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After a catastrophic engine failure on track, I decided to take advantage of the situation and build what I have been dreaming of for 5 years. The BMW motors are very capable but I am from a time when asphalt ripping torque was king. Both the S54 and S52 engine coupes I've run are a blast, but holding my foot to the floor 70% of the time and driving like I am in a momentum car has left me wanting more. I've thought about a small block Chevy engined coupe since 2003. A fellow by the name of Hanson proved the concept in a Z3 a couple years ago. His Z3 roadster is powered with a LS1 and is driven on the street. My project in some ways will be easier since street manners and systems integration is a nonissue. In fact I removed the remaining wiring harness last week.
Yes there are still many take off parts in the garage. You can see what's available here. http://www.pbfut.com/GarageSale/listings.htm Many of you have purchased and helped the cause. I am truly grateful.
Basic setup will be an LS2 motor from a 2005 GTO. I am hoping to mate a Richmond Gear 6 speed transmission I've had since new. I purchased the tranny 12 years ago for a 72 big block Corvette project I eventually sold prior to completion.
I am not sure how much I will document. It is so hard to find time to post entries to a site like this. But for now, here goes.
I found this engine posted for sale on a LS engine web site. It was in Florida. I am in California. I posted a request on Bimmerforums Z3 site requesting assistance with checking the engine out. 45 minutes later, I had the arrangements made. Got to love the power of the Z3 brotherhood and the internet. The deal nearly went south a couple times but finally I was in possession 12-4-08.
My dog Coda is always close by and keeps me calm when the
frustration level begins to rise.
Projects like this have many opportunities to loose it
Engine bay mostly cleared for the new bullet. Notice no
brake MC, booster, or ABS pump
New brake, and clutch master cylinders and pedals
The angle make it look like they are low but are in fairly
good position. Need to raise them about an inch.
Within adjustment limits I think.
A few more shots of the LS2 on the stand as it was shipped to
Inevitably, the question comes up regarding the rear pan seams.
I never had problems with the S54 and that thing saw a lot of track. I
really think the early install at about 10K miles made the difference.
This car had some issues at some point in time. It was hit at both ends
some time in it's life. Though straight, seams throughout the car have
popped. I addressed the rear pan during the initial build. I added a
triangle into the rear support. It ties to a plate that attaches directly
to the differential. No more movement at all.
I took part in a group buy on a new radiator. Size is questionable for the LS motor. The thing is, thicker radiators are not always more efficient. I'm a bit skeptical, only time will tell.
5-25-09 OK it's been way too long since I updated. I have not spent very much time on the car at all. Work and a buying a little project house for mom set me back big time. I was able to put an hour in here and there fabbing parts of the motor, tranny and shifter mounts. Doing so made the jobs not feel difficult or frustrating. I think my biggest frustration was getting the holes in the plat that mounts to the block in the correct location. It took me a few tries before I was satisfied. I am pleased with the results.
My first step was to see if I could effectively re-route the steering column so as to make room for off the shelf headers. Customs are nearly $1000 in the area and frankly, I just wanted to see if I could do the entire job myself even if it meant giving up a bit hear and there.
Funny how you look past the dirt until you take pictures. I power washed the hell out of this car after the S52 blew up. Amazing how that oil just keeps finding it's way back out of cracks.
Off the shelf block huggers slide right in.
Motor mounts were surprisingly easy to put make. Since using solid mounts is not an issue and preferred for tack it also made the job more simple. No comments about the welds. I know they are not the prettiest. The small piece bolts to the front subframe. Leaving it loose makes aligning the bolt holes on the end of the mount to the connector very easy. I can place the engine in the car in under five minutes. With tranny attached.
The transmission was pretty tight. I originally had the motor and tranny lower but it place the pan too close to the ground. Raising put the tranny up in the tunnel higher. The tunnel pinches down some up high and it caused the linkage to just touch. A 5lb sledge and a few whacks fix that problem. The shifter location of the Mcoupe is 7 inches aft of the location I had a mount for... Some scrap plate and angle made easy solution to the problem. I used the angle to stiffen the plate so the shifter is rock solid. For those wondering, that is not a t56. It is a Richmond Gear 6speed. I bought it new 14 years ago for a project that sold before completion. In a way, it is easier since locating the shifter was nothing more than lengthening the shift rods and modifying the shifter mount.
Fits like a glove.
The Big Push to finish
OK it's been 2 years. Time to quit dicking around and finish.
I did not like the LS1 Camaro pan. It was too low and I would have tore it off the first off. Saved up 500 big ones and had a custom pan built. Looks like nice work. The baffles are interesting. Hope they work.
Ok baby, ready for your new heart?
I fabricated a better keeper for the throwout bearing.
The extended stud that came with the bearing did not position correctly and just did not feel right
The shims that came with the kit were needed and set the bearing perfect. Zero slop but the
bearing pulls off the pressure plate fingers just enough so it's fully released and not spinning.
The Howe bearing works perfect with a 7/8" master. Very short throw. May be a bit heavy
for the street. You may be able to get away with a 5/8" for a lighter feel.
Open Wide. It is much easier to put the motor and tranny together out of
Then shove the whole assembly in place.
Yes it's all done on jack stands.
Some minor sheet metal work to complete but it's functional for now.
Fuel regulator and oil filter. Glad the brake system is now inside the car.
Lots o room in front. Hoses were a bit of a piece job.
Oil cooler is up out of harms way and worked well on the S52.
Hopefully it will be able to keep up with the bigger motor.
That's a new Z3 Aero bumper. My old one was just too buggered up.
It went in nice and easy. I wet cranked the motor over to pressurize the oil and
Minor fuel leak requiring a washer. I made one out of of a silicone spark plug boot. I just sliced it and made a thin washer.
Then, a major oil leak. One of the bungs on the custom oil pan had a pin hole flaw in the weld. No way to fix in car.
It all had to come back out.
5-14 Got it all back together. Wet crank, no leaks. Cool ready to
rumble. Powered up the
ECU and no fire. SHIT!
One full week of an hour here an hour there. She fired 5-22. Exactly 2 years to the day and hour of the exposion.
I realized it later that day the timing was unintentional and a little spooky. I figured out, the aftermarket shop that did the
stand alone harness had inadvertently flipped the crank sensor leads when they repaired the broken connector.
So the 12v pos and neg were swapped. Easy fix. Just hell to find. I kept looking for mistakes I could have made.
So, I am 3 weeks dicking with 2 errors made by someone else I paid to do the work.
5-26 Ran it on a Dyno today. It's a bit lean. 402/376 at
the wheels. Needs a tune and race gas.
One of the shop helpers videoed the pull. He said he would utube it but I have know idea when, or how to find it.
I did a video using my camera but the sound overpowered the system and it was just a garbled mess.
Maybe someone will have a camera at the track this weekend.
6-15-10 Way too lean at the track. Only ran about 10 min. Did a tune and dyno. Now putting out 416/396 at the wheels.
6-25-10 Damn manifold pressure map was too conservative. If I was full throttle under load and lifted to brake, the surge in manifold pressure would show outside of parameters. If the ECU recorded 3 of those events, it would limp to protect the motor. So I have to program the ECU MP map so that the sensor would not read outside of parameters.
I've had it to the track 3 times. Minor issues for the most part until last time out. I tore apart 6th gear in the Richmond 6 speed.
In speaking with Richmond, it is apparent that the level of stress I am putting on the trans is just past the ability to hold. Richmond says the Trans is good to 450 Ftlbs. That about where I am at. The problem comes from road race down shifts with slicks in 6th gear. According to the Richmond Tech, they have had issues before with the exact same result. over 140MPH lifts with race rubber and tall rear ends. Apparently the torque transferred back on a throttle lift is over the gear sets ability to hold. It is when I heard the first sign of failure. I will have to repair and sell this trans. Per the tech, the box is excellent for the street but was never engineered for full race applications. So anyone needing a Richmond Gear Rod Six speed with GM input and output splines for the street, please let me know. It's going for 1/2 price @1600. Fully repaired and ready to install. About 5 hours total on the box. Includes the shifter.
A Jerico 4-4 Used but in exceptional shape.
Incl. a Hurst Super Shifter and Heat Sensor.
Yes, those gears are straight cut and polished$$$$$$
8-20-10 Damn. Got the input shaft out and found a chip in a cluster gear. Another 300 bucks and delay.
Realized I had not updated for a while.
The Richmond Gear 6 speed got sold to a fellow doing an LS swap into a 8 series for real cheap. He will repair.
The Jerico gave me a few problems. After initial install, things worked pretty good if I did not push it at Auto Club Speedway. Everywhere else was fine because I rearly use 4th at other tracks. The 2.65 rear end means I hit 135 in 3rd. I kept jumping out of 4th gear at WOT on the main straight. Once so hard it slammed the shifter into 3rd and I had a bit of over Rev. I sent the tranny back to Jerico in S. Carolina for a second time. They said the 4th gear slider was a little worn but did not think it was the cause. I had to use althread to extend the shift linkage the same way as the Richmond tranny above and they felt the rod was flexing and pulling out of gear. It thought it was strange as it would move the handle before the tranny lever but what the hell, a longer Jerico rod was only 75 bucks. When reinstalling, I noticed the tunnel was a little close to the lever on the trans. About a 1/2 inch, maybe things were twisting enough that the lever was bumping the tunnel. I pounded the tunnel to get another 3/4 inch or so. Plenty room now. So between the slider swap, new shifter rod, and relieving the tunnel, all is now good. I ran Auto Club a month ago all day with no issues. Well with the tranny anyway. On Saturday the Differential mounting bolts backed out. The pumpkin was moving just enough that the cooling fin was toughing the exhaust. The noise being transmitted back into the car made it sound like the Diff was failing. So at lunch I hauled FrankenCoupe home after not being able to identify the problem at the track. The garages at Auto Club Speedway are dark and I just did not see the loose bolts on to the diff. So a few turns of the wrench and a little tweaking of the exhaust I was ready for Sunday. 1:50 - 1:51 in the AM. Tires were old and I corded 2 by lunch. One with a new set of tires on my times dropped to 1:46 - 1:47. Buttonwillow is on Nov. 5th, it will be interesting to see how Frank does. It's been a while since I've been to that track. Something always seems to come up on Buttonwillow weekends.
11-5-11 Buttonwillow. All systems go. First session felt good. 3 laps into 2nd session and I rip the center hub out of the clutch. Done for the weekend.
11-11-11 Boris Said opens his new dealership in Murrieta.
My daughter Amy works at the dealership and they asked if I would bring FrankenCoupe over for a static display. Boris is one very nice person. He is exceptionally friendly and makes everyone around him feel at home. It was a push to get the broken clutch out of FrankenCoupe and replaced with a McLeod in time for the event. Any trans or clutch work requires me to remove the engine which in turns requires the front of the car to be removed.
Lots of bugs this year. Mostly my own doing. Missing little things and making big problems. In July, I kept having the tranny jump out of 4th at high speed at Cal Speedway. Jerico could not find anything in the tranny that looked bad enough to cause the problem. They recommended I change my getto shifter rods to their aluminum design. Upon return, I mated the engine and tranny together and installed. While mating, I noticed the units did not go into place as easily as in the past. I did not think much of it, and simply used the bell housing bolts to pull the tranny into place. Bad idea. After 30 minutes of tack time in November, I noticed a vibration at times. Then upon shifting 3rd to 2nd, it felt a little odd. Like it jumped into 2nd faster then I let the clutch out. It also had a good vibration going. So I pitted, only to find out the clutch was not disengaging. Picture of disc above. When I was mating the trans to the engine, that resistance I felt was the input shaft pushing the pilot bearing further into the crank and not properly aligning the shaft. The result was clutch failure. Hopefully no real damage to the tranny main shaft bearings. I won't know till February event.
Since the car is so different from the original BMW motor, and I've always wanted a Union 76 ball on the side of the car, now is as good a time as any to change. With the new season upon us, it will be easy to change in NASA's administration.