Getting Our M54 Engine Swapped BMW E36 Wagon Running
(car engine sputtering) - [Videographer] Hmm. - [Mechanic] All right, (indistinct). - [Videographer] The search starts now. - Yeah. These two right here are the mysteries. I haven't quite figured out where the (beep) those are supposed to go.
- [Jamie] Well, no, we have the two connectors for those. - I know that, but I'm trying to find the connector that it would plug into, and I'm not seeing it. That's where I'm like, "Okay." - [Narrator] As projects go, Jamie Orr's E36 Touring is off to a good start.
Day one was Jamie's first taste of the Bavarian life, and he got to see what his E36 was made of, literally. Out came the engine, the front suspension, and all of the wiring and hoses that went along with it. Now, on day two, the easy part is over, and preparations for fitting the bigger engine and new wiring have begun.
(upbeat music) - So what we have here is an M54B30 from an E46 330i. It came out of an automatic transmission car so I had to thin out the factory engine harness a little bit, get rid of the automatic transmission part of it. But right now, I have it sitting on an E36 crossmember. We have a Z3 right-hand side support bracket right here. Bolted up a ZF five-speed manual, which is pretty much the quintessential manual transmission. It's becoming harder and harder to find these days.
We were able to find one locally that had the detents already done on it, has a D cam clutch installed, so a 240-millimeter clutch disc. It's got a new slave cylinder on it and new bushings. We have this Rally Road crossmember, which, unlike the cast ones, won't just explode.
This engine came to us in a giant pile with other parts, and we kind of went through it over the last couple of days and cleaned it all up. So intake manifold came off, so it's got brand new PCV system, the cold weather version, so that's brand new. Brand new VANOS line, brand new oil filter housing gasket, brand new water pump, brand new tensioners pulleys, brand new harmonic balancer 'cause the thing was kinda chowdered up, brand new oil pan gasket, brand new front main seal, brand new rear main seal, brand new valve cover gasket, intake manifold gaskets. Just kinda went through the whole thing and cleaned it all up. It needed a new cam position sensor around the intake side because the wiring literally just fell apart. And then the other thing that we did too, kinda taking inspiration from the world of Spec E46 and also the fact that this is going into an E36, we're running M52/S52 manifolds.
But the trick part about this, and I'm hoping it works, is I have M52/S52 O2 sensors on it in the upstream position. Normally, the M54 manifolds, the O2 sensors would be sitting right here, and then they will plug in here. I was able to reroute those around the backside and they'll plug in over there underneath the engine cover.
So I had to swap connectors to make that work, but it's still the same four-wire, narrow-band O2 sensor, so should be plug and play, and I'm 99.8% confident that it's gonna be just fine. All right, so we're coming in here to day two, and just in terms of the engine, decided to take the intake manifold back off just to make it a little bit easier to navigate in between the frame rails, just because the intake manifold sorta sticks out kinda far. But it's just gonna make it a little bit easier to get it back in. It's also gonna make it easier to run a lot of the cooling hoses and figure out the cooling system. So having the intake manifold off, really, is just gonna save us some time today. We also need to swap this coolant sensor to the M52 style, to a four-pin.
So again, easier if it's all apart. So, pretty much this is ready to go in at this point. We're just gonna do a couple other things, organize some parts. I actually gonna drop the rear subframe while all of this is going on, and we're gonna get into it.
- [Narrator] For this project, starting with a fresh, new E36 subframe was the way to go. With things out, we installed fresh Revshift bushings and mounts, along with new axles and wheel hubs to pair with the switch from a 166 to 188 differential to match the six-cylinder M54. - I'm going to start prepping the engine bay. So the fuel filter we talked about yesterday is gonna do that solution. The bracket is already gone, so that's good.
We just talked about putting the new radiator in, but we're gonna leave it until afterwards so you don't dent it with a couple hundred pounds of engine on the way in. So I'm also looking around and I can move ahead with the brakes a little bit. So, yeah, just get prepped, and then we can start moving towards putting the engine in. - [Narrator] The only way Gareth and Jamie are gonna finish this job is by splitting up.
So while Gareth digs into that rusty rear suspension, Jamie tackles the fuel system. (gentle upbeat music) (tool whirring) - Is this a passenger or a driver's side? - So this is going to be... (videographer chuckles) (Gareth imitates air hissing) Where's the other one? - Can we review the footage of yesterday when we disassembled, please? Did you know that in the Volkswagen world, all part numbers- - They're the same. - Signify if they're left or right. If it's an even number, it is a passenger side.
- If it's an- - That's the way the BMW does it too. - Does it? - Yeah. - Okay, so- - So, I'm assuming 190- (Jamie speaking indistinctly) - Uh- huh. - It should be left. 120 should be right.
- All right, I was gonna teach something Volkswagen, but I learned something BMW. That's the whole point of being here. (mechanic chuckling) So where's the rusty part number? - Look over here, maybe, stamped.
- Oh, yeah. (finger scraping) - 46, so that would be a right side. - Right side.
- [Gareth] Yep. However, that- - Right side. - However- - Do you mean passenger? - [Gareth] Yes, however, keep in mind, that does not have the sway bar link on it because this is a standard E36, but we can look at the orientation of that. - Yeah, yeah, exactly.
- So... (metal clinking) Yep. - [Jamie] So...
- [Gareth] So, we got the 120. - Yep. - Or, yeah, the 200, which would be the right side, and then the 190 over there, which would be the left side, so we're good. - [Jamie] Hey, way to go Solo Werks- - Yeah. - For following the- - They keep it- - Part number consistency.
- [Gareth] Yeah, so we're good. - Great. So this is a really cool tool.
You clamp it around your brake line- - [Gareth] Just hold on to that. - Bolt that in there and then you can flare it on the car in this. And there's other versions that have, sort of, big handles to turn for it. Unfortunately, our line does not fit through the dies, so it does not help. - [Videographer] Oh, that line is too big? - Yeah, way too big. Well, we can ignore it and double-clamp it.
Or I can try and think of another way. I feel like I used to know another way, but yeah, worst case, we just work around and double-clamp it and it'll be fine. (gentle upbeat music) - [Narrator] Engine swaps aren't always a bolt in affair, and that's what makes this E36 so appealing. The platform's versatility and popularity mean it's only a matter of finding the right BMW parts to bolt in. (gentle upbeat music) (hydraulic car lift hissing) (gentle upbeat music) - Okay, so the rear... The shifter needs to go eight inches that way.
We are angled that direction. - We're angled in this... Okay. - Yep. So- - So it needs to go more... - The whole thing needs to go that way.
Okay, we are really precarious. - I'm gonna put it down. (Jamie groaning) - [Mechanic] So watch yourselves. - [Jamie] Okay. (mechanic speaking indistinctly) There's a medium chance we're gonna fall off here, So, go... Don't turn it too tight, but go forwards, go towards you.
- Yep. - And to your left. Okay, now cut it to your right and bring it around. (Gareth speaks indistinctly) Keep going back, no, keep going forwards. - Yep. - We're gonna straighten up.
No, no, no, keep going towards you. Sorry, the front... - Oh. - Yeah. - Got it. - Yeah. And we're gonna be close-ish. - [Gareth] Yeah, we could shimmy it a little bit if we need to.
- [Jamie] I mean, we're within two inches or so, so yeah, we're probably there. - All right. (hydraulic car lift whirring) - [Jamie] Yeah, you're good. Go ahead. Yep, there's that... Yep, you got it. That's all you need.
- [Gareth] Keep goin'. - Really good here. - [Gareth] Yeah, we're looking good over here as well. (gentle upbeat music) - [Jamie] That's good, Jack, as far as you can one way there. - [Gareth] That's pretty close. - [Videographer] Yep, we're looking pretty good.
Gentle. All right, stop. I'm actually pretty lined up here in the front, so... - [Gareth] That can go off with stopping something, though. (metal clanking) - [Jamie] No, he's going... - [Mechanic] Well now they're changing.
- [Jamie] Okay. (ratchet clicking) - [Gareth] Yeah. Yeah, the rear front (indistinct).
(mechanic speaking indistinctly) I think some of the pressure here too, I just gotta get those engine mounts tight down the front. - Yeah. - And then... - Agreed. - It'll be where it needs to be, but we got these two in, which is...
- [Jamie] Yeah, yeah, fine. - More than adequate. Yeah, so we just got the M54 into the E36, and we ran into a little bit of a snag with the left side engine bracket. Kept the E46 bracket in place because it has the mount on it for the dipstick. Originally we're gonna swap a Z3 oil pan from the M54 Z3s with the dipstick tube and all that kind of stuff.
However, it's somewhere on the sea. - [Mechanic] So it's small. - Not in time for this job. So we're gonna have to create a bracket to secure the dipstick now. But with the E46 bracket on the left-hand side, there's just a slight misalignment between the engine mount and the actual bracket there. So it's causing the engine mount to kinda get crooked, so what I have to do is swap on that bracket there, which is an E36 style bracket which we already had, because when we looked up all the parts for this swap, it was E36 stuff to Z3 stuff, and we're kind of backtracking off of that.
So I just need to swap the bracket around. It's four bolts. Now we know. But it looked really promising that we're gonna be able to use the more substantial (metal thumping) left side E46 bracket, and it just simply doesn't work, so... Oh, well. - [Narrator] Having an entire warehouse full of parts is kind of a cheat code during our build series. All of the same parts that you can grab from our website are luckily available to us within minutes of discovering what's needed.
It's an invaluable help when deadlines are tight. - All right, welcome to day three. We worked until midnight last night on non-engine things. - [Gareth] Yes.
- [Jamie] Suspension. - Yup. - Differentials. - Yup, so buttoning up pretty much most of the rear at this point. So the entire back of the car is currently in.
Obviously spent a lot of time yesterday getting the front suspension in, engines in, transmissions in. Now we're primarily just focusing on plumbing up the engine and coming up with a solution that's a little bit more simplified than some of the other ones we've seen out there on the internet, so... - [Jamie] Because it is the last day. - Yep. - So it's time to work
on the engine. - [Gareth] Yes. - The engine bolted out. We knew it was going to.
- [Gareth] Mm-hmm. - But now it's just things like cutting hoses to make a nice OEM Plus solution to some of the things. - [Gareth] Yeah, we talked and actually we spent a lot of time last night just figuring out how to pump up the cooling system, and it's gonna be a hybrid of, basically, an E36 cooling system. And also dealing with a lot of these coolant pipes here underneath the intake manifold, the infamous ones on the M54, and also dealing with the stock heater control valve, but through that, somehow it's gonna work out really nice and doesn't require too much of a lift, so... - So we're gonna plumb that in right now. Wiring's already laid up a little bit, but we'll talk about that more in a little bit.
So, back to work. What's wrong with this? - [Gareth] I don't know, is it gonna have enough cooling capacity? - I run the tiniest little Honda Civic radiators on stupid cars on racetracks. - [Gareth] Yeah. We could try that. - I mean, right? - Yeah. - This is the original
318 small radiator which has this built in the side- - Yup. - Which is exactly where we need it to be. - [Gareth] Yup. - This could be our... No, fan shroud ain't good. - [Mechanic] That looks a bit- - We're gonna have to go to an electric fan.
- Yes. - But, this? I mean, how's the cooling system normally in a BMW? Are they close to being maxed or are they so overbuilt? (metal clinking) - [Gareth] They're iffy sometimes, but I think for this, it'll be fine. (metal clinking) I'm sure... - I mean, we can put it in and we'll know.
- Yeah. - I bet no one's done this because you don't have this radiator here, right? - Right. - Which is now peeing on the floor, but... Okay, then that's it. Remember that wonderful- - Yep. - Discovery we had
for the radiator mount? - Yep. - We didn't cut the old one out, which is great. So this is the solution for it right now. Cool. - Yep. - Yay, motor swap fun.
Find the right Legos, and if they don't exist, cut a Lego in half. (gentle upbeat music) (tool whirring) (gentle upbeat music) Cooling solution I think is a really, really nice one. We might've discovered something a little different 'cause it's a US swap, but with the European radiator, that's all done. So right now we've got the Kassel ECU, everything's hooked up. We had one...
This is the only one that varies, and this one could be a two pin or an eight pin connector. As you can see, there's only two wires used for the swap, but otherwise, it is plug and play, done. We're gonna go through a startup buildup rather than just jumping in.
So right now, we're just gonna do it now. This is a pretty good practice. The fuel pump is disconnected so it will not start, but we're gonna cycle the key, see what happens. The...
We switch to a electronic pedal, which is sitting out here. There's also one in there, but it's easier here. We're just gonna cycle it. This is probably not going to be the throttle position. Everything else isn't gonna be set so...
Ignition on. Nothing. (Gareth laughs) - [Videographer] Hmm.
- [Mechanic] All right, (indistinct). - [Videographer] The search starts now. - Yeah.
That's what I was afraid of. - That's fine. - Yep. - [Videographer] But I heard stuff clickin'. - Uh-huh. So let's get to the BMW starter and see if it's energizing. - [Videographer] I'm worried about that neutral park interlock situation.
- Agreed. - Yeah. - This car was an automatic, and so there could be two different systems going on that we can think of. One is that it's looking to be in park or neutral before it will allow us to start, or it's looking for a clutch, depression state.
- [Gareth] I'm ready dude. I don't know what you're waiting for. You know? (car engine cranking) (car engine gurgling) Oh. (car engine gurgling) - Whoo! - Yeah. - [Gareth] Yeah, baby! (car engine rumbling) (hands smack) - [Jamie] That's it.
- [Videographer] Whoo! That's pretty sick. - Yeah. - [Narrator] In the end, the E36 Touring was swapped in the original timeframe, but a few small bugs played spoiler to its running and driving. Such is the way with an involved project. But a weekend's worth of work, proved to be just the fix.
(gentle upbeat music) - All right, so we're back. Two and a half months later? With the E36 Touring. Just like any good project, you get to a point where you're like, "Hey I've made a lot of progress." And then you just forget about it, and then you realize, "Oh, I should probably finish this one day." Hopefully today is that day. Off camera, did have to troubleshoot a couple of different things.
Firstly, we did get it running. You saw that. However, we had no throttle response. Spent the day chasing wires, making sure there were no breaks, making sure that everything was pinned correctly, which it was. Had this epiphany over the course of a weekend that it might be getting an input or there could be a state on the DME that being triggered by something, right? That is overriding pedal inputs. So, saw that the brake pedal switch was "activated," which it wasn't.
All I had to do for that was just add a ground wire and run the pin out on the DME connector to ground that turned that signal off. And then from there, the drive-by wire and pedal worked. So, a little bit of troubleshooting had to be done off camera. But today, we're gonna be installing a Chase Bays clutch line.
It's a one piece line. No junctions, anything like that. It's actually a really good solution, particularly since you cannot get a lot of the individual parts from BMW anymore for the clutch feed. So, I need to get that through the firewall, into the clutch master and then down to the slave.
We need to bleed the clutch, bleed the brakes, put the exhaust on, the rest of the stuff underneath the car, torque drive shaft bolts. Yeah, this is a really nice solution. So this is for the updated clutch master cylinder, so it's the quick disconnect style. This goes in, this runs out of the firewall, and then this goes right on down to the slave cylinder traditional thread.
So, it's a pretty nice product from Chase Bays for the E36 platform. So, (exhales) here's the (beep) hole in the firewall. So I need to basically feed this thing through, clip it in the backside 'cause quick disconnect. Fed the clutch line through, got the quick connect fitting lined up with the clutch master, pulled it straight back until I heard the quick connect click into place. So that's good. Now I just need to hook it up to the clutch slave cylinder, which is underneath the car.
The brake master cylinder reservoir is also the clutch master cylinder reservoir, and they have a barb off the backside, which is pretty high on the side of the master cylinder reservoir. So it has like a little nipple on it. We just gotta cut that off. And from there, all we gotta do is just sneak our clutch feed hose onto it 'cause this goes to the clutch master inside the car. (bright upbeat music) (tool whirring) (bright upbeat music) Yeah, I'm just throwing up the mid pipe right now.
(tool thumping) It's a big, heavy, bulky part, so I wanna make sure it's properly supported. (tool thumping) Once we have it up in position, wedged against the exhaust manifolds, (tool thumping) I'll get the hangers on the rear. We'll get the nuts started for the flanges. Actually, I might just do the nuts first, then at least it's anchored to some degree.
(bright upbeat music) (tool whirring) (gentle upbeat music) - [Narrator] With so little left to do, it was hard not to get excited. An E36 Touring isn't a common sight over here, and one stuffed with an M54 and lots of fresh parts makes Jamie's all the more special. - So, yeah, putting the exhaust on this car was a lot of fun, not really. Typical experience of the E36 is the exhaust or the stock exhaust are pretty awful to deal with, but that's done. And now we need to bleed out the brakes and the clutch and hopefully we'll have a clutch pedal and a brake pedal, 'cause then we'd be able to drive this outta here, and that'd be cool.
(car engine rumbling) (bright upbeat music) (car revving) (bright upbeat music) - Keep the speed slow. (car revving) Love it. One of the things that people always ask about these, like, swaps and stuff is, like, "Oh, it must feel so great when you first fire it and it cranks." Like, nothin'. There is no joy, it's just relief. (bright upbeat music) (car revving) - Obviously having the space here available to do the work, and then also on top, having an entire distribution center behind with parts that you can literally just go get.
You know, without that behind, that could set you a little bit back, but, I think the other thing too is, even if you do a ton of planning behind the scenes, there's always those unknowns, and you don't really know what they are until you finally get into it, and there's always those last minute changes that you have to make. I do think this solution that we came up with does make it a really viable, relatively simple, affordable swap. I think that's a great place to end it.
- Yep. - So thank you FCP Euro for the hospitality. Thanks for having an amazing staff. Hope you enjoyed the video.
If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the comment box below. We'll definitely get back to you. If you wanna see more content like this, absolutely hit subscribe, and we'll see you for the next one. Hopefully we'll have another really good build series on the way soon.