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2008 E61 Build

Old 06-26-2018, 11:40 AM
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Fellow car enthusiasts,

I recently began the process of upgrading the turbos on my 2008 BMW E61 535XI wagon.

Recently, I had a 2007 E92, and replaced the turbos on jack stands in my garage with the help of some truly generous friends.




The car was great and ran strong, however it wasn't quite practical enough for my needs. Even with some of the most aggressive snow tires on the market, it wasn't an ideal vehicle for me, as I often drive up very steep mountains in the snow, or drive home from work in the middle of the night before the streets are plowed. Not to mention it wasn't great for transporting mountain bikes/surfboards/fun stuff.


The car:

2008 BMW 535XI wagon, 6AT



On the way to the shop after a very bad valve cover gasket failure. So bad that the oil would ignite after just a few minutes of idling, let alone driving!




Fire:

https://flic.kr/p/28yiikB

Upon arrival at the shop, Northeast Autobahn in Walpole, MA, we found the compression on my engine in the car wasn't ideal (90-110psi across the deck without oil, 115-120 with oil), even though the car had just 58k on the drivetrain/body. Disappointed, we pushed on.

This running engine and all accessories will be for sale soon! The engine had no issues other than the compression. Lmk if you're interested in any parts.



Max Cabrera from Northeast Autobahn could not have been more helpful during this entire project. It was truly an uphill battle, but he found new and creative ways to move through the issues he ran into, and the car could truly not have been in better hands. If you are in the Boston/Eastern Mass area I highly recommend stopping by for any maintenance/performance related tasks. I am so glad I decided not to attempt this install myself. The 6MT RWD E92 was hard enough, but the 6AT AWD 5 series is an entirely different game, and with the issues along the way, the car was much better suited in a professional's hands.


The RB Next Gen +:



VRSF 7.5" FMIC, AR Design Catted ***, New Valve Cover:


VERY tight fitment on the E60/E61:




Changing the oil pan gasket on the "new" engine:




Valve cover gasket/intake cleaning:





The "new" engine all put together:





Going back in:




The big heavy XHP flashed 6HP21:




As for now, this is what she looks like:





The VRSF 7.5" Race intercooler fit fine, but it did need some trimming of the fan shroud as well as rerouting of the transmission cooler lines.

Initially I was planning to wrap this car, install coilovers as well as some aftermarket Niche wheels, however I daily drive my car in all sorts of conditions, and really enjoy the excellent soft, yet agile stock suspension composed of the rear air springs and the tradition front strut assembly. Additionally, I think it would be kind of cool to leave it "beat up" on the outside, and surprise a lot of unsuspecting people. After all, this is a daily drive vehicle first, and a fun vehicle second.

All she needs now is a new transmission cooler and thermostat and she'll be good to go. Please ask me if you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them.

Once again, many thanks to Northeast Autobahn in Walpole Massachusetts and Max Cabrera for taking on this project. Just a few years ago when I called around to see who would do the turbos on my E92, many shops flat out refused, as it wasn't in their best interest, however Max agreed to do so, and actually encouraged me to try it out myself on my 335, as the job isn't as tricky as the 5 series. He's always there for mechanical advice, has plenty of experience with motorsport, especially the N54/N55 platform, and is one of the most patient/honest people I've ever met. I highly recommend his services.

Last edited by mb21111; 06-26-2018 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 06-26-2018, 08:34 PM
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Any pictures of the transmission cooler mounted? Debating on upgrading to the VRSF 7.5 FMIC, but curious how people are mounting the transmission cooler with the increased height of the FMIC.
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Old 06-28-2018, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by christoepurrr View Post
Any pictures of the transmission cooler mounted? Debating on upgrading to the VRSF 7.5 FMIC, but curious how people are mounting the transmission cooler with the increased height of the FMIC.

Not yet, still working on that.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by mb21111 View Post
Not yet, still working on that.

Definitely interested to see how you get it to work.


Figuring out the TOC mounting/relocation is the only thing keeping me from pulling the trigger on a larger FMIC (VRSF 7.5" HD or Phoenix Race, etc.)


Is there room and enough line slack to mount it vertically on the passenger side of the IC/radiator?
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Old 07-03-2018, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by LessIsMore View Post
Definitely interested to see how you get it to work.


Figuring out the TOC mounting/relocation is the only thing keeping me from pulling the trigger on a larger FMIC (VRSF 7.5" HD or Phoenix Race, etc.)


Is there room and enough line slack to mount it vertically on the passenger side of the IC/radiator?

I put the intercooler infront of the power steering cooler, for now it seems okay. If not I'll move it about 6" up so it has some more airflow. All of this fits perfectly without having to modify the bumper in any way. And I used new lines/thermostat for the transmission cooler which as you can see sits right in front of the intercooler.


Last edited by mb21111; 07-03-2018 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 07-04-2018, 06:56 AM
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I'm curious to see how you managed to get the catted *** installed. Or have you installed it yet?
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Old 07-04-2018, 10:07 AM
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You know that "stacking" coolers in front of each other has limits. The heat given off one affects the other and reduces the delta T across all of them, which is more detrimental than reduced air flow. You should monitor the engine coolant temperature closely. You risk running out of cooling capacity in the coolant radiator. The air temperature coming off the intercooler could be very high.
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Old 07-04-2018, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by cjc View Post
I'm curious to see how you managed to get the catted *** installed. Or have you installed it yet?
Yes they're all installed. They were difficult to squeeze in but managed to clear everything. They sound great.

You know that "stacking" coolers in front of each other has limits. The heat given off one affects the other and reduces the delta T across all of them, which is more detrimental than reduced air flow. You should monitor the engine coolant temperature closely. You risk running out of cooling capacity in the coolant radiator. The air temperature coming off the intercooler could be very high.
Yes I do, you bring up a good point. This car was built by an N54 guy who has a fair bit of knowledge about these cars. Just a few weeks ago he was flown across the country to build a ST E92. For now we think everything's okay, especially considering there is no other position to mount the intercooler, and the transmission cooler shouldn't be a huge hinderance. If temps do become an issue, I'll buy some more AN line and locate the TOC behind the kidneys.

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Old 07-08-2018, 08:59 AM
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Well well well. It's been a few days and a lot has happened. First, I picked up the car on Thursday and got to drive it. She's really fast. Much quicker than my buddies E9X M3, and much faster than my E92 335.

I hung with a 991.2 Carrera yesterday easily. These RB Turbos rock, and they're on low boost (base tune).


The car needed an alignment badly, and shortly after this video I had one done which resolved the AWD/DSC errors.

I put about 170 miles on the car and then changed the oil yesterday. Late at night under load while driving, I began smelling transmission fluid and then suddenly a the gear indicator came on, followed by the car being locked in park (frightening!). Fortunately I was about half a mile from my house, and was able to limp the car home only keeping the gear selector pressed into drive, at about 5-10 mph. I didn't know what was leaking, but I knew that one of the transmission lines had broken, which was causing the massive leak.

After scanning the car with XHP, this error was present:


Upon further inspection the leak came not from any of the AN fittings/oil cooler, but the OEM push-lock fitting directly above the outlet of the intercooler as shown below:



Pulled down so you can see which line became disconnected:



I managed to reconnect the lines until they "clicked", but I am worried this will happen again. Are these lines known to "burst" or dislodge from each other under load?

The car is locked in neutral even though there are no error codes present in from either the DME or the TCU. My guess is that I lost so much fluid the car is locked in some sort of failsafe mode to protect the transmission, and thus will not let it out of park. I activated the emergency neutral switch to load her onto the flatbed, and off she went to the shop.



My questions: How can I prevent these lines from becoming disconnected again? Is the transmission/mechatronics okay?
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Old 07-18-2018, 09:41 AM
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Update on the build:

The lines came undone (by themselves, how odd), causing an acute massive ATF loss, damaging the atf pump, the torque converter, the clutch A drum, as well as the mechatronics and the mechatronics seals.

This was a tragic and expensive loss, and has been quite frustrating for me as well as the shop to figure out why what happened happened, and how to fix it accordingly.

We ended up deciding to replace the entire transmission, as unfortunately that was the cheapest solution to this problem.

To those that are telling me it was "just the mechatronics seal", check out this video and you will see the inordinate (and slightly horrifying) amount of material found in the atf after the pan was dropped.


The transmission was sourced from the same supplier as the engine, and ironically it seems like the transmission is from the same donor as the engine. Financially disappointing (should've just bought a donor vehicle) but at least the two will be united, working together once more!

The real challenge will be coding the new transmission, setting up the adaptations, and installing XHP correctly.
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