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E34 Alpina B10 Bi turbo touring project

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Finally getting the hang of this new photobucket site.  I came across a few months back an e32 740i in my local scrappy so I had to have a peak...…it had a full electric comfort trim in black leather which got me excited.  The car also had door blinds and a rear blind.  So I had the rear electric blind and loom for ebay to pay for my trip.  I then stripped the front arm rests and the lumbar support as I love a retro fit!  Sport seats apparently never came from factory with arm rests but i'm sure they will come in handy when i'm on the hard shoulder in a broken down bi turbo.  It all wasn't too bad to fit, my trim was already heated so I had to splice and play with the looms but its all working nicely.  Doesn't really help the car along its MOT quest but hey!







I acquired this really rare morsel some time ago. Some Racing Dynamics anti roll bars.  They're adjustable front and rear and a bit thicker than even the M5 touring roll bars which are thickest from factory.  Its hard to find any of this stuff now for E34s as they are dinosaurs





I then decided to put the car back together as such and drive it a little on a  to see what the crack is before we really take the bull by the horns and strip her down in prep for MOT and getting this thing back into a decent road car.     Engine seems fine, no smoke overheating nasty noises. Boost is limited but this is an electrical issue to be sorted out at a later date by someone who knows more than I.  Shame as you can feel the beast within it being tamed!    Diff quiet, but leaky. Suspension and brakes in need of going through.  Gearbox? hmmm. It wouldn't engage any gears back at Barrys workshop and had no oil in it. they managed to get it selecting all gears on the ramp somehow. Well the more I sat on the drive and worked it around the gate the better it started to feel.   When driving and the engine was cold it was fine, but as the temps got up it really struggled to get into gear. So I suspected there was a clutch heat issue when warm preventing it.  The bite point was right at the bottom of the pedal and the slave cylinder was the original 525i one so not correct for bi turbo.  Its also making a bearing type noise on idle when your foot is off the clutch 













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So getting stuck in now and into the fun stuff, kind of fun.






The offending item, clean isn't it?...…………..The getrag 290 gearbox.  As fitted only to Bi turbos, no other BMW or alpina has ever used this box.  Alpina got Getrag to make them a run of these in this fitment for the 507 cars built so a dip in the ocean for Getrags capabilities.  

Theres not much on the internet about these mythical beasts and especially in this fitment. Searches just throw up it was also used on some early 90s jags - so many manual jags about aswell!  The Aston Martin DB7 used it also. Some GM trucks in the states in 4WD fitment and  the corvette Stingray I think.   From what I know have read/heard the boxes are very strong and an uprated unit for heavy use or torque outputs. They don't really break on Bi turbos and are well up to the job.  My old Bi turbo never had any issues when I had it.   The bellhousing is thicker casting compared to say a Getrag 280 that the 5 speed E34 M5 uses in 3.6 and 3.8. I also believe they are beefed up internally. All the gear linkage is unique to Alpina as these boxes use the rear flange and prop guibo from V12 BMWs of the era. Which is massive!






I was told there was a brand new clutch fitted. So I was keen to see it with my own eyes and was very happy to see it fitted.  That a £1000 part saved





Heres the colour of the brand new oil I drained out of the box after about a mile of driving...………..same colour as my pooper valve at this point. Seems like its rusty inside?! but how








I took the box to a local transmission place to get it looked at 3D transmissions in Reading.   Wasn't too impressed with the service, dropped it off discussed on the phone in person what I've written here. "OK we can strip inspect and see if we can any parts that need replacing. We only charge if we can fix it. If not we strip/put back together and no charge"  Fine I thought. Drop box off have same chat as original phone call.  Week goes by not heard anything so ring for a check.  Not touched it waiting for permission to strip it, I gave that when I dropped it off.  the receptionist guy hadn't even heard of a getrag 290 before.....    During this call I spoke to the workshop foreman. He explained some prices aswell and what he thought, great some progress. Next day I get a call from the receptionist asking for my permission to strip the box. Yes for the 3rd fucking time and then he quotes me some higher prices than the day before from the workshop guy. He speaks to the workshop guy and agrees hes quoted me too high.    Another week goes by and I get a call last thing on a Friday saying from the receptionist numpty saying my gearbox is scrap and they can't get any parts for it can I collect?  won't give me any detail on to what they have found to get to this conclusion.   I said yes can come now, he says they need a bit of time to put the box back together. Ok i'll come back Monday Tuesday? They say yes.  Tuesday afternoon comes no call, so I ring and gently getting onto the war path footing. They've not put it back together as they can't get parts for it.  I just said i'm coming now to get whats left of it don't touch it i'm getting the arse. 


When I arrive i'm able to speak to  guy who stripped it. The internals are in a big blue box hopefully all the parts! and the casing is split in two.  Box is fine but all the gears are rusty, which is the reason for the noise on idle, and the selecting gears not too smoothly issues sometimes.  Its true there are no new spare parts available even if I had the cash.   Great. He also said when he stripped it he found water inside which came running out!  






And here it is.  


I've since found another gearbox guy up the north Neil at All gears who I should of contacted first but i'd heard he was should during this covid crisis ( turns out he wasn't!) He seems to specialise in fixing manual boxes like mine. Hes restored some faith after a phone call and hes rebuilt 4-5 of these boxes for bi turbos in the past. He seems a goldmine of info and confirmed he had spares for these from other rebuilds and that some of the parts/gears from the jag/aston martin 290 boxes fit.   I had a plan of buying a jag box and swapping the internals over as they are the same layout as bi turbos being engine in the front, then gearbox and RWD.  I couldnt' find out if the ratios were the same so seemed a tricky risk and its £1000 if you can find a jag box 2nd hand.  Anyhow i'm going to get my box of 290 bits shipped up to All gears and await his view. He seemed half confident from what I told him that it might be able to be salvaged but seeing in person is always whats needed.   Fingers crossed



I've since found out the box was steam cleaned when out of the crashed car, hence why its so clean looking and was then fitted back into the touring but no refilled with oil and then sat for 8 years while the project wasn't finished. Clearly water penetrated the seals and my suspicion by the time I've got to it or when it was running on Barrys ramp at BMR it was seized solid from rust.   


Theres lots more to come to catch up to where i'm at present 


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