa and one of the other convertibles in that for the winter.  This will give me a little more room in this garage to work.     


Stay tuned!   





















Day 6: Up on the rack

Today I took the car over to my regular mechanic, who put it up on a rack so I could look underneath.  We poked and prodded and looked around for rust and leaks.  Almost no rust.  Three areas that will need to be addressed: a small rust spot in the box-beam between the gas spout and the gas tank, a quarter sized spot in the front quarter panel in front of the drivers door and a slightly larger spot on the passenger side of the front air dam under the bumper.  Wow.  Lots of grime and oil, but no other rust.  


As for leaks, there were a LOT. 


1.  The driver's side axle hub was leaking brake fluid from a place that didn't look like it should be leaking anything.  This is probably from bad drum brake piston seals.  Since the brakes are weak anyway, I'm ordering new cylinders rather than just a seal kit.  Ray pointed out new cylinders for $20 each at BluntTech, which is about what the rebuild kits cost elsewhere. (Thank you, Ray!)  I also bought new flexible brake lines from Ireland Engineering.  I'll take a good look at the original steel hard brake lines when I get under there to clean things.  Many people upgrade to the 250mm brake drums from the original 230 but I'm not going to do this just yet.  

2. The differential is leaking. It is possible that this is just oil trailing back from the engine, but I don't think so. 

3. The brake master cylinder and/or the brake booster are leaking.  That should be fun.  

4. The lower oil pan gasket seems to be leaking.  The good news is that I won't have to drop any of the suspension to get to this like I would have to with my newer BMWs.  The bad news is I don't have a lift so I'll be doing this under jackstands.  Messy!   

5. The valve cover gasket is leaking.  Of course it is. 

6. The timing chain cover gasket may be leaking.  I'm going to just clean that area up and replace the valve cover gasket at first.  I'll need to pull the valve cover off again if the timing chain cover IS leaking, but that' not the end of the world.  

7. The water pump is leaking.  Yes, the water pump is bad and needs to be replaced.  I hope it comes with a gasket.  

8. Something around the oil filter is leaking.  In newer BMWs, the oil filter housing is attached to the engine and the gasket commonly goes bad.  I'm not sure what the deal is with this engine because I don't think there is a separate housing.  I'll look once I get the area cleaned up.     


As if all those leaks aren't enough, there were a few mechanical issues as well.   

1. Gearbox linkage.  The gearbox linkage has a lot of play in it and something slams against the transmission tunnel when shifting.  In 4th, I can pull back on the stick a little and feel the linkage rubbing against the drive shaft.  I started a thread to solicit suggestions. This will be interesting to fix.   

2. Pedal box cover missing.  It is really strange being able to look down at the accelerator and seeing straight through to the ground. Very Flinstone.  A foam cover is least.   

3. External speaker wire?  The previous owner ran wires for the whopping 4 inch speakers on the back deck along the OUTSIDE of the car.  Clear, gold and silver stranded wire like what you would use in the house.  See picture below. 

4. CV boots split.  Yup. normal.  

5. Steering box play.  Most of the suspension bushings were surprisingly tight, but the steering box has a little play in it.  That will be interesting to fix...  

6. Bounce, bounce, bounce.  The original, original shocks, struts and springs turn the car into a bit of a bounce house inside.   I've already ordered Bilstein B6 struts and shocks and will be ordering Ireland Engineering stage 1 springs.  This should also lower the car about a.5 inches. 

7. The steel wheel fronts look great, but the backs are rusty.  I'm planning to put new wheels on the car, but want to keep these. Hopefully they can be reconditioned.          


The missing pedal box insulating cover.  Oil, oil everywhere!  




The front edge of this box beam has a hole in it.  This is a really common rust area in all BMWs.  



Greas and grime on the CV joints.  Note the odd clean spot on the axle caused by the...SPEAKER WIRE!  Hanging down.  Wow.  Also note the very wet brake drum housing.  Bad piston seals.  Oddly, most of the bushings seem to be in decent shape, but I'm going to replace them all anyway.  Lots of work, but the increase in driving confidence will be worth it.  




The odd loose shifter linkage issue. Clunking the tunnel and rubbing against the drive shaft.  I started a thread on this.  Should be interesting to fix....




Leaking differential, I think.  This might be oil trailing back from up front.  I'll tackle this much later, although I absolutely want to change the diff fluid soon.  There is no record of that being done. I'll bet it smells horrible!    




Up front, the oil pan looks new!  No oil under it either but there is some along the trailing edge.  


Today, I took the car over to the self-service car-wash and sprayed the engine compartment with foamy engine bright...several times.  It made a reasonable difference but there were decades of oil and grime on this engine.   Normally, I would have covered the distributor, carb and condenser, but they were all covered with oil too, so I just shot the whole thing and figured I could wait for it all to dry if the car didn't start.  It started and it smelled like a tar pit for the trip home.     My wife then gave the car a basic wash and emptied everything out of the car so she could vacuum it.  The horsehair-straw from the seats actually clogged up the vacuum cleaner. 




The engine now looks much cleaner, but there is still sludge everywhere.  Note the air filter bellows and cold-air diverter have been removed.   





I ordered all the parts needed to remove the pollution control equipment, replace the valve cover gasket and replace all the hoses and belts.  I also ordered a new water pump and alternator.  In the picture above, you may be able to tell that the old alternator is slightly out of alignment with the fan.  I'm not sure how that is even possible and will figure it out when I remove it.  





Today, after taking the car over to the tag and title place still on the trailer and then returning the trailer,  I pulled the car out of the garage and took "before" pictures of everything I could.  You can NEVER take too many before pictures of a car you are restoring.  They will be your puzzle box for putting it back together.  You can't put the car back together correctly if it isn't already reasonably correct (which is why you want an unmodified car) and you can't use the images of the car as a puzzle box if you didn't take the pictures.   Take a boatload of pictures!  Include every sticker, hose, clamp and bolt.  


I also took the car for a brief drive around the neighborhood.  The engine runs pretty well but the brakes are weak and something in the shifter clunks into the side of the transmission tunnel.  And the car is leaking fluid.  An astronaut removing his helmet in space wouldn't leak this much fluid.  I see oil, brake fluid and coolant.  When I shut off the car, a plume of oil and steam rose from under the hood like the car was on fire.  Valve cover gasket.....definitely.   And water pump. All new hoses and belts.  The list begins.  




The larger box holds the rear seatback purchased from World Upholstery in 2012.  The box on the right contains various fluids, a Haynes manual and a copy of "The Time-Life Book of the Family Car" from 1973.  



2 things: 

First, that is a Weber 32/36 DGV carb that the oriiginal owner had installed in June, 2000 (Surprise! Not original but completely welcome!) 

Second, Do you see that bellows by the hood hinges?  Some of you may recognize that as the cold air intake hose for the original air filter housing.  It has been sitting there in that exact spot since June of 2000!    


The yellowing of the paint in the engine compartment, after considerable discussion with the knowledgeable folks here, is apparently the original 1975 clear coat.  It scrapes off fairly easily and will have to be completely removed before the car is repainted.   



Early on the morning of Tuesday, October 10th, I started up my Dodge Ram 1500 toy hauler, left my home outside of Pittsburgh and headed off to New Jersey to look at and probably pick-up my new project, a 1975 BMW 2002.  It was about a 5 hour drive. The plan was to drive to Allentown, PA, pick up a U-Haul car carrier and, since the banks were closed Monday, pick up the cash needed to pay for this car.  I chose Tuesday because it was between storms. Hurricane Nate had not yet made it this far north.  I got to Allentown and went into one of the two PNC branches there to get money out of my account. "You want this in cash?" Yes. "All of it?" Yes. "Normally, you need to call us a day in advance because we don't have this much cash in the bank."  Oh. (I have cashed much larger checks than this at my branch in Pittsburgh and nobody ever batted an eye.)   Brief wait.  "My manager says we can do this, but it will have to be in $50s.  Is that OK?"   It wasn't like I had a choice....  "Yes, that's fine."  Apparently, in order to ensure that the tellers don't make any mistakes, the bank has a "Bank Vault ATM" that counts out money to give to them.  Once this happened, the tellers had to count the money 6 or 7 times because the money counters were broken and they were all miscounting by $50. After a brief panic, $50 was found stuck in the counter, which the teller tried even though it was broken.  20 minutes after entering the bank, I was on my way to the Uhaul rental about 2 miles away.   Tip: ALWAYS rent car carrier trailers from a Uhaul Moving and Storage shop, not a "neighborhood" shop.  The Moving and Storage places have more resources in case something is wrong with the trailer.  Another tip: NEVER try to rent a car carrier trailer at the very end of or beginning of the month.  Every apartment renter on the planet is trying to move that week and the rental counter line will stretch out the door.  I've done this "pick up a car-carrier trailer there" thing several times and it works well as long as it isn't a month end.  


The car was advertised on Autotrader classics and, unlike nearly all of the other BMW 2002s listed, this one was both reasonably priced and a one-family car.  The pictures were not great, but I could tell that the car had potential and the conservative colors, silver with a marine blue interior, was exactly what I wanted.   According to the seller, it was nearly rust free.  The gentleman was helping to sell the car for his wife, who inherited the car from her father when he passed away in 2005 or 2006.  The car was listed as complete, original and rust free but needing some work. Since my plan was to completely restore the car, an untouched original was the best possible choice. 





I hauled the trailer up the long, relatively narrow drive to the house, met the husband and looked over the car, which was sitting outside a separate garage area where it had probably spent the last 11 years.   It really was rust free.  Looking over the entire car, I only found 2 small rust spots about the size of a quarter and that was it. My paint gauge confirmed one respray and no bondo on the car that I could find.  The dash looked great with no cracks at all and the interior looked original except for a new cover on the back seat bottom. (The rest of the back seat cover, purchased from World Upholstery in 2012, was still in a box in the trunk.)  The paint looked OK, but it was dull and splotchy.  That was fine since I knew I would be repainting it.  It was actually an original Maaco paint job from 1985.  I knew this  because the seller provided me with every single maintenance record and receipt, including an oil change diary, since the car was purchased new in 1976!  Every single record!   







The gentleman and I talked, I got a little history on the car, I met the wife, we signed the title and the bill of sale I brought and he counted the wrapped stacks of $50 bills I brought from the bank.  Soon I was on my way home with another winter project.  

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