BMW E30 Touring resto

  1. Grrrmachine Member

    I bought my Touring a few years back, knowing full well it was a project. A 1989 vintage, 320i, it came with all the traditional extras you get in Poland: 14-year-old tyres, a dog-chewed interior, and miscellaneous bodges including a door window held in place with a piece of wood.

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    I spent the previous year making sure all the mechanicals and electricals worked, and this year I figured it was time to do something about the dull paintwork and various paint bubbles. The plan was to do it in stages, taking off panels, sorting any rust, then painting the panels and re-fitting them. So I've started with the front wing, and got a bit of a shock:

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    The inner wing support has crumbled away, there's a crack between the inner wing and the suspension turret, and there's holes under the fusebox, to the rear of the arch and at the edge of the floorpan (due to the E30's "jacking points", which are notorious rust traps).

    I'll have to just cut away and see how bad the rot is, and go from there.
  2. Grrrmachine Member

    While I want the car in good condition, I don't have the space to strip it completely, so I can't really remove all the interior. This makes fixing the rot around the fuse box rather troublesome.

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    Worse, the loom has no joints in it, so to get it out of the way means either unplugging EVERYTHING in the cabin (including the tail lights), or just protecting it as much as I can and hoping for the best.

    Chop chop chop with the angle grinder and dremel got me to this stage, so that I can see how bad the damage is. This is a three-skin joint, where the inner wing joins the scuttle, which sits on the bulkhead:

    [​IMG]

    The scuttle won't be too hard to patch back in, and the inner wing is also fairly simple. The main issue is the bulkhead, since the seam between that and the inner wing has sprouted rust too. It's mostly surface rust, but there's also pin-holes which need to be dealt with:

    [​IMG]

    I'm not sure what to do about that, but I can't patch the top of the bulkhead yet since this rust goes allllll the way down. I also don't feel good cutting it, since there's not much else holding the inner wing to the rest of the car other than the chassis rail at the bottom.
  3. Blurk99 Member

    Posts: 75
    Cotswolds, UK
  4. Grrrmachine Member

    I saw the Vauxhall resto years ago, I didn't know they'd condensed all Tony's info into one handy thread. The man's a legend.

    So thanks for reminding me of it; there were a few tips I'd forgotten, and the whole thing is a great confidence booster.
  5. Add

    Add Member

    Wow, i would never have imagined it would look like that under the wing :o

    E30 tourings are cool :cool:
    Good luck with it

    Blurk99 - Thats an awesome link i fancy a go at making my own panels now :D
  6. Grrrmachine Member

    First repair patch fabricated:

    [​IMG]

    This rust forms because BMW pumped a sealant down the A-pillar at the factory. Unfortunately, the stuff that gets through the gaps its supposed to seal ends up under the scuttle, where it acts as a moisture trap. This ate away the bulkhead from the inside.

    [​IMG]

    My thin-metal welding technique leaves a lot to be desired, but it improved once I put on the halogen light and cleaned my mask visor. Fortunately this is an internal weld, and will be hidden by the scuttle, so as long as penetration's good it can be ugly. I did go all the way round in the end, using a lamp in the footwell to highlight any pinholes that I may have missed.
  7. Grrrmachine Member

    I tackled some of the bulkhead today:

    [​IMG]

    This part sits just behind the plastic arch liner, and had one of the mounting holes which had long since rotted away.

    So, cut the infected area out:

    [​IMG]

    Make up two patch panels (one to repair the bulkhead, one to extend the arch outwards) and line them up for fitting:

    [​IMG]

    And then start laying down snotty little blobs of weld to hold it all together:

    [​IMG]

    I didn't quite get the chance to weld in the second of the two panels, but it's beaten into shape and the holes have been drilled to plug-weld the two edges together, similar to the original seam that had rotted away. I used a massive strip of copper (50x5mm) behind the panel to take heat away as I welded, and also to help me fill the gaps from my less-than-perfect patch forming.

    The silvery-white residue in the photos is what's left over of the phosphoric acid (30%) that I sprayed over the area, to see just how bad the surface rust is on the main panels.
  8. Grrrmachine Member

    Right, that's all the repairs under the fuse box taken care of. Once the bulkhead repair was in place, I ground down the welds ONLY where the next plate would sit on top of them. Then I sprayed the area with zinc-rich primer, and did the next steps:

    [​IMG]
    Weld in the repair panel for the scuttle, with plug welds in place of spot welds at the bottom

    [​IMG]
    Understand how the two plates make a triangle drain, so that water that enters the wiper grill holes can run out through the inner wing.

    If you remove the windscreen wiper grill, you can access the area behind the scuttle. This will be necessary, because the waxy anti-rust BMW use, and their seam sealant, are flammable, so scraping as much away as possible reduces smoke and flames in the area.

    This repair was done with the dash and wiring loom still in place, although I did insert off-cuts of steel between the bulkhead and the sound-proofing on the inside, to remove heat and to reduce the risk of smoke and fire. I also bent some aluminium into a "sleeve" to wrap around the loom, to protect it from weld spits and grinding sparks.
  9. Blurk99 Member

    Posts: 75
    Cotswolds, UK
    you're cracking on quite nicely with that lot, the complexity of the repair for that last picture would give me nightmares!

    jim
  10. Grrrmachine Member

    I'll admit that after cutting, folding, grinding, filing, trimming, drilling and breaking the repair section, I ended up welding it at the top and then hammering the hell out of the bottom until it contoured properly with the bulkhead. If this was an external repair I'd be screaming, but since it's hidden internally, and is about to be sandwiched by another panel, it's not a major problem.
  11. Grrrmachine Member

    And a final long strip to rejoin the inner wing to the bulkhead. Made of 1mm steel, it took me quite a few hours to bash and grind this thing to shape, but it went in eventually. I took the pictures half way through welding, while things were cooling down. It helps get your patience back when you've blown a few holes in the metal.

    [​IMG]
    Showing how the inner wing abuts the scuttle


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    View from underneath. I did put plug welds in, but having read another thread about stitching all seams, I figured I'd take the opportunity to join these ones too, for extra strength.

    The welds penetrated pretty well, but I welded both sides where I could, just to be on the safe side. The next step is to tidy up all the little holes I've left in the bulkhead, then I can chop out the rust around the suspension turret and put a new inner wing support on...

    [​IMG]
  12. carlos 318is Needs help

    Posts: 107
    Kent
    Mate I have seen plenty of rusty E30 in my time even I would of drawn a line under that one

    Hats off to you we need mo E30's on the road
  13. Grrrmachine Member

    Suspension Turret Repair

    Today's progress involved cutting out the rust and preparing the replacement panel for the suspension turret.

    However, the turret itself turned out to be fine once the rusty layer of the inner wing was cut away.

    [​IMG]

    On the E30, the turret comes down to a horizontal support plate, onto which the inner wing is spot welded.

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    All the old spot welds were ground off and chiselled away to make a smooth surface for the patch plate, which I scavenged from a donor vehicle. Well, not a whole vehicle, I bought a front quarter of a car for about 20quid, for precisely this purpose.

    [​IMG]

    Then the plate was trimmed, filed and offered up until it lined up snuggly with the hole.

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    The downside of this is that chiselling the piece out of the donor introduced quite a few dents and bumps which will take some planishing to smooth out. On the upside, the donor was exactly the same colour as the car, and although the whole thing will get a paint job later anyway, it's just that little bit more satisfying.

    Now the slow job of butt-welding the piece in, plus the plug-welds to hold it onto the suspension turret.
  14. Grrrmachine Member

    The morning was spent with the wire brush attachment, getting the metal clean. I even had to use a chisel on the turret support to get the remnants of the old panel off, it was that bad. Still, with clean metal to weld to, the slow task of stitching took place

    [​IMG]

    The metal was a bit bent from its removal from the old car, so the welding didn't go so smoothly, but by doubling the power and wire speed on the MIG the plug welds went in ok, scraping off the old underseal to check

    [​IMG]

    The last thing to do to the inner wing was to make sure it was straight and strong. With no support panel for god knows how long, it had cracked in two places, around bolt holes, allowing it to distort. I didn't want to cut out any more of it, so I used the Displace Metal technique.

    [​IMG]

    This involves tapping lots of little beads of metal into the panel, to melt out the thin stuff. Mig-weld is brittle, so this isn't advisable on structural areas, but this was just a few little patches. I clamped a length of copper to it to give me something to spill the weld over on to, then ground it all down.

    [​IMG]

    I also had to let in another patch where the inner wing support was previously spot-welded. The metal there had worn thin too, but it was far too big and structurally important an area to risk using the Displace Metal technique. Stupidly, I forgot to file a semicircle out of the patch to complete the hole.

    [​IMG]

    The next step will be to spot-weld on a new "flitch", or inner wing support, which I've already scavenged. Because of how these cars rust, I couldn't get a whole one, but this gives you a perspective of Good Metal, Level of Rust and Rest of Car:

    [​IMG]

    The final job will be to fabricate a "bridge" panel between the new flitch and the remains of the old one.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2011
  15. Blurk99 Member

    Posts: 75
    Cotswolds, UK
    nice work! do these cars also have the front 'flitch' panel - the one that supports the profile at the front corner? they used to catch all the mud and crap on old BMW's

    jim
  16. Grrrmachine Member

    At its front edge, the inner wing meets a crossmember which has a flat plate of steel on top, acting as a triangular brace. If that's what you mean, then yes, it's a rust trap too, but fortunately isn't too bad on this one..

    If you look at the bottom right hand corner of that last pic, you can see the hole I've cut out of the floor; THAT'S where all E30's rust.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2011
  17. Grrrmachine Member

    Inner Wing - Complete!

    I closed up the inner wing repairs this weekend with a mix of stolen panels and self-fabricated patches.

    The first part involved mounting the inner wing support. I'd bought a front quarter of a car, and drilled out all the spot welds from this...
    [​IMG]

    to get me to this stage, where I could take measurements and fold up a cardboard template.

    [​IMG]

    Now, this Inner Wing Support is itself supported by an internal section giving it some rigidity across its biggest area. By cutting straight through it, I had to let in a new inner support which involved a lot of hammering, curving and cursing before it got even close to being the right shape.

    [​IMG]

    But once that was on, I could size up and start fabricating the patch that would join the stolen part to the original inner wing support. It took most of the morning, and it wasn't perfect, but I wanted to do it all in one piece for the strength factor. With lots of tapping and filing I finally got to a point where it could be tacked in place:

    [​IMG]

    From there, I took my time so as not to blow holes in either the new, old or oldest bits of metal. Still, because I had sprayed the backs of the repair patches in zinc primer to stop them rusting, I ended up getting some porous welds, which I then ground down and finished off with a flappy sanding disc (while it lasted).

    [​IMG]

    The results aren't neat, but they're definitely strong. I also let in another small patch close to the wing mounting tab. This is where the inner wing support structure finishes, so all mud, water and salt gets flung up and into this pocket, which rots out from the inside. It also causes rust on the inside of the car, behind the speakers in the footwell, so it's worth poking a screwdriver around there if you've got similar rust issues.

    This final picture gives you a comparison to the first picture in this thread; shame it took five full weekends to get it done.

    [​IMG]
  18. Grrrmachine Member

    Door hinge repair

    A few other rust spots need to be treated while the wing is still off. With all the road spray able to get behind the wing, splash damage had reached the lower door hinge and had caused the bulkhead to crumble. So with some slit discs, a grinder and a sliver of metal, we went from this...

    [​IMG]

    to this:

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    Next stop, floor repairs!
  19. Blurk99 Member

    Posts: 75
    Cotswolds, UK
    nice result on that inner wing!
  20. Grrrmachine Member

    BMW E30 "Jacking Point" floor repair

    Common E30 floor rust
    [​IMG]

    When the E30 was being assembled in the factory, little square pads of metal were attached to the corners of the shell so that it could be lifted and moved around. Once complete, these pads remained, and are mistaken by tyre fitters over the years as jacking points. Because of that, it only takes one bad attempt with a trolley jack to punch a hole in the shell, which will rot under the carpet un-noticed for years, until it looks like this...

    [​IMG]

    The best way to deal with this is to remove the floor pads completely. They're known rot traps, accumulating all the muck and spray the road can throw at it, so out came the grinder...
    [​IMG]

    and in went the new patch, with a curve to it to mimic the floor running up the bulkhead, and a flange on the side for the A-pillar to butt up to
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    Zip zap with the welder, brrr with the grinder, and a side patch is added to complete the A-pillar running down to the floorpan, and also meeting the outer sill. This is another three-skin joint on the E30, and I made sure the joins were welded both inside and out.
    [​IMG]

    The E30's carpets have a thick foam backing, and these had absorbed all the water that had leaked in and were rotting the floor out from the inside. The underseal was doing a great job of trapping this moisture in, so that this length of the floorpan had corroded completely, without puncturing the underseal.
    [​IMG]

    So out it came, and in went a new patch, tacked for fettling
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    I worked my way around slowly, putting out the fires as the underseal burst into flames, until the two patches in the floor pan were completely done. And that leaves this corner in a much more solid condition than it was six weeks ago
    [​IMG]
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