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(Also posted to my own blog)

Finally got around to getting this project moving. Earlier this year I picked up a Subaru electric car conversion - - at a very reasonable enthusiast-to-enthusiast price. It is a superb project and it was fantastic taking it for a test drive around flat Kapiti but in the hills and valleys of Wellington the direct drive was looking problematic.

I finally made the decision not to try to modify the Subaru with a different diff or 2-speed transmisson but to continue on with my original plans for the BMW, retaining its transmission, transferring all the electric parts from the Subaru.

This also means the decision to go DC is made on this project as the Subaru has a Warp 9. I won't be using the lead-acid batteries from the Subaru as I'm aiming for Lithium batteries. I've also got some very useful things in the Subaru purchase like MR2 electric power steering, a charger that works with Lithium, water heater for the heating, controller, fuses, cables etc. One of the usual issues of waiting for stuff to arrive won't be a problem with this project!

Recently the fuel injection died leaving my BMW stranded on the road outside, I had just taken it for a warrant and it had failed only on a light adjustment needed, so that's great news. Got a friend to help and with my son and his friend as well we managed to push it up the driveway, just, and raise it up onto the wooden stands I'd built a long time ago.

I wasn't sure how getting them up onto the wooden stands was going to work but by lifting up the front and back in turn, and using metal jack stands as well as an intermediate stage, we got there. There's great clearance underneath.

The first goal I've set myself is to get the transmission out so I can get it down to an engineers and have someone else mate it to the motor. That's the current plan unless I so gain in confidence in such things that I end up doing that part myself as well. I don't currently have technical drawing knowledge or skills.

For the mechanical work I'm using the Haynes manual, which isn't bad. It's a bit short of pics and sometimes I have no idea what the item is it's referring to. Sometimes I need to google things for images, although it seems hit and miss with a 318ti, due to different parts used over time.

To get the transmission out I needed to remove the exhaust and the driveshaft, which involved undoing nuts, hacksawing one of them and creating a lever to extend the spanners to get the rest undone. CRC was also useful. I threw the exhaust and muffler straight up on TradeMe as certainly won't be needing those! On the other hand I currently have another 318ti so might be keeping some parts in case.

Then the manual said I needed to get the starter motor out and that is where the fun began, as the top nut for it was not accessible in this vehicle. In fact, I needed to remove the entire air filter, manifold, undo the wiring harness and remove many other bits and pieces to get to it. To give myself more room I also removed the radiator and oil cooler first.

During this mass removal process I also drained the coolant from both the radiator and the engine, as well as the oil from the engine. I was hesitant to undo the fuel lines as I could not depressurise the fuel system due to the engine not being start-able. In the end though there was no rush of fuel when I did disconnect it. The biggest challenges were getting access to nuts and bolts, using every tool type in the toolbox to do so. Fortunately none of them around the engine proved difficult to undo.

I go the starter motor out and have now disconnected everything from the engine. The power steering pump is sitting loose and I've temporarily taken out the aircon compressor.

I'm now considering whether to create a frame for the aircon, power steering and engine belt-driven pulleys that is similar to the original layout. I'll be idling the electric motor. We don't really have start-stop traffic much so no big gain in being able to stop the motor at lights. It should also be a better fit with this being an auto transmission conversion. I do have the MR2 electric power steering option from the Subaru but I like the idea of having the belt system.

So that I can align the motor eventually I've created a piece of wood that sits across the engine bay and marked where the centre of the pulley on the back of the engine is. It's not very precise but I'm assuming there is some give and take in these things.

Some parts came out of the car that I can't identify. Photos posted here in case someone can tell me what these two black cylinders are. At the end of all this I now have three clear tasks ahead of me - remove transmission, remove engine, remove fuel tank. The first two will need to be done on the same day or at least weekend as the car will need to be sticking out of the garage during the process so that the engine is directly below the I-beam in our garage.

The transmission and engine appear to be supported by each other. So will need to hook up the engine to the I beam, drop the transmission and move it out of the way, then drop the car around the engine as it is removed. Not quite how I wanted to do it. I'll be keeping an eye out for whatever electrical connections there are to the transmission as understanding them will be all-important to ensure the auto transmission works with the electric motor.

I'll probably remove the fuel tank first as it can be done independently and I can clear out any fuel lines in the process from front to back.

All-in-all good progress.


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