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Solarphil

Rebirth of a ’74 Sienabraun tii

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I’ve been lurking here on the FAQ for some time, but last year I stumbled across a car that I hadn’t really even been looking for, for a deal that was too good to pass up -- $3,500 for a running, numbers matching tii. She’s not much of a looker in her current state, but she’s complete and running, most things seem to be like they ought to be, and the PO had compiled over the years an ASTONISHING number of parts to eventually rebuild her. Fortunately for me he decided after thirteen years of Sunday drives and puttering that he wasn’t ever going to finish the project, and put her up on the market.

I’ve been having a great time the past year, hammering down the back roads while saving up the shekels to do a strip and repaint back to the original color. However, after doing a little research it appears that due to the Crackhead-on-Ecstasy paint job done by the P-PO it’s going to be better and likely cheaper to just go ahead and do a full body-off restoration. Of course, as a good friend of mine used to say you start off just trying to change the washer on a leaky faucet, and pretty soon you’re remodeling the house…

Of course, on my beer budget the only way I can pull this off is to get busy with the sweat equity. I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands as well as my head, and I’ve been diving into auto mechanics more and more over the past years since first fulfilling a long-standing BMW bug with the purchase of an E28 535is, soon followed by another. However I’ve never taken on much more than swapping out shock absorbers and tracking down the odd non-start issue or two. I’ve definitely never taken on a project of this size. After all, taking a running car and making it into a non-running pile of boxes is something that takes a certain leap of faith. An even larger chunk of faith is required to believe that the pile of boxes can one day morph back into an operational vehicle given a sufficient amount of work, signed checks, skinned knuckles and luck. Without an automotive Calvary riding to the rescue, of course.

Hence the start of this blog. I figured I’d pass along some of the story of what I come across, in hopes of hearing a few hints and tips, perhaps a few attaboys, and maybe, just maybe, some of what I post helps some other poor sucker "ahem" I mean some other similarly affected fanatic.

Phil

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Here's a photo from the PO showing the condition on purchase. Intact and complete interior, matching numbers and running condition. However, somebody did possibly the worst paint job ever trying to change it to Inca orange, with lots of peeling sections, tiger stripes, and crackles. Like I said, not a looker.

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First steps before purchase was get an independent second opinion. Luck would have it that I live the next town over from Dan Patzer of Bimmers Only. Dan puts the independent into independent BMW service -- a great shop a stone's throw from his home surrounded by tall trees, only works on cars from the 80's and older, prefers to have the owner participate in the work, and views it as his primary role to pass along the knowledge of how to work on your own car. Like I said, I got lucky. Definitely my kind of guy. If you're ever North of Seattle and need help, give him a call.

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OK, so after a year of enjoying a perfectly good running machine, it's time to tear into it and begin the big strip. I've been saving all year, and interviewing shops and comparing quotes. I want to do most of the work myself, but I've learned that I not only hate bodywork, but I suck at it. Know your limits, that's my theme today.

So I started the big teardown the second week of January. I've been trying to label everything, ziplock baggies have been my organizational friend, and have been trying to snap lots of shots as I go, mainly to help me put it all back together again someday.

I started a Picasa account to share some of the photos. Hopefully if I'm pressing all the buttons correctly you can view it here....

https://picasaweb.google.com/101126533302828919493/Disassembly?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCP_5nfXw8MSilwE&feat=directlink

But I'll also post the most relevant pix here to the forum, to save all that navigating around.

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Here's photos near the beginning of the process, I think I've just taken off the grills and lights. There's also a detail of the window glass mechanics -- it took me a little head scratching to figure out how that all came apart.

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The next shot is the end of day 2 -- making good progress!

Lots of spaghetti when you disconnect all that stuff under the dash...

Next up I've got it lifted on a homemade cradle, so I can remove the subframe. The shot after that is the end of the second weekend. Lots of late nights after work pulling gear.

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Last shots to be posted tonight. I'm finding the hardest part about pulling a car apart is not tripping over all the extra bits. Pays to have a good short-term storage locker nearby.

I found that, at least in the winter in a garage in the Pacific Northwest, ziplock baggies full of ice are the best way to prep the tar insulation for removal. Too cold and it just shatters into lots of little pieces, but if I cool it just long enough I can get big chunks off with a small pry bar and a hammer.

Yehaaaw, nearly ready to send off for blasting.

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Hello Solarphil,

just finished going through the picasa album and it has helped me a lot to understand what needs to be done in order to get the car running the way its supposed to.

I have been pondering doing some improvements to my 1975, but I do not think I can undertake the whole thing. may be I will start with one section at a time. rear sub frame, get it out and fix the issues in that part of the car before moving on to the front.

Thanks a lot for all the photos...I will follow the same exact methodology if I ever get the courage...

Akshay

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1. Other than welding or paint, its not as hard as it looks.

2. Keep it on the road.

3. Yes, break it into weekender projects, so as to not get overwhelmed.

3. Drive it as much as possible, so as to enjoy the recent success, and get excited about the next project.

Hello Solarphil,

just finished going through the picasa album and it has helped me a lot to understand what needs to be done in order to get the car running the way its supposed to.

I have been pondering doing some improvements to my 1975, but I do not think I can undertake the whole thing. may be I will start with one section at a time. rear sub frame, get it out and fix the issues in that part of the car before moving on to the front.

Thanks a lot for all the photos...I will follow the same exact methodology if I ever get the courage...

Akshay

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More updates -- some projects requiring finesse, some just needed a BFH and some motivation.

Unfortunately Google just changed Picassa to roll it up under their G+ banner, and I can't figure out how to link photos directly and cleanly in the body of the text, ala Eurotrash's great FAQ. I'm off to set up a photobucket account, then will follow up with more pictures.

Google. I love 'em, then they throw up barriers like this. Sigh.

p

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The next task was taking apart the rear trailing arms to prep for blasting and powder coat (or paint, not quite sure yet). However, since I had already removed the wheel and disassembled the arms from the driveline, removing the castle nut was a little entertaining. I wound up bolting a length of ply to the inside flanges to give a decent size lever, then stood on the end of my BA socket wrench. It is true, you can move the world given a long enough lever. The splines gave it up pretty easily, which either means the PO had them apart sometime recently or I need to watch out for spline wear, based on some of the FAQ posts. How worn is worn?

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The fun part was figuring out how to remove the rear bearings. I I searched the forum and found there were two camps -- either get a bearing puller / press, or use a punch and a BFH. I wasn't quite sure how either one would work, as I couldn't feel much of a gap between the bearing and the inner sleeve, certainly not enough to get purchase with a punch. I've never used a bearing puller, and wasn't quite motivated to drive back to Everett to hit the harbor freight. After more reading, I saw a post saying the trick was to push the inner sleeve slightly cocked in order to get at the bearing, so decided to go the hammer route. I don't have a brass punch so I took it slow, but eventually the bearings popped out. Here are the tools of my trade tonight -- BFF, a punch, leather gloves, and lots of lubrication (purely medicinal, you understand).

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The next task, removing the front and rear glass, required a little more finesse; I definitely didn't want to resort to the big hammer on this one. I had originally been advised to bring in a pro glass company to remove the windshield and rear window, but after reading some of the posts I realized that this should be something I could handle. The glass is held in place by the rubber molding, which essentially straddles the window frame. The trick is that you need to slowly work the inner rubber flange to the other side of the frame, freeing up the glass. Some advised using screwdrivers with the tips ground down and rounded, others said the only way to go was to buy special glass handling "dog bones." I didn't want to sacrifice some of my good screwdrivers to the cause, but more importantly i wasn't really trusting the possible interaction of metal to glass contact. Usually I'm game for any possible opportunity to go and buy more new tools, but for this one I was thinking there had to be another way. Fortunately, I have a couple sets of bicycle tire "irons" that I realized would be the perfect solution. They're plastic, with hooked spoon edges that slip right under the rubber molding but have an offset angle that makes it easy to pry up and push to the outside of the frame. Voila!

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I have to haul the glass down to the storage locker for the next few months (hopefully not longer) and I want to make sure they survive both the trip and the storage. Figuring that the pros carry glass in vertical racks, I screwed together a quickie rack to make sure the glass stayed intact.

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Thanks for the good words Akshay. However, I figure the real test isn't whether I can take it apart, it's whether or not I can put it all back together again and produce a running car at the end of this crazy adventure.

Definitely take the opportunity to drive your car every time you can, and take projects on one small section at a time -- it really helps keep it manageable and limits the amount of times that you stand in the middle of a sea of boxes, grease and car parts questioning your own sanity.

Originally I had hoped that I could just have the exterior of the car stripped, cleaned up and painted, as the interior was in great shape and the mechanicals were sound and functioning. However, the paint was in such bad shape that it all had to come off, and trying to mask the interior and motor was turning out to likely cost more than just clearing it all out of the way, provided I did all the grunt work. That's why I've been saving up for the year, driving everywhere I could while she was still running -- really bonding with her.

Fortunately I have a wonderful wife who loves quirky classic cars and doesn't mind me disappearing into the garage every night. You've got to have good partners when you take on a project like this!

Phil

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