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M2 redux


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Back in 1994 we bought a 1976 2002 for daily driver and track duty. The logic at the time was that this would keep me from further molesting our daily driver with track mods, and would give us a second car. This was a great track car, with Weber 40 DCOEs and a 304 cam, and appropriate brake and suspension upgrades. I lost the engine at the track, and installed the S14 engine from an '89 e30 M3 into the car, making the M2. Back in the day there was not much to the internet, and I had a lot of help from Pete McHenry, who was one of the originators of the swap. Pete was a hot-rodder turned bimmer nut, and chances were that if you owned a BMW, Pete had already tried out a couple of engine swaps in your model, and knew what worked best. I was a neophyte mechanic when I bought my engine and installation kit from Pete, and he held my hand on many a long-distance phone call. My good friend Conrado also gave me a lot of help, not to mention let me carry out the automotive surgery in his driveway. I described these earlier adventures in an article for Roundel.

Since then I've been tinkering with the M2 off-and-on, and getting a lot of guidance from Carlos at Blue&White Autohause in Miami. In 2003 I took the car apart to be repainted, and it was retired from daily driver status to weekend and track days. 2003 was also fateful because we moved from Miami,FL to Rochester,NY. Fortunately, email has allowed me to continue to mine Carlo's automotive knowledge as I continued to tinker with the M2. In 2004 I got interested in learning to weld and trying some fabrication on the car. So I took a short welding course, bought a MIG welder, and spent the next couple of years off-and-on burning metal in the evenings learning how to make ugly, sketchy welds. Somewhere along the line I progressed from lousy to mediocre welder, and while not always capable of producing beautiful welds, they were strong (tested by BFH methodology) and consistently got good penetration, so I began to think about actually working on my car, which had been marooned on jackstands since 2004.


I've got a couple of objectives: 1) update the engine - I've got one of those VAC uber-oil pans to install, and need to install it and a carbon airbox and Megasquirt 2) install a roll cage 3) update the suspension and brakes


I'll start with the oilpan. The VAC S14/2002 oilpan is a thing of beauty. I received a lot of grief from my bimmer friends about the cost when I bought it, but felt somewhat reprieved when a local fabricator said that it would be hard to reproduce for less money because of all the welding, trap doors, and baffles involved. In addition to holding two extra quarts of oil, it should do a good job stopping oil-starvation in sweeping turns, an achillee's heel for the S14. Unfortunately, the VAC pan did not clear the subframe on my car; the passenger side reservoir contacted the metal bracket that the passenger motor mount bolts to. There was not enough wiggle room to shorten the bracket, so I decided to make new motor mounts.

For my first attempt at motor mounts, I decided to mount to the subframe at the triangular flat area just inboard of the frame rails. To get the fit, I made plates and bolted them to the block and to the subframe and tacked some rod to keep them in place in relation to each other, then unbolted the plates and brought the assembly to the workbench. I then made more permanent supports, making a jig for the process. Then I took some scrap 1.5" DOM tube and made posts at each plate, and fishmouthed a connector between the posts. Perhaps not elegant, but it does clear the VAC oilpan, and it puts the mounting point for the S14 outboard, which should help control engine rock. I used a urethane bushing from Ireland Eng for the attachment point to the subframe.






Edited by Ian
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Having gotten the passenger-side motor mount made, I realized it was a bit off, and that I'd need to make a couple of versions to get it right. I also realized that it would be a lot easier to do the fitting between the subframe and the engine with the assembly out of the car, and that I was going to need an easier way than an engine hoist to get the engine/tranny/subrame out of the car, and that I'd need to be able to do it by myself if I didn't want to constantly annoy friends and family, especially as this was taking place in the Rochester winter.

There are a lot of excellent fabricators and just plain clever people on the FAQ, and I set about to see what methods might have been used previously. I remembered Bill Williams restoration/recreation of Pikachu, and how he had lowered the engine and lifted the body(http://www.bmw2002faq.com/component/option,com_forum/Itemid,50/page,viewtopic/t,304318/), and remembered the suggestion the other day for the new phrase, WWBWD (What Would Bill Williams Do?). I thought, Bill would go downwards! So that's what I did. I took some scrap tube and made a rolling engine dolly.

I incorporated two raised platforms that would support the subframe where I was mounting my motor mounts; that way the dolly could support either the engine alone or the combined engine/subframe. I placed the frame rails of the dolly under the mounting points, and mounted some casters from Horror Freight just outboard of the engine mounts. I thought this would provide the most stability as I wheeled the dolly around. Unfortunately, I forgot to triple measure the width of gap between the legs of my engine hoist, and sure enough, the stable engine dolly was too wide, and had been finish welded. Fortunately for me, I had received a Milwaukee metal-cutting saw for Christmas last year (thanks, Mom!). This thing is amazing, it allows you to cut 1/4" plate like it is plywoood, and is a home-fabricators' best friend. So out came the saw, and I cut off a corner of the engine dolly. It sort of fit, and after about a week of re-engineering it was ready to go.

Last weekend I hooked up my engine hoist and supported the engine, slid the engine dolly under the car, and unbolted the subframe. It was at this point I realized that a) the driver's side stock engine mount was not attached tightly, and that B) I had not yet made my uber-mount for the driver's side! Proof of concept was the subframe falling off the car, narrowly missing the engineer in charge ;) Some quick scrounging provided some scap that I welded into a makeshift support for the driver's side, and the engine lowered out of the car and onto the dolly.






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Yesterday I finished the job of removing the engine and transmission, and used the engine hoist to raise the front of the car by the frame rails. I moved the jackstand that had been supporting the front of the car and rolled the engine/tranny out from under the car - success! I then found the jig I had made for the driver's side motor mount, scrounged up some more scrap tubing, and tacked up the driver's side mount. A test fit indicated that it was close, so I welded it up and bolted it to the block. I placed the subframe on the dolly, then lowered the engine onto the subframe, and removed the hoist.

The mounts work; they do need some tweaking for alignment, but it is much easier to do with the engine and subframe out of the car. I'll try with thinner material next, probably 1/8" plate for the attachment points and .063 wall tube. I'll probably also need to reinforce the subframe plate, but I think the basic concept should work to eliminate engine rock and to clear the VAC oilpan.

Now, on to the cage,






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  • 2 weeks later...

wow....blast from the past! where did you live in miami?

i lived in miami (coral gables) from 83 to 2000 (minus a couple years in early 90's). your car and some of the names in your original website are familiar, and your pic of winterfest'98 brings back memories. i was there in my technoviolet M3, and still have the t-shirt (and the car) to prove it!

nice work ian!

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Thanks for all the nice comments, guys.

Andy, glad I could contribute to the disease of M2-ness!

Mike, you never know about the mounts, I've got the jigs...

mlytle, I lived in Miami from 1989-2003, first in Kendal, then in Miami Beach. Did you ever come to any of the SF 2002 Owner's meets? We weren't exclusive of other models, just wanted to get together once in a while and go for a drive. I've attached a few pics in case anyone on the board attended.






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My good friend Dave had a '76 parts car he was cutting up.  Here he's holding up the lower surround for the rear windshield moulding, which I liberated for my car.  I also got the front lower piece, as I had a rust hole in the lower corner of the passenger side front windshield.  Another friend wanted the sunroof, leading to the middle picture, which looks like the car sank into a sinkhole  :)




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  • 4 months later...

Well, it has been a bit since the last update. Over the winter I bought a ProTools 105HD tube bender and some BendTech design software, and spent a few months making scrap as I learned how to design and build a cage. Here's the plan I've been working on, drawn up in BendTechPro. The blue or black tube is 1.5" x .095 DOM, the green or orange tube is 1.5" x .065 DOM. The cage is triangulated to the front shock towers ahead of the cockpit, and to the rear shock towers and the diff in the back. The entire cage should only add about 140 lb to the car, and really stiffen up the chassis and suspension pickup points.


Since this car will also be driven on the street a well as the track, I wanted the cage as tight to the body as possible. It took a couple of tries, mostly figuring out how I screwed up the measurements, but I finally have begun to get a cage I like.

Here's a test fit of the main hoop. I wanted it set back behind my seat to keep it away from my noggin, and tight to the inside, and tight to the rockers at the bottom.



I also wanted to keep the A-pillar bar tight to the rocker, and turn it high (again away from my noggin) and back to the main hoop. This was the most difficult bend, since from the main hoop it bent down and out, and then straight down at the base of the windshield.




I haven't got hydraulic power on the bender, so occasionally I recruit some help! Our youngest daughter, Emma, wanted to give bending a try. Who says you can't work in your garage in January?1336922735_Emma_Bend-1.jpg.5aa383a32e29d3b126ee289e02baffa5.jpg

Edited by Ian
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Next up was the bar across the windshield. This was deceptively difficult, as it rises and bends forward from the apex of the A-pillar. It took three tries to get it right. Shown below is a pic with the A-pillar bars tacked in place and a string to mark a reference line between the bars. The actual bar goes up and forward from the apex of each A-pillar bend.


I'd show you this bar, but I cut it about 2" short.... Oh well, more for the scrap pile that serves as substrate for parts I have to invent. Speaking of which, I needed some assistance to bend long tubes. In order not to waste tube, I like to feed the sticks of DOM into the bender and then cut off the last bit when I'm done. Unfortunately, the weight of the tube bends the stick and puts a twist into the tube that screws up my calculations. I tried bribing buddies with beer to come over to my house, but they just weren't reliable. Maybe it was having the beer before we started the bending?

Anyway, I built an "assistant" out of scrap tube (which I had a lot of from calibrating and learning to use the bender). So I made an adjustable-height support that had a roller on top, so I could feed tube in at a constant height. Some HF castors allowed me to wheel it around one-handed, for cases like the end of bending the main hoop, when the structure coming out the bender starts to get heavy.


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