How Stella Gets Back On The Road, Part I

It never fails... No matter how sequentially you plan things the best you can for a project like this, eventually what stops you culminates intp a few lousy, crazy things you never planned on which keep you from finishing. Case in point with Stella: Those Big Brake Calipers. More on that on the page here, so let's recap the happy ending to this multi-year story of restoration.

So, the first week of April and I'm planning on driving the car to Eureka Springs Arkansas by the end of the month for our annual get together. A flatbed ride from my shop to my buddy Steve's place on a Tuesday afternoon. Beautiful weather, the car is now down to bleeding the entire brake and clutch hydraulic system, wheel alignment, suspension adjustments and just a major going through of all the checklist of things you do before you start and drive the thing the first 100 feet in a parking lot somewhere.
                   I thought she looked like a caged animal here - waiting to be set free.

There were lots of cool stares and thumbs up with this thing as we were driving it about 20 miles away to the shop.  It was so cool to me, after all this time, to see it really look like a car. It was like a big red shiny jelly bean. Most people were trying to figure out what the hell it really was.  So up on the lift at this point, the next few pictures are a treat to what it looks like 6' in the air.
With the wheels off we began to inspect things.  We securely tightened down the front bumper at this stage for the last time.
Underneath, things were pretty much exactly as I wanted them to be, and look.
At the back, the car looked so good I couldn't believe it.  It was going to be great to have it look this nice for a long time.
The view you don't see often. This is the ST Swaybar, the lower hose hooked up looking at the thermostat, that shoehorn of a Tii Alternator around the sway bar. With the battery gone to the trunk it's easy to get at these things.  This is one of Curt Ingraham's bigger brass radiators which is wider by about 2" over stock.
Now laid out you can see the exhaust and transmission better. Also the 2002 Haus 5 speed kit installed. I haven't put the pedal box cover on at this stage because we still need to adjust a few things and install the speedometer cable.  That was a step we should have done before all this, but just didn't think about it at the time. It required we undo one side of the rear trans mount to fit it into the notch and the trans.
Ok, here's the back end of the car with everything installed now.
And one last back to front view of everything. I hope these pictures clarify things for your project. There aren't many pics like this on the internet, and I doubt my car will ever be quite this clean again!
Ok, wheels off now, putting the cotter key into the rear 36mm axle nut to keep them on for good.
So, now the caliper saga.  These big brake calipers for Tii's are a bit of a mystery. Now a days, cores are hard to find so keep an eye out if you are wanting some. I bought my first set 3 years ago for my project along with the 77 320i hubs.  When we eventually mounted and  tightened down all the hard lines we found that the front left caliper had bad threads. So I found another set in a junk yard to send in to have a second pair just in case. When they arrived a few months later I was busy, just set them aside and never checked the threads of the newly rebuilts until now.  Crap - same scenario, same caliper - it must be a problem with these E9/6 series 4 Piston ATE units.   
So we located another caliper through a supplier - and discovered the second mystery!  On the original 5/6/CS cars that have vented rotors, BMW mounted the calipers on the front of the strut. Of course, exactly backwards of the 2002s which are mounted at the back of the strut. So we got the wrong caliper twice - we kept ordering the left side and getting a right side caliper. So, third try we got this figured out ordered the right side caliper for the left strut, and the replacement unit had really good threads fortunately.   That allowed us to finally gravity flow all the fluid into the system until it came from each bleeder screw, then we pressure bled all the lines until the brakes and clutch were good to go.
I was so tired and frustrated through this period (about two weeks it took of ordering and late night wrenching) that I stopped taking pics - this was pretty much the boring "so what" stuff anyway. Finally, after several weeks and a lot of stress, it could start, stop and move on it's own power. 
Quietly about 11:30PM on April 17th, I grinned ear to ear as I backed the car out into the parking lot. The car sounded really loud as it still has no carpeting in it. I could hear every groan and squeek. It sounded like a truck! So there were clunks and clinks and a lot of wierd noises I tried to diagnose. I let Steve drive it around and we checked everything. We then put it on the alignment rack and spent about an hour getting that all done. 
  • About a 1/2 hour later, I filled her up for the first tank full of gasoline - $3.00 a gallon no less - and began driving the car home, listening carefully, varying the speed of the engine up and down to ensure break in procedures were followed.  White knuckled I pulled the car into the drive way for the first time in about four years - with no glitches.  Whew! Now to get ready for the Arkansas trip!
        On to Part 2 ->

 


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