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E36 V8 Build Part 5: Donor Teardown -or- “Warning: Mechanical Gore Inside”

Illustration for article titled E36 V8 Build Part 5: Donor Teardown -or- “Warning: Mechanical Gore Inside”

Blah blah blah I’m swapping a Ford 5.0 into a beat-up M3, read my last post here, etc. etc. ANYWAYS. The car was in my possession. I had determined that the body was a pile of junk and by paying any amount of money for this car, I had probably overpaid.

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Illustration for article titled E36 V8 Build Part 5: Donor Teardown -or- “Warning: Mechanical Gore Inside”
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Fünf Null Part IV: Donor Inspection –or- “The Good, The Bad, and The ‘Oh ****’”


But in the back of my mind I just knew that because I was going to pull the stock BMW engine and transmission, I could tear those apart and sell all of the wildly-desirable ///M goodies on eBay for a small fortune and recoup some of my losses. After all, who wouldn’t want that ///M intake manifold, or ///M throttle body, or ///M cylinder head, or ///M transmission, or ///M alternator, or ///M cam chain tensioner mounting bolt washer, etc.

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FINALLY the BMW tax would work to my advantage! So I did some research and checked out sold listings on eBay. Turns out EVERYONE wouldn’t want them. The intake components are nothing special. The transmission is the same 5-speed ZF unit that was in the 328 and some 5-series cars. The US-spec E36 M3 engine itself really isn’t anything special. The only components of the engine that are considered valuable are the ///M cams, and eBay tells me they’re worth $400. Okay, let’s hope the cams are in good shape.

And so came the time, as it does for every young man, when he calls up his buddies and says to them, “Buddies: I require your assistance in completing a task. To complete this task will require physical exertion. It will require cunning. It will probably result in some minor blood loss. There will potentially be ingestion of toxic chemicals. It will take up most of your Saturday. And in return for your sacrifice, you will be rewarded with the universal buddy currency of Pizza and Beer.” My buddies signed on immediately. It was on for Saturday.

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In preparation for their arrival, I realized I needed to get the car up in the air in order to better access all drivetrain components. Bonus points if we could pull the engine without getting crushed to death. So a few lousy jackstands holding the car in the air using potentially rust-affected areas for support while we yanked on 500lbs of engine weren’t going to cut it.

It was then time for another important milestone in every young man’s life: A trip to Harbor Freight. I grabbed a 20% off coupon from my latest issue of Popular Mechanics (a magazine whose subscription I maintain solely because the 20% off Harbor Freight coupons pay for the subscription) and headed for the absolute NICEST part of town, because that’s where Harbor Freight is always situated. HAHA JUST KIDDING I headed South and East. And if you’re from Des Moines, you will recognize “South” and “East” as not only directions, but also insults.

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So off I went to the land of Truck Nutz, Confederate flag bumper stickers, payday loans on every corner, and Harbor Freight. Des Moines’ Harbor Freight shares a building with Dollar General and Planned Parenthood, that’s how great the neighborhood is. I was about to make some jokes about Planned Parenthood’s convenient tool availability or Harbor Freight’s lead paint causing birth defects, but things got dark real fast so I’ll abstain (snicker).

I picked up item #60678 - a long-reach low-profile rapid-pump 2-ton hyphen-tastic floor jack - for about $112 with my coupon. God less America.

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With a vague plan in mind, I decided just to see how much clearance I could get with this jack, so I shoved it in and pumped away.

Heh.
Heh.
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With the car in the air, I then measured how much clearance I had between the tires and the ground. That told me the tallest stand that I could slip under the tire. So I hopped into my truck, went to Home Depot, and grabbed 5 sixteen-foot-long 2x4s. HAHA JUST KIDDING I don’t have a truck. So I put 5 sixteen-foot-long 2x4s in my car.

 In case you forgot what 2x4s look like
In case you forgot what 2x4s look like
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And got to work with the miter saw, hammer, and nails, until...voilà...the world’s least-forgiving game of Jenga.

 Note icicles still hanging from the car. Turns out February in Iowa is...chilly.
Note icicles still hanging from the car. Turns out February in Iowa is...chilly.
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With the car up in the air, it was time to prep the car for the engine-ectomy. First came the fluid drain.

Illustration for article titled E36 V8 Build Part 5: Donor Teardown -or- “Warning: Mechanical Gore Inside”
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Then I pulled the radiator.

Illustration for article titled E36 V8 Build Part 5: Donor Teardown -or- “Warning: Mechanical Gore Inside”
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And along came Saturday, a day full of camaraderie, fun, inhaling burnt oil vapors, Casey’s taco pizza - you know, the usual.

Almost there...

Illustration for article titled E36 V8 Build Part 5: Donor Teardown -or- “Warning: Mechanical Gore Inside”
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Now we’ve reached yet another milestone in every young man’s development - the engine-pull selfie.

Illustration for article titled E36 V8 Build Part 5: Donor Teardown -or- “Warning: Mechanical Gore Inside”
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Our smiles hide how terrifying it was to lift the entire engine and transmission using only 2 of the 4 chains that came with the cheapest load-leveler on Amazon.

Watch us pull the engine from start to finish using incredible time-lapse technology. Or more accurately, watch my friends stand around while I wrestle with fuel lines, frozen exhaust bolts, and rusty driveshaft connections.

And after the dust had cleared, we were left with this:

 Looks like the perfect place to stuff a hulking mass of outdated, underpowered, American-made iron.
Looks like the perfect place to stuff a hulking mass of outdated, underpowered, American-made iron.
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Oh yeah, what about those cams? Turns out if you run an engine with zero oil pressure for an extended period of time, THINGS DON’T GO WELL.

Illustration for article titled E36 V8 Build Part 5: Donor Teardown -or- “Warning: Mechanical Gore Inside”
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Illustration for article titled E36 V8 Build Part 5: Donor Teardown -or- “Warning: Mechanical Gore Inside”
Illustration for article titled E36 V8 Build Part 5: Donor Teardown -or- “Warning: Mechanical Gore Inside”
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 The engine was just jealous that the Euro-spec E36 got Variable Valve Timing on its exhaust cam and tried to copy it.
The engine was just jealous that the Euro-spec E36 got Variable Valve Timing on its exhaust cam and tried to copy it.

YEP THAT CAM IS SHEARED INTO TWO PIECES. Every rotating component of the engine was trashed. But with all of the excitement and anticipation of getting the V8 mocked up and installed, it didn’t really bother me. Or maybe it was just mild euphoria from the burnt oil vapors.

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Catch my build thread here on Oppo with a new installment each Monday, or if you like spoilers check out MikaelVroom.com for the latest updates. Twitter me @MikaelVroom Instagram me @MikaelVroom. I promise that I will only use the Ludwig filter, which disappointingly doesn’t insert Beethoven into the background of all of my selfies.

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