My 1982 300CD has 162k and ran strong. Or so I thought... Easy starts when cold, good power. Burned/leaked a quart every 600 miles or so, which I knew wasn’t good but tolerated.
It was also kinda smokey. So after some research, I popped the injectors out to have them tested at a local shop, and decided to do some cleaning while I waited.
Here’s some pics of where it all started. What a mess.
I tell myself this is my “last Mercedes” and the one that will be perfect. It’s off to a good start as turbo coupe in Lapis Blue with no rust. Also a local car purchased at the oldest MB dealer in the US. It’s got a few miles but is shaping up to be kind of a “love letter” to the W123, as the guys in the car magazines like to say.
I’ve taken on a MAJOR project with this car, and plan to keep this thread updated as I go. And I’ll probably link in some “side threads” to keep it organized. These first pics are from a few years ago, and I’ve collected a lot of parts and made a lot of progress since then and have some cool stuff to show you. Stay tuned.
I bought the car in April, 2010. From a gentleman named Dieter, of course. That day, he was playing the accordian in a German folk band at a restaurant. I met him at the gig to see the car. Here's a pic or three from the test drive.
More background: I bought it in April, 2010 with about 148k. Due to "life", I had to put it away in mid-2011 with 162k. Somewhere around August, 2015 I was forced to move it out of storage because the shop I was renting had been sold. It's been waiting in my garage since then.
This video records the first start in about 4.5 years. At the time, I was pretty darn pleased. Little did I know what I was about to find...
Not long after I decided to clean it up, the results from my injector testing came back. They were all very good- passed the pop tests with no adjustment recommendations.
BTW, I highly recommend Diesel Fuel Injection Service on Vancouver in North Portland. They've been working on these Bosch systems and Mercedes applications for decades and know them inside and out. My injector pump is with them now for a checkup, and I have a feeling it will come back like new.
So, with good injectors I knew my smoking problem was deeper. And it was burning oil. I thought that if I popped out the engine I could not only do a better job cleaning, but I could get the head off and take a look inside. Sure, the head can come off with the engine in the car, but I was committing to getting this car right, and I had a feeling it was headed to a professional.
Of course, getting the engine out came with a serious snag. It was one of the allen head bolts on the starter. Tried everything. In one pic you can see the ratchet extensions past the transmission. That was the "easy" way.
Then, I hacked together a custom tool as seen in the pic with the starter. In one pic you can see a clamp holding it in and a floor jack for motion. Not only was it hokey, but it didn't work. Huh.
In another you can see we tried to heat the bolt to loosen it. That didn't work.
Eventually I turned to a cutting wheel on a die grinder. It wasn't fun but did the trick. Managed to keep the scarring on the transmission to a minimum.
Why not take out the trans with the engine, you ask? Been there, done that on the 280CE and felt like I was lucky nothing went wrong. Pic below. I knew I didn't have enough lift (or ceiling clearance) to make it happen.
Well, it's been a little over a year. Plenty of "life" keeping me away from this project, but I've been back on it for a few months.
The engine is pretty much back together, seats are repaired and refreshed, engine bay painted, more parts have arrived. There is a lot to post, but I'm going to start catching you all up. I won't go into all the details on things like rebuilding the vacuum pump, there's lots of great resources for that already, but I'll review what I did and share the pics I can.
I'm going to start with the hardware. I mentioned this in MSGrunt's thread about his Nautical Blue 300CD rebuild. My car is a close cousin to that one in Lapis Blue.
Anyway, clean hardware is part of the look I am going for. It won't be a concours car, but super clean. I took as much hardware as I could find, catalogued it with pictures, and had it cleaned and plated with yellow zinc. It looks a lot like the original cadmium and will hopefully hold up even better over it's second 40 years.
I have about 120 photos similar to the one below. My plan is to upload them to my Flickr account. It all went to the plating company and I paid by the pound. The rubber turned out good, but plastic parts like the wire holder on the oil cooler line bracket were destroyed. Most of the rubber hoses won't be going back on the car. I'll be using new oil cooler lines and no more need for the transmission cooler lines, for example. Re-sorting was a tedious effort, but enjoyable.
The eagle-eyed purists will note there are a few "extra" parts that were plated and should have been kept "natural".
Any plating company should be able to do it. This one didn’t have any experience with my car. I hauled in a five gallon bucket of parts and an armload of hoses and I showed them a few examples of the desired result. That was it.
In this case, it was a commercial plater for industrial equipment. I saw lots of big pieces being dipped They just threw my bits in (in bulk) with others.
I’ll send you the name of the place, but I’d be suprised if there isn’t one in your area.
Fatboy your working on the best Mercedes that was ever made . I have had 6 mercs and my first was a W123 saloon .And others i have had ,they dont even come close to it . Very nice pictures, and i hope this repair makes you feel very satisfied after you get the engine all back together and in first class condition .
Thanks, plinker. I really like the cars, and working on them. Of course, I wouldn't kick a 124 coupe out of my driveway. Especially a 1994-1996 E320 coupe. My wife drives a 2012 W166 with the BlueTec. It's an amazing machine, but not nearly the same to work on (what little I've done with it).
I do have the engine back together with all of the accessories bolted back on. Everything looks new. More pics to come...
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