Rebuilt Mercedes brake calipers

I attempted to attend the MBCNSW May night drive with two separate cars.   Coincidently, I had the same brake issue with both cars.   On both cases I experienced a soft brake pedal, and on further investigation a very hot drivers side rear wheel.    The rear caliper was not releasing properly causing it to drag and boil the brake fluid.

I knew the hoses were only a year old on the 560SEL, so the issue was likely to be with the caliper.   The hoses were probably due for a change on the 250SE, so could have been either issue there.   Based on this, I checked the caliper types and ordered the appropriate rebuild kits.   I also ordered a set of hoses for the 250SE.   I had to double check the electronic parts catalogue, as the rear hoses are not the same for each side on my car.

The 250SE went first, and while the hoses were due for replacement, all four calipers were pretty bad.   The difference in feel in the brakes is immense.  The first few times I drove the car, the pedal was so easy to push it was almost like there was something wrong.   In addition, I had some more work done on the ongoing stuttering issues I am having with the car.   My mechanic was able to tune it up as best he could but he thinks I’m close to needing a rebuild for the mechanical fuel injection pump.   Not only is it causing these odd fuel delivery issues, but it has an oil leak out of the back.     He also suggests I keep my eye out for a good used thermal time switch (part 001 545 92 24).  Cold starts are very slow.

Next was the 560SEL.   In this case, the fronts were fine, but the rears were pretty locked up.   While he was there, I also had the front shocks replaced.   Fixing both has made a big impact to how the car drives.   Again, the pedal feel is much better even with just the rears done.   And the ride over bad surfaces is significantly improved from the shocks.   Those Pedders shocks were really low quality and were already knocking despite not being that old.   They really ripped off the previous owner of the car.

I figured after having three pairs of brake calipers rebuilt, I was done for a while.   Turns out, I wasn’t.   Around the same time, the brake pad wear indicator lit up on my 560SEC.   Assuming this was a routine brake pad change, I got to work.   I don’t normally detail routine maintenance on this site, so wasn’t planning to feature anything about this.   However, when I had the first pad out, and it had most of the wear materials left, I started looking more closely.   Turns out only one piston has been working and that side is mostly down to the backing.

Rebuilt Mercedes brake calipersWhile I was there, I also measured the thickness of the rotors to see if they need replacement.   They look pretty old and crusty, so its quite possible they do.   Instead of swapping the pads, I put the old one back in.  I will book in this car to have the calipers checked.   I’m pretty confident I’m going to need another set of rebuilt Mercedes brake calipers on this car.    Luckily, I have a set of Bendix rebuild kits of hand that I purchased but didn’t need for the 560SEL.

Based on this experience, I expect that a vast majority of classic cars are driving around with brake calipers that are not functioning as they should.   They still stop the car, but performance is not as good as it should be.   This is going to be particularly prevalent in cars that are not driven regularly.   As much as having the calipers rebuilt is not a cheap exercise, good performing brakes are not something I am willing to compromise on.

Finally, while I was under the 560SEC, I swapped and adjusted the SLS control rod.   The rear ride height was too low, so I used the same technique as I did previously with the 300SE.    The height is better, but I think I need another couple of cm of height to have it back to factory.   The old control rod was starting to fail, so I used the one I had on hand for the 280SE and will order another one for that car.

SLS control rodIn all this, I’ve found that when having a bunch of cars, I have the same issues on multiple cars at roughly the same time.   Part of it might be that having an issue on a car makes you more aware of it on others, but in the case of needing the rebuilt Mercedes brake calipers, I’m not so sure.

Eastern Suburbs Cars and Coffee June 2022

It’s a lovely winter weekend here in Sydney.  Cool in the morning and evening, but pleasant during the day.    With a break in the weather, it felt like a good opportunity to take my 250SE to the show with its newly rebuilt brakes and recent tune up.    It was also an opportunity to take a drive with the top down.   I don’t think I’ve managed to do that all this year.

The new location is really convenient, one set of lights off the eastern distributor.    Plenty of parking and no fun police.   The real Police did a few drive pasts, but they are not concerned with minor parking infractions.

As usual there was a great variety of cars on display.    As you would expect from the eastern suburbs location,  a fair number of 911s, but also some more esoteric stuff like a Riley Elf or a Series 1 Rover P6B.   Probably the highlight was the vintage Ferrari – a different one from last time.

IMG_7118c

Also parked side by side was a Jaguar E-Type Series 1 3.8 and a Mercedes W113 Pagoda.   As a fan of vintage Mercedes-Benz cars, I seriously considered a Pagoda before buying my E-Type.   They are both beautiful cars and I would have been happy with either.   However, I think on the whole, the E-Type is the better sports car.    The Pagoda is a scaled down W111, and many of them in the USA were Automatic.   Its probably the better cruiser, but the E-Type is more engaging to drive and has a sportier feel.   The Pagoda is better made and has better brakes, plus the hard top was standard.    As values are pretty similar, I guess options are evenly split.

IMG_7130c

As well as the Pagoda there were a number of other Mercedes Benz models offering some interesting contrasts.    There was a late 450SLC parked next to a R107 300SL.   A good contrast of the two body styles available in the 107.    There was also a W115 240D and a W114 280E, highlighting almost the full range of performance in the W114/115 series.   I think i’m in the minority preferring the saloon over the coupe.

This show is good in that you can get there, have a good look around and be back by 10am.

 

50 Years of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The S-Class is probably the signature model for Mercedes-Benz.   Personally it’s what I think of when I think of the brand.   When I think Porsche, I think rear engined sports cars.   When I think of BMW its sports saloons with an inline six.   For Mercedes-Benz, it’s the S-Class.    Throughout the years the company has seen other halo models come and go, such as the 300SL Gullwing and the 600.   But the S-Class has always been that statement of what the best car they could make that would actually sell.

The S-Class was officially launched in 1972 with the introduction of the W116.   2022 is 50 years since that launch, and also 50 years since the founding of the Mercedes-Benz club of NSW.   With both of those anniversaries in mind, the Club held a special event to commemorate the S Class.   Of course, holding an event like that begs the question, what is the definition of an S-Class?   The W116 did not open up a new category for Mercedes-Benz like the W201 did.   It was a continuation of a series of models in their range.

S-Class

In most years, the S Class (or predecessor) consisted of a four door saloon and a coupe.   Occasionally, there was a cabriolet as well.    The Mercedes-Benz archive lists the following models for the S Class and its predecessors.   They trace the lineage back to 1951.

GenerationYearsTypeYearsType# in Club
SaloonCoupe & Cabriolet*
1st1951 - 1955W187 - 2201953 - 1955W187 - 220 *
1951 - 1951W188 - 300S & 300Sc *
2nd1954 - 1959W180, W105, W128 - Six Cylinder Ponton1956 - 1960W180, W128 220S & 220S *All Ponton: 39
3rd1959 - 1968W111, W1121961 - 1971W111, W112 *W111: 48
1965- 1972W108, W109W108: 49
W109: 17
4th (1st)1972 - 1980W1161971 - 1981C107 SLCW116: 68
5th (2nd)1979 - 1992W1261981 - 1991C126W/C126: 134
6th (3rd)1991 - 1998W1401992 - 1998C140 (CL from 96)W/C140: 17
7th (4th)1998 - 2005W2201999 - 2006C215 (CL)W220: 10
8th (5th)2005 - 2013W2212006 - 2014C216 (CL)
9th (6th)2013 - 2020W2222014 - 2020C217 *W222: 7
10th (7th)2020 -W223N/ADiscontinued

The inclusion of the W188 models is surprising to me.    It makes sense to me not to include the models that sat above the S-Class like the Adenauers, 600, Maybach etc, so why include the two door derivatives?  It just seems inconsistent.   Some will question the inclusion of the C107 SLC models.   While they were based on the SL, they were clearly meant to fit the two door S-Class spot in the range.   The same goes for when the two door cars were branded as CL’s in later years.

Based on this list, the MBCNSW had a great representation of the range on display.   The club tried hard to get cars that are rarely seen at events to come along and did a pretty good job.   In reviewing the number of cars in the club, I’m actually surprised how well represented some of the older models are.   The survival rate of cars like the Pontons and W111’s is pretty good.

It was hard for me to choose which car to bring to this event.   In the end, given the impetus for the event was 50 years of the W116, I decided I needed to finally get the W116 280SE I have been fixing up on the road and at a club event.   Despite finishing at 1AM the night before, I managed to get the car prepared, and ready enough for this event.   This was only my 3rd time driving the car and the first more than a few kilometers from where I live.    While I have more work to do, I was impressed with how the car went.

It was also interesting to look at the model mix of the W116s on display.    There were 11 cars, and I managed to catch the model of 10 of them.    There was not a single D-Jet or carburettor car on display.   All the cars were from 1976-1980 and most of them were 450’s with 3 SELs and 2 SEs.  In addition there were two 6.9s, a pair of 280SEs and a 280SEL.     This trend was mirrored in the W126 models were most cars on display were second generation – with the 420SEL being the most popular.    However at least on the W126 side there were a few very nice series 1 models in attendance.    The story was pretty similar on the W108 models with most of the cars being late production.    It’s clear that the later cars with larger engines are favored by buyers and more likely to be saved.

I really enjoyed the day.   My ideal Mercedes garage is a two and four door model from each of my favourite generations (60s, 70s and 80s).

In past year, the S-Class has been the cornerstone of the brand.   Today, the company sells far more SUVs than they do cars, but the S-Class is still king of the hill.   I wonder for how much longer?  Not sure they would even make it if it wasn’t for the Chinese market.

Preparing my 280SE for the MBCNSW S-Class display

2022 is 50 years since the introduction of the W116 S-Class in 1972.   The W116 S-Class was the first one that Mercedes-Benz actually referred to as the S-Class.   Previous models had filled the same slot in the line-up and even had S in the model designation, but it was the W116 where the S-Class name started.    To commemorate this, the Mercedes Benz Club planned a display day for all S-Class models.   Had they kept it to the W116 S-class it probably would have been a small show.    Most of them rusted away years ago.

I was quite keen to have my 1979 280SE at this event.   The fuel injection is finally working reasonably well.     I still needed to do a few things before I was comfortable taking it along.

Firstly, while I was in the USA for work, I had the steering coupling changed, and the car tuned.   I could see the coupling moving on the steering shaft – the plastic bushes inside had disintegrated.   The car could also use a new drag link and a tie rod end, but the coupling was the worst issue here.

With that done, I had a few more things to take care of myself.   The first was the ruined exhaust system.   I need to have this fixed properly, but there was not going to be time before the event.   Armed with $50 worth a exhaust repair kits, I got under the car to try and sort things out.   Between the various putty and exhaust bandages I bought, I managed to close up the worst holes.

I put some putty in the Y piece below the manifolds.   This has slipped in the bottom of the V section, a common problem on W116 and early W123 M110s in RHD.   There were two small holes in the pipes between the Y piece and the center muffler, and much larger holes where the pipes associated with the centre muffler join the rear stainless steel section.  The repairs I did have stopped the car sounding like a crop duster and should prevent fumes getting into the car.    Given my hands were covered in putty, I didn’t take any photos here.

Next, I wanted to change the automatic antenna.   Not only because I wanted to listen to the radio and see if the original Becker Mexico Cassette was working, but because it looked so bad.   The mast was well  and truly past it.   I couldn’t just replace the mast as the old motor was not working and it was not an original Hirshmann unit, so I wasn’t sure what mast to get.   I quickly got the old antenna out and mounted the new one in its place.     For some reason the old antenna had the antenna cable hard wired.   So i didn’t cut the new antenna cable with the replacement antenna, I cut off the last 10cm from the 420SEL parts car antenna cable and then spliced that onto the the original 280SE cable.

ruined antennaAfter wiring the new antenna in, It extended happily once I turned on the ignition, and I was able to tune into some local radio stations.   The new antenna, standing tall can be seen in the photo below.   While it might not be obvious why I prioritized replacing the antenna, the old one made the car look like a jalopy.

W116 S-ClassNext I checked the fuses.   A few electrical features in the car were not working.   There was a blown fuse, probably caused by the old radio antenna.   The rest of the fuses were fine, but I decided to replace all the fuses to ensure good connections.   These old ceramic fuses can get brittle with age and have bad connections even when they look fine.    It’s also an opportunity to make sure each fuse is correct.   It was worth doing as a few broke as I removed them, showing how brittle they were.  The old red ones were almost the same colour as the white ones.    Changing the fuses is something I like to do when I purchase one of these old cars.   The fuse box also leaves you a spot to store some spare fuses (top of photo).

W116 S-ClassFor reference, below is the fuse layout for the 1979 280SE W116.   Specifically, and Australian delivered car.   Since the insert is often missing, others may find this comes in handy.   It’s a much simpler fuse box than the W126 second generation cars.   In those cars, everything is electric.

1979 280SE fuse layoutI had removed the carpets from the car, as they were quite dirty and I wanted to vacuum the car properly.   Before I re-installed them in the car they needed a good cleaning.   Otherwise, they were in quite nice shape.    I used my little Bissell wet/dry cleaner to attack the carpets.    As well as the floor mats, I was able to pull out two tanks of filthy water.

dirty carpetsThe floor mats that came with the car were not a good fit.   They looked like they had been taken out of a rather small car.   They were a bit ratty looking too, not befitting a W116 S-Class.  Luckily, I had some mats in the right colour that were original in my 560SEC.   While they are W126 mats, the W126 is just a derivative of the W116 that they went in pretty well.   They are not perfect, but they came up quite well with a good clean.

With the main work done to the car, a test drive was in order.   I’ve only driven the car on the road once before.   I didn’t want to be running into problems on the way to the show.   I took the car on a good 30-40 minute drive, and filled the tank while I was doing it.   The car drove better and better and after about 20-30 minutes the horrible smell from the exhaust putty went away.   I guess it hardened.

Given the car sat around for a few months, I checked tyre pressures too.   A couple were slightly down, so worth checking.

My final step was to wash the car.    It was pretty dirty from the constant sitting around.   By this point it was already after 11PM, so I didn’t have time for anything particularly time consuming, but I could have the car looking nice and clean for the display day.   The car cleans up quite well.

W116 S-ClassFrom there, it was one final test drive, then get the car home and ready for the big event tomorrow.    There is still work to do on this car, but it goes from being a project to more of a rolling restoration.   Getting behind the wheel will help me prioritize.   So far my focus is the drag link and tie rod end, plus the drivers seat.

At the display tomorrow, I am hoping for a large turn out of W116 S-Class models.   There are some very nice ones in the club that almost never come out, and a few nice ones that are regulars at club events.   Hopefully I see them all.   With the work I have done, my car should not be out of place.

W116 S-Class

USA Junkyard visit 2022

I’m currently in the USA for work.   I arrived the day before the event I am attending, so had a couple of hours to spare before work started.   I’m in Las Vegas, so most people would have hit the casinos or shopped at the outlet malls.  Instead, I headed to a self service junkyard to grab Mercedes Parts.    I’ve been to Las Vegas many times before for work, so I’ve seen all the main tourist stuff, and I have no interest in gambling.   Driving old cars exclusively is a gamble enough.

Online, I had spotted a junkyard in northern Las Vegas that had a few cars of interest – principally three W126 models.   Those were a 1988 560SEL, a 420SEL and a 1990 350SDL.   In addition, there were two W123s – a 300D and a 240D.   The 560SEL was intriguing – the 560 was the only model with SLS sold in the USA.   It had only been there a couple of weeks, so there was some chance the SLS struts were still there.   Even if not, there was bound to be something useful to me over the three cars.  Even if they were gone, a trip to the USA junkyards is always worth it.   The prices are very reasonable and there is almost always something worth having.

USA junkyards

I decided to rent a car instead of taking Ubers.   In the end this was a mistake.   I had found a good special online (AUD$86 for the day), and given I wanted to pick up some tools, plus visit a few other shops, I thought it would be better.   What I hadn’t accounted for was how much the standard insurances have gone up since I last rented a car.   Those proved to be more than the rental fees.  Plus I had the uber to and from the rental facility and 3/4 of a gallon of petrol.

I headed over to Harbor freight to get some cheap tools.   Given all of the costs of chipping and trade wars with China, it’s surprising they are still as cheap as they are.    I didn’t mind getting a few new things, as I want to built better tool kits for my cars than the factory ones.    It was useful on the drive to Adelaide to have a bit more than the factory tool roll available.    I also stopped by Walmart to get a bag, a hat and some sunscreen.   It was getting really hot.

After all that, I finally got to the junkyard.   The easy stuff had already been stripped from the cars, such as the grille, alloy wheels, radio and so on.  Importantly for me, the SLS struts were still there.    There were still other useful parts too.

I set about getting the struts off the car.   The ball joint at the bottom is held on with two 17mm bolts.   They were easily removed.   I also wanted the valve, so I cut the metal lines, and attempted to unscrew the two bolts holding it to the car.   The heads broke off both, but I was still able to grab the valve.  It looked quite clean and wasn’t leaking, and plenty of fluid came out when I cut the lines.

Inside the car, the rear seat must be removed.   On cars such as 560SEL with a power reclining seat, this bolts to the power seat frame, rather than just popping out.     I was able to get the seat out with no problems.   Being a US market 560SEL, it had front and rear heated seats, so there were additional electrical plugs.

Once the seat is removed, two plastic covers are all that is in the way of getting to the strut connection.   The upper one reveals the top bolt and the lower one reveals the hydraulic hose connection.   Unfortunately, my sockets were not deep enough to grip the bolts, so I had to use an adjustable spanner.    It was very slow work, 1/8 of a turn at at a time.   I found it easier to remove the top bolts first, let the strut fall down, and then remove the hydraulic fitting.

USA junkyards

Once I had the top bolt and hydraulic fitting out of the way, I was then able to compress the strut and remove through the hole in the trailing arm.    Hydraulic fluid squirted everywhere.   The struts were not all oily at the start of the job, so I am hopeful they are OK.   The issue is not just leakage, but also the bottom ball joints can fail.   It’s easy to have the leaks repaired by rebuilding the strut, although the  ball joint can be more of a problem.

strut out

The second strut was similar to the first, but the angle meant I couldn’t get the bolt started with the adjustable spanner.   I even tried removing the power seat frame, which I didn’t have the right socket for, but made an imperial bit fit.    At that point I noticed that the fuel tank had been mostly removed.  I was able to get it out, and sit in the spare tyre well to remove that last nut.

USA junkyards

At this point it was getting close to when I had to be back, so I grabbed a few other parts that were easily accessible and small.   The most useful was all the connectors for a Becker radio with the premium sound package.   For some reason this was never offered in Australia – which is odd as its the main thing that makes the update interior better.   Without it, its just ribbed panels on the doors and a slightly different seat design.

I also grabbed a few of the extended lug bolts, a tool roll without tools and a few other misc bits.   I could have grabbed the rear amps, but since there are no cars with the system in Australia, it seemed pointless.

While I had to get back from work, by this time I was really starting to feel the sun.   The hat and sunscreen had prevented sunburn, but a few hours in 108F (42C) temperatures starts to take its toll.   I needed to get out of the sun and re-hydrate.   Even though a lot of the work I was doing was from under the car, or inside the cabin, the sun would make any exterior metal surface of the car too hot to touch.   Even leaving tools out in the sun for a couple of minutes made them burning hot.

On leaving, I paid for my purchases – the grand total for everything being USD$36.    Not bad for what I got, although the real price includes the rental car, tools etc.    I took everything back to the car and then made a really stupid mistake.   I had put the keys down in the boot to arrange my bag, and I forgot to grab them before closing it.   Now I was locked out of the rental car.

USA Junkyards

After 30 minutes of various dropped calls, being on hold and providing my life story to the rental company, I finally managed to arrange roadside service.    I was really suffering from the heat by then, but I noticed a service station a few hundred meters away.   I walked over there and managed to drink two liters of cool water.   In the end roadside assistance got the car open in a matter of minutes (great security Hyundai) and I was on my way.    The meeting I was supposed to be back for was delayed, which was lucky.

USA Junkyards

I spent most of the time on the 560SEL, but spent a few minutes looking at the other cars.   The 420SEL had suffered a bad engine fire.   This was obviously the reason why it was there.  I didn’t get a chance to get the year of this car.   The 350SDL was an interesting one.   It had good paint and a lovely interior, better than many cars asking quite high asking points.   It probably still had its original Becker before hitting the junkyard, as this as the car that yielded up the Becker connections.   I can only assume it had a severe mechanical problem.

The 3.5 diesel was known as the rod bender in the day.  From what I understand though, if the engine didn’t grenade early in life they were generally OK later.  It’s a shame to see such a nice car in the junkyard, especially a rare one like the 350SDL.

350SDL
The 240D had been in the yard for quite some time, was tired and fairly well picked over.   The 300D has suffered a bad side-swipe.  It was a great illustration of the Mercedes-Benz rigid passenger cell, 40 years later.

rigid passenger cell

I’m pretty happy how the day went.   I’ve wanted some more spare SLS struts and now I have two sets.  Between this and the struts on the parts 420SEL, I should have enough for my needs.   The second set provides backup if the first set are too damaged to be rebuilt.   I was also able to get a few other things as a bonus.    Not only was the range better, but this junkyard, being in Nevada was not full of rusty wrecks like the Ohio junkyards I visited a few years ago.   The USA junkyards have yielded again.

Auto Brunch St Ives June 2022

Due to COVID, bad weather and other commitments, it had been a while since I attend the Auto Brunch event at St. Ives showground.   March 2021 to be exact.   I finally made it back today and as usual it was a great event.   Of all the cars and coffee events in Sydney, I think this is by far the best.   There is always incredible variety at this show and today was no different.

In addition to the show, The Mercedes Club planned an event to watch the sunset and Balmoral beach and then drive over to the event.   I didn’t join them, mainly because I wanted another hour of sleep and I planned to take my Citroen DS.    It did mean there was a good contingent of MBCNSW members.  As well as the Mercedes club, there were strong showings from the Jensen Club, the Alfa club, and there were also a number of Porsche’s on display too.

As well as my DS, there was another very nice D Special in white and a rare Henri Chapron Decapotable.   This was a real one, unlike the many copies that are around the place.    It was a third nose car, which are pretty rare for the Decapotable, most of them had the second nose.   From the dashboard, it looked like a 1969 model.
Auto Brunch St Ives June 2022

I was parked next to a rare Toyota Century V12.   This is a domestic market Toyota that sits above Lexus in their range.    It is used for government officials, CEOs, the Emperor etc.   There are no Toyota badges on the car, just Century badges.   There were also a few other interesting Japanese domestic market cars on display at the show.

I was also impressed with a lovely pair of Fiat X1/9’s.   The earlier car, in orange was a real time warp.   The Auto Brunch St Ives June 2022 event was great and well worth the trip there.   Even better its the easier one of these for me to get to.

250SE refusing to start and the importance of not jumping to conclusions

The other day I had to move the 250SE out of the way to access the 280SE.   The 280SE was parked in a fairly inaccessible spot until I had sorted out the fuel injection.   With that looking promising on the test gauges, it was time to take it for a proper test drive.   I had not been driving the 250SE of late, as the rear brakes are sticking and its booked in to have that repaired in June.    There are also a few other minor issues to look at, such as the bonnet being stuck closed.

To get the 280SE out, I had to move both the DS and 250SE.   This was attempt number two, as the first time I couldn’t locate the keys in the lock box.   Of course they had been there all along, right in front of me.   Maybe I was too tired to be moving cars around in tight spots that night anyway!   This time I moved the DS and 250SE out without incident.   The test drive of the 280SE was successful, so it was time to put the other two cars back in.

At this point the 250SE wouldn’t start.   Moving the key to the start position did nothing.  I tried in both Park and Neutral.   As the bonnet was stuck shut, I was a bit limited in options.   I tried crawling under the car and tapping the starter with a length of wood, to no avail.   Next I called roadside service, and they helped me get the bonnet open.   I wiggled the latch while they pulled it up.   They also helped me push the car back into the garage.

At this point I should have gone back to basics, but I had it in my head I must have an ignition switch problem.   I wanted to get the car going again, so I could drive it up to the mechanic’s shop in June, rather than having it towed.   I have a remote starter switch, so I rigged that up.  Getting to the starter solenoid is a bit fiddly on the M129 engine.  Its hiding behind the long ram intake manifold.   It’s quite hard to get your hand in between the rams to attach the wires.   In the end I did and was rewarded with the sound of the starter firing into life.
remote starter switch

Given my mechanic’s appointment was coming up in June, I also ordered an ignition switch.   Sadly, the factory switch is now no longer available.   According to the forums it was still available only a few years ago.   I was able to secure an aftermarket switch, but it wasn’t clear what brand I was buying so I had no idea of the quality.

Unfortunately I had not gone back to basics and checked things properly.   It was only a couple of days after I ordered the ignition switch that I went to have another look.   Turns out the ignition switch is fine, and the rod from the column shift linkage had come off the neutral safety switch.   The stupid thing is that this has happened before, and I was able to quickly diagnose the problem and get back on the road.    I had even briefly considered this when the bonnet was stuck shut, but since I couldn’t access it, had proceeded to try something I could do – which was to look at the starter.   From there, I had my blinders on and had not gone back to properly think about the root cause of the problem.

In the end there was no real harm done.   The ignition switch is probably not so bad to have as a spare.   The car runs fine, and I can take it up for the brakes and other minor issues to be sorted out.   I probably should replace the pictured rod between the switch and the column shift mechanism, as had a minor crack that causes it to sometimes fall off.   I also got to use my remote starter switch for the first time.  At least I know it works!

remote starter switch

Eastern Suburbs cars and coffee May 2022

I attended the Eastern Suburbs cars and coffee event for the 2nd time today.   The event has moved to a new location since my last visit.   Instead of being located inside Centennial Park, they now meet near the Sydney Cricket Ground – on Driver avenue near the Horden Pavilion.     While its less picturesque than Centennial Park, it’s probably a better location as there is plenty of room to park cars, and no anti-car rangers trying to put an end to the whole thing.

It wasn’t quite as big as the last one, which isn’t that surprising since that was the first after a COVID lockdown.     There was still a great range of cars on display from daily drivers to a classic Ferrari that was probably worth many times more than the combined value of all the other cars.   Its great to see cars like that actually being used instead of on display in a lobby.

Eastern Suburbs cars and coffee

I took my Citroen DS and was parked next a very nice Lancia Fulvia.   I’ve always admired the engineering and styling of these cars.    It was a good day to get the DS out, as Sunday was forcast to be mild and sunny.    As well as the usual popular vehicles like Mustangs and Minis, there were also a few rarities such as an Aussie made variant of an Alfa Romeo with a rear mounted V8, some classic Peugeot’s and a Hillman Imp.     In addition, there were a few 80s Saabs which are not commonly seen anymore.

This new location for the Eastern Suburbs Cars and Coffee is very convenient and i’m sure i’ll be attending again in the future.

MBCNSW May 2022 Night Drive – Palm Beach

After a month of relentless rain, we finally had a sunny day for the May 2022 Night Drive.   This drive was a shorter one, The Spit to Palm Beach.   We had previously done a Palm Beach drive in October 2020, so we took a different route.   On the previous drive, we started at Manly and hugged the coast until we reached Palm Beach.   This time we started at the Spit, and took Wakehurst Parkway, bypassing the traffic lights and built up sections.

May 2022 Night Drive

Wakehurst Parkway is a winding road through areas of bushland that are quite close to the city.   Certainly it doesn’t feel like you’re only 10km from the CDB at the start.   The northern section exits at Narrabeen lagoon.   It was only a few months ago that the lagoon broke its banks and this whole area was underwater.

After some last minute cancellations, we had six cars arrive for the drive.   Like last time, it was heavily weighted towards the classics.   I took my 560SEC.   It was a nice night to drive with the windows down, but heater and heated seats on.

May 2022 Night Drive

As well as my SEC, we also had two veterans of my recent Adelaide trip – A W123 280CE and a 380SEC.   The short drive up to palm beach was insignificant compared to the 4,000km drive across the country.    As well as these two, we had a very nice A124 E320, and two cars that looked like they had just been photographed for a brochure.   A pristine W126 280SE and a W202 C200 with only 60,000km on the clock.

May 2022 Night Drive

We proceeded up the drive with a quick pit stop at a service station for a drink.   It was quite a good sight having all these classic Mercedes lined up at a small Narrabeen service station.  The Wakehurst parkway routing meant that it was pretty easy to keep the group together, and only six cars helped as well.

May 2022 Night Drive

Palm beach itself was very peaceful at night, only disturbed by the very regular buses terminating at the beach.   Given they all arrived empty, the route seems somewhat over-serviced.   I’m not sure the locals would agree!

On the way back, we took Mona Vale road, past the Bahai temple.   The temple always looks very impressive at night, the way it is lit up against the dark background of the sky.   With the small group and easy route, the May 2022 Night drive was a very relaxed drive.

K-Jet fuel pressure test part 4

I’ve been trying to narrow down poor running on my 79 280SE when cold.   Previously, I had two issues I was trying to narrow down, high control pressure when cold, and after a while both system and control pressure dropping and fluctuating.     I had replaced the fuel pump, which made no difference to the fluctuation issue.   I had also sent off my warm up regulator to be cleaned.

When my warm up regulator returned, I refitted it to the car.   Even without running the engine, the control pressure was much better.   Actually it was now too low.    I still had the fluctuation though.   That got me thinking that while the fuel tank was clean, filter clean, pump ok and so on, I had not ruled out the small opening in the bottom of the swirl pot being clogged.   A quick test could rule that out.  Adding another 25 liters of fuel would bring the level above the swirl pot.

Adding that extra fuel immediately fixed the pressure going lower and the noise from the fuel pump.   It was pretty obvious that this part of my issue was caused by the small hole in the bottom of the swirl pot being clogged.   This is a common problem in this era of Mercedes-Benz when they have sat for a while not being used.

I don’t have a non-copyright photo of the swirl pot to illustrate.  However, the function of the swirl pot is to prevent fuel starvation when the tank is below 25% and the car is being driven up or down a hill, or hard cornering.   Without the swirl pot, the fuel would slosh around in the bottom of the tank and the intake would suck in air.   Other cars use various baffles or a sump to achieve the same result.

The swirl pot looks like a little plastic flower pot in the bottom of the tank.   The fuel strainer sticks up into the centre of the pot.   When the tank is above about 25-35% capacity,  the swirl pot is always full because fuel enters from the top.   Once the tank starts to empty, the return line is angled so that it causes the fuel to swirl around the edges of the pot and suck in petrol from a small hole via a venturi effect.   This keeps the pot full, even with a comparatively empty tank.   I had this exact problem on my old 250SE coupe.   I ended up dropping the tank and cleaning the hole via long pipe cleaners.   The shape of the W111 tank makes it easier to see the swirl pot via the holes for the sender and strainer.

Right now I am going to ‘solve’ this problem by keeping the tank above 30%.   I may come back and look at this once everything else is sorted out.   To fix the issue properly I would need to remove the tank.

Running a static test (engine not running), my control pressure was 0.5 bar.   According to the manual, it should be 1.0 to 1.4 at 15c.   Starting the engine had it up to 1.0 bar, just in spec.   Plugging the WUR back into the electrical system, control pressure climbed to 3.8 bar.  This was at the high end of spec when warm.   Pulling the vacuum line also no longer stalled the engine.

At that point I wasn’t able to take a test drive of the car, as the 280SE was behind two other cars.   Today I went back and moved those other cars out of the way and took the 280SE for a test drive.   It was much better.    I wasn’t getting bad hesitation, at one point I got some very minor hesitation, but overall the car drove quite well.   This had me feeling confident enough to remove the gauge set and re-install the air cleaner – which I will do on a cold engine.   It feels like I am starting to get somewhere with this car.   Assuming its running well. my next step is to sort out the steering coupling and muffler.   There is a 116 event coming up I would like to take the car if possible.

control pressure