Turning the engine, and other work

I spent about two hours working on the car today, mostly taking care of little things.  I replaced the heater hose eaten by mice, changed the oil and filter, and managed to get the battery cable off the positive post of the 1983 battery finally.  The oil was quite clean, almost red in color.  The bottom of the oil filter housing had some sludge, but I couldn’t feel much of anything with my finger in the bottom of the oil pan.  I was happy to see the filter was a nice German made one:

But the most important task of today was turning the engine:

Very exciting video, I know.  But it turned very easily.  I had already changed the oil, and poured a bit in each cylinder, on each cam lobe, the rockers, and around the chain tensioner.  This is very encouraging!

I then moved onto the interior and started to repair the wiring which was chewed by mice.  It wasn’t quite a bad as I thought.  Head light switch had 4 wires with the insulation chewed a bit, and about the same with the fuse box.  The two wires running to the switch inside the air suspension height adjustment box were the worst and will need to be cut back and replaced.  Lowering the fuse box down for inspection turned out to be a bit more of a project than I expected:  The B pillar cover, threshold plate, air suspension and hood release assembly, and the carpet in the foot well had to be removed to access the two bolts securing the fuse panel.  But it was worth the effort and piece of mind to know there is nothing that is at risk of burning or catching fire.

And finally, I took a closer look at the shifter bushings I need.  My parts guy gave me two to try, but I don’t think they’re right.  I can’t quite understand what holds the bushing and linkage to the shift lever.  There is no place for a clip of any kind, and the EPC doesn’t show anything.  Anyone have any ideas?  You can see the stub the linkage hangs on here:

I’ve been thinking about buying some short jack stands to support the car so I could climb under it.  Today I used a solution the worked very well, and seems more secure.  I took the cut 2x10s I had ready when we picked up the car and stacked them under the frame rail on each side of the front of the car.  When the car’s suspension is pumped it, the boards fit under without the need for a jack.  After the car sinks down a bit, it sits on the boards.  Removing them is easy, just connect the compressor and raise up the car.  I’ll have to cut more boards for the rear of the car when it comes time to drop the fuel tank.

Things to do… or?

I was digging through the paperwork found in the glove box of the 300SEL.  Tucked in with all the original manuals was this piece of paper:

It appears to be a list of issues with the car, perhaps written for a mechanic to review.  With some luck, these repairs will have already been performed.  Nothing is of a really any major concern except for the heater fan not working.  This is a major job to repair, and its often one of the first things I check when inspecting these cars for the first time.  Other complains point to issues with the warm up thermostat on the injection pump, perhaps.  The tires are shot no matter what, the exhaust is home to mice, and the AC is the least of my concerns.

Some discovery work

I spent a few hours after work today taking a deeper look at the car to determine its general condition.  I started by pulling the spark plugs and having a look… all were consistently carbon’ed up.  I then pulled the valve cover to have a look at the valvetrain.  I was quite impressed!

Everything looked quite nice, still covered with a thin film of oil.  There was still some oil pooled up in the tops of the head bolts making me wonder just how long ago this engine was last run.  I’d have expected sitting for over two decades would have dried things up a bit more.  The cam and rockers all looked good with little or no wear.  When I first saw the car, I thought I saw some fine metal shaving covering the cam.  Now that I’ve had a good look, I can see there are a few shiny shavings on the cam I can’t really explain, but its so little I’m not alarmed at this point.  Although its probably overkill, I poured a bit of a mixture of brake fluid and acetone into each cylinder to help free up any rings that might be sticking.

Next, I moved onto cleaning up the interior a bit.  There were several vintage plastic bags and random bits all over the interior.  The carpet cleaned up very nicely with just a vacuuming for now.  There were lots of small shells and other organic bits that were most likely leftover by mice that once lived in the car.  Surprisingly, there was no damage to the carpet.

Since I knew there had been mice in the car, I decided to pull apart the dashboard to inspect the wiring.  I removed the instrument cluster, radio, speaker, ash tray, and glove box.  As I suspected, there was a collection of paper and plastic bits just behind the instrument cluster.  A careful inspection of the wiring turned up a few chewed up wires running to the headlight switch.  It shouldn’t be a major issue to correct, but needs to be done before a battery is connected to the car again.  In addition, the speaker wires were broken and mostly missing.  It seems these wires are made of something far more delicious than the other wiring in the car!

I’ll have to go over the car again once more very carefully before connecting the battery.  The only other damage the mice caused were chewing through the line running to the oil pressure gauge, the top of one cooling hose.  The oil pressure line is quite a cheap part new from Mercedes, and all the hoses need to be replaced anyway.

The next step will be to get some oil in the cylinders and see if the engine will turn by hand.

Lean to the left

So, it seems the air suspension isn’t looking so good now that it’s been under pressure and up and down a few times.. The left rear bag is now leaking pretty badly which brings the rest of the car down after a short time. The right front side keeps some air in the bag much longer, resulting in the car sitting at a funny angle.

This is a bit disappointing, but I knew the suspension would need some serious work at one point anyway. Hopefully I’ll still be able to raise up the car to make it easier to work on as necessary for now. An added bonus would be if the engine’s compressor can keep up with the leak to make some very short test drives when the time comes.