Saturday, November 29, 2008

Replacing the Head Gasket Part Two

I missed a couple of steps on Thanksgiving when I started tearing the head down. I forgot to disconnect the exhaust from the head, so I started with that today. It took me a good amount of time to do it since you have to remove 24 nuts that hold the manifold to the head. Most of the nuts came out with the studs, all except for two of them. I also had to remove the six nuts from where the headers connect to the exhaust pipes, it made it much easier to get the headers off.

The rest of the way, I made sure to follow the Bentley's Manual step by step. Everything went pretty well.

One of the things I've done that I've never done before was take great care in documenting and labeling where everything goes. Last time I took the Intake Manifold off of the 93 525i, I mixed up the fuel lines when I put it back together and it wouldn't start. It took me about an hour to figure out what I did. Hopefully the extra time I took to mark everything will relieve me from having to spend time troubleshooting a problem.

There wasn't a whole lot of stuff to take pictures of until I pulled the head off, so I will put a couple of pictures at the end of this post.

Over the summer, I purchased all of the special BMW tools you need to do a head gasket replacement. You really do need them if you want to do the job right without breaking anything. I used the tools at the appropriate times and everything came apart as it should have.

Once I had all of the head bolts out, I was ready to take the head off. I gave it a little tug, nothing. I tapped it a couple of times with a rubber mallet and tried again, it moved. I grabbed it on both ends and the front came up first and then the rear. I didn't have my body positioned like I should have, so I set it down to reposition my feet. I then pulled up and it came out. Once I had it off the block, I balanced the head on the inside of the fender well so I could fish the timing chain through the head to finish getting it out of the engine compartment. I took it over and put it with all the other parts on my work bench. It is heavier than it looks.

Once the head was off, I looked to see where the gasket had failed. I found a spot on the exhaust side right between the #3 and #4 cylinders. I didn't see a break, but you could tell it had been leaking there. Inside of the the exhaust header for the #3 cylinder, you could see that it was sort of greasy looking. The water must have been going through that cylinder. I remember when I was having the problem earlier in the year I pulled the spark plugs and the #3 cylinder plug was discolored, so I'm pretty sure that was where the problem is.

This picture shows the head off of the block.

This is a close up of the area where I believe the leak to be in the head gasket. The spot is directly below the middle cylinder, right in the middle of the picture.

This is just a picture of all the stuff I've taken off the car. I had some old pieces of pressboard left over from some project I did a while back, so I cleared off my work bench and put the pressboard on top of it. As I removed the parts, I put them there and wrote directly on the pressboard where it came from. I think it will work well, there are a lot of small parts, nuts, bolts, you know. I've documented pretty well I think.

One thing did happen that I didn't plan on, probably cost me an extra $150 and several hours of time. When I was trying to pull the head off, I must have caught the primary chain tensioner guide and broke the leading edge off of it. Actually I'm glad I found it. It could have been very easy to not find it and put everything back together. Anyway, to replace the guide, you have to remove the timing chain cover. To remove the cover you have to remove the crankshaft pulley, all of the belts, two belt pulleys, one tensioner and you have to drop the oil pan.

I will tackle the oil pan and then the timing cover on Monday.

Replacing the Head Gasket Part One

This picture is what it looked like before I started disassembling everything that needed to come off to get the head off.

This next picture is from the same angle, but I've removed a few things. Namely, the Air Filter box, the boot to the Throttle Body, the radiator hoses, most of the vacuum lines, coolant lines, etc. to the Intake Manifold and Throttle Body. Also removed are the throttle cables.

This picture shows that I've removed even more stuff. The entire Intake Manifold is now off. I've also removed the Head Cover, you can tell by looking on the left side of the picture (you can see some of the timing chains and the VANOS).

This picture is taken from the other side of the car. It shows the top of the head with the Head (valve) cover removed. Also gone now is the black plastic cover that goes over the intake camshaft.

I didn't take any pictures of this, but I also removed the VANOS. When I got to this point, I decided to quit for the day. I did all of this on Thanksgiving Day. Just so you know, if you want to see a bigger picture, all you have to do is click on the smaller one.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Head Gasket

The 95 525i has a blown head gasket. It actually happened earlier in the year, somewhere around the end of April. I tried three different "Head Gasket Fix" in a can products to try and fix it. The first two did nothing, the last one actually sealed it up for about five months. Got me through the summer.

Last Sunday, Nov. 23, I got home from work late and decided to drive the 95 to Church to meet up with the rest of the family. I knew the gasket was blown when I started it up. Really rough idle with steam blowing out of the exhaust pipe. I drove it anyway. When church was over, the car started OK, idled rough for a bit but smoothed out. The distance from Church to home is about 2.5 miles. I got stopped at a light on the way home and while I was sitting there, the temperature gauge started rising. It went up to the 3/4 hot mark before I could move. When the light changed, I punched it and it went right to the 7/8 mark. I kept going and it hit the red zone just as I pulled into my driveway. I immediately shut the car off and let it sit for about 4 hours before I moved it into the garage where it is still sitting as I work on pulling the head off.

Yesterday, I stripped off most of what needs to come off to get the head off. Tomorrow, I plan on getting the head pulled off.

I have some pictures and will post them in a series of blog entries documenting the process. I have a remanufactured Head ordered and on the way to my house. I've also ordered most of the other stuff I need to complete the job.

I'm taking a trip to Philadelphia with my brother to see the Army - Navy Football game next Saturday, so I won't be able to put the new head on until I get back in about a week and a half. All of the parts I'm ordering should be here by then, so I won't have to wait for anything to arrive once I get started putting it back together.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New Radio

I decided recently to replace my perfectly good stereo in my 2003 Expedition. I have put new radios in both of the BMW's I've purchased recently and sort of like the ability to play a CD with upwards of a couple of hundred songs on it. The radio in the Expedition was able to play only Audio CD's and Tapes, no MP3's.

I ordered the radio from Crutchfield. I've had excellent service from them in the past and did again, except for one little thing. The kit they send to adapt the stereo to the opening had a broken tab on it that is used for mounting the radio to the chassis. I didn't want to wait for a replacement, I know that Crutchfield would have sent me one, so I fabricated one out of a piece of sheet metal. It seems to have worked OK.

You can see in this picture where I fabricated the tab out of sheet metal (lower left).

Crutchfield sends you a
ll the instructions you need to remove the old and install the new stereo. For the first time, the instructions were a bit confusing to me. I had to call their tech support twice during the install. Once to clarify how to wire the plug to the new stereo into the wiring adapter. I followed their instructions and found that my unit was a bit different. After another call, they helped me figure out that I only needed one of the plugs that came out of the old radio, apparently the second plug was for a CD changer that I didn't have in my car.

It took me a bit longer than I expected to do the install, but in the end it all worked out good. The only thing that I need to fix is the tab I fabricated needs to be modified. The radio is sitting just a little crooked in the opening. It isn't that noticeable, but it will bug me until I fix it.

Here is a picture of it installed, you can see it is a little higher on the left side.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Adventures in Car Hauling

I have some time now, thought I'd tell the story of towing the 93 525i home from where I bought it.

Just to recap, the car ran when I bought it, but it had a bad water pump, so you couldn't run it too long before it would overheat. I figured that I could tow it home since AAA told me that the only way they would tow it is if it was an emergency roadside call. Being the honest guy that I am, I didn't want to lie about it, so my only other option was to pay for a tow or rent a car hauler on my own and do it myself.

Where I bought the car was about 100 miles one way from my house. Paying to have someone tow it home would have been very costly, I didn't even check into it. The do it yourself route was my only real option. I called around and found a place that would actually let me rent a car hauler. Many places wouldn't let me because I have a half ton chassis on my Expedition. Most wanted a 3/4 ton chassis to tow. I found this place in Hesperia that said if I brought my vehicle down, they would inspect it and let me know if I could rent from them. I went there and since I had a factory tow hitch installed rated way over what the trailer and car weighed in at, they agreed to let me rent the trailer. I made an appointment to pick up the trailer the next Tuesday which was three days away.

Tuesday arrives, I take care of the stuff I need to during the day and then about Two in the afternoon, I go down and pick up the trailer along with a spare (since I'm going over 75 miles one way) and the binder chains to tie the car down with. I had decided to do this in the evening/night time hours so I wouldn't hit so much traffic going through LA. The freeways I would be traveling were the 15, 210, 134 and 101.

I leave home about 5:30pm hoping I can get there before it gets too dark. The ride there goes alright, but the trailer bounces all over the place when there is no weight on it. Couldn't travel more than about 60 most of the way to keep it from bouncing all over the place. I get to the guys house a little before 7:30pm. I'm starting to lose light, so I get out the light I brought with me, man I'm glad I had that as you will see in a bit.

The trailer is pretty high, and the BMW is pretty low to the ground. As we are trying to drive the car up on the trailer, it gets high centered on the end of the trailer right about in the middle of the car. I'm thinking of what I can do to reduce the angle and figure if I crank up the wheel on the trailer tongue it might just give me enough room to clear the part I'm hitting. Luckily it works, the car is on the trailer. It's almost dark now. I still have to secure the car to the trailer for transport, only problem is the front of the car is so low I can't get under it to find a spot to hook the chain. I didn't know if the car had a tire jack with it or not, I hadn't checked. I asked the guy I bought if from if it had one and he said he thought it did, so we checked and it did. I used it to jack of the front right side of the car and was able to get the chain secured so I couldn't tighten the binders. The back wasn't hard to get to, there was more room so that went pretty well.

I finally take care of signing the rest of the paperwork and give the guy the rest of the money and start on my way home about 8:15. Knowing that you need to check the binders after a short period of time to make sure they are holding, I stop about a mile down the road, before I got back on the Freeway. Good thing I did, because both chains were almost completely loose. So another 15 minutes worth of tightening and sweating and I'm off again.

It's completely dark now. I have to make several freeway changes in the first 15 or so miles of the trip home. I get in the slow lane to make the transitions easier and to go slow. I'm dreading this drive since the binders came off so easy in a mile to start. I'm driving down the freeway not paying as much attention as I should be to my GPS when I realize I'm about to go a way I'm not supposed to go. I check real quick and make a very swift merge to the left, fearing that the car will just fall off the trailer, that it will run into numerous cars killing untold millions of people. Once I finished the merge, I peaked in my rear view mirror expecting to see the car gone, but it was still there.

I just keep plugging away, the entire time expecting the car to just roll off the trailer at any minute. I had planned to stop somewhere along the way again to check the chain binders, but was afraid of what I might find, not really, but I didn't want to stop somewhere I didn't know the area, so I kept going. I finally decided to stop at the park next to the Fire Station I work at. It's a little more than halfway home. There is a nice big parking lot there and the lights stay on until about 10pm most nights. I pull in to the parking lot a little before 10 and find, surprise, the binders were completely loose again. So bad in fact that the front one had fallen off completely. I don't know how the car was still on the trailer. It had moved over quite a bit to the right side of the trailer. So I spend another 20 minutes putting the binders back on and sweating again. I take off on the final leg of the journey and just before I hop on the 15, I stop one more time and find the binders loose again. I crank them down one more time, cross my fingers and start up the pass to home. I stayed in the slow lane all the way until I got off the freeway. I got off a bit earlier than I would normally, I just wanted off the freeway. I took side streets all the way home and finally pulled in around 11:30pm.

I am exhausted, mainly because of the stress of wondering if the car was going to do an escape act while on the trailer. I spent more time looking in the rear view mirror than I did looking out of the windshield. I locked everything up and left the car on the trailer until the next morning.

The next morning I get up and prepare to get the car off the trailer. Since I had trouble getting it on the trailer, I figured if I raised the bottom of the ramp with some wood blocks it would reduce the angle and the car wouldn't high center again. I did what I thought and it worked like a charm.

Put the car in the garage to store it. Got everything together and took the trailer back to the rental place. It only cost about $85 for the rental, but I think I used up about 10 years of my life on stress the night before.

One thing I learned is to not buy cars that don't run so far from home. Another thing is to make sure you know how to make things work. I thought I knew how to use those binders, but must not have known enough. If I did this again, I would use heavy duty tie down straps instead of chains.