No, we aren't talking about some silly Super Bowl football game. We are talking about something MUCH more important than that!
You may recall that my current project---- or ONE of my current projects---- is this 1973 BMW 2002 that my son Brian and I rescued from Providence, RI last November.
The previous owner couldn't get it started when we arrived to purchase it, which actually worked in my favor, in that it reduced the selling price.
It has been tucked away safely in my garage since then, while we try to diagnose what the problem is. Suffice it to say that it needs a lot. It won't start, it has no brakes, no back seat, front seats are out of an E30, which, as you may know, means they are not a great fit. Lots of window seals seem to be missing. Factory color was Malaga, but, as you can see, someone decided that they liked white. Exterior paint is a mess: someone painted it white. Let's be honest, it is a mess..... rockers and rear shock towers appear solid, however. It came with about 6 extra wheels, including a set of turbines.
So the question all along has been: is this a parts car, or can it be salvaged?
I am pleased to say that we went a long way toward answering that question today.
Today is Super Sunday, not because of that football game they are playing in the New Orleans Superdome tonight, but rather, because...... the 1973 2002 has rejoined the ranks of the living!
Yes! I got it running today, and it sounds just fantastic! But I will let you be the judge of that!
I tried to post this video (above) directly to the blog, but it didn't seem to work. Not sure why, but.... here are a couple of short videos that I shot today.
My theory all along has been that the basic problem preventing this '02 from running is bad gas. That's right, bad gas. I based that mainly on the fact that the previous owner told me that he had it running last summer, and he fully expected it to start the day Brian and I came to get it. He tried and tried to start it in vain using a lot of starter fluid in the process. The previous owner was a pretty straight shooter, and I did believe that HE believed that he could get it to start. He couldn't, and I haven't been able to start it either. Until today.
My theory all along has been that the problem was bad gas. That's right, bad gas. Gas that has been sitting too long loses its potency. Really? Yes, really. But I had to do a little work to prove this theory.
Even with the new battery, I was having trouble getting a good spin from the starter. I had spark, and i appeared to have fuel....but the starter was not enthusiastic enough.
So I pulled it out and had it rebuilt. I installed it this weekend, and sure enough, it was now giving the engine a great spin! But it still wouldn't start. That brings me back to my original theory, as simple as it sounds: bad gas.
I rechecked everything: I had spark, based on pulling a couple of spark plugs and checking to see their spark. Spark Ok. I can see fuel in the bottom of the carburetor, and I have checked to see that the fuel pump is working properly. It is. I am making an assumption, based on the fact that I think the PO is an honest fella, that the timing is within spec.... because he said that he had it running last summer.
"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, is the truth." ---------Sherlock Holmes.
What remains? One thing is bad fuel. Previous owner hasn't driven the car in a long time, although he states he had it running last summer.
By this time, I have worn out the starter. I noticed that it had been laboring for a while, but it finally gave out altogether. I pulled it, and had it rebuilt at a local auto electric shop that I have used before. I re-installed it this weekend, and sure enough it spins that M10 engine beautifully now.
Ok, I have just about eliminated everything.... except for the gas. I went underneath and happily found that this 1973 2002 has a fuel tank drain plug.. The gas gauge reads 'full', so I am thinking I may need a some big containers for the bad fuel. I have two 5 gallon brand new gas cans.... I can use them to store the drained gas.... and also for fuel storage for my gas back up generator which I hope to have installed sometime this winter.
I drained about a gallon of gas yesterday, but had to stop due to some family dinner obligations. I was now at the 'do or die' point for my bad gas theory. I rechecked the lugs... they all looked ok, if a little flooded. I cleaned them up, and decided to 'go for it'. I drained all the gas out of the tank (much less than 10 gallons,) which tells me DO NOT TRUST THE GAS GAUGE (it had been reading full!) ! I added about two gallons of freshly purchased 93 octane gasoline, and proceeded to try to start the engine. No dice, of course. I had picked up a can of starting fluid Sunday morning, since my old can was depleted. Amazing stuff. I am a little leery of it, since I have witnessed regular fairly strong explosions back firing out of the carburetor after using it. I sprayed starting fluid into the open carburetor, jammed the butterfly open with a screw driver, and cranked it over. No dice. I pulled all the spark plugs again, cleaned them up a bit, and re-installed them. I rechecked them to see if I was still getting spark, Affirmative on the spark.
The next time I tried cranking it, after spraying starting fluid into the carb.... the engine felt a bit stronger... like it almost wanted to start! Woo hoo! Progress! I tried again and again.... and I was beginning to see a little bit of sustained cranking... not starting, but not immediately quitting either. I was encouraged. I have probably now used half a can of the brand new starting fluid, but I am slowly starting to see a slight improvement. Or am I imagining it? ;)
No, I can get it to see to fire now for about 15 secs before quitting. A few more tries,----- and a few more impressive flaming backfires through the carburetor---- and I can almost get it to run, but not quite. not about to quit now!
I keep going..... more starter fluid, more cranking and..... I can now get it to stay running past the point where the starting fluid has burned up! Whoa! That means the fresh gas is getting into the carb! Again and again, I spray more fluid into the carburetor throat! Sure enough..... I can get it to run for a few seconds! Woo hoo! Another shot of starter fluid and it can now stay running very roughly for about 30 seconds before quitting. We are getting close! The next try..... Bingo! I can keep it going for about two minutes! We are there! Another try and ..... I have it running! YES! I let it run for about 30 minutes! Running roughly at first, but over time it smooths right out. Beautiful sound! As it reaches operating temp.... theoretical, since I have no working temp gauge..... it idles down to a steady 950rpms. I can get out of the car and allow it to run completely on its own.
Mission accomplished! So after eliminating the extraneous issues of the bad battery and the bad starter, it does appear that my original theory was correct: the bad battery and the bad starter were simply masking the real problem! A very fundamental problem indeed: gasoline deteriorates over time, and it will prevent your car from running.
During halftime of the Super Bowl, I took a few minutes to check on the 2002.... I wanted to see how easy it was to start after sitting for a few hours. It was actually about 8:30pm when this video was shot. I have to chuckle though.... I just came into the house from the garage after testing out the 2002. It started up again perfectly after sitting for several hours. The second half of the Super Bowl has just started and..... half of the lights at the New Orleans Superdome are out!
This is for real, folks. As you can see in that video, the '02 started up with no hesitation. No starting fluid, no special help, nothing. Wow. The underlying problem was the most basic of issues: bad gas!
I love it! Largely because of this bad gas issue, I was able to buy this 1973 2002 Roundie at an absolutley bargain price!
Oh, btw, in case you are interested: Super Bowl XLVII Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31.