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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!

 

 

 

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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

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

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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

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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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!  

 

 

 

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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

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

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

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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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

 

 

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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

 

 

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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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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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 

 

 

 

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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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Well my birthday came and went yesterday, and i'm no where near an MOT.  But i kind of am!    I lost heart a few weeks back as my gearbox is still not finished and i'm still waiting for my front shock dust covers from Bilstein.  I think both gearbox and dustcovers were sent/ordered in May......

 

I wanted to try and show stuff in a reasonable logical order but its not been like that and i've done alot of stuff that i've not taken pictures of as said i've had the ache for a bit and didn't bother taking any pictures!  What i can remember is i've fixed the headlamps so now all lighting is working on the front end. I've wired up the heated washer jets and plumbed in the lines to the pump.  Had the front spoiler painted,  Welded in the remaining engine bay brackets and painted them up. Had the diff in and out to sort some oil leaks. Bought a 3rd brake light to install. I'm sure theres more but words are boring

 

 

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I got these rare puppies a long time ago, some Racing dynamics anti roll bars They're 27mm front 3 way adjust and 21mm rear with 2 way adjust. 

 

 

 

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Some wiser friends than I have said in the past week have you checked that the bilstein dust covers from other BMW's fit? Well no e34 left the factory with bilsteins from what i can tell but the E28 did and so did the E30 and E24. A check of the part number shows they are the same for all 3 cars. Then i scratched my head and remembered i have the original Bilsteins off my E30 and when i found them some dust covers! They aren't perfect but they will work.  Long winded i know but it means i could finally build the front end all back up

 

 

 

 

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Strut built up, i've retained the 525i front springs for now with the Alpina bilsteins.  So ready for my refurbished calipers to go back on.  

 

 

 

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All on, the discs are what came with the car just cleaned up/refaced. Pads again just some old B10 textars i had off my old car. They will get me going.   I'll get some pictures but i've had the 4 control arms off as the rubber boots were all split but the ball joints ok. So i've changed the boots and also fitted poly bushes to the upper arms. A nice mod my old M5 had  

 

 

 

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This is how the turd sits as off Saturday.  Front spoiler painted makes a big difference and the match isn't half bad considering it was done off the car.   I've re done all the rear brakes, calipers refurbished but new discs and pads, new braided lines. So with some new fluid the system should be in good health. The metal brake lines have been changed front to rear all ready and i had to renew one rear hard line on a trailing arm. 

 

 

 

 

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So on to the bloody gearbox saga. It sounds like mine won't be ready for a few months yet and you will remember i bought another spare box offered to me. Well as you may notice the rear out put flange is missing.   Having thought about it for a while i thought well i'll just fit this box see how it goes?  But i need a flange. So this is where it gets interesting, the bi turbo uses a larger prop guibo than an M5, infact its a V12 8 series one with the bigger M14 size bolts to suit compared to the M5s smaller M12 bolts.

 

Logic would dictate it uses an 8 series rear output flange? So i bit the bullet and ordered one from BMW................

 

 

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Doesn't fit, fuck it. 200 nicker down the pan. It then dawned on me that the rear output flange is a unique item to a unique gearbox in a BMW application. Theres no part number Alpina listed either. So a needle in a haystack. Well i contacted the guy i got the box from and asked if he had the correct flange in his large unique parts stash..................

 

 

 

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YES! So picked it up friday gone and here it is compared to the 8 series one.

 

 

I'm waiting for some new oil seals and a nut and locking washer to arrive and then i shall fit the gearbox in the coming days.  At least i can try this box out and see how it is and the buy with my original can take as long as he likes as its a 4 hour drive away his workshop so i can't pop up there!

 

Which then "just" leaves me to bleed brakes/clutch back up. PAS refill as it was leaking from a missing washer on a banjo bolt. Oil change and some new coolant and try it all out.   I've still need some new wipers, numberplates and also found a small hole on the passenger side floorpan that needs welding.  Mojo is back and will push to finish for MOT standard in next few weeks.  I need to find take some more pictures, but its actually getting there.  Just down to 50 jobs now from about 5000 at the start

 

I've also been trying very very hard to obtain a set of E31 18 inch Alpinas.........    Its also the longest i've owned 1 e34 for and not even used the thing!

 

 

 

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Sweet sweet progress, I bet that feels good !

i think 17s look ace on the car, but at the same time I have no idea of what would come on an original e34 b10 so if originality commands 18s then 18 it is !

 

those calipers look yummy, are they unique to Alpinas ? They look like old style Ates..

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calipers were first used on Bi turbos but also an option on NA B10s, the later V8 B10s and i think fitted to B12 E32s aswell, they're girling. Will soon find out if they are any good!  Stock wheels are 17's. The 18's looks epic but so is the price tag these days

 

 

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The brakes look good. Bit more "period" than the E31 4 pots I have put on mine. Didn't realise there was an equivalent E34 one that I could have gone for.

If they are anything like the E31's then they will be very good. My E34 will now give my M140i a run for it's money stopping I reckon.

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Funny you say that as my old Bi turbo i don't remember these brakes being that good. Saying this it was a normal original system that i didn't touch in my ownership of that car. 

 

Best E34 brakes i've had by far where on my old 6 speed M5 with the 345mm discs and the ATE 4 pots which use a very similar size pad piston size to the Alpina setup. Alpina discs are a touch smaller at 334mm.  The M system scores better in unsprung mass with the calipers being lighter ali and the discs are floating.  I look forward to trying it in anger    

 

M5 coped with track work and no driving on the road would trouble it. My passengers on the only ring trip i did at the ring all said how good the brakes were 

 

E31 4 pots i'd expect to be similar, are you running the 345mm M5 discs?

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I did the Ring back in August with my E31 brakes and I thought they were really good. Started to get used to how well they were working as I was braking far too early. They also have a good feel to them too, smooth and then when  you want them to bite they do. First emergency stop from 60mph testing them on fitting it felt like I was going to go through the windscreen but the car didn't feel a handful like some things I have been in when doing similar. Granted I was not giving it the full beans around the Ring but it was a good spirited drive. Its not a track toy my E34 but I do like to give it some occasionally. I am running whatever size E31 discs are but M-Tech C Hook discs along with RBF 600 brake fluid (annoyed as I am sure I read E34 discs would work with E31 callipers but they don't, I had very nice Brembo VMax discs at the time which were pretty much new). The set is is totally over kill but it looks smart and they do the job. Standaed E34 discs and callipers on the rear, one day I might upgrade to something a bit more fancy.

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Was told by someone they are not E31 brakes and I was chatting rubbish. Was having none of it despite telling him I went to BMW to buy these new with an E31 part number

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On 18/09/2020 at 12:47, KitsonRis said:

I did the Ring back in August with my E31 brakes and I thought they were really good. Started to get used to how well they were working as I was braking far too early. They also have a good feel to them too, smooth and then when  you want them to bite they do. First emergency stop from 60mph testing them on fitting it felt like I was going to go through the windscreen but the car didn't feel a handful like some things I have been in when doing similar. Granted I was not giving it the full beans around the Ring but it was a good spirited drive. Its not a track toy my E34 but I do like to give it some occasionally. I am running whatever size E31 discs are but M-Tech C Hook discs along with RBF 600 brake fluid (annoyed as I am sure I read E34 discs would work with E31 callipers but they don't, I had very nice Brembo VMax discs at the time which were pretty much new). The set is is totally over kill but it looks smart and they do the job. Standaed E34 discs and callipers on the rear, one day I might upgrade to something a bit more fancy.

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Was told by someone they are not E31 brakes and I was chatting rubbish. Was having none of it despite telling him I went to BMW to buy these new with an E31 part number

 

Same Brembo's as used on the E38 728i's aren't they?

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23 minutes ago, d_a_n1979 said:

 

Same Brembo's as used on the E38 728i's aren't they?

E38's need adapters to fit an E34, would guess thye look the same but different mounting points on the callipers?

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Simon, I'm not sure you're aware but instead of paying Alpina tax for the front brake pads there are Mercedes W140 pads that fit perfectly.

 

Regarding the front caliper performance there are a few BiTurbo owners, generally those who either up the engine performance or tend to track their cars, who do change them out but they were offered as standard across E32 and E34's (except iX) from the straight sixes, V8's and the B12 5.0 V12; they are quite a clever design with unequal size pistons and Alpina still sell caliper repair kits - well they did last year when I bought some. 

 

The discs were originally specced as 332mm x 30mm but again, someone found that some 334mm x 32mm E38 740d discs fit but there are some people who tried this and found the discs needed a tiny amount of machining.

Edited by sharkfan

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So i've had a mega good Sunday on the turd, a heavy gearbox themed post again

 

 

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i've changed the oil seals on the spare box, so now ready to refit the output flange 

 

 

 

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If you're selector knuckle isn't worn out like this one you can give it a new life by buying just the sponge pad from BMW. The selector shafts often have oil leaks and this causes the foam to die and alot of use/age also.

 

 

 

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All fitted, ready for some oil

 

 

 

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A quick inspection shows no rust and oily inside. Going by my original box this is a good sign!! Had to change the sump plug as it had been animaled with mole grips 

 

 

 

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Research online led me to this castrol oil being what Alpina reckon to use, took about 1.5 litres to fill it when it was level on the work top

 

 

 

 

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Now i thought i'd get geeky again with this side shot so you can see side on how big the V12 prop guibo is, so much so that the lower linkage part is bent to accommodate it! The whole linkage seems unique to the bi turbo. This shifter arm i'm told is a short shift from an E60 545i.  It came with the car, seems ok not too short

 

 

 

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This is the top shifting arm, next to a 5 speed M5 one, so the Getrag 290 box must be longer than the M5s Getrag 280.   the part number on it says regular BMW M30 e34 or e32 but the Alpina parts lists it with alpina part no.  My guess is its cut and welded like in the picture

 

 

 

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New bolts, turns out i was 4 short. So Bi turbo uses alot more bolts to hold this to the block! High torques innit

 

 

 

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Went to fit the clutch fork and this fucking pin was missing. Que red mist and then i remembered......

 

 

 

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I have a spare E30 325i sport gearbox and the part number is the same so i went robbing, as i really wanted to refit this gearbox. Its already donated a sump plug also

 

 

 

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We are ready to roll and for the fun part

 

 

 

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A cup of a tea a jack and a brick and we are ready to fit the beast back up, sounds so easy when you type it out

 

 

 

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Here is the fuck pig back on, fair bit of sweating by now 

 

 

 

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Shifter linkage ready to go on

 

 

 

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linkage and prop guibo back on, ready for prop and cross member

 

 

 

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The cross member is unique again to the car, along with the propshaft or the front half in terms of the length and the flange is bigger for the V12 guibo

 

 

 

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All on and a good time to stop

 

 

So not actually that much left to do for MOT time for this car.  I need new windscreen wipers, some number plates, bleed the fluids all up, change the  engine oil, refit the drive shafts, exhaust back on, clutch slave cylinder and refit the remainng turbo intercooler pipe work.  Sounds alot but won't take long compared to rest so far.   Very close now, its a shame working gets in the way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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