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1985 Euro 380SL
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I did some reading about the various swaps people do. My preference would be to keep it Mercedes and somewhat straightforward, just so it gets done in a timely manner. I think as far as fun goes the 500 engine would be the way to go, but my wife is fine with it just being a cruiser. There doesn't seem to be an overabundance of older Mercedes donor cars near where I live. We're going to go check out a 380sec with a bad tranny, but good running engine and see if we can make a deal on that. It's a little bit of a drive but hopefully worth it.
Its almost same amount of work to drop 380 or 500. But I understand that availability might be a factor. I was lucky to score euro 500 when I had to change my engine.
 

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1983 380SL
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23 Posts
Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Its almost same amount of work to drop 380 or 500. But I understand that availability might be a factor. I was lucky to score euro 500 when I had to change my engine.
It sounded like I would probably need the whole donor 500, dual fuel pumps and the fuel injection computer and all that, plus some firewall massaging (?). I would be a bit hesitant to buy one I couldn't hear run? Just because I already made that mistake? Who knows maybe this running motor is the first step? Maybe something better in the future??
 

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1983 380SL
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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Yes, that's what it was looking to me as well. I wasn't 100% sure if the higher model somehow avoided the single chain? My current motor is double chain, so after inspecting it, I may swap it over to the donor motor, if it doesn't already have it, and add some fresh chain guides. I've recently done three different timing jobs on cars with the VW Vr6 engine, they run two chains, two covers and you have to drop the oil pan, remove the transmission, clutch and flywheel to even get to the chains. This Mercedes V8 timing layout seems more straightforward to me, with easier access than a transverse motor.
 

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1985 380 SL
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Yes, that's what it was looking to me as well. I wasn't 100% sure if the higher model somehow avoided the single chain? My current motor is double chain, so after inspecting it, I may swap it over to the donor motor, if it doesn't already have it, and add some fresh chain guides. I've recently done three different timing jobs on cars with the VW Vr6 engine, they run two chains, two covers and you have to drop the oil pan, remove the transmission, clutch and flywheel to even get to the chains. This Mercedes V8 timing layout seems more straightforward to me, with easier access than a transverse motor.
I would be wary of using any of the internal parts from your original motor in a different one. The sprockets are likely worn from all of the metal churning around. If the donor is a single row, Adsit sells a conversion kit for $1500 that includes everything needed, all new. Since this is most easily accomplished with the engine out it would be the best solution. You could opt for keeping the single row chain, just update all of the guides, new chain & tensioner & perhaps new sprockets. Depending on how you intend to use the car this could be a good option if coupled with regular inspection.
 

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1983 380SL
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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
I would be wary of using any of the internal parts from your original motor in a different one. The sprockets are likely worn from all of the metal churning around. If the donor is a single row, Adsit sells a conversion kit for $1500 that includes everything needed, all new. Since this is most easily accomplished with the engine out it would be the best solution. You could opt for keeping the single row chain, just update all of the guides, new chain & tensioner & perhaps new sprockets. Depending on how you intend to use the car this could be a good option if coupled with regular inspection.
I do agree that there is risk using anything from the first motor, that could have been exposed to metal shards (formerly known as camshaft and cambearings).I would want to inspect anything closely before making that decision. Who knows? Maybe we close the deal and the donor car is a double row chain?

I wouldn't have an issue running the single chain, I'm just not a huge fan of what the recommend replacement schedule looked like for it every 20,000 miles? Maybe if you use the "thread through" method when installing the new chain then it wouldn't be so labor intensive I guess. Anybody running single chains out there?
 

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1986 560SL with M120 V12 Engine, 1988 560SL Stock
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So, I've spent about 3-4 days learning the way of the 116/117 Mercedes Camshaft. I'm trying to replace/repair my wife's 1983 380SL engine, we purchased the car with a seized left side camshaft, best part is the previous owner drove it with the cam siezed, one only the right half of the motor and looking at what it did to the camshaft sprocket, he drove it awhile. He had ran the car out of fuel and plugged up various parts of the fuel system as a result at which point the car REALLY didn't run well, if running on 4 cylinders wasn't bad enough. 😆

My question is can someone point me to a list of Mercedes part numbers for 116/117 camshafts? That would help me with my search for options.
Never mind the cam shaft. How are the pistons, cam bearings, cylinder head, cylinder walls and valves?
 

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1983 380SL
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23 Posts
Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Never mind the cam shaft. How are the pistons, cam bearings, cylinder head, cylinder walls and valves?
I haven't pulled the heads yet, I did bore scope the cylinders, most the pistons have witness marks from valves hitting, after losing tension on the timing chain. From what I can initially see the cylinder walls looks okay? Cam bearings on the drivers side, well, only two of them could be used. Passenger side cam and bearings is in much better shape.
 

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1983 380SL
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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Well, here is the after weekend update. We went and picked up the "donor car" which is maybe too nice to disassemble? The cams each have one bad lobe, but for what I paid for the entire car, I can get them touched up and still be ahead. Turned out it was an '83 380sel. The car is in super nice shape for its age/mileage. The only problem is everybody in the family likes it. 🤦
 

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1987 300SL
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Well, here is the after weekend update. We went and picked up the "donor car" which is maybe too nice to disassemble? The cams each have one bad lobe, but for what I paid for the entire car, I can get them touched up and still be ahead. Turned out it was an '83 380sel. The car is in super nice shape for its age/mileage. The only problem is everybody in the family likes it. 🤦
Post some pics and we'll talk you into keeping it :p
 

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2002 Mercedes Benz ML 320
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548 Posts
1. my advice to you and take this with a grain of salt from a former manager of a Mercedes-Benz independent repair facility. You do not want to repair that engine. It is basically trash at this point if you’re trying to save money find a good used engine with a warranty. That is the best way to go. If you repair your existing engine, you will only continue to have many problems, if the engine runs for 45 days, you might be lucky a good used engine is the best way to go
 

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1985 500SEC, 1991 190E 2.6.
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I remember my buddy mechanic Jerry RIP, with 40+ years Mercedes experience under his belt, showing me in the wrecking yard the interchangeability between some M116 and M117 camshafts. Jerry is no longer with us, but it may have been a 420 and 500? Not sure, please do your own research.
 

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1983 380SL
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Discussion Starter · #37 · (Edited)
I remember my buddy mechanic Jerry RIP, with 40+ years Mercedes experience under his belt, showing me in the wrecking yard the interchangeability between some M116 and M117 camshafts. Jerry is no longer with us, but it may have been a 420 and 500? Not sure, please do your own research.
It does seem there is a fair amount of interchangibility (at least as far as cams go) across the 380, 450 and 500 engines. I don't know if there is a comprehensive list of what cam swaps work with what? What I found interesting is my stock cams in my 116 engine have 117 part numbers on them, in between the lobes.
 

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1976 450SL, 1992 190e 2.3, 1984 300D turbo, 1966 VW bus
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1983 380SL
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23 Posts
Discussion Starter · #39 ·
way, way too nice to be a donor car. Please don't destroy that. Check your local junkyards i find m117's all the time. Also check ebay
Yeah, it'll get fixed and driven. EBay for motors right now isn't very promising. One place has an engine for $2900 that looks like it's been stored underwater, another place is offering a "hydrolocked (aka you burned up the cams and seized it) engine for $600, plus a couple hundred bucks for shipping, and there's one clear across the country (shipping$$$) that is under a grand but advertised as a good "core" engine to be rebuilt. I unfortunately don't have any Euro wrecking yards in town. So far all the wrecking yards ive searched online don't have a 380 engine. Marketplace hasn't offered too many leads that aren't dead cars with most likely dead motors, other than the SEL that is too nice to use. 😆There is a later model 500 sec (in town) with no title, engine is missing the fuel injection, tranny is there, and it's dirt cheap, but no idea if the motor is in any kind of useable shape.
 

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1985 380 SL
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Yeah, it'll get fixed and driven. EBay for motors right now isn't very promising. One place has an engine for $2900 that looks like it's been stored underwater, another place is offering a "hydrolocked (aka you burned up the cams and seized it) engine for $600, plus a couple hundred bucks for shipping, and there's one clear across the country (shipping$$$) that is under a grand but advertised as a good "core" engine to be rebuilt. I unfortunately don't have any Euro wrecking yards in town. So far all the wrecking yards ive searched online don't have a 380 engine. Marketplace hasn't offered too many leads that aren't dead cars with most likely dead motors, other than the SEL that is too nice to use. 😆There is a later model 500 sec (in town) with no title, engine is missing the fuel injection, tranny is there, and it's dirt cheap, but no idea if the motor is in any kind of useable shape.
You can consider the 420 engine from the 420SEL, it is essentially a bored out 380 with 9.0:1 compression. I have read of others using the long block of this engine as a replacement for the 380, running it with the 380's induction, injection, and ignition systems. I think would be worth investigating.
 
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