I moved onto cleaning up the fuel system this week. I was happy to find that the fuel tank was essentially empty, reducing the risk of a environmental disaster significantly. Removing the fuel lines from the tank and fuel pump resulted in only a few drips of foul gasoline out of each. Dropping the fuel tank out of the car was very easy… four bolts and a little prying and it dropped out.
I pulled the fuel level sender out and could see by the stains on it that the tank was probably about half full when it was stored. It seems that if you leave about 10 gallons of gas for about 20 years, it reduces to about 1 quart of nasty brown stuff. With the help of a friend, we poured what we could of what remained into an appropriate container. Getting the last bit out it nearly impossible due to the location of the drain, fuel pickups, and filler. Inside, its definitely rusty, but I’ve seen worse. There is a local radiator shop that can clean it up for me.
Next, we moved onto the fuel pump. Overall, it doesn’t look that bad from the outside. We decided it made sense to remove the bottom cover of the pump to see if what crud might have made it inside. There was some sludge and varnish, but it wasn’t too bad. After soaking and flushing with some acetone I had handy, it cleaned up nicely. Here is a look inside during the cleaning process:
We then briefly connected the pump to a battery to ensure that it would run. The pump did run, but a bit unevenly. It didn’t seem like a good idea to run it any more than a few seconds without any fuel in it, so I concluded that it works well enough to install back in the car for now. I’ll order up a new seal (thats A 004 997 04 45, I hope) along with new fuel lines, a fuel filter, and tank screener.
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.
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.
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.
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.