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Mad_Ratel Dork
12/31/17 1:06 p.m.

Still no word on my knuckles. ON friday I was promised that it would be done tuesday. 

If it's not I'm going to push for my money back and press everything my self... 

Tillerman New Reader
1/13/18 6:03 p.m.

In reply to Mad_Ratel :

Following this thread with interest. I like your writing style and as someone else said before me, you can never have too many photos. 

Mad_Ratel Dork
1/14/18 11:47 a.m.

Well in that case Tillerman, you'll like that I have some updates.  As soon as I upload them to imgur. 

short of it: 

bushings pressed in with a cheap press I bought, fun with the press always being 1/8" too small to fit the part, cobra springs do not fit, I make them fit, still not drivable...

I also started painting the roof and it's the wrong color, somehow the first 5 cans were one color of hunter green and the rest were Dark hunter green. I think.  The roof is substantially darker... 

It was 60 plus F on friday, today's high is 36, so no more work was completed.  

Mad_Ratel Dork
1/14/18 12:24 p.m.

So this is the roof as it was when I bought it back.  I sanded it down with 200 grit on a random orbital air tool.  Taped it off and primed it.  

It was so cold that where I had put extra primer on a small hail dent would not dry so I used the super hot halogen lamp to heat the area up. 

No pics of it as it stands now for some reason, but somehow the roof is a definite shade darker than the hood... I've stopped on it as I finally FINALLY got my knuckles back.

After Calling yet again trying to find out why they were not done I was told come get them at 3 pm. So I drive there witht eh wife, get there and they are STILL not done.  I told them I'm not leaving until they are finished.  So they re pressed them.  Oddly enough, now that the proper hubs are on, the bearings (new timken) rotate better than they did when they had new bearings and the old thunderbird hubs.  

Here is the new Northern Tool 12 ton press I bought.  I am not ever going to let myself be tied down by others.  I'm still looking at swapping a 4.10 into the car (stock 3.27 car) and this press will help nicely with the factory locking diff I have sitting to the side waiting for me to decide what I want to do. (it will need a full rebuild as it sat for a few years.)

It was 30 degrees in teh garage so I do not have a lot of pictures of the progress.  Skip forward into putting everything together.
Mark LCA,
cobra lowering spring (more on this)
Cobra rear shocks
cobra hubs
cobra brake disc.

See that close up? The cobra lowering springs are definitely beefier but it's also the same length as my stock thunderbird springs.  Due to this I could not get the lca up to the shock.  I was lifting the car by a jack under the lca and could not compress the spring more to make it bolt up.

by almost 2 inches.

The part number is a HR lowering spring Race, which is only 0.6" lowering on a cobra.  

So what is a guy to do?

throw some sparks and 

so much better.

One full coil off.

everythign now bolts up easily, no fighting the spring to fit in the cup, etc.

I had to throw the wheel up on the car. 

Still missing is a way for the factory calipers to fit up the cobra brake disc. 
I waffle daily on buying the adapter kit or just making one myself. 

This was Last friday, 1/12/18.
My birthday is 1/11, my eldest is 1/17, youngest, 1/21.
So what is a man to do?
Rent a giant ass van and take the family to Georgia Aquarium. 

FISH! My youngest was amazed, he spent the first twenty minutes staring and shouting fish everytime he saw a new one.  Then he decided everything was a climbing toy and proceded to run the wife, myself and my dad ragged trying to keep him from killing himself. 
Eldest also had a blast. 

Ended with one HECK of a sunset.


Tillerman New Reader
1/17/18 7:16 a.m.

Nice update and photos of your car's progress and family outing. I wish it was only 30 degrees in the garage. Here in MN, we have been enjoying days where the high struggled to be a single digit above 0.

Mad_Ratel Dork
1/17/18 11:57 a.m.



Learned from the thunderbird forum that Pep boys sold me gt rotors instead of cobra rotors.

Mad_Ratel Dork
2/28/18 2:18 p.m.


She's alive and on the road.  I got the rear end bolted back together. Test drive shows that I did not clearance the rear caliper adapters enough for the cobra rotors. So they'll need to come back off and I'll have to figure out how to grind it. (I have a small 4" grinder, need 1/2" more radius to really get where I need to...)

When lowering the car to torque the halfshafts I thought I had one side tire on the ground so I stepped back. The car looked to be 2" higher than stock in the rear despite the cut cobra lowering springs.  I was very very disappointed.  I moved to the other side to hit the spindle nut with the torque wrench and immediately rotated the other side tire without much force. Turns out the car was just twisting and the far side was not on the ground.  I had to jack it back up, lower the jack stand on the up side, then lower the car.  After I got it on the ground, I am definitely lower than stock, approx 1" I think.  It'll stay that way for now until i can decide if it needs moar.  

Getting the car drivable put a huge smile on my face.  I'll be registering it and insuring it on friday so that I can drive it to work while my wife's mini is getting repaired (she hit a piece of sheetmetal on the highway and it dented the snot out fo the hood).  

I am VERY happy to also report that the rear feels 1000x better than stock.  A few people had warned me that it would be severely overspringed and would ride horrible.  It's not, it rides like a modern car now.  (Just needs an alignment.) I bled the heck out of the rear brakes and got the pedal feel to be ok.  on first start up the brake pedal will be weak but on the road it's fine. SO I probalby have a few very small vaccuum leaks that an idling motor cannot compete with. 

I cannot wait to lower the front and get that portion going.  Once I do, I'll probably drive it and stare at it for a bit.  This car may be a drive-a-beater for a while to keep miles off my truck.  

She was leaking oil a fair amount during the 2 months she was down.  Enough that the pan I had placed underneath had a fine film of oil on it.  So the motor is probably hurt... I'll wait until after I take my PE exam in April before I decide what to do with the motor.   

I'd love to turbo it, but in all the years the mn12 has been around with a VERY active forum, maybe 2 people have succesfully done a turbo system. Usually to then sell the car shortly after and it disappear.  


Here's some pictures.  I'm not sure if it is an optical illusion or not, but the rear wheels seem to be slightly forward of center of the opening now.  I do not recall that being the case before.  Need to research it. 



I got the new paint on the hood to be smooth, but when I pulled it into the sun it looked horrible. Just too off in color to be what I want.  So I have to decide what I'm going to do as far as paint and if this is still a challenge car or if I want to buy/invest in real paint and paint it properly. 


Mad_Ratel Dork
2/28/18 2:38 p.m.

If I may wax philosophic. Something about us at GRM is different.


There are people that consider cars appliances.

They buy one and ride it until it dies and then replace it without a care.


There are people that consider cars jewels.

They buy one and trade it in like a clothing accessory.


Then there are GRM Build Forum people. 

We buy a car because there is a challenge we see in it.  

That challenge may be getting something unloved, back on the road.

Or in trying something never done before.

Or a desire for something with some soul, some wounds to it's life rather than a new shiny.

To know that you did what other's may consider a waste of time. 

I have gotten this car back on the road twice now. Each time I felt happier driving my "redneck mobile" to the store than I do my brand new f150.  Anyone can have an F150.  Not everyone has a car they've nursed back into good health. 

RossD MegaDork
2/28/18 2:44 p.m.

In reply to Mad_Ratel :

That about sums it up for me, too. Love the MN12 too!

Will UltraDork
2/28/18 5:35 p.m.

Congrats on getting it running. 

Mad_Ratel Dork
4/4/18 3:21 p.m.

Not much, insured the car and drove it to work today.

I somehow got tennis elbow on my dominant arm and my PE exam is next week. So no new progress on the car other than driving it.

List of E36 M3 I am concerned about:

1.) new brakes squeal badly when they get hot, means I did not clearance the caliper enough in the rear.

2.) if I turn sharply one direction I get a sound like a dry bearing. Not sure what that is about since it's got four new wheel bearings.

3.) there is  a clunk in the driver footwell while driving down the road. Any bump in the asphalt gets a jiggle/clunk sound.  I think the king rod/bushing may be dead or my tie rods, or my control arms...

4.) she's slowly leaking oil while sitting. 

5.) I need to lift her back up and retorque the rear now that I have a few miles on the car.


I still derive entirely too much pleasure from driving my jalopy around.

Mad_Ratel Dork
4/24/18 12:53 p.m.

Been Daily driving the car. 

Today I turned the radio down when I noticed a whine/grinding sound from the rear of the car.

On gas no noise, let off gas and coast and i can hear it. Speed dependant in pitch.  Sounds like a bearing going bad... 

Rear hubs were not hot to the touch.  DIF? Or Rear axles giving up the ghost?

Dusterbd13 MegaDork
4/24/18 12:55 p.m.

Change the diff fluid and look for metal.  Sounds like a ring and pinion taking a dump.

Mad_Ratel Dork
4/26/18 5:43 a.m.

My ride home was straight highway.  Towards the end I swear I felt a growing vibration.

Stop at the light on the offramp.  turn right.  "click click click click click" a loud click/bump sound combo.  Huge vibration. 

slow down. it slows down. as I straighten out it quietens down.  

next three miles of drive home had no discernable noise.


Did my car self heal? 

(probably not, i just hit the right angle to push on the dif probably.)

So she's shelved for now. I got a terrible case of tennis elbow a month ago that still has not fully healed. (I keep grabbing something randomly and spiking the pain/reinjuring it.)  SO turning a wrench sounds like agony to me right now.  

Luckily I bought a locking diff from Will.  It just needs a rebuild kit and an ratio change. (it's the same as my factory but if I'm going to rebuild it, why not bump it to 4.1 or 3.73...)  The question is whether I want to change out the halfshafts at the same time. (over 200k miles afaik.) 

Will UltraDork
4/26/18 5:30 p.m.

Is the diff I sold you the one causing problems? If so and it's in worse shape than I led you to believe, let me know and we can work something out.

Or have you not installed that diff yet?

On the gears: I have 3.73s in my V8 car and I like them--I usually got around 25-27 mpg on the freeway.

Mad_Ratel Dork
4/29/18 4:41 a.m.

In reply to Will :


I have not installed it yet.  I'd like to change the halfshaft bearings on it at least and crack it open as it looks like some junk got into it while sitting.

Nothing I'd complain about, you gave me a great deal on it when I got it (and I saw that when I was picking them up).  I'd also like to do the ratio swap first.  I just never got to it this winter. 


My wife is telling me to junk the car.  She is "sick of seeing it".  What she does not realize is that we are currently at the stage of marriage where that just makes me want to keep it more.  :P

Mad_Ratel Dork
8/29/18 1:07 p.m.

Small update nearly 4 months later. 

I've barely driven the car since I found the above issues. I think I updated Will's thread instead of mine.

The rear poly bushings I put in were installed backwards, this is why the rear wheels were forward of center. I also did the Toe delete at the same time. 

Unfortunatley w/o a washer the bushings shifted over the toe compensator bushign I reinstalled.  I.e. the car has severe pigeon toe. This is the noise I reported. It is the sound of the rear wheels moving forward/back as I accellerate.

It's just been too hot for me to care about fixing this issue.  I just put in my notice at my current company and have some time coming up.

New job will be working from home and a monthly flight to the home office.  I'd like the thunderbird to be reliable enough to be the trusty horse on my drive to charlotte every month (for the direct flight.)   Not sure that could ever be the case.  Waffling between selling it and just driving my truck or something.  

I still have the bilstein inserts to do. (need to cut the stock struts to insert these) with monoball strut bushings from the TCCOA forum.  I also have Will's posi to put in, the reinforcing bars I got from him, the stronger/stiffer front shocks and a slew of other items. 

Just not sure I want to put the effort in at this point. 

So that being said. First one to offer me some money for the car gets it. It'd make my wife very very happy if it was gone.  

Will you get first dibs if you want the whole shebang to pick over and resale. 

Will UltraDork
8/29/18 7:58 p.m.

I appreciate that, but I've already got one MN12 in the garage and another up on blocks in the yard. And a truck that doesn't run. I have enough projects for the time being.

But I hope you can find someone who will enjoy it and give you a fair price for it.

Mad_Ratel Dork
9/11/18 11:57 a.m.

Had to move the car twice this weekend to finish a gate behind it that I've been puting off as well.

kept thinking to myself, just finish the small things.


Problem is, working from home. I do not have the need for the car anymore.  The two times a week I might need to leave the house will probably be to Lowes to get lumber for a project etc. Which my F-150 handles easily.  


Need to login to TCCOA and see if anyone wants the parts I have:

3.23 posi dif (from will, never even opened it)

Stiffening bars

mark VIII LCA's with poly bushings 

rear spindles with the cobra/mustang hubs pressed in. 

bilstein front inserts, Grog6 monoball uppers, I believe King Front lowering springs (stiffest that I know of). 

Rear bilstein shocks. 

Mad_Ratel Dork
3/27/19 9:54 a.m.

Car is gone.  New job has been a consuming whole in my life, 70 plus hours a week of pure overwork.  

My bil came up this past weekend and helped me button up the rear (washers and spacers). Retighten up the rear, replace the front shock assemblys and control arms, put a new battery in, bolted on a brand new set of 2018 v6 mustang wheels with brand new tires on ($250).

He drove it to charlotte w/o any issues. 

His dad is in a E36 M3 spot in his life and needs a car to get a job so he can get a car. He's goign to try run the thunderbird for as long as possible. So I gave them the car. 

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