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1985 BMW E28 520i - The MOT results are in...


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29 minutes ago, SiC said:

.....Later on in the evening I disassembled the unit. You can see the Varta Death caused by the leakage of the cells. Taken a few tracks out, so will be a bit of a pain to fix up.
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..... I went down to my local GSF to pick a few bits up. They had much more part selection than Euros and with the correct promo code, turned out to be not much more expensive than Autodoc either.

Only issue is you don't really know what you're going to get. Choices are either GSF Premium or GSF Standard. But with the limited supply of parts available, you take what you get given.
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Turned out this meant the cambelt kit was INA, filters are Mann and Hengst, thermostat Topran and pump some Spanish brand. So all reasonably decent stuff really....

With regard to the Varta-powered SI board, it's worth seeking out the Programa replacement SI board if your funds later allow it. This has no batteries at all, so no leakage in future. I had one on the 635CSi. Although US-designed and manufactured, it works perfectly well on European-spec cars - or at least it did on mine.

Looking at the Topran thermostat, it turns out that this is a German manufacturer (I initially thought they were Turkish). Topran seem to maintain an online webshop, which still appears to cater for the E28s - so it might be possible to order direct once you register with them.

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25 minutes ago, SiC said:

Headlamp bulbs are weird. Standard H4 is fitted but it appears the contacts of the connector are on the wrong place? So the high beam on the outer bulb doesn't make any connection at all. The back fitting appears to be polarised so you can't easily rotate it round without loosing side lights.
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For whatever reason, this may be a BMW 'thing' - okay, they're different bulbs on the E34 and E60 but in all cases, the inner ones are the main beam ones and the outer ones are dipped beam - you don't get all four becoming a "main beam" arrangement (unlike, say, my dad's Zodiac which could do that).

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Looking at that headlamp contact cover plate, are all the H4 contacts actually there? I can only see two out of the three....
There are three. The additional one at the top is a direct connection through. It seems that BMW/Hella wired it so the bottom contact on the connector is for the parking/side light. I guess they use the H4 bulb as it has the filament shield for low beam but don't use the other filament on the outers. Not sure why as it wouldn't have taken them much to and I don't think it's an issue on C&R to have four main beams. Maybe it was in some countries back in 1985. I believe they also have had to switch off the low beam filament as I don't think H4 bulbs are rated to have both burning together.
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As I think you've outlined above, the outer lights are dipped beam only, the main beam element of the H4 bulb isn't utilised. Some years had an odd arrangement where the voltage to the dipped beam was reduced, I think when the sidelights are on.

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14 minutes ago, spartacus said:

As I think you've outlined above, the outer lights are dipped beam only, the main beam element of the H4 bulb isn't utilised. Some years had an odd arrangement where the voltage to the dipped beam was reduced, I think when the sidelights are on.

That sounds rather like the dim-dip arrangement my first E34 had, built in 1989. A far more civilised arrangement and less injurious to the eyeballs than modern LED DRLs, which now have selected pillocks travelling on the A1 in the dark with no tail lights because the DRLs are bright enough to drive by.

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29 minutes ago, R1152 said:

That sounds rather like the dim-dip arrangement my first E34 had, built in 1989. A far more civilised arrangement and less injurious to the eyeballs than modern LED DRLs, which now have selected pillocks travelling on the A1 in the dark with no tail lights because the DRLs are bright enough to drive by.

Fuck me, I could rant about that for hours! Whoever signed off the idea of front lights on without rears needs their head looking at.

Anyhoo, I'll not foul up SiCs thread!

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Fuck me, I could rant about that for hours! Whoever signed off the idea of front lights on without rears needs their head looking at.
Anyhoo, I'll not foul up SiCs thread!

I'm almost certain it's a regulatory thing. In the body control module of our A4, it's a single checkbox that needs to be ticked so the rear lights come on when the DRLs are on. Obviously the body control manufacturer and VAG forward planned that rules may change to that, so left an option to enable it without going through the procedures of altering software (expensive) once already made.

I guess the idea is they're day running lights. With the idea being you can see approaching cars easily as the human brain knows if the lights are on, they're not stationary. There was a fair bit of chatter at the time about over-lighting and things getting missed. So perhaps it was felt that if you were following someone, situation awareness should have made that clear a car is in front.

There is also the side issue that modern dashboards light up with the lights off. On several different VAG vehicles I've driven, the dashes dim right back at night if the headlights off to indicate the headlights are off. Given I see VAG vehicles driving around at night with no lights on, there must be people simply never glancing at the dash when driving.

My experience of dim dip was on a 1993 MK1 MX5 I had. With lower side lights on, the headlights popped up and came on dim too. Irritating as having just the sidelights on without the main lights popping up was a useful thing. Easily fixed on the MX5 as you just disconnected the dim dip relay.

I think those dim dip rules disappeared pretty quickly.
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44 minutes ago, SiC said:

I think those dim dip rules disappeared pretty quickly.

They did - the '89 5er had them, the '94 5er didn't.

Some of us are old enough to remember Jasper Carrott doing an entire monologue about the lights you can't turn off on a Volvo back in the late 70s/early 80s?

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1 hour ago, spartacus said:

As I think you've outlined above, the outer lights are dipped beam only, the main beam element of the H4 bulb isn't utilised. Some years had an odd arrangement where the voltage to the dipped beam was reduced, I think when the sidelights are on.

The E24 coupes had the same arrangement until about June 1988 - H4s throughout, but only one of the filaments would ever be activated by either twin lamp.

When I converted to the later projector lens arrangement, the outer dipped beams became H1 single filament only, but the inner main beams remained H4 so half of those bulbs were still going to waste.

 

1 hour ago, R1152 said:

That sounds rather like the dim-dip arrangement my first E34 had, built in 1989. A far more civilised arrangement and less injurious to the eyeballs than modern LED DRLs, which now have selected pillocks travelling on the A1 in the dark with no tail lights because the DRLs are bright enough to drive by.

Most of the DRLs I see at night are bright enough to be visible (and blinding in some cases) to oncoming traffic, but with no discernable beam pattern on the road surface I can't see that they are actually bright enough to drive by.

38 minutes ago, SiC said:


....My experience of dim dip was on a 1993 MK1 MX5 I had. With lower side lights on, the headlights popped up and came on dim too. ...

Citroen did the same thing in the CX from about 1987 to end of production - if you switch on the side / marker lights, the headlamps also give out a dim glow.

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Can confirm my 89 Audi 100 is the same. 

Side lights do light up the "dipped" lights part of the H4 at a much reduced intensity.  I actually didn't think there was any specific little side light bulb when I got it but there is too. 

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I did this the other day but couldn't be bothered to write it up, as it'll be long. Anyway this is a electronics repair heavy post, so if you're not interested in such things, I'd probably skip this post.

The dash on this car is in need of some TLC. Especially as the Speedo isn't working. Number one culprit is the notorious Service Indicator board that suffers from Varta death. Basically the NiCad cells leak and the acid from them eats away the PCB. A real problem on any 80s and 90s electronics.

Firstly while the dash was apart, I attacked the clouded up front with a headlight restoration kit. No idea if this was going to work, but my thought was if it's good on clear headlights, why not dash plastic?
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The dash has this clouded and fuzzed up appearance. It's bad enough that you can't clearly see the dash dials. Not entirely sure what has caused this but I'm blaming this been a car which has been smoked in. Nothing good comes from smoking and automobiles.
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After 10 minutes work, it came up a right treat! Really pleased how well this has worked.
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Going back to the notorious Service Indicator PCB, this one has suffered really badly. Damaged enough to be pretty much unrepairable. Even if it was, it wouldn't be necessarily reliable either.
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Even the Speedo contacts on the otherside have corroded.
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This board is a proper 80s bodge fest. Believe it or not, this was quite common out of the factory for 80s electronics. Much cheaper than spinning a new PCB for a design issue!
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Thankfully a replacement dash was supplied with the car. It was bought as fully working but the Speedo appeared dead too when it was plugged in and tried.

Pulled the dash apart to retrieve our prize.
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This is in much better condition. However there still is evidence of corrosion to some of the traces.
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Someone has replaced the cells in this before and thankfully is what likely has saved this. Even if the replacement job is a bit crap.
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The ribbon cable plastic however came away without much persuasion.
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Firstly I charged up the cells to see if they would take one. Unfortunately they too seem rather dead and barely took one.
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The ribbon cable I fixed with multiple pieces of insulation tape and carefully ensuring the pieces are stuck to the wires. I'll replace this sometime in the future with a proper replacement ribbon cable, but the intention here first is to get it working for an MOT.
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Putting the PCB back into the rear dash housing came across a problem.
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Turns out the good PCB is from a 1982 car. By 1985 they'd tweaked the connector positions and changed the plastic mouldings to suit.
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So after going back to the 1982 back plastic, I could put it back together again.
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Found a car wiring diagram and connected up the dash to my bench PSU.
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Powered on. Initially with low current limit to limit the damage incase anything wanted to fry and/or I got the wrong pins. Then upped when it appeared no dead shorts.
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Success!
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Tried the service reset pin and got it to normal.
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Wired up the Speedo to a bunch of contacts to test it. Twitching them gave no response on the Speedo. Darn. Time to pull the dash apart again.

Firstly check the Speedo works. Applied power directly to the pins and tapped the signal line to ground. Got movement. Great the Speedo is fine.
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Buzzed out with my multimeter to find the break. The signal comes in on the main light board and then off to a connector for the Service Interval PCB. The Speedo then connects into the Service Interval PCB. Top was fine, so the break appeared to be in the Service Interval PCB.

Starting from the connector, I buzzed to the Speedo connection and found there must be a break on the boards. Again buzzing along the tracks till I found the break.
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The tracks for the Speedo are the ones in the top left hand corner where my thumb is. Inconveniently these are right next to where the NiCad cells are. So the leakage will pool in that corner, eating those important tracks away.
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I soldered on some replacement wires that took the signal directly from the top ribbon connector to the Speedo connector. While there, I reflowed all the other pins.
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Putting the dash back together, I flicked the lines again and got the Speedo twitching. Success!
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I then packed up for the day.

Next day I ran the dash up again. This time I noticed some flickering segments.
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Pulling the dash apart yet again, I found quite a few cracked solder joints. I reflowed these with fresh solder.
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While there I removed the cells on the PCB and fitted an external battery pack. The idea being that the source of cell leakage will be well away from the SI PCB.
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Putting the dash back together and repowering I found that the Service Indicator was starting to act really weird.
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So I pulled it all apart and rechecked everything. I couldn't see anything amiss.

Confused, I stuck the other dash SI screen on to check it wasn't the resoldering and see if that was doing the same. This was acting even weirder.
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At this point I was getting pretty frustrating, having disassembled and reassembled the dash countless times. I tried replacing all the electrolytic caps to no avail.
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Unfortunately there appears to be no readily available schematic or even datasheet for the main chip on this board. So without that, I was shooting blind and I didn't really want to go to the bother of reverse engineering the board. No least that this is a very early model board and different in layout and parts to the 1985 board that came out of the car.

I'm pretty sure something has failed on the board or one of the extra parts on the newer revision board resolves. After spending another day poking around, I decided enough was enough. Remember the main aim here is to get the car through an MOT. The now fixed Speedo is part of that but the Service Indicator really is not. As the flickering was rather annoying, I've pulled the main IC out. This allows the rest of the cluster to work, just loosing the temperamental Service Indicator function.

There is a good chance anyway that it won't be much use for my use either! As this will be a low mileage classic, there is a good chance I'll be changing the oil on age much before the indicator tells me.

After putting the dash back together, I rechecked the Speedo worked and also tested the Temperature gauge, as well as the fuel gauge worked. Both with a Potentiometer attached to the revelant pins.
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Feeling a bit dejected, I fixed another important bit. The key light.

A good start as it still just about worked when pushed.
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Pulled the key apart.
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Cleaned up the contacts and put a fresh battery in.
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Much more useful! (I'll probably never use it...)
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  • SiC changed the title to 1985 BMW E28 520i - Electronic Dash Repair

I remember my speedo used to stick every journey until I applied a bit of percussive maintenance to the dash top, but all the lights & gauges worked OK, probably due to it only being about 15 years old when I had it.

 

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Started prepping for the cambelt today.

Final bits arrived. A new tensioner spring and coolant cap.
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Coolant cap is apparently the correct code for the car, but it's of a very different design to the original. It fits on the tank, so presumably ok. Anyone know if this is right?
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Fitted dash
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Had this green connector left over with no obvious place for it to live?
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Started up and it looks like we've got a functioning dash now. Not had a chance to check the Speedo works yet though. Fuel gauge appears to be MIA though. Is that what the green connector is for?!
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Jacked up car to place on ramps. Ramps because I'm not needing to get to the wheels and also all my stands are in use holding the Dolomite up.

This took far longer than it should have, as the ramps kept wanting to tilt sideways from the cover of the tyres. I did try driving up, but the car really didn't want to get to the top. Probably could have had a run up, but I don't like driving up ramps. Anyway after half hour farting around it was up.
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First up was removing the viscous fan.
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I bought these tools to do the job from Amazon. Nothing like the brand I actually bought and neither did they seem great quality.
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Two tools, one to go between the nuts on the pump pulley to hold in place. The other end I let push against the PAS pump pulley.

Then a not very accurate 32mm spanner to loosen the nut. Reverse thread, so clockwise to undo.
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Fan came off with a crack and not too much effort. Then spun off the rest of the way by hand.
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Airbox off next. This frees up a fair bit of room and allows access to the dizzy.
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Air filter has this interesting dirty line across. Lines up exactly on the otherside where the intake is.
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Dizzy cap off. Vacuum line for advance is completely shot. I'm going to have to get an assortment of hose thicknesses and redo the lines. Most are knackered. Likewise some of the coolant and fuel hoses don't look too healthy either.

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Speaking of healthy, the dizzy cap doesn't look terribly terrific.
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The rotor arm is date coded 1984! So original to the car and a good 120k use. No wonder it looks knackered.
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Going to have to source a new cap and rotor from somewhere. Ignition leads look Ok and I may leave them until MOT'd and more budget available.
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Aux belts off next.
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Which are truly knackered. The one that still has teeth left is all cracked up.
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Called it a night for today as next will be draining down the coolant system. I didn't want to do that today as I'm having to do this outside, thanks to the Dolomite occupying the garage at the moment. Being outside, I need to make 100% sure the area is thoroughly washed down from any spills to prevent any local animals attempting to taste residue.

So have a few underside pictures to admire the remarkably rust-free underside. The cars undercarriage is tidier than up top!
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I remember doing pretty much everything you've listed regarding the dash and service on my E28 528iSE back in 1993.. A998WKW. 

That was my favourite BMW saloon I've owned. Manual with LSD and aircon. 

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Just activating pendant mode here: the leaky electrolyte in NiCd cells is an alkali, not an acid - it's potassium hydroxide. Doesn't alter the fact they're evil bastard things. 

Excellent work on the dash, a good and informative read. 

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  • SiC changed the title to 1985 BMW E28 520i - Cambelt Change

Just bought yet another Dash cluster to add to the collection 😄

Sold as an E39 dash but it looked much more like an E28 one and pretty much identical as the one on the car. For 15 quid posted I reckoned it worth a punt. Never know, the SI Board may have decent cells in.

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https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/124618098173

 

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A bit more done tonight.
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Firstly removed the undertray. I find it interesting how modern this car is, considering it is a 1985 model. Not only an undertray on the car but these plastic fixing nuts are just like you'd find on a modern car. Like a modern car, they break up when undone!
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Radiator out and drained down. Coolant tank is a bit manky and quite a lot of brown crap came out of the radiator. Think the system needs a very good flush through.
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Also alternator bracket off, wiring and hoses out the way.
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Top cover off
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Set timing. Not entirely clear on this picture but there is a notch out the cam tooth.
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Bottom timing checked. The bottom cover is only bolted, so this must be a reference/verification marker mostly for timing purposes.
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Belt is actually in surprisingly good condition. No visible cracks and tension seems reasonable. Genuine BMW branded belt too.
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Removed bottom pulleys. 5 bolts to remove these. To stop it turning, I used these two wrenches and pushed/pulled together. Seemed to do the trick.
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Inner pulley came off.
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Big pulley didn't immediately seem obvious it come off, but internet says it did. A bit of light prying with a screwdriver got it to pop out.
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Bottom cover off
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Verify crank timing here. Yellow mark is not mine, must have been done by the previous person here.
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Marked pulley for distributor. Looks like someone again has been here before with slight yellow paint and red marker. I redid with a green marker to make it still clearer.
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Also marked the dizzy as a sanity check.
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Then packed up as I'm working outside at the moment and don't want to wake neighbours up. Also had to wash down the drive with the hose pipe to make sure no antifreeze was left on the floor.

Did notice that the clutch fluid reservoir is empty. Pretty sure this wasn't previously but I can't see where it possibly might have leaked from. Neither the master nor the slave looks wet. I had noticed it crunching into first gear when I was moving the car around on the drive, so it seems like it's low enough that air has got in.
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The cap is also split on the container, so I've ordered a whole new container+cap as it wasn't much more expensive. I do need to source some new hose to go between the container and master that is compatible with brake fluid.

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Undid the tensioner bolts. Bottom needed a crows foot to be able to get the leverage onto it.
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Then pushed the tensioner all the way back and rebolted it to lock it untensioned.
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Walked the belt off. This was a bit of a fight as the pressed steel sprockets had rust on the teeth and was grabbing the belt.
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Removed the tensioner entirely.
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Belt seemed to be in pretty good condition. Tensioner had some noise in the bearings though.
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Finally the water pump.
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Spent a good chunk of time cleaning up the block face.
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After the Clio water pump leaking incident, I took no risk this time and used Hylomar on the mating surfaces.
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Carefully bolted the pump back onto the block, trying my best not to get blue goo on everything.
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Prepped the tensioner spring by cleaning the retaining pin. New Vs old springs.
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Bolted the tensioner on and locked into the fully (belt) untensioned position.
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New belt on and release the tensioner to lock the belt.
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Spun the engine over 4 or so times. Then undid the tensioner again for it to grab up the slack. You can just about see the extra room the tensioner has moved.
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Covers back on. I spent a good half hour or longer giving these a scrub with carb cleaner, scraper wire brush and wire wool. Not perfect but a lot of the dirty grime has gone.
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Pulleys on
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Belts on and tensioned.
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Front pipe work back on. Changed some of the crusty Jubilee Clips with fresh genuine Jubilee clips.

A bit of a war with trying to get the ignition lead bundle into the right place and even more of a fight trying to get the distributor cap on. The cap is truly buggered, not only are the pick up points worn through and dirty, the retaining legs are rusty and bent. I've got a replacement rotor arm coming but not got around to sourcing a decent cap. When I last looked at it, I thought I could get away with just the arm, but now looking at it, it definitely could do with one.
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Unbolted the thermostat housing. When I saw this crystallised crap, I decided to call it a night. The cooling system is in need of a good flush through. Not only crystallised coolant but also brown sediment is all through it. Apart from it sitting with old coolant for a long time previously, I suspect someone in the past has mixed coolant types too.
3c01b0a4420a7f56264023039260e46d.jpg

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Nice work. How did you lock the cam so it doesn't move while the belt is off or did you just mark it up? Much simpler when there's just 1 cam shaft I guess!

I agree with what you say about the modern car thing. When I got my first one more than 20+ years ago I'd been dodging around in old fords and Citroens and it blew my mind how well these were built and thought out comparison.

Little things like the sound deadening and how well they're laid out in side with the driver focused dash. Remember the Marina dash had the radio pointing away from the driver (good thinking BL)

 

 

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1 hour ago, cort16 said:

Nice work. How did you lock the cam so it doesn't move while the belt is off or did you just mark it up? Much simpler when there's just 1 cam shaft I guess!

I agree with what you say about the modern car thing. When I got my first one more than 20+ years ago I'd been dodging around in old fords and Citroens and it blew my mind how well these were built and thought out comparison.

Little things like the sound deadening and how well they're laid out in side with the driver focused dash. Remember the Marina dash had the radio pointing away from the driver (good thinking BL)

There's nothing to lock the cams, crank or distributor in place on these. Purely marking the positions and then checking things haven't moved. A bit unnerving, especially given my last and only other cambelt change was the Clio 172 where locking and positioning is crucial! Not started it up yet, so it could still can go horribly wrong yet 🤣

As I've just mentioned on TDW, this car is quite interesting. You can see all the traits of modern BMWs in this. Not only a big plastic undertray, but using plastic fasteners to hold it on. They even use plastic screws to hold on the Kidney grill - naturally they snapped when you turned them. Plus full of electronics (for the time). Not only ECU but solid state Speedo, rev counter and on board computer. Even the heater control has the temperature written on it, which regulates the heater core by electronically actuating a heater valve determined by an internal temperature sensor. Also options are central locking, electric windows, electric mirrors, electric sunroof and even electric power seats with memory.

All this from a car that came out around 1981.

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3 hours ago, SiC said:

 🤣 (sorry, my phone won't let me delete this bloody emoji - R1152.) 

Even the heater control has the temperature written on it, which regulates the heater core by electronically actuating a heater valve determined by an internal temperature sensor.

Is that sensor operated by drawing a small vacuum from the manifold past a sensor in the footwell, like in the E34? 

My mate's 1984 Renault 11 Turbo had an electronic speedo with a stepper motor operating the odometer. 

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Just realised I put the rubber cover on the side of the metal cam covers on the wrong way. No wonder I couldn't get the ignition harness in properly.

Should be:
d5064b7fa81f69b9fa24bfce0e99d80a.jpg

Currently is:
6f7066d23effa1829451625af1a5e7a9.jpg

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Is that sensor operated by drawing a small vacuum from the manifold past a sensor in the footwell, like in the E34? 

AFAIK it's a thermistor in the interior that feeds back to the control knob in the dash. This controls the power going to the heater valve. I wouldn't be surprised if it's just a op-amp or even a comparator in that box - it's pretty small. No idea if it's even proportional - probably not!


My mate's 1984 Renault 11 Turbo had an electronic speedo with a stepper motor operating the odometer. 

Tbf, Renault have always been pretty advanced with their electronic features in their cars too. Cutting edge enough that their success with said electronics could be variable!

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  • SiC changed the title to 1985 BMW E28 520i - The MOT results are in...

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