Have I gone Big Enough?

I left you folks at the edge of your seat wondering what was happening with my engine. The truth is I was anxious myself! I have worked on the car almost solely over the years, with it only seeing garages for an MOT, manufacturer recalls as well as Rear Axle Carrier Panel (RACP) reinforcement. ETA were considered for the big end bearings but getting to Brands Hatch on weekdays only can be a royal pain.

I’ll be honest, I wanted the phone to ring ASAP with good news after that!

So there I was, sat at work worrying about the engine. I was hoping that welding a bolt onto the bolt would free it. In short, it did! My relief, however, did not come until I came back home and I had a text stating the car was ready to be picked up! Without hesitating, I arranged some transport at short notice and got down to Autobahn. There Rob talked me through what he had done. Then he showed me partly what I wanted to know; the state of the bearings that came out. With 138k on the clock were they beyond gone? The answer?

One was(ish) on the limit with some copper showing but the rest were not too terrible. A few were scuffed as you can tell. But compared to others I have seen removed with less mileage mine were in a pretty decent state; many after even 70k generally have some copper showing on all of the shells! Some would argue I should have left them in! But at least I have the confidence to drive my M3 as intended :).

Maybe this maintenance has had the wrong effect on me. Only time will tell, however.

It’s Time to Go Big End on the M3

It’s fair to say the car hasn’t been the cheapest thing to run, where thoughts of selling up were dancing in the horizons of my mind. They often do when faced with expenditure. Why? I wished to change the big-end bearings.

But why? That is pretty simple really. The way I see it, two things can finish off an M3, well, make keeping the car unviable:

1) A boot floor cracked badly enough to warrant a new Rear Axle Carrier Panel (RACP); About £5k no matter where you go
2) The Rod Bearings; If these go and the crank is marked/scored there is a question mark over whether the crankshaft can be saved; They are tuftrided from the factory and it is said generally reground cranks aren’t as strong as original items. A shame as a new crank is over £2k from BMW, and even the S54 engines are £3k secondhand! That is before fitting!

Yes, head gaskets, VANOS & SMG pumps can go, but generally, the expense is much smaller and easier to spot without generally writing the car off. In those cases, cheaper and potentially longer lasting solutions have been found too in the case of the VANOS & SMG gubbins.

With that in mind I dropped the car off to Autobahn in Halesowen.

Given that Rob was known to colleagues of mine in addition to him racing E46 M3s I figured the car would be in safe hands.

All was going well! I dropped the car off on a Saturday, and then went to the Restoration show at the NEC. That was until Tuesday. I had a phonecall to say that one of my rod bearing bolts was being stubborn.

It was fair to say that I was slightly anxious at this point! But how would it all go? Would this really be a big stalling point?