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Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Update for Oct 1, 2011: Our showing at the $2010 Challenge event was not what we had hoped for. The concours showing for our little crapcan was actually our best score, which was weird, but our autocross times were off the mark - we finished 7th overall. This wasn't too surprising, since we finished putting the car together and took it on its first test drive about 15 minutes before loading it onto the trailer and taking it to Florida. With a whole 2 miles of street testing, the fact that it made it through 4 autocross runs at all was a miracle, but it handled like an ox cart with a wheel missing. Being 2 seconds back from the leader was NOT what we had desired. Then the drag race potion, with drivetrain breakages; First a half-shaft, then 3rd gear in the trans, with only a coasting 18 second 1/4 mile time that went in the books. That was embarrassing.

    Left: Costas saw me rolling up in the truck/trailer. Right: I got the car unloaded while he went and grabbed lunch

    We left there vowing to return in the same E30, but to TEST LIKE MAD for the next 12 months before the 2011 event. For us, dedicated autocross testing has always made for good showings at the SCCA Solo Nationals, and years where we didn't test our cars made for poor showings. So while we meant well, life got in the way. After thrashing for the previous year to get the car built, we took a few months off of the GRM project in late 2010. As 2011 rolled around we found another $100 CraigsList T5 and put it in the car, and then we did a local autocross with 2 drivers, where we cut one of the 18" Hoosiers due to excessive body roll. Some spring changes later the car worked better at two track days, where it really shined, except for the fact that I blew up another T5 at a NASA Time Trial. Now I really started to hate the car, more than a little. It sat for months, completely ignored.

    Cones? Check! Timing system? Check! Radios? Check! Data + video? Check! Let's test...

    We then procrastinated a good bit longer, and the past 6 weeks were burned trying to get another working T5 and working clutch hydraulics in the car. Where does the time go??? So we missed the last six weeks of scheduled local autocross events, where we had planned on testing various front toe settings, tire pressures, and rear spring changes. There's really not many adjustments we can play with on this low-buck car, since we didn't have money for things like adjustable front camber or caster, or adjustable shocks, or fancy things called swaybars. We had still hoped that this limited array of variables could help get the car tamed a bit through the cones. There was a local autocross scheduled for this weekend (a scant week before the $2011 event) we could have entered. Can we learn that much in just 4 runs at an autocross?

    The normal array of test equipment and vidcams we use for autocross testing was slapped on the E30

    Since this isn't the FIA, and we do not have an "in season testing ban", it was time to make up for our lack of autocross events in the car with a dedicated test session. I made a phone call, loaded the trailer, and then bombed out to a "secure test location" on Friday afternoon that has 62 acres of asphalt. Costas met me there and we had a short little Vorshlag Test-N-Tune event, which we've done many times in the past. We stocked the Vorshlag trailer with our 50 traffic cones, my new FarmTek/Polaris wireless timing equipment (thanks Dave @ SPS!), Costas' DL-1 data logger & ChaseCam 520 line lipstick camera, and my Sony 1080P hi-def vidcam, sound meter, tire pyrometer, camber gauge, and some tools. All of which combined are worth far more than the crapcan we're testing, but its the same testing stuff what we always use.

    I tweaked/marked the course after driving it in the '92 B4C Camaro - wow, it loses a LOT of front camber under load!

    We brought an extra set of "test tires" that we would do most of the testing on - the pretty 18x11" CCW wheels and 285/30/18 Hoosier A6 tires, robbed from my 2001 BMW E46 "DSP car". We used these same wheels & tires at an autocross in the E30 last March, as well as the two days of track days at MSR-Cresson the same month. Using those for the bulk of the day's testing would allow us to make our worn 275/35/15 Hoosier throw-aways make it though a few laps at the end of the day (to scrape off the old rubber) and hopefully just 4 more runs at the $2011 GRM Challenge event.

    Left: It was a bit dirty when we started. Right: Ran with the hood off, to keep an eye on "things"

    We spent the first hour wiring up the cigarette lighter receptacle (oops! forgot to do that, my bad), then Costas mounted and hooked up the DL-1, the ChaseCam, and the Sony 1080P vidcam. Costas, who pretty much always drives around on R compounds, showed up in his '92 1LE/B4C Camaro. We didn't add in the extra camber he normally does for autocrossing, but it was still a great way to check the course for gate size and flow...and also for a time comparison. We set up a "30 second course" that I then tweaked, driving thru it in the B4C on Kumho VictoRacers. Then I marked it, set-up the timers, and got our radios fired up. That was a huge improvement on previous tests - radios inside and outside of the car, with the outside guy calling out times to the driver while making hot laps. This made for instant feedback and quick driving adjustments.

    High resolution, close-up views of the tire loaded in a corner tell you a lot about camber & tire pressure

    Over the course of about 2 hours of actual testing we found a little over 3 seconds on this 30 second course, from changing things like driving style, tire pressures and rear springs. A sizeable chunk of time came from the "Hanchey trick" - running the car in a higher gear, to limit wheel spin (which was ridiculously excessive in 2nd gear). I guess our $100 used LSD has seen better days. As time crept past 6:30 pm we lost direct sun, the track temperature dropped significantly in the span of 15 minutes, and lap times started to bump up. Interesting data, since we haven't tested this late before, and hadn't tracked the drop off in times directly like this.

    Left: I spent much of the afternoon swapping springs. Right: A screw left us with a flat in our allotment of "test tires"

    We crammed about ten autocrosses in 2 hours - Costas put in 43 laps in the E30 - and had zero reliability issues with the car. It was nice to be able to quickly change rear springs, simply leaving Costas in the car for 4 minutes while I swapped them, and then away he went. We did the same for tire temps and most other quick checks, to maximize seat time.

    Costas finally donned his helmet and we installed the hood at the end of the day

    At the $2010 GRM event we had nothing but trouble, including a wiper motor that caught fire, brake lockup, a massive push, crazy body roll, too much wheel spin, and all of the drivetrain breakages, so having no trouble over 43 runs was a good omen. I probably swapped the rear springs back and forth about 8 times, using 2 different rates, and did about a dozen tire pressure checks/changes. The 18" tires picked up a huge screw and then a flat at lap 31, so the handful last laps were made on the 15s. All in all it was a good afternoon of testing, and hopefully our showing at next weekend's $2011 Grassroots Motorsports Challenge event will be better than last year's, at least in the autocross portion. Fingers crossed.

    Was this amount of testing excessive? Well, when you are a shop that specializes in suspension set-up & sales, this is pretty much what you do regularly. We damn sure didn't want to go to the event a second time with a completely untested car. The drag race? If I can make the halfshafts and the transmission stay together for 1320 feet, who knows? We have an all new exterior theme we're applying tomorrow so hopefully that will make the car show portion better, too.

    Left: Video compilation of in-car and exterior views. Right: External car ChaseCam video

    To sum up, regardless of what you are doing, you are likely going to learn a LOT more during testing than while competing. We sometimes get caught up setting deadlines around and going to races, and thrashing and learning next to nothing at the actual events. But when we go through a dedicated test, we always learn a TON and more than we'd learn in a half-dozen events or more. is not pretty, not glamorous, and usually not as cheap, but the knowledge gained is always worth it.

    $2011 GRM Challenge Oct 7-8

    Look for live updates on the Vorshlag Facebook page (sign up here!) during the GRM event, next Friday (car show + autocross) and Saturday (drag race).

    Last edited by Fair!; 10-02-2011, 12:28 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Update for Sept 29, 2011: Long time no post. The past six weeks were a blur, after we finished building out our new commercial space and moved Vorshlag operations into the new location in Plano, Texas. Somewhere in there we worked nights and weekends on the E30 V8, yanking the drivetrain to replace the last Camaro V6 T5 that I broke at a NASA TT event at MSR-Cresson back in March. Twice. This round of repair work was attacked starting in mid-August, and I'll pick up from the previous thread update above.

    (To save yourself the long update read, just watch this video below, showing the work we knocked out in August-September)

    click for high-rez video

    The plan to make that August 13th autocross fell through, sadly, but we made the best of the added delays by spending that weekend we were supposed to race cleaning, scuffing, detailing, prepping then painting underhood with some glossy grey paint. What's the rush? There's an autocross every weekend from now until Oct 6th! We'll get in plenty of events...

    Before we did that painting, I stitch welded a seam on one strut tower that had separated (in a previous owner's accident, eons ago). Welding through two panels that have seam sealer between them SUCKS, by the way.

    Big Paul and I applied the underhood paint the old fashioned way - with a brush. This job was a complete pain in the backside, as this type of engine bay paint abhors any sort of oil residue. After hitting everything with scotch-brite to give the OEM paint some scuff, then blowing it out with air, we tried all sorts of solvents to degrease the base metal... mineral spirits, acetone, MEK - it all sucked. We let each solvent coat dry for an hour before we tried to paint, of course. We would apply a test area with paint then quickly wipe it off because each solvent left so many fish-eyes. Nothing would totally cut the grease and not evaporate so fast that we couldn't give each area a couple of wipes with dry, clean shop cloths. Real paint prep degreaser was the best solvent, in the end. As with any painting exercise - Preparation is everything!

    This cleaned up underhood area + our new super-secret exterior theme should garner us some additional points in the concours portion of the $2011 GRM Challenge, or so we hope. The drivetrain with the replacement CraigsList Camaro V6 T5 was now carefully placed back under the car, was fired up briefly, then everything else (exhaust, cooling system, etc) was buttoned up. I was about to make the test drive and... no clutch. What the....?!

    The volunteer crew worked on this off and on for 2 days, pumping a gallon of cheap brake fluid through the clutch hydraulic system. I noticed that the lines to the clutch slave were left loose (that was a huge cock-up) but with some crows foot wrenches both the feed line and remote bleeder were sort of tightened through the tiny side window in the scattershield. Still, no pedal, difficult bleeding. Then the bleeding crew complained of the goofy reservoir angle, so we looked for answers. Within 3 pumps the reservoir was sucking air, due to the unusual angle of the transplanted E36 brake master cylinder and attached reservoir (with no booster behind it, to line it up level). Since this car, like any normal BMW, has the brake and clutch systems sharing the same fluid reservoir (cross-contaminating each system with heat and trash from both), we added a dedicated, remote clutch hydraulics reservoir at the same time. That made it easier to bleed and isolated the clutch fluid from the brake system, but still didn't fix the lack of a clutch pedal.

    So I jumped in when the bleeding wouldn't stop, and immediately noticed an issue - a pool of brake fluid under the car, which was coming from the floorpan, which was coming from the now-soaked carpet, which was coming from the BMW clutch master cylinder. (facepalm) It actually looked like the reservoir to master hose was leaking, so we replaced the entire hose. Didn't help. It was pushing more air than fluid out on each pump when we bled it. By now the shop floor and I am covered in DOT4 fluid and getting pissed. So I spent all of last weekend futzing with the clutch hydraulics, eventually pulling the clutch master (while standing on my head) and replacing it with another E30 clutch MC unit we had. That helped bleeding tremendously - now the clutch system could be bled completely free of air in 3 pumps; so the clutch master was indeed bad. Still.... no clutch pedal. WTF?! By now we've lost like 5 weeks of testing time, and I'm ready to set this car ablaze.

    I took part of that Saturday off to calm down, then woke up fresh on Sunday, no longer harboring thoughts of making an E30 "car-b-que". Amy and I tried once again to bleed the clutch system, tapping everything with wrenches to try to dislodge some elusive bubble of air. No luck. I then video chatted with Costas, showing him the clutch slave movement (none), and he said what I dreaded - "Its time to replace the slave cylinder, bub." No... no,no,no,NO! That means we have to pull the drivetrain again! Oh good grief.

    The thing is our goofy SFI scattershield was built for a Ford Toploader 4-spd or Mustang T5, and wasn't meant to have a combination clutch slave/throw out bearing bolted to the transmission, all hidden inside it. The side opening window in the scattershield, which would normally allow the cable driven clutch fork to stick through, is tiny. This makes the hydraulic lines for our TOB/slave combo a very tight fit through that window, and makes removing them through there impossible. This in turn makes pulling the T5 a nightmare procedure of "drop the entire front subframe and drivetrain". Once this is all out of the car you can access the dozen or so bolts and disengage the entire scattershield from the motor, then gain access the hydraulic lines to remove them from the slave, then unbolt the slave from the trans, then you can pull the trans off the scattershield. That's the process we've gone through after each transmission replacement, and it sucks. It makes me HATE this car. This compromise is the result of our "genius" use of the scattershield rule, to allow us to use a "cheap T5" and save money on our GRM Challenge budget. That's me - Wile E. Coyote, SUPER genius. Any clutch or transmission work takes 2 days of pulling the drivetrain...

    So once gain, we started another drivetrain pull one afternoon, this week. With some help we removed and reinstalled the drivetrain in a single day - and broke a record for this process. It all came out in 2 hours and went back in within 2 more, with another couple of hours spent adding fluids and bleeding everything. There was other repair work performed in all of these engine pulls, but I won't bore you with the details. Things like our non-functional $10 oil pressure gauge finally works, which is nice.

    I drove it on a short test drive last night, then put it back on the lift to "nut & bolt" everything after it had all come up to temp. After that I drove it a couple of miles on the street, sans hood, trunk, registration, inspection, and sanity. Gotta get some miles on this thing before we tow to Florida, even if I'm breakin the law!

    A short drive-by video (part of the longer video, above). You can here me singing "America, F*CK YEA!"

    Sorry to bore you all with the details of the last month in this long post, but they were even more tedious to do than to read about. No matter - it runs, it drives, and our third craptastic T5 seems to shift in all forward and reverse gears, which was itself a small miracle. The car is now re-aligned and awaiting a complete "de-stickering", in preparation for our new "exterior theme application" on Sunday. We also have a top secret test day planned before then, to hopefully get the set-up tweaked for autocrossing, which we definitely did not have last year. If we have time I'll post up video from this test day before we load up the car next Wednesday and tow 17 hours to Gainesville, Florida for the $2011 GRM Challenge.

    Big thanks to all of the volunteers who have wrenched and bled for this beast in the past 2 years. We're giving it another shot in Florida in a week!

    Until next time,
    Last edited by Fair!; 09-29-2011, 12:03 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Update for August 12, 2011: So the E30 has been ignored for the past 4 months while we figure out what we are going to do with it. If you happen to be keeping count, like we are, we have broken two T5 transmissions in 5 days of racing, which is a pretty crappy statistic. Do we put another T5 in it, or try to find a way to do a better transmission in this $2011 budget? I mean, sure, we have another whole dollar added to the budget this year.

    The latest victim (left), and the asshat (right) that broke it (me)

    I know why both T5s broke, and we can avoid the "techniques" of failure pretty easily. The 2nd T5 broke with me driving it, poorly, doing things any sane racer would avoid. I was doing the same things that break T5 manuals in A/Sedan and CMC cars that still use them, namely: axle hop under power and other violent loading/unloading of the rear tires over bumps at full power. The 285 A6 Hoosiers on the 18x11's at the NASA TT event were getting hot and sticky, and I was driving over an "unavoidable" bump (in a rarely used section of track that joins the 1.3 with the 1.7 mile courses at MSR-C) at WOT in 3rd gear, with the rear tires skating over the bump in the meat of the torque curve. This shock loaded the rear tires and the drivetrain violently in 3rd gear, which is known to be the weak link in these transmissions. After about a good number of laps like this, with the tires gripping harder each lap, it finally went BOOM!, ripping the teeth from 3rd gear. That doesn't happen in an autocross scenario, and shouldn't happen in a dragstrip run if you shift smoothly. We had zero issues with 2 drivers beating on the car back in March at an autocross, and I drove the piss out of the car at MSR the day before it broke on the 1.7 mile course, where I didn't have any big bumps jumping in front of me. "That f*cker came out of nowhere!"

    What To Do with this E30?

    So what do we do with this big mess of a car? We could stick a T56 in it and make it a fun little track rat, but there were so many budget-forced parts compromises made along the way we'd want to change the brakes, put in a lighter LS1 motor, etc. Or stick yet another T5 in it and take it to the $2011 Challenge?? Mostly we've been doing like the politicians lately - kicking the can down the road, delaying the decision.

    A little aero, some Tilton master cylinders, and a stout trans = fast and reliable track rat?

    And we've been plenty busy with other projects and work in those 4 months. The blue TTD 330 got a fresher motor (which itself was quite a project to buy/extract), the 2011 Mustang was getting all sorts of stuff/racing during that time frame, the white 330 was getting the LS1/T56 swap started, and the new shop construction/move has kept me buried for weeks. But in the past 2 weeks we put the Mustang on hold (not taking it to SCCA Nationals for various reasons - mostly "it isn't ready"), the 330 is back together and awaiting a new prototype engine balancer, and the white 330 is not getting touched again until we're moved into the new shop. We have about one more week in the old little shop before we move, and the new lift might be 1-2 weeks until its installed at the new location. So anything needed to be done on the lift needs to be done now.

    But do we want to touch this mess of an E30, or just pour some gasoline on it and make a big bonfire? Swapping the T5 is a bunch of work - we have to pull the entire drivetrain to get to the bellhousing bolts, and its never a fun job. Its "easiest" to pull the exhaust, then extract the rear axle assembly, then remove the driveshaft, then disconnect all of the lines and hoses, then drop the K-member/drivetrain out as a unit. And none of this is actually easy.

    Click either "page" above for expanded view. Buy the Oct 2011 GRM issue for the entire article!

    But the "October 2011" issue of Grassroots Motorsports magazine just arrived in our mailbox yesterday. Starting on page 66 there's a nice 8 page color article detailing the Vorshlag E30 V8 and the white turbo E30 of Condor Speed Shop, with pictures taken at the $2010 Challenge. Dang, that's pretty cool - our humble little $2010 crapcan made it into their magazine?! Well we've got to go back now...

    $2011 Challenge Event - ITS ON!

    So I've been trying to find another Camaro V6 T5 (its all we can afford in this meager budget), and should be picking one up from a CraigsList guy this weekend. We've already reinstalled the smaller 11.5" E36 brakes, spindles, and crappy struts back on the front of the car, since the 15" steel wheels won't clear the 12.5" M3 rotors (we tried). Plus the AST 4100s we had on there for the MSR track event won't fit this $2011 budget, of course.

    Right now the rear axle and driveshaft are out and the motor & trans (plus K-member and front suspension) have been dropped out of the engine bay. While its empty the engine compartment will be spruced up with a rattle can paint job, probably in gloss grey. We've got some ideas on a new external "paint scheme" that will require no actual painting, since we suck at that. A new vinyl plotter and a bunch of scrap vinyl can produce plenty of things to distract the eye with.

    The "fake ASTs" are back on the car (blown Konis), which we used at the $2010 event

    The engine + trans + K-member + suspension + headers dropped right out the bottom!

    Next weekend there is a practice autocross event we can make, so we're trying to get the car ready. We can do SO much tuning and development at a dedicated practice event, compared to a competition autocross where we get 3 or 4 timed runs. Costas and I will tune the handling as best we can on the crap shocks we have for the $2011 Challenge, playing with tire pressures, ride heights, and a box of used springs. There aren't exactly any shock adjustments or swaybars to tune, so there's only so much we can do. We've already made HUGE strides in cornering after our last autocross event, just by doubling the rear spring rate. The car actually cornered pretty flat and didn't do anything terribly badly at the MSR track event, but we were on new AST shocks then, too. Assuming we get the T5 in on time, and it works, we'll post up after next weekend's practice autocross. I promise to do some in-car HD video, and some on-car video if Costas brings his ChaseCam set-up. Its going to take more than that, so we'll enter as many autocross events in the E30 as we can before Oct 6th.

    More soon,
    Last edited by Fair!; 08-12-2011, 05:08 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project update for March 28, 2011: Prepare for a huge update! This should have been posted in at least 4 or 5 separate thread updates, as I've raced in 8 separate events over the last 4 weekends since my last thread update; 7 times in the Mustang and 3 times in the E30 V8. Each event had hundreds of pictures and videos that had to be cropped/uploaded - the pictures are up for now. March was an extremely busy month for the business as well as for the prep of our cars, too, so I'll try to cram the updates all into one mega post for both projects, so I can get back to work (might have to break it apart if I exceed forum limits for a single post). I'll try not to get so far behind next month, which thankfully doesn't have 8 racing events crammed into 4 weekends, like March did.

    March 6 - BMWCCA Autocross (E30)

    After re-writing this event coverage I realized I had already covered this event in this post - damn my memory. Anyway, it was good to get the E30 running again after a winter of hibernation and neglect. The month of March began with frantic prep to our E30 V8, with another Camaro V6 T5 being offered up to the Gods of Torque, as well as loads of other prep to get it ready for its first autocross in 6 months as well as its first ever on-track excursion and a NASA Time Trial event.

    After this autocross on March 6th we spent the next week on prep work on the E30 and the Mustang, prepping the 5.0 for its first autocross event as well as a NASA TT event for both cars. After seeing how badly the car handled in a parking lot we quickly scaled up the track prep on the E30, and the prep on the Mustang was scaled back considerably. We went to the NASA event and SCCA autocross with minimal updates to the Mustang - the same 265mm AD08 street tires, same spring rates, same shock valving, and same brake pads. This set-up was still under-prepped for both TTB and STX classes.

    The E30 got a real alignment (first ever) and we noted a lot of wacky numbers, most of which are not adjustable (rear toe or camber) yet. Still, we know where it is now, so we can cut/weld/hack up the rear control arm mounts to get it in the ballpark we want. And... of course we fixed the front toe. We also swapped in stiffer springs all around - 800# in front and 950# in rear (up from 500#/630#). Since we now have sticky 285mm A6 Hoosiers, a wimpy OEM front bar (12mm?) and no rear bar, we needed much more spring rate to keep bodyroll in check. Ride height was lowered substantially as well. The external water temp gauge was also finally wired-up, which was a relief.

    March 11 - MSR Test Session (E30)

    First track outing in the E30, so I was a bundle of nerves. It was SO bad at the autocross the weekend before but we had made a LOT of updates in the days proceeding. On Friday afternoon I went out to MSR-Cresson with the E30 in tow, joining Hanchey (AST-USA), who took his ex-World Challenge Subaru out there for the first time since he bought it and his crew went through the car stem to stern. Since we both had untested set-ups we watched each other's cars from the hot pit area on the initial outing in each. He went out for a few laps while I watched, came in for some checks, then I did the same, and once we were certain both cars had no errant fluids or loose bits, we took them both out for some chase/follow laps.

    Hanchey led and I filed in close behind (with video - I'll edit/upload it "soon"), but after a couple of laps I got a point by - which I hadn't expected - and then motored away. Considering the E30 had 60mm more tire per corner, 100+ more horsepower, and 600 pounds less weight, it shouldn't have been a surprise... but this was still a $2000 hoopty (with some better wheels and shocks thrown on) in my eyes, so I was ecstatic. The brakes still sucked, but were at least better (and consistent) than before with new PFC-01 track pads front and rear. We had an hour (from 5 to 6 pm) that we could run laps in, and we used nearly every minute on track. The E30 proved to be quicker than I had hoped, for as cautious as I was driving its first time out - with no tachometer. Or fuel level gauge. Or cooling fan. Pretty much all of the OEM gauges/switches were dead. Hmm...

    After the hour of track time expired I was smiling from ear to ear and had logged a good amount of miles on track in the car without any drama. Sure, the gauges didn't work (other than the external water temp gauge that we finally hooked up) so I had to guess at the RPMs, but it didn't seem to matter - it was fast. Hanging out in the well equipped AST-USA trailer was nice. DL-1 data from Hanchey's car showed 1:24 laps on the 1.7 mi CCW course, and the E30 was a bit quicker than that. After applying a gaggle of decals and waiting in the long tech line I managed to get a NASA logbook for the little Bimmer that night (with an admonishment to "please get a seat back brace" for the aluminum seat, which we've since ordered). Leaving tech it was pitch black out, so I turned on the headlights - AHA! - the stock gauges worked again. I had a functional tach & fuel level once more, so long as the lights were on. Something tells me the wiring for the recently connected external gauge hook-ups might need a second look? I loaded the E30 back into the trailer, unhooked the truck, and headed for Costas' house.

    March 12 - NASA Time Trial (Mustang and E30)

    We crashed there that night and Amy, Costas and I went back to the track Saturday morning for the first race day of the NASA weekend. Even after thrashing all week on his own GT-1 car, Costas ran out of time and ended up driving another racer's GT-1 Camaro in "SU", Super Unlimited. The car owner, Mike Countryman, ran it in "TTR". Amy ran the Mustang in TTB again, and I entered the E30 V8 in TTU. The event weekend was to be run on the traditional 1.7 mile MSR loop in CCW direction, but the Time Trial group was so numerous that they couldn't fit all of us on the track at once. Somehow the NASA Texas folks managed to get the TT group onto the 3.1 mile course, which was really cool since I had never run this configuration (but had run the 1.7 and 1.3 mile courses, which combine to make the 3.1).

    Since NASA had never run the 3.1 there, that meant not many NASA racers had run this layout. So the first session on Saturday was simply to be a "practice", and lap times would count for nothing more than grid position in session 2. So I took it easy in the session, looking for the bumps (mentioned at the driver's meeting) where the two courses joined. Sure enough, it was pretty bumpy at both junctures. These bumps combined with copious grip form the 285mm Hoosier A6 tires and ample torque from our 5.3L V8 combined to do a number on yet another transmission. On almost the last lap of the first TT session I was building up speed and applying a lot of throttle on the semi-straight where the 1.7 joined the 1.3, heavily in 3rd gear...

    The bump sent the car skittering every lap, and this time I unfortunately still had my foot in the throttle when it landed... BOOM! 3rd gear exploded from the on-off shock loading and hot, grippy Hoosiers. I didn't know what had happened, it sounded like the driveshaft or a U-joint had exploded (or so I hoped!). I pulled off line immediately and off track at the next corner station, at the bottom of the 1.3 mile course, and hopped out for a look. The grass blocked my view of the driveshaft but I noticed no fluid trail or errant parts on track. I was about to try to start it up again when the tow vehicle arrived, so I went back on the hook. As I piled out I noticed my transponder wasn't attached - damn! No lap times. My AMB transponder was charging inside my truck. I have no idea what times I ran, but I followed some TTA cars for several laps that were running somewhat quick times (2:28 times).

    After returning to the pits I had to quickly jump into an HPDE1 student's car, so I didn't get a chance to look at the E30 for a while. Turns out it was only 3rd gear that let go, same as before, so it could have made it back to the pits in 4th. Oh well, it was done for the day. Meanwhile Amy was having fun in TTB in the Mustang, and ended up pulling down some times in the 2:40 range range. She ran 3 full TT sessions and tossed the keys to me at days' end, so I got to run in the 4th. Thanks, Amy!

    I had a blast in the Mustang, as did my DE student who rode along, and I managed a 2:39 lap. I quickly noticed that the brakes were less than stellar in the session, which she had stated several times that day. I guess the stock pads were finally done. My DE student's EVO X could out-brake the Mustang handily (with similar Brembo brakes and weight... but race pads), so I decided then and there to order up some race pads on Monday. Costas finished the day with 2 wins in SU after making some patient passes and careful laps in the borrowed GT-1 car. VTPP tester Paul Magyar ran his 2011 GT in TTB for the first time on some 275mm Dunlops and did well. Hanchey ran just two sessions in TTB (spending the afternoon tuning some autocross cars at LSP) and pulled down 2:32 times, very respectable for just a 225mm tire and Legacy GT power. Vorshlag/AST tester Ken O finished with a win and new lap record in TTB in his E46 M3, running a blistering 2:24.9, and on Sunday jumped up to TTA for another win and the TTA track record for the weekend. Nice work!

    March 13 - Texas Region SCCA Autocross (Mustang)

    The next day we had entered the Mustang in Texas Region SCCA's autocross #1 for the year, held out at Lone Star Park. Costas and I were to run it in STX and Amy in the PAX factored "W" class. The course was somewhat tight and the unsealed asphalt surface comes apart badly, making for low grip conditions, so we went out for our first autocross in the Mustang with little more than cautious optimism.

    Costas and I noticed that the Mustang wouldn't stop from higher speeds in 2nd gear well at all, and we couldn't get it to rotate without coming in hard on the brakes. So we fought the car all day, cursing the worn-out stock brake pads and pushy front end. We finished 2nd and 3rd in STX, probably better than we deserved for such a completely unsorted car. In 5 runs Costas ran a best of 52.395 and I ran a 52.357, less than .040 sec apart, .5 sec behind Ledbetter in his well prepped STX 328is - Hanchey had spent the previous afternoon tweaking this car at this same site as well as Mark Berry's FP Evo. We PAXed 22nd and 23rd out of 109, which was not good. Brad Maxcy drove Ladbetter's car in STU class, running a 51.224 run earlier in the day on a slightly-less-gravel-covered course, showing us how far back we really were. Amy was almost a second back from us in W, placing 2nd as well.

    We knew the car needed some serious test time, more grip, some major braking improvements, and a race seat + harness installed, as the stock seat was not keeping us in place. But we had no time for autocross testing, as the next 2 weekends had a National Tour and a ProSolo in store. Not typically the events what you enter a completely untested car in, but they were in our back yard so we had to go to help get the entry numbers up.

    Since the E30 was down for a while (we're now looking for yet another T5) we spent the next week in a mad scramble of parts buying and prep on the Mustang. We ordered Hawk DTC-60 race pads for front and rear, 2nd day aired via FedEx to get them in time for my Wednesday night departure for Houston. We also ordered some Toyo R1R tires to arrive at a friend's shop in Houston on Friday, after seeing some back-to-back testing between Hankooks and Toyos at Sunday's autocross on Su and Stan's STR Miata.

    I also borrowed a race seat from Paul M to take a look at the bracket he bought for his Mustang and EVO3 seat + Sparco slider, and I made one similar for our car + slider + Kevlar Suzuka seat. The seat bracket took me about 6 hours to make, using 3/16" thick x 1.5" wide steel plate. AJ and I put the lap belt part of a 6-point harness in, a stock seat belt buckle, the seat bracket + Sparco slider + Cobra Suzuka seat installed by 4 pm Wednesday. The slider allowed for 18+ inches of fore-aft travel, but without my co-drivers present that day (Costas and Amy) I had to guess where to put it (ended up being too far rearward). And yes, I know - going on track with a fixed back seat and no 28 point roll cage is a bad idea... instant death... spontaneous combustion... yes, I know. Save your typing.

    The front DTC-60s arrived but the rears missed their delivery (you suck, FedEx!) and we went to the track with the new track pads on the front only. Oh well, hoped it would be better. Cleaned it up and loaded into the trailer.

    That's all of the E30 racing coverage for March. You can read more of our March racing antics here.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Autocross Report, March 6, 2011: I was very glad that the BMWCCA had an event this past weekend - couldn't have asked for a better group, site or timing to test our E30. I got up early Sunday morning to 28°F temps and was a bit worried, as the forecast was 45-65°F for the day. I defrosted the truck while I loaded the rest of the gear in the trailer then drove the ~50 miles to the TMS site on Sunday morning and unloaded. Even with the cold temps the car started up at the first crank when I backed it out. Drove the car around on the access roads circling the Speedway facility and did some 60 mph stops to bed the new pads in, and the pedal effort dropped from "OMFG I can't press any harder!" and improved to "Yikes this is a firm pedal!". The 285mm A6 Hoosiers had traction issues at even light throttle in the first 3 gears, due to the cold.

    Costas arrived and we walked the course, which looked like another great layout designed by VTPP testers and racers JJ and Ken O. We worked the first heat and then brought the E30 into the grid area to run. Costas drew the short straw and drove first, on cold brakes and tires. His first run was pretty hairy and he said the handling was terrible, with a few choice words throw in. By his 2nd run he had some tire heat, as it was now in the 50°s out and the tires were gripping a little better.

    Costas' 3rd run was a bit of trouble (I've been there in the same car, brother!), but he saved his best for last - on his 4th run he got into the 49.7 second range, which was almost respectable in the "Z" class up until then (3rd). In the same class there were some heavy hitters, like the 2010 BSP Nat'l champion's EVO (AST/Vorshlag equipped, now owned by VTPP tester Jeremy Foley) and some other hot shoes, and the E30 in its current condition was pretty over-matched.

    He was having to brake only in a straight line, coast through corners due to some weird mid-corner handling maladies, and virtually never getting the car into full throttle. It wouldn't stop, turn or accelerate in anything but a dead straight line. Between his 4 back-to-back runs (that's how this club runs the events) I was checking tire pressures, cycling the video camera, shooting still pics, and getting his feedback - none of it good.

    We switched places and I took to the course with hot brakes and tires (thanks!), but quickly found out how bad it was. WOW, I haven't driven a car that handled this badly in ages. "This thing corners like a big bag of sh*t!" Right from the start it had no grip through 1st or 2nd gear, and that first turn was an eye opener. WTF did we do? It was worse than at the GRM Challenge, and THAT was pretty damned awful (where I spun the crap out of the car). Brakes locking easily (inside front), no rear grip, and no grip mid-corner. It wasn't the shocks or the front camber, which were about the only two things I had any faith in. Did we have massive caster and weight jacking? Something weird was going on. And there was a terrible rattle from the rear suspension. I got a bit quicker through my runs, and my 3rd was my quickest, running about the same as Costas did.

    As the pictures (Costas shoots more and better than I) clearly show us now, the E30 had a LOT of body roll. Some of this was masked because we had to avoid trail braking due to front tire locking (the custom ABS still is not working), but its there in several pictures. My initial thoughts of running 700#/in or stiffer front spring rates were probably more in the ballpark than the 500#/in springs I went with. Should have gone with my gut! We only have the stock 325e (tiny) front swaybar and NO rear swaybar which only made the "lean" matters worse. Gotta find some bigger bars for this thing, but the stock rear mounts are long gone, so it'll have to be custom built back there. Ideas are already brewing.

    But there was still something else BIG that was wrong. Even with a LOT of body roll it shouldn't have been this pushy mid-corner. But as you can see in the picture below, left, it had way too much bodyroll. That's Ken O's E46 M3, STU prepped, who beat my time in the morning by a solid 1/2 second, on Dunlop street tires. He's always fast but the E30 with more power, 900# less weight and 285mm A6s should have been quicker. He was having driftoro fun on the last corner on his 4th run, with some newly found horsepower. = results (we were up in 4-5th spots earlier but fell back after Z class ran 4 more runs in the afternoon)

    Looks like most folks went considerably faster in the afternoon runs, which we skipped. It warmed up considerably later that day so that is to be expected. Still, we were pretty far off the pace in the morning runs, and it turned like a greased pig. What did we miss? Turns out there was a problem with both the front toe and to a smaller degree the rear camber.

    I went today and got the car spot check aligned and the numbers were embarrassing. That 1° of toe on the alignment sheet above is almost a full inch of front toe-out! We confirmed this here at our shop with a quick toe plate measurement showing 7/8" total front toe-out. OMFG, how'd we forget to check that??? Stupid, stupid mistake. Somehow in the rush to finish the front spindle/hub/rotor/caliper part swap and messing with ride height and springs we neglected to re-set the front toe. So that explains the mid-corner push. The rear camber is also a bit excessive (and uneven), and that's hurting rear grip and forward traction, as is the lack of toe-in on the rear wheels (we normally run 1/4" total toe in the rear of most BMWs), which is also uneven side to side. So we have to make the rear control arms adjustable for toe and camber (its some welding/drilling work, but doable), and fix the front toe (already done today), then go up on the spring rates dramatically and see about a front swaybar upgrade and rear swaybar solution. Matt has some stiffer rear springs (up from the 680s we had in there) ordered and inbound from Hyperco.

    At least we got 8 solid runs in on Sunday without much incident - no leaks, engine ran great, trans was working in all gears, and the brakes are working better. So even through it handled so badly I'm still glad we did this event. It was a positive test - told us what to work on next. Well, we had one issue - we were seeing so much bodyroll that on one of my morning runs the front fender still cut into a front tire a bit, so we skipped our afternoon runs to be safe and save the front A6s from more damage.

    So there were some big lessons relearned, some new work added for this week, then I'm heading to MSR-Cresson on Friday for testing and Saturday to run TTU with NASA on the 3.1 mile course in the E30. Just with the front toe reset it already has to be a lot better. And Sunday is our first autocross in the 2011 Mustang, running with the Texas Region SCCA. Busy busy!

    Last edited by Fair!; 03-07-2011, 04:32 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Up-date for March 6, 2011: Just got back from an autocross in the E30, then spent the last 6 hours cropping pics, editing video, uploading that, and then doing a project thread update on McCall's Z3 LSx. Let's get right to the E30 LSx updates now while I'm on a roll and the phones are silent.

    AJ and I have spent time after hours for much of the past week, plus I spent all day yesterday (Saturday), getting the E30 put back together and ready to race after we extracted the drivetrain last week to install a fresher T5 transmission. Matt found a local autocross schedule for this weekend we scrambled to get it ready by Sunday instead of next weekend's NASA event, so we could "walk before we run". The Lone Star chapter of the BMWCCA had an auto-x event planned for the Texas Motor Speedway bus lot - which seemed like the perfect place to test out this round up transmission repairs and suspension updates.

    After my last thread update and another weekend's work, the LSx drivetrain was already back in the car by Monday. The broken T5 trans was swapped with an unbroken one, and many small improvements were tackled along the way. Much of the work from this week has been repairing and modifying little things we rushed through in our frantic final push last year, in the weeks before the October GRM event. The hacked-up radiator surround's lower flange was one of those punch list items. This flange was cut off (see details below for "why") with a plasma cutter (foolish, rushed and damn messy - should have used an air saw and patience!) so there was a floppy, weakened steel sheet structure there I needed to go back and fix. With the radiator out it was the perfect time to tackle this work, which I did last Monday night.

    Over the course of about 3+ hours of grinding, stitch welding a millimeter at a time on the lowest possible setting with my MIG, then adding a sheet steel patch on one section to fill a big gap, and grinding some more to clean up the welds, I got this 3 foot wide gap of sheet structure welded together "right". Lesson learned: never use a plasma cutter on something you need to go back and weld to later! It makes a freagin' mess of the steel, which has to be ground back to weld to. In the end the repair is probably as strong as the stock flange again, but it would have been a damn sight easier if we had cut this steel flange out properly. My fault - I found the picture of me on the plasma cutter there. Dork!

    Per the suggestion from some corner-carvers forum readers I also went back and reinforced the lower radiator brackets I had previously built with some additional sheet stock, to triangulate them. After cutting away the lower flange of the bottom of the radiator support structure (above), along with these custom lowers and a pair of upper radiator brackets, we were able to lower the stock (E36) radiator 3" from where it started with the stock brackets, as well as push it tighter against the radiator support.

    We needed to do all of this relocation work to clear the water pump snout (fore-aft) as well as make room above the radiator for the cold-air inlet piping and radiator hose to route up top. Its makes for a tight-as-Hell package up front; custom mods like this one and the severe compromises needed for the brake master cylinder make an E30 LSx not a bolt-in kit friendly affair. You want a 3 series BMW V8? Start with an E36! Trust me... I'd never do this swap again. Ever. Ever. EVER. We've added so many E36 parts to this car that it would have been 10 times easier to start with a freagin' E36. And then we'd have much better rear suspension and better weight distribution to boot, and likely not fighting the handling like we are now.

    So since, we spent a good deal of time during mock-up, measuring and aligning the rear axle housing pinion angle, we had shimmed this angle with washers between the diff housing and the rear subframe structure. This realignment also helped make room for the back half of the old Camaro driveshaft and rear diff U-joint adapter flange inside the E30 rear subframe's snug "oval" opening. Long story short - when trying to line up these 4 top holes on the subframe to the diff housing + the 2 rear mounts we added, and getting the washers in between there... it took two people 2 hours of maddening work. You had to stick short pieces of rod in the holes, wiggle the washers in place, and then try to start the 6 bolts. Total nightmare.

    I vowed to weld the washers in place the next time the diff was out, which we did. AJ prepped removed the paint, I welded up double-stacks of washers, then welded these to the subframe after lining them up with bolts and nuts (they are 12mm washers/holes but slightly over-sized, which worked out to fit a 1/2" bolt for welding) and painted over the bare steel. I goofed the alignment up on one washer stack by a hair, so AJ ground it oversize with the die grinder and a carbide bit, then installed the axle housing. I got the rear axles installed and the back was buttoned up.

    OK, time to note something for you following the GRM Challenge - some of the parts used in the past 2 weeks are not part of our $2011 budget, and will be removed once we prep for the October 2011 GRM Challenge event. We added a used but freshened set of E36 front & E30 rear AST 4100 struts and shocks to the car this week, as well as some track worthy pads and the CCW wheels - these shock also aren't part of the "GRM event budget" parts list and can be swapped out in half an hour. We have some higher speed track events coming up in the E30 (NASA events plus GRM's UTCC in July @ VIR) that I don't want to trust my life to with the steel wheels, ratty used brake pads, worn out struts, and small-ish brake rotors. The AST rear shocks are shown above.

    After striking out with all of my Hawk pad suppliers on DTC-60/70 pads, Bimmerworld convinced us to try PFC-01's, and with enough heat in them they worked in the autocross well enough. We still have some hydraulic ratio problems but we'll tackle those next week. We also got some new E36 M3 front rotors on the car...

    The used front calipers, brackets, spindles and hubs were also from an E36 M3, which we bought as a package deal for a song over the winter. We can squeeze get these front brake parts into the $2011 budget, due to a better deal on the replacement V6 T5 trans, but the M3 rotors don't fit inside the 15" steel wheels - so its almost a moot point. More than likely we'll just swap back to the E36 non-M 11.5" front brakes and spindles for the GRM autocross event, where they will be more than adequate. But for now, we're sticking with the M3 brakes and spindle bits up front for the next few months of track and autocross testing.

    Supposedly, according to the itnerwebs, these E36 M3 spindles "fix the wheel centering issue" with the E30-to-E36 suspension swap, meaning it will have less caster. We've done a lot of work to get this under control, as the E36 spindles + LCAs threw this dimensions way out of spec. I won't know for sure until I check the alignment tomorrow where we're at. Supposedly these E36 M3 spindles coupled with the E36 M3 LCAs and offset LCA bushings would get rid of the excessive caster we've been seeing. I'm hoping this is the case because something was badly "off" with the handling on this car before.

    I was running out of time on Saturday so I started putting the front suspension together with the AST 4100 struts. As we tend to do on E36 cars, I used a 60mm x 6" long main spring, finding a pair with 500#/in of rate. Trying a softer set-up front and rear than I normally do on a typical E30 set-up, for initial testing. We have no rear bar, 285mm Hoosier A6s on a 2450 pound car with a LOT of power, so nothing is "typical E30 set-up" here. And as you can see above, once at ride height (and with the lower perches maxed out on the threaded strut bodies) it was WAY too low. There was also not enough bump travel and the front tire was way tucked up in the fender. That's because we had stock E36 length Koni front struts (converted to coilovers) and I went to shortened AST E36 4100 fronts. So I did some measurements and it looked like a 7" spring would put us in the right height range. Problem is even with all of the Hyperco springs we stock, we didn't have a 60mm x 7" spring in the rates I wanted, so I punted...

    I installed a pair of our just-added-Friday 60mm tender springs up front (which we now sell and stock in large numbers), which stack up about 1" tall when flattened at ride height. There was room above the strut for this taller spring package without interfering with the 18x11" CCW wheel and 285/30/18 Hoosier A6 tire inboard, so on it went, along with a dual spring spacer. Lo and behold, it worked like a charm - raised the car an inch, "untucking" the front tire from the fender lip, and still had plenty of bump travel. I was afraid I'd have to cut the fender openings bigger for these taller 18" tires (flared it for the shorter 275/35/15 Hoosiers).

    Wednesday night while we went to a Linkin Park concert, Costas stuck around by and installed XPEL film on 4 cars at the shop - Matt's NB Miata, Paul M's '11 Mustang GT, the last piece on our '11 Mustang GT, and headlight tint on the E30. The yellow lights look great with the yellow graphics. Thanks, Costas!

    Took a test drive that was thankfully uneventful. It was a bit of a gamble, as there had been SO many major parts removed, tweaked, repaired and reinstalled, and the car hadn't run in 5 months, almost to the day. Came back and nothing had fallen off, caught fire or leaked (woo!), then I tidied up a few more items on the huge punch list. I washed the car and loaded it on the trailer Saturday evening at 6:30 pm; we were supposed to be at a party at 7, so I barely got done in time! Somehow that "couple of hours of work" we had left after Friday night took me an entire day to finish. As usual.

    What else? Hmm, earlier in the week we drained and refilled the fuel tank (that was fun - I still smell like gasoline) and added some header wrap material to the 3" exhaust where it runs under the fuel tank. Not smart to boil your fuel in the tank, right? Amy helped me bleed the brakes and the clutch Saturday, and we had added fluid to the trans sometime last week. Among 100 other even more boring things, but all of them necessary. Still need to connect the auxiliary gauges, add a passenger seat + harness, and get our smaller (fleaBay) steering wheel installed.

    OK, so its loaded and ready to race. This update is running way long so I will cover the autocross pics and videos in a follow-up post tomorrow. I'll get a snap-shot of the alignment on Monday.

    More shortly,
    Last edited by Fair!; 03-07-2011, 01:27 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Up-date for Feb 25, 2011: "I'm not quite dead yet..."

    Our $2010 Challenge LSx powered BMW E30 has been ignored for many months while we worked on a number of other Vorshlag project cars. I've enjoyed not working 20-40 extra hours each week on this time-suck project, but its time to get back into the groove and fix some things and tune/improve others on this car.

    We were waiting over the winter to find a deal on another Camaro V6 T5, which we did, and its been in Costas' hands for a while. I picked it up last weekend on the way back from the dragstrip; brought the T5 back in the 2011 Mustang's trunk (after running that 12.9@108.6 mph in the 1/4 mile!). Costas had pulled this one apart, eye-balled everything inside, and it looks... like a normal, used T5 in there. Nothing bent or broken, so that's good enough for this $2011 hoopty. Looking is free. Fingers still crossed that it doesn't explode the first time we track it, which is in 2 weeks at a NASA Time Trial event at MSR-Cresson. I'm already signed up in TTU for this car, so here's to wishful thinking!

    So last Sunday I put the E30 on the lift and and Paul M and I started tearing into the trans swap. Famous last words: "We'll be done in 2 hours, tops!"

    We went for the easy route, of course. We planned on just swapping the busted unit for the "new" one, all from underneath, with as little work as possible. We have air tools and a lift and 50+ years of combined wrenching experience between the two of us - how hard could it be?? To get the driveshaft out of this mess of an engine swap (due to the slip yoke into the T5 and the captured rear flange in the E30 rear subframe) you have to either pull the drivetrain forward (and nearly out) or pull the rear axle center section out, so we chose the latter. The hope was to just slide the diff back far enough to get the front yoke to slide out of the trans...

    So we're about 2 hours in and we have the trans crossmember out, the engine sitting on the main motor mounts and leaning on a screw-type trans jack and the diff disconnected from the halfshafts and slid backwards several inches, sitting on a trans jack. It was pretty hilarious looking, but remember - we're old and lazy! We got the shifter out, exhaust off, and then removed the 4 bellhousing-to-trans bolts (which took some uber-long extensions and U-joint sockets). We're home free.

    Hmm... why won't this damn thing come loose?!? Pulling & prying on the old T5, and then it hit me - we're both old and our memory sucks. So I jumped on the computer and looked at install pics from our own project thread, where I saw/rememberd that we have a trans that was never really meant to go onto this bellhousing! The scattershield (made for an LS1 motor and an old school Ford Toploader 4-spd but, that accidentally bolts to this weird V6 T5) had a port on the side for a clutch FORK but we had a hydraulic throw out bearing/slave cylinder that was BOLTED to the front of the trans, with hydraulic lines sticking through the fork hole. The fork hole which was captive at the rear, so the TOB has to be unbolted to let the trans slide back out of the bellhousing. See where I'm going here? Its not super obvious until you try to remove just the trans from the bellhousing... we had always put the trans onto the scattershield out of the car, then bolted that to the engine, then put the drivetrain in as a unit. With a crazy tilt angle on the cherry picker and lots of muscle to get it pointed WAY downwards, then fighting it unto the cramped engine bay and trans tunnel of the E30. Not. Much. Fun.

    We can't access the two bolts on the TOB, of course, so we have to pull the bellhousing off. And to get to all the bolts... the drivetrain has to come out. *insert expletives here*

    Off and on this week after work we've managed to disconnect the headers, suspension, wiring & plumbing and have dropped the K-member and drivetrain out of the car as a unit, lifting the car upwards with the lift. This is, unfortunately, the "easy way". Unlike on an E36, the E30's front radiator support bits don't just unbolt so you can slide the drivetrain out from the front on a cherry picker. Not a big deal - this is how you do a drivetrain extraction on many cars with cramped engine bays, like 4th gen Camaros.

    Gah, it pains me to look at that home-built header out of the car - what a heap of crap. I really want to make a better looking set, but I don't want to spend the time or budget $ to re-do these anytime soon. So even without the busted transmissions we already had a LOT of sorting to do on the car, mostly with the low-buck suspension and the HORRIBLE brakes (non-working ABS, inconsistent stops, and locking the tires). The car was completely untested before we loaded onto the trailer to drive to Florida for the GRM Challenge event last October, and our 24th place showing (as printed in this month's GRM magazine) shows that. Gotta get the car down the dragstrip under its own power to improve that crap placing, so we've got some drag testing to tackle in the car, too. Our trip to the dragstrip last weekend was partly to scope out the track's "flexibility" with respect to drag racing in a crap can like our e30.

    So, about the lingering problems - most of the braking problem was likely the master cylinder we used is hydraulically mismatched for the E36 rotors and calipers utilized, and the car still has too much caster, even with our hacked up strut towers and home-brew camber plates we added. Since we plan on running the car on the BIG COURSE (ie: fast speeds) at VIR on July 22nd at the GRM UTCC event, as well as at NASA Texas TT events up until then, we wanted to upgrade some things to deal with the added speed and dangers.

    We're also planning to use these 18x11" CCW wheels for track events (not the GRM-cheap 15x10" steel wheels), so we can temporarily fit larger diameter brakes than the 15" wheels allowed for. So long story short - over the winter we landed a smoking deal on used E36 M3 spindles/hubs/calipers/master cylinder and we're swapping that all in now. These are 12.5" front diameter rotors, which should help shed some brake heat. Since we saved some money on this particular T5 we have a little money left to spare in our budget, and we could actually afford this upgrade for the GRM event budget, but not the 18" wheels, so we'll figure out what to do with these brakes when we get past VIR. Might be just going back to the 11.5" E36 non-M front brakes and spindles for the autocross events, which easily fit inside the steel 15" wheels.

    The sad thing about this trans removal debacle is that I made the damn motor mounts and trans crossmember, installed the trans and TOB, and helped put this drivetrain in and out of the car several times, so I should have remembered the trans has to come out with the drivetrain. Its just been so many months... forgot about the TOB limitation. Getting old sucks. Anyway, the drivetrain is going back in tonight and hopefully I can tackle some minor fixes along the way as I work on it more this weekend.

    Pulling the drivetrain uncovered a lot of little mistakes and issues. So many important bolts we removed this past week were "hand tight or looser" when the drivetrain came out. Scary stuff - but I suppose when you have 9 guys working on one car, starting and stopping a lot, and someone else picking up the work the next work night, and a time table that slipped, things do get missed. There was also a hole worn in the heat jacket around one fuel line in the engine bay (now fixed), a few small leaks (surprisingly few, actually) we found and repaired, things like that. And the gauges will finally be connected to the engine and not just window dressing. Many unpainted brackets that were removed will be cleaned-up and spray-bombed this weekend. We're also going to swap in a set of E36 AST 4200s again just for use at the track events - I don't trust the rusty and locked-up Koni fronts or Gas-A-Just rears. And a passenger seat and harness will be added, but removed again for the GRM event in October.

    Next update will be after the E30 is running and (hopefully soon) driving again. Then we'll have a post track event report after the March 12th NASA weekend. Going to head out to MSR-Cresson to do some testing on that Friday before, along with AST-USA's WC Subaru and Costas' GT-1 race car. Then (hopefully) run TTU in the E30 on that Saturday (assuming it survives Friday), then autocross the Mustang GT (its 1st!) at an SCCA event in STX class that Sunday. Busy weekend, lots of "firsts" to tackle in both cars, and lots to do before then to prepare. There's a total of 5 track or autocross events we're doing in March, including a ProSolo and National Tour. The winter racing break is over and it doesn't let up again until November...

    More soon,
    Last edited by Fair!; 02-25-2011, 07:35 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Update for Nov 23, 2010: Wow, this thread has been dead for a bit. Sorry for the lack of updates on the $2010 E30 - we haven't done much to the little Bimmer since October, but we've been busy on other projects. Let's see...

    We've been working on my E46 330Ci DSP car, and raced it exactly 2 times after the SCCA Solo Nationals (where it sucked). The 2nd event (SCCA @ Texas Motor Speedway) is the one where the M54 motor went KA-BLAMMO! in October. We have ignored the blown engine and have been slowly turning it back into more of a street worthy car, with the OEM front seats back in, OEM steering wheel back on, airbags reconnected, OEM battery back in, and the factory HK sound system (amp, head unit and speakers) re-installed. We're getting this car ready for an all-new LS1 T56 swap in December, after which it will become a fun track/street car. I need to update the thread for that car to show where we're at on that.

    The 2011 Mustang GT project work has been chronicled on several forums, and as you've seen we've been doing some testing on it. Just ordered a pile of exhaust parts for it yesterday (mufflers and header wrap) and even more today (3" ID 100 cell cats). Trying to set-up a trip to the new 1/4 mile dragstrip here to do some baseline passes in the next 2 weeks, before we tear into the I/H/E updates and the first AST suspension & Vorshlag camber plate install.

    Matt's '95 M3 LS1/T56 car has been getting attention in our shop the past 2 weeks, with the front end removed for easier access to the engine bay and a bunch of suspension bits installed. We're waiting on some laser cut parts (just finished the updated drawings last night) to arrive so we can make another batch of our 3-channel ABS relocation brackets, which is holding up part of that project now. I'm making a big batch of E36 LS1 motor mount and trans crossmembers here in the shop in the next week, and those drawing updates have gobbled a bunch of my time as well.

    I've been working on Paul M's '95 Impreza / '07 STi swap a bit and have some time schedule for this weekend to work on the steel fender flares. This car is being built for SCCA Street Mod and NASA TTB, and as a FWD '95 it started life as one of the lightest Imprezas ever imported to our shores. With the modern AWD 2.5L turbo drivetrain and 18x10" wheels it should be fun. I've thought about adding the build thread to this forum, as its only located on our little Vorshlag forum for now (here). Thoughts?

    Our '97 E36 M3 (former STU car) has had some time under the wrench as well, with a new A/C system installed (preventative), new taillight assembly (don't even get me started on the ridiculous ticket/court date I had to deal with due to that brake light being out), and some other shiny, new OEM bits. We're prepping this car for sale, reluctantly. With 5 race ready cars in the shop and one sexy new 412 hp Mustang, this poor M3 is being totally ignored. Its not going to be re-classed in ST* until at least 2012, if then, so we're going to let this car that we've owned for 4 years go to another home soon.

    I pitched in on some small work on Costas' LeMons Camaro for a couple of weekend days in the past month. He did a bulk of the work this time around, of course, but we tackled the custom seat bracket, gauge install, steering quick release, and the motor install 2 weeks ago. They got it ready for the true 24 hour race in New Orleans last weekend, and finished 11th out of 60, even after tagging a wall and having an electrical fire! They had an epic event - Look for the write-up on our forum thread and on his WDS website.

    The $2010 E30 V8 is going on the lift tomorrow evening, actually. I want to work on some things over the 4 day Thanksgiving weekend so we'll probably finish off the gauge install that got skipped, then get the old trans ready to come out and the new one ready to go in.

    So we're staying busy at night and on weekends, and the business has really been slammed with orders (not complaining - thanks guys!). I'm trying to develop a bunch of new suspension products for various cars, like camber plates for models we haven't tackled yet, new wheel studs (M14 Porsche/Audi/VW/Mini), new motor & trans mounts, and a list of about 2 dozen other things on my design list. I'm also slowly switching all of our CAD drawings to 3D SolidWorks 2011 files. I should really hire a CAD jockey.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Originally posted by hancheyb View Post
    "(too) Fast Hands" Fair strikes back!
    hehe, yea, I was caught sleeping in that first transition. WOW, it was loose on everything off throttle, but pushed on throttle. It was a mess.

    At the finish there was a big ripple we had to drive over (with no shocks - and Costas had warned us), and with the car already in a 45 deg drift at opposite lock... no way was I gonna catch that.

    Originally posted by hancheyb View Post
    That car sounds so bad a$$ I love it.
    Oh yea. You know that sound... its all good.

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  • hancheyb
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    "(too) Fast Hands" Fair strikes back! That car sounds so bad a$$ I love it.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Project Update for Oct 21, 2010: Well we had our first $2011 Challenge Team meeting last night and we came up with a solid game plan. Keep it simple: lower the weight, tune the chassis, tackle the reliability issues, and test test test. Many radical changes were discussed and all were tossed out.... except for a few small improvements. We'll talk about those later as we get to them.

    We're going to definitely shoot for going back to the $2011 GRM Challenge event in the same car. We've also touched base with GRM about a possible $2011 Challenge class at the next Ultimate Track Car Challenge in July 2011. We'll be running it in local auto-x events, and if its halfway competitive we'll run it in XPrepared at the 2011 SCCA Solo Nationals in September. NASA Texas has their 2011 racing schedule up so we're penciling in dates for track testing already, too. We'll run the car in TTU and ballast up to make minimum weight for that class. And the damn thing will make a pass down the dragstrip under power at least once before we head back to Gainesville.

    OK, blah blah blah. That was a bunch of boring fluff. I finally got around to editing and uploading some videos today, between hacking away at a backlog of 200 emails and a dozen phone calls. Here's a few in-car videos from the GRM Challenge event in our little E30. The car made a total of 7 autocross runs at the event without (much) incident, including 4 by Costas in competition, and 3 fun more runs by GRM's Scott Lear, me and McCall.

    Costas, run 2, fighting for rear grip - click for video

    Costas, run 3, his smoothest & fastest - click for video

    Fair, fun run, drifting and spinning - click for video

    Those were originally 1080P videos, and even compressed they are still pretty large (60-70 Mb each) and might take a bit to cache before you can watch one. As you can see we've got a lot of suspension tuning to do. And brake work. And power steering work. And the gauges need to be hooked up. Oh well, at least we've got 11 months to get it sorted now, instead of a handful of minutes before loading it on the trailer.

    Other than a little cone damage to one of the flares, and the wiper motor catching on fire, the car was rock solid reliable. In the autocross. When we got to the drag race portion... not so much.

    We're still not sure what was the cause of the 2 driveline failures in the drag portion - a halfshaft CV joint exploded first, then 3rd gear shed its teeth - but it was probably the 25 year old, untested halfshaft and junkyard T5's conditions. They both could have "just been about to let go". Totally untested junk. The dragstrip launch pad had LOTS of stick and the Hoosier A6 tires we're not the worst tires we could have had for drag racing (but they were a far cry from real drag slicks). We'll do like Costas mentioned - crack open the next Camaro V6 T5 and take a peek inside before we put the replacement in the car. Nobody knows what the T5 we used looked like before we stuck it in the first time. And we'll test the replacement halfshaft in anger at a drag strip around here. We've gotta make sure our home-brew nitrous system works, you know...

    More soon!
    Last edited by Fair!; 10-21-2010, 06:29 PM.

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Originally posted by Patrick Olsen
    Since I'm too lazy to look up the rules, how does re-using the car work from year to year? Do you have to enter into the 2011 Challenge assuming some worth for your 2010 car? (So instead of having a $2011 budget you only get $1511 or $1011 or something like that?) If your budget isn't reduced in some way like that it would seem that returning cars would have quite an advantage - not only the additional time to tune and perfect the setup, but basically double the budget.

    The same budget rules apply... but you get one more dollar to spend.

    Most teams take parts off that didn't work well and recoup that money into their budget, then try different things. I'm sure its... complicated.

    Mini-update for Oct 12, 2010: I'm getting some flak from my last forum post from a number of other GRM Challenge team members over on R3vLimited, so I replied to that there. They think we took the competition portions of the GRM event too seriously, so I explained that we're racers, and the sickness that entails. Trying to explain your insanity to the sane is difficult, as is the reverse.

    Also got some grief about the part where I questioned the legality of the tube-framed Rotary Isetta - I was told that it was indeed classed in the tube framed/Locost class (where I felt it belonged), so I was wrong to call that build into question (I was told otherwise at the event, so it was my mistake and I apologized there). I wish they would put a class sticker on the cars so we'd know.

    We're having a big team planning meeting this Saturday and discussing all sorts of potential minor (and major) changes to the build. We've already seen enough public reaction (on the 5 forums as well as dozens of PMs and emails and calls to me) that we have to go back to the $2011 GRM Challenge next year and give it another shot.

    And we're not taking an untested knife to the gunfight, next time.

    More soon,

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Update for Oct 11, 2010 (part 2):

    That last one pictured there was pretty slick, but a bit of a stretch of the tube frame rules, with a custom frame & suspension, rotary power, and a little BMW Isetta body slapped on top. It tipped the scales at a sprightly 1400 pounds. Pretty ingenious build, but clearly outside of their intent of the tube frame limitations, no matter how you read the rules. I've asked the GRM folks pointedly about this one, as anyone could pull this trick if this type of build is allowed. Not trying to poo-poo this team's hard work, but If this is the way the Challenge is headed, we won't go back with our E30. Something that light, when fully tested and optimized, would be hard to lose with. Anyone could build essentially a tube framed formula car and slap some little micro-car body on it, too.

    Just a few more autocross pics and then I'll sign off... this post is already too long. I did manage to get one of the Pro drivers in a massive spin in the Condor Speed Shop E30, ingesting large quantities of cones and ejecting their rear valance cover in the process. Enjoy!

    I'll post up later this week with more on our team's actual event details, pictures and videos. Still have some video edits to finish.


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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Originally posted by andrezbim
    By chance, did you guys see on Two Guys Garage, that Kevins doing an LSx swap into an e30? How timely!
    Yea, Kevin has been in contact with us for the past few years, and we've shared some ideas between the two cars. I've had pictures of parts of that car I couldn't share with anyone - his build is absolutely insane; very very well done, and there's an episode coming up (that may have already aired? My DVR has several eps on there I need to watch) with more info on AST shocks he's using on his E30. I like the way he did his flares and the headers/exhaust are worthy of much praise also. Top notch build!

    Update for Oct 11, 2010: So yea, I missed my scheduled update for last Wednesday... business is picking up and we've been slammed, and I promised my wife not to work nights for at least a week. This weekend I already started scrounging for parts and testing potential changes for next year, which gobbled up all day Saturday. Anyway, here's more about the actual $2010 GRM Challenge event. Let's start with the gallery of about 300 pics from the event:

    Just a couple more pictures from the trip out. We were fueled by Waffle House:

    Once we got unloaded we had a steady stream of other Challenge teams coming by to take a look (some of which had followed our build thread), and most liked our little E30, including the guys from Georgia Tech. That was the massive roaming hoard of yellow shirted student builders. I'm kinda glad G.T. team won it - they had a great team, good spirit, and after 2 years of DNFs they came back with one helluva V8 Miata. Nice job, guys!

    That engine had a ton of set-back, which had to help their overall balance. I really liked their hand built fiberglass extractor style hood. Massive attention to detail on this car all around.

    They were so dominant in the autocross they didn't have to be ridiculously quick in the drags to win.

    Another long term Challenge competitor was the Nelson family car. This is their latest iteration of the same theme - huge V8 with crazy power, Ford 9", massive drag tires, automatic trans, massive cage, and effortless 10 second times. I'm still a bit baffled at how they can get that much hardware into a $2000 budget, but hey... we're just noobs here. We'll learn eventually. The car was beautiful, and I am not trying to take anything away from their fabrication abilities. It was a top notch build, and when you heard the motor fire up... you knew it was all business.

    There were many other V8 swap cars at the event like Datsun 240Z's, Nissan 240SX's, RX7s, and Miatas. Some were even turbocharged, like this blue Z.

    Then there were some.... wackier builds. The K-car was pretty cool with the dual hoods, including the massive "four pack" hood for the drags. In which it hauled down the strip with some respectable speed!

    How about a gutted/Lexan/Hoosier equipped 2600 pound Jeep? That the team put a turbo on the night before the drags? Definitely wacky! The damn thing was quick in the autocross, too! And how about an east German Wartburg with its anemic 2 stroke engine replaced with a Subaru flat four, stuck in the rear? The most wacky, but pretty cool, too.

    There were more traditional "low cost sport cars" in abundance, of course. MR2's were popular, as we're some Hondas and even a few SAABs.

    ---had to break this post into two parts, since I exceeded the 30 image limit----

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  • Fair!
    Re: Vorshlag $2010 GRM Challenge car - BMW E30 V8

    Update for Sept 30, 2010: Yep, I'm writing this from the past, but doing it in the future. I have a time machine. How do you think we squeezed the last 500 man hours in the final week on this project??

    So, anyway - here's what we did after our last Project Update on Sept 28th up until the registration party in Florida on Thursday the 30th. More accurately - its what I can remember. Those last few days are a total blur, with virtually no sleep. We worked crazy late on Wednesday night, when hood pins were installed by Paul M and McCall, and where Amy started on applying decals and cleaning stuff.

    I really liked the custom silver/yellow GRM decals Costas made... we had lots of people ask us "where'd you get those?!" We made 'em all.

    Matt spent the evening until 1 am and finished our budget book, and I don't remember what I did - probably ran around in a panic most of the night? Paul M installed $11 worth of cheap black indoor/outdoor carpet inside that I got at Home Depot earlier that day, covering up the area where the back seat was, and I detailed every inch of the interior and underhood.

    On Thursday we were closed so I went and got the trailer and the guys showed up around 2 pm. They put a bunch of used parts/spares together, installed the last of the trim that we had, faked the door trim chrome with aluminum tape (it looked great - only 2 people figured it out!), and then backed the car out so Costas (our designated autocross driver) could take his first test drive. And then I stopped him in the driveway after seeing a MASSIVE fuel leak. On the lift it went again, a lot of testing, and out came the two main hard lines, on with the brazing rod and torch, and an hour and a half later that was fixed. Hairline crack at one of the brazed fittings. Then we slapped on the 15x10" wheels for the first time in a LONG while and Costas finally took that first real test drive at around 6:30 pm.

    And 2 minutes later, he called us from a mile away for road side assistance with a collapsed front spring... (facepalm!)

    I nut and bolted the car myself, but missed the collar clamping bolt loose on one of the used coilover sleeves on the front strut. We ran out there with a jack and some tools and put it together on the side of the road good enough to limp it back to my place, then got it on the lift again. Off came the strut, and then the now damaged strut collar wouldn't come off. Rusted on solid. Jason "the hammer" McCall managed to get it off the strut, and mangled it to a pulp in the process. Luckily we had a spare, which I had to re-machine on the lathe to fit this particularly rusty strut housing. We got it back on and reset the ride height quickly (we got the cross weights to 50.9%, which we didn't know until days later, which was pretty good for a total guess).

    So the car was test driven once more - quickly - and nothing fell off or caught fire. Woo! Costas went blasting down behind our neighborhood and was swerving wildly to test the handling... and freaked out one of our neighbors walking her kid in a stroller (who was dozens of yards away - he saw her and slowed WAY down, but any car this loud is going to scare soccer moms), who almost called the cops. Oiy! Damage control on that front was underway, then we finally loaded the car. The 4 pm departure window we had set slid to 8:30 pm. We rolled out and started our 18 hour tow over 1070 miles from north Dallas. That drive was driven in shifts by me, Costas, and McCall with absolutely no issues - just the way I like it. We watched a few episodes of Archer on the way - hilarious!

    We drove non-stop and arrived at our hotel at about 3:30 pm, and immediately unloaded the car and got to work installing the rest of the decals and checking the alignment (toe, camber) and Costas strung the car. Amazingly, my 10 minute toe change done in the wee hours days before was spot on, and the rear was lined up to the front. Total dumb ass luck! The rear camber was amazingly BAD, however, at -4 degrees. We had no way to adjust this, and this meant that a good portion of the rear tire wasn't touching the ground most of the time. Sheesh. Not good.

    Some big slabs of blue/red/white vinyl turned out pretty damn nice as a Texas flag for the roof. Costas worked his magic and got that multi-piece freehand decal laid up perfectly. Covered up that mess of bondo on the roof. Don't Mess With Texas

    The car was at least looking pretty darn good, and sounding pretty darn good, and that was as far as we got on Thursday. Went to the welcome party at 7 pm and met everyone on the GRM staff as well as some of the competitors - and consumed tasty beer and pizza. We actually did some more decal work while waiting for the gates to open Friday morning at 7:30 am, making room for the huge red Kumho banner we had to run by placing it diagonally on the hood - came out great! - and did some more "testing".

    I'll go over everything about the event itself in the next project update this Wednesday - where I show how we did in the overall standings (24th out of 55, ouch!). But it wasn't all bad - our auto-x time was good enough for 7th, and our concours judging results weren't half bad, either. One judge gave us a perfect 25 score on exterior - ha! I totally love that guy.

    More soon.
    Last edited by Fair!; 10-04-2010, 11:14 PM.

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