E28 525i Restoration Project

General conversations about BMW E28s and the people who own them.
Magava
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Joined: Jan 07, 2018 8:17 AM
Location: Nairobi

E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Magava »

Hi Everyone!

My name is Brian and I am a newbie from Nairobi, Kenya.

I recently acquired a 1986 525i which has been sitting under a tree up country for the past 6 years.

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The car was parked in 2012 due to a faulty ignition system. I think the owner just wasn't keen on fixing it up so it was just left there to gather dust and moss. It's not a terribly humid area so luckily there isn't too much rust on the car. However, nature has done its best to grow around it as so there is grass and leaves everywhere, even the fuel tank has some. There are lots of insects and rodents that have made their homes in there and the seats have a lot of stains on them. I expect there to be a lot of electrical damage as the wiring has most likely been eaten up by said animals or deteriorated due to rain and sun. The tires have good tread on them but since they have been in the sun so long, they will most likely blow once inflated. The fan is rusty, the front bumper is damaged, the interior and center console is in bad shape and the right rear tail light is broken. A lot of little stuff like handles, seams, levers, badges etc are also missing.

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This is my first restoration job and I am not a grease monkey so I will need all the help/advice I can get. My plan is to restore the car to an Alpina look:

Mechanical:
Tires - just to get it running
Engine fix to get it running first
Engine rebuild, clean and polish
Shocks and Springs
Exhaust

Aesthetics:
Bumpers and Side Skirts
Strip down and repaint to Astoril Blue
Redo interior to a cream color (How hard is this given that some of the trimming has the green color to match the car?)
Alpina Rims and low profile tires

Let me know what you think and I will be updating the progress in the coming weeks/(years? haha).
e28Sean
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by e28Sean »

Hey Brian.

That's one hell of a project you are undertaking; It's going to take a lot to get that car going again.

Straight away, from the pics I can tell the fuse box is going to need a proper cleaning so the fuses can make good contact. All the engine belts & hoses will need checking, and likely replacement. Also things like plug wires, fuel lines, etc... Anything rubber will likely be degraded to the point of failure.

If it's sat as long as you say, the fuel in the take will have gone off. Siphon out the contents of the tank, and then see how much crap is left in the bottom of it.

I would recommend you do not attempt to start the engine until you have confirmed that the fuel system is intact and operating properly, and changed all of the fluids.
cek
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by cek »

In for this save, which will be epic!
Shawn D.
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Shawn D. »

Welcome, and good luck! I'm looking forward to seeing your progress.
Nebraska_e28
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Nebraska_e28 »

Welcome to the forum!

That's a project for a man's man! :shock: :shock: I'd be all over that one. Green, RHD, slick top. :D But you lost me with the color change. :| :|
a
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by a »

Welcome ! Please update us with your progress That gruhn wasn't common in N. American E 28s Many fuel tanks have a drain plug. If so, it is a 5mm hex. The link to the wiring diagrams may be of some help for you. You need a coil wire , is that the ignition trouble ?
e28Sean
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by e28Sean »

Nebraska_e28 wrote:slick top

Damn. I didn't even notice that. I'm suddenly even more interested.
Magava
Posts: 13
Joined: Jan 07, 2018 8:17 AM
Location: Nairobi

Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Magava »

So its been a long time, but I have been able to make a little progress.

First off, here are the details from the VIN Decoder

Type Code 4132
E Series E28 ()
Series 5
Type LIM
Model 525 I (EUR)
Steering RL
Doors 4
Engine M30 [Yay!]
Displacement 2.50
Power 0 [Should be 150 HP]
Drive HECK [Just means rear wheel drive]
Transmission MECH [Manual - Didn't give details but I'm guessing its a 260]
Colour PLATANENGRUEN METALLIC (188) [Don't get why you guys like this colour so much]
Upholstery (0133) [More Gruen]
Prod. Date 1986-01-14



L812A National version Great Britain
S233 PISTENDAEMPFUNG [No Idea what this means]
S295A BMW LA wheel, Exclusive styling [Guess mine are aftermarket coz they aren't BMW]
S300A Central locking with anti theft system [Dead]
S301A Alarm systems [None]
S311 ELEKTRISCHER BEIFAHRERSPIEGEL [Electric Side Mirrors - Dead]
S350A Therm. insulat. glass green [Gone]
S411A Window lifts,electric,front/rear [Dead]
S415A Sun-blind, rear [Gone]
S498A Headrests, rear, mechanically adjustable
S500A Headlight wipe/wash/Intensive cleaning [Gone]
S510A Headlight aim control [Not sure but should be dead]
S520A Fog lights [Missing]
S530A Air conditioning
S548A Kilometer-calibrated speedometer
S551A On-board computer II with remote control [Dead]
S570A Reinforced power supply [Ha!]
S823A Hot-climate version [Good news being that we are on the Equator, hopefully this has helped preserve components]
S845A Acoustic belt warning
S850A Dummy-SALAPA [No Idea what this is]

As you can see most of the electronics are dead. I hope its just corrosion in the fuse box so hopefully once we clean that out, put in all new fuses and relays, and spray it with electrical cleaner, things should start to work. Any suggestions on this?

We took out the tank, it has a hole in it so there was no fuel. It was also quite dirty so we cleaned that out and welded the hole.

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Unfortunately, the Fuel sender / Fuel level and the fuel pump seem to be toast. I have already found a place to get the fuel pump but the fuel sender is proving to be difficult.

But at least there was some great news..... It STARTED!! We put in the new Coil lead wire, changed the engine oil, put in a bit of oil into the piston chambers, pushed in some fuel directly into the lines and after just a little bit of searching, it roared to life!! So I'm ecstatic about that. At least I know it lives. Only ran it for like 30 seconds though because there was no fuel pump.

The gears would not engage and the clutch is just dropping to the floor. On taking a further look, we suspect that the Clutch Slave Cylinder is shot.

So from the early assessment, the things that I will be needing are:

1. Fuel Pump and Fuel Sender/ Fuel Level Gauge

2. Clutch Slave Cylinder

3. Fuses and Relays - Possibly some rewiring work

4. Cooling fan Clutch

5. Water Pump Gasket

6. Normal Service Parts (Oil, Air, Fuel Filters, MT Fluid, Spark Plugs)

7. Full Coolant flush and replacement

8. Belts

9. Brake Fluid

The whole process is still challenging since we couldn't move the car with no pump and no gears therefore it is still upcountry. That means a 350Km journey every time we need to check/fix something. Once I am able to get it back to Nairobi (hopefully without having to hire a flatbed) things should get better and I can work on something every weekend.
Nebraska_e28
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Nebraska_e28 »

Magava wrote: Colour PLATANENGRUEN METALLIC (188) [Don't get why you guys like this colour so much]
In the US this is extremely rare, hence why we are amazed by it. And I own one. :cool:
Magava wrote: Upholstery (0133) [More Gruen]
Because you can never have too much Grün!
Magava wrote: S570A Reinforced power supply [Ha!]
Interesting option. I wonder if BMW did this due to an a/c system that had to run more frequently in a hotter climate.
Magava
Posts: 13
Joined: Jan 07, 2018 8:17 AM
Location: Nairobi

Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Magava »

Hey.



So I got all the basic service parts plus a fuel pump and went upcountry on a two day mission to get the car back. It took 2 long days to get it moving, as the engine kept conking out. When we opened up the pipes this is what we found...

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I dont know what that was, looks like detergent. We suspect that it was some sort of radiator sealant that either didn't do its job or it caked up after being parked for so long. After cleaning it all out though, the engine started running well, no overheating.

Bought some second hand tyres, welded the tank, did the regular service, and cleaned out the dead rats.

Next we took it for a test drive and to the shock our lives there were completely no brakes! Terrifying stuff. Tried bleeding everything but no luck, only marginal improvement. Now we had to make a decision to drive it to Nairobi or leave it there and make another long ass journey back at some point. I was ready to leave it there as there was no way I was gonna drive that death trap. My mechanic however is more of a daredevil than I am and insisted on driving it using the handbrake! After a long argument on safety vs having to travel back again, we hit the road... I followed behind in another car.

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It was a long and slow journey. 50 Kph max. The amazing thing was the car was a champ for something that had been sitting close to 10 years the only problems we had were it blew one of the radiator hoses and it developed an exhaust leak. We got stopped a couple of times by cops too since the car looked terrible so as soon as they see it you get stopped. All the windows didn't work so it was a sauna in there. Basically everything except the engine wasn't working. Long story short we made it.


Once in Nairobi, the real work could begin.

1. Fixed the exhaust leak. Had to remove and weld several sections of the exhaust but it was a straight forward job.

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2. Bought a new (second hand) Brake Master Cylinder to fix the brakes. Despite that the problem persists. We are still struggling with this issue. Now trying to work on the Hydraulic Booster to see if that may be the problem. If you bleed the system well, it works better for about 1-2 hours after which it goes soft again. So it would seem that there is somewhere air is getting into the system. Will update more on this, as we try more stuff. Hope I don't have to change out the entire braking system in order to fix the problem.

3. Fixed the two front windows so at least you can breathe in there. The motors were all rusted to failure so had to buy new ones. Will work on the rear ones soon. Also need to buy a new windshield wiper motor as that one's failed too.

4. Fixed the front door locks so that at least the car can now be locked up.

5. Fixed the instrument panel. The Rev counter now works. Speedo works intermittently, temperature gauge does not work.I have ordered a new temperature sensor so lets hope it starts working. The fuel level sender is being a bitch. It works when it wants. When we take it out to test it in air it works fine, put it back into the tank and nothing.

6. Replaced all the bulbs and bulb holders around the car. The brake lights, parking lights, headlights, and rear indicators are now all working. The reverse light doesn't work so ordered a new reverse switch. I don't have any front turn signals so working on getting those. Also need a new front valance coz mine is trash. I am going to get the side/wing turn signals working this week.

7. There was a clunking sound from under the car when you take off in first or reverse. Concluded that the most likely culprit is the center drive shaft bushing which we will be changing this week.

8. I have also ordered a bunch of small parts that should be here next week. Gear shift knob and boot, license plate light, front brake hoses, coolant temperature sensor, reverse light switch, fuel tank cap, eBay short shifter (reviwers said its pretty good despite the low price), BMW hood emblem, and brake caliper repair kits.

9. Its not all good news, turns out the rust damage was way worse than I had initially thought. It was just well hidden on the underside and floor board of the car. Its so bad under the driver and passenger foot panels that if you lift the carpet you can see straight through to the ground. Even jacking up the car causes the frame to start warping slightly. I told myself that I will fix everything all at once when I take the car for a paint job. If that takes too long then I will just weld the floor.

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10. Other problems include the brakes which have refused to work, the computer and overhead systems check are wacky and display whatever they like. I guess all the sensors were taken out or are shot. Will look into those later. A lot of the interior trim is falling apart. I got pissed of with the hanging glove box and ripped it out and threw it into the boot. So I have a gaping hole in the front. The drivers door trim literally had a piece break off...also in the boot. Front seats have rusted in place so you cant adjust them back or front. If you are too tall or too short you are screwed. Rear blind doesn't roll back into place when you pull it. Windshield washer reservoir has a hole from hardening and so cant hold water. But wouldn't need it anyway since the windshield pump doesn't work and the wiper motor is dead too. Did I mention the brakes!!?

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Took it for a thorough wash too...

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So yeah exciting times. This are getting fixed while new problems crop up each day. Still a long way to go but much improvement so far. More to come...
Nebraska_e28
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Nebraska_e28 »

Nice work! One key item I learned from my own frustrations is not to take on too much at once. It's ez to get overwhelmed & have visions of pushing it over a cliff. I lost count how many times I wanted to set my car on fire or dump it into the river. :rofl:
stuartinmn
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by stuartinmn »

Next we took it for a test drive and to the shock our lives there were completely no brakes! Terrifying stuff. Tried bleeding everything but no luck, only marginal improvement. Now we had to make a decision to drive it to Nairobi or leave it there and make another long ass journey back at some point. I was ready to leave it there as there was no way I was gonna drive that death trap. My mechanic however is more of a daredevil than I am and insisted on driving it using the handbrake! After a long argument on safety vs having to travel back again, we hit the road... I followed behind in another car.
He's a brave man. :D Good luck on the continuing restoration.
topher800
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Location: Boulder, CO

Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by topher800 »

Better looking car than that Mercedes it is parked next to. You've got this.
Bonsaibacker
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Bonsaibacker »

Go Magava! You have an audience- keep the party rolling!
Das_Prachtstrasse
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Das_Prachtstrasse »

This is great. These ambitious projects that defy all logic are what keep this community fresh. Best of luck with it!
Tiit
Posts: 213
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Location: Canberra

Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Tiit »

I have to admit, when I saw your first post, I didn't think you'll get it running any time soon. :)
Pretty crazy Roadkill style adventures you are having.
Regarding brakes it sounds like calipers are sticking and heat causes fluid to boil.
Magava
Posts: 13
Joined: Jan 07, 2018 8:17 AM
Location: Nairobi

Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Magava »

Thanks for all the encouragement guys! So a few new updates:

One of the best ones is that I finally got the brakes to work so now the car can be driven around safely! The problem was the brake bomb and the master cylinder. The brake bomb had to spend a whole night in oil and the MC I had (also a replacement) wasn’t really good. I also bought a brake caliper repair kit and new brake hoses. After replacing everything, things are working now though I’d say the E28 brakes aren’t that good in the first place.
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I still have a busted tail light on the right. Those are super expensive so I’d rather fix mechanical stuff first than fork out all that cash for a new one. Looking for a second hand one at the moment so its cat and mouse with the cops. All my lights are working though so don’t freak out. It’s just the housing on the turn signal that’s broken.

Drive shaft was loose so did some re-engineering on those just to improve them. Also put in new boots and grease.
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Worked on the front suspension. New bushings for the control arms, new tie rods and stabilizer link bars. New front tyres as well. Cheap ones though as I want to go 225/45/17 in future. Still on 15s now.
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Replaced all the rear sub-frame bushings and the diff mount. This has made the biggest difference in the ride quality. Before there was a loud knocking sound whenever you took off from a low gear. Sounded like you were ripping the rear end of the car off.
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SOME OTHER MINOR REPLACEMENTS/REPAIRS INCLUDE:
1. Fixed the high beams.
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2. Fixed all the brake lights and modified the brake fogs to be brake lights. The single brake light was too little. The added light also helps in dealing with cops. 3. 3. Fixed reverse light as well.
4. Fixed the speedometer and odometer.
5. New drive shaft support bearing
6. Did a full radiator flush.
7. Got a second hand valance for the front and front turn signals.
8. Fixed the holes in the floor board and reinforced the chassis. Did a hack job on it since I intend to smooth everything out once I strip it for paint work.
9. New gear shift lever and rubber shift boot.
10. New seal for the fuel sending unit
11. Fitted new door handles in the front.
12. Fitted new hood roundel
13. Fitted license plate lights

THINGS THAT NEED ATTENTION:
1. Still no temperature gauge even after replacing the sensor. Car does not overheat though.
2. No fuel gauge. Guesswork for now or have to top up extra each time I drive it.
3. No coolant level sensor.
4. There is a leak at the power steering pump.
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5. Engine warning light will not go off. Tried resetting it, nothing.
6. No wipers. Need a new motor as the other one rusted to failure. Water reservoir also dried up to the point that it cracked.
7. Dirt in the fuel lines causing fuel leaks at the rail. Now that the car is in use, rust is coming off in the tank and in the fuel rail and causing blockages. Have to keep removing and cleaning so as not to destroy the injectors. Also have to put in new fuel filters to save the pump. Im hoping this will subside with time coz even though we clean everything out it keeps coming back and its expensive!
8. Though the car moves well, I feel like there is some power loss (expect more kick out of a 2.5l engine). Might be the dirt in the lines, might be something else so will need a proper tune up to get it to pump out the full 150HP.
9. Also the exhaust has major issues. 1. Its not the right exhaust for the car and 2. It keeps cracking. When we lowered the rear sub-frame to replace the bushings it cracked again so it seems I need to replace the entire thing.
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NEXT UP:
Painting! I was trying to get some Noico sound deadening mat but it’s too expensive to ship out here because of the weight in the required quantity so I have decided to just go ahead and paint. I’ve been looking at Titangrau 892, Callisto Grey B64, and the original Platanengruen Metallic 188. I am leaning towards the Titangrau for now.

Windshield wiper motor, rear window motors, Exhaust work, and an engine tune. I think those are the critical items.

I also ordered some Polyamide shifter bushings from E28goodies.com supposed to sort out a lot of the slop in the gear. Those are yet to come in.
Tiit
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Tiit »

Good progress. Thanks for sharing.
davintosh
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by davintosh »

Wow, I missed this until now; great work! It takes a brave man to take on a project like that, but in Kenya? :shock: That bumps the difficulty up several levels! Major kudos to you! :up:

I have a friend who has spent most of the last decade in Nairobi, and some of his automotive adventures make for some great stories. All the best to you on this endeavor!
Federico
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Federico »

Nice work!

Your performance issue could indeed be related to the rust in the lines. A friend of mine also has a 525i, which tended to collect rust in the fuel pump. I can't remember the fuel pressure value we measured, but it was definitely low.

Also, these cars really like the Japanese NGK BP5ES spark plugs.
Last edited by Federico on Feb 13, 2019 1:38 PM, edited 1 time in total.
a
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by a »

Couple things to try. Clean off the power steering pump enough to tighten the bolts that hold it together. If you have a new fuel level sending unit and the gauge AND the temp gauge doesn't work then it is a poor ground connection at the point on the instrument panel where they mount into the panel. Clean and re-assemble. You'll be surprised what comes back. A little TLC may even revive the wipers. Please keep up dating

PS. Green is my favorite car color and very rare in the Stateside E 28s. :D
Magava
Posts: 13
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Location: Nairobi

Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Magava »

davintosh wrote:Wow, I missed this until now; great work! It takes a brave man to take on a project like that, but in Kenya? :shock: That bumps the difficulty up several levels! Major kudos to you! :up:

I have a friend who has spent most of the last decade in Nairobi, and some of his automotive adventures make for some great stories. All the best to you on this endeavor!
Thanks. I think the entire process is a lot of fun. Just an expensive hobby to have :laugh: :laugh: Plus its a very rare car here so its going to turn a lot of heads once its back to its glory and sitting on some 17s
Federico wrote:Your performance issue could indeed be related to the rust in the lines. A friend of mine also has a 525i, which tended to collect rust in the fuel pump. I can't remember the fuel pressure value we measured, but it was definitely low.

Also, these cars really like the Japanese NGK BP5ES spark plugs.
My pump is definitely not the best, quite noisy but it works fine. I know I will have to replace it at some point but I want this one to deal with all this rust stuff so hopefully it will all be cleared out by the time I need a new one. Does our car accept other pumps from other cars?

Also will the rust in the tank ever clear out or do I have to buy a new tank?
a wrote:Couple things to try. Clean off the power steering pump enough to tighten the bolts that hold it together.
Will do.
a wrote: If you have a new fuel level sending unit and the gauge AND the temp gauge doesn't work then it is a poor ground connection at the point on the instrument panel where they mount into the panel. Clean and re-assemble. You'll be surprised what comes back. A little TLC may even revive the wipers. Please keep up dating
My sending unit is busted, the metal casing rusted so we took it off an left the level bare. I know the system works since the gauge in the cluster jumps around as the fuel moves. Once I am able to get a new sending unit it should be fine.

The Temp gauge on the other hand does not move AT ALL even after I replaced the sensor in the engine.
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All other instruments work except the ones in the middle (Circled in Yellow). Also I said that my odometer was fixed but its still dead.
wickz80
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by wickz80 »

Awesome project. What challenges do you face in Kenya when it comes to getting parts??

I have a hard enough time getting spares and replacements here in Texas.
maybeillbuyit
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by maybeillbuyit »

Magava wrote: Also will the rust in the tank ever clear out or do I have to buy a new tank?
If you have rust in the tank its just going to keep wreaking the pump and filling the filter and injectors with crap until it won't run IMO. I would look at either having the tank clean out with acid or boiled or what ever they do or replacing it and maybe check the fuel lines if the rust is in the lines then they'll be sending shit to your injectors as well. If there was a hole that needed welding in that tank theres sure to be more ugliness there unless you clean it up.
Amazing posting!! Awesome car. Thx so much for posting this. My hats off to you for being able to accomplish so much in such a remote place. Great pics as well. I vote to keep the Platanengruen . Keep going
I just thought I'd mention that I see there's lots of e28 parts available in South Africa on Facebook, not sure if you've seen that.
Federico
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Re: E28 525i Restoration Project

Post by Federico »

Magava wrote:
My pump is definitely not the best, quite noisy but it works fine. I know I will have to replace it at some point but I want this one to deal with all this rust stuff so hopefully it will all be cleared out by the time I need a new one. Does our car accept other pumps from other cars?

Also will the rust in the tank ever clear out or do I have to buy a new tank?
The pump was used on many different cars. The peugeot 405/505 used it, and I got an old stock one from a peugeot parts dealer. It was also used by renault, volkswagen, citroën, fiat, opel...

specs are 3.0 bar pressure, 130-140 liters/hour

You can get chinese reproductions, but your mileage may vary. I tried one and it suddenly got really loud after a year.

As for the tank, yes, it will keep releasing rust for a long time. You should ask a radiator shop whether they will clean it for you. They usually do, and can also weld/braze any leaks that develop.

A shadetree mechanic would throw a chain and kerosene inside the tank and shake it up, but I strongly suggest the radiator shop route.
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