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1988 560 SEC
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Discussion Starter #1
With the recent acquisition of my first Mercedes Benz, a 1988 560SEC with 103K miles, I have been ecstatic ever since I got it. The exterior and interior is in excellent shape and obviously has been cared for most of its life. Unfortunately the love ended there as the engine has not seen a damp rag in a decade. Add to this my initial inspection of the car showed several former mouse houses and abandoned wasp nests. The car was stored in a garage but I believe the building was more of a barn with garage doors. Either way, it is in a much better environment now and due some serious TLC.

The crumbling hood insulation was up first as it would only add to the amount of debris in the engine bay. Additionally, when I got ready to do the timing chain replacement I did not want any pieces of it falling in the valve-train. To start I used some commercial packing wrap that is much like big saran wrap. This would catch everything my shop-vac didn't. Next I rounded up all my tools. Not pictured is the dust mask I used. Shop-vacs are loud and running one for extended lengths of time would not be good for my ears and the fine dust that the insulation was turning to was not good for my eyes either so safety first! I basically vacuumed off as much of the foam as I could using the floor attachment and crevice tool. Then using my plastic scrapers I went after the remaining foam and adhesive. After a little over an hour I was happy with the result. I have a new insulation pad from MB and will put it on at a later date. The large saran wrap did its job and made clean up a breeze!
 

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1988 560 SEC
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Discussion Starter #2
Next up was literally four hours of vacuuming to get all the leaves, dirt, mouse houses, acorns, and wasp nests out of the car. I got about half of everything out with just the normal shop-vac tools. A trip to Lowe's yielded an attachment set used for cleaning electronics which was a life saver. This helped get more debris out but I needed a longer tool to get deeper in to the engine bay's nooks and crannies. I ended up cutting a piece of 1/4 inch PVC pipe as it would fit on the end of the micro attachment enough to make a vacuum seal but could easily be pulled off as it would clog very easily. I mainly ended up using it to either pull debris to another area that was easier to get with the larger nozzle or lift large debris out. Doing this allowed me to clean out the narrow passage in the middle of the false firewall. A lot of debris was removed a tea spoon at a time so patience is key. I also pulled the battery and battery tray out as there was no shortage of debris under it. In the end the engine bay is now much cleaner and healthier. Additionally, I was relieved that no wires appear to be damaged. The only damage I see is some of the rubber seal that runs along the top of the false firewall has some missing pieces and the passenger side fiberglass insulation by the exhaust manifold was snacked on.
 

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1988 560 SEC
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Discussion Starter #3
With a cleaner engine bay I decided to pull the passenger side valve cover to see what kind of shape everything was in. I was pleasantly surprised to find how clean everything was. The cam lobes look great with no scoring of any kind, the oil tube clips are completely intact but one has started to split, and the chain looks good for being original as well as the original guides. Everything is getting replaced but it was nice to see everything was still as it should be. A quick look in the valve cover was evidence the car has been the recipient of regular oil changes with quality oil as it basically looked new. With the valve cover off I carefully vacuumed some large debris that was inaccessible with it on. I plan to do more cleaning during the next go around. I also went ahead and pulled the cooling fan off just to make sure it would come off. I plan to start the timing chain replacement project weekend after next.
 

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1991 560 SEC 1994 E500 2014 E350 Cab
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I used a 1 2 foot length, 1/2" hose jammed into a 6" length pool noodle, jammed into the standard shop vac hose, that gives enough ooompf (industry term) to get the debris with a 45 degree cut at the end. For the most part going forward your leaf blower in the engine bay will evacuate what you have accumulated every few months if your car is stored by trees when not driven.

Do you have a spring compressor tool? It may be helpful to remove the rockers and be sure all ball studs are torqued to 60Nm. I had several that were finger tight.
 

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1988 560 SEC
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Discussion Starter #6
Do you have a spring compressor tool? It may be helpful to remove the rockers and be sure all ball studs are torqued to 60Nm. I had several that were finger tight.
I do not currently have one but I can invest in one. After 100K miles I agree it would be a good idea to check.
 

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'91 560SEC, '91 300SE (sold), '98 Yota, '02 S-10 Hauler
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I do not currently have one but I can invest in one. After 100K miles I agree it would be a good idea to check.
I've got a spring compressor on the way from Amazon, shipping and all totaled like 80 bucks, a good investment when you need a special tool I think
 

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1988 560 SEC
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Discussion Starter #8
Due to work and house projects the 560 has not received much attention beyond looking under the passenger side valve cover. I did manage to get the last screw on the distributor cap broken loose after several rounds of Acetone/ATF application. I did not want to break it off and have to drill it out so patience and persistence has paid off. During my small amounts of free time I have been studying the vacuum system threads here since the transmission shifts very hard from 2nd to 3rd and only a little softer from 3rd to 4th. Knowing that the vacuum source is the first thing to check I found several posts with good pictures of where the transmission vacuum source was located, a small port at the back of the intake pointed down. A quick inspection with a mirror showed that not only was the transmission vacuum not hooked up, it hasn't been connected in many years based on the amount of rust of the port. I literally dropped my head, shaking it in grave disappointment and sadness knowing the previous owner has driven the car like this for some time. I even have a receipt from a "Euro" repair shop that tried to diagnose the issue and sold the previous owner on a shifter bushing R&R to the tune of $285. Proper troubleshooting is everything! I plan to clean off the port and re-attach the vac line with some fresh hose and hope for the best once I get the timing chain project done.
 

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85 500SEC (Euro), 87 560SEC (now sold)
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During my small amounts of free time I have been studying the vacuum system threads here since the transmission shifts very hard from 2nd to 3rd and only a little softer from 3rd to 4th. Knowing that the vacuum source is the first thing to check I found several posts with good pictures of where the transmission vacuum source was located, a small port at the back of the intake pointed down. A quick inspection with a mirror showed that not only was the transmission vacuum not hooked up, it hasn't been connected in many years based on the amount of rust of the port. I literally dropped my head, shaking it in grave disappointment and sadness knowing the previous owner has driven the car like this for some time. I even have a receipt from a "Euro" repair shop that tried to diagnose the issue and sold the previous owner on a shifter bushing R&R to the tune of $285. Proper troubleshooting is everything! I plan to clean off the port and re-attach the vac line with some fresh hose and hope for the best once I get the timing chain project done.
This sort of thing is scary as it shows how fraught with trouble having your classic Benz looked at can be. Outside of the highly knowledgeable, everyone else will be guessing and charging. As in charging you for their guesswork. When my SEC did not start one day I researched the problem online and was given advice here on the possible solution, which resulted in my spending a mere $45 for a fuel pump relay and presto, problem fixed.

Had I brought it to a local mechanic (none of whom know Mercedes in that area) I would likely have spent ten times that, or more and even pushed into replacing the fuel pumps.
 

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1991 560SEC
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@HardwayMB get the harbor freight fuel pressure kit that has the correct fitting for these transmission. It's equally possible that someone has fiddled with the modulator to try and account for the hard shifting, or any numerous other 'adjustments' so you want to get to a good stock setting

General steps I use for getting transmissions shifting properly

1. Make sure all the vacuum lines are connected! :)
2. Proper adjustment of the TV cable on the throttle linkage. Loosen the screw, relax the cable, and slide until you JUST feel tension on the cable. Will be very obvious when you feel it, and should roughly adjust in the middle range of play.
3. Filter, gasket, fluid change. While you have the pan off, install the K1 spring upgrade since it's cheap and you're literally right there.
4. Confirm that your vacuum modulator holds a vacuum. Slight leakage is OK, but it should hold. R&R if necessary.
5. Assuming the modulator tests are good, install Pressure Gauge to the port, and with the vacuum line disconnected and engine running adjust the "T" until you have ~56 PSI pressure (there are more specific settings for your transmission but this is a good starting point)

This will insure you have your transmission at a good baseline setting, and you can diagnose or make adjustments as necessary to correct any issues.
 

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1988 560 SEC
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Discussion Starter #11
@HardwayMB get the harbor freight fuel pressure kit that has the correct fitting for these transmission. It's equally possible that someone has fiddled with the modulator to try and account for the hard shifting, or any numerous other 'adjustments' so you want to get to a good stock setting.

@corellian corvette Is this the tester you are talking about? I have a 0-100 FI pressure tester already but I would have to look at all the fittings it has. It does not have as many hoses as this one does. If this is the right one and it comes with the correct fitting, $20 is hard to beat.

https://www.harborfreight.com/fuel-injection-pump-tester-62623.html
 

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1991 560SEC
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@corellian corvette Is this the tester you are talking about? I have a 0-100 FI pressure tester already but I would have to look at all the fittings it has. It does not have as many hoses as this one does. If this is the right one and it comes with the correct fitting, $20 is hard to beat.

https://www.harborfreight.com/fuel-injection-pump-tester-62623.html
No it's this one

https://www.harborfreight.com/engine-oil-pressure-test-kit-62621.html

That little guy on the bottom left is the one you need. But this kit is pretty nice for the price and I've used it on a half dozen cars to great success.
 

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1988 560 SEC
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Discussion Starter #13
It has been awhile since my last post although I have been posting questions around the removal of the front timing cover. The reason for its removal is due to my own impatience where I lost one of the valve cover bolts when I was removing the driver side valve cover. An extra 20 seconds spent taking them out and placing them on my bench would have saved a lot of time and aggravation. After an extensive search all over the car's engine bay, suspension, dropping the oil pan, and the use of a endoscopic camera to see as far in to the timing cavity that I could, I concluded the bolt must be lodged in the timing chain cavity. I could turn the crank by hand and did not hear anything and nothing dropped out but that did not mean it was not there. So off came all of the accessories along with the timing cover. I was collecting a big pile of parts! The silver lining to all of this was I was able to inspect everything and identified a large number of items that needed to be replaced, repaired, or just cleaned really good.
 

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Unfortunately, frustration set in as the missing bolt was not in the timing cavity or lodged somewhere near the chain. I spent several more hours looking around for it and then put together a parts list of everything that was needed. As parts began to arrive and determining the bolt was not in a critical location, I started to move forward.

First up was the oil tube clips. After 30 years and 103K miles, they were ready to be replaced. One had a hairline crack in the top but all were very brittle and several broke upon removal. I made sure to get any fragments out of the oil holes before re-installing the oil tube with the new clips. All in all a very straight forward and rewarding job.

Next up was pulling the chain guide pins out using the puller I picked up off Amazon. The passenger side was fairly easy while the driver side required some clean up. In order to make sure the puller was using all the threads in the pin, I used a tap to clean out the gunk that had built up. There was a few rounds needed for two of the pins but once they were clean, the puller would full seat in the pin. Another small challenge came with removing one of the pins that sits next to a casting line. A washer helped create a level surface to ensure the pin was being pulled out straight. After about an hour all eight pins were loose.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
With the cam sprockets removed and top guides removed I fed the chain out of the engine. In order to see how much stretch the chain I had I assembled the new chain from Mercedes and hung them side by side. The old one might have been 1/16 of an inch longer than the new one. I believe this is the original chain since it did not have a removable link and the rails appear to be original as well.

An inspection of all of the chain guides is helping me rest a little easier with this project as they certainly had some wear on them. I was actually surprised to see how much wear the lower passenger side rail had. The tensioner rail lining was a simple swap and everything else went back in as expected.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
One upper rail appears to have the start of a hairline crack near the bottom edge. I did not see this when I removed it but upon zooming in on the digital picture, it makes itself more apparent.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Getting the timing chain fully installed with the cam sprockets presented a unique challenge of getting as much slack on the tension rail side and as little slack everywhere else. This was not easy as the crank needed to be turned backwards several degrees so that when it was turned clockwise, the minimal amount of slack in the chain was taken up and would start to turn the cam once the crank was at TDC. This took about six tries and a lunch break. Once I figured this out I used the original MB tensioner to keep tension on the chain while I turned the motor over by hand. Four revolutions later and everything lined back up where it should. I installed the new MB tensioner which proved to be a little easier once I worked some of the oil out of it. I assume they are tested at the factory before leaving. With the tensioner in place the timing chain was done!

Feeling inspired I also installed my new coolant expansion tank. Sure beats the dull orange/yellow unit that was on the car. Until next weekend!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
You, sir, are a brave man. I salute you. Not to mention I thank you for making this detailed thread.
Thank you. It has been a real struggle at times both physically and mentally but I think the project has finally turned the corner. If I had not lost the valve cover bolt I would not be diving this far in to the engine. However, it should provide some real piece of mind knowing all of this has been done. I plan to get the timing cover back on this weekend and get enough assembled just to spin the engine over with the starter motor, listening for anything that sounds off, like a bolt hitting something. If all goes well I will continue moving forward, hoping to reach a point I can start the engine and verify it idles smooth before bolting all the accessories back up.
 
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