There was a time when I could not understand people who left half-finished project cars sitting on their driveways. That time has passed. Because I have let Project Improvvisatore do exactly that in the last few months.
Usual excuses of lack of time and awful weather aside, it has been a challenging few months. However, since the last update, I have managed not only to make a proper to-do list, but to actually cross a few things off of it. Enough to give you another little update on the BMW E39 project, at least.
What’s been happening
One of the big things I’ve been tackling is simply getting the engine bay clean. A split crankcase vent hose and leaking rocker cover gasket left oil residue everywhere. I bought some strong degreaser and set to work soaking everything down. The difference it has made is remarkable, and it is now far more more pleasant to work on things. Below is just one part of it, but you can see how much of a difference a quick spray and hose down has made.
As part of my cleaning, I’ve removed and cleaned all the air intake pipework, as well as the throttle body and idle air control valve. Pull things apart is the easy part. Now I am at the point where I’m starting to think I should have labelled the various electrical connectors.
From there, I turned my attention to the top of the engine. I have replaced the rocker cover gasket, and while I had everything apart, replaced the VANOS seals. A well-known weak point on the M52 engines, they become brittle and wear out, leading to a number of running problems. These include decreased fuel economy, stumbling at idle when cold, and some hesitation at lower revs. The good news is that it is a fairly easy fix. It is a few hours’ work, and an upgraded set of seals only costs £15. You can see here why this is pretty essential.
With everything apart, I cleaned the sludge out of the top of the cylinder head. My initial plan was just to remove some of the buildup in the corners, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. This is overkill, for sure, but it felt good to put the cover back on knowing how clean it was underneath. I managed to suck and/or blow most of the crud out, but I will do two oil changes in quick succession to catch any sludge that washed down into the sump.
Finally, I pulled out the fuel injectors, which are easily accessed on this engine. I wanted to make sure they were clean, and fit some new seals to them. If you ever want to do the same, I shared a little video on Twitter with a simple DIY for cleaning injectors.
My garage has a few boxes of E39 bits sitting round now. But really, all of this leaves me at the point of just needing to put it all back together. I’ve got new spark plugs, fluids and filters, a new thermostat, and some crankcase hoses to fit, and I should be able to fire it up again. Beyond that, there are a couple of advisories on the last MOT to attend to. Then I’d like to take it for a drive and see what else it needs mechanically.
From there, I’ll be waiting for the weather to improve so I can start giving the car the proper cleaning it deserves.