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83 528e J-spec

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Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
Location: BC, Canada

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

The Japanese word Shibui. Saw this image a few years ago and it stuck.

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E28's are definitely old school cool. Vintage stuff. And when you look at the E12 like this 1977 525 (not my pic) you could argue the E28 was designed in the 1970's or even the late 1960's when development first started on it. Old school cool going back decades.

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And if theres a direction this '83 eta is going, its back to the 70's. Kinda like this red 525. More ABBA, less Miami Vice. :D



And the WEDS help with that for sure.

Trivia time:
World Elster Distribution System
Founded in 1965, they got into aftermarket wheels in the early 70's.
They have 3 lines of wheels; Wedsport, Maverick (two piece), and Kranze (three piece wheels).
Intriguingly they spell Wedsport just like that, so maybe its just Weds. I do not know anymore.


Here's this '83 eta all cleaned up a few years back. Looking classy in its vintage duds.
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vinceg101
Posts: 4079
Joined: Jun 20, 2007 2:40 AM
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by vinceg101 »

Lapisblau wrote: Jul 24, 2020 11:38 PM Last one, Vince I belive your car is in the middle there.
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Mine is the first full nose on the right. The one in the middle I think is Darin's (Mlastovo); I think that was the year he was there (?)

One of the biggest complaints and industry criticisms about the E28 when it was unveiled was how little it changed from the E12, at least from an exterior body style standpoint. BMW had several more forward-leaning designs (this was the time of "modern" aero-styling in automotive designs after all), but they went with the more conservative design. Most of the advancements were in the engineering and what was under the skin.
So, in essence you're kind of right: the E28 has a lot of design roots in the '70's.

Personally, I think what BMW went with was the right move; staying with a more classic design cemented BMW's image as strong, with sophisticated elegant tastes and being trend-setters. When you look at all the other cars that debuted in the early '80's, how many of those "modern" designs have lasted? Most were purely just knee-jerk reactions to what was in vogue at the time. One has to imagine what would have happened to the development of the 5 Series, or the entire vehicle line-up for that matter, if BMW had chosen one of those "newer" designs and fell prey to trying to keep up with the rest of the automotive world.
linen grey ghost
Posts: 71
Joined: Sep 25, 2017 8:03 PM
Location: Florida

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by linen grey ghost »

My J-spec 1987 528e, purchased from Vancouver Island, BC, in the process of adding some ALPINA inspired interior/exterior tributes.

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Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
Location: BC, Canada

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

linen grey ghost wrote: Jul 25, 2020 2:22 PM My J-spec 1987 528e, purchased from Vancouver Island, BC, in the process of adding some ALPINA inspired interior/exterior tributes.

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Now thats a classy looking car. Those panel gaps look factory fresh, probably accident free. And the Alpina's look in great shape. That it looks close to stock otherwise is getting to be a rare commodity, worth having. Great find.

Short story: When I picked up this '83, the guy selling it lived 45 minutes away and to complete the sale he picked me up and he drove the 45 mins back. Coming from an admittedly high strung 2002, the ride back in the stock 528e floored me. I remember the whole drive. Quiet and smooth. Smooth and quiet. No stereo, no squeaks, no rattles, just the car making all the right sounds, quietly. The transmission shifted undetected. The suspension floated like Luke Skywalker's landspeeder. The brakes, smooth as could be. The stock experience can be rewarding is what I'm trying to say, and the E28 can do it really well.

And that's my argument for keeping it stock.

But when the Alpina looks so good -wow- just check out this 1983 BMW E28 Alpina B9 3.5. The real deal. Currently for sale at 4star, I 'borrowed' the pics, hope they don't mind.
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If I could snap my fingers and turn this eta into an Alpina, this is exactly what it would look like. Same year even. Amazing what the aero on the front and rear and the open lugs can do to the look. This borderline super-car looks like the most legit thing 1983 ever produced. What a machine.

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And here's what BMW was doing just a few years before this '83 Alpina was built. The M1 from 78-81.

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What a sports car. Love it.

Last pic. I associate the WEDS with 70's BMW's in the 80's if you get what I'm saying. Like this E12.
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Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
Location: BC, Canada

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

The rear sway bar for E28's pre 9/84 was a 14mm unit, after was a 15.5mm unit. The 15.5mm has the diff clearance 'bump' offset to match the new offset diff mount. Like so.

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The 15.5mm shouldn't fit the early cars, obviously. But it does. By binding with the diff mount by this much.

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That it bolted up and I kind of forgot about it longer than I care to admit, lets not talk about that. Clearancing looked like this. Functional. :laugh:

To my eyes at the time, the mount still looked structural and good. If it fails, I'll let you know :shock:

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Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
Location: BC, Canada

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

Some random stuff:

"03 CDN" on this tach from a Canadian market 1984 533i. The original J-spec tach had "JPN02" written here. Interesting if you're into that sorta thing.

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And here's the update on the unreliable gizmo inline with the front right running/signal light.

Fished it out of its rubber case and its encased in hard-as-rock resin. A tempting target for a hammer... and I stopped right there. :D I'd like to see what makes it tick and repair it, but knowing my luck I'd beat it to death and still take two more years to fix it. So for now, its won. Again. Its back in the car and still being an occasional turd. Eighteen years running. Amazing. Who runs this place?!
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This euro corner marker pairs with the gizmo via the clear 3-pin plug (above) and could well be a J-spec part because of it. I believe its more common for the corner marker to end with the round yellow plug and then plug into the harness.

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Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
Location: BC, Canada

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

Cruise control was added to this car awhile back. Not many pictures associated with it, but here you go.

There's two lengths to the cruise control stalks. The E28 unit is the longer one. The shorter comes from an E30 I believe. I went with the latter.
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The wiring loom.
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It picks up 12v from the power distribution block
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The control unit comes in various 80's BMW's, and in my opinion got more reliable as the 80's progressed. So a 1991 E30 unit would be my choice for a spare. (They might be in E34's or something newer, not sure, E30's are where I ended my hunt)

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No Fracking Good
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These CC 'brains' can and do fail.
I installed cruise at the same time as a 5 speed swap, so when the cruise was inop after install, there was a number of things going on and it took me awhile to sort it. Is it plugged into the speedo correctly? Are the brake and clutch switches working? and so on. For weeks. Of course, these 'brains' can fail too and I had a spare, not my first rodeo. No joy. Drive a man nuts rechecking things so many times, so a special trip to the wreckers some weeks later and I grabbed a third 'brain'. It worked! Kind of. It would hold the cruise but had a tendency to accelerate and cancelling through the stalk didn't work well. But good progress, the installation was atleast confirmed correct. Just needed a fourth unit, it worked flawlessly. Lucky number four.

Finding a good spare took two more attempts. This known good spare feels like a treasure after all that running around.

NFG. Same goes with the M1.0 idle control units. Mines always been fine, but after the cruise control runaround I started looking for a good spare and no winners. Not sure if the different colours on the box mean anything special, but these were all toast. I tried four different units at the time, no go. All had their issues, some wild, some mild. All no good.
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Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
Location: BC, Canada

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

Euro headlights.

Great upgrade, but it took me forever to follow through on wiring it up properly. The headlights bolt on in minutes and when the stock wiring makes everything work its easy to look at the parts yet to be installed and - just - call it a night. Go for a drive, appreciate 7" Hella's again and forget all about it. The extra parts and a 'proper install' would cross my mind every few months, for years. :laugh:

There was also fog lights that needed to be wired in from scratch and the city lights wiring needs some special attention.

And doing this with Rod's 'headlight wiring upgrade/voltage drop' post ( tech/rods_pages/id6.html ) was on my mind as well and wanted to wire the fogs, low and high beams similarly.

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Lastly, I wanted it to look OE for as much as practical. So a BMW fog switch for sure, and getting the bulbs operating in the cluster were on the list. The switch was easy, getting that small 'window' for the cluster that shows the front and rear fog, that took a while.

By the time I needed a good fog switch I had four. The pic above is whats in the car, so this euro fog below (with its two buttons) is a spare along with a number of the single button units.
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The E23 units have the white lettering on them. Legible and in the mother tongue, gut gut.
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To wire in the fog switch I was able to use some wiring from a spare loom. Did not get all the wiring colours correct, but who's gonna know right? :D

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To finish the job above a plastic cover is needed like on the back of these. Not crucial, but its still on the list.
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switched +12v was taken from the headlight switch. To trigger relays for the fogs front and rear.
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At the same time as the lights I'm also trying to get +12v to the cluster bulbs. These are the positive traces, just need some wiring with the correct pins to get those connected. The ground circuit for the bulbs is already completed on the PCB.
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Something for here
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These wires were removed from a spare loom for the same connector. I couldn't pin-extract the wires from the connector for the life of me, so I had to cut the plug down the middle and slowly free them. If you see pride in these little wires, its because it took forever to free them up without destroying them or cutting my finger tips off :shock:
Won't be doing that again, (you can buy the connectors new online if your savvy enough) but now there's spare connectors and there's other bulb slots in the cluster too, perhaps someday I'll add a few more lights to the cluster for something fun like - rocket launchers? No to that, but I would add a light indicating the fricking seat heaters are on in the middle of summer :laugh: DAnGeR!

(Sidenote: the fog buttons fit perfectly in the slots on either side of the stereo providing more buttons if you like. And I like buttons. And a master switch for the heated seats is getting a button someday)
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Back to the actual headlights, 12ga wiring was used and a friend and I did a bunch of the wiring on his bench to ensure good crimps and solders.
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There's some wiring details to attend to in the fuse box to have the euro lows remain on with the high beams. I soldered the Wh/Rd to that ground there, but this is just one step IIRC.
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Up front, the left side fog and low and high beams are grounded on the main post above the battery. Was also able to find used female connectors to match the stock fog connector. If you look close only the ground is on the fog connector, its +12v comes from the right side of the car, a little odd wiring wise but it works.
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Similar setup on the right, theres a ground post in the engine compartment near the a/c compressor, and all remaining grounds were run there.

To get full functionality from the 7" lamps you need to add a 5/16" pin (thanks Rod) to this socket and epoxy it in place. No problem.

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With the details sorted, this could be called the heart of the matter. A power distribution block on the inner fender using a stock mounting hole, fed by a heavier gauge wire run straight from the alternator, over the thermostat housing and to the power block.
Three relays in their sockets mounted to the headlight cover as Rod did. Its a good spot for them.

And two things that didn't work out 'the best'. One, was using just red for +12v, should have colour coded that better. What was I thinking?! My friend even called me on it at ten o'clock at night, at his benchtop, and oddly it seemed too late even before we started. So that's my excuse, lets not talk about it. It works. :lol:
The second challenge here was how the wiring comes and goes. Each relay has wiring that runs in multiple directions, its not neat. Next time I'd consider building a loom from the relays side first, so the wiring for each relay could be grouped better.
Some cloth wiring tape would be great too (no one stocks it in Canada, weird). That regular electrical tape is begging to be replaced. So... to whoever may come across this, the connections are solid, the relays run left to right as Low, High, Fog. And yes, it could be neater.

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There's a wiring chase that runs across the nose of the car, just below the kidney grill and the majority of the wiring was run through it. And that's most of it.

The rear fog is just a +12v wire run to the left rear taillight, and not connected. Waiting for a need I guess. The last time I saw a car properly use rear fogs around here was a dozen years ago, a slow going older Volvo on a foggy mountain highway. His rear fogs were doing him good that day and was nice to see. With so few foggy days around here, there's no burning need to complete the rear fogs it seems and that's the way they sit. The tail lights are still 100% stock. Easy to complete when the time is right.

The bluish tint to the LED bulbs in the front turned out to come from the bluish coating on the PIAA Extreme White headlight bulbs. Got lucky with that, if the city lights were that harsh LED white they would have been out as fast as they went in.
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Lastly, the way its wired, all four high beams come on while the two low beams also stay lit. With all six filaments burning it puts a lot of lumens down range, excellent.

To stress test it all I've run long stretches (15 mins plus continuously on multi-hour night drives) with everything on and its working flawlessly. I had wondered if the 7" lamps would overheat with both filaments burning, no problem there. And the loom, relays, dash lights, and so on - just fine.

Euro headlights with upgraded wiring. Good good.
vinceg101
Posts: 4079
Joined: Jun 20, 2007 2:40 AM
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by vinceg101 »

There is a 2-relay block holder that slips on the front of the fuse box that came with North American 524td's. I used this for my system when I rewired mine a few years back. I can't seem to find the photos at the moment, but will be at The Hangar tomorrow and will snap some pictures.
Of course you need to still figure out a spot for that 3rd relay, but that should be easier than three.

Oh and it gives you a chance to "fix" your wire colors ;)
Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
Location: BC, Canada

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

Vince, some pics of that finely sorted machine of yours would be most welcome.

This wiring project was completed something like six years ago and has had zero issues since. So... sure, Bad Obsession might be temporarily embarrassed for me, but that spotty loom is part of the DNA of the car now, no going back! :laugh:

Oh, and for the uninitiated, here's the back side of the euro lamps. The original challenge in the last post. There's intermediate adapters/plugs on both the hi and low beams. The far lamp is the low beam and uses that locking ring below it and even has a rubber boot to seal it all even further. Overengineered and overbuilt comes to mind, and its glorious. Buy that engineer a beer.
None of this is hard to rewire, but getting the right plug ends for the euro hardware, and the right pins to go in them, and adding the city light etc; took some sorting, nice to assemble on a bench. Even if it did lock in some poor aesthetics ;)
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New lamps are a good add too. Good clear glass, the 12ga wiring, and your fav bulb = night driving comfort. And this car was built for driving through the night. Set cruise, engage those high beams, and try not to send a moose over the hood at 140km/h. :laugh:

"Hella, made in Germany." Good.
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Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
Location: BC, Canada

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

Some "83 528e J-spec" housekeeping: Photobucket was kicked off the premises a few weeks ago. Tired of seeing that name stamped on everyone's car pics, including mine. So the previous photo links in this thread have been updated with new images. In doing this, many hours have been spent sorting through car pics, so while its fresh in mind, here's more stuff.

A CC ecu out of its shell.
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The defrost switch. This switch would get stuck sometimes and need some help. Its old grease was no good.
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There's a design challenge with these 80's era cars, and its that modern stereo's look completely out of place in them. (How do car stereo's continue to be so... 1990's in a bad way?!) :laugh:
This 'removable faceplate' was made from a BMW head unit. When correctness and good taste counts, this looks the part. And when you need the bluetooths and mp3's its only a faceplate away.
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This is the driver side door lock mechanism. See those white plastic bushings in the bag? Three of them fit into the door lock assembly (on each door). You can see them installed where the rods attach. If your doors sound rattly when you close them, these bushings are a probable culprit.
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Conanblau
Posts: 219
Joined: Aug 29, 2007 10:06 PM
Location: BC, Canada

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by Conanblau »

More random:

A recent thread in tech talk was talking about 'adjusting' the needle on a fuel or temp gauge.
Years ago this cars cluster was out at a friends electrical shop and a buddy walked away with this portion of the cluster. He came back a minute later, said he re-flowed some of the solder connections but the fuel gauge needle was comically bent. good stuff! This began a multi-year effort to get the gas gauge to read correctly. A full tank pointed directly at 70L originally so every so often I'd pull the cluster, get to this gauge and nudge it a little bit. Closer and closer. Its spot on now and this pic documents its resting position.
The low fuel light comes on when the needle just touches the top of the red. Indicating 13L left in the tank.
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These are the slider 'handles(?)' for the HVAC controls. They come off with a firm pull. Early cars on the right, later on the left. Not interchangeable. The orange and red illuminated 'windows' fit differently.
One of the red ones in this car was scratched and it took a long while to find a minty one from an early E28.
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I kept these crusty fuses in the trunk tool kit for a really long time. Felt like the right thing to do, being original and all.
That blue burnt bugger is not original equipment and is a good example of why the ceramic fuses are important. It was powering the a/c and failed by burning up the body of the fuse. Not good at all.
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In 2018 I found a local source of ceramic fuses (a Volvo shop specializing in older cars) and replaced all the fuses in the car. Including the crusty tool kit originals seen above. Those Volvo guys know all about these wonky fuses, good for a laugh or two.
The silver 1157 bulbs in the back there are for the clear front corner markers, if thats your thing.
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The door brakes remove easily. Two bolts and a pin. And they can definitely be crusty. They have two wheels in there which can seize up completely (like my passenger door).
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Getting it into two pieces is easy, pretty simple mechanism. But I certainly wondered how easily it would go back together.
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To reassemble, I needed some body weight right on that spot. Lean into it. When it pops back in - you'll know. :laugh:
Similar to those white plastic bushings for the door lock mechanism, lubing these door brakes can really quiet an E28 door.
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royalblau87
Posts: 10
Joined: Aug 09, 2011 9:07 PM
Location: Vancouver, BC

Re: 83 528e J-spec

Post by royalblau87 »

Awesome car! Hopefully I can see it in person one day.
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