Brünhilda - Blog

Home to the latest updates and stories on the life of Brünhilda. Written in similar fashion to my modelling updates with the newest entry at the top, only this time with an easy and accessible archive section on the right-hand side (or via the button below for your mobile devices). Click on the title of any post you'd like to visit and it'll take you straight there, and if you're here for the latest update, simply scroll down to the first blog entry you see.


Stripped bare

14 Aug. 2020 | Stoughton, UK | By Niek Nijsen

We ended last month with a bit of a cliff-hanger as I was waiting for the new tools to arrive. I’m happy to report they have been delivered and they’re the right size. The new 36mm socket allowed me to rotate the crankshaft from the front of the engine, which meant I now had access to the 4 bolts that keep the automatic transmission attached to the engine block. It’s a very small workspace and it’s actually recommended to remove these bolts while the engine and gearbox are still attached to the car, where you’ll have easier access to them. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, isn't it? Eventually I got the bolts removed and the gearbox was now free to be separated from the engine. I thought I drained all the fluid, but it turned out the torque converter (a big drum-shaped part that sits between the gearbox and engine) was still completely full. So, when I finally came to pull the two apart, the floor was covered in oil… Great, another 30 minutes and half a blue-roll well spent on cleaning up the mess.

Anyway, now that the gearbox was out of the way, I could shift my attention to getting the engine mounted to the stand. Easier said than done. For some reason the crane and stand didn’t like each other much and I had to position the engine in all kinds of weird positions in order to get it mounted properly. The problem originated in the difference in width between the legs of the engine stand and those of the crane, the first being about 2 cm wider. I think I spent about 2 hours or so doing this and I’m sure it’ll all be available for your entertainment in a future episode. Having said that, the engine did eventually align with the stand properly and got it mounted. The oil was drained, and the engine stored aside for the time being. As I'm not sure an engine stand is designed for (long-term) storage of the engine, I've also supported the block by positioning a wooden beam underneath the engine mount. So far it seems to be holding well.

With the engine out of the way, attention shifted to the front of the car. Not a lot left to do here, as most items were already missing, aside from a single headlight and some left-over wiring. Both were quickly removed which was quickly follwed by the removal of the remaining chrome strip and the BMW badge. And that pretty much concluded the stripping of the entire car. All I’ve got to do now is remove the front and rear windscreens, something I’ll be doing at the end of the month.

The final bit of big news is that the car is booked in for the chem bath, in which all paint and rust will be stripped from the body. Hopefully there’s some left of her by the time she’s coming back. Then the fun will begin of repairing the metal work and putting in all the modifications. I’m currently in the process of sourcing a roll cage and a few other items that are still on the to-do list. The plan is to provide you with more details on that in the next update.

In the meantime, you will have noticed the next episode is available on YouTube and the website. In the three that have been uploaded since the last update, we’re clearing out the boot/trunk (episode 06), remove the door trim (episode 07) and remove the side windows (episode 08 - well worth a watch). This Sunday will have another episode for you, in which we’re taking out the door locks, remove the doors themselves and tidy up the few remaining interior items. Visit the "Project C.A.R.™" page for easy viewing.

And that’s it for this update. Hopefully you'll enjoy the new episodes and as always please leave your feedback, comments and suggestions! Don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already, thank you! See you next time!


A divorce is on the horizon

30 Jun. 2020 | Stoughton, UK | By Niek Nijsen

In the previous update we started work in the engine bay. The original Zenith twin carburettors were removed along with the matching inlet manifolds. In this update, we’ll continue with the engine bay work and separate the engine from the body.

The first new part that arrived was the exhaust manifold by Schmiedmann in Denmark. I unpacked the beautifully crafted and shiny headers from their box and went straight to test fitting them. It took a few attempts, but eventually I got them to fit nicely. I had to remove the hoses between the gearbox and radiator but after that it was pretty much straight forward.

The following day another package arrived, which contained the new triple Weber carburettors. Since I already removed the old carbs, I was hoping this would be a straight fit as well. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. In order to get the front one on, the thermostat housing had to come off. Turns out this will need some modification in order to fit alongside the new inlet. Aside from that, I now also have a water line that’s no longer of any use, as the new carbs aren’t water cooled like the old ones. Something I’ll have to sort out in the future. At least the rear carb went on without any problems, but when fitting the middle one it turned out that there’s only 2 mm space between the air inlet and the brake booster. Once again, I had to come up with a way to get it all to fit as I’ll be needing more space for the air inlets to function. Eventually I decided that the best way would be to remove the oil filter that’s attached to the engine, which creates enough space to bring the booster forward, leaving enough space for the inlets. I’ll get into more detail regarding this when I get to work on the engine to relocate the filter.

Then came the dreaded job of removing the old sound insulation, a horrible if you ask me. The old material is very sticky and brittle, so in order to remove it I’ve been using a heat gun to soften the material and glue while shoving a plaster knife underneath it, trying to separate it from the bodywork. A slow and time-consuming process… At the moment I’ve removed both the front footwells, the transmission tunnel and bulkhead. However, the rear seats still need doing, as well as the doors.

Away from the car I’ve been working on some more episodes for you to enjoy. During this month I’ve uploaded part 1 and 2 of the dashboard removal. In these episodes you get to join me while I remove the entire dash without taking out the windscreen first (something that’s normally not done). It takes quite a bit of work and its somewhat of a puzzle, but eventually I got it all out. Worth a watch if you’re planning on restoring/removing your dash.

Visit Project C.A.R.™

Back to the lower half of the car, this time the front and rear brakes. The left rear has been playing up a lot in that it’s pretty much locked in place. I suspected the handbrake to be the cause of the issue but couldn’t get to it as it requires me to take of the brake disk. This turned out to be more of an issue than anticipated, since it wouldn’t come off the normal way by gently pulling it. I ended up using a bearing removal tool (not sure what the official name is) and slowly pulled the disk off. This worked and I finally had a good view of the handbrake parts, all of which will be replaced. The bits were removed, and work shifted to the other side, which luckily came off without any problems.

I shifted my attention to the front where I had the additional work of removing the brake callipers as well, which had been installed during the previous restoration work. With a bit of help from the workshop manual I figured out how the front wheel hubs worked and slowly got the whole assembly dismantled. Everything was labelled and boxed before putting it away.

Now that most of the work underneath the car was done, it was time to separate the engine from the body. Now, normally you’d do this with an engine crane and lift it up through the top of the car. This would require me to remove the bonnet, find a crane and push the car back far enough to get access to the front. Something that wasn’t going to happen since I just removed the wheels…

I figured that I would be possible to reverse the installation method they use in the factory; in that I would be able to remove the engine by removing the entire subframe assembly. This would then stay behind as I raise the bodywork using the lift. My homemade cart was placed underneath the subframe in order to move it around once extracted before I undid the top of the suspension. This was required as it would stay behind with the subframe, allowing easy removal afterwards. Be aware that if you do this yourself, that the suspension will fall over as soon as the body is raised far enough. Using a strap to keep them upright will stop this from happening. I’ll explain this better in the relevant episode which will be available in the near future. Anyway, the car was lowered far enough for the subframe to rest on the cart and I began the separation process by undoing the rear gearbox mount. To stop if from falling down, I placed a strop around the backend of the transmission which was held in place with a piece of wood inside the car. The bolts that attach the subframe to the body were undone and the moment of separation arrived. I slowly raised the lift, only to see the gearbox going up along with it as well! You guessed it, I forgot to remove the strap that held the gearbox in place! The car was quickly lowered again and once the strap was removed a new attempt was made. This time it all went well, and the engine and body finally came apart from each other. A huge milestone in the restoration process.

I found a neighbour in the village that has an engine crane and he was willing to let me borrow it. With a crane I could now remove the automatic gearbox from the engine as I’ll be replacing this with a manual 5-speed. I’ll admit, I was pretty naïve thinking it would be a quick job by simply removing a few bolts… Yeah no, not really. It turns out that the automatic gearbox requires a bit more work. I had to remove an additional 4 bolts on the “inside” of the gearbox. I know, that sounds weird and impossible. However, the bolts can be accessed in a particular position where there’s a small “cutout” in the engine block. Anyway, in order to position these bolts in the opening, I had to rotate the crankshaft. Turns out I need a 36mm socket to do that… Despite placing a quick order for the missing tools, delivery took a bit longer, so work was halted for now. Once the tools arrive, I’ll continue work, but I’m afraid that’s it for this update.

As always, thank you for following and your feedback, love to hear your thoughts on the progress and the project in general! Don’t forget to watch the latest episodes and subscribe to the channels. See you next time.

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And we're off!

31 May 2020 | Stoughton, UK | By Niek Nijsen

It’s been a very busy month! Not only did Project C.A.R.™ get a new home on the website, Brünhilda is looking very different than a month ago. Let’s have a look at what I’ve been up to.

Last time we ended with the boot and removal of the tank. In the meantime I’ve received a new “boot box”, which is basically a large tray/bathtub made of fiberglass that replaces the spare wheel and fuel tank space. This was used in race cars to allow for custom fuel tanks, oil reservoirs and more. More details on this will come when I get to cutting out the floor to make this fit. Since I won’t be using the fuel tank anymore, if anyone who’s interested in a ’74 second hand tank, please get in touch with me.

Included in the same order was a new dashboard, the GP2 race car version (also fiberglass). This will replace the original dashboard, as I’m going with a more rally / race car look to the car, especially since we’re adding bucket seats and a roll cage, might as well stick to the theme and go the whole way.

Now let’s have a look at the work that’s been done since the previous update. The dash had already been removed, as were the seats and carpet. So I was basically left with an empty space still surrounded by door liners, headliners, windows and various small items. Time to get them out. First up were the door liners, which came off pretty easy once all the door handles, knobs and switches were removed. All of this will obviously be covered in detail in future episodes on Project C.A.R.™.

I shifted my attention to what was above my head and began the process of removing the headliner. Now, I’m still not sure whether the mice eat the foam here as well (wouldn’t be surprised) or if it’s simply decayed this badly after 45 years. It was basically snowing foam every time I removed another piece of liner. Heck, I ended up filling 2 bags in the vacuum cleaner to give you an idea of the mess…

With the interior stripped bare, I got access to the window mechanisms. I instantly ran into problems, as my windows are of a later version/design than explained in the manual (which turned out to be of little use once again). The rear windows are relatively straight forward, although I had to lower them in order to get them out. Another problem, as I’d already disconnected the wiring. Luckily, I have a handy tool, called the Power Probe, which allows me to power individual parts of the car, so I could lower the electric windows in the back.
The front door turned out to be an even bigger problem. The manual is very good in explaining how to remove the lock and door handle, but you can only get to them once the window is out. A bit of research was required and other than that I more or less guessed from a logic approach as what might be the best way to get them out. After a lot of frustration, I eventually got them out and quickly followed with removing locks and handles.

Since the doors have been in my way quite a bit, and they’ll have to be removed from the body for the chem bath process later on, I decided to take them off. The left door was straight forward, undo a couple (read 6) of bolts and the door comes off. The right side however, bloody nightmare. One of the bolts was completely rounded so there was no way that would come out using sockets or any other wrench-type tool. Add to the problem that it’s sunk into the door with very limited access. I ended up buying a bolt extractor set which solved the problem. Basically what this tool does is it “grips” onto the head of the bolt with a set of “teeth” and then provides the necessary force/grip to loosen the bolt. Anyway, now with this little “pain in the behind” removed, his 5 little friends were quite happy to follow and this door was also separated from the car.

At this point I had enough of the interior, especially since the next job would be that of removing the sound insulation that is glued to the floor panels. But we’ll get to that in a second, first we’re going to move forward a bit, literally.

The engine bay was screaming for attention and who am I not to give it? The first step was to create some space to work, so I removed the coolant reservoir, various hoses and wiring. This was followed by the removal of the brake fluid reservoir, additional oil filter and washer fluid tank. At this point my dad made a very valid point, in that if we are to replace the current carburetors with triple Webers, we better get the fitted before we remove the engine. Can you imagine the car being in the final stages of assembly and it turns out the engine no longer fits?! Yeah, exactly. So, instead I removed the original carburetors (twin Zenith’s) and the hoses & wiring that go with them. While working on the wiring, I decided to remove the whole lot. Pretty straight forward really as you simply follow the loom from back to front as you pull it back to the center area underneath the steering wheel. Unfortunately, I had to make one cut in the loom due to the way we re-routed/taped during the previous restoration work as there was no way it would come out past the bulkhead. The front section which wires the headlights, indicators, horns and a few other things is still there as I can’t access the front of the car at the moment, this will follow later.

The next step will be to remove the exhaust manifold, since they’ll be replaced by a sport version as well. Again, the idea here is to make sure it fits and to see if any additional structural work is required before removing the engine.

You may have noticed I’ve added two new episodes to the Project C.A.R.™ series on the website and YouTube which cover the removal of the seats and carpet split over 2 episodes. Now that I finally made enough of a head start and got sufficient footage, I’ll be uploading a new episode every 2 weeks, with the next one coming on Sunday (in which we’ll start work on the dashboard).

I’m sure you’re pleased to know you’ve (finally) reached the end of this update. If you haven’t already , go checkout the latest episodes and subscribe to the channel. I look forward to read you comments and feedback you may have. See you at the next update!

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Get ready, get set, go!

30 Apr. 2020 | Stoughton, UK | By Niek Nijsen

And we’re off! After many months of “supporting” work in and around the garage, I’ve finally started work on the actual car. What a milestone that is!

You may have already seen the very first episode of Project C.A.R.™ in which I introduce the project when I announced it in the previous blog update. If you haven’t already, you can find it on the video page of Brünhilda and YouTube or simply scroll down to the previous blog entry.

The time had come to begin work on the car. However, it required a good clean out before I could do that. When the car was moved, I had to put all the (spare) parts and tools inside so that needed to come out again. I noticed there was a lot of evidence of mice living in there over the winter. As clearing out progressed, it became clear that the blankets and left rear seat had been eaten badly. A large hole on the backrest appeared and it took two bags in the hoover/vacuum cleaner to get all the debris out. At this point I still hadn’t located the actual nest and could only image what the damage underneath the seat could be. The cleaning process then moved to the boot which turned out to be in pretty decent condition. Finally, now that this dirty job was done, I could begin taking the car apart.

I decided that the interior would be the best place to start. The front seats were removed (covered in full detail in the next episode of Project C.A.R.™) and the rear seats followed soon after. The latter isn’t covered in the BMW manual, so it’s definitely worth watching if you’re working on your interior as well (or simply interested in watching the series). It turned out that the mouse, which was found dead in its nest underneath the rear seats, had eaten most of the centre armrest and support above it. Another round with the vacuum cleaner followed to get rid of the nest.

With that gone and the seats removed, I now had the space to work on the rest. The carpet followed next and came out almost in one piece. From what I can gather it’s not an original as this was a single piece whereas the originals consist of multiple parts. Anyway, I had to take the centre console out as well as parts of the handbrake and seatbelts before I could remove it completely. All of which will be covered in the restoration series in the near future.

As part of the centre console had already been removed I continued the dismantling of the interior with the dash. Now the bottom halve is relatively easy to remove, especially because I only put it together last year, so it was still fresh in my memory. But as soon as I got to the top half, it became a real nightmare. Again, the manual is of no use as it covers the Bavaria version, not the E9’s more modern dash. Online research got me a bit further, but no definitive answer there either. Most suggested the front windshield is removed to get the dash out, but that wasn’t an option for me just yet as I can’t get any help at the moment due to the COVID-19 restrictions. I had to find a way to remove it from the inside. A slow process and a lot of hidden screws and clips later I managed to get the whole dash out in one piece. The wood is actually in good condition still and all will be cleaned and stored as it’s being replaced with a Group 2 racing dash. The bit that turned out to be the biggest struggle of it all was the original heater, which was glued in place with (too much) sealant in order to make sure it wouldn’t leak. At least 2 hours later before I got that removed and the entire dash was now out.

Lastly, I stripped the boot (trunk) of the spare wheel, fuel tank (another dilemma) and covering panels. The rear lights and wiring were also removed along with all the model badges and boot locking mechanism. All of which was pretty straight forward, aside from the fuel tank. This was supposed to drop out once the bolts had been removed, but the seal that’s placed to stop it from leaking had completely solidified with the car. Even a positive “tap” with a mallet hammer didn’t do the job. I left it overnight, thinking I’d try something else the next morning. Turns out that gravity can be your best friend and overnight the weight of the tank had taken its toll on the seal and dropped down out of the car. The boot was now considered “empty” and ready for blasting. Only thing left to do is to remove the boot lid itself.

And that brings us to a quick update on Project C.A.R.™ and the series’ episodes. As mentioned, if just uploaded the second episode in which we prepare the car and garage. Still now work on the car itself in this one, but that will soon change when I get to upload the next episode in the series. In that particular one we’ll cover the removal of the seats. I’m working on creating a separate page for the restoration on the website, so you can expect a brand-new home for it by the end of this month.

With all that being said, we’ve arrived at the end of this blog update. Don’t forget to watch the latest episode and subscribe if you haven’t already. Thank you for joining me and I look forward seeing you at the next one!

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The launch of Project C.A.R.™

30 Mar. 2020 | Stougthon, UK | By Niek Nijsen

The biggest news you may have already seen on the various social media channels and the website, is that I’ve launched the teaser video of “Project C.A.R.”, which stands for “Classic Automobile Restoration” and will encompass all work related to the restoration of Brünhilda in many free-to-watch episodes over the coming months. If you haven’t seen it already, the teaser can be seen here:

Alongside the teaser was the launch of the introduction video, which explains the concept of Project C.A.R. in more detail, including the future planned teaching series. The latter currently still in its concept phase, it will provide more detail on how to restore your car from your home garage, many tools and documents to members that will help you with your restoration project, including planning tools, expense & inventory trackers, maintenance overviews and much more. This particular video is located at the top of the “Brünhilda Video Page” and the “Project C.A.R.” playlist on YouTube, but for easy viewing it's also included in this particular blog update:

While I spend a lot of time at the computer editing these videos, and even more recording them (a total of 49 attempts before I was happy), I’ve been busy preparing the garage for the work to start. With a small area to work in, smart organisation of the available space is a high priority. I’ve finally installed the missing shelves between the toolbox and shelving unit, and I’ve installed a compressed air system that provides me with a connection point on both sides of the garage. More details can be seen during the quick tour in Episode 01 or in the future special.

Last but definitely not least, I’ve ordered a new camera (GoPro Hero8), which allows me to record in 4K definition as well as live stream in HD quality. Now I’m still working with my usual HD cameras and the first mini episode in which I prepare the car for restoration is currently being rendered. This episode holds a big surprise for us all, where it turns out the car has been housing quite a few little friends over the winter (whom clearly paid the rent in an unusual fashion)…

As you can see, plenty has happened over the last few weeks and there’s a lot more to follow in the coming months. If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to the social media channels and newsletter.

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Home at last

01 Jan. 2020 | Stoughton, UK | By Niek Nijsen

Brünhilda is home. It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally been able to move her to the newly prepared garage. Over the last two years a lot has happened in the background, which all began with the original move to the UK a few years ago. On the 13th January 2018, mum & dad brought her across on a trailer from her long-term storage back in The Netherlands. Dad and I had been working on restoring her for quite some years earlier (back in 2007), but all came to a halt when I moved to the USA in 2011. She’s been gathering dust ever since. As I didn’t have a garage to store and work on her yet, a family member offered their garage for temporary use.

I slowly began working away at the list of things to do, primarily sorting out the wiring and rebuilding the interior. Progress was slow and difficult, as I had limited knowledge about the car and as a result spent most of my time staring at her trying to figure out what to do. It wasn’t until Christmas 2018 when I reached a big break through. Together with dad we got the engine running again, after a 12-year silence. To our surprise only a few attempts with easy-start fluid were needed in order to get her roaring. I must say she sounds loud, although it might have something to do with the fact that the exhaust hadn’t been connected yet. Either way, it was like music to our ears, and we were very happy to say the least.

The months that followed I finished the interior and elected to remove the LPG tank that was fitted in the booth. The main reason for this is the fact that there’s hardly any LPG available in the UK, and we’d be carrying a lot of dead weight around during rallies. The decision was made to remove the installation all together. As a result, a lot of holes which allowed hoses and bolts to go through the chassis were now open and uncovered, prime areas for rust to fester. All restoration work came to a grinding halt, again.

Many months passed, as dad and I decided on what to do. Eventually we elected to start over, back to square one with a full bare metal restoration. It would be the best base for what we had in mind, participating in classic car rallies. A lot of modifications will be required in order to prepare the car as best as we can, including the fitting of a roll cage, so the new approach will lend itself perfectly for this. The next step, however, would mean work needed to be done to the garage at my new home, which we owned since August 2019. We began by modifying the roof support structure in order to fit a two-post car lift and allow it to go to full height. Next we build a desk and various storage facilities that would hold all the parts during the restoration process. Although not completely finished, Brünhilda was moved from her current storage to the new garage on the 15th November 2019. With a bit of luck, I’ll be able to finish the garage over the next few weeks and the restoration process can finally begin.

To kick off the project and as a bit of a motivation boost, dad and I went up to GSM performance in Nottingham to try new seats on 24 November 2019. We tried many different types and shapes and eventually our choice fell on the Rev II seats with matching 4-point harness, both by Sparco. Can’t wait to get these fitted!