I finished the installation of my Downing Atlanta Supercharger this past Sunday. I believe this sets the record (5/15/99 start = 5/12 if you count assembling the superchager and manifold in the basement the day I got it).
It started out well. I wasted a couple of weeks determined not to rip the intake manifold off unitl After I got the ECU back and made sure it worked. I sent it out to Stuart Schikora before I went to Germany (4/24) so I was sure it would be waiting for me when I returned. It wasn't there, but I got a call from Stuart telling me he had it done and would ship it back (5/3). After a couple of weeks, I said the Hell with it and ripped the intake manifold off. By noontime I had it all off, had rewrapped the wiring harnesses and was ready to wisk the supercharger in the car. I even had plans for the rest of Saturday afternoon that didn't involve monologues of German breeding habits in the garage.
Around 2 I was starting the nut on the rearmost stud holding the intake manifold on. The nut magically hopped off the stud and went directly down the injector hole. When I got the manifold back off, I found it resting against the valve stem of an OPEN intake valve of the #4 cylinder. I snuck up on it with a magnet and removed it from its perilous location.
By 4 I was installing the fuel rail. The inkecotr were not going in. I decided to disassemble the fuel rail and place each injector in individually. The injectors are held in the rail by spring clips. I put them on backwards once. The connectors wouldn't go on the injectors. I turned them around, and got everything to (sort of)fit together. It was six, I was beat, I stopped for the day.
"Kern's first rule of working on cars -- STOP AT 4" Everything you do agfter 4 on Saturday, you will end up taking apart Sunday morning. I looked at the injectors in the cold light of morning. The clips didn't look right, and the wires to the injectors were a stretch-fit. I thought about the 1,100 mile drive to the Reunion. I took it apart. The fuel rail has a tab on the receptacle for the injector. There is a boss on the injector. In order for the clip to snap on as intended, the injector has to be aligned with the fuel rail; however there was a big ugly piece of aluminum sticking up from the intake manifiold that prevented the #1 injector from lining up. I closed the hood and decided to call Downing Atlanta Monday morning.
I got Chip at Downing around 8:30. I told him the problem and got a "one of those" from him. Per Downing Atlanta, 1996 Z3s were sort of a cottage industry with BMW -- no two may actually be alike. They knew of the problem and offered to send out a new manifold (5/17). It didn't show up on 5/18, or 5/19, or 5/20 or 5/21. Damn, another weekend and no part. The Z3 was dead in the water. The following Monday, my ECU came Fed-X. Still no manifold. I called Chip. He couldn't beleive I didn't have it and started to trace it.
Friday 5/28. The start of the Memorial Day planned car-a-thon, but still no manifold. I called Chip. UPS had traced it to the Burlington Depot. I checked UPS's website. It was here, so I headed over to UPS. Know their ad about "global tracking" -- well what you see isn't what you get. What you get is a moron saying "Just because we scanned it in doesn't mean it's really here". Judging from his intellect, I was probably right about his heritage. His mother could have bolted out from under the porch to bite the mailman.
What I did do over the weekend is play with the cooling system. As part of the installation you have to drain out some coolant. As my Z3 was a 1996, it was time to changge the antifreeze anyways. I had drained the radiator in April. Do not place a drain pan under the spigot on the radiator -- this will only mark you as a novice. The coolant hits the front crossmember and goes all over the garagfe floor. Do locate the hose and squeegee where you can get to them without skating across the cement garage floor full of antifreeze.
The Bentley manual alludes to a drain plug on the right side of the M44 engine. They don't actually show a picture of it, but they do tell you its there -- they are about as specific to its location as if someone asked me where California was and I pointed west. My dealer was helpful -- telling me it was by the freeze plug and was probably 19mm (it was 13mm). You can see the drain plug by laying down in front of the car and peering around the radiator. Memorize the location and familiar landmarks, as you will be identifying them by grope later.
The drain plug can be reached by (1) turning the wheels all the way to the left and squeezing in behind the right wheel. You can then play grope for the plug. You have to hold your breath to reach the plug, however. It is in with enough torque that you have to bang on the end of the ratchet. It lets go immediately once you break it loose, so you can smash your knuckles into the right engine mount. Only immenent suffocation prevented several cubic feet of blue air. Once again rather than pouring in an orderly manner in to the drain pan, the coolant hits the side of the engine compartment and splashes all over the floor (upon which you are currently reclining). Putting the plug back in is a tue adventure. There is a puddle of antifreeze to lay in, the plug is slimy, you can't get your hand on it to turn it, and the hole in the block is corroded, so the threads won't engage. It is about this time that the uninvolved members of the household start with the "Are you done?" question. I got it back in and headed for the showers.
By the Tuesday after Memorial Day, the location of my manifold was multiple choice. Chip called. It was either (1) about to be delivered to my door, (2) lost in Vermont, (3) Lost but never left Goergia or (4) on its way back to Georgia. Chip told me it was on his desk. UPS Next-day aired it to me for free.
Saturday 6/5. The intake manifold was populated and dropped right in. The fuel rail snapped together. All the injector wires snapped right on with a little slack left over. The throttle body bolted right on. It was 4PM and I needed a little more vacuum hose. I quit for the day and headed for the parts store.
By 11AM Sunday, everything was back together. I filled the radiator and tightened the fuel line one last time and headed back to reconnect the battery. I backed the other two cars a safe distance away under the guise of needing more room to work. From the driver's seat I noted that I could see the fuel rail with the hood open. It cranked but didn't start (empty fuel lines). On the second try it fired up and idled beautifully. I went around front -- no fuel spraying on the electrics. A small drip of antifreeze, but it was from a noncontentious area. I blipped the throttle a few times and let it sit and idle for about 30 minuutes.
I got it off the jackstands and moved it to the middle of the garage. (The clutch works -- bled that bastard too). I finished bleeding the right side brakes and painted the calipers on that side. Tonight I got home and they predicted severe thunderstorms. Just what I need -- three cars out in a hailstorm. Tomorrow the paint should be dry on the calipers and they are not predicting rain. Stay tuned!