Monday, December 12, 2011

Becker Radio Install - Day 1

Maybe its the Jag blood in me, but ever since I got my 560, I've wanted to turn it into a 10 point Concours car. One of the most important things to do first is to restore the car to original specification.

When I got my 560, in the place of the beautiful Becker unit, I found a nasty looking Sony radio that only played through the driver's side door speaker. This had to go! I quickly sourced a Becker 1480 and the Becker amps from a parts car including the wire harness and decided to install it slowly during the winter.

Today I started the project by removing the Sony deck. Remove the ash tray and push from behind, is what everyone said. Of course its never that simple. The Sony radio had a trim ring that needed to be removed first, which exposed the DIN mounting cage. You are now meant to insert some sort of Radio removal key into the slots and pull the radio out. Obviously I don't have any Sony radio removal keys. Therefore I used a butter knife and depressed the metal locking clips and slid the radio out.

Now onto the DIN cage. The bastard that installed it into the car had glued it into the console. Again, using my trusty knife, I managed to cut it out without damaging anything.

I tested the Becker radio on a bench using an old computer power supply and speaker. It worked beautifully. Fantastic FM reception. Even in the basement it picked up more channels than I even knew existed.

To my amazement the original wiring harness hadn't been completely gutted. And it didn't look like it had been modified except for a spliced ground connector. However, something was missing. According to the workshop manual, the rear 3-way speakers and the door speakers are driven by two independent Becker amplifiers. One for the left set and one for the right set. Now usually the dash or door speakers are driven directly by the radio. This setup is very similar to all the other 80s Mercs, and I know what the little speaker connectors that plug directly into the back of the radio look like, but I couldn't see any in my 560. The diagram in the manual makes it seem like all the speakers are driven by amps. Maybe Mercedes just left the speaker connectors on the back of the radio for other models?

To my horror I found the powered outputs from the old Sony deck had been connected directly into the line input for the Becker amps! Ahh! This could explain why I can't hear anything from the other speakers - the original amps have all probably been burnt out. But then, why was the Sony radio playing through the driver's door speaker?

I removed the old radio and installed the Becker unit. Powered up, entered the code, and it looked like it was working. But I couldn't hear anything from anywhere.

I guess I'll need to pull the rear bench seats and investigate further. Not a very nice job to do with this car as its equipped with heating and reclining rear bench seats.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Odometer Gears

My odometer stopped working a few weeks ago. After reading up online I learned that the odometer gears either strip out or crack.

I ordered in the proper trim removal hooks ($14/pair) and decided I'll pull the instrument cluster today.

Made a note of all the connectors as I pulled them out. One of the plugs (the big black 7 pin plug in the center) just came apart when I pulled on it. I took a high-res photo of it so I can remember the pin layout.

After a bit of disassembly and inspection it was immediately clear what had happened. The teeth on the E2 gear had stripped.

And the broken teeth can actually be seen stuck in the E1 drive gear.

I had a look on and they say that the original gears are amber? Mine are black. Has someone been in here already? If these black gears are supposedly the newer and updated gears, why did they break? The E2 gear looks like its covered in what was once some kind of grease. Its soft and rubbery unlike the other gears. The E2 gear is 48 x 12 and the E3 gear is 48 x 16.

I'll call Mercedes and see how much they want for one of these gears. Its probably a good time to convert to metric units as well.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Powdery Mercedes Coolant

I have a little coolant leak from the thermo-vacuum switches - probably just need new crush washers. But as you can see from the photos, the coolant comes out clean, but then as it dries, it gradually turns white, and then becomes powdery when completely dry. I use the proper Mercedes branded coolant on this car.

What's going on here?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Genuine Floor Mats

There seems to be some interest regarding my floor mats.

I got these guys from the dealer last year for $120. The part number is: B66226071. I simply asked the guy at the parts counter for mats, he asked for my VIN, and I got these a few days later.

The top is as you see it, a carpet like material, the bottom is a thin foam like material that looks like it'll tear apart easily. The silver "Mercedes-Benz" logo part is made of metal.

They're much too nice to use all year round, but since I only drive the 560SEL in the summer, they're just fine.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

First long-distance trip after rebuild

Drove Ottawa -> Toronto -> Ottawa to drop off my sister at School.

Distance = 830km (500 miles)
Avg. Speed = 134km/h (80mph)
Fuel economy = 110litres (29 us.gallons) = 7.5km/litre (17.5mpg)

Distance and Speed taken from the GPS and fuel usage taken from the gas pump readings. Air fuel mixture was set using an exhaust gas analyser and compression check after the rebuild showed 180psi +/- 5psi on all cylinders.

Kept the economy gauge in the black 80% of the time. Car was fully loaded on the way there. And empty on the way back. A/C was on all the time.

I bet I could get 20+mpg if I hypermile'd it.

The SLS really shines when there is some weight in the back. It felt firm, responsive and very comfortable. But the front suspension was waaay too soft. Need to stiffen things up front.

The 560SEL is in a league of its own when it comes to chewing up highway miles. After 8hours of driving, I felt like I could do it all over again.

I came across this saying in a Craigslist advertisement (of all places!),

"Those in the know, drive Mercedes. Those who know Mercedes, drive w126."

Couldn't agree more.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Quick Update - Running well again

After the 4 month long rebuild, I was pretty tired of looking at an m117 engine, so I decided to send the car out to have the rough running sorted.

I had pretty must lost faith in most garages, but I thought I'd give Young Street Garage a try since I've used them many years ago with the 190E and was very satisfied with the work.

And by luck or by fluke, they found that the driver's side cam was off by 1 tooth. I was pretty impressed that they actually took off the valve-covers. In any case, they re-timed it and now the car is running as it should be.

When fitting the chain, I made sure to get the timing right because I know the m117 is an interference engine, and I was pretty sure I had got it correct. But I guess there was enough play in the cam gears to make it look right, even if it was 1 tooth off.

I had Young Street also change the SLS Accumulators (Air Cells), thinking it would sort out the clunking from the rear suspension, but other than leveling the car a little better, it made no difference. The ball joint on the bottom of the hydro-strut has a bit of play but can that be causing such heavy clunking?

The odometer stopped working last week. Apparently there are little plastic gears that get worn out over time. Probably leave this for an early-winter project.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bruno Benzs

Both cars designed by the same Italian car designer, Bruno Sacco for Daimler-Benz. He personally owns a W126 coupe but his favourite design is the W201 (190E, aka Baby Benz).

My garage queen in all her glory.

New Hood Pad/Insulation

The old hood pad was in pretty poor shape. It was dry and brittle and would come off like dust if you touched it. Oddly enough I don't think the hood pad on the car was what it came with from the factory. It was definitely an OEM hood pad but I don't think it was stock.

Thinking Mercedes would have updated the hood pad by now, I ordered a genuine replacement hood pad from Mercedes using the part number I got from EPC. Sadly it looks like Mercedes has done nothing to improve the quality of the material - it's pretty much the same type of material I took. off. The hood pad I received even looks like it was designed for the turbo diesels as its got the aluminium section for the turbocharger. In any case its a million times better than the one I took off.

I glued it using 3M High-Strength 90 Spray Adhesive. Its very quick drying so you only have a second or two to fit the material. Without anyone to help me put it in place, I glued it in small 1 or 2ft square sections. Ended up a little skew, but I just trimmed about 1cm from the right hand side and tucked it into the edges.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Top End Rebuild - Post Op

With the heavy wrenching complete I can start looking at sorting out all the little things. The car starts and runs smooth. But when in gear and foot on the brake, the engine shakes quite a bit. It doesn't feel like worn engine mounts. Its definitely something a little more complicated.

The only issues I know of is a leaking EHA valve and a broken vacuum check valve. Both of which I'll be ordering new tomorrow. The shaking is scaring me a little. Being my first rebuild I'm worried I might have screwed up something. But since the car drives and idles fine, its all a bit strange.

From what I know the EHA valve it meant for small fuel mixture adjustments. Thus it doesn't seem likely the cause of the shaking. As for the check valve (A126 800 00 78), I have no idea what it does. The EPC describes it as "Air conditioner case to partition panel" - doesn't sound like it affects idle.

I've ordered a case of Joe Gibbs HR-1 (15w50) motor oil for the 560. I've read many good things about this stuff. Its got high levels of ZDDP and unlike folks like Royal Purple, they're not afraid to provide their mixture quantities. That alone makes me believe its going to be better than Royal Purple.

I've also ordered a new distributor cap and rotor. The old rotor looks a little burnt.

Hopefully all these things together should sort out the shaking. If not I don't mind sending it out to the dealer to do the finishing touches. I've saved myself easily $5,000.00 in garage fees by doing the top-end rebuild myself, so I can afford to send it out for a few things now. It could definitely have the timing done more professionally.

Tallying up the hours for rebuild gives a total of 55hrs. Given that Mercedes-Benz quoted me 40+hrs as a rough estimate, I'm pretty happy with my performance :) Especially without having any power tools or a hoist to help me.

The most difficult job of the rebuild has to be removing and reinstalling the exhaust manifolds. Getting all the little fittings in the engine bay installed is also very time consuming. But I suppose it could have gone completely differently had any of the head bolt threads in the block stripped. Thank God that didn't happen to me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Top End Rebuild - Day 27

Although not strictly Day 27 - I did work on the car a few times since Day 26 but didn't bother logging it, as it was less than an hour each time. Anyhow. I got her started today! Four months worth of work is coming to a close. Feels amazing to hear the engine running so sweet. Does wonders to one's ego. How many people can say they've rebuilt a V8 Mercedes engine. Definitely an elite club.

Lubed up the cams one last time before putting down the cam covers to fit the fuel lines and ignition wires. That RedLine Assembly lube is amazing. Even after running the engine, I can see it has built up a film on the cam lobes.

Pressurised the fuel system first to check for leaks. And lo and behold I had a few leaks. I forgot to tighten one of the lines on the pressure regulator and the cold start injector. Good thing I checked for leaks before starting the engine. At 90psi, you don't mess with petrol.

After tightening those two lines I tried to start it. Just cranked without firing. Moved the distributor cap all the way anti-clockwise (timing advance) and then it started. I haven't bolted the downpipe to the manifold yet so it sounded mean! I spilled some oil on the right exhaust manifold when filling the engine oil so there was quite a bit of smoke as it burnt off.

Eventually the smoke cleared, the engine warmed up and it gave me a chance to set the ignition timing. Got it as close as possible by ear. Will probably need to go in with a timing light and make the final adjustment but its pretty good right now. Checked for leaks. All looks good. But won't really know for sure until I take it out of the garage during daylight (I got it started at 11pm).

Used a new filter and some CanadianTire brand Formula 1 10w30 for the first start. Will run it like this for a day or two and then replace the filter and oil with Castrol GTX 20w50.

As far as engine work goes, I only really have the following 3 things to do:
- Bolt up the remaining exhaust system
- Change oil and filter
- Replace distributor cap and rotor (the rotor was pretty done actually)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Top End Rebuild - Day 25 and 26

Day 25 was about 3hrs fitting the driver's side exhaust manifold. Took forever getting the rear exhaust flange to line up. You can only thread the lower studs in once you've hung the exhuast manifold. There is not enough clearance to have the studs in when fitting the manifold.

Day 26 was about an hours work fitting the power steering pump and alternator. Getting really close to completion. Which means the anxiety and paranoia is also building up - did I bend any of the valves while assembling the heads? did the head torque down properly? Dying to get it done and hear the engine run.

Remaining items are:
- Radiator + Coolant hoses + Radiator fan
- Wiring harness
- Main fuel lines
- Distributor + spark plugs + Ignition wires
- Windscreen washer bottle
- Secondary firewall
- Oil change + New coolant
- And any miscellaneous vacuum connections

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Top End Rebuild - Day 24

About 3hrs today and I have the rest of the fuel system connected and the passenger's side exhaust manifold installed. Fitting the exhaust is a real pain. Because of the clearance you have to thread the bottom studs into the engine only once the exhaust has been hung using the top bolts. All the exhaust manifold gaskets are identical so there is no risk of mixing up the gaskets. My hands are pretty raw and full of metal splinters. Not a fun job.

Getting very close to completion. Remaining items are the driver's side exhaust manifold, electronics, ancillaries, radiator and the secondary firewall. I'm hoping to do a first start next weekend.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Top End Rebuild - Day 23

Spent about 2hrs on the car today and got the mixture control unit on, fit the driver's side injectors and fuel lines. May have spent only 2hrs installing the parts, but I must have spent at least another hour fighting with that special hose clamp that's used to hold the air duct to the throttle body. Once you loosen that clamp, that's it, its game over, you can't re-tighten it again without taking it completely apart and fitting the end of the loop back into a little slot. Really annoying.

The end pieces on the air distribution hoses look yellow, yes, they are the old pieces. But the hoses themselves are new. I just transferred over the end caps. The fuel injector nozzles and O-rings are new as well. I had the fuel injectors soaked in a bottle of seafoam for almost 1 month now I think. I used a bit of dielectric grease on the injector seals and fit them into the nozzles.

Getting the injectors in, fitting the injector retention brackets and the fuel lines is all a bit fidgety. But once you've done it a few times, you really start to get the hang of it. And dare I say you actually start to appreciate the German engineering. Well at least some of it :)

When fitting the timing chain back on, I dropped one of those tiny circlips for the master link into the engine. I've got an old magnet tied to metal wire that I fed down the engine in the hopes I could probably pick it up if it stopped somewhere along the way. But didn't find it, so I ordered a new chain link from the dealer (about $8) just for the circlips. What's interesting is that if you buy the IWIS branded chain link, you only get two circlips, but if you buy the link from the dealer you get three! Now isn't that interesting. They just know that you're going to drop one so they just give you one extra.

When using my magnet again today for something else, I found the missing circlips stuck to it. Ha! I actually did get it back from the engine.

Its nice to finally see the engine bay starting to take shape. Really not looking forward to fitting the exhaust.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Top End Rebuild - Day 22

Spent about 4hrs on the car today. Did the final 60N.m retorque stage on the head bolts and fit the intake manifold. Used a bit of silicone on the fittings for the short water hose between the intake manifold and water pump because the replacement hose I used was 1-3/4" (44mm) internal diameter, which is about 2mm bigger than the original. Mercedes wanted something like $80+ for a meter of that hose. I wasn't going to pay that when I only needed 55mm worth of hose. Got some generic - but much better quality than the original Mercedes hose, from Car Quest for $35/meter.

Used Gasgacinch on the intake manifold and cylinder head sides when fitting the intake manifold. Thanks to the two little dowels in the cylinder head, fitting the intake manifold gasket goes without a sweat.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Top End Rebuild - Day 21

Another 2hrs today and the passenger's side head is on. This time it went on neatly. Noticed that one of my new head bolts (the qty 18) had bad threads. I'm thinking of re-using one of the old head bolts. I can't see any differences in size. But the shank design is slightly different between the new and the old bolt. Should I wait and re-order a new bolt? Or should I just use one of the old ones? Leave a comment. I'm going to torque the head down tomorrow.

I also fit the guide rails on the driver's side. I put some copper grease on the pins so they don't seize up like before. But it really took some hammering to get those guys in. I used an old exhaust manifold gasket to protect the pin and knocked them in with a hammer. What's the proper procedure for this job? I can't get them to go in any further using this technique. I might hit the cylinder head with the hammer this way.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Top End Rebuild - Day 20

Torqued down the driver's side head today. Did the 1st and 2nd stages. The 3rd stage calls for a 10min settling time and retorque to 60Nm. Going to do that some other time. Probably when I've put on the other head.

With 18 bolts a side, and having to change attachments for each bolt, this becomes really laborious. For bolt #17 and #18 I had to use a little bendy piece to get the wrench to fit without hitting the firewall. Used my new Armstrong 64-085 1/2" drive torque wrench. Rated from 10lb.ft to 150lb.ft. Accurate to 3%. I set it to 44lb.ft (59.7Nm) to do the 60Nm stage.

I was really worried about stripping the threads in the block. But all went OK with stages 1 and 2 so I'm not worried about the stage 3 retorque.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Top End Rebuild - Day 19

Spent about 2hrs on the car today and managed to fit the driver's side cylinder head. Didn't go as smoothly as planned but got it on eventually. Had to take it off the block a few times and re-set it. Might have messed up the nice seal the Gasgacinch made but hopefully this shouldn't be a problem. This gasket is supposed to work without any sealers anyway.

What confused me first is that the driver's side cylinder head is about an inch wider than the block and it extrudes out into the centre of the V. Thus if you stand on the driver's side of the car and try to position the head using the top of the head as reference you'll get it wrong.

I lightly lined the bores with a bit of the RedLine Assembly Lube I used on the cams.

God I hope it went on OK. Going to torque it down tomorrow.