BMW 330CI E46 Build thread.

BMW 330CI E46 Build thread.



5,148 posts

135 months

Saturday 10th August 2019
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Car is looking mega, an absolute testament to the amount of hours you've put in. Have had a quick flick through but are you still running standard calipers? Don't know if I missed that you've upgraded them or not. I know a lot of the M3 guys chuck the 996/boxster brembo calipers on which I believe can be done with the 330 with the right size bracket or shimming the caliper.

Nik Gnashers

195 posts

106 months

Sunday 11th August 2019
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I don't post very often, but I had to just say what a brilliant effort, and car. Well done sir.


Original Poster:

56 posts

14 months

Wednesday 14th August 2019
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Nik Gnashers said:
I don't post very often, but I had to just say what a brilliant effort, and car. Well done sir.
Thanks! Appreciate the comment, feels like I'm on the right track with it, not sure how it's going to progress from here now but just will keep it hopefully as a turn key car and keep using it and getting better at driving it.

obscene said:
Car is looking mega, an absolute testament to the amount of hours you've put in. Have had a quick flick through but are you still running standard calipers? Don't know if I missed that you've upgraded them or not. I know a lot of the M3 guys chuck the 996/boxster brembo calipers on which I believe can be done with the 330 with the right size bracket or shimming the caliper.
Thanks! Hopefully the changes with the ABS delete and then again further moving up to RC6 pads should improve the brakes even further but will only know when I get out on track at Cadwell. My friend uses the 996 calipers and I think it will probably be a future modification should I need more braking or more consistent braking by moving away from the one piston calipers. Think this would be the best way to go using OEM calipers like you say and a standard off the shelf disc even is custom brackets are needed. Last time i looked at it there was a company on Ebay selling adaptors for that conversion even if slight modifications are needed I can take care of that.


Original Poster:

56 posts

14 months

Sunday 18th August 2019
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Final bit of prep work before Cadwell Park on Sunday 25th August.

Took the car down to a friends unit along with another mate to look at the alignment on both of our cars. Small gathering of BMW's in the compound... The first one being Chris' Turbo E36 328 build with circa 400bhp

The other car being Jordans TB'd Stroker E36, little snippet of the cars engine bay...

First job on the car was to get it up on the ramp and have a good look over the underside of it, I normally only see it on axle stands on the drive. Nice to see how the underside of the car is looking after 12 months use. I don't clean the underside of the car but it stays nice and clean with it not being driven on the UK roads. Quick check of the wheel bearings and suspension components considering in the past I have been plagued with wheel bearing issues, the FAG bearings seem to be holding up ok so far.

Second job was to get on with the alignment. With changing to softer springs I had to reset the ride height, in the past I've ran a little bit of rake but wanted to drop the rear end down a little so get the car level on all corners and then i could get on with the alignment.
First job was to see where it was sitting after the ride height adjustments and a years worth of track days.

Turns out it was pretty close, camber and toe was a little off on the back left but nothing major. Front end exactly how it was set 12 months ago. Still holding 3 degrees of camber and parallel toe.

Made a few adjustments to the alignment settings on the rear, with dropping the ride height slightly the rear camber is now sitting at 2.2 degrees. This is fine for the rear and is the preferred rear camber between friends with E36/46.
Was previously running 1mm/7' toe in each side which I have pulled back to 0.5mm/3.5'.

In the front leaving the camber a hair over 3 degrees and adding 0.5mm/3.5 degrees of toe out each side to see if it makes a difference to turn in on track.

That's the last jobs done ready to drive over to Cadwell on Saturday. Just got to give it a wash and put it back on the trailer Saturday morning.

Finally if anyone wants to follow the action a little bit more closely, I post as much as I can on here but a lot of it goes on social media now daily, shocking I know! But, thought I'd post a link to it anyway...

Once again, thanks for reading if you've made it this far.


Original Poster:

56 posts

14 months

Wednesday 28th August 2019
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Cadwell Park - 25th August 2019.

As usual for me the van and trailer were loaded up on the Friday, ready to head over to the circuit on Saturday afternoon, ahead of the track day on the Sunday. It's nice to get to the venue the day before and get unloaded, set up camp for the evening and chill out without having to get up early and get to the circuit first thing.

Car unloaded and the awning set out on the van ready to provide some shade from what was forecast to be a blistering day the following day, at this point I appreciate the fact that I've managed to trailer the car 180 miles and it still be clean!

When the sun came up the next morning there was a slight haze in the sky but it was already warming up. Probably not the best day to be in a totally stripped out black car! Good job I decided to leave in the fan blower pointing at the driver!

Was looking forward to getting out on circuit with the car since the latest rebuild with the fuel system, changes to the brakes and generally the new cockpit with logger and camera set up at Cadwell too.
However sighting laps didn't go so well, short shifting out the holding area through hall bends around to the start finish straight were I went to open her up and nothing, the car completely bogged, let off the throttle and under light throttle it drove fine, thought I would give it half a lap maybe air moving around the new fuel system, hoping for an easy answer I cruised it around following the pack of cars to the back straight and went for full throttle, instantly bogged and no power what so ever. I knew something was up so nursed it around for the remainder of the sighting laps at low revs and partial throttle and came back into the pits at the end of the first lot of sighting laps.
I knew straight away it must be something to do with the fuel system and the fuel rail not having the correct pressure. Jacked up the car and checked all the lines where connected to the correct places and plumbed correctly. No issues to be seen, without wanting to ruin the rest of the day before it had begun I opted to replace the fuel filter with built in regulator and go back to the standard in tank pump and get on with the rest of the day without fault finding.

I think the cause could be something to do with the 255 pump going into the filter/reg and it only being a single ended fuel rail with the return coming back out of the filter. Either the filter hasn't taken the additional pressure and flow well and has failed or the regulator has failed causing loss fuel pressure. Either way I've kept the parts removed and I plan to build it up how it was and investigate the cause. But in the long run i'm going to go back to my original plan which was to run a return fuel rail with a built in reg in the return line off an E36 328.

With the fuel system put back to standard for the time being I was out not long after the second set of sighting laps. Great, the day was off the wobbly start but I was out on track, spent a couple of sessions getting used to the new set up with the softer rear springs. Car felt a lot more planted in the rear, tiny bit of understeer on the limit which disappeared when driving it properly and using the rear end pushing through the corners making for a nice balance. Already I was going faster through Coppice than I've even been before, staying the 4th gear from the start finish straight all the way to the end of Park straight, short shifting after park to 4th for Chris' curve found so much more pace and the car felt so much more balanced. Only issue in these morning sessions was being black flagged due to the fact my indicator had somehow broken it's mounting tab and was handing down the front of the car. Quickly removed and back out again.

It was however to be short lived, just before dinner the car suffered from what is a common problem on the E46's which is the coolant tank exploded entering Coppice. Looking at the logs the coolant temp was 96 degrees at the time so no really that hot... Turns out the tank was the original part from 2003, lots of heat cycled and aged plastic it finally gave up.

Trying my best not to cause too much of a hold up I opted to drive the car to the nearest exit gate on the circuit to save the time getting the car on a recovery truck and then turned the car off ready to be towed back to the paddock. I knew straight away what the problem was and set about removing it, sadly with it being sunday there was no car part stores open but after a few messages back and forth to friends, one of them who lived 20 minutes away from the circuit offered to remove theirs from their car and let me borrow it for the day to keep the car going on track, at this point it was lunch time and the circuit was closed, I set about stripping the coolant tank off while a friend of mine went to collect it.

12:15 comes around and I manage to get a replacement part and fitted just after the green flag went out for the afternoon session. I didn't want to rush out on track and have anymore issues so spent half hour checking the pipes, it was correctly bled and no further leaks.
Double checking everything I was ready to go out on circuit for the afternoon.

Back out on circuit the car felt amazing. The new alignment settings, ride height and springs felt spot on, I had at this point cracked up the damping front and rear and found a really nice balance with the car. Looking back at the data after the track day I had managed to find 3 seconds a lap over last time I was there in april which I was really happy about!
The RC6 brake pads where fantastic and exactly what the car needed to give that bit more bite on the front axle with the proportioning valve and ABS delete I finally had the right balance to be able to get on the brakes properly and the adjustment to be able to lock front or rear tyres. Previously I was constantly being held back by the rears locking up first and not being able to brake as hard as I wanted or should have been able to. The swap from RC5 - RC6 was certainly worth it!

However mid afternoon another problem struck. I had been on circuit for 15 minutes solid lapping without any let up as the track was really quiet with very little traffic, coolant temps were around 100 degrees and oil temps hovering around 105 degrees. Not bad considering the ambient temp on the day was up to 30 degrees. After 7 hard laps setting some really consistent pace I left off on the start finish straight to give the car a good full lap to cool down before coming in. Cruising down the Park Straight in 5th gear no issues, until I turned into Chris' curves, the car cut out, I rolled around to the end of the curves and straight down to Mansfield and tried to start it down the hill but it was just cranking and failed to start, I pulled over at the marshals point there and tried to get the car going again on the flat. Engine cracked and sounded fine, oil and coolant temps all fine, nothing out of the ordinary in the session to make me think something was majorly wrong, fuel gauge still reading 1/3 of a tank. Gave the car a couple of minutes and it decided to start again but struggled to idle and bogged. It was enough to get me pointing back in the right direction. Managed to limp the car back to the start of the pit lane where as soon as it pointed up hill it cut out again. Managed to get it started again and into the paddock area. I was a bit stumped at this point as to the reason behind it. Tried to start it again on a flat surface and it ran bit only just idling. I had a feeling I knew what it was. Pulled out 40L of fuel from the van and filled up the tank, low and behind started first time and ran perfectly. Weird thing is that when it cut out it was still registering 1/3 of a tank of fuel on the gauge, this is probably correct to as I hadn't covered as many miles in the morning. The 1/3 of a tank of fuel was probably stuck in the left hand side of the tank due to the weird shaped tank in the BMWs with the prop and exhaust going through the middle, relying only on the internal siphon to transfer the fuel from one side of the tank to the other.

(More on this at the end of the post)

Only thing left was to go back out and test it. Yes it then ran flawlessly for an half hour session up until right before the chequered flag! Really good to end the day on such a good session, I've put a video link at the end of the thread with some laps from this session unedited.

One final thing I got to test on the day was I have fitted the car with Mobius HD Cameras which are powered via a switch on the dash which is located next to the Arduino Data Logger switch making it nice and easy to start both the data logging and the video at the same time. Certainly made editing the videos from the track day and lot easier and not having to mess with starting and stopping go pro's was so much easier.

Data overlay over the Mobius video footage from inside the car. There is quite a bit of wind noise from having the windows down with it being so warm over the weekend. Something to check next time the car is out.

Video Links

First video is a few good consistent laps edited together including the two fastest laps of the day.

Second video is a number of good back to back laps from the final session of the day.

Going Forward

From here I don't have anything planned until November at Oulton Park so I have a little bit of time to look at the following.

-A few people have given me things to look at like retro fitting the fuel siphon baffle that was fitted to the e46 M3 tanks but not non M cars.
-I'm going to retro fit a 328 fuel rail which is a return style rail with a regulator in the return line and run this with an inline E36 fuel filter.
-I'm going to test the new fuel pump I have recently bought and if it working correctly refit it and reconnect it with the fuel line.
-Finally to nail the fuel system I am going to look at fitting a second in tank pump in the left side of the tank purely just to pump the fuel back to the right side of the fuel tank for the current pump to then lift it to the swirl pot.
-Luckily with me replacing the cracked expansion tank on the track day that is all sorted and ready to go again.

Made it to the end of the day.

Edited by tombate911 on Wednesday 28th August 20:37


5,286 posts

132 months

Wednesday 28th August 2019
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Good update. It may be worth looking at a 328i E46 to see if the fuel supply/return pipe layout would be useful to you.


Original Poster:

56 posts

14 months

Sunday 22nd September 2019
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Attended the Piston Heads Saturday Service yesterday at Oulton, was good to put some names to faces as well as chat to few new people.
Got me into thinking I should probably get on here and put an update up with the little things I've been working on.

First job was to do some double checking regarding the few fuel woes I had out on track at Cadwell.
I found it is possible to get the information from both fuel senders in the tank up on the dash so I can monitor it while out on circuit and get a good idea of what is going on and whether I need to look at the option of the second pump or the tank baffle from the M3's that a few people have pointed me towards.

The 227329 in the photo below represents 22.7L in the left side of the tank

The plan is to keep this on the dash when out at Oulton next and see how the values on both sides of the tank go down when I get down to that 1/3 of a tank were I rang out of fuel at Cadwell. Better to find the problem with some data before I start throwing modifications at it.

While I was doing some messing I did some checks regarding fuel pressure in a few set ups

1 - Standard in tank pump into the old return less filter and regulator

2 - Standard in tank pump into a new filter and reg

3 - 225l swirl pot pump into the old filter and reg

4 - 255 swirl pot pump into the new filter and reg.

In every set up there was 55psi at the rail, slightly high but it's a very cheap fuel pressure gauge but every reading across all set ups was exactly the same which is good, just wanted to check everything was functioning as it should.

At Cadwell the highest temps reached on track was 106 degree oil temp and 100 degree coolant temp.
So I've cracked on with a job I've been meaning to do for a while but I've been watching and logging the temps and they've been pretty good at the last few track days. Cadwell being so warm on the day highlighted a little extra heat in the car plus everytime I go out i'm driving harder and harder as I get used to the car and my driving keeps improving.

When I did all the cooling modifications to the car earlier in the year I took a solid 20 degrees out of the coolant and the oil temps by fitting the splitter, drilling some holes and removing the AC condenser. There was always a 70mm gap under the radiator between it's self and the splitter that I was going to come back to filling if it was needed in the future.

First job was to come up with some neat angle brackets on CAD, 60 degree angle from the splitter to push the air upwards with a hex on on the back for a captive nut.

Printed off 3 of them from plastic

Mounted to the splitter just in front of the bottom edge of the radiator, will see what happens with the data logs with the hole filled in forcing more air through the radiator and coolers.

While I was under there messing with the car on axle stands I routed a duct through from the fog light up to the bottom of the air box. More cold air directly into the air box can't be a bad thing, one reason for doing this is the standard intake comes from the top of the kidney grills directly over the top of the radiators and coolers so lots of warm air in that area.

Obviously if I make a change I want to be able to test or log what is going on.
Using the Arduino data logger in the car for all the parameters that are available on the Canbus network. One of the values which is there which I'm not using at the moment is the exterior temperature from a temp sensor being the left fog light so I've relocated the sensor into the bottom of the airbox and now I can log that value as the Intake air temps and see what they are out of interest more than anything, can take the duct out on the next track day and see if it makes any difference with the cold air feed into the box.

Those are just a few of the little jobs I'm always messing with in between track days. Had the car on axle stands since it came back from Cadwell so it's nice and easy to have an hour or so working on it easily

So... one modification I wasn't planning on doing anything with was the engine but one thing led to another from a random thought process and well i'll let the photos do the talking..

12 months ago I took the car to EFI tuning for Chris to run the car on the dyno to get an idea of the power the car made, the AFR and how it makes power across the rev range. Car makes good figures for 140,000 miles engine but with a massive lump or torque from 2500-3500 but then dies off as it goes through the mid range.

I have friends that have or had experience with M52 engines and stroker 3.0's M52 with M54 rotating assembly and inlet cam using an M50 inlet making better mid to top end power at the sacrifice of some of the bottom end torque. I have found very little useful information regarding the M50 inlet on the M54 so going to document it all here as I work through it as this is a working progress rather than an update after it's all worked.

So I've sourced a M50 manfiold for use in this experiment. This is a much simpler manifold without the DISA valve in the M54 which will sacrifice some low down torque but the M50 has much bigger runners and a longer runner length

To go with it I've also sourced some pink top injectors which are the same 250cc but have a straight spay pattern to suit the location in the manifold were the m54 injectors have an angle spray pattern to suit the manifold.

I'm also going to use the fuel rail that fits the M50 manifold which has the regulator built into it and slightly adjust the fuel line routing which should actually make things a little simpler.

Started off by removing the M54 inlet from the engine

It fills a massive hole in the engine bay

Both manifolds sat side by side, the M50 is so much more simpler and lighter! Few more kg's saved here!

Eagle eyed viewers will have noticed the ports in the head vs the manifold are a different shape. Most people I've seen going down this route tend to pull the head off and start porting the head. At the moment in time I don't want to go down that route so I've decided to do something similar to what I've done on the exhaust side.

I've designed a 10mm adaptor that will go from the inlet to the head and used a computer to loft the difference between the two profiles.
(There is a lot of port offset in the drawing - read on later for the reason why)

I based the first version of the adaptor off a drawing I took from someone else's build thread on a BMW forum and 3d printed it in sections to offer it up to the head as a test.

Perfect fit against the manifold side and the holes for the studs to mount it to the head.

However using the drawing someone else had produced for the M54 head there was obvious mistakes when I put the prototypes against the head. I've measured and make some adjustments to the port alignments and written the changes onto the flange ready for redrawing

I then spent the evening adjusting the drawing from the measured modifications required as well as adding tabs to the bottom of the manifold adaptor to blank off some ports in the head which are used by the m54 manifold

While i was at it I've also designed the plate that will adapt the standard electric throttle body onto the m50 manifold.
Both of these can be 3D printed as a final test before being sent for CNC machining.

Last job I was on with this afternoon between showers was the test fitting of everything I've got ready to work out how the throttle body is going to be attached to the standard intake box and MAF

Final job which is on going development at the moment is using Tuner Pro to adjust my current version of the ECU map to suit all the changes with the DISA and Idle Control valve not being used now as I plan to use the original throttle body to control the idle rather than having and idle control valve too.

Edited by tombate911 on Sunday 22 September 20:13

Edited by tombate911 on Sunday 3rd November 16:58


96 posts

18 months

Tuesday 1st October 2019
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Cars looking really well now OP and going well by the sound of things!

Will be interesting to see what effect the M50 manifold has on an M54!!


554 posts

187 months

Tuesday 1st October 2019
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Intake air temp should be available on CAN, it's certainly being measured by the ECU as part of the MAF sensor.

Blocking up the hole under the rad will also improve the performance of the splitter, so win-win.


Original Poster:

56 posts

14 months

Sunday 6th October 2019
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ndg said:
Intake air temp should be available on CAN, it's certainly being measured by the ECU as part of the MAF sensor.

Blocking up the hole under the rad will also improve the performance of the splitter, so win-win.
Yeah it will be available on the Canbus if we knew what was required to request the data. We're only logging the data that is being broadcast all the time, mainly information which is used by the instruments making logging the ambient as the IAT is much easier to do. Yeah will be able to see the effects on the next track but there will be another heap of changes I doubt i'll see any changes but we'll see if it runs even cooler again.

Time for a little more of an update after this weekend. Between a few jobs this weekend I've managed to spend at least half of Saturday and half of today on the car trying to make some progress and see what problems I run into.

First job earlier in the week was to start to test some of the drawings I've done which I plan to use for the adaptors as well as making a gasket between the spacer and the head.

Laser cut some card templates to test the profile of the head.

Testing the laser cut template on the head.

3D printed the adaptor between the throttle body and the manifold, made it to hold some bolts captive to act as studs to bolt the throttle body to the manifold easily.

Test fitting it all together, longer bolts required.

Finished building up the manifold using the original fuel lines with new rubber hoses, fitted another BMW PCV into the location of where the idle control valve normally would be, I am planning on removing the idle control valve and using the throttle body to control the idle.

While I've got all the CAD drawings done myself it seems a bit daft to have someone else make the gaskets for between the aluminium spacer and the head. I bought some high temp and fuel resistant gasket material and laser cut the gasket to perfectly match the profile of the adaptor plate sealing the air pathways in the head too which are no longer used.

Gasket material cut.

With the drawing all tested and checked against the head and the same done for the manifold side, I've combined the drawings to create a path for the laser cutting to remove the maximum amount of material without compromising on either port shape. Laser cut adaptor from 10mm aluminium.

Templates laser cut for the head side as well as the intake manifold to start the porting of the adaptor

Marked out the material removed for the porting.

Removed most of the material to match both profiles using the die grinder.

Roughed out and checked against the template ready for final cleaning up and polishing to take some of the roughness off the surface

Time to start to built it all back up in order.

First job was making new studs to be able to bolt down the now thicker intake assembly and put the gasket on the head.

Followed by the aluminium adaptor

Checking the port matching before bolting the manifold on

All bolted together, yet to finish the wrapping of the wiring loom but wanted to make sure everything is right and running before doing that. Also waiting for some new silicone hoses to arrive so just roughly mounted the maf in place for the time being.

I have also replaced the fuel set up and the plumbing for the swirl pot under the car but didn't take any photos of this now. I'm now running an E36 fuel filter with the M50 rail with built in regulator which then returns directly to the swirl pot in the engine bay.
Finally was the last job to try and get it all running was changing the ECU map to try and get it to idle using only the throttle body having removed the idle control valve.

At this point yesterday the intial map I had prepared with all the changes I wanted to make wouldn't run the car at all. But having made so many changes to the map I started with the basics, checking for fuel, checked the plugs in the engine bay that had been off, multi metering the crank and cam sensors back to the ECU pins to make sure they're correctly connected as a lot of the BMW plugs are not keyed and can be mixed up!
Started with a basic map from when the car ran previously on the M54 inlet and got the car to turn over, run for a second and the cut out. Knowing it was purely just a mapping issue from there I've been building the Idle Control delete map up progressively in stages until I could get it idling well.
Long story short, at least 10 map revisions later I've got it idling and driving without hesitation, throttle feels nice and responsive now and I've removed all the fault codes surrounding the Idle control valve and the DISA Valve which has been removed in the process along with many other ECU changes to get to this point.

No engine lights at the moment, I'm sure there will probably be some at some point when it's driven properly,
ABS Yaw sensor unplugged at the moment as I don't run ESP/ABS but if it's plugged in I've still got the ability to have a clear dash without warning lights.

Next steps on the list is to prepare some base maps to take with me with a space ECU when I get it on the rolling road and experiment with some cam timing combinations to see whats needed to smooth out the power curve using the M50 inlet. The standard timing has some humps and strange moments in it around the DISA change over points to smooth out the power so will remove those as a baseline and take it from there when I get it booked in on the rolling rode and start to develop it from there.

Other jobs on the go:
Need to move to another arduino with more memory to be able to put in some more sensors.
Planning on putting a fuel pressure sensor in the line to the rail and log the fuel pressure.
Also the Oil pressure and temp gauge I've got has a serial output so going to add that to the logger too. Will be interesting to log the oil pressure on circuit, I know it does dip a little bit on long fast corners but nothing too drastic and compare the temp sensor against what the BMW sensor is reading on the Canbus.


Original Poster:

56 posts

14 months

Sunday 13th October 2019
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Another week passes which brings a little more productivity while I wait to get the car onto the rolling road to see how it actually performs.

One thing I did have to sort out was the intake to the throttle body. I got it running with the MAF just hanging in place, but that was never going to be a good long term solution but I didn't want to just put a cone filter in the engine bay.

The problem to overcome was the offset between the MAF outline and the in of the 90 degree hose when it was cut as long to the bend as possible.

Not only was the off set by 30mm a bit annoying I had to go down from 90mm to 76mm. I was going to try and make it with a step down hose and the elbow but the offset wasn't going in my favour so turned to what I know best. CAD, you've probably noticed this is common theme for me throughout.

Ten minutes messing came up with this.

I smoothed out the transitions a little bit from the CAD drawings above and sent it to the 3D Printer.

Fitted it up in place, perfect solution to the problem

While I was refitting the airbox into position with the IAT for the Data logger. The cold air duct feeding in direction from the fog log I relocated the M54 intake air temp into the airbox. I had messed around with scaling the calibration in the ECU file to suit the sensor from the M50 manifold but wasn't 100% happy with the accuracy of the readings to decided just to use the sensor which the ECU was calibrated for.
Make up a female - male extension to locate it in the bottom of the air box pre-filter.

I wasn't a fan with how the fuel rail was on view along with the injector wiring so decided to make some modifications to the M54 injector cover to make it fit over the M50 fuel rail. Two cuts and it fits perfectly bolting into position, Looks so much better and making the M50 conversion looking a lot more factory with the standard airbox too.

I wonder how many people that don't know will notice?

Another job on the to do list was the fit the second camera I picked up on ebay. Wiring it in the same way to back to the voltage regulator which is powered by a switch on the dash so both cameras start recording at the same time. Updated the firmware on both cameras and configured them to same to record on power on and continue to record for ten seconds after power off.
Can add rear view camera to the video overlays now. With Oulton park coming up I will also throw in the go pro as a passenger reaction camera for good measure too if I have any passengers come out with me

Spent a couple of hours this evening putting together some maps together for experimenting with some Vanos adjustments to go with the M50 manifold now the DISA is removed. Just waiting on an available date to get the car on the dyno to see if it even makes any difference. it's all a bit of an unknown.


Original Poster:

56 posts

14 months

Saturday 2nd November 2019
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Small update from this week. Had a week off work so spent a bit of time working on the car knowing that the next track day is only two weeks away now.

First job was to create a way of adding sensor inputs to the Arduino Logger by adding a terminal board in the layers to be able to connect any analogue sensors. The one I was particularly interested in was fuel pressure with the changes to the system with the new rail and running the swirl pot now and running out of fuel completely at Cadwell. Will be able to view any fuel starvation now on the logs as well as viewing the fuel levels on both sides of the tank.

Second job of the week was getting the trailer out, little bit of maintenance required with some new side markers, jockey wheel and a replacement tyre, all ready for the track day but more importantly ready to take to EFI tuning on the Thursday.

Arrived at EFI tuning around 12:00

The plan for the day was to first of all run the car on the Dyno and just see what it ran like with all the changes and get a feel for the new manifold. I have spent a lot of time adjusting the maps on the MS43 ECU to run the car without the idle control valve only using the electric throttle body for the idle, also removed the DISA valve from the ECU so no warning lights on.
I had already adjusted and smoothed out the Vanos timing because of the manifold design change, with the M54 the cam timing does a lot of backwards and forward movement around the DISA change over to try and prevent a dip in power.

First thing was some lower load and some partial throttle driving checking the AFR's, When i had the exhaust made we put a bung in the exhaust collector so nice and easy to put the wide band sensor for the dyno directly into the exhaust. With the partial throttle looking ok we moved onto some power runs.
First 3 runs we did together the car was making 230ftlb and 235bhp. I was always expecting it to loose some bottom end torque with the manifold change but was expecting it to make more mid range torque than it did at this point.

I took a bit of time to adjust some of the cam timing first of all starting with the inlet cam. Starting with advancing the inlet cam everywhere across the full rev range and doing a dyno run at that. This found a massive chunk of toque in the 3000-5000RPM range but lost a little bit of power at the top, from that I could then take the best bits of both cam timing maps.

Onto the exhaust cam. We didn't think the exhaust timing would make much difference but I went and retarded the exhaust cam across the full RPM range and ran it on the dyno again. It actually found a bit more torque in the middle between 3500 - 5000RPM so was able to factor that into the best combinations of cam timing so far.

At this moment in time the car was now making 243ftlbs @ 4500rpm and 243bhp @5700rpm. But the power after 6k was falling off a little quicker than it had on the previous manifold and it was also leaning out a little bit. We spent a little bit of time adjusting the fueling at the top end, didn't improve on the peak figures but were able to keep the power on a little longer after it makes peak power.

The final run of the day finished off looking like this:

This over layered over the top of the M54 manifold:

You can see where the power have moved around. No longer having a bit chunk of torque that falls off mid range there's a much better spread across the RPM range
I have since noticed that the two dyno graphs are offset by about 100RPM when you look at the rev limiter set at 6816RPM which is set when the car is running on the dyno which makes the graph looks like the power falls off earlier compared with the other trace.

Overall. I'm happy with it and I've found a lot out about along the way, I would be slightly happier if the power stayed up longer to 6500 but I wont know till I drive it on track, I do generally shift about 5800-6200rpm on circuit anyway. I was quietly hoping that with the manifold change that it would make a little bit more power towards to 250's but it appears the gains aren't there to be had without changing other elements of the engine now. Was it worth it? We'll see about that.

The dyno runs compared are 12 months apart on an engine that's done 140,000 miles too.

Pretty much ready to go now for Oulton Park in two weeks time on the 16th November, looking forward to getting out in it again and seeing how it drives with the changes, I've not been to Oulton since we lost some weight too and rebuilt it over the summer.

Edited by tombate911 on Sunday 3rd November 17:21


96 posts

18 months

Monday 4th November 2019
quotequote all
Good update pal!!

These engines are brilliant engines in standard form and only need to be revved to about 5500 rpm so I imagine yours must be some machine with all the upgrades you’ve done and the increased rev limit!

What’s next on the agenda for the car?


Original Poster:

56 posts

14 months

Sunday 1st December 2019
quotequote all
Slightly late update after Oulton Pack at the beginning of November. I've been waiting for a little bit more content to post in an update. I've been productive this weekend so thought I should write an update about Oulton and what I've been doing since.

So as usual I set off about 6am to Oulton, the forecast and conditions were looking perfect. I was one of the first people there and set bout unloading the car from the trailer. Did a little lap of the car park and parked it in the garage. Left the car set up exactly how it was at Cadwell. The track was a little damp during sighting laps but was dry by the first session, I was happy to have made it through sighting laps without any issues, no fueling issues, no limp mode, car felt good, pulled well I was happy! Parked the car in the garage letting the first wave of people go out on track, the car was looking perfect.

The first few sessions were going well, the car felt good and I was getting back into the swing of things having not driven the car since the summer.
Could feel how well it wanted to pull through the mid range but there was a distinct lack off pull at the top end, I was shifting at 6k for the day with a view to sorting it after the track day.

However the day wasn't going to continue going so well on the session just before lunch, I over corrected a little slide at Knickerbrook, as a result I ended up putting my back left wheel on the kerb and the car carried on sliding, when it gripped it just went straight on in the direction it was facing which happened to be off the track on the right hand side. The ground there was soaking wet and not the flattest of ground either.
The result was the car did 2 hops on the grass, before going sideways on the access road, luckily this pushed the car forwards away from the tyres, I managed to keep the car moving in the mud and get back onto the track without causing a red flag.

Link to the video

The video doesn't really show how hard the underside of the car hit the floor multiple times, everywhere you can imagine was full of mud and strips of turf.
Damage..... Ripped off the splitter, broke the V Band clamp off the exhaust, lost the fog light, coolant leak from the bottom of the expansion tank, radiator had come unsteated, broken off half of the PAS pulley
Took me 2.5 hours to get everything sorted and in a fit state to get back out on track, an hour of that time was driving part way home to get two replacement o rings for the bottom of the expansion tank to stop the leak that had formed.

Cracking on with getting it back out on track in the afternoon.

About 2 o'clock I managed to get back out on track. A passenger jumped in with me and we set off to test the car and try and get some more track time, I had the intention of only doing a few laps but the car felt exactly the same as normal so we carried on for a good 20 minutes.

Photograph of it actually out track

In the afternoon the car felt great, besides the hesitation coming out of a few corners and above 6k, but I found my stride again and got back into it. Actually managed to get the lap times down to 2:03 which is a couple of seconds faster than I've gone around Oulton.

Here's a couple of laps from the afternoon sessions:

Post track day....
After the track day while sorting out the videos and the data overlays for the speed, RPM and throttle, I added the fuel pressure to the video overlay and the pressure was all over the show, I initially discounted the readings as I knew the pressure sensor I was using wasn't really the correct range for fuel pressure as the sensor range was up to 3000PSI and I was only measuring 0-60PSI of that, as a result it provided me with a very small resolution, However I did a little bit of analysis of the fuel pressure and plotted it against RPM over a full lap and you could see a trend.

Every time the car went above 5000RPM there was a distinct loss of fuel pressure sometimes as low as 15PSI, this obviously ties in with the loss of power at the top end causing me to short shift. Here's part of the log below showing the drop of fuel pressure. Clear to see there was an issue.

On stripping down the swirl pot and fuel system last weekend I found a restriction in the pipe that was feeding the pump from the swirl pot. no wonder the fuel pump was running so loud when I fitted it and under high loads the fuel pressure couldn't keep the rail pressurised.

While it was all off, I've made a few changes to the fuel set up now which I was already planning on doing. The feed from the swirl pot has been plumbed with a bigger line now going up to 3/8". Changed the fuel pressure sensor for one with a 0-100PSI range to give better resolution for the future.

I've fitted a 328 fuel rail which has enabled me to go back to the M54 injectors which the ECU was originally scaled for. I couldn't run the M54 injectors with the M50 rail I had due to the injector height, with this rail I can run either the M54 injectors or the 328 Pink tops, both are the same size but have different injector spray patterns.

When checking the car over I also spotted that the PAS pulley had taken a hit when I went off the track so that has been replaced with a new part

Other jobs on the list have been to give the car a good service, it's done 5 track days on the current oil and filter.

Fresh set of rear pads. These being cheap I only get two days out of a set but they're good at keeping the braking bias where I want it to be.

The car has also had a complete clean on the underside of the car, removing all the traces of mud and grass,

Got the engine bay put back together, now with the aluminium laser cut throttle body adaptor plate

Still needs a final wash but it's been too cold here today to be spraying water around

Pretty much ready to take to EFI tuning again on the 12th to run it on the dyno to check everything is in order now after removing the restriction in the fuel line!
Got a few things to finish off over winter, one being the new splitter for the front end, track down a set of fog lights and i'm going to replace the high pressure power steering hose from the pump to the rack just for peace of mind.

Edited by tombate911 on Sunday 1st December 22:13


Original Poster:

56 posts

14 months

Sunday 15th December 2019
quotequote all
Little additions to the car continue.
If you've followed the build thread this far you probably know i'm a sucker for 3D Printing.

Due to the change of fuel rail to be more flexible with injectors and have a valve on the end of the rail for checking FP I needed a way to bolt down the rail... I've quickly drawn some brackets to hold it down in place.

These a nice and simple but much nicer than them being made from a piece of metal

One large job I had done back before Oulton but forgot to post about was having a new windscreen fitted. This time it was a heated screen as I no longer have a heater in the car and only cold air blowing at the driver and the windscreen. Hooked up half of the screen to the loom I had already fitted in the car when I rewired it to see it in action

I've given the car a really good clean. Looking a bit strange at the moment without the splitter and fog lights, but they'll be refitted and replaced before the next day out. Hoping to be out mid February in it.

Popped the car down to EFI tuning to run the car again on Thursday evening just for a quick check after noticing the fuel pressure problems at Oulton.

With a little bit of help from a friend with a lot of technical know how I had a slightly different exhaust vano timing to change in the mid range. Running the exhaust much more retarded in the mid range to increase the overlap. This smoothed out the mid range a little more and made a bit more torque.
I've also spotted an area between 5900-6400RPM where the inlet would benefit from being a tad more advanced than where it currently is. I I've got data from a previous dyno run with that which picked it up a few bhp in that area but missed that area when combining all the best vanos maps.

Here's the graph as it stands at the moment. Not bad considering the standard figures at 220ftlb and 230bhp. M50 Manifold giving a much better spread of torque across the mid range too.

Video of the car on the dyno with data overlay 245ftlb 243bhp

Obviously there is more in the pipeline over winter. Started buying and collecting more parts for a few jobs I want to tackle over the new few months. Got a few ideas to make it a little more lively on track.


96 posts

18 months

Monday 16th December 2019
quotequote all
Good update op,

Gutted to hear about the Oulton park incident, spun my e36 in exactly the same place more than once!

Are you completely remaking a splitter for the car or is the old one salvageable?


1,765 posts

45 months

Monday 16th December 2019
quotequote all
Not quite sure if this has been mentioned or asked before but what do you print your pieces with?
Looks either ABS or PETG?


Original Poster:

56 posts

14 months

Sunday 19th January
quotequote all
It's been very quiet over christmas with slow progress. Motivation to work on the car hasn't been very high so I've only been chipping away at jobs slowly. Also trying to decide what to do with the car from here. Probably finish off these few jobs and just use it though 2020.

One of the jobs that I've been wanting to tackle since I put the car towards was a knock coming from the rear sub frame which I have briefly looked at a few times but not enough to find where it was coming from. I however noticed a witness mark on the top and bottom of the rear sub frame bushes where the bush was obviously moving up and down at the rear depending on the load. Started with stripping down the rear end

On closer inspection I could see the bolt was bottoming out on the inner sleeve and not allowing the two parts of the polybush to clamp up fully against the subframe to prevent it from moving. Easy solution was the cut 3mm of the sleeve and then face it off on a lathe at work to give it a smooth flat surface.

With it cut down slightly you can see the yellow shoulders on the bush are tight up against the sub frame now.

Another reason the rear end of the car was stripped was to remove the diff because I had bought a 3.73 Final drive to see what it would be like to go even shorter. It might be too short considering I'm currently running a 3.38 over the standard 2.93. But only time will tell. Should give me a top speed of 130 MPH @ 6500RPM. My limiter is set at 6800RPM but I rarely rev it that high.

Started off stripping down the current diff with the Quaife and 3.38 FD.

Ordered all fresh seals from BMW, input seals, output seals and crush sleeve for setting the bearing drag on the input shaft

Input shaft assembly read to go back into the diff casing with the new crush sleeve

3.38 Crown wheel pressed off the Quaife diff and the 3.73 ready to be heated and refitted

Setting the drag on the input shaft to factory specification

Checked the gear pattern and everything was looking good so far. But upon checking the backlash with the DTI there was double the amount of backlash. I had to take it apart and adjust the side casing shims to reduce the amount of backlash and double check everything.
Finally happy with the gear pattern and the clearances.

Rear cover sealed on, ready to be cleaned up and repainted before refitting. Turns out it's exactly 12 months since I did this job and fitting the Quaife diff.

Other jobs which I've been working on in the new year is the replacement splitter after trashing the last one at Oulton. This time making it larger and running under the car back to the subframe to give better boxing in of the air coming through the front of the car into the coolers and radiator.

Making it out of 18mm plywood bolted straight to the chassis legs and the subframe easily takes my weight bouncing on the front edge of it.

Starting off with a few coats of varnish to seal it, a coat of black paint to cover the whole area before I start covering the front portion in filler primer and flatting it back to get it to a smooth finish the same as version 1. Then i will paint the front portion gloss black so it looks nice a presentable. As everything with this car it has to look as perfect as possible. A satin black spoiler isn't going to cut it.

Andrew-b90y3 said:
Good update op,

Gutted to hear about the Oulton park incident, spun my e36 in exactly the same place more than once!

Are you completely remaking a splitter for the car or is the old one salvageable?
Hopefully the above answers your question...

eezeh said:
Not quite sure if this has been mentioned or asked before but what do you print your pieces with?
Looks either ABS or PETG?
The printing is either done in ABS or PLA if it's a prototype or something inside the car.


Original Poster:

56 posts

14 months

Thursday 20th February
quotequote all
Progress to finish off the last few jobs...

Waiting for it to stop raining between storms has meant for slow progress but slow progress is better than no progress.

Got the splitter mounted up to the chassis mounts and bolted to the subframe.

Little bit bigger than the previous version, should just be enough clearance to pop it on a trailer with the XL ramps and low Brian James trailer

Fitted a set of replacement front lines I picked up in the sales in the new year. Every line was replaced when the car was built except the front lines as these were already braided lines, but over the last 6 months I've had the niggling feeling I should replace these for peace of mind as their age and previous use it a bit of an unknown

Also replaced the air cooling ducts. This ducting is dual layer, making it a bit thicker and more durable. Ripped both of the front ducts off when I came off at Oulton in December. They ripped cleanly off so I've fitted these in the same way in case the same happens again at some point.

Still a few bits of mud lurking on the car. Will get another wash before it goes out again to remove a couple of bits I've spotted while working on it.

Gave the brakes a bleed before putting the car back on it's wheels and a quick hoover to remove some of the dust off the seats from getting in and out.

Need to get out and test the car somewhere soon. Going to have a look if there is any cheap or weekend days at Anglesey during March. With the aim to get the car reliable again, confident in the new diff and then continue to use it this year.
Not the most exciting of updates but brings the thread up to date.


192 posts

212 months

Saturday 22nd February
quotequote all
I've really enjoyed reading the thread so far and can appreciate the effort that's gone into the car. I look forward to keeping up with the car's development!