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1986 560SL with M120 V12 Engine, 1988 560SL Stock
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10,411 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I went to remove the hard top from Samson today and no luck. The hard top release handle wont move. I have seen plenty of post about the rear pin being stuck but I havent even got that far. My hardtop is still locked down in the back. The release crank acts like its hitting a brick wall. It still need to be rotated about another 120° back but it just comes to a dead stop.

Any Ideas before I go to remove the fuel tank and fish my hand in through the Fuel level sensor hole to remove the latch.
 

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Outstanding Contributor
450slc5.0cab 280sl5sp 280se4.5 500se+500slAMG +250seStkW108 350sl4spdX3 500secEuro
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22,616 Posts
There’s two parts to the locking/unlocking motion.

1) Small handle moves hook to the passenger side. It’s not real strong and might not detach if there’s too much tension/friction.

2) The motion I don’t believe you mention is letting the tension off with the big handle. This is the “suck down” that pulls the back down tight after the pin is hooked.

Did you try a number 2 today?
 

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Premium Member
1986 560SL with M120 V12 Engine, 1988 560SL Stock
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10,411 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
There’s two parts to the locking/unlocking motion.

1) Small handle moves hook to the passenger side. It’s not real strong and might not detach if there’s too much tension/friction.

2) The motion I don’t believe you mention is letting the tension off with the big handle. This is the “suck down” that pulls the back down tight after the pin is hooked.

Did you try a number 2 today?
Yes that's the one that is stuck.
 

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1986 560SL
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87 Posts
Does releasing the front two latches have any effect - it might release some of the tension on the back pin.
 

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Premium Member
1986 560SL with M120 V12 Engine, 1988 560SL Stock
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10,411 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Does releasing the front two latches have any effect - it might release some of the tension on the back pin.
No

I tried every combination of releasing front and side latches. I have been also trying to get a look in there with a bore scope but no luck on that yet.

But I did possibly find another access port. It may not work for me because my hook is stuck in the pulled down position but for people that are able to release the tension on the hook, the back panel covering the fuel tan can be removed and the hook can be pried free. In my case with the hook down the hook gets kind of captive in the latch and wont move over as freely.

See the picture of the pry bar coming in through the trunk.
 

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1992 500SL, 1988 560SL, 1977 450SL, 1999 E320 4matic
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800 Posts
John,
The other day I tried to remove the hardtop on my 88 560Sl and the rear lever did not release the top. However I had help and lifted the front part of the hardtop way up in the air, almost to 90 degree being careful that the rear part of the hardtop did not scratch the body and that release the rear pin.
 

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Premium Member
1986 560SL with M120 V12 Engine, 1988 560SL Stock
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10,411 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
John,
The other day I tried to remove the hardtop on my 88 560Sl and the rear lever did not release the top. However I had help and lifted the front part of the hardtop way up in the air, almost to 90 degree being careful that the rear part of the hardtop did not scratch the body and that release the rear pin.
You probably at least were able to release the tension with the large handle to loosen it up. If I try to lift the front more than 2° something is going to bend.
 

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1992 500SL, 1988 560SL, 1977 450SL, 1999 E320 4matic
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800 Posts
I most likely did not understand your problem. I losen the right and left pin from the windshield, the right and left side catches. I could then lift the rear of the hardtop from the center rear pin around and inch, then I was able to lift the front up in the air and was able to wiggle the rear center catch and the hardtop release from the center rear catch. Is it that you could not release the right and left catches near the side windows?
 

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Premium Member
1986 560SL with M120 V12 Engine, 1988 560SL Stock
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10,411 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I most likely did not understand your problem. I losen the right and left pin from the windshield, the right and left side catches. I could then lift the rear of the hardtop from the center rear pin around and inch, then I was able to lift the front up in the air and was able to wiggle the rear center catch and the hardtop release from the center rear catch. Is it that you could not release the right and left catches near the side windows?
I have 2 front and 2 sides released. I cant release the 1st stage of the rear. But I do see what your saying. The rear when its latched down is spring loaded so I am able to pull it up about an inch against the spring pressure. Possibly if I tip it back from that point it will release. I will have to give that a try tomorrow, weather permitting.
 

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1987 300SL
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118 Posts
Having a similar problem with mine at the mo too
I'm going to tackle it when it comes back from the indy with a new head
Have had it before, just won't release off the pin
We got it working properly by lubricating all the contact points and it was good for a while, but crap again now
I am going to get something between the hardtop and the soft top cover, just to wriggle the lever across off the pin
Frustrating when you just want to pop out top down
 

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1984 380SL
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2,333 Posts
What I had to do, was hold the safety lever down with just finger pressure, to ensure that the cable sheath was tight against the mechanism. Then the release handle would actually release the top. Maybe what you need, is to apply downward pressure on the top itself, at the rear, to allow the release to actuate?
 

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1986 560SL with M120 V12 Engine, 1988 560SL Stock
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10,411 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
The Carltwo method worked. Thank you Carl. But I believe so did the John Roncallo method, except I was too dumb to know it was working.

So what was the problem? Probably nothing in reality. What was really going on was the main handle the big one was installed incorrectly. It was installed in the released position all the way froward when the mechanism still in the unlocked position all the way back. So naturally I couldn't move it all the way back because it was all the way back. This made me get it stuck in my brain that the lock was fully pulled down and my thick head being stuck far up my ass started doing everything to release the primary lock before even testing to see if it was already released.

So in the end my attempts to releases pawl with a screw driver were probably working just fine but I was so expecting the lock to snap down hard once it released and of course that never happened. If I had a second person to lift on the back I probably would have been just fine.

So this morning I tried the carltwo method. I first decided to see how far a 12mm bolt could be tilted in the hole before it bound. It turned out to be nearly 40°. I then realized while doing this I could pop the soft top cover and really get any angle I want. So the second picture show how far you need to go to unhook the pin. Notice the soft top cover is loose.

So in any case both methods seem to work fine. Going through the trunk will be the only option if your soft top is stuck. But it requires you to remove the plate over the gas tank and re glue the carpet back on. Lifting by the front really should be done with two people as once the pin pops it will want to jump out and hit something.
 

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1983 380SL, ivory/dk brown, 46k miles, dual roller timing chain. 1986 560SL, red/white, 190K mile.
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6,942 Posts
I see now what you are doing.
Never thought of releasing the rear center pin that way.
Good to know this just in case.

Selection_838.png
 

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1992 500SL, 1988 560SL, 1977 450SL, 1999 E320 4matic
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800 Posts
John,
Glad you got the dam thing off. My problem is the cable to release the catch is not releasing all the way. Another problem I need to fix.
 

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Premium Member
1986 560SL with M120 V12 Engine, 1988 560SL Stock
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10,411 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
John,
Glad you got the dam thing off. My problem is the cable to release the catch is not releasing all the way. Another problem I need to fix.
Thanks

Several people have placed a tie wrap around the cable, between the cable jacket and the latch to pull the jacket back a bit. I don't have room for that so I may slit two washers and put them in there then crimp the gap in the washers closed using a vice grip. Or I may look at the manual and see it there is a procedure to adjust it.
 

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1992 500SL, 1988 560SL, 1977 450SL, 1999 E320 4matic
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800 Posts
THANK YOU John.
Appreciate the 2 minute tip. I used the plastic cable tie and now my Hardtop/Soft Top rear release cable is
working like its suppose to.
REAR Hardtop Latch~1.jpg


CABLE RELEASE CATCH~2.jpg
 
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