Identifying W126 Brake calipers

I recently attempted to take my 560SEL on a Mercedes Club night drive.   On the way there, I experienced a soft brake pedal and a very hot drivers side rear wheel.    I had an issue with a soft brake pedal on a mountain road back in 2020.   At the time I thought I had solved it as I removed the aftermarket brake dust shields and had all the hoses replaced.   It’s pretty clear that I have a sticking rear caliper (or two) that is the root of the issue.   It also explains why I always felt the 560SEC had better brakes than the SEL.

There are a few parts on Mercedes of this era where multiple suppliers were used for the same part.   W126 Brake calipers are one of them.   Another example is window regulators and motors.   In the case of brake calipers, the different suppliers are interchangeable, but the rebuild kits are different.   Calipers are supposed to be the same brand on each axle, but front and rear can be different.    The window regulators are a similar story.  You can replace the whole regulator and motor combination, but if you’re only changing one, it has to be in the same brand.

The two suppliers of W126 brake calipers were ATE and Bendix.   Other than the series 1 SEC, you could get either ATE or Bendix calipers on your front or rear axle.   To order the rebuild kits, I needed to know the brand.

The easiest way is to remove the wheels and check.   The ATE and Bendix calipers have a different arrangement for securing the brake pads.     In my case, this was a bit harder.   I had just had an operation where I wasn’t supposed to lift more than 5kg for the next two weeks.   Luckily, my little boroscope was good enough to get in and look at the caliper.   It wasn’t possible to see the pads, but I could see the brand stamped on the outside.

Looking at the caliper alone is not immediately apparent, but if you check the company logos, its obvious what you’re looking for.    In this case, I had Bendix calipers on the front axle of my W126.    The fronts are harder to examine than the rears, as the calipers are much larger.   Getting the boroscope down to see the rear caliper logos was much simpler.

In my case, ATE calipers on the rear.    I’m not sure if I will need to have the front calipers rebuilt, but I want to have the rebuild kits available just in case.   Kits are available for both types, bu the ATE kits are much more accessible, and available from different brands.   The Bendix kits were much harder to to find, and 4x more expensive.

Next time I have the wheels off the other cars, I am going to note down the caliper brands.   Even if you don’t source your own parts, it’s worth telling your mechanic what you have, so they order in the right rebuild kits before you arrive.

Jensen Club National Rally Display 2022

Today was the public display for the Jensen Club National Rally.    Not being a Jensen owner, I’m obviously not a member of the club, so I attended as a spectator.    The Jensen club is a national club, with sub groups in each state, so the annual national rally is also their opportunity to get together as a club.    This year it was held in the Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney.    The Blue Mountains is a great place to hold an event like this.  Being out of the congestion of the capital cities, there are much better opportunities for car related events.   There are also great facilities, and hotels to support a large group.

The actual display was to be held on Blackheath Oval.   However, the recent torrential rain in the Sydney area meant the oval itself was sodden, so the display was held in the parking area outside.    This worked quite well, as that area was ample size and not waterlogged.

Given Jensen cars were produced in low numbers to begin with, this display would have to be one of the biggest that would be seen outside the UK.   As you would expect, the Interceptor and its derivatives was the dominant presence at the display, but there were other interesting models to check out.   These include the 541 cars, CV8, Jensen-Healy and even and earlier car I am not familiar with.    The quality of the cars on display was excellent and event better, it was obvious that many of them see regular use.

Jensen is a marque I have always admired at British car shows, but never been closely associated with.   It was interesting to see how far ahead some of their cars were on release.   There was a 1957 541 with four wheel disc brakes and exceptional performance for the 50s.   Certainly hard to compare to the Traction Avant i used to own that was produced only three years earlier.    Then there is the FF with its revolutionary four wheel drive and anti-lock brake systems.   This was more than a decade ahead of anyone else.    The easy way to spot the FF is the twin grilles on the side of the car.

Jensen Club National Rally

The location in Blackheath meant I was able to make a nice day trip of this event.    I took two of my kids along, and we took the scenic route there and back in my Citroen DS.    It’s been a while since I’ve done a longer drive in the car and it was the perfect day for it.   Finally,  sunny, but not too hot.   I was also able to meet up with a friend in from Victoria attending the event and take the kids for apple pie in Bilpin on the way back.   We had a great day attending the Jensen Club National Rally display.

I understand a lot of the Jensens did a lap around Mt Panorama yesterday as part of the Rally.    That would have been an impressive sight and sound for anyone at the track.

MBCNSW April 2022 Night Drive – multiple brake problems

Last night was the April 2022 MBCNSW night drive.   Due to the terrible weather we’ve had in Sydney over the last couple of months, it was the first one since January.   The last two were both rained out.   We generally try to go if its raining, but the amount of rain and flooding made it impossible.

The route was one I was looking forward to.   The plan was to do a ‘Bridge to Bridge’ drive – from Windsor Bridge in the north west of Sydney to the Peats Ferry Bridge in the far north.    This route goes through some nice driving roads in the Northern parts of Sydney that are still sparsely populated.  We even cross one of the five active car ferries in the Sydney region.

I had originally planed to get my 250SE out for this drive.   Due to the weather, I hadn’t really used it since February.   Of course, being 2022 Sydney, the weather didn’t’ play nice.   It rained on and off most of the week before the drive, including the day of.    Based on the experiences of the last few months, this really depressed numbers, even though it was supposed to clear in the evening.    From a normal number of 10-20 cars on one of these drives, we had three.

Given it was still quite wet, I decided to take my 560SEL instead.    With a busy work schedule, the weather, and the National Rally, I have not really driven it much this year.   Half way to the start point in Windsor, I started to get a soft brake pedal.   Stopping to check things, my drivers rear wheel was very hot.   The hoses were replaced about a year ago, so I was pretty confident I had a sticky rear caliper.  The 560SEL was to be the backup if something went wrong on the 450SLC just before the rally.   Worked out well the SLC was ready to go!

Instead of proceeding on a drive with twisty roads in somewhat damp conditions, I decided the safest course was to pull out.   However, if I was fast with a car change over, I could re-join the group for the last leg up the old Pacific Highway to the bridge, or worst case at the end point.

After letting the brakes cool for 15 mins or so, I babied the car home, taking a route that wasn’t the fastest, but had the least stopping and starting.   The pedal was pretty good after that, so I think the caliper is probably only a bit sticky.    I have the push the car into the spot it’s currently parked (or I can’t open the doors).  It pushed in freely, again showing the problem probably isn’t too bad.   Still, I’m not going to use the car until this is fixed.

I decided to get the 250SE out after all.  The weather really had fined up at that point and I was keen to get behind the wheel of that car again.   I refueled and got almost to the point where the other two guys would be coming up from the Berowra ferry to the Pacific Highway.   I was about 5 minutes ahead of them, so the timing had worked out well.   Then, it happened again.   Soft brake pedal on the 250SE.   As it happened the last leg of the drive was a loop, so the ending point was about 2km from where I was.   I pulled in there, and again checked the wheels.   Sure enough, both rear caps were hot, but the drivers side was quite hot.   Fronts were fine.

Soft brake pedal

It was pretty clear I had a similar problem causing my soft brake pedal on the 250SE.   In this case, the hoses are not brand new, so could be related to those as well.    I let the brakes cool while I waited for the other guys.  We were stopped at a 7-11, so bought an ice-cream to pass the time.  The car had been running reasonably well.  Unfortunately, I was still experiencing that occasional misfire that I’ve been grappling with for the last 12-18 months.   I’ve been through a few tanks of fuel, so it can’t be that.  Plugs, points, cap, rotor, condenser, coil and injectors are all new.    It happens at all temperatures, at idle and under load.   Changing those things has made it much better, but not fixed it.

After a while, the other two guys arrived, in a 500SL and a 420SEL.   While the 500SL was never sold here in Australia, I think its by far the pick of the bunch and I would prefer it over our local 560SL.  They had a good drive, and the weather had been good enough for the R107 to drive with the top down the entire time.   Luckily neither of then had a soft brake pedal.


Microcars at the Powerhouse Museum

Sydney’s powerhouse museum currently has a display of microcars.  I assume its a temporary display, as they microcars are on loan from various owners.   The powerhouse museum is a science and technology museum in Ultimo, an inner city suburb of Sydney.   The name comes from the building – it’s located in an old power station.

I’ve always been facinated by Microcars, even though I wouldn’t fit in many of them.   Cars have gotten so big in recent years, that even small cars are comparatively huge by the standards of 20 years ago, let alone the heydey of the Microcar – the 50s.

The microcars on display hark from Europe, Japan and even the locally made Gogomobile models.   My favourite two microcars were both Gogomobiles.  The Dart sports car is a really attractive design, and the Carryall light van is really cool.

Since COVID, the Powerhouse museum has been free, so its worth stopping  by and checking it out.   If you have young children, there are a number of interactive displays on the same floor as the microcars.

I took the ferry in with the whole family to check out the museum.   It was a lovely day to ride the ferry and quite busy as it as a fare-free day today, due to recent industrial action.

ferry trip to see the microcars

Mercedes Clubs National Rally 2022 – Summary

I recently attended the Mercedes Clubs National Rally 2022 in Glenelg, SA.   Not only did I attend the actual event, but I joined a group of friends in the MBCNSW to create a Classic Mercedes rally within a rally.   We all have young children and its not easy to get a lot of time off work, so our goal was to pack as much as we could into as short a time as possible.   I think we achieved that.

Instead of taking the direct route to the show over multiple days with the rest of the club, we crafted our own scenic route.   This allowed us to tick off as many bucket list items as possible along the way.   We were also set on doing the whole thing in our Classic Mercedes cars.   Doing the drive in a modern car would just be a long drive.   Doing it in a classic would be an adventure.

National rally

The way we did it the journey was just as big a part of our experience than the rally.

The Route

A full summary of our route is available here.   The plan was to take the coast road to Adelaide, taking in the NSW South Coast, Eastern Victoria, the ferry over Port Philip bay, great ocean road and then up the coast to Adelaide.   In Adelaide we would attend the National Rally.   We would not have time to attend the pre-rally or post-rally events.

On the way back we would experience the Outback, passing through Broken Hill, White Cliffs, Wilcannia, Cobar, Nyngan, Narromine, Mudgee and Lithgow.    Overall our route would be a little under 4,000KM, with the driving in Adelaide itself taking us over 4,000.

The Cars

Our group was doing a classic Mercedes rally, so we all chose classics we thought were appropriate for the trip.  As it happened, they were all high mileage cars.   We had on the journey:

  • 1977 450SLC (mine): 306,000
  • 1978 280CE (white): 445,000
  • 1981 280CE (green): ~250,000
  • 1983 380SEC: 277,000

We all spent time preparing our cars for the rally.   This involved fixing what we knew needed attention, and bringing spares we thought we would need.   I had a few things to sort out on my car.   I also packed a crate of spares and tools to help me on the way.   I’m glad I took what I did as I ended up using a fair number of the tools and spares I had.   These cars are over 40 years old, so no matter what preparation is done, there is always the possibility that something will fail.

On our drive, we did have some issues with the cars.   The important thing was that we got all of them through the trip and back home.    The 380SEC proved to be the most reliable car.   Its no coincidence that this is the only car of the group used as a daily driver on full registration.    These cars are at their best when driven regularly, and the less they are driven, the less reliable they will be.   Due to the lockdowns, the 1981 280CE had not seen a lot of recent use.  This is probably why a few parts failed on the journey and needed replacement.   It was all stuff that could be replaced on route, with some skill!

I lost the drive belts on my car, and while they were not all that old, in retrospect I should have just replaced them before the event.   Belts are consumables, and better to have the confidence of near new belts.

On the trip, I used 668 litres of petrol (with about 3/4 of a tank left at the end), so probably a bit over 600 in reality.   The cost was about $1,300.   The 450SLC is not the most economical car to begin with, and mine has the ADR27A pollution controls, which the government mandated to reduce emissions.  Consequently, it uses more fuel and produces more CO2 than the standard cars.    I also went through 2 litres of oil in covering about 4100KM.    On the trip I ranged from 14-17l per 100/km, with an average of mid 15s.   That is actually pretty good going compared to city usage.

I noticed that South Australian petrol was significantly cheaper than what was available in NSW and Victoria.   In some cases up to 50c per litre cheaper.   Not sure why that was.

Getting there

Our trip there took us three days.   On the first day, we drove down the NSW coast, crossed the Victorian border and stayed in Orbost.  A detailed description can be found here.   The weather was diabolical through nearly the entire day, with a small break in the weather around lunchtime.   We could hardly see out of the cars, let alone take in the scenery.   Just after we crossed the Victorian border, the alternator on the 1981 280CE died, forcing us to limp the car back to the hotel in the dark without headlights or wipers.   The weather also highlighted how cars of this age are not exactly waterproof.

National Rally

On the second day, we located a wrecker to get parts for the 81 280CE, which also involved addressing the cooling system too.   That took us to the outskirts of Melbourne.   From there, we took the ferry across Port Philip bay to our destination in Torquay.   Highlights of the day were ensuring the 280CE would be able to continue and the Ferry over.     A detailed description of the second day can be found here.

On the third day, we did the Great Ocean Road.   That was the highlight of our drive to the National Rally.   We also drove some great coast roads to Adelaide.   Even better, there was minimal traffic on those roads and the weather was great.   I managed to loose my drive belts, but had help to get back up and running quickly.   This was the most demanding day of the trip.    The great thing was all four cars made it.   A detailed description of the third day is available here.

The Rally

The rally itself was really well managed by the very friendly MBCSA team.   The highlights for me were the Show and Shine event and the scenic drive to South Adelaide.   The event at the Cube was also an interesting location and it was nice to visit a South Australian winery and see the Dali exhibition.    Adelaide and Glenelg were both new locations for me and I would like to come back at some point and explore further when I have more time.

National rally

I would do another National Rally assuming the schedule and location.  Next rally in 2024 is being held in Queensland.  I hope it is held in somewhere interesting, rather than Brisbane or the Gold Coast.   For example, somewhere like Longreach could be a cool place for a rally.

Getting Back

Our return Journey was an outback adventure.   I had not experienced driving in the real Australian outback.   It was hot and pretty demanding on the cars.   There were road trains, wildlife, and endless plains.   Seeing Broken Hill, the outback driving and the underground model at White Cliffs were all highlights.   A more detailed overview of the first day of the return journey can be found here.   There is very little traffic and you can move along quickly without seeing another car for a long time.

The return drive was a real contrast from the coast roads of the way over.

Return from National Rally
On our final day of our Classic Mercedes rally within a rally we drove over 1000km back to Sydney.   It was the most uneventful day of our entire journey and it was interesting to see the landscape change from desert to more fertile land and less arid environments.   This final drive is covered here.   It was a great way to end our National Rally experience.

Mercedes Clubs National Rally 2022 – Day 7 White Cliffs to Sydney

We started the day in White Cliffs, after staying at the Underground Motel.  I wasn’t looking forward to the shower in the shared bathroom, but they were actually a lot better than I thought they would be.    Overall, it was a cool experience staying in the Underground Motel – I’m glad we did it.

Our drive today was to take us all the way back to Sydney.  We would go via Cobar, Nyngan, Narromine, Mudgee and Lithgow.   This would be over 1000KM, exact distance depending on each person, as the convoy was to split in Lithgow.

White Cliffs is at the end of a 95KM road from Wilcannia.   It’s sealed, but doesn’t carry a lot of of traffic.    Despite basically being in a desert, there is a lot of wildlife around, and it would not have been safe to drive our cars on this road in the dark.   Sunrise was 6:20AM, so that is when we planned to leave.

White CliffsThis was a good choice, as there were many animals on the road.   There were plenty of kangaroos, goats and black cows.  The black cows would have been invisible in the dark.  The kangaroos are the biggest worry as they are really stupid and have a habit of turing around and hopping into the path of oncoming cars.   A fact I know only too well.   I had purchased a set of kangaroo whistles to put on my car.   I have no idea if they do anything at all, but I did notice the kangaroos hopping away more as we approached.   This could have been because of the noise of four cars instead of one and nothing to do with the whistles.   In any case, we never hit a kangaroo.

While the kangaroos are more of a worry, there were more goats on the road.   They like to eat the grass that grows by the road’s edge.   They generally get out of the way and are not erratic, but sometimes need a few blows of the horn to get them moving.

After leaving the road from White Cliffs, we headed towards Cobar on the Barrier Highway.   Our first stop was Emmdale Roadhouse about 100KM from Wilcannia.   This was a much better option than that strange petrol station in Wilcannia.   After a breakfast of Bacon and egg rolls we were back on the road to Cobar, which was still another 160KM away.     As with yesterday, we had been taking advantage of petrol stations as they came.   We generally didn’t let the tanks get below half full until we got past Dubbo.

Even though were were back on the Barrier Highway, there were still goats on the road on a regular basis.  However, there were few goat carcasses on the side of the road as compared with kangaroos.   They seem much better at getting out of the way.

CobarAfter we left Cobar, our next destination was Nyngan, another 121KM away.   As we got closer we could see the scenery starting to change.   Red dirt and slow scrub started to turn into some sparse greenery and even some trees.   There were fewer goats too, even though there would have been richer pickings for them.

Passing Nyngan, on the way to our lunch stop at Narromine, the change was more drastic, it was much greener and there was far more vegetation.  The Bogan River seems a boundary between the outback and the rest of the state.  Traffic started to pick up too.   Out towards Broken Hill and Cobar,  It was rarely necessary to wait to overtake slower traffic.   Now, there was more traffic to overtake and it took much longer to find a safe spot.

It also wasn’t as hot as we ventured further east, so my car and the white 280CE had no real problems keeping the A/C on and the car in a reasonable temperature.  I was sitting in the mid 90s most of the time.   It was a different story in the other 280CE.  There were still times the heater was needed to keep the car cool.

At Narromine, they had a statue of former Australian Test Cricketer, Glenn McGrath.  I actually thought it was somebody else at first, as it didn’t look much like him and the park had a different name.   It was right by a used car dealership in the centre of town. It would also seem that the local birds are no lovers of cricket.

McGrathFrom Narromine, our next stop was Mudgee.   Mudgee was about 167KM away.   Once we got there, we had really broken the back of the trip, as Mudgee is within day trip driving from Sydney.   The roads around Mudgee were pretty rutted and potholed and there was quite a bit of traffic, making overtaking hard and slowing our progress.    In the end, we decided not to stop and continue to Lithgow.    We got to Lithgow an hour ahead of schedule and went our separate ways.

Not long from home, my car rolled over 310,000 on the odometer, signalling we had covered over 4,000KM on this trip.   Other than losing the belts, the 450SLC had performed well.  I’m glad I chose to bring it along for this trip.    I will soon be installing the new National Rally 2022 badge on the car, along with the 250,000KM badge and the MBCNSW badge.  The other choice would have been the 560SEL.  A much as I like that car, and it would have been more comfortable and fuel efficient, the SLC was still the right car for the trip.

The days driving had gone pretty well – The only one with no real issues on any of the cars.   While we had a lot of driving to do today, it was always Day 3 I was most concerned about.

Mercedes Clubs National Rally 2022 – Day 6 Glenelg to White Cliffs

With the rally now over, it was time to start our drive home to Sydney. Like our journey to Adelaide, we had planned a scenic route back. Our route takes us home via Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Cobar and the Barrier highway. Most of our group had not seen this part out Outback Australia before, so were keen to experience it as part of this trip.  Today we would be driving 784KM.   Our destination was White Cliffs, an old opal mining town.

Yesterday, our group had decided to leave early to ensure we got to our hotel while it was still light. We were keen to ensure we were not driving around Wilcannia and White Cliffs after dark, and wanted to see a bit more of Broken Hill. Therefore we rolled out of the Stamford Hotel at 4:30AM in the morning.

Leaving for White Cliffs

Our goal was to get out of Adelaide while it was still dark, and stop for breakfast around dawn to ensure we were not driving on outback roads when kangaroos are too active. We managed to see the sunrise while we drove and then stopped at Terowrie for a fuel up and a service station meat pie for breakfast. We planned to fill up more often than previously on this drive. The service stations are fairly far apart (often 200KM) and we didn’t want to chance one being closed our out of fuel and running out. Therefore, we filled up every 200KM or so to be sure.

sunrise on the drive to white cliffs

At Terowrie, a lady staying at the roadhouse urged us to drive through the old town before getting back on the highway. We were a bit skeptical, but we were really glad we did. She had told us it was this original old town from the 1880s that was basically untouched and she was right. It was definitely worth the short detour to take a look. There were still buildings with blacksmith signs and so on.

From Terowrie, we ventured further and further into the outback. The traffic really started to thin out and eventually it was mostly road trains, Toyota Landcruisers and the occasional car. For readers who live outside Australia, the Land Cruiser is king of the hill when it comes to outback Australia. Nothing comes close. I had never driven with Road Trains before, so it was quite the experience passing them. Most of them were doubles, but there were the occasional triple road trains along the way.

road train

Eventually we reached the NSW/SA border at Cockburn. At this point it was starting to get pretty hot and the green 280CE was starting to suffer. It was able to maintain our pace with the windows open and the heater on full, vents pointed out the window. That would keep the temperature at about 100c. In addition, the rear suspension had sagged even further that the car was starting to resemble a taildragger airplane.  This car, being an 81, is was not equipped with SLS.

Eventually we reached Broken Hill for our lunch stop. we had made pretty good time arriving at 11:30AM instead of our planned 1PM, thanks to our early start. Broken Hill was quite different to what we had anticipated. There were a lot of people around and some of the shops on the main street seemed more at home in Byron Bay than a previous mining town. Still, you couldn’t get away from the mining heritage, with the Miners Memorial dominating the skyline above the town. After lunch in a local cafe, we went up to take a look at the view and the memorial. It really highlighted how dangerous mining was until the second world war, and how gruesome some of the deaths were.

broken hill

At that point my car started to run pretty hot in the city. The auxiliary fan had stopped working. Luckily, it was just a fuse and we had it up and running again quickly. It had obviously been running a lot as temperatures were starting to climb. I was seeing about 90C on the gauge before lunch. My electric can is modified to cut in mid 80s to ensure reasonable A/C performance with R134A.

Up until this point the scenery had been quite interesting. However, the first hour after Broken Hill was pretty monotonous. In addition, both 280CEs and my car were starting to feel the heat, so we had to maintain 110KM/H to keep temperatures around 100C. At this point, the white 280CE and my 450SLC could maintain 100C and have the A/C on. The green car was still cranking the heater to keep temperatures under control. The day was so hot that as soon as we stopped, coolant temperatures rose quickly due to the lack of air flow and water pump. At our stops during this part of the drive, you would see all three cars with bonnets open and electric fans running to try and keep temperatures reasonable. The 380SEC was completely unaffected, highlighting how good the W126 cooling system is. Certainly on 40+ days in Sydney I would normally drive a W126.

hot under the collar

Eventually we arrived in Wilcannia. There was a real eerie feel about this town. It seemed almost deserted, like the residents had just picked up and left. Given we had a 200KM round trip to White Cliffs, we decided to fill up at the local BP. It was the strangest petrol station I have ever used. Down a lane in the back of town, it looked more like a junkyard with a petrol pump. You had to pre-pay your petrol in a kiosk while the lady running it eyed you off from a shipping container room. it was really expensive too.

From there, we started the final leg of our drive to White Cliffs. We stayed at the White Cliffs Underground Motel. A downside of this choice was that the room don’t have their own bathrooms, but the novelty of sleeping underground seemed worth it. The rooms didn’t disappoint, it really was quite a cool place.

white cliffs

We had dinner at the Hotel which was nice but quite expensive. After starting at 4AM, we were pretty tired and ready to retire to our caves for the night. Tomorrow is a 6:15AM start and the marathon 1,000KM drive to Sydney.

Today’s drive was long, but really good. It was such a different experience driving in the outback, from the road trains, to the scenery, to the vast expanses of emptiness in all directions. Totally different to driving in the USA or Europe, which I’ve done more than my own country!

Mercedes Clubs National Rally 2022 – Day 5 Scenic drive to Lady bay

Today was the second and final day of the actual Rally.   The two official events were a scenic drive down the coast to Lady Bay, and a dinner and farewell event.    Start time for the drive was 10AM, so today was the only chance to a sleep in on our entire trip.

The drive was really good.  Not only did we see some really nice coast roads, it was interesting to see some of the houses built by the beach.   There were also many cars (mostly 4x4s) on the sand, something that you don’t really see in NSW.    In addition, we stopped for a break at a dam which had great views of the surrounding area.    The road was really good and it was a great showcase of the drives available in the region.

Lady bayFrom that point we continued down the coast to the lunch destination, a golf resort with great views over the water.    There were probably about 60 cars on the drive, so the organizers split us up into groups.   That was probably a good idea as it would have been hard to stay together.   They had one local car heading each group, which was nice.    Throughout this event I have found the local club members to be very friendly and welcoming.  The grouping is a good example of that.


On the way back from the event I had hoped to catch up with an old friend, but unfortunately the times didn’t work out.   We were only in the area for two days so it was a pretty packed schedule.

Before I even left on the drive to Lady Bay, I had to make some repairs to my car.    Yesterday, one of my friends noticed that my front left indicator was not working.   I bought a new bulb during the visit to Repco, but an indicator bulb change on a 107 is fiddly.    It requires the removal of some of the front trim and the whole headlight assembly from the front.    Had it been a rear bulb I could have swapped it in seconds in the Repco parking lot. Luckily these bulbs don’t go out often – It must be 15 years since I’ve had to change one.  I’ve found the trick is to push the piece of trim that goes below the lights into the cavity behind the bumper bar.  This should stop it getting scratched.

Bulb changeAs well as the indicator globe, I had one more repair for my 450SLC.   The shredded fan belt had taken out the A/C compressor belt. This repair was beyond a roadside fix, but I had an offer of help with this job if I could locate the required tool.   The tool in question was a 150mm thin adjustable spanner.   This was small enough to get down onto the belt tensioner for the A/C but had a wide enough mouth to actually grip it.  There is very little room down there, so a longer for fatter tool makes this job very hard without more disassembly than is feasible in a hotel parking lot.

In the end, our whole group took a six-pack of beer up to the parking lot to do the belt change. My car is now ready for the 2,000KM drive home.

Belt change

The great thing about the tool we needed was that it was readily available at Bunnings warehouse.   I was able to purchase it on the way back from the scenic drive.   While there, the owner of the white 280CE purchased a new battery for his car.   The old one was kind of old and it wasn’t performing well at idle.   Better to have one than not in the remote areas we are traveling tomorrow.

As a group we also discussed our plan for tomorrow.   We agreed that it was better to leave very early to allow more time to actually see Broken Hill.   If we leave at 4:30AM, we should be able to get out of Adelaide without hitting any traffic and be ready to drive on the open road once the sun comes out.   We do need to be careful at dawn of Kangaroos, as they are most active at Dawn and Dusk.    We can try and time our breakfast stop for dawn if possible.

The final part of the day was the Gala Dinner and farewell.   Formal events are not really my cup of tea, but it was well managed, the food was quite good as was the musician.   We were able to chat a bit more with some of the local members before we went up for an early night.    They also had some bottles of wine as door prizes.  In addition, there were two modern Mercedes-Benz cars on display.  These were not door prizes.

As I look back on the rally, I have enjoyed my time in South Australia and at the Rally.   I’ve never traveled to Adelaide or South Australia before.  I would like to come back and see a bit more.  Perhaps with the family when I have more time.   The event was really well organized and a real credit to the Mercedes-Benz club of South Australia.   I thought the major events such as the Show and Shine, visit to the Cube and the scenic drive were all great.    The next event is Queensland in 2024.   Not sure if I will be able to make it, but I kind of hope its out of Brisbane so I can experience a new place.  I have been to Brisbane many times.

Mercedes Clubs National Rally 2022 – Day 4

Day four was a bit of a change of pace for our group.   We didn’t have many KM to cover as were are now part of the rally proper.   The agenda for today was the Show and Shine and then an evening event, held at “The Cube”.   Obviously, our cars were not in any state to display in a show and shine, so we got up early to find a local car wash.     We had a tip from fellow MBCNSW members that there was a DIY carwash 10 minutes away.

Our plan was to go over before breakfast and get the cars washed.   Two of us left the hotel about 6:15AM and found this carwash, which was open but deserted.    You were not allowed to use your own products, but you could put coins in the system and select various modes for the nozzle provided.

The first problem we encountered was a lack of change.   The carwash only accepted gold coins, $1 per 90 seconds.   Since the 450SLC was my daily driver when coin parking meters and bridge tolls were a thing, I had some change in the glovebox.   The gold coins only amounted to $3.    Luckily a cab driver arrived who was willing to swap a $10 note for some gold coins.  We now had $13 to see how clean we could get the cars.

The first setting we tried was the pre-rinse.   That was a waste of a $1.   It was just a pathetic trickle of water out of the hose.   Even breaking a $50 wouldn’t have got us clean cars on this setting.   The pressure soap wash and rinse were the only settings worth a try.   I probably couldn’t have pointed the pressure nozzle at my face without ill effects, but it was at least enough to start washing the cars.   I cheated somewhat by using a few of my microfiber towels to go over the most soiled section of the car after using the wash setting.

A combination of the two pressure settings (with and without soap) and a couple of microfiber towels got the cars passable after a while.   Luckily, there was nobody there to tell us off for not following the rules properly.   I don’t think we could have got the cars clean by the water alone.   We went through $12 of our $13 doing the two cars.     It was at that point that our friend in the 380SEC joined us.   He didn’t have any change and we only had $1 left.

In the end we devised a scheme to have one person on the hose and the other with the towel – 45 seconds with soap and 45 seconds without.    It worked well enough to get the most egregious road grime off the car.  It was certainly better value, as the 380SEC wasn’t noticeably worse than the other two.

2022-04-09 07.13.05I was finished first, so I decided to look at my rear passengers side indicator.   I had been told via the radio that it was really faint and only really visible in the dark.    On removing back of the light cluster, the problem was apparent.   The reflector was broken and the piece that was for the indicator was not allowing the bulb right through the hole.    Simply repositioning the broken reflector to where it should have been if it wasn’t broken fixed the problem.

After breakfast, we continued to the show and shine event, which I will cover separately with a photo gallery.

2022-04-09 17.30.37c

After the photo gallery we had some free time in the afternoon.   I was keen to get the parts needed to get my air conditioning working again.   When I purchased the set of spare belts for the car, I made the mistake of using the owners manual to order what was required.    The issue is my compressor is not original.   Its a more modern replacement in a similar housing to the original GM A6.    Instead of the standard belt, it was using a 13×875.   Luckily a trip to Repco showed they had this belt in stock, as well as another bottle of coolant if the engine fan has to be removed.

Actually, we needed to take two trips to repco, as my front passengers indicator failed driving out of he store.   I purchased some new bulbs for later fitting.   There was some free time to explore around the hotel, and then there were buses to the evening event.    This event was held at “The Cube” located on the d’Arenberg Winery in McLaren Vale.   The Cube featured an art gallery dedicated to the works of Dali as well as others in his style.   Certainly a snail sculpture for $1.1M plus GST was enticing, but I didn’t think my kids would appreciate being turfed out of their house to own it.

Mr Snail

On the higher floors there was wine tasting, food and excellent district views.   I found the cube an interesting experience and better than a standard dinner event at a restaurant.   I tried their Shiraz and found it quite good.   With the wine available, rally attendees were bused to and from The Cube.

Again, another action filled day.   I’m a step closer to A/C for the drive over to Broken Hill.  Tomorrow is a drive day, and for the first time non early start.

Mercedes Clubs National Rally 2022 – Show and Shine

The National Rally included a Show and Shine in the morning to display the participating cars.   The show and shine was held at Wigley park, a very nice spot near the Marina in Glenelg.   The cars all had to be in place for 10AM as the show was open to the public from 10-12PM.

After a wash first thing in the morning, we assembled the cars in the park and it ended up being an impressive line up of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, old and new.   I would expect around 80 cars were on display. My two favourites were the 220SE Cabriolets, two of which were in display.    Both were local cars.   As well as those, there were a couple of really nice W110 fintails, a 190 and a 230, a model that is not often seen at our displays in Sydney.

Show and Shine

As well as those, there was a good selection of models from the 70’s and 80s in really good condition, including a W123 with 90,000km on the clock.  Other W123 and W116 models were almost as well preserved.   I had spotted a W188 300S in a photo from one of the pre-rally events and I had hoped to see that car, however it was not there on the day.   This is an incredibly rare car in Australia.

Considering the distance, MBCNSW was well represented with a number of classic and modern cars on display.

I was pretty impressed with the event, not only the cars on display but the organization too.   It was great to see a couple of cars I had seen for years on various forums like Ozbenz in real life.  A good example was the red 190 W110 finnie.   Seeing two w111 cabriolets on display that are actually used regularly is a big plus.