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  • 5 months later...

This 'nice' M3 that I got with the intention of not doing a massive amount of work on it...

I noticed that the undercoating was starting to lift around the grommets in the back of the floor.

These are fitted into the holes which allow the shell to drain after it has had the e-coat dip when they were built.

I thought it prudent to clean this off and treat/paint the area before it went too far.

I got the car up off the ground.


Then pulled off the lifted undercoating.


Well goodness me! I may have said...

So much for me just having a car I could cruise around in without having to do major repairs to it.

I have upset the lovely Doctor's feng shui by sticking these in the utility room


With the rear carpet out it looks like this.


It's not too bad but what about those ominous looking brown bits on the vertical panel behind it?

I scraped the paint off on the outside and I could see light through from the inside next to the tank strap bracket.



That area had been painted over but it looks like it had just been painted over the rust.

Back inside, I peeled up any bits of factory applied sealer to see what was lurking.


Another random hole.

The grommet on the other side of the car.


It's not as bad, but still needs sorting.

I was told that there are two more plugs under where the rear seat goes.



Yep, they need sorting too.

That black thing that you can see through the hole, that's the fuel tank so that will have to come off.

As I wasn't anticipating all of this, it is full of petrol.

The amount of stuff that has to be removed is quite astonishing.

I've got a box full of bagged up fittings that is starting to get very heavy.


Some of the things underneath don't look as if they have ever been off so I have lots of things like this to undo.


Obviously they don't undo, they snap off so I will need to weld on new studs.


The next job is to get the exhaust off which is going to be fun, the rear box hangers have a late 2002 date stamp on them so must be the originals.

They don't look as though they have ever been off and the studs and nuts which secure them are in a similar state to that undertray fixing above. 

That is going to be an exciting job.

I feel like I've shot myself in the foot with this purchase...

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Nice work Mr T - its sad when you start digging sometimes but better to dig than not.

11 hours ago, tea boy said:

so I will need to weld on new studs.

I might have a stud welder that sorts stuff like that in a flash ;)



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Better make a start then.

The exhaust has to come off and it has been a real struggle, I don't think the rear silencer has ever been off before.

The mountings for the back box have a 2002 date stamp on them.

Every fixing was as bad as you would expect after being under a car for 19 years.


I had to take the back bumper off to gain access.


I wrapped it in bubble wrap then stashed it in the shed.


This is what I had to undo times six, and that is one of the better ones.


It took me three evenings to finally get it off.



It is really heavy, I nearly bust a gut getting it off.


The heat shields above the exhaust are in really good condition, apart from the holes where all the fixings go, they have corroded to twice their original size.

Luckily you can buy them from BMW for just less than a million dollars.


Remember the scabby fuel tank strap bracket?

This one.


Well you cant get those from BMW, nor can you get the brake hose brackets which can go equally as scabby.

Luckily, these guys have started making them, which saves me from having to.



As I was doing a job I really didn't expect to be doing, actually I did expect to have to do it at some point, just not this early in the relationship, I decided to add a bit more work to the list.

This is some of, but not all of, a WeldTech boot floor reinforcement kit with internal bracing.


It is designed to stop the diff from flying through the back window when one sets off from the traffic lights like a total chav...

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I've taken a bit more of the exhaust off.


I had a quick look over it and found a couple of problems that will need to be attended to.

The swaged end where it joins the rear box has cracked.

The swage normally retains a flange which clamps to a similar flange on the back box, with a sealing ring between.

Over the years said flanges rot away but there are replacements available which are split into two parts so they can easily be fitted to the already swaged pipe.


I suspect that the damaged end was caused by the person who fitted the replacement flange because they did it like this.


There is a chamfer on the inside edge to mate up to the swage.

Clearly the chamfer isn't going to mate up nicely with anything if is pointing in the opposite direction due to the doobie who fitted it getting one half of it on back to front! 

The next thing is this.


There are three woven compressed wire washer things on it but it looks like there used to be four.

The missing one has also left a hole in the pipe.

I messaged a pal of mine who is a bit of an M3 guru and asked him what they were for.

He told me there should be a plate on them.


That was an easy fix...

He called me something unspeakable and sent me this picture.


It would have been relatively straightforward to make a new one of those, but I didn't need to because some kind soul gave me one of them.


It is a heat shield to protect the CV joint

The problem was finding those compressed woven wire washers.

I ended up having to get them from the US of A.



Only one of the two pipes are swaged, the other slides into the one on the rear box, which should be swaged to retain its flange.

This is the other problem, my rear box is missing its swage so yer man held the pipe in with a self tapper through this hole that he has drilled in it.



It is mildly annoying but it isn't the end of the world.


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11 hours ago, tea boy said:

I message a pal of mine who is a bit of an M3 guru and asked him what they were for.

He told me there should be a plate on them.


That was an easy fix...

#Legend ! 🤣

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Thanks for the encouragement, chaps.

Well, in order to avoid trying to crawl under the car with my dodgy back legs, I thought I would look for some bits to repair the exhaust with.

I wanted some flared pipe ends to fix this.


I spent ages looking but it seems that they are only available in imperial pipe sizes over here which obviously will not do for a top quality German, and therefore metric, automobile.

I contacted a few specialist exhaust manufacturers, none of whom could help so stuff them, I'll make them myself.

I managed to get hold of some metric pipe in the sizes I needed.


I decided to get 409 stainless instead of 316. 

It is less corrosion resistant but more malleable so I thought that would help.

In order to create the flare I raided the nipper's marble collection and found this.


It is an 85mm bearing.


If you stick this in the end of a bit of pipe, then put it on a press.


It flares the end remarkably easily.



I'll worry about welding them all on when I've tidied up my shed so I can find my TIG welder.

Back to the car itself, I thought it would be wise to remove the plastic sill covers for a look.


Hmmm, that doesn't look too promising.

With all the clips and things removed.




To be fair, most of them aren't too bad.


But some of them will need cutting out and a new bit welding in.



Also, there is this bit at the back of the sill.



That will need sorting out as well...


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One of the few IBers who still has a full marble collection. Loving the new flares!

I remember how heavy the exhaust was on my M3 when we took it off doing the clutch. Well done for working on the floor here.

I valued an E46 M3 the other day that had had a full underside refurb at Redish before a complete repaint elsewhere. They seem to do very nice work as well as making and selling handy bits.


M3 underside refurb 4.jpg

M3 underside refurb 1.jpg

M3 underside refurb 6.jpg

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  • 4 weeks later...

When it has been raining which happens a lot if like me you live under a cloud, I have been doing bits and bobs in my now semi-tidied shed.

I resolved my exhaust 'plate situation.



With the aid of some of these.


Has become this.


Disregard the nyloc nuts as they won't be staying, they were just the first m6 nuts I found when I wanted to test it.


When it wasn't raining I decided to have a look in the battery box.


That grommet thing was loose in the hole but the tray felt solid enough.

I thought I'd make a start by welding that hole up first as a bit of a morale booster.

I just needed to clean off the undercoating first, so I didn't set the thing on fire.


Right then, not quite as solid as I'd hoped.

I ordered a new battery tray.

I started to drill out the spot welds on the old one to get it out.


But some of the spot welds need to be accessed from within the wheel well.

This, obviously, requires the removal of the wheel.

In order to do that I need to get it off its wheels and get some axle stands under the rear jack points.

That is the next problem.

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The rear jack points on the E46 are poorly designed and are not up to the job.

They can distort and mine had started to do just that.

The answer is to cut a big hole in the sill.



This is the bit that came out, you might be able to make out the horizontal crease below the oval hole.

That should not be there.


I gave that a bash with a hammer and covered the whole thing in that rust converter stuff for now.


The bit inside the sill...


...has obviously also been distorted upwards by the same amount as the outer skin and needed to be brought back down.

This was very easy with a slide hammer and didn't take much doing it was really soft, no wonder they distort.


Once everything is where it should be, it gets a bit of weld through primer.


As does the strengthening piece which is going to hopefully prevent it from happening again.


This shows where the strengthener goes.


Just weld it in.


Piece of cake!

Well, Jammy doughnuts actually. 😀


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I've also cut a bit out of the sill on the other side.

This had less distortion but was a bit frilly on the spot welded flange.



I cut all the frilly bits off and replaced them with some shiny bits.

Like this.


And this.



Eventually, it looked like this. (old bits to show what I replaced)



Anyway, the new battery box arrives and it has grommet holes in it.

As it is the grommet holes which have caused all the problems in the first place I'm going to get rid of them before it goes in.

A couple of discs of metal cut out.


Welded in, not particularly neatly because I can't really see what I'm doing when I'm welding.

I think I need some new varifocals.


It doesn't have to be absolutely perfect though, because it is all going to end up covered in Raptor or some-such coating.


On the side of the box there are some brackets which are very rust prone.



They must be for some other version of E46 because they are not used on the M3, so I cut them off.


Leaving it looking like this.


In other news, as I started this 'minor job' in the summer and have yet to finish it I thought I'd better arrange some shelter before the weather really turns.

To that end, I've just picked up one of these.


Hopefully the car will fit inside it and it will fit on the drive...


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30 minutes ago, Tripe said:

Well done Tea. Raptor has to be the way to go. Perkles has just sprayed his pickup truck and his horsebox with the stuff. I'm so impressed I'm getting my van done next week. Hard as nails....

Excellent. If it's good enough for you, Jezza, it's good enough for me.


I decided to get my 'garage in a box' out of the box and take a look at it.



There are lots of pieces but the instructions assured me that two people can assemble it in two hours.


There was no indication as to how long it would take one person to assemble it around a car that can't be moved and said person is bricking it in case he drops anything on that car.



It was a bit more than two hours!


I had to push on into the evening to get it completed.



Operation cover up is now completed!



It was still standing the next day too, which has to be a bonus.



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1 hour ago, Tripe said:

Well done Tea. Raptor has to be the way to go. Perkles has just sprayed his pickup truck and his horsebox with the stuff. I'm so impressed I'm getting my van done next week. Hard as nails....

Tripe, Tripe ? The lesser spotted Tripe ! 👏

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