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1983 300TD

92614 Views 645 Replies 31 Participants Last post by  maboyce
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I've never actually made a thread for my wagon here, just a bunch of unconnected posts, so I thought I would collect everything in one place. This also constitutes documentation of work done when selling time comes (after I'm dead and gone...).

I bought the car off craigslist in fall of 2011, from Portland. I needed something cheap to take to a school I was going to attend.

It was in the hands of a flipper, having had two other previous US owners who were very fastidious and paid to have all sorts of things done and had records to prove it. They both lived in Bend, so the car was totally free of rust, but completely fried by the sun.

VIN: 123 190 12 0306xx
Engine: 617 912 12 155350
Transmission: 722 405 02 026085

Lights: Hella
Interior: 052
Exterior: 735

Options:
420 Automatic Transmission
541 Cargo cover ('double roller blind')
583 Front power windows
724 Cargo anchorage

Sadly, the lights on it are Bosch now, and the cargo cover is missing, though its fastenings remain.

These are the pictures I took when I picked it up.

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It had 282000 miles on it when I bought it. Here are the highlights of its service records. I left out a lot of fiddling with the vacuum locking system that was done.

6/10/86 69837 'relocated muffler hangers' to fix exhaust rattle
4/29/87 82296 Resealed injection pump
2/12/92 154535 New master cylinder
4/08/92 156146 New parking brake cables & shackle
8/31/92 157941 Engine rebuild
10/21/92 160153 New connector to replace bad check valve in main vacuum supply
8/21/96 215593 New vacuum modulator and 'control valve'(?)
12/29/98 ? New starter
11/02/99 ? 'R and R valve kit vac'(?)
5/08/00 248891 New front idler arm bushings, rear wheel bearing (one or both?)
6/26/00 250217 New vacuum pump
4/13/00 248522 New right hydraulic shock, engine front seal replaced
2/14/02 267318 New front shocks, left lower ball joint, left tie rod end

It pretty much sat for the last ten years, according to the mileage, and it showed when I bought it. I had no receipts at all from the flipper, and I saw no evidence that he did anything to it other than a half-done front brake job and some monkeying around with the vacuum lines in the engine compartment.
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I did an obligatory change of fluids and filters and then started driving it. I soon discovered a dragging caliper in the back. When I had the wheels off, the sorry state of the piston boots became clear, as well as the paper thin rear pads. Since the front brakes were pulsating as well, I decided to just do a complete brake job. New rotors, pads, caliper piston boots, soft lines, and fluid.

As before, there was evidence that the flipper changed the pads and rotors in the front, but since he managed to warp them, they had to go.

It also needed a good cleaning inside. The flipper left it outside, leaking, so that it was full of mould.

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One major irritant with the car was that none of the interior lights worked except the cargo light. I traced the fault to both a bad dimmer rheostat (the resistance spring was poking out of the unit, useless) and a fried trace inside the instrument cluster. Since the binnacle was cracked anyway, I got a different instrument cluster and made the two one.

This was complicated by the fact that someone used high-wattage bulbs in the new one and melted the light housings. I had to swap out the ones from the old housing and 'weld' the plastic studs back on with a soldering iron.

That and some new bulbs brought back most of the lights. The dome light was still dead, and I didn't try to find the light distributor for the row of switches on the centre console.

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Is it a om617.912 or a om617.952?
It's a German-market car, so it's 617.912, non-turbo.
It's a German-market car, so it's 617.912, non-turbo.
You could buy a turbocharged estate in Europe when they were new. I can back that up with a thread I started 3 years ago. You couldn't buy a turbo sedan nor a diesel coupe.
It looked better clean inside, with a dash doiley.

During the winter, the odometer stopped working, and I wasn't in a place to work on it until March. Happily, I had been keeping fuel economy records, and making almost exactly the same drive to and from Oregon, so when I fixed it (by pulling the main gear off the shaft, roughing up the shaft, and putting the gear back on), I was able to reset the odometer to within 150 miles or so of where it should be.

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To keep the mould from coming back, I had to fix some water leaks at the tailgate and at the sunroof drains. A new seal took care of the tailgate, and for the drains I painted the spouts with a rustproofing paint called MasterSeries and put silicone in the joint. If or when I repaint the car, I'll need to properly repaint the sunroof pan and change all the seals.

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I now have to expose my shame. I bought new hatch struts around this time, but when I went to install them, I immediately stripped out the bolts that hold the inboard end. They were triple square, and I didn't look carefully and assumed they were Torx. I had to weld hex nuts onto them to get them off. I feel manly for welding inside the car, but that's not the way I like to work.

There's a broken wire harness clip on the right tailgate hinge, and when I change the hinge, I'll probably replace the bolts as well. Until then, I drive around with bodged-up bolts.

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Soon afterwards, I had an SLS shock spring a leak. This caused me to make a thorough inspection of the rear end and the SLS system. The fluid was dark and low in the reservoir, though not empty.

As for the rest of the rear end, most of the rubber appeared to be perishing, and the axle boots were giving notice. I decided to 'do' the rear end.

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The SLS system was sorted by getting a new shock, new Febi fluid, and a new seal on the back of the pump. There is a thread on resealing the pump http://www.benzworld.org/forums/w123-e-ce-d-cd-td/1649355-sls-pump-reseal-pictures.html

I got some remanufactured axles from CVJ, and all the rubber parts for the rear suspension and driveline. I used Genuine parts or Lemfoerder, with the exception of the transmission mount, which was Meyle.

The list:
Subframe bushings (the proper wagon version)
Trailing arm bushings
Reman. axles
Driveline centring sleeves
Flex discs
Driveline centre bearing
Driveline bearing carrier
Sway bar links
Painted trailing arms due to rust starting in spring wells

It was a different car after that - I didn't realise how bad the oversteer was until it wasn't there any more. It's like it's on rails.

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Some notes on the job:

I found that the bolts holding the trailing arms to the subframe didn't really want to come off with the impact wrench, but using a very long cheater bar did the trick.

I wouldn't replace the centring sleeves next time unless they looked really bad. Mine looked just fine, and were EXTREMELY difficult to pull out. I had to make a pulling plate out of pieces of square steel stock, weld it to the sleeve, and push on it with three bolts through the driveshaft flange. The welds popped off the first time, so I had to re-weld the sleeve to the plate.

A spring compressor isn't necessary, but will save lots of frustration. Without one it's hard to get the subframe mount bolts in because the springs exert a rearward force on the subframe.

I would also go ahead and replace the differential output shaft seals. Mine started leaking in a few months.

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I did some other miscellaneous work at the beginning of the summer.

From a forum member I got a replacement trim panel that goes above the tailgate, and used hot glue to fasten down the d-pillar trims that were torn and distorted.

I finally installed a hood pad, though I had trouble with the glue. It was 3M Super Trim adhesive in a spray can, but I think it had been sitting on the shelf for a very long time so that it wasn't very super any more.

I also got new engine mounts, engine shocks, and oil cooler lines, because the power steering belt had been rubbing. I technically didn't use exactly the right mounts, because there are different ones with different rubber depending on if the car has AC or not. The non-AC mounts, which were correct, were dealer only and very, very expensive. I went with Lemfoerder mounts instead.

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I replaced the rear vacuum lock units, which had developed a leak in their shaft boots, and took the opportunity to restore the plastic sheeting under the door cards. The remains of the old stuff seemed to be about 2 mil semi-transparent, so I bought a plastic drop cloth made of the same material.

While I was there, I lubricated all of the door check straps. It made quite a difference in the noise and smoothness of operation. The driver's door check strap was broken, so I left the plastic off pending replacement of the strap.

Off and on I addressed some of the cosmetic issues inside the car. There were several switch faces that were worn off, so I replaced the switches. The window switches were a special case, since it didn't look like front window switches were common on US cars. I had to buy switches with a different P/N but the same top, and change the tops

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Other miscellaneous jobs done include fixing the clock, replacing a cracked front turn signal lens, and some 'de-federalising'.

I gained a tremendous improvement in performance by lubricating and adjusting the throttle linkage according to specifications. I replaced the idle adjustment cable at the same time, which had been broken since I got the car.

I gained a tremendous improvement in noise levels by replacing the alternator with its pulley and fan, and installing yet another set of new belts. I had been concerned that all of the pulley-driven equipment was noisy, but it turned out to be only the alternator.

I went ahead and replaced the main vacuum line, which had its valve bypassed by a generic vacuum tee back in 1992. It annoyed me every time I opened the hood.

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The latest bit of work has been replacement of the rear fog and reverse lights, since mine had both filled with water and rusted out, and been smashed from bumping into things.

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Wow, and I thought I did allot of work on my euro TD to bring it up to snuff:)
This week I got a second dome light from eBay. I was able to get my old one working briefly by replacing the power transistor inside, but then it died again and left me with only the constant-on function. I gave up on the project for several months, but then recently decided to just order another light. Mine was designed such that the pins for the plug, which had to be removed to take the light apart, bore on the circuit board. Every time I took them out, it would damage the holes and the traces around them a little bit more.

I was unhappy to discover that the new light worked in the timed-off setting, but not in constant-on. The internet said that failure of the constant-on setting is always a connexion problem inside the light, and is usually fixed by cleaning contacts and bending the small copper switch bar to make firmer contact.

I took both lights apart, and was pleased to discover that the new light, despite being a Hella light with the same P/N as mine, has special sockets for the pins on the circuit board, and that mechanical stress on the pins is absorbed by the housing rather than the board.

I cleaned the new light, flattened the copper switch bar slightly, and cleaned all the contacts. I also swapped over the plastic part of the switch from the old light, because the paint mark was in better shape.

In examining the old circuit board, I found a hairline crack in the traces where the switch bar makes contact.

Now I have a fully working light again. It's weird not to fumble around when getting in or out of the car.
At this point, literally the only thing on the car that doesn't work is the bulb holder under the fan knob. There are plenty of ugly things, but that's the last non-functional one. It'll be a very long time until I fix it, too, because I'll have to remove the heater box.

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This afternoon I went ahead and took the air filter housing off to see what was underneath it. I was pleased to see that the three rubber buffers were intact, but less pleased by the oily mess that was everywhere.

One of my purposes in taking the housing off was to check the part numbers of the manifolds. I have a non-EGR exhaust manifold with a badly brazed-on fitting for the EGR valve. According to the service history, it had to be re-brazed once before due to leakage, and it's leaking again. It makes a ticking noise and gets soot all over the engine compartment.

According to the EPC, the three exhaust manifold options for my car are 617 142 05 01, 617 142 02 01, and 617 142 13 01. 13 01 supersedes the others, so that's would I would get if I ordered a new one. The one I have is the 02 01.

The intake manifold is clearly a retrofit, P/N 617 141 07 01 with EGR fitting. The EPC says mine should be 617 140 07 01.

I took the opportunity to clean up all the oily mess on the intake manifold with purple degreaser. It looks like most of it came from the breather elbow, which fits loosely on both the manifold and the breather tube. I'll probably replace it with a new one that isn't hardened up.

The bodged-in tee fitting in the breather line is for the charcoal canister, part of the evaporative fuel system that was retrofitted at importation. Its line was loose on the tee, so I added a hose clamp. It's tempting to remove the whole system - at the tank, it's just a rubber hose jammed over the end of the road draught tube.

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