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1991 560SEL (M117.968)
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127 Posts
Discussion Starter #21
UPDATE: Car is back together and running.

I still need to rebuild the fuel distributor and play with the lambda, and there is STILL white crap in my cooling system.

I tried Prestone radiator flush, followed by copious amounts of water (I ran the car with the defroster on for maybe an hour, leaving the radiator drain open and continuously refilling the overflow tank).

I then tried MB citric acid flush. I let that one dwell in the system for two days, and then flushed thoroughly with water in the same fashion as previously described in this post.

THERE IS STILL WHITE CONTAMINANT IN MY COOLING SYSTEM

I am considering Blue Devil radiator flush and degreaser, based on bench tests. I have taken pieces of my old head gasket that have the mysterious contaminant on them and dropped them into various chemicals to see what the heck will work for my issue.

These are head gasket fragments in the Blue Devil:
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Here's another head gasket fragment in straight household vinegar:
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I realize that these "bench tests" lack the heat present in the engine, and that that heat is probably a critical component of the effectiveness of these chemicals, but I'm still leaning towards Blue Devil.

I'm polling this forum to see whether anyone has had any experience with such a massive amount of stubborn white cooling system contaminant. I mean, it is everywhere. I've even seen it in the tiny heater lines going into my windshield/headlight washer bottle. Pretty desperate for solid advice here.

ALSO, gratuitous pictures of the rebuild to follow.

Thanks in advance for any help!
 

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1991 560SEL (M117.968)
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127 Posts
Discussion Starter #22 (Edited)
THE TOP END REBUILD

This was a reasonable, DIY, budget rebuild during which I tried to pay special attention to the things I hadn't done yet.

Over the few years I've owned this car, I've already done all of the vacuum fittings, I've replaced the timing chain, timing chain guides, and timing chain tensioner. I've also removed and repainted the valve covers, I've replaced the camshaft oiler fittings, I've replaced a lot of gaskets, I've replaced the entire ignition system, et cetera and so forth.

So really, the only things this rebuild was meant to accomplish were as follows:

1) Replace the head gaskets (I was pretty sure they'd failed)
2) Replace the intake manifold gaskets and eight rubber doughnuts
3) Recondition the head bolt threads with TimeSerts
4) Confirm that the heads were straight (they were)
5) Replace the head bolts
6) Clean EVERYTHING

Without any further ado, the pictures of my project:

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1991 560SEL (M117.968)
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127 Posts
Discussion Starter #23 (Edited)
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I rented the Baum Tools drilling jig for M116/M117 engines from Specialty Auto Tool Rental in Colorado. Shipping to Hawaii was kind of spendy and took both Glenn at Specialty Auto Tool Rental and myself by surprise, but Glenn was extremely nice and worked with me to reach an agreeable solution. Anyone considering doing this repair should check them out, renting this jig from them was maybe 20% the cost of buying it. Well worth it, considering the critical importance of having a drilling jig.
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Checking out the Time-Sert system. I'd never heard of these until I started researching this repair. The cost of the kit and the inserts themselves add up sort of fast, especially considering the fact that we have 36 freaking head bolts 😅

Anyway, I ponied up for the kit and the recommended 24.5 mm inserts. I also had to buy a special counterbore so as to achieve the 4 mm countersink Mercedes-Benz specifies. This was far and away the most stressful part of this repair, but well worth avoiding stripped threads in my block.
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Test fitting the drilling jig on the passenger side.
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This, by the way, is why the technical manual specifies a 90 degree drill. Even with the battery, washer fluid reservoir, second firewall and all that stuff removed, there is still no way to get a conventional drill in there. Add it to the total cost of the repair 😓

(Also, this would have been a great time to replace my heater hoses if I hadn't already done that months ago 😂)
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The head gaskets appear to be original, but I'm not too sure. They are definitely Victor Reinz though.
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All broken down. This was after maybe a day of cleaning and labelling connections with blue tape. Masking tape is my favorite way to ensure the cars I work on go back together exactly as they came apart.

Also, I forgot to mention, I bought the Mercedessource SLS hose repair kit and installed it. Contrary to the PDF instructions Kent gives out with the kit, you do not necessarily need a vise to undo the fittings on either end. But holy crap would it have been nice to have one! Also, the hose is incredibly tough. Cutting it was a chore. In all, I spent SIX HOURS rebuilding the SLS pressure hose.

As of this posting, it is bone dry and holding pressure beautifully. Job done ✅
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1991 560SEL (M117.968)
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127 Posts
Discussion Starter #24 (Edited)
Moving on to cleaning and repairing the intake manifold. The rubber doughnuts were probably original, and they were probably leaking. My car ran and idled fine before the teardown, but I'm sure there was unmetered air getting into the intake manifold at these doughnuts. This is the primary reason I'm sure I've got to reset my lambda. I'm just waiting because I also have a nice American Machinery fuel distributor rebuild kit to install. Which is intimidating 😅

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OEM Mercedes rubber doughnuts I've been waiting many months to install.
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One tool I splurged on that wasn't completely necessary for this job was an ultrasonic cleaner. I have zero regrets, especially after seeing what it did for my previously grime-ridden throttle body.
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Using compressed air and dental picks, I made doubly sure that all of these vacuum source fittings were clear. I also lubed the butterfly valve bearings with a bit of ATF.
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After some experimentation, I figured out that I could clean the piston faces with a plastic brush on my drill. I rotated the engine by hand to bring each piston up flush with the deck. and then very carefully cleaned them. The results weren't perfect, but they were immensely satisfying.
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1991 560SEL (M117.968)
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127 Posts
Discussion Starter #25 (Edited)
The top end, staged and ready to go back in. I sent my heads to a machine shop to be hot tanked and checked for straightness. Considering the sheer number of hours I spent cleaning the rest of the engine, I'm really glad I had the heads tanked.
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Time-Sert drilling. This was the most tedious and stressful part of the whole job. There was a real sense of "there's no going back now" once the aluminum chips started to fly. Still, I'd researched how to do this properly, I had asked people who had already done the job (In this case, the person who rented the drilling jig before me really helped me out with methods and what things to order, thanks a million to @Jyuma from the 107 forum), and I'd ensured I had bought all the necessary stuff ahead of time.
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This is the counterbore I ordered. It's a 1/2" counterbore with a 0.406" pilot. Due to the nature of the requirements set forth by Mercedes-Benz for reconditioning the threads in the block, the counterbore included with the Time-Sert kit will not work. It merely brings the insert flush with the deck of the engine block, while Mercedes-Benz specifies that the threaded inserts be 4 mm below the surface of the deck. I've seen guys modify the counterbore from the Time-Sert kit with a grinder, but I didn't have a grinder. I also felt like it was the most risk-averse option to just buy a tool that was designed to make unlimited-depth countersinks. So here is the final remarkably specific thing needed to complete this repair per Mercedes-Benz factory specifications.

These truly are obscenely over-engineered cars, but that's why I love them.
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Time-Serts installed.
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Now, for the reassembly.

When I was cleaning the valley, I noticed some factory markings had come off with my degreaser. It's a little cheesy, but I decided to sign my work before bolting everything back on to the block.
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It was at this point that I became extremely excited to have everything back together. Seeing the shiny new Mercedes-Benz head bolts against my cleaned aluminum parts was so satisfying.
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Starting to look like an engine again!
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1991 560SEL (M117.968)
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127 Posts
Discussion Starter #26 (Edited)
Timing hardware and water pump re-installed, along with some pulleys and things on the front of the block.
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Distributor back in, new intake manifold gaskets ready for the intake manifold to be dropped in. Look at that bright aluminum!
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This is probably my favorite picture from the entire process. The engine is complete, minus all of the auxiliary crap that gets in the way of the beautiful shapes and patterns of the actual engine itself. And it's super clean 😂
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Throttle body in, and throttle linkages starting to go back on. Each linkage spent time in my ultrasonic cleaner, and each one got lubed with ATF.

Next thing Is to buy an electroplating kit 😂
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What followed was a lot of bolting on peripheral engine management stuff like air distribution hoses and ignition components.

I also forgot to mention earlier that I have previously replaced the fuel injectors, the plastic fuel injector seats, the air distribution hoses, the crankcase breather hoses, and the rubber boot for the Bosch airflow metering assembly. So that stuff all just got bolted back on, because it was all less than two years old, and it was all still in great shape.
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Back together and ready for the first start. The ignition coil is unhooked from the distributor cap because I had yet to crank the engine in order to prime the lubrication system. I cranked it until I was able to see oil coming out of the camshaft lobe oil jets.
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All that cranking also primed the fuel system as well. So when I hooked the ignition coil back up, she sprang to life right away.
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Outstanding Contributor
350SDL, '17 GLS450, "Grandpa's Roadster" Project Car
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I'm still leaning towards Blue Devil.
Three questions:
Is it safe for aluminum?
Did the heads get cleaned of this scourge?
Are you trying to fix a problem, or does it just bother you that the stuff is there?
 

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1991 560SEL (M117.968)
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127 Posts
Discussion Starter #28
Three questions:
Is it safe for aluminum?
Did the heads get cleaned of this scourge?
Are you trying to fix a problem, or does it just bother you that the stuff is there?
1) I believe so, but I will certainly confirm before I go dumping it into my engine.
2) The heads are cleaned of it, though the machine shop said they had to apply some manual labor to getting it out.
3) The engine temperature isn't as steady as I believe it should be, though it hasn't gone over 100 degrees C, and usually sits around 85 to 95.
 

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1990 420 SEC
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337 Posts
Should it be MoS2 grease for throttle linkages? ATF might drain off. Is there a coolant/ oil heat exhanger on these cars?
 

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1999 500SL, 1988 SEC
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1,272 Posts
Good job. Where did you get the correct time sert counter bore. I ground two of mine down since the time sert ones don’t last. I like you also found the engine runs a little warmer for some reason, like 90. Nice pictures too. Last how many hours did it take you. Iestimated maybe 50 for me but I did a lot of other things too.
 

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1989 560SEC, 1989 560SEL, 1995 E420
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View attachment 2627183

View attachment 2627184

View attachment 2627185

I rented the Baum Tools drilling jig for M116/M117 engines from Specialty Auto Tool Rental in Colorado. Shipping to Hawaii was kind of spendy and took both Glenn at Specialty Auto Tool Rental and myself by surprise, but Glenn was extremely nice and worked with me to reach an agreeable solution. Anyone considering doing this repair should check them out, renting this jig from them was maybe 20% the cost of buying it. Well worth it, considering the critical importance of having a drilling jig.
View attachment 2627188

Checking out the Time-Sert system. I'd never heard of these until I started researching this repair. The cost of the kit and the inserts themselves add up sort of fast, especially considering the fact that we have 36 freaking head bolts 😅

Anyway, I ponied up for the kit and the recommended 24.5 mm inserts. I also had to buy a special counterbore so as to achieve the 4 mm countersink Mercedes-Benz specifies. This was far and away the most stressful part of this repair, but well worth avoiding stripped threads in my block.
View attachment 2627189

Test fitting the drilling jig on the passenger side.
View attachment 2627193

This, by the way, is why the technical manual specifies a 90 degree drill. Even with the battery, washer fluid reservoir, second firewall and all that stuff removed, there is still no way to get a conventional drill in there. Add it to the total cost of the repair 😓

(Also, this would have been a great time to replace my heater hoses if I hadn't already done that months ago 😂)
View attachment 2627191

The head gaskets appear to be original, but I'm not too sure. They are definitely Victor Reinz though.
View attachment 2627196

View attachment 2627197
All broken down. This was after maybe a day of cleaning and labelling connections with blue tape. Masking tape is my favorite way to ensure the cars I work on go back together exactly as they came apart.

Also, I forgot to mention, I bought the Mercedessource SLS hose repair kit and installed it. Contrary to the PDF instructions Kent gives out with the kit, you do not necessarily need a vise to undo the fittings on either end. But holy crap would it have been nice to have one! Also, the hose is incredibly tough. Cutting it was a chore. In all, I spent SIX HOURS rebuilding the SLS pressure hose.

As of this posting, it is bone dry and holding pressure beautifully. Job done ✅
View attachment 2627194
Should it be MoS2 grease for throttle linkages? ATF might drain off. Is there a coolant/ oil heat exhanger on these cars?
I read once in the manual that one should use SLS fluid so that's what I use at every oil change.
 

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Premium Member
1990 SEC
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4,194 Posts
Great job!

Must be so satisfying to see the engine like this and have it start right up.

When my M119 was opened up, I was surprised to find the valley not just dirty, but with lots of debris. Just like yours. I guess that's just what happens to them over the years.
 

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1991 560SEL (M117.968)
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127 Posts
Discussion Starter #33
Should it be MoS2 grease for throttle linkages? ATF might drain off. Is there a coolant/ oil heat exhanger on these cars?
I've never heard that before, but I have some of that laying around the garage. Most advice I've seen in my years lurking on this forum says to use ATF because it tends to stick around. Kent Bergsma also recommends using ATF for things like hood hinge pins and stuff, so that's what I went with.

I suppose as long as the throttle linkages aren't dry, you're doing your due diligence!

There is a transmission oil cooler built into the radiator. My radiator is a two-year-old Nissens unit, and I was able to rig up a method of applying compressed air to the transmission oil cooler fittings on the radiator last month so as to check for leaks. There were none, which is why I ultimately concluded that my white contaminant had come from a leaking head gasket.

Good job. Where did you get the correct time sert counter bore. I ground two of mine down since the time sert ones don’t last. I like you also found the engine runs a little warmer for some reason, like 90. Nice pictures too. Last how many hours did it take you. Iestimated maybe 50 for me but I did a lot of other things too.
Thank you!

I feel like it runs warmer than it otherwise would if that contaminant was out of my cooling system. But it still has the capacity to handle being used for grocery runs and commuting without actually overheating, so that's good 😂

I bought the counterbore and pilot from Star Tool Supply in New Jersey.
The item numbers are as follows:

1/2" HSS Counterbore #1225032 ($23.10)
13/32" Pilot x 3/16" Shank Carbon Steel Counterbore Pilot #1700263 ($6.30)

It cut the aluminum block easily, and was well worth the cost in my mind.

Great job!

Must be so satisfying to see the engine like this and have it start right up.

When my M119 was opened up, I was surprised to find the valley not just dirty, but with lots of debris. Just like yours. I guess that's just what happens to them over the years.
Thank you! I'm super satisfied with the way things turned out. It's too bad I can't really use the car now, what with the mandatory quarantine and all that. But when I go to my essential part-time job or go get groceries, it feels a lot smoother and more athletic.
 

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Premium Member
1991 560 SEL
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97 Posts
Just want to say thanks for this thread, @Wrench Jedi! Beautiful pictures and a thorough, helpful write up. I rebuilt my intake last year, but haven't needed (yet) to do my head gaskets. I look forward to copying your approach when the time comes! Love this forum.

Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
 

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1991 560SEL (M117.968)
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127 Posts
Discussion Starter #36
Oh my gosh that is beautiful. You must be stoked.
Thank you! I’m super happy with how it came out.

Just want to say thanks for this thread, @Wrench Jedi! Beautiful pictures and a thorough, helpful write up. I rebuilt my intake last year, but haven't needed (yet) to do my head gaskets. I look forward to copying your approach when the time comes! Love this forum.

Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
I’m glad I could help!
 

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1991 560SEL (M117.968)
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Discussion Starter #37
All right, so I ran the Blue Devil Super Radiator Flush with degreaser through my system the other day, and it did
nothing. There are these solid chunks of the contaminant inside the radiator, where the upper radiator hose connects to it, that I always check on after I try a flush.

My reasoning is that if those are still there, then the chemical I just tried using as a flush was ineffective.

So far, my mysterious white contaminant has stood up to MB citric acid on two occasions, as well as some generic Prestone flush.

I’m super confused guys, I figure there are only so many substances this could be.

I have ordered L-11 cooling system flush on the recommendation from an employee of the MB Classic Center in California. This person was sure to caution me that currently, Mercedes-Benz only recommends the citric acid flush and nothing else. But he also said that back in the day, techs used to love L-11 (known then as Eskimo).

I’m really confused as for what this could be, and I’m Honestly getting a bit frustrated with the situation because I perceive it to be affecting cooling system performance (see picture below).

This was taken after driving uphill on Oahu’s H3 freeway at 60-70 mph. This stretch of road is about six miles long, and is a sustained uphill. The car can do it without downshifting, but nonetheless it always produces the highest engine temps I see on my commute.

I don’t usually see the temperature gauge get past 100° C, but it’s been doing that the past couple of days. Is this normal? I certainly am not used to ever seeing the car get that warm outside of extraordinary circumstances.

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1986/1990 W126
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I think you run the risk of damage to things like your head gasket if you run too much cleaner stuff.

The temp on your gauge seems OK to me, a bit warmer than what I'd see on mine but nothing to worry about I don't think.
 

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350SDL, '17 GLS450, "Grandpa's Roadster" Project Car
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You might want to look into the composition of leak-stop products. I can't think of any other product someone would normally put into a cooling system that would produce a coating like that. It's almost as if the system was coated with POR-15 or something. (Wait, did you say acetone won't dissolve it?)

(Found this:) What is the Best Cooling System Sealer? - Irontite Additives
 

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1991 560SEL (M117.968)
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Discussion Starter #40
I think you run the risk of damage to things like your head gasket if you run too much cleaner stuff.

The temp on your gauge seems OK to me, a bit warmer than what I'd see on mine but nothing to worry about I don't think.
I’m concerned about that as well. I’ve only used two chemical flushes since the rebuild, but I don’t want to just run a bunch of terrible stuff through the engine

You might want to look into the composition of leak-stop products. I can't think of any other product someone would normally put into a cooling system that would produce a coating like that. It's almost as if the system was coated with POR-15 or something. (Wait, did you say acetone won't dissolve it?)

(Found this:) What is the Best Cooling System Sealer? - Irontite Additives
So this contaminant was not present when I bought the car almost three years ago. It hasn’t been present for most of the time I’ve owned the thing as well. This is a somewhat recent development that occurred during my ownership of the car.

All I have ever put into it is water and the recommended G-05 Zerex coolant, favoring a 60/40 blend of water and Zerex, respectively.

What‘s this about acetone? I never tried acetone on my samples of the contaminant, but is that safe to run through the cooling system?
 
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