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E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006 - 2013)
The E9X is the 4th evolution of the BMW 3 series including a highly tuned twin turbo 335i variant pushing out 300hp and 300 ft. lbs. of torque. BMW continues to show that it sets the bar for true driving performance! -- View the E9X Wiki

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  #1  
Old 12-13-2015, 10:10 PM
3.0L-Z3 3.0L-Z3 is offline
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335xi - Spun Connecting Rod Bearing

Hey All,

Been a while since I've been on Bimmerfest! Last week I picked up a cheap 335xi with a seized engine. Nothing else was known about the condition of the motor. Googling showed a relatively high frequency of rod bearing issues with the N54 engine, so I gambled and dropped the oil pan first. Sure enough, Cylinder #2 was seized. Once I loosened the connecting rod bolts and removed the end cap, the engine turned free and sounded healthy.

So here's my questions.
  1. There are multple options for which bearing shell to purchase. I have no idea which color I should be buying. Blue/violet/red/yellow...
  2. I plan to plastigage the new bearing to verify correct clearance. What is the correct gap? Or where could I look this up?
  3. Keeping in mind the possibility of "maintenance-induced failure", would you check/replace all the bearings? Or just the known bad one? All connecting rods show some heat discoloration like the one photographed.

Although the image shows the connecting rod having some scoring, it's quite smooth to the touch. Those marks are "pits" (not raised) so I don't believe it will have any negative effect after assembly.
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Last edited by 3.0L-Z3; 12-13-2015 at 10:12 PM.
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  #2  
Old 12-14-2015, 02:47 AM
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BashedBarrique BashedBarrique is offline
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If the rod bearing seized that means the crankshaft journal was damaged as well. Replacing only the bearing will lead, quickly, to a repeat of the failure. Depending on the damage to the crankshaft you will have to, at least, have it machined and polished and then install over-sized bearings.

I would check to see if you can find a "crank kit" for that engine. This consists of a re-manufactured, or sometimes new, crankshaft and a set of rod bearings to match.

I would also check to make sure that the rod (and it's bottom journal) wasn't damaged.

Most people just buy a salvage yard engine, but I like to take damaged engines apart and give-em a second chance.

Good luck! Keep us posted on your progress.

Last edited by BashedBarrique; 12-14-2015 at 02:59 AM.
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  #3  
Old 12-14-2015, 06:11 AM
fdriller9 fdriller9 is offline
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If the motor seized, the crank shaft it self maybe warped too.

Can't just replace the bearing and hope it will be ok.
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  #4  
Old 01-03-2016, 06:17 PM
3.0L-Z3 3.0L-Z3 is offline
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Hi all,

I proceeded to remove the remaining connecting rod bearings, but the crank was still quite tight. It took about 90 ft-lb measured with a torque wrench to crank over. Suspecting the bottom end was bad, I removed the engine this weekend to dig deeper.

As fdriller9 predicted, the crank is warped. This caused very high resistance to rotation. I figure that as the rod bearing spun, that local section of the crankshaft became very hot and changed shape. I don't have a dial indicator to confirm, but I'm guessing the crank is bent as much as .05". I'll bring it to a shop tomorrow to see whether it can be straightened, or if it should just be replaced.

The "cradle" (engine block below the crankshaft) was sealed to the main block using an unusual injection sealant. Does anyone how how to get this sealant, and the pump used to insert it? Or can it be replaced with regular RTV?

Also: assuming the main bearings need to be replaced AND my crankshaft gets ground to "oversize", does anyone know of a source of aftermarket main bearings? BMW does not sell oversize bearings that I can tell.
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  #5  
Old 01-04-2016, 09:08 AM
Boland01 Boland01 is offline
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I feel your pain. My son's 1996 E36 spun a rod bearing too. Actually #2. We had to buy a new crank, oil pump, piston and rod, camshaft and ledge. One piece of the crank bearing somehow managed to lodge itself in a camshaft bearing and destroyed it. The oil filter did catch most of the metal shavings but obviously not one.

We have completely disassembled his engine and are putting it back together again. Just make sure every oil passage, crevice or place a metal shaving can go has been cleaned at checked out before you put your engine back together again. It would be a shame to have to do it a second time. We pressure washed everything on his engine while it was apart.
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Old 01-04-2016, 09:51 AM
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Pilgrim Pilgrim is offline
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I hate to say this, but if the crankshaft is warped, the block may be too. A bad crankshaft can stress the block and warp it. The safe route is to pull the engine, disassemble it, have the block checked to make sure it's not warped, then replace or re-grind the crank and re-assemble.
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  #7  
Old 01-04-2016, 10:27 AM
cjd9 cjd9 is offline
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How does this happen to an engine? Poor maintenance or bad luck?
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  #8  
Old 01-04-2016, 04:21 PM
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BashedBarrique BashedBarrique is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjd9 View Post
How does this happen to an engine? Poor maintenance or bad luck?
90+% of the time it is due to oil starvation due to sludge or other contaminants in the oiling system or extremely degraded oil condition.

I have never seen an engine spin a bearing with a crankcase full of clean oil.
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Old 01-04-2016, 07:55 PM
3.0L-Z3 3.0L-Z3 is offline
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I agree; it feels to me like oil starvation because all of the rod bearings looked damaged in some way or another. Interestingly the mains looked pretty healthy.

At this point I'm in the fork in the road. There are a couple ways to proceed:
1. Salvage the block by repairing the crank or sourcing a used one. (Both options cost around $400). After that, I will need all new main and rod bearings from BMW for ~$700. Unfortunately I cannot find any aftermarket bearings available. With all accessories, rebuilding the short block will cost around $1370. Conn rod bolts, crankcase aluminum bolt set, main bearing bolts, rear main seal, front main seal.
2. Buy a short block. I've found one about 6 hours away for $925.
3. Buy a complete engine. Prices vary, but for argument's sake let's say it's around $2500.

I'm currently leaning towards Option 2. After the short block is purchased for $925, I'll need to add another $250 to turn it into a long block: cylinder head gasket & bolts, oil pump bolts, valve cover gasket, oil pan gasket, oil pan bolts.

After it's a long block, I'll need to add another ~$300 in miscellaneous parts to complete the project: clutch disk, clutch alignment tool, water pump bolts, bell housing bolts, etc.

If anyone has a used short block, let me know!!
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  #10  
Old 01-04-2016, 09:42 PM
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CALWATERBOY DUE CALWATERBOY DUE is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BashedBarrique View Post
90+% of the time it is due to oil starvation due to sludge or other contaminants in the oiling system or extremely degraded oil condition.

I have never seen an engine spin a bearing with a crankcase full of clean oil.

There ya go. As a guy I know said, "My wife was sooooooo surprised to find that she was supposed to change the oil now and then, and even add some. She was delighted to discover that most cars have dipsticks. She thought it came from the factory with oil, so no problem. We replaced the engine."
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Old 01-05-2016, 07:33 PM
3.0L-Z3 3.0L-Z3 is offline
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Hi all,

I sourced a short block locally for $700, so I'll pick that up this weekend. I ordered all the small parts I'll need to complete the project from ECS Tuning. Total came to around $600.

I wasn't able to order the HPFP o-ring from ECS, will have to get that from a local dealership.
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  #12  
Old 01-06-2016, 06:06 AM
Boland01 Boland01 is offline
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You might also strongly consider a new oil pump too. If any metal is still in the pump or screen it's another time bomb waiting to happen. It might be possible to back flush the old pump but to me the risk isn't worth it.
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Old 01-06-2016, 07:22 AM
3.0L-Z3 3.0L-Z3 is offline
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A short block includes the oil pump actually.
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Old 01-10-2016, 07:29 AM
3.0L-Z3 3.0L-Z3 is offline
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This weekend I picked up the "new" used short block in my Prius and brought it home. It turns over like butter... night and day over the old block. One caveat, the new block has one of the aluminum bell housing bolts stuck inside. There's about 2" protruding for me to use for removal. My first attempt was with an "easy out" screw extractor, and the hole I drilled made the bolt too weak to handle the torque.

Next I'll try an external "nut extractor", combined with a pair of locking nuts on the outside threads. (after applying PB blast, and while applying heat...)

In other news, I made a specialty valve spring compressor for the N54. My previous spring compressor was too big and bulky for the N54's tight design. It's made from a $7.99 Harbor Freight 8" C-clamp and a $2 Home Depot 3/4"x4" black steel pipe fitting. The bottom face is tapered so it seats readily on the spring retainers.

Before reassembling, I will clean out all the intake valves, intake ports, and replace valve stem seals. A quality spring compressor will make this job much less laborious.
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Last edited by 3.0L-Z3; 01-10-2016 at 07:34 AM.
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  #15  
Old 01-10-2016, 08:19 AM
Boland01 Boland01 is offline
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Great idea on the spring compressor! The standard one I have is marginal at best just because it is too bulky for the BMW head.
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Old 01-10-2016, 01:26 PM
3.0L-Z3 3.0L-Z3 is offline
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Hi all,

Question: The vacuum line extending out of my vacuum pump had a small amount of oil in it. Is that normal? Where would that oil be coming from?

I have the following parts available from the old engine (95k miles):
-5x pistons + connecting rods
-Engine block and girdle (all cylinders show original honing)
-Automatic transmission flywheel
-Crank pulley
-Engine oil pan (RWD)

PM me if interested. Also, added the current cost breakdown to date.
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  #17  
Old 01-10-2016, 02:09 PM
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Pilgrim Pilgrim is offline
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Good call on the short block, and also cleaning up everything before transferring it to the new block. Should be a nice solution.

And it's nice to read a thread by a BMW owner who knows what a short block is and how to do this kind of work.
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Old 01-10-2016, 08:26 PM
3.0L-Z3 3.0L-Z3 is offline
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Today I mounted the new block on the engine stand, removed the stuck bolt, and cleaned the cylinder head.

Removing the stud bolt was a major pain. I bought a stud remover tool (see pic) which did a great job of gripping the stud. But, the impact wrench tore the bolt right off at the block. The aluminum bolts can't withstand much torque. I ended up drilling the bolt out from the center with progressively larger drills. Eventually there was so little bolt remaining that I fished it out with a pick tool. Finally I chased the hole with an M12 tap to restore the threads.

I wanted to clean out the oily build-up in the intakes before reassembly. I removed each valve and cleaned it using carb cleaner and a wire brush. I also lightly cleaned the ports. Unfortunately I wasn't able to achieve the same great results other forum members have had with walnut blasting. I could clean the valves nearly perfectly but getting the ports clean was really tough. Looks like walnut shell blasting is indeed the way to go.

Before reinstalling the valves I replaced the intake valve seals. BMW sells a "kit" with 12 seals and 3 protective sleeves to prevent the seals from getting torn.
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Last edited by 3.0L-Z3; 01-10-2016 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 01-11-2016, 09:05 AM
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BashedBarrique BashedBarrique is offline
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The last two engines I rebuilt had plenty of oily residue in all of the intake system parts. I think the modern PCV systems end up pulling oily vapor into the intake and much of it condenses before it can be routed into the combustion chambers to be burned.

I used lacquer thinner and bottle cleaning brushes to clean out all of the little passages and tubes.

I like your "custom" spring compressor.

Going with a (hopefully good) used short block is cheaper and easier than going the "rebuild" route.
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Old 01-11-2016, 12:18 PM
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galahad05 galahad05 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BashedBarrique View Post
The last two engines I rebuilt had plenty of oily residue in all of the intake system parts. I think the modern PCV systems end up pulling oily vapor into the intake and much of it condenses before it can be routed into the combustion chambers to be burned.

I used lacquer thinner and bottle cleaning brushes to clean out all of the little passages and tubes.

I like your "custom" spring compressor.

Going with a (hopefully good) used short block is cheaper and easier than going the "rebuild" route.
Isn't there a couple of well-regarded aftermarket PCV systems out now for this engine? Read somewhere that this will help with some of the oiling issues. Maybe.
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Old 01-11-2016, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by galahad05 View Post
Isn't there a couple of well-regarded aftermarket PCV systems out now for this engine? Read somewhere that this will help with some of the oiling issues. Maybe.
I know some people use catch cans to help but I don't know about any other system to keep oil out of the intake.

Last edited by BashedBarrique; 01-11-2016 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 01-12-2016, 06:35 AM
fdriller9 fdriller9 is offline
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A thin film of oil in the intake system is normal for these cars.

Excessive oil in the intake system usually means there is an issue with the PCV system/oil separator.

If you have a properly working PCV system, an oil catch can is a waste of money IMO.

RB sells an upgraded PCV valve that is more robust and seals better than the OEM counterpart.
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  #23  
Old 01-12-2016, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fdriller9 View Post
A thin film of oil in the intake system is normal for these cars.

Excessive oil in the intake system usually means there is an issue with the PCV system/oil separator.

If you have a properly working PCV system, an oil catch can is a waste of money IMO.

RB sells an upgraded PCV valve that is more robust and seals better than the OEM counterpart.
The last engine I rebuilt (the 4.2L V6 in my F150) had so much oil in all of the intake system that I am still having driveability issues 25,000 miles later due to all of the associated parts and hoses that constitute the EGR and PCV system. I may just replace all of them, which would be expensive if I can't find decent used pieces in the boneyard.
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Old 01-13-2016, 07:32 AM
3.0L-Z3 3.0L-Z3 is offline
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A few photos of reassembly. Head is now on. Next I'll install the turbos and water pump, and temporarily install the valve cover in order to pressure wash the engine and minimize risk of getting water into important things.
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Old 01-13-2016, 10:05 PM
3.0L-Z3 3.0L-Z3 is offline
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Tonight I installed the turbos and water pump, and pressure washed the engine. While it was apart, I took advantage and installed new o-rings in all the turbo oil fittings. To prevent water from getting in during pressure washing, I zip-tied ziploc bags over all the turbo inlets. I also temporarily installed the valve cover gasket, despite the fact that the cam ledges and camshaft aren't installed yet.
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