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Hi Guys

I'm very new to this forum but already it has helped me enormously, especially in regard to the above. The majority of my convertible top hydraulic cylinders were leaking on my 90 model 500SL.
When I approached two very experienced MB specialists here in Sydney both of them shook their heads and looked in horror. Partly more from ignorance I suspect and fear of the unknown; not a common problem here it seems.
They both priced all new cylinders with MB and came back with job totals of approx $10,000 - $12,000 (one third of the cars value).
Well I said the proverbial 'F... That' and started searching; and here I am.

If anyone is worried about tackling this job, don't be. I'm no trained mechanic but reasonably handy and i really did not find it that hard. All the info is here on this site in the ultimate convertible top hydraulic thread located at the bottom of the 4th Blue Sticky at the top of the R129 forum.

With out going into great detail, the most important thing I found was to have the roof in the half open position with the front edge of the roof pointing vertically straight up. Once you have removed a few cylinders use a stretchy strap with a couple of hooks either end to hold the roof in this position.This allows plenty of room to get to the cylinders in the soft top storage area. Prior to that the removal of the rear seats and interior trim was also easy.
Even though all the hydraulic lines and cylinders are number matched it is a good idea to mark everything with sticky tape tags and take pictures for reinstallation reference.
One thing i did not find on the site is how the hydraulic line clips come off - they just slide / pull off either vertically or straight down in line with the cylinder. use a pair of needle nose pliers.
The most difficlut cylinders were the small ones that actuate the roof frame itself, these sit in the same vicinity as the two main roof actuation cylinders.
They are in amongst the framework of the roof and the lines, top pin and base bolt are more difficult to remove than all the others.
The trick is to keep moving the soft top (with a helper) until the bottom securing bolt lines up with a hole in the metalwork inside the car on the B pillar. Once this bolt is removed the top of the unit can be manipulated again while moving the roof around, then the lines and top pin can be accessed reasonably easily. Take off the polished metal 'flap' and bracket that folds back when the top opens and closes, there are two phillips heads screws holding it to the top of the B pillar.

For the main soft top cylinders the only unclear bit was where the two bottom mounting bolts are. They were hidden by the wiring harness very low down to the floor at the bottom of the B pillar. Just manipulate the harness aside while you get to them.

While removing all cylinders i numbered each one and kept a list noting its location and side of the car it was attached to. I used a home engraver to engrave the number 1 through 12 on all the cyliners. Permanent marker is no good, the cylinders will have fluid on them and it will wipe straight off - no matter how well you think you wiped the cylinder.

Some of the cylinders were encased in metal brackets, i left the following cylinders attached to their metal brackets and shipped them as is, mainly for fear of damage upon removal:
- Both windscreen release cylinders
- Both storage area lid release cylinders (mounted vertically inside the soft top storage area-most accessible of all cylinders)
All other cylinders were either not encased inside a metal bracket of some sort of were easily removable.
I also took photos when i removed cylinders from metal brackets to show their orientation for re-assembly.
All 12 items were then wrapped carefully and boxed up and sent to Dennis Ficken in the US (details on this site), Dennis quoted $40 each for repair.
For the Aussies here i got DHL to ship from Sydney to Kansas for $225 AUD on a 3-4 day service. The final package weighed 6 kilograms and used a DHL Junior Jumbo box.

If you take anything away from this thread, it has to be JUST HAVE A GO.
IT IS NOT A HARD JOB - SO FAR AT LEAST.
You will save yourself a bunch of money and frustration, I wasted weeks while the MB specialists worried about how hard this job might be. Not one of them bothered to do some research like getting on this site. They just had a too hard attitude and complained that with the cylinders going to the US the car would be taking up space in the workshop for too long.

JUST DO IT YOURSELF!! and enjoy your car rather than wanting to burn it when some guy tells you it's going to cost near what the cars worth to fix it.

I hope this has given some useful tips and i'll update everyone when the jobs finished.
 

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1995 SL500
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Soft Top cylinders

"The most difficlut cylinders were the small ones that actuate the roof frame itself, these sit in the same vicinity as the two main roof actuation cylinders.
They are in among the framework of the roof and the lines, top pin and base bolt are more difficult to remove than all the others.
The trick is to keep moving the soft top (with a helper) until the bottom securing bolt lines up with a hole in the metalwork inside the car on the B pillar. Once this bolt is removed the top of the unit can be manipulated again while moving the roof around, then the lines and top pin can be accessed reasonably easily."

Question? When you say the trick is to keep moving the top, which way??Up/Down or In/Out. There is a pin in this bracket that goes through the saddle which has to slide out some 2 1/2 to 3 inches to come out. It is part of the bracket. I am doing one side at a time. I have already removed the other two cylinders but this one has me stuck. What may I be doing wrong?
Thanks for the help. I Sent some pics of where I am now.
 

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Greek God of the R129
SL500-500SEL-190E
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8,371 Posts
Happy to have you aboard.
Very few members are feeding the forum, with in just few posts. :)
Glad that you were able to do the repair your self.
To keep the top open you can also use two 2X4" by 16" wood. ;)
Nice helping pictures. (To the other member.) :)

Regards.
aam.
 

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Outstanding Contributor
'03 SL500, '03 SL55, '97 SL320, (2) '91 300SL, (2) '91 500SL, '00 S500 -- all for sale
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What may I be doing wrong?
You have the rear wall coverings removed, right? The bolt for the lower mount takes a 5mm allen socket to remove, and you unscrew and remove it through a hole in the B-pillar. Once you identify the hole it should be quickly apparent what position of the top will align the bolt with the hole for removal. If I were to guess, I would say this position is with the front of the top at the windshield.

I have removed and replaced this cylinder on two different cars recently. For me the only tricky part was removing the c-clip that secures the top mounting bolt.
 

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MB SL600, MB 380SE, Suzuki Grand Vitara, 38' Chris-Craft, Volvo V70XC, and my own two feet...
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Once you have removed a few cylinders use a stretchy strap with a couple of hooks either end to hold the roof in this position.
Talk about occam's razor, huh? Your solution is great. We took the whole top off the car to get it out of the way, since it won't stay put once you start taking them out. Nobody ever thought of using bungees. Smart :thumbsup:

As a side note, one of the two windshield header cylinders on my dad's car that were last replaced under factory warranty in 2005 failed AGAIN, so I R&R'd those myself and Dennis managed a 72 hour roundtrip. I knew I should have done those when all the rears were done a year and a half ago, but figured they were only 2 years old at the time, they couldn't possibly go bad that quick. But they did. So that car now has a complete set of Dennis rebuilds.

P.S. Guys, be REAL careful with that magnetic sensor thingy, the white gel/glue stuff they used to hold the wires in place on it must rot from the heat, and it falls apart if you so much as breathe on it. I started messing with tape and glue trying to get it to work, but finally wound up ordering another one for $41.
 

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1995 SL500
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ID all the cylinders on a 95 SL500

You have the rear wall coverings removed, right? The bolt for the lower mount takes a 5mm allen socket to remove, and you unscrew and remove it through a hole in the B-pillar. Once you identify the hole it should be quickly apparent what position of the top will align the bolt with the hole for removal. If I were to guess, I would say this position is with the front of the top at the windshield.
I have removed and replaced this cylinder on two different cars recently. For me the only tricky part was removing the c-clip that secures the top mounting bolt.
I cannot ID this cylinder. There is a diagram kicking around showing all the cylinders on the car. I have found and removed #9 PT#12908000272 & #2 PT # 12908001574 LS (1674 RS) Thats two items (Assy) on each side. I keep getting the impression that there is one more cylinder that I am unable to ID or locate. This is just the on the side. Not the lid or any cylinders in the back which would be nos. 3 & 5. I got pictures of the two items I have removed in case someone needs to see.
 

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1991 SL500
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1 Posts
Thanks Scott964!! I replaced the the 2 cylinders that lift the top storage compartment lid. That went fairly well accessing through the trunk. Those cylinders went to Dennis F and came back perfect. Now, with your description and encouragement, the top lift cylinders are next weekend's project . . . .
 

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I cannot ID this cylinder. There is a diagram kicking around showing all the cylinders on the car. I have found and removed #9 PT#12908000272 & #2 PT # 12908001574 LS (1674 RS) Thats two items (Assy) on each side. I keep getting the impression that there is one more cylinder that I am unable to ID or locate. This is just the on the side. Not the lid or any cylinders in the back which would be nos. 3 & 5. I got pictures of the two items I have removed in case someone needs to see.
The following thread comes from the 4th Blue Sticky at http://www.benzworld.org/forums/r129-sl-class/1307426-r129-soft-top-hydraulic-system-ultimate.html#post2262978
 

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I am also planning to send all of my cylinders to Dennis but thought it would be easier to take the complete top out of the car and then remove the cylinders. Am I wrong? Please help by clearifying for me which way is the preffered method.
 

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1995 SL 500 2017 AMG GLC 43
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You do NOT need to take the top out to remove, repair and replace all cylinders. But as always, it's you choice....
 

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Greek God of the R129
SL500-500SEL-190E
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8,371 Posts
Remove the hard top YES.
Leave soft top on , but folded down.

Regards.
aam.
 

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500 SL R129
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problem removing lower bolts on main cylinders

Hi all
Hoping someone here can assist. I was in the process of removing the main roof cylinders which have an 8mm allen key fitting. The fitting was rather tight, but moved, until the casing broke where the allen key fits :eek:What baffles me is the end of the bolt has a knurled finish and looks like it has been fitted over the top of the shaft! On close inspection, the inner part of the allen key hole has a hole, like a square cut out of the metal, and has been punched down to form a tab
I'm thinking of taking the car around to a panel beater to get them to weld a 8mm allen key shaft onto the broken bolt to enable me put a 1/2" drive socket on to remove, desperate measures for desperate times!
I've attached photos, good and broken, of the offenders, if anyone can help please do. Cheers, Gary
 

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1995 SL320
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WOW! That really suxs. Was that bolt THAT tight before it broke? I take it there is no way to get some needle nose vise grips on that puppy huh? Sorry for your troubles.
Jason
 

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Allen bolt on early R129 main lift cylinder bottom

I think it was only in the first year of production that MB used a bolt with an inside hex/Allen head as the lower main lift cylinder bolt. Correct me if I'm wrong. That Allen head was soon replaced with a 14-mm outside hex socket head, which is still hard enough to remove if there was a lot of threadlock used during installation.

Welding a suitable head onto the bolt is indeed the most viable solution. You need to be careful not to melt any wires, hoses, or miscellaneous plastic nearby during the process.

If you are lucky, then you can still get the bolt out with an extractor: drilling a hole into the bolt and inserting a left-handed spiral bolt extractor.

Alternatively, try to make enough room to get vise grips onto the bolt from the side. I know that can be done in later model years. It appears that the Allen head bolt on a 1990 is a bit shorter than the 14-mm outside hex bolts, and that may make it too hard to get vise grips on it from the side.

In general, threadlock can be loosened with heavy enough impact. Give the bolt on the other side a few straight blows on the head before working on it.

Heat loosens threadlock, as well, so the welding will help.

Top Hydraulics ships to Australia almost on a daily basis. Our seal material makes the difference, and I think you will find the forum quite happy with our service... ;) Do not try to open the main lift cylinder on a 1990 - it has been manufactured with tolerances different from other model years and you are very likely to ruin the cylinder body already when trying to thread it open.

Klaus



Top Hydraulics | Rebuilt and Upgraded Convertible Top Cylinders, Pumps, Hydraulic Lines - Top Hydraulics, Inc
 

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Thanks for your sympathies, I think I didn't hear them over my internal cussings. The bolt was tight but the angle at which I was working and limited movement, enabled the allen key to misalign when turning resulting in a broken bolt. I subsequently went out and bought a 8mm 3/8" drive.
 

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1995 SL320
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I've learned a good set of 3/8 metric socket style allans are priceless working on these cars. A small butan filled pen torch could provide enough heat to release the thread locker. If you can drill that head, klaus is right, an EZ out might back that sucker out. Then replace with a proper bolt. Good luck, you can do it!
 

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mine broke too

My allen head broke too. I used a socket type extractor successfully. I fit it over the head and hammered it on nice and tight and slowly eased the bolt/pin out. I was ready to throw the towel in when that happened. Stayed calm, went to the store and bought a nice set of these extractors. The good news is the replacement bolt/pin was only $7.5 dollars. I thought for sure it was a $60 dollar part.
 

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I did my Main Lift Cylinders a few weeks ago and dropped the darn lower bolt down into the car.......Grrrrrr!!! I tried and tried to find it with magnetic retrievers and no luck. So, I went to the dealership and bought a new bolt. Two days later the bolt arrived and my car was all buttoned up. I was irritated at myself but oh' well, things happen.
 
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