Raceland “shorty” headers vs eBay longtube headers for an e30 BMW 24v swap

Another problem I inherited with my ’91 318i e30 is that exhaust wasn’t finished when the M50 was swapped in. The previous owner purchased Raceland “shorty” headers intended for an e36 325i, 328i, or M3 but the recommend headers for this swap are the longtube SuperSprint header clones commonly available on eBay. Neither set of headers is what I would call a direct fit,  but the longtubes are much closer to fitting correctly. Because the Raceland shorties want to violate the control arm bushings, I decided to buy a new set of eBay longtubes for the grand total of $110 shipped to my door from the seller “SpeedDaddy”; below is a quick comparison.

First, the eBay headers I purchased have “1.75” outlets / collectors according to the auction listing. There is another version that has “2.00” inch outlets and costs a little extra. I measured 2″ on one collector and 1.75″ on the other where it necks down. My plans involve welding on a V-band so that 1.75″ section will get cut off anyway!

e36 Raceland headers mounted on an M50 in an e30 engine bay

e36 Raceland headers mounted on an M50 in an e30 engine bay

The Racelands fit on the car but clearly will not clear the lower control arm bushings. The treehouse racing “eyeball” control arm lollipops/bushings might clear, but they’re bloody expensive and I’m afraid they might ride harshly.

e36 Raceland header e30 clearance issues close-up

e36 Raceland header e30 clearance issues close-up

And one from the bottom

Raceland header e30 fitment from the bottom

Raceland header e30 fitment from the bottom

It’s hard to tell what’s going on in that picture because things are so crowded, but hopefully it gives some idea about how the Racelands fit. I was going to modify them to fit, but I thought it would be easier just to buy another set of eBay headers. So here they are!

 

"SpeedDaddy" e36 longtube headers

“SpeedDaddy” e36 longtube headers

As mentioned above, you can see that the end of the righthand header necks down. At the end, the header on the right measures 1.75″ in diameter whereas the lefthand header measures a 2″ diameter. Odd. Other than that, they certainly look nice.

Racelands on top, longtubes on the bottom

Racelands on top, longtubes on the bottom

Here are both sets of headers next to each other. I think these pictures speak for themselves – the Racelands are clearly better quality. Another telling sign is that the longtubes are the lighter set of headers, despite appearing much larger; the stainless steel used in the longtubes is much thinner!

Longtubes on top, Racelands at bottom

Longtubes on top, Racelands at bottom

And here’s a different angle. Note the O2 sensor placement differs.

Racelands on top, long tubes on bottom

Racelands on top, long tubes on bottom

Speaking of quality, look at how much thicker the Raceland flanges are! That and I’m pretty sure the eBay header flanges are not flat.

Longtubes in the engine bay

Longtubes in the engine bay

After a very long fight, I finally fit the longtubes to the M50. Where the racelands pop on and off quite painlessly, the longtubes require some serious fiddling to squeeze into place – from the bottom.  The one header also needed some “adjustment” with a hammer to clear the passenger side floor. However, that process wasn’t too bad and the O2 sensor DID mount into place although it is a tight fit.

Longtube fitment from the bottom

Longtube fitment from the bottom

Finally, here’s the proof that the longtubes do indeed fit. Next up, V-bands and header back exhaust!

Fitting an ATE Porsche 944 Brake Booster to an E30 BMW Part II

My ’91 BMW 318i e30 arrived with a partially completed 24 valve M50 swap. One of the problems with the 24 valve motors is that the intake manifold does not clear the factory brake booster which leaves about three common options:

  1. (Re)Drill or slot the firewall to move the factory brake booster over about 3/4″. This is not recommended as the linkage can bind.
  2. Fit an e30 325iX or e32 735i “double” brake booster (they’re basically the same) and use the appropriate master cylinder. This option is supposed to provide additional brake assist and the booster does not need to be modified. However, the booster is a good deal deeper which requires that the brake lines be bent to fit and it requires that a remote mount fluid reservoir be used so that the master cylinder will clear the throttle body.
  3. Fit a Porsche 944 brake booster and use the factory master cylinder. Of course, the booster needs to be modified to fit the e30 and the degree of modification varies depending on if the booster was made by Girling or ATE. I already covered the Girling booster here.

The previous owner of the ’91 opted for option two, and indeed an e32 brake booster & master cylinder were mounted in the engine bay.  I did not like this setup to begin with as the booster rubbed against my throttle cable & caused it to bind. Additionally, the master cylinder sat so close to the throttle body that it made it hard to work on the engine and the remote reservoir give the engine bay a clean, factory appearance in my opinion. The straw (or two ton weight as it were) that broke the camel’s back came when I fired the engine up; I had a massive vacuum leak that turned out to be the brake booster itself. Rather than replace the e32 booster with another e32 booster, I opted to buy a factory ’91 318i master cylinder and reservoir, and a “low miles” 944 booster.

E30 ATE 944 Booster

Rusty ATE Porsche 944 Brake Booster

 I was in a time crunch so I purchased this booster on an enthusiast forum rather than pull
it myself. The seller did not post pictures, but informed me that the booster held a good vacuum and actually came out of a 944 with “85k miles.” Sound good! Imagine my surprise when this rusty thing showed up, complete with a missing stud.

e30 Ate 944 booster

No matter, I’ll clean it up. First step – remove the barely attached sticker and protect the inside of the booster from debris. Next step – wire brush, then sand, all the loose rust off!

Prepped Porsche 944 booster

Prepped Porsche 944 booster

Then add a couple coats of primer. This is just cheap 97 cents-a-can primer from walmart.

944 booster wearing a fresh coat of primer

944 booster wearing a fresh coat of primer

Follow up with real paint. I used Rust-Oleum Satin Enamels Black that is supposed to help prevent rust. Truthfully, I used what was around the house but I’m very impressed with how the paint turned out!

First coat of black paint!

Second coat of black paint, still wet!

And here’s the finished product. I think it came out great! And I was even in a rush – it was getting late and rain was coming in the next day, meaning that this booster was slated to be installed before I’d have another chance to paint.

Final paint on the 944 booster

Final paint on the 944 booster

Now that the booster looked respectable, some more work had to be done before fitting it to the e30. On the ATE, the modifications are simple – extend the 10×1.5mm threads (using a die like this) and chop off the excess rod so that it matches the factory e30 booster. Also remove that bowl Porsche bolts on their boosters – it’s not needed on the e30.

Here’s the factory threads on the ATE booster. Note that the rod is smaller in diameter than the Girling version.

Factory ATE 944 booster threads

Factory ATE 944 booster threads

The threads need to be extended to near the boot.

Threading on the die

Threading on the die

I use a Craftsman die that requires a tap & die to use. If you already have the handle, you can save money buy buying this 10×1.5mm die instead. Make sure to use some sort of lubricant, like automatic transmission fluid (ATF), and run the die down the threads.

Threading the 944 booster

Threading the 944 booster

I use Vise Grips with the end in a vise to the hold the booster’s rod in place. You do not want to turn the rod on the booster a lot as it can rip the internal diaphragm and destroy the booster. After you are done threading, measure the factory e30 booster rod, transfer the measurement to the 944 booster rod, and cut the rod to length using a hacksaw or angle grinder. You are now ready to transfer over the e30 clevis & install the booster!

Installed 944 booster!

Installed 944 booster!

And there’s my installed 944 booster. Finally, I leave you with a shot of all three boosters.

e30, e32, and 944 boosters

e30, e32, and 944 boosters

From left to right – factory 1985 325e brake booster, e32 735i brake “double” brake booster, and the Porsche 944 ATE brake booster.