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1987 560SL, 2000 Kawasaki W650
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969 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
If you own one of these cars, sooner or later you'll have to pull the cluster out to replace a bulb, change the odometer gears, or add a better connection to ground so your meters don't go crazy. The cluster is only held in place by friction. To get it out you have to use a pair of tools like the one below to pull it out.

Yes, I realize you could make them out of coat hangers, but who doesn't like buying tools? Read on and your coat hanger tools will work better.

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The MB genuine instrument cluster tool, part # 140589023300, in case you want to know, is made of 2mm steel wire. The length from handle to tip is 160 mm. The hook is 6mm long and has a slight inward angle. The length from the handle to the hook end isn't crucial, just make it long enough so you can bend one end to make a handle to make pulling it easier.

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Here's the part that makes the genuine tools handy: there is a faint black stripe 62mm from the hook.


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Yes, I know that in this photo the cluster is upside down. Just turn your computer upside down.

That black stripe indicates the farthest you should shove the tools in between the sides of the cluster housing and the dashboard material surrounding it. Then twist the tool to turn the hooks inward to the cluster, the hook is then at a good position to catch on the channels on the cluster sides. Too short and it scratches the side of the cluster. Any farther it may hit the rubber gasket and slip off.

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I've found that the printed circuit boards (PCBs) that the instruments are attached on the back of the cluster are likely brittle after 30 years or so. If you use hooks too long that that hooks catch on those, it may cause the PCBs to flex and crack. That's one reason that when you are pulling your cluster out, pull it slowly, so that if the edges of the PCBs comes into contact with anything in the cluster hole, you're less likely to crack them. Take the same precautions when re-inserting the cluster.

When the previous owner put on the plastic dash cap, I think he didn't make enough room for the end of the cluster, which is why I think when it gets warm out I have to hit the dashboard with my fist to get the fuel indicator to not pin all the way. Still working on that. I'm going to add wires to connect the three PCBs to ensure that they each have a good ground. I'd already added a wire from the cluster to the nearest ground. I'm also going to chisel out more of the dash foam that surrounds the cluster and use a Dremel tool to carefully round off the outer edges of the cluster's PCBs so that when the dash gets hot and expands it doesn't come into contact with the PCBs and I don't have to hit the dashboard of a $52,000 car (in 1987 dollars) so I can see how much gas is in the tank.

Tom H.
 

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Registered
'79 450SL, '04 CLK200 convertible; former A124, W210, A209.
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1,389 Posts
Thank you @therling , hack of the month award goes to you 😊👍🍻 I'll be pulling mine out next winter so adding to favourites.
 

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1989 W124 260E
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1,373 Posts
After you have removed the console and finish the job put a little silicon grease on the console lugs so if you want to remove next time it will come out easy .Thats if yours was hard to remove like mine was .I had to remove mine in the heat of the summer .the console refused to budge in the cold .
 

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1955 300 SL
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684 Posts
Great tech-tip! To make it complete for the uninitiated, how about adding a photo to show exactly where the tool should be inserted.
 

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Registered
1987 560SL, 2000 Kawasaki W650
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969 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Due to popular demand, some measurements for where to stick the cluster pulling tool into the dash surrounding the cluster.


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Note the channels to which you want to hook your pulling tool. From about 60-80mm from the bottom of the cluster housing is where you are aiming for. That 62mm mark on the tool that indicates how deep you should plunge it is also useful as a gauge to determine how high you want to position it from the cluster bottom.

This is for the 560SL, I can't say for certain that this will work for the earlier models. It's noted that removing the left side speaker to get your hand up and behind the cluster is good advice indeed because you want to be as careful with those brittle circuit boards. Tracking a cracked trace on parts of them on them look impossible because of the way the meters are soldered directly to the board.

There are several comprehensive threads in Section 54 of the EGv that discuss pulling the cluster better than I can. The link to those:

 

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1987 560SL, 2000 Kawasaki W650
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969 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
On a completely irrelevant note, you know you're a redneck bachelor when you've got auto parts soaking in the kitchen sink.

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Premium Member
1983 380SL, 2000 S430, 1991 420SEL (retired) - RHD
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5,258 Posts
I don't need a tool, ( although I bought one many moons ago). My cluster pushes out from behind with not much pressure. The grommet is still there but maybe it's been in an out so often it doesn't resist- like an old " working girl" :devilish:
 

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1987 560SL (L.Tonk) [92,700 miles]
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274 Posts
I've found that the printed circuit boards (PCBs) that the instruments are attached on the back of the cluster are likely brittle after 30 years or so. If you use hooks too long that that hooks catch on those, it may cause the PCBs to flex and crack.
This is an understatement! I fixed my clock while fixing the odometer and after carefully soldering on the new cap I somehow snapped the board in two just pushing gently on it. Luckily it broke cleanly across the traces and I was able to glue the board back together and jumper all the traces with gobs of solder. Not pretty, but it works.

I don't need a tool, ( although I bought one many moons ago). My cluster pushes out from behind with not much pressure. The grommet is still there but maybe it's been in an out so often it doesn't resist- like an old " working girl" :devilish:
Same here -- I was able to pull mine out by grasping the plastic in front between the gauges and pulling gently. Was surprised just how easy it came out... maybe the winter cold cycle caused some shrinkage; was down to -20C that year and I left the garage door open one night.
 

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1987 560SL, 2000 Kawasaki W650
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969 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
The traces are on the other side of where they usually would be on a PCB and you could easily spot a break in a trace and fix it. I really don’t know what they were thinking when they designed the instrument PCBs unless there’s some engineering principle I’m ignorant about. It’s not like they had traces on both side. That I understand.
 
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