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Magava

E28 525i Restoration Project

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Hi Everyone!

 

As introduced under the I'm New thread, my name is Brian and I am from Nairobi, Kenya.

 

I recently bought back my dads 1986 525i which has been sitting under a tree for the past 6 years.

 

I figured i'd join a UK forum as 525i were only made for the European Market plus it would be easier for me to buy parts from the UK and ship them to Kenya as opposed to any other market. So yeah, happy to be here and I know this will be a long and slow project being that I do not have too much money to blow on the car but I look forward to working on it and all the advice I can get from you guys.

 

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The car was parked in an upcountry farm in 2012 due to a faulty ignition system.I think the owner just wasn't keen on fixing it up so it was just left there to gather dust and moss. It's not a terribly humid area so luckily there isn't too much rust on the car. However, nature has done its best to grow around it as so there is grass and leaves everywhere, even the fuel tank has some. There are lots of insects and rodents that have made their homes in there and the seats have a lot of stains on them. I expect there to be a lot of electrical damage as the wiring has most likely been eaten up by said animals or deteriorated due to rain and sun. The tires have good tread on them but since they have been in the sun so long, they will most likely blow once inflated. The fan is rusty, the front bumper is damaged, the interior and center console is in bad shape and the right rear tail light is broken. A lot of little stuff like handles, seams, levers etc are also missing. 

 

This is my first restoration job and I am not a grease monkey so I will need all the help/advice I can get. My plan is to restore the car to an Alpina look:

 

Mechanical:

Tires - just to get it running

Engine fix to get it running first 

Engine rebuild, clean and polish

Shocks and Springs

Exhaust

 

Aesthetics:

Bumpers and Side Skirts

Strip down and repaint to Astoril Blue

Redo interior to a cream color (How hard is this given that some of the trimming has the green color to match the car?)

Alpina Rims and low profile tires

 

Let me know what you think and I will be updating the progress in the coming weeks/(years? haha). 

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to a great forum and good luck with your project.

 

You have a slick top so no sunroof with the associated sunroof drain rust issues to worry about.

 

You have a few high spec items from what I can see in your photographs too:

 

1.    Front & rear electric windows.

2.    Active check control.

3.    Air conditioning.

4.    Dipped Beam Head Light range control adjustment.

5.    Rear seat head rests.

 

Tims, on the forum is a good source for E28 used spare parts.

 

There is a VIN decoder site that will give you the original factory build specification for your car if you enter the number which may be of use to you.

 

The green paint work looks to be a fairly rare colour, is it emerald green?

 

Regards,

 

Mick

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 I like that alot, cracking colour

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So its been a long time, but I have been able to make a little progress.

 

First off, here are the details from the VIN Decoder

Type Code         4132

E Series             E28 ()

Series                5

Type                   LIM

Model                525 I (EUR)

Steering            RL

Doors                4

Engine              M30 [Yay!]

Displacement  2.50 

Power               0 [Should be 150 HP]

Drive                 HECK [Just means rear wheel drive]

Transmission  MECH [Manual - Didn't give details but I'm guessing its a 260]

Colour               PLATANENGRUEN METALLIC (188) [Don't get why you guys like this colour so much]

Upholstery       (0133) [More Gruen]

Prod. Date        1986-01-14

 

L812A               National version Great Britain

S233                 PISTENDAEMPFUNG [No Idea what this means]

S295A              BMW LA wheel, Exclusive styling [Guess mine are aftermarket coz they aren't BMW]

S300A              Central locking with anti theft system [Dead]

S301A              Alarm systems [None]

S311                ELEKTRISCHER BEIFAHRERSPIEGEL [Electric Side Mirrors - Dead]

S350A              Therm. insulat. glass green [Gone]

S411A              Window lifts,electric,front/rear [Dead]

S415A              Sun-blind, rear [Gone]

S498A              Headrests, rear, mechanically adjustable

S500A              Headlight wipe/wash/Intensive cleaning [Gone]

S510A              Headlight aim control [Not sure but should be dead]

S520A              Fog lights [Missing]

S530A              Air conditioning

S548A              Kilometer-calibrated speedometer

S551A              On-board computer II with remote control [Dead]

S570A              Reinforced power supply [Ha!]

S823A              Hot-climate version [Good news being that we are on the Equator, hopefully this has helped preserve components]

S845A              Acoustic belt warning

S850A              Dummy-SALAPA [No Idea what this is]

 

As you can see most of the electronics are dead. I hope its just corrosion in the fuse box so hopefully once we clean that out, put in all new fuses and relays, and spray it with electrical cleaner, things should start to work. Any suggestions on this?

 

We took out the tank, it has a hole in it so there was no fuel. It was also quite dirty so we cleaned that out and welded the hole.

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Unfortunately, the Fuel sender / Fuel level and the fuel pump seem to be toast. I have already found a place to get the fuel pump but the fuel sender is proving to be difficult.

 

But at least there was some great news..... It STARTED!!  We put in the new Coil lead wire, changed the engine oil, put in a bit of oil into the piston chambers, pushed in some fuel directly into the lines and after just a little bit of searching, it roared to life!! So I'm ecstatic about that. At least I know it lives. Only ran it for like 30 seconds though because there was no fuel pump.

 

The gears would not engage and the clutch is just dropping to the floor. On taking a further look, we suspect that the Clutch Slave Cylinder is shot.

 

So from the early assessment, the things that I will be needing are:

1. Fuel Pump and Fuel Sender/ Fuel Level Gauge

2. Clutch Slave Cylinder

3. Fuses and Relays - Possibly some rewiring work

4. Cooling fan Clutch

5. Water Pump Gasket

6. Normal Service Parts (Oil, Air, Fuel Filters, MT Fluid, Spark Plugs)

7. Full Coolant flush and replacement

8. Belts

9. Brake Fluid

 

The whole process is still challenging since we couldn't move the car with no pump and no gears therefore it is still upcountry. That means a 350Km journey every time we need to check/fix something. Once I am able to get it back to Nairobi (hopefully without having to hire a flatbed) things should get better and I can work on something every weekend.

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Hey! Seems like one hell of a project! As you priority would be to get the car back home, I would prioritise parts just so it's able to drive, start, stop, select gears and hold engine temperature without significant loss of fluids as 350kms is quite a journey seeing as it's been stood for a long time.

 

Most of the essential parts on your list can be bought cheaply brand new except fuel pump and sender which would more than likely the most expensive parts.

 

Personally just to get it back home, you could probably source a cheap used fuel pump locally it doesn't necessarily have to be a BMW one, just one that works at the same pressure and flow. 

As I said, looks like a cracking project, all the best :)

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As Bollie says i'd get it running first and go from there if you can and closer to home a benefit!

 

Fuel level sender is fairly available over here.

 

There is a member Tims on here who will have all you need if you send him a message.

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On 1/9/2018 at 10:31 AM, Tims said:

 I like that alot, cracking colour

 

2 hours ago, duncan-uk said:

As Bollie says i'd get it running first and go from there if you can and closer to home a benefit!

 

Fuel level sender is fairly available over here.

 

There is a member Tims on here who will have all you need if you send him a message.

 

Tims, I hear you are the go to guy for parts. How much does the sender go for?

 

3 hours ago, boiliebasher said:

Personally just to get it back home, you could probably source a cheap used fuel pump locally it doesn't necessarily have to be a BMW one, just one that works at the same pressure and flow. 

 

I was also thinking along the same lines. I guess I don't need the sender at this point. If I can get it going I could just fill it up and drive it home without knowing how much is left in the tank. Maybe carry some fuel in a jerrycan just in case though 350 Km should not be a problem even if the engine is inefficeint.

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1 hour ago, Magava said:

 

 

Tims, I hear you are the go to guy for parts. How much does the sender go for?

 

 

I was also thinking along the same lines. I guess I don't need the sender at this point. If I can get it going I could just fill it up and drive it home without knowing how much is left in the tank. Maybe carry some fuel in a jerrycan just in case though 350 Km should not be a problem even if the engine is inefficeint.

 

Agreed. At this moment in time I would just concentrating on getting the car back home and a full tank of fuel (providing the weld repair is good and no leaks) should be more than enough to get the car home ;)

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15 hours ago, Magava said:

 

So from the early assessment, the things that I will be needing are:

1. Fuel Pump and Fuel Sender/ Fuel Level Gauge

2. Clutch Slave Cylinder

3. Fuses and Relays - Possibly some rewiring work

4. Cooling fan Clutch

5. Water Pump Gasket

6. Normal Service Parts (Oil, Air, Fuel Filters, MT Fluid, Spark Plugs)

7. Full Coolant flush and replacement

8. Belts

9. Brake Fluid

 

The whole process is still challenging since we couldn't move the car with no pump and no gears therefore it is still upcountry. That means a 350Km journey every time we need to check/fix something. Once I am able to get it back to Nairobi (hopefully without having to hire a flatbed) things should get better and I can work on something every weekend.

 

The Clutch slave cylinder and cooling fan clutch are relatively inexpensive new and wouldn't really consider second hand parts personally. The only thing out of that whole list that I would consider buying second hand would be fuel pump and sender. Everything else can be sourced brand new for not too much outlay.

All the best and good luck :)

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Hey.

 

So I got all the basic service parts plus a fuel pump and went upcountry  on a two day mission to get the car back. It took 2 long days to get it moving, as the engine kept conking out. When we opened up the pipes this is what we found...

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I dont know what that was, looks like detergent. We suspect that it was some sort of radiator sealant that either didn't do its job or it caked up after being parked for so long. After cleaning it all out though, the engine started running well, no overheating.

 

Bought some second hand tyres, welded the tank, did the regular service, and cleaned out the dead rats.

 

Next we took it for a test drive and to the shock our lives there were completely no brakes! Terrifying stuff. Tried bleeding everything but no luck, only marginal improvement. Now we had to make a decision to drive it to Nairobi or leave it there and make another long ass journey back at some point. I was ready to leave it there as there was no way I was gonna drive that death trap. My mechanic however is more of a daredevil than I am and insisted on driving it using the handbrake! After a long argument on safety vs having to travel back again, we hit the road... I followed behind in another car.

 

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It was a long and slow journey. 50 Kph max. The amazing thing was the car was a champ for something that had been sitting close to 10 years the only problems we had were it blew one of the radiator hoses and it developed an exhaust leak. We got stopped a couple of times by cops too since the car looked terrible so as soon as they see it you get stopped. All the windows didn't work so it was a sauna in there. Basically everything except the engine wasn't working. Long story short we made it.

 

Once in Nairobi, the real work could begin.

 

1. Fixed the exhaust leak. Had to remove and weld several sections of the exhaust but it was a straight forward job.

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2. Bought a new (second hand) Brake Master Cylinder to fix the brakes. Despite that the problem persists. We are still struggling with this issue. Now trying to work on the Hydraulic Booster to see if that may be the problem. If you bleed the system well, it works better for about 1-2 hours after which it goes soft again. So it would seem that there is somewhere air is getting into the system. Will update more on this, as we try more stuff. Hope I don't have to change out the entire braking system in order to fix the problem.

 

3. Fixed the two front windows so at least you can breathe in there. The motors were all rusted to failure so had to buy new ones. Will work on the rear ones soon. Also need to buy a new windshield wiper motor as that one's failed too. 

 

4. Fixed the front door locks so that at least the car can now be locked up.

 

5. Fixed the instrument panel. The Rev counter now works. Speedo works intermittently, temperature gauge does not work.I have ordered a new temperature sensor so lets hope it starts working. The fuel level sender is being a bitch. It works when it wants. When we take it out to test it in air it works fine, put it back into the tank and nothing.

 

6. Replaced all the bulbs and bulb holders around the car. The brake lights, parking lights, headlights, and rear indicators are now all working. The reverse light doesn't work so ordered a new reverse switch. I don't have any front turn signals so working on getting those. Also need a new front valance coz mine is trash. I am going to get the side/wing turn signals working this week.

 

7. There was a clunking sound from under the car when you take off in first or reverse. Concluded that the most likely culprit is the center drive shaft bushing which we will be changing this week. 

 

8. I have also ordered a bunch of small parts that should be here next week. Gear shift knob and boot, license plate light, front brake hoses, coolant temperature sensor, reverse light switch, fuel tank cap, eBay short shifter (reviwers said its pretty good despite the low price), BMW hood emblem, and brake caliper repair kits.

 

9. Its not all good news, turns out the rust damage was way worse than I had initially thought. It was just well hidden on the underside and floor board of the car. Its so bad under the driver and passenger foot panels that if you lift the carpet you can see straight through to the ground. Even jacking up the car causes the frame to start warping slightly. I told myself that I will fix everything all at once when I take the car for a paint job. If that takes too long then I will just weld the floor.

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10. Other problems include the brakes which have refused to work, the computer and overhead systems check are wacky and display whatever they like. I guess all the sensors were taken out or are shot. Will look into those later. A lot of the interior trim is falling apart. I got pissed of with the hanging glove box and ripped it out and threw it into the boot. So I have a gaping hole in the front. The drivers door trim literally had a piece break off...also in the boot. Front seats have rusted in place so you cant adjust them back or front. If you are too tall or too short you are screwed. Rear blind doesn't roll back into place when you pull it. Windshield washer reservoir has a hole from hardening and so cant hold water. But wouldn't need it anyway since the windshield pump doesn't work and the wiper motor is dead too. Did I mention the brakes!!?

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Took it for a thorough wash too...

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So yeah exciting times. This are getting fixed while new problems crop up each day. Still a long way to go but much improvement so far. More to come...

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Thanks for the update, glad you got it running nicely, tough old lumps these M30 engines B)

 

I reckon unplugging and cleaning the connections on all relays, sensors, components might sort a lot of your electrical woes, the other thing to do would be to clean or replace all the fuses, clean up the fuse holders and squeeze the clips up - loose or corroded connections here can cause various wobbles.

 

On the brakes you have the booster set up- the "bomb" sphere can fail but this tends to lead to a hard pedal. The booster is driven by the PAS circuit and pump but a pedal going soft does sound like a leak or air getting in. there are various rubber pipes that i guess may have suffered.

 

Rust spot is standard issue i'm afraid :(

 

 

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Wow! Well impressed! Nice one Brian! ;) That must of been one hell of a journey! Obviously a testament to the build quality of the older cars! 

The police and laws must be a lot more relaxed where you live! If we tried to do something like that over here, we'd probably get the car taken away/ impounded/ crushed and or a huge fine to go along with it!! :lol:

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Thanks for all the encouragement guys!

On 02/11/2018 at 13:01, boiliebasher said:

Wow! Well impressed! Nice one Brian! ;) That must of been one hell of a journey! Obviously a testament to the build quality of the older cars! 

The police and laws must be a lot more relaxed where you live! If we tried to do something like that over here, we'd probably get the car taken away/ impounded/ crushed and or a huge fine to go along with it!! :lol:

The laws are pretty much the same. Most of them came from the UK anyway. Its the Police that are different! :lol::lol:

 

So a few new updates:

 

On 31/10/2018 at 16:53, duncan-uk said:

On the brakes you have the booster set up- the "bomb" sphere can fail but this tends to lead to a hard pedal. The booster is driven by the PAS circuit and pump but a pedal going soft does sound like a leak or air getting in. there are various rubber pipes that i guess may have suffered.

 

One of the best ones is that I finally got the brakes to work so now the car can be driven around safely! The problem was the brake bomb and the master cylinder. The brake bomb had to spend a whole night in oil and the MC I had (also a replacement) wasn’t really good. I also bought a brake caliper repair kit and new brake hoses. After replacing everything, things are working now though I’d say the E28 brakes aren’t that good in the first place.

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I still have a busted tail light on the right. Those are super expensive so I’d rather fix mechanical stuff first than fork out all that cash for a new one. Looking for a second hand one at the moment so its cat and mouse with the cops. All my lights are working though so don’t freak out. It’s just the housing on the turn signal that’s broken.

 

Drive shaft was loose so did some re-engineering on those just to improve them. Also put in new boots and grease.
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Worked on the front suspension. New bushings for the control arms, new tie rods and stabilizer link bars. New front tyres as well. Cheap ones though as I want to go 225/45/17 in future. Still on 15s now.

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Replaced all the rear sub-frame bushings and the diff mount. This has made the biggest difference in the ride quality. Before there was a loud knocking sound whenever you took off from a low gear. Sounded like you were ripping the rear end of the car off.

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SOME OTHER MINOR REPLACEMENTS/REPAIRS INCLUDE:
1. Fixed the high beams. 
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2. Fixed all the brake lights and modified the brake fogs to be brake lights. The single brake light was too little. The added light also helps in dealing with cops. 3. 3. Fixed reverse light as well.
4. Fixed the speedometer and odometer. 
5. New drive shaft support bearing
6. Did a full radiator flush. 
7. Got a second hand valance for the front and front turn signals.
8.

On 31/10/2018 at 16:53, duncan-uk said:

Rust spot is standard issue i'm afraid :(

Fixed the holes in the floor board and reinforced the chassis. Did a hack job on it since I intend to smooth everything out once I strip it for paint work.
9. New gear shift lever and rubber shift boot.
10. New seal for the fuel sending unit
11. Fitted new door handles in the front.
12. Fitted new hood roundel
13. Fitted license plate lights

 

THINGS THAT NEED ATTENTION:
1. Still no temperature gauge even after replacing the sensor. Car does not overheat though.
2. No fuel gauge. Guesswork for now or have to top up extra each time I drive it.
3. No coolant level sensor. 
4. There is a leak at the power steering pump.
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5. Engine warning light will not go off. Tried resetting it, nothing.
6. No wipers. Need a new motor as the other one rusted to failure. Water reservoir also dried up to the point that it cracked.
7. Dirt in the fuel lines causing fuel leaks at the rail. Now that the car is in use, rust is coming off in the tank and in the fuel rail and causing blockages. Have to keep removing and cleaning so as not to destroy the injectors. Also have to put in new fuel filters to save the pump. Im hoping this will subside with time coz even though we clean everything out it keeps coming back and its expensive!
8. Though the car moves well, I feel like there is some power loss (expect more kick out of a 2.5l engine). Might be the dirt in the lines, might be something else so will need a proper tune up to get it to pump out the full 150HP.
9. Also the exhaust has major issues. 1. Its not the right exhaust for the car and 2. It keeps cracking. When we lowered the rear sub-frame to replace the bushings it cracked again so it seems I need to replace the entire thing.

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NEXT UP:
Painting! I was trying to get some Noico sound deadening mat but it’s too expensive to ship out here because of the weight in the required quantity so I have decided to just go ahead and paint. I’ve been looking at Titangrau 892/A36, Callisto Grey B64, and the original Platanengruen Metallic 188. I am leaning towards the Titangrau for now.

 

Windshield wiper motor, rear window motors, Exhaust work, and an engine tune. I think those are the critical items.

I also ordered some Polyamide shifter bushings from E28goodies.com supposed to sort out a lot of the slop in the gear. Those are yet to come in.

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Hi Brian,

 

Congratulations on saving this fine E28, you are doing really well recommissioning / repairing this with limited resources. 

 

I have two Euro chrome rear lights and two side indicators from a UK car that are surplus to my requirements that you are welcome to have if it helps you out.  They are yours if you want them.

 

I can take some photographs of the items if you like?

 

Regards,

 

Mick

 

 

 

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Hi Brian,

 

If your exhaust manifold keeps cracking at the rear then check the engine mounts, gearbox mounts and diff mounts.  If they are shot then the engine will try to rotate to the right and the exhaust does not have a swivel joint which usually manifest itself as the number 6 cylinder rear lower exhaust manifold stud snapping.  I have had number 6 cylinder broken studs on an E24 635csi and E28 520i & 525e :roll:

 

Electric windows not working could be the breaker situated on the drivers knee panel to the left of the steering column but more likely to be high resistance on the contacts within the switches.  The switches can be dismantled and the contacts cleaned but take care as the springs will jump out as you open up the switch.  For the rear windows to work both the rear window switch by the driver / passenger and the rear door switch must be good as the circuit passes through both switches.  In addition the small square black switch by the driver between the front and rear switches will disable the rear window door switches as a child safety feature.  Some silicon lubrication in the window channels can help a dry tired window mechanism back into life too.

 

Regards,

 

Mick

 

Edited by Ordnator

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8 hours ago, Ordnator said:

I have two Euro chrome rear lights and two side indicators from a UK car that are surplus to my requirements that you are welcome to have if it helps you out.  They are yours if you want them.

 

I can take some photographs of the items if you like?

 

Thanks Mick! That is awesome news! Both my tail lights are cracked but the right one is the one in bad shape. Photos would be great. How do you want us to go about sending them?

 

4 hours ago, Ordnator said:

If your exhaust manifold keeps cracking at the rear then check the engine mounts, gearbox mounts and diff mounts.  If they are shot then engine will try to rotate to the right and the exhaust does not have a swivel joint which usually manifest itself as the number 6 cylinder rear lower exhaust manifold stud snapping.

 

I will definitely check this out though I think the reason my exhaust keeps cracking is because the car was sitting for close to 11 years (not six as I had said at the start) and the metal was weakened. So whenever we work on the underside, any stress in the exhaust cracks it. Like this last time it cracked when we lowered the rear sub-frame which sits above the exhaust. The weight of it coming down on the exhaust is what did the damage.

 

10 hours ago, Ordnator said:

For the rear windows to work both the rear window switch by the driver / passenger and the rear door switch must be good as the circuit passes through both switches.  In addition the small square black switch by the driver between the front and rear switches will disable the rear window door witches as a child safety feature.

 

Again this is great advice.  I didn't know that the rear windows would only work when the entire circuit is completed. I thought I could get away with operating them from the front for a while. My window lock switch is stuck in the depressed position so that's something else to work on. The window motors are the main problem as they were rusted pretty bad. I already replaced the front ones, just need to do the rear as well.

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On 15/02/2019 at 15:15, Magava said:

I will definitely check this out though I think the reason my exhaust keeps cracking is because the car was sitting for close to 11 years (not six as I had said at the start) and the metal was weakened. So whenever we work on the underside, any stress in the exhaust cracks it. Like this last time it cracked when we lowered the rear sub-frame which sits above the exhaust. The weight of it coming down on the exhaust is what did the damage.

 

I personally think that you are better off trying to find a another replacement exhaust manifold rather than keep trying to reweld your one back up. It will never last long enough and cast iron is notoriously difficult to weld back up.

 

But I completely agree with Ordinator that you have a mount or bush thats worn out somewhere and that's why it keeps breaking/snapping. 

 

I know you said it's old, and it's been sat around for 11 years or so, but that not enough grounds for it to keep breaking like that. You definitely have something that's not quite right and I would say you need to investigate and find out why it keeps happening before you waste money on a new exhaust manifold that's ultimately just going to break again.

 

Keep up the good work Brian, it will be worth it in the end! B)

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