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E39 M5 rust repairs

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I thought there might be a bit of interest in this here. This is copied over from my PistonHeads thread so apologies if some of the formatting is off! 

Cheers :)

Thread here if you want more background: https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&f=47&t=1695813&i=999999 


Well we now have some decent progress, so it’s time to give you some before-and-after pics! What follows may be distressing, so viewer discretion is advised… ;)

Going back a few weeks, I spent a long time casting around trying to find a local-ish company to me with a decent reputation, who would be able to do the required work and keep me posted as to progress. I really hit a brick wall with this and was feeling pretty despondent about the whole thing, until one afternoon I was browsing through Readers Rides and came across the fantastic thread by M. Kitchski about the rebuild of his father’s BX (it’s worth a read if you haven’t found it!). I’ve enjoyed many of his threads over the years, and he’s undeniably experienced in welding together pieces of crusty old French tin :hehe:

So I pinged him a message to see if he’d be interested in getting his hands on a crusty German instead, and – well, here we are dropping off the car at Southways Automotive a couple of weeks later:


Rich has been busily beavering away and has kept me up to date with details and pics as we go along. We’re still very much mid-way, so let’s have a look at current progress…

First up, what are we starting with? Well, predictably, it’s not pretty…

















Not pretty, I think you’ll agree – 165k miles and 18 winters have certainly taken their toll. That said, Rich sounded remarkably optimistic on the phone and I’m certainly glad this has been caught now and not left to fester any longer! Rich started off by dropping the propshaft and fuel tank (in which I’d thoughtfully left about 50l of V-Power…) and it was out with the grinder (I’ll let you imagine the A Team music)…













We (by which I mean, Rich) hit an interesting discovery here. The internal support for the jacking point had broken its spot welds and come loose – presumably after the sill had flexed in the past when being jacked up incorrectly – and done more damage internally. It later turned out the other side was the same. So, E39 owners – jack up your cars properly! Rich set to rebuilding…
















I’ll save you all the pictures of the other side – suffice to say it was just as much work. But still, I can’t resist a before-and-after :)






That’s the rear pretty much done, and the front is currently in progress. Naturally that was also worse than initially thought, but the chaps at Southways seem completely unphased and are cracking on. I’ll get some more progress up over the next few days with any luck.

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Been following this over on PH myself @benedwards64 and it seems they're doing brilliant work


Looking forward to seeing the progress and final result :) 

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Went through the same process myself a couple of years ago on my M5 and also changed flywheel and clutch at the same time.  It's a big expensive job but worth it, great progress so far here :)

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Well it’s safe to say Rich has been busy on the old girl. Get ready, this will be a heavy one…


First up, the front sill sections also needed extensive work. Same as the rear, the rust had paired up with collapsed jacking points which needed a lot of work (including pulling much of the interior out so it didn’t catch fire!)




Now reinforced…




And fully welded in:




Amd a bit more rust hunting under the inderseal at the rear:




And all now under 2 coats of 2k epoxy mastic, made up to replicate the OE finish (which is pretty bloody cool, if you ask me!)




While that’s been going on, there has been a certain amount of ‘while you’re in there’ at play. Poor old Rich hasn’t batted an eyelid at the amount of parts that keep showing up at his workshop :hehe:


First up, clutch and flywheel removed:




Rich had to make up a SST for this (to avoid the usual M tax on the official BMW product! The spigot bearing was also a bit tired, so that was replaced along with the RMS:







Shiny new clutch & fly:




….and now time to replace most of the gear linkage:










Old clutch pivot had to be drilled out:




The release arm had cracked, so Rich built this up again with a washer welded in, then ground the inside back to solid metal:




New OE gearbox mounts while we’re in there…




More epoxy and paint up above the fuel tank (and a bit of Citroen blue paint to give the undersides a bit of colour :hehe: )




Lots of crusty fuel lines replaced….






Gearbox back in:




Propshaft split:




New propshaft bearing:




‘BMW sealed for life’ gearbox oil, looking black and runny….




Exhaust and fuel tanks refitted:




…and it’s back outside for the first time in a while!!


So, what’s next? It’ll be getting some temporary paint next week on the new sill sections before I head down to collect, and I’ll most likely run around in it for a while before taking it to a ‘proper’ bodyshop to have the new sections blended in along with a new pair of rust-free front wings and a bit of general tidying up. Mostly I’m just looking forward to not driving around in a lollopy old Jeep! It will also need some suspension work at some point as well – much of it is original at 165k miles so it’s all getting a bit baggy. How long this takes will very much depend on exactly how much of a moneypit my (hopeful) new (old!) house turns out to be. Time will tell, but in the meantime I look forward to making shouty noises in it again :D

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@benedwards64 Wow what an update, work looks incredible and fair play to you for getting all those "while you're there" bits done, i bet it feels awesome to be back in it especially knowing you've had so many bits replaced! 


nice work bud! keep us posted on the progress from here on. 

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Aaaaaaaand we are back in business!


Rich very kindly stayed late and picked me up from the station on Wednesday evening, having finished off spraying the sills, reattaching the recalcitrant undertrays and giving the car a clean inside and out. Rich insists he’s no painter, and my intention is to get the new sills ‘properly’ painted along with a couple of other bits that need attention, but having seen how decent a match he’s managed to get with rattle cans this will probably take me a while to get round to… :lol:


We had a good natter about the car and Rich’s own projects, before I jumped in and headed back up north. Apparently it had had a ticking lifter on first start-up (pretty standard for these after they’ve been sat for a while!) but this had evidently cleared the morning of collection. The first thing I noticed was just how biblically quick this thing feels after two months driving a diesel Grand Cherokee! And also, how smooth it is. Not just smoother than the Jeep (which goes without saying!), but the new clutch, flywheel and all of the prop-shaft bits that Rich replaced for me have made a massive difference. The gearchange is transformed, and an irritating buzzing I’d been getting through the gear lever has disappeared altogether. The old clutch was evidently more knackered than I thought it had been, too – quick changes at high rpm are now much more positive, there’s no hint of slip and the car feels a lot quicker as a result.


I’ve been driving it around with a massive grin on my face for the last couple of days :D


A few pics now it’s back home. The new rattle-can paint on the sills is actually better than the paint on much of the rest of the car!






No, I still haven’t painted the gopping wheels.


Incidentally, the car industry needs more companies like Southways Automotive and more people like Rich – he’s never moaned about the not-insignificant project creep that I’ve piled on him and he’s kept me well up to date with emails, phone calls and loads of pictures as we’ve gone on. I find it oddly reassuring, too, that a man who spends his life around TVRs and other exotica is genuinely interested in swapping stories of shonky old French hatchbacks :lol:

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It really depends on how extensive it is - once we started poking mine, the rust was far more extensive than originally thought. I also instigated a lot of my own project creep while it was in bits, so there was additional parts & labour charges in there for all the work involved in changing the clutch, linkages, bearings etc etc.


My advice with most major work on an M5 (including this) is to budget enough to buy a ropey-but-serviceable 530i :lol:


In all seriousness, get yourself down to a decent bodyshop/fabricator and go over the car with a fine tooth comb before work starts. And mentally double whatever is initially quoted, as it'll still be worst than it looks.

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The money apart ..

Always view the bare repairs after all the cutting out is finished. It's the best way for peace of mind knowing that the rot has been removed.   

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Cracking thread. Mine is currently getting inspected as we speak.


I just hope I havent miss spent the best part of 1k Getting the alloys, calipers and trim sorted!

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