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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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Oi oi, Carrying on with the gearbox theme. This getrag 290 fell onto my lap the other week.  It true bit of luck, its not what you know but who you know.  So 2 bi turbo boxes now!! News on the rust bucket box is it will live again.  Neil at all gears rang straight away when it arrived up there and said it will be fine.  The big input bearing is shagged and that was more likely the noise on idle than the rust on the gears. He thinks they have to be alot worse rust wise to be a problem.  He said he may change the 1st gear as thats the worst for a jag one he has spare. I know he is busy but he's had the box a month so i may ring this week see how he is getting on and when its back say i've got another one for you to look over!




So while thats all been happening i've also been at the turbos





Just like lego we have the turbos off.  They've been rebuilt in the past and i couldn't find notice any real bodge work. Ive done this once before on my old bi turbo its not very straight forward. As you can see i'll come to later lots of alpinaness here!








A trip to these guys in Uxbridge. They rebuilt my old turbos on 445. The Turbos weren't knackered but when your in for a penny?  Had a good chat with the main man on the phone and when i walked in with the turbos he said "you must be the Bi turbo man" i said yes how do you know "i can tell by the turbos!"  So we agreed on a strip down and overhaul of anything needed.  An upgrade to 360 degree thrust washers from the standard 270 ones.  Again had this done on my old car.  My understanding is it makes the turbos more reliable and allows higher boost levels to be run if wanted.  He asked me a couple of times if i was keeping the car.   Yes i say as i can't afford now to get into another fast E34 ie an M5 or genuine Bi turbo as the prices are mental now.  So he suggested a little "mod"  


Fitting a larger compressor wheel, so talked it over and my understanding is if* you wanted to turn up the wick later on this would allow it. Makes the turbo more reliable if boost is kept standard as. So i said yes






Fast forward a couple of weeks and they're ready! This was mid lock down when traffic was non existent.  I drove on a friday after work to pick them up and was doing a steady 70mph round the M25 by the M4 on a friday afternoon! Very un normal

Both turbos ok, one wastegate was fucked so an extra 50 quid for that.  A couple of tasty tweeked T25 turbos. ~The new compressor wheels are i think 2-3mm bigger diameter now same impeller design as standard. They gave me the old ones as "spares" for the garage wall of honour. The guys there reckon these are now safe to run up to 1.4 bar from the standard 0.8.  So what kind of power increase they could make who knows! They seem to think 500BHP plus range easy.  I've read the alpina injectors are ok in stock but need replacing if going down the more power route, as they working close to their safe limits. Same for the bi turbo fuel pump.  Then what can the clutch take?  Questions for a much later date!  If it ran at about 500bhp that would be interesting in an E34 to say the least. As a stock bi turbo is lairy car




So onto re fitting, This isn't funny on the driveway, many fucks have been said.  Last time i did this i had the engine out on a stand and it was fiddly then. Theres nuts and bolts you can barely see let alone get a spanner on, but persevere we must!





I had to clean up the scabs on the chassis leg before i fitted the heatsheild like the original cars have






While there i also bought some heatsheild for the brake line thats rather close to the turbos. The original cars have this and a good idea as hot brakes aren't a good idea!






New engine mounts as they were a bit grim, and some bashing to re straighten the heat shield.  Plus the funky custom engine mount this side for space for the front turbo






All up ready to go, i bought all new high temp K nuts as i'm pretty sure thats original. Again my old car had these fitted. You only need 30 at £3-4 quid each lol.  Plus they are alot easier to use on the tricky ones as they're 10mm head instead of the 13mm chunky ones that had been used the last time the turbos where rebuilt





new studs, again the originals were missing to my eyes and i know the OE ones are inconel which is rather expensive but hey ho inconel the new ones are! I did buy from alpina as last time needed 1 stud on 445 and was £27! So there are a few aftermarket suppliers in the correct size for more like £10 a stud






One of the manifolds had bowed so my old man refaced it flat, was about 0.5mm which doesn't sound much but we need gas tight seals plus alot easier to fit.  These exhaust manifolds look cast iron but they aren't. They must be some funky high temp alloy as a magnet barely sticks to them. I wonder what they are made off





Rear turbo on, it was a fucking nightmare to be honest. 






One of the turbos wasn't lined up properly after they were rebuilt so i had to reclock it as such so all the oil and coolants lines fitted/lined up. It was about 90 degrees out. I only noticed building them up and after alot of head scratching and looking through pictures worked it out. Which meant bolting it on, loosening the bolts that hold the core together and moving the middle of the turbo where the gubbins go so its fits properly. So on and off a couple of times as i couldn't re tighten everything with the turbo on the car. So off tighten the bits and then refit. Just like Haynes manuals say.  Got it done so all is good really 






And finally front turbo on, all the sheilds etc.  Quite a fuckfest.   After all that i kind of feel sorting the rest out for MOT isn't so bad, well maybe refitting the gearbox will be horrid as it always is on the driveway.



I feel like i can see the light now on this big jigsaw. My goal in my head is to hopefully be MOT by my birthday in September as that will be a big milestone on this bloody thing and 3 years into owning it!  

















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WOW!! Incredible work there fella. Refitting those turbos looked fiddly as fuk!! Definitely didn't help one was rebuilt perpendicular either!! :o


Very well done, that looks like quite a difficult and at the same time, rewarding job completed on the car. 500hp+ E34 touring, now there's a thought...:D

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My only thought about anything over 400-ish from a BiTurbo is how well the rest of the old oily bits will hold up; didn't you have a rocker arm snap in two on your previous BT Si? 


If you're going to go down the route of really stretching the Alpina design wouldn't you want make sure everything was upgraded to as new or as strong as possible? That, and some monster brakes instead of the BT's ancient Lucas-Girling 4 pots.


Great work Simon, and good luck for your September target.

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