Saturday, June 30, 2012

W126 in Top Ten Cars We Wish We’d Bought New

Came across this on Jalopnik today.

What if you lived in a magical place where you could buy old cars straight from the factory? Jalopnik readers thought of these ten classic cars that they would buy new if given a chance.

Why it's still competitive: These 1980s S-Classes are about as close to the ultimate Mercedes as the company ever got. They didn't feel assembled so much as carved. They still have presence like little else on the road. Just stick an old S-Class sedan or SEC coupe in a Benz showroom today, and it will look like the proudest car there. 

I couldn't agree more.

Painting speaker grills

These rear parcel shelf speakers are notorious for becoming brittle and cracking. I once dropped one of these covers and it shattered like glass.

I've had a crack in one of mine for ages and so I finally decided to do something about it. Palomino covers are very difficult to find and when you do find a set, they often cost more than they're worth.

Instead I went a different route. I had a good chap send me a pair of black covers from a breakers yard and I decided to paint them palomino.

With a recommendation from someone who knows about paint I bought this aerosol palomino paint from ebay. Its made by "SEM" and I bought it from a company called Eastwood. Here is the ebay link.

I practised on my broken cover a few times until I got it right. Although you're meant to use a plastic prep and plastic primer, I don't recommend it. My experience wasn't very good when using these products. It just seemed to flake off very easily.

I simply lightly scuffed the plastic with 600 grit paper, and perhaps 200 grit on the grill and sprayed it straight with colour. This produced a very tough finish. I've deliberately scratched at it quite vigorously and it shows no signs of deterioration.

The colour match, although looks perfect to the untrained eye, is actually not an exact match to Mercedes palomino. Mercedes uses a slightly darker shade of palomino on all the plastic trim pieces. Plastic trim in a palomino w126 is not the same colour used on the seats.

The aerosol is actually an even better match to the seats. And although advertised to be used on leather, you're better off getting something from leatherique instead.

Looks good, doesn't it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

For Sale

You're looking at a near showroom condition midnight blue on palomino 560SEL from the golden era of Mercedes-Benz.

She spent most of her life in Florida. Imported to Canada a few years back. Always garaged and obviously never winter driven. Has just under 65k miles on the clock.

Unmolested, stock as a rock. Including the original 10-speaker Becker sound system. Heated and reclining seats all round (yes, even the rear). Except for an odd tear in the driver's seat, she has flawless, concours standard paint and leather. And as you can see, laser straight body panels.

The top end was recently refreshed with new gaskets, rubber, vacuum lines, timing chain, tensioner, guide rails etc.... Only genuine Mercedes parts are used. None of that Febi or Uro crap. I have a file an inch thick with service history.

I only use it on long distance trips. This car was never intended to be sold so I've put an unhealthy amount of money into making sure its as perfect as can possibly be.

Unfortunately I'm leaving the country and it isn't practical to take it with me. But I have no problem leaving it in storage for a few years until I can. So I have no intention of "getting rid of it".

Thursday, May 17, 2012


The previous owner had removed the rear sunshade upper bracket and guide tube in order to fit a cellphone antenna. I was luckily able to find replacement parts cheaply and bought a new guide rope to reinstall the sunshade.
I threaded the rope through the tube, and then installed the tube. Had someone press the switch and I turned the rope until it got pulled in by the motor. Removed the tube, lubed things up a bit, installed the tube again, the little spring and then fit the upper bracket.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Power Steering Fluid Filter

I've had a power steering fluid filter sitting on my desk for almost a year now. Today I finally decided to put it in.

Using a little $4 suction tool I bought from CanadianTire, I sucked out the old oil, took off the nut and spring and then pulled out the old filter. I have a hunch that this old filter might actually be the original one installed 23 years ago!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Becker Radio Install - Day 2

Finally its warm enough to do things outside again. Its been 4 long months since Becker Radio Install - Day 1.

When removing the old radio I saw powered outputs from the Sony head unit plugged into the line-level inputs for the Becker amps so I concluded that the amps must be fried and decided to swap them out with my spares and see if that would fix things.

Taking the seats out was pretty easy. You wouldn't believe the amount of things I found under the seat cushion. Matches, a lighter, business cards, chocolates (even unopened ones), cellphone charger and even an old Motorola pager. How on Earth do things get under the seat like that. I quickly cleaned up everything and moved away the insulation to get a look at the amps.

I plugged in my spare amps and tried the radio. Still nothing. The radio turns on and tunes fine. But no sound from the speakers. Not even static. Poked around with a multimeter and found that the amps were not being switched on.

Searched around for a wiring diagram and found that the signal for the power antenna was also the switch-on signal for the amps. I had this disconnected thinking it wasn't important for now, but as soon as I hooked it up, I had sound! And from all 10 speakers! Yay.

My original amps were alright as well. I thought that something must have been burnt out but nothing. Everything worked fine.

I'm still in the process of putting back the seats. Lots of fettling to get the center bolt to line up for the backrests. I gave up for tonight. Will give it a go again next light.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Idle Speed Adjuster

I've always called it the Idle Air Control Valve (IAC) but Mercedes calls it the Idle Speed Adjuster. The rubber diaphragm in my unit had failed and was causing a high-idle situation. It could keep a good idle when cold, but as the engine reached operating temp, the idle would creep up to 1000rpm.

I spent quite some time narrowing down the fault to the IAC. I tested the Idle Control Module, the Over Voltage Protection relay, the CIS coolant temp sensor, Throttle Position Switch and all the vacuum connections. I just hated the idea of buying a new IAC on a guess. I eventually found the fault to be the IAC with a little test I came up with. It's not very scientific, but it works.

Let the engine warm up (allowing the idle to go up to 1000rpm). If your idle is much higher than this it could still be a problem with your IAC but this test won't help. Once in the high-idle situation, quickly switch off the engine, disconnect the valve and spray a little silicone lubricant into it and reinstall it before the engine temp drops. If the idle immediately goes back to a more normal 650rpm, then you need a new IAC.

The dealer quoted me something like $600 for a replacement. I bought an OEM replacement made by VDO. Although about $300 cheaper, I was still a little annoyed that a VDO unit was only $200 in the U.S. Thanks Canada.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Roll-Top Storage Box

As some of you might remember, I bought my car sight unseen. The seller had cleverly placed the owners manual on top of the storage box, hiding the missing wooden roll-top cover. Quite a good trick I must admit, since it didn't look overly obvious that something was even being hidden.

I've wanted to get a replacement for a while now. The wooden roll-top is available new from the dealer for $600. But there are also many second hand complete boxes available for anything between $50 to $300 on Ebay.

I often find decent looking boxes but with the end piece/locking mechanism either broken or loose. This is because the slants become tight in the box and the constant opening and closing over stresses the backing material and glue, eventually tearing the end piece off.

After trawling Ebay for months, I finally managed to grab an almost perfect condition matching burl walnut (but burgundy covered) box. All I had to do was transfer the wooden roll-top part over to my palomino covered box.

Super easy job to do. Remove the box from the console by removing the two screws at the front (inside the box) and pull up and out from the front. Then on the box itself, remove a bunch of screws, including the locking mechanism. Then slide the roll-top cover out of the box through the front and installation is in reverse. Small thing, but does wonders to the interior of the 560SEL.
If anyone needs a burgundy covered roll-top box without the wooden part, I've got one spare now.

When I removed the box from my car to do the repair, I found a little Easter egg underneath it. I found 4 items.

1) An unused small pack of matches from a "Jupiter Crab Co." bar in West Palm Beach, Florida.
2) A petrol receipt from the "Airport Shell", Sarasota, Florida for 4.335 gallons of fuel paid by a Curtis/Ann Lindsay on the 24th of June 2009 at 22:06. What kind of person does a 4 gallon fuel stop in a 5.6L V8 Benz?
3) An ATM receipt for "Insufficient Funds" from SunTrust bank in Osprey, Florida on the 24th of June 2009 at 22:57.
4) Another ATM receipt from SunTrust bank, but this time in Nokomis. Flordia. Withdrawal of $40.00 leaving a balance of $12.51 on the 25th of June 2009 at 09:30. Someone was really broke!

Putting the addresses into Google Maps reveals what looks like a short trip from the Airport to an ATM on Wednesday night. Then another stop at an ATM the following morning a few miles further south. What a curious life.