Vehicle Inspection, Finally
A lot has happened in the year since my last post. To make room for all the cars at the house, I had a new two car garage built last fall. I also had a car lift installed in the new garage to make working on the 320i and others easier and the lift can be used to store a car during the winter months. I also got married and went on a honeymoon to Hawaii. So the 320i has not been worked on very much. To get the 320i ready to be a daily driver I did have to do some major work on the brakes. I could never get the power brakes to work and finally traced that to the vacuum boost cylinder. I had very difficult time finding a replacement. All of the units I could find were used and in very bad shape - worse than the one I had. The vacuum boost cylinder is not available from BMW or any part seller. Fortunately was very lucky to find a new unit on eBay. Someone must have been holding on to that for 35 years. They sold it for the same price RealOEM listed as the price when the part was available from BMW. Of course, replacing that vacuum booster required removing the master cylinder and then bleeding the brake lines. I have gotten really good at bleeding the brake lines with the pressure bleeder. After completing the work and running the vacuum pump I was able to get power assisted braking. Getting good working brakes was a major requirement for getting the car inspected. As I have said many times in several past blogs the 320i has to pass Massachusetts vehicle inspection before it can be a daily driver. What they really look at closely on an old car like this is all the mechanical aspects like body, tires, lights and brakes. They really have no inspection for the electrical drive so that should be no issue. It has taken nearly a year to get everything on the 320i fixed to the level needed to pass inspection. The last few things have taken months to complete, mostly because I only work on the car on the weekends. The windshield washers are a good example. Part of the engine compartment renovation I did was to replace the windshield washer reservoir. The old one was yellow with age and blue stained from the washer fluid. I could not find the exact part from RealOEM to replace it but found the 1985 320i washer reservoir was available and I ordered it. The problem is that BMW changed the pump motor design that year. The reservoir was roughly the same shape and mounted to the car the same way but the pump mounted differently. On my old reservoir the pump actually was inserted into the reservoir through a sealing gland on the side of the reservoir to pick up the fluid. The newer pump is outside and connects to the reservoir with a hose connection. The problem with the hit and miss part availability from BMW on the part list on RealOEM is that the older style pump was available, but the newer version was not. So I had to figure out how to adapt the old style pump to the newer reservoir. I ended up having to make a small angle aluminum bracket to hold the pump and connected to the reservoir with a hose. Just working weekends this little project took me over a month to complete. I also replaced all the water lines in the process so now the windshield washer system looks brand new. But, the washers work too good. The pressure is so high from the new pump that most of the washer fluid goes over the windshield and lands on the roof of the car. Either a resitor on the pump circuit or a flow restrictor on the water lines will fix that.
Another activity to get the car ready for inspection that took weeks to complete was gluing down all the last bits of carpeting. I had installed and glued most of the carpet, but did not finish the rocker panels or the rear seat or some areas around the accelerator pedal and transmission tunnel. Of course gluing up the last of the carpeting took much longer than the main part of the carpet and I ran into problems. When I was manipulating the accelerator pedal to get it through the hole I had cut in the carpet to my horror it broke off the mount on the floor of the car. I guess 35 years of acceleration was too much for the old rubber. Fortunately a replacement accelerator pedal was available on RealOEM and I was able to install the new pedal and get that part of the carpeting glued. Another problem I had to take care of before inspection was the gear shift. Ever since I installed the motor and transmission a couple of years ago, the gear shift was not in the correct position. It shifts okay but is not centered and my hand would hit the dashboard when I shifted into reverse or 5th gear. It has a bracket inside the transmission tunnel that mounts on top of the transmission that was really hard to manipulate on my back under the car to mount correctly. Now that I have a car lift in my garage I was able to remove the driveshaft and then remove the gearshift mechanism. The 320i has a short shift setup and my original mistake was to reversed the gear shift lever. The lever has a 30-degree bend in it and needs to be oriented correctly for the gear shift to be centered. Once I installed that correctly I installed a new drive shaft and universal guibo.
Trying to save space and weight I had originally installed a small 10 A-h 12V battery in the engine compartment to power the contactor relays when the car is started. Once started the DC-DC converter would provide all the 12V DC power needed to operate the car. Unfortunately the small milliamp leakage in the 12V circuit when the car is off drains the 12V battery below 12V in only a few days. I was having to connect my battery charger to the 12V battery to get the car to start. To eliminate this problem I decided to make the 320i like modern BMWs and put the battery in the trunk. I could use a much larger battery, the only problem is I needed to run a battery cable from the trunk to the engine compartment. That required pulling up some of the carpeting that I had recently glued down. I got a 12V dry cell from Summit Racing for the replacement battery. It is a 44 A-h battery and being a dry cell it can be mounted in any position. That solved the battery draining issue. For long term storage I put a manual disconnect switch on the battery.
The final issue to fix before inspection was the horn. The horn had always worked and I had removed the fuse just so I would not blow the horn accidentally while I was working on the car (working with high voltage it is better not to be startled). I had removed the steering wheel several times to make working on the interior easier and had replaced it to do my first two drives. Sometime during all the steering wheel manipulation I manage to shear off the electrical pickup for the horn. The horn circuit still worked, but pressing the horn button on the steering wheel did not. Again fortunately the replacement part was shown to be available on RealOEM, and was available from several BMW part sellers. That is one cool things about RealOEM. Through the diagram view of all the parts of the car it is possible to get the exact number of the part sought. A Google search can then be done on the part number and if its available it will show up as new from several parts dealers and BMW dealers, or if not links to ads for used parts on EBay. Of course replacing the horn pickup was not that simple. The old one was riveted to the steering column end plate, so those rivets had to be drilled out and replaced with nuts and bolts.
Finally everything was ready on the car for inspection. All my preparation paid off and the inspection went through without an issue. The inspector really did not check a lot of things, seems like they checked more on my new cars I have taken there but they did test that the windshield washers worked. I have been going to the same inspection station for the past 3 years and have been telling the guy there about my project. He was really happy to see the car and very impressed with the work. Now the car has an inspection sticker. The last thing I did was to get the Massachusetts EV plate. Massachusetts is one of the few states to offer EV plates. They are a cool way to indicate you have an electric vehicle and helpful for first responders if you get into an accident. They will know its and electrical powered car and know not to cut any orange cables! Now with everything compete I started driving the 320i as my daily commuting driver.
A video of this fun can be found here.