1982 BMW 323i Baur

1982 BMW 323i Baur
Memorial Day 2010 First Drive 1982 323i BMW Baur Lapisblau M20 5 speed #4154 of 4595 made. The car was imported to California by Dietel Enterprises. I have since changed the wheels, installed the clear turn signal lenses, and I am in the process of installing a new cabriolet roof. I have to do something about those bumpers, too. :) I love this car! To see one of the reasons why, check my post "Score One For the Good Guys" on 6/26/2011.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Update on the 1973 2002 Project

Beautiful day to day, temps in the 40's.  I was finally able to spend a little time looking at the non-running 1973 '02 project that I bought in November.  

It won't start.  I checked the spark plugs, and here some pics of what I found:
Heavily carboned plugs.  They all looked like this.  

I cleaned them all up, and tried to start it again.  No dice.  So I pulled a plug, laid it carefully off to the side near my socket wrench, still connected to the distributor.  I want to see if I have spark.  I tried it several times, and sure enough, I can see the plug sparking.  I have spark.  

Next question:  do I have fuel?

I pulled the coil wire out of the coil, to avoid any.... er .... surprises.  I then disconnected the fuel line from the fuel pump to the carburetor, and put that line in an empty coffee can... I want to test if the fuel is coming from the fuel pump to the carburetor.  I crank the engine a few times, and sure enough, fuel is accumulated in the coffee can.  I also check into the carburetor, and I can see fuel in the bottom of the carburetor.  I have fuel.

Do I have spark?  YES.

Do I have fuel?  YES.

Why isn't it running?   I am making an assumption here, btw, that the timing is ok, based on the previous owner's report that he had it running last summer.   Previous owner struck me as an honest fella, and I have no reason to doubt him.  I liked him.  So I am going to assume that the timing is still OK.  If all else fails, we may have to revisit this assumption.

By this time I am using my garage-type battery charger to try to start the car.  I am also using the battery from my 1979 323i Euro... which is in questionable condition.  The starter appears to be laboring, despite a lot of juice coming from that charger.  I inherited that battery charger from my dad's gas station long ago. Although it dates from the 1960's, or earlier, it has NEVER failed me.  And I have used it many times to start my old 1975 Mercedes diesel in the absolute dead of winter with temps below zero Fahrenheit.  I am suspicious of that starter.  

I decided that I need to replace that battery.  No sense messing around with a weak battery, and this will also eliminate that as a contributory cause of the problem.  So I made a run to Autozone this morning and picked up a new battery.  I then made sure to clean up ALL the connections to that battery:  the positive and negative cables;  I traced the ground from the battery to the fender ground spot and to the block, cleaning up both of them..  

The first thing I notice after replacing that battery is that the starter is still veeeeerrrrrry  slow.   Now that is just not helping me.  I disconnected the starter, and cleaned up all the connections with a wire brush and sand paper.  Nice and shiny contacts!  Accurate diagnosis is complicated when you have multiple symptoms.  You have to systematically eliminate each possible problem area to arrrive at the correct diagnosis.  

My theory, btw, at this point, remains that same:  I believe that I have a tankful of bad gas that has been sitting for .... god only knows how long in that tank.  

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, is the truth."   ------------Sherlock Holmes.  

But a bad battery and a weak starter must first be eliminated as contributors to the starting problem.  So, as you know, I replaced the battery this morning.  But the starter is still laboring badly.  Hmmm.  I have a new battery in there now, and the starter continues to turn slowly.  Not a good sign.  That thing should be spinning like crazy.  

So I put the battery charger on it again.  New battery, battery charger going full tilt.  Starter is still laboring, the engine is turning over slowly, occasionally giving a cough like it wants to start but..... no firing.  This is definitely not good.  My theory about bad gas COULD be the reason it isnt firing but.... why is it turning sooooooo slowly?

Suddenly, the starter gives out.  Turn the key, get a click, then ..... nothing.  Repeating this sequence gives the same result.  

Ok.  Not good news really, but ... perhaps a little clarity.  I turn the key on and put on the lights.  Headlights are working fine.  OK. Turn the key to try to start..... lights dim slightly showing that there is a power drain, but nothing but a click.  Ignition is sending power to the starter but.... the starter is doing nothing.  Starter is bad.

As you can see, I have pulled the starter out of the 2002.  Here is the procedure I followed:  disconnect the battery, pull three wires off of the starter, then the two mounting bolts at the rear of the starter, and two bolts to the block on the bracket at the front and you are done.  I unbolted the two bolts from the bracket to the block, then just pulled it forward to clear the flywheel housing .  Once clear of the flywheel housing, I just eased it back and pulled it out near the brake unit.  Not bad at all.  You can see the removed starter in the pic above, sitting on the air cleaner.  

My options at this point are the following:
1)  get a rebuild kit and rebuild the starter myself;
2)  take the starter to the local automotive electric shop and have them rebuild it;
3) buy a new starter.

I like the local auto electric shop, based on past experience, so I will probably opt for that, although I might do it myself.  How hard can it be"

Famous last words.  ;)

Stay tuned.  

Anyway, here is a pic of the leaves and other debris behind where the starter was.  I don't think there were any varmints living in here during the previous ownership but.... I can'r completely rule it out.  ;)  The car was parked out side in a driveway in an urban setting.  Most of the debris appears to be just years of accumulated leaves.  I haven't found any hard evidence of a ... er.... housing development ..... yet.  

I save old toothbrushes for cleaning duties like this.   It does a decent job in some of those hard-to-get-at-places.

Stay tuned.... more to come!

Addendum:  I forgot to mention earlier.... that today I bought 2 five gallon containers at Autozone in anticipation of the need to drain the bad gas out of the gas tank in the 1973 2002.   The gas gauge reads
"FULL", although I have no idea if it is accurate or not.

See full project journal here:

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