Having just finished my latest BMW 2002 engine re-build, I'd like to share a few ideas to make the job easier for others.

  1. The hardest part of an engine re-build, particularly if you're a home garage mechanic, is getting the engine back in and mated with the transmission. If the car is on a lift this is somewhat easier, but working on the ground, it can be very stubborn. I lower the engine into the engine compartment with a come-along attached to a ceiling beam. The hood is removed, as is the battery, water bottle and radiator. The best way I've found to work with it, is to leave off the head and just do the block first. However, the clutch splines are still hard to line up with the transmission input shaft unless the alignment is almost perfect. An idea outlined in Todd Sidney's catalog made this much easier this time. File the edges of the splines on the clutch disc and the transmission shaft, rounding or beveling them somewhat. Also, put a light coat of grease on them. Combined with the come-along, which lets you raise and lower the block easily, this method works relatively painlessly. Once the block is mated, it's not too hard to carefully set the head on and re-assemble the rest of the engine.
  2. Because I have air conditioning, and didn't want to remove the A/C evaporator, getting the engine out was a tight squeeze. This time I slid the engine forward until it almost touched the a/c evaporator, which provided enough clearance to unscrew the clutch pressure plate bolts and remove it. That gave plenty of clearance to lift the engine out. Don't try the reverse when installing the engine. The plate needs to be torqued accurately and the clutch disc should be aligned, neither of which will be possible if the block is already in the engine compartment.
  3. A paper towel holder attached to the ceiling right over the engine compartment is very handy.
  4. Cast aluminum parts get real clean if they are run through the dishwasher after an initial de-greasing. Just wait until your spouse isn't looking and load it up. Use judgment about which parts might end up with trapped water or have materials that could be harmed by the heat and soap of the dishwasher, but metal covers, oil pans, etc. work great.
  5. You can torque the head pretty accurately using specs for new-style head gaskets (that give torque - angle values rather than foot pounds) without special tools as follows: start with new head bolts, coat them with a lubricant to make them very slippery, mark the correct angle on a piece of cardboard, have your assistant hold the cardboard still while you move a long handled wrench through the proper angle, follow directions for each stage, and note that you don't re-torque the head during tune-ups

Author: Bill Bredehoft