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1997 E-420, 2001 E-320, 2007 S-550, 2009 E-350
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337 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, finally got some time to do replacement of soft top tension cables. I have 2003 CLK-320 W208, my cables were not broken or had any loose end etc., the issue was that cables were stretched pretty good over last 16 years and were not able to function. The soft top opening needed some slight nudged to let top to fold down. Same on putting back top on, it was some time slamming to top of front windshield.

I purchased following parts.

Folding Top Tightening Cables (Tension Cables) P/N 208-770-18-65 Each $76.77

Folding Top Tightening Cable Sleeve (Tension Cable back end plastic sleeve to keep cable in roof frame) P/N 208-778-00-51 Cannot find anywhere. Dealer even cannot order it.

Screw/Pin for Soft top handle P/N 208-776-00-25 $5.00


DIY process steps are following. I took photos that they will help you to understand the process and steps.

1. start your car and then open the soft top, put the top down but leave the cover open.

2. Use tie wrap to help in turning and keeping soft top hand at 90° so you can remove the screw/pin from handle to remove the handle. Tie wrap you put on soft top locking mechanism, either right or left side.

3. Use 2.5 mm bit to remove the screw/pin from handle. If the screw/pin has been stripped then use T10 bit to help you catch the screw/pin to unscrew it.

4. Screw/Pin is out, now remove the handle .

5. Now unscrew and remove 4 Phillips screws holding the panel.

7. Remove the panel, there will be still 4 clips that you need to pull the panel to remove it.

8. Now all the panel is out and handle is remove, please leave the tie wrap still in place on soft top locking mechanism.

9. Start your car and now bring the soft top up like you will be putting the top on, but only bring it to half way and in upright position. Make sure soft top is titling towards forward.

10. Now remove 2 small goldish looking Phillips screw from each side to star taking inner layer of roof. There are 2 screw on each side.

11. Now you can peel the first top part of inner roof from frame.

12. Next start to peel the second top part of inner roof from frame.

13. Finally peel the 3rd/last top part of inner roof from frame.

14. Now you can work towards removing the old tension cables.

15. At the end of tension cable is attached to frame via plastic sleeve. Be careful in removing the plastic sleeve, it is very old and brittle and can break. I cannot find replacement part for this plastic sleeve.

16. The end of cable plastic sleeve was hard to remove. What I did was spray dry lubricant on it and let it sit for 5 minutes and then try to remove it, and it came out easily.

17. The old cable cannot get out of the end frame for some reason, may be the end stop on cable got fatter over years of tension on it. So I have to cut the end on old tension cable to remove it.

18 Now you can remove the old cable at front by undoing the 10 mm nut.

19. Re installing new cables is quite simple, just follow the old cable marks in roof/structure.

20. Put every thing back in reverse.

I am attaching photos that will give you quite a bit of details.
 

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1997 E-420, 2001 E-320, 2007 S-550, 2009 E-350
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337 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
More Photos
 

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1997 E-420, 2001 E-320, 2007 S-550, 2009 E-350
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337 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
More Photos here with inner roof peeling off.
 

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1997 E-420, 2001 E-320, 2007 S-550, 2009 E-350
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337 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Photos of plastic sleeve that hold the end of tension cables.
 

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1997 E-420, 2001 E-320, 2007 S-550, 2009 E-350
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337 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I have to cut the old tension cable to take it out of frame. I measure the new and old cables, length was same. Old cable was too stretchy compare to new cable.
 

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1997 E-420, 2001 E-320, 2007 S-550, 2009 E-350
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337 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
New vs old tension cable measurements.
 

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1997 E-420, 2001 E-320, 2007 S-550, 2009 E-350
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337 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Soft top hand pin/screw was stripped, so I used the new one. Photos of Pin/Screw.
 

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1997 E-420, 2001 E-320, 2007 S-550, 2009 E-350
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337 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Installed new tension cables and put all back in reverse. All good, now soft top don't need any more nudge and also not slamming on windshield frame.

It took me for whole process 2 1/2 hours. The reason for more time was the tension cable end plastic sleeve, I don't want to damage them so took my time.

Also taking photos slow down the DIY.

Let me know if you have any questions.
 

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1997 E-420, 2001 E-320, 2007 S-550, 2009 E-350
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337 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Some photos of soft top handle and latching mechanism with handle off. Misc photos.
 

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2001 CLK320 Cabrio
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358 Posts
hadam.......Excellent instructional.

I remember corresponding with you earlier, when you were considering purchasing a CLK cabriolet.

Something that would really help the power roof in great operating condition, would also be to apply a conditioner on all of rubber seals on the roof, windows and trunk.

Some suggestions would be:

https://www.amazon.com/einszett-914806-Gummi-Pflege-Rubber/dp/B004B8GTQG

https://www.amazon.com/Chemours-Krytox-Grease-Pure-PFPE/dp/B073Y4557Y/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1538314795&sr=8-3&keywords=Krytox+gpl205
 

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1997 E-420, 2001 E-320, 2007 S-550, 2009 E-350
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337 Posts
Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
serndipity, Thank you. I drove around today in CLK with soft top up and down, now with new tension cables installed, soft top is much easier to operate.

Yes, I was kind of nervous about buying convertible W208 because of the soft top and all the hydraulic moving parts in soft top, but now I feel it is not bad to maintain this car.

I use soft top pretty much every day, it has been working fine for over a year now.

Already done Bow Lock replacement, next will be the passenger rear window stop, passenger seat folding mechanism check and finally will be the replacement of cover lock. Cover lock is not leaking, but will replace it in November as recommended by Top Hydraulics.

Overall I am happy with the car and enjoying year around soft top down in central coastal California.

Thank you for suggestion of rubber care product, I have order one from Amazon, will apply it next weekend to soft top seals, door seals and trunk seal.

I still like Mercedes, I have been driving Mercedes now for over 14 years, kind of getting bore. Have W210, W211, W221 and G-Wagon. I was looking into MB GTc, but not getting feeling about it, it is still Mercedes.

I have driven French cars, Peugeot, Citroen and Renault during my stay in France and Turkey.

Never had driven high end Italian cars, I am looking into 2006 or 2007 Ferrari F-430, both Coupe and Spider lately, let's see how it goes. I have heard that Italian cars require quite bit of tender care and love. It will be new experience to maintain Italian car.
 

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2002 CLK 55 amg
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2002 CLK 55 tensioner cable $2 fix

I completed the $2 cable fix this morning (July 4, 2019) and thought I’d add a few additional comments to this discussion.
First of all, this is a repair that does not require a lot of technical expertise and if you are the least bit handy, have confidence, you CAN do it!
The hardest step in the repair by far was affixing the lowes ferrules to the cable - ends where the stock ferrule has broken off. I first tried pliers, vice grips etc with no success and eventually sprung for the massively heavy duty crimpers that Lowes sells. (About $40 plus tax here in Canada). You can save yourself a lot of trouble by doing so as they are designed to crimp the exact ferrule that you are using. Your call whether you would return them after your one-time use.

I ground down the ferrules to the size of the hole where they go through the convertible bow using my Dremel tool, which was a hassle since I did this while the cable assembly was still inside the top. If I had to do it again I would first remove the entire cable assembly, then crimp on the ferrules, then grind them to size and then re-install the repaired cable assembly.

After I’d affixed and sized the ferrules I took a few days off, contemplating the ways I could screw up the disassembly of the handle and plastic header pieces, but this morning I “went for it”, and surprise! I did both cable installs in under 30 minutes! It was so easy!

First, I lowered the top completely into the well in the rear of the car. I then removed the 4 screws and then the handle. Before removing the handle I zip-tied the latch as shown in the above post so that the handle remained in the open position. The Allen key to remove the handle pin is really small, so don’t be surprised when you find the tiny one needed to remove the pin. The plastic header piece just pulls off then, without the need for any prying tools.

I then moved the top up to a half-open, slightly forward from vertical position. If it is not slightly forward the top will collapse back into the storage well. I then undid the 10mm bolt holding the forward portion of the assembly. Next I pushed out the plastic “sleeve” in the rear header using a Phillips screwdriver. I then inserted the ferrule and rearmost portion of the cable through the hole in the metal bow and pulled it through far enough that I could snap on the plastic sleeve. Oh, I almost forgot - before snapping on the sleeve I stripped off enough of the black cable sheathing so that all of the cable that fits into the plastic sleeve is bare. I took off about 6 or 7 mm of sheathing. Then, while keeping the sleeve halves pressed together with one hand I pulled the cable forward with the other hand until the sleeve fed into the hole and I pushed it in tight with my fingers.
Because the cable is now slightly shorter than stock (by the length of the ferrule) be sure to move the 3 - position adjuster to the “longest” position”. I secured it in the position using some tape so that it didn’t move when I was fidgeting the bolt into place.
Then it was the simple matter of wrangling the 10mm bolt back into the front header and affixing the 10mm nut to the bolt. Finally, reinstall the plastic header cover using the 4 screws, and reinstall the handle and pin. Job Done! Note that I did this entire job without disturbing and of the top liners. Maybe I have nimble fingers!
The top now works properly for the first time since I got this car 6 years ago. I suspect that one of the cables was broken when I bought it, as the operation now is much better than it has ever been.
Now that I understand how the top operates it sees astonishing that Mercedes designed such a complicated and fragile attachment for the rear of the cable. I’m crossing my fingers that this repair holds, but if not I’ll try to devise a better attachment method myself, perhaps using som sort of hooked spring that goes through the rear hole.

Hope this helps someone
 
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