How to Vinyl Dye Your Parcel Shelf

I picked up a (formerly) black parcel shelf complete with premium rear speakers for my e30 at the junkyard. Here’s how I renewed this parcel shelf with some vinyl dye and sweat.

First, meet my parcel shelf, complete with plenty of dog(?) hair.

Original Parcel Shelf

Next, you need to prep it for dye. This involves removing all the accessories, like the speakers, third brake light, vents, and seat belt trim. If your’s has a hair problem like mine, a lint roller will do wonders to clean it up. Remember – the key to a good final product is in the preparation!

Prepped Parcel Shelf

All prepped!


DuplicolorNow, get yourself a couple cans of vinyl dye. I used Duplicolor as seen here. One can will probably get the job done, but pick up two to be safe. Spray many light, consistent coats in many directions to get full coverage. Vinyl dye is more forgiving than spray paint, but if you go heavy in one place – well, you’ll need to go heavy everywhere for it to look right! You will be fine just spraying dye on the parcel shelf, but for carpet or other “deep” fabric, the dye will need to be brushed into the fabric for full coverage. Once you get one good coat, let it dry for 15-30 minutes, then hit it again. I went with at least three coats to achieve my final finish. Again, vinyl dye is forgiving – it doesn’t really run and just gets absorbed into the material, but heavy applications will make cloth materials feel stiff.


Here’s my first coat

First Coat


And eventually you’ll end up here, the bottom result. The top was dyed by my friend and requires more coverage. On the plus side, it’s been exposed to constant sun for over a year and has not faded!

Final Product

LED Tag Lights

One of the tag lights was out on my e30 making for a good mod opportunity. I figured LED lighting would help update the look of car, so I ordered these guys from Amazon.

E30 Rear at Dusk

E30 rear at dusk with LED tag lights

They look good to me! I know the camera doesn’t do the best job, but just compare the license plate white to the yellow light given off by the incandescent lights in the background!

New LEDs!

New LED lights on the left, comparison of the original halogen light vs an LED light right

Installation is a snap too. Just find your tag lights, remove the screws (hopefully they’re not as rusty as mine!), pop the light out, replace the old halogen lights with the LED replacements, and reinstall. Be sure to test the LEDs prior to reinstallation – direction matters. Also be sure to orient the LED facing down.

Install Process


Here’s a quick comparison of new vs old:

Old halogen light (left) vs new LED light (right)

Old halogen light (left) vs new LED light (right)

Note: The LED rotated in its socket as I installed it for this shot. The new LEDs are actually much brighter (as seen in the opening shot).

How-to Rebuild Fuel Injectors

Do your fuel injectors need a refresh? Here’s how to rebuild them.

First, you need to buy a rebuild kit. This will include the filters, o-rings, pintle caps, and spacers required to rebuild your injectors. I bought my kit on eBay. If you just want to replace the o-rings, you can buy a “seal kit” instead, like this one.

Next, you need to gain access to your fuel rail, pop off any retaining clips if you have them, and then remove the fuel injectors themselves.

BMW M50 Fuel Injectors & Rebuild Kit

Now mount a wood screw (included in my rebuild kit) that is just large enough to fit inside the injector opening on a vice. Fuel injectors have small, integrated filters inside of them that can clog over time. We will be replacing these filters.

Wood Screw

Carefully thread the injector onto the screw until a few threads bite in, then pull the injector away from the wood screw until the filter comes out. This might be difficult.


Fuel injector threaded onto wood screw

If you are successful, you should see this:


Removed fuel injector filter

Repeat for all your fuel injectors, in my case 6. At this point, you can optionally clean your fuel injectors using fuel injector cleaner. I may cover this at a later date, but I elected not to clean my injectors this time around. Cleaning is a more complicated process – some people have even built elaborate cleaning rigs to pump fuel injector cleaner through the injectors automatically!

Now *carefully* remove the pintle caps and also remove the o-rings. Do not simply yank the pintle caps off with pliers as it is possible to damage them.

Pintle cap, o-ring, and spacer removed

Pintle cap, o-ring, and spacer removed

And then remove the o-ring from the other end.

O-ring removed

O-ring removed

Installing the rebuild kit is simple. Start by installing the new filters. They simply press into place – use a tack hammer to lightly tap them in until flush. Then install the top o-ring by rolling it onto the injector. Finish up by installing the spacer (if needed), o-ring, and pintle cap on the bottom of the injectors. The pintle caps easily snap into place and hold the spacer & o-ring on.

Rebuilt injectors

Rebuilt injectors

Finally, reinstall them on your car!

Newly installed fuel injectors

Newly installed fuel injectors

Happy motoring!

BMW M50 Power Steering Delete Belt

My e30s both have their power steering deleted, but the M50 from the later e36 uses a serpentine belt that drives the water pump, alternator, and p/s pump all at the same time making impossible to “just remove the belt” to prevent the p/s pump from running like on the old M20 or the early M42. However, there is a solution – by completely unbolting and removing the p/s pump from the M50 a different, shorter serpentine belt can used with an alternate routing to effectively delete the power steering. You should not run the p/s pump without fluid. Different part numbers are thrown around, generally ranging from a 6PK1400 to a 6PK1415, with 6PK1410 in the middle. Let me decode those numbers – the first “6” means the belt is a 6 rib serpentine belt and basically determines the width. This stays constant. The last four numbers are the belt length in millimeters, making a 6PK1400 belt 1400mm long. That’s simple enough.

I kept my idler pulley (the one above the alternator) and successfully fitted a 6PK1420 Serpentine Belt from Advance Auto (Part # 560K6). This belt, as mentioned above, makes it 1420mm in length. It was a snug fit, but not quite as tight as the factory belt, so I’m sure a 6PK1415 could also be used. Some people elect to delete the idler too and use a shorter belt; I would recommend keeping the idler as it gives the belt more grip on the alternator & water pump.

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.