Product Review Update: SCA Hydraulic Vehicle Positioning Jack

Back in 2015 I did a review on the SuperCheap Auto Vehicle Positioning Jack.  I had purchased a set of these during a SCA sale.     Overall, I have mixed feelings about this purchase.    The jacks are useful to move cars that are not running.   The big challenge with them is that moving even a medium sized car requires two people, even on a flat concrete floor.   It is much easier to push a car without the jacks if it is moving in a straight line.

My expectation was that I would be able to push a regular size car around myself.  I expected that it would require effort, but I did expect to be able to do it.    The only car I have moved on the jacks that was easy to move had no engine.   Moving a race car with no interior, but with a motor was nigh on impossible on my own.

Vehicle Positioning Jack

It would also be easier to use them if they would open about 5 CM more.   As can be seen in the picture, one of the plastic guides has split, but that is my fault for moving part of the hoist on the jack.

Surprisingly, if the need is to spin a car around, it can be easier to use only two of the jacks instead of all four.

I do not know if the inability to move a car is due to this particular vehicle positioning jack, or is common to all.   I suspect this is a cheap unit and others are better.

Hero Hoists Side by Side Parker Installation Part 2

In Part 1, I had done the heavy lifting to get the Side by Side Parker installed.    I have arranged an electrician to come and hook the hoist up on Wednesday.  This gave me a deadline to get as much as I could before they arrive.   Most importantly to mount the motor.

The motor is quite heavy, but straightforward to get mounted.   A hydraulic fitting needs to be screwed into the motor so it can drive the hoists hydraulic cylinder.   The hydraulic fluid chamber also must be filled.   The motor can be mounted either at the front or back of the post.   Even though it may be slightly more awkward to operate, mounting it at the back will save space.

Side by Side Parker Motor

Next was to install the mechanism to release the locks.   This involves a serious of rods that are controlled by a handle near the power unit.   This was proceeding quite well when I noticed a problem.   To fit the rods to connect the rear lock release, a rod must be inserted that is about a meter long.   I don’t have a meter of clearance at the back of the hoist.   Due to the posts in the workshop, I don’t have that much space to move it forward to add in this rod.

I may need to find a way of cutting this rod so it can be inserted from underneath.  If I cut it, I will need to find a way of re-joining it, so perhaps having threads added?   The picture below shows the rod on the right with the T-piece at the end.   This T-piece means I cannot install it from the bottom.    This is the only thing I have left to do before the core installation is done.

Locking Rod

I may not be able to solve this by Christmas.   At least having the power connected should allow me to raise it to the highest level so I can park cars underneath until I can find an alternate to this rod.

Hero Hoists Side by Side Parker Installation Part 1

I help defray the costs of my workshop by renting some spaces for car storage.   This was making the workshop quite cramped, especially with the addition of the 560SEC.  Hero hoists offered an interesting four post hoist – a model that could lift two cars side by side and lift them both without the centre pillar.     The presence of the centre pillar would have made it difficult to get some other spots to the left of where the hoist is to go.

The idea was to be able to take a 4th car for storage and still have room for my cars plus a workspace.   Hero Hoists offer two models of the side by side parker.   the regular one and the high lift model.    The high lift model is probably the better value, but its a bit deeper too and I couldn’t fit the extra depth nor need the higher lifting capacity.    Personally, I would have found it better if the smaller model was narrower by 200-500mm.

I found Hero Hoists to be pretty easy to deal with during the buying process.   I was able to come out and look at a similar model on the weekend and they were able to answer all my questions.   The price is reasonable for what you get.    One slight downside was that the shipping took a lot longer than anticipated.   Obviously this is not completely in their control but worth noting.

Hero Hoists are not a manufacturer.   They have an OEM relationship with Advantage Lifts (in the USA) who have the hoists manufactured.    Therefore there is a lot of information about the Advantage lifts that can be found on the internet.   I was quite impressed with the inclusions including caster kit, jack trays, drip trays etc.   The hoists also appeared to be well constructed and sturdy.     These lifts do not require compressed air to free the locks, which I see as a big advantage.

Based on the videos that explain how to assemble the lift, I figured that my Brother and I could do it.   Professional installation is quite expensive and you still need an electrician to connect it.    The delayed shipping meant the hoist only arrived the day before he was moving to Perth so I only had him for a few hours.

The hoist arrived on a tilt tray and realistically you would need access to a portable forklift or an engine stand to remove it.   I was very lucky in that the time the hoist arrived my neighbour at the workshop (who has a forklift) was around.  He was able to help unload the hoist from the truck.

Hero Hoists

The hoist is seriously heavy – the delivery package weighs more than 1.5 tonnes.   Unfortunately, the forklift is too tall to fit into my workshop.   We were able to use it to get the hoist close to the door.    If you didn’t have the forklift you would need to use an engine stand and remove one piece at a time.

Hero Hoists DeliveryThe hoist is extremely well packed.   The pieces are bolted together and there is plenty of cardboard and bubble wrap.   From here, a portable hoist would be highly reconnected.   This lift is heavy duty and very heavy.

The two heaviest pieces are the cross beams.   To get them into the warehouse,  we lifted up one end at a time and inserted some wood blocks under each end.   This gave enough clearance to lift the cross beams up with the forklift and lower them down onto my car dollies.   The car dollies made it easy to wheel them inside.

Next are the ramps.   The power ramp has a hydraulic cylinder inside and is extremely heavy.   We needed to borrow some neighbours to lift it off.   Even with four men it is quite heavy.   We were then able to lower it onto a car that raises hydraulically about a meter.   We used the cart to bring in all four ramps, with the power ramp last so it was still on the cart.

The posts are comparatively light.   They can be moved by one person at a pinch but with two its very easy.    Using the cross beam on the dollies, were were able to position them roughly where they should be.   We were then able to push the cross beams onto their side and insert the posts from the bottom.   As our cart moves up a meter, we used the lowest lock to position the cross beam.  Once the cross beam has both posts inserted, it is a relatively simple operation to stand it up.

To position the power ramp, we used the cart to raise it higher than the cross beams.   We could then position it and gently lower it down onto the cross beams.

Hero Hoist assembly

At that point my brother needed to leave but the heavy work was mostly done.   I was able to manoeuvre the ramps onto the cart and use the cart to position them where they needed to go.   A floor jack was helpful to bring the last ramp up from floor level to make the lift onto the cart easier.

Moving the ramps around

Minor adjustments are possible once the ramps are in place.   Next step is the control cables.  I found the videos to be far more useful than the manual which is for the generic four poster.   One item that is not covered in the videos is the extending of the hydraulic cylinder.  This is mentioned in the manual.   If this is not extended then there is not enough length to connect the control cables to the top of the posts.

Each post has a top cap that allows the cables to be installed.   The cable routing is quite easy once you have watched that section of the video a couple of times.

Hero Hoists installation Next step is installing the locking actuators and the motor assembly.    I have an electrician coming later in the week to hook up the power.

Continued in part 2.

560SEC Upcoming Projects

I’ve been preparing for the next round of improvement projects for the 560SEC.    The most important is the Timing Chain and Valve Stem seals.   I’m not going to do this job myself and am hoping to save a little labour cost by having both the stem seals and the chain done at the same time.   I had previously checked the Timing chain and while it looked like it had been replaced before, the guides were getting quite old.

The parts below are all that is needed to perform this job.  On the top row from the left the first are the chain sprockets for the camshafts.   These are not strictly necessary to change but once engines are over 200,000km they are normally worn and result in timing that is slightly off.   As they have to come off to replace the guides it makes sense to replace them.    Next is the chain itself.   IWIS is the OE supplier for these engines.   It comes with a master link and the chain.    Next to the chain is the tensioner.   I was hoping to go with a Mercedes tensioner, but they are now over USD$400.   Finally on the first row is the camshaft oilers, one kit per side.   These are plastic and become hard and brittle.

In the second row, the first is the valve stem seals.   One kit per side.  These are the genuine Mercedes seals.   I also went for the genuine Mercedes guides, as can be seen in the bottom row.   I had heard that the Febi guides are not as good as the genuine Mercedes.   along with them is the gasket for the tensioner.   These plastic parts (guides and camshaft oilers) are the achilles heel of the M117 (and M116) engine, and in my opinion a design flaw.

Timing Chain

In the next photo are some other parts that make sense to do at the same time.   Shown here are some gaskets for the valve covers to prevent leaks and the copper washers for the valve cover bolts.   When I checked the engine, the breather hoses looked very old, so I purchased new ones.

Also in this photo are some good used surrounds for the seatbelt opening.   I am missing my drivers side one – they crack and then fall out.   I also purchased a thermostat as this is a good item to keep as a spare.

560SEC Parts

For the longer term, I also purchased a new oil pan.   It looks like somebody has tried to jack my car up by the pan at some point in the past.   There is also a new grommet for the antenna in the pan.

Hydraulic Oil

I also purchased some brake pads to keep as spares (put away before the photo) and the wear sensors that go with them.    The little holder for the drivers sun visor is broken, so I have a replacement for that.   The module in the middle is a first gear start module, that I will enable with the switch above it.  Instead of starting out is second gear, this module allows the transmission to start in first and then upshift to 2nd at about 9mph.   This is not for for full throttle starts, mashing the accelerator will already drop the car into first gear.    The switch is to allow the module to be disabled.   This is important because in stop/go traffic or bad weather the 2nd gear start is better.

The leather in this car will need more conditioning, so I purchased some my Zymol.   I use this in all my cars that have leather interiors.

Zymol

An oft neglected service item on these older Mercedes is the self levelling rear suspension.   This should be flushed and the filter replaced.   I purchased enough of the fluid to flush both the 560SEC and the 300SE.   I also purchased a filter for each car.

Hydraulic Oil

Both of my W126’s are missing their under-bonnet insulation pad.   This is for sound deadening and also to protect the paint above.   I will need to clean the remains of the old pads on before fitting these.   Unfortunately it is probably a while before I will get to them, but good to have them on hand for when I have the time.

Hood Pad

Finally, an owners manual for the 560SEC.   Its not the correct one, as it is for a USA model, but it was not expensive on eBay.

Owners manual

2018 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Review

I recently rented a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport for a family holiday.   It is an interesting contrast with the Toyota Fortuner, which I reviewed earlier in the year.   Overall the Pajero Sport is the better car, although not by much.

Pajero Sport

The Pajero Sport is actually the 3rd generation Mitsubishi Challenger.     As far as  I know, the only relationship with the full size Pajero is the name.

Regular readers of this site will know I am not a fan of this type of car.  I think they are mediocre at everything.   I also don’t see the need to buy your car around the 1-2 times per year you might want to tow something or go off-road.   There are better ways to haul four people, there are much nicer cars to drive, much better value cars and better equipped cars.

In comparison with the Fortuner, the ride is very slightly better, and the engine/transmission is far more willing to overtake at freeway speed.    More importantly, the 3rd row seat are a better design.   Instead of folding into the sides and taking up a lot of the load area, they fold flat into the load area floor.     You still have the issue of getting into these seats if you have child seats in the middle row, vs cars with rear facing seats.    Like the Fortuner, the Pajero Sport is fairly fuel efficient for such a large vehicle.    It is not quite as efficient as the Fortuner.

There are two things that are worse than the fortuner.   The first is that you cannot quickly turn on the ignition to get the A/C running while you load children and bags.   You must get in the car and hold the brake pedal down.    Annoying.    Secondly, the rear loading area is really high and difficult for even an average adult to climb up in there.   Strangely the tailgate is low and I struck my head on it a few times.

Overall I would not buy a Pajero Sport.   But I would buy one over a Toyota Fortuner.    It is worth the slight fuel efficiency penalty and sometimes knocking your head on the tailgate.

3.25 / 5.

W126 Differential Ratios

The W126 range was in production from 1979-1991.  I’ve never seen a comprehensive table of W126 differential ratios, so I have attempted to create my own.   Not only did they vary between models and years, but in some cases countries too.

It is possible I have missed a few more country specific ratios.   Please indicate in the comments below if I have.

If this table is being referred to for swaps, the first and second generations diffs are not interchangeable.   Neither is an ASR diff.   LSD was standard on 560s but optional on other cars.    The exception is cars equipped with ASR that have a different differential.

In addition, the 8 cylinder cars used a larger case (1.3l) than the smaller engined cars.

My personal view is that with first gear start, the standard ratio could be made taller.   This would improve acceleration and make the mostly useless first gear usable.   This is certainly the case on my 300SE.   I would have preferred the ratio provided for France, but with first gear start.

It is also interesting to see the 560 used a shorter ratio than the 500 or the 420.   It seems clear Mercedes saw it as more of a hot rod whereas the 500 was the autobahn cruiser with its tall 2.24 diff ratio.   In selecting the W126 differential ratios, I’m also not sure why Mercedes Benz went to the effort of producing 2.82 and 2.88 gear sets when they are so close together.

Mercedes-Benz went on a fuel efficiency drive during 1981 which is why the V8 cars got revised ratios.   The project was called the “Energy Program” and included other changes such as the revised Bore/Stroke of the 380 engine.

ModelRatio
First Generation
280S
280SE
280SEL
3.46
380SE (1980-1981)
380SE (AUS)
380SEL (AUS)
380SEC (AUS)
3.27
300SD (1981-1984)3.07
300SD (1985)2.88
500SE (1980-1981)2.82
380SE (1982-1985)
500SEL (USA)
2.47
500SE (1982-1985)2.24
Second Generation
260SE
300SE
300SEL
3.46
300SE (FR)
300SEL (FR)
3.07
350SD
350SDL
2.82
300SDL2.88
560SE
560SEL
560SEC
2.65
420SE
420SEL
420SEC
560SEL (USA / AUS)
560SEC (USA / AUS)
2.47
500SE
500SEL
500SEC
2.24

560SEC Major Checks

My two biggest concerns buying this 560SEC was the potential for rust being a UK car, and the condition of the timing chain.   I was pleasantly surprised when I looked underneath the 560SEC and found that it was not a rusty car.

The other common W126 rust area is under the rear windscreen.    This is also an issue in Australian delivered cars as it’s caused by rain.   Rain gets under the rear window seal causing rust.   The first evidence is that the rear windscreen starts delaminating at the corners.

560SEC Rust

As can be seen from the pictures, the rust has started under the screen.   I have seen much much worse in other W126’s.   This will need attending to before it spreads further and becomes an even bigger problem.

560SEC RustSome of the other W126 rust areas include around the boot and spare tyre well, underneath the car, behind the wheels, bottom of front fenders etc.

The other potential issue is the timing chain.   This is something of a design flaw.   As plastic guides age, they become brittle.   Unlike in the M100, the chain tensioner works on oil pressure which means on startup the chain is untensioned.   As the chain stretches, it flops around on startup, breaking one of the now brittle guides.  Part of the guide gets caught in the chain causing pistons to hit valves and the chain to penetrates the cam covers.   Timing chain failure has been the cause of many W116 & M117 equipped cars being scrapped over the years.

M117 GuideAs the guides age they discolour.   As can be seen in the picture this guide has started to discolour although it has not completely gone.    It is obviously in worse shape than when I checked the condition of the guides in my 450SLC.

M117 Timing chain

To check the chain the air cleaner assembly must be removed.   This was a good opportunity to change the filter.   When compared to the new one it was clearly in need of change.

M117 Air Filter

As this is the high compression 560, it has a twin snorkel air cleaner.

560SEC air cleaner

MBCNSW Topless Drive 2018

The Mercedes-Benz club run an annual drive aimed a convertibles.   It is better for everyone that the topless drive is referring to the cars, not the drivers.    I last attended the drive back in 2014.   I had planned to take the 250SE on this drive.   The forecast was for rain, which makes it hard in a convey as putting the top up on the 250SE takes about 10 minutes.    I was keen to see how the new tyres performed on the 560SEC, so decided to take it instead.

The route chosen was one of the better ones for a car club event in a while.   It started at the Glenorie bakery going north up the Old Northern Road.   At Maroota, the convoy turned off onto Wisemans Ferry road.   The best part of the drive was through river road in Lower Portland.   This was a twisty section with no traffic and the 560SEC was the best choice for this type of driving.   After river road, the convoy crossed the river via the Sackville Ferry then proceeded through Wilberforce until the dinner destination.

Most of the cars on this run were moderns, but there were two R107s and a lovely 220SE cabriolet.   The 220SE showed that these cars handle a lot better than most would expect by keeping up with the convoy.   It was great to see this car out and about, as mine is normally the only one when I bring it.

Sackville Ferry

The new wheels and tyres have transformed the 560SEC.   The wheel wobble is gone, there is no more tyre rubbing and the handling and noise are a lot better.   The true test of a tyre is after 10,000km, but so far I am happy with these tyres on the 560SEC.    This is actually the second time in a few weeks the 560SEC has utilized the Sackville Ferry, as it formed part of the route back from Bathurst.

With all the servicing I am doing, the 560SEC is driving better and better.   I’m pretty sure the smoke issue is valve stem seals, so I will have to attend to these in the new year.    As a timely reminder on security for older cars, I heard that one member had his W123 stolen today.   Unfortunately the car is probably already in a container or being broken up for spares.

New alloy wheels for the 560SEC

My 560SEC came with a set of Simmons wheels.  These wheels are not to my taste and were too wide for the car.   The wheels had been mounted with spacers which I do not like.    On Thursday, I secured a great set of 15×7 Mercedes wheels which I fitted to the 450SLC.   This meant that the ASA Type 8 wheels I had on the SLC were available for the 560SEC.   These wheels have come full circle as I originally purchased them for a 560SEC.

The ASA Type 8 wheels are a replica of the 8 hole alloy wheels found on cars such as the W140 and R129.   They are easy to keep clean and look good on the W126.    At least when I purchased them back in 2009, ASA Type 8 wheels could be bought with both low and high offsets.

ASA Type 8

These wheels are a huge improvement over the Simmons wheels.   The 560SEC is an elegant car, but this one had been fitted with some gaudy accessories that I am slowly removing.   After almost 10 years and 50,000km it was time to replace the Yokohama Avid V4S tyres on them.   Given the mileage I now do on these cars, tread wear is not a primary concern.   Tyres only last about 8-10 years even if they still have tread left on them.   Based on the mileage I do, i went with a more budget performance tyre.  It will be interesting to see how well they go.    I purchased a set of Laufenn S FIT EQ.   Apparently this is a subsidiary of Hankook and the tyres seem to get good reviews.   At more than $50 per tyre less than Michelin it seemed worth a try.

W123

While I was having the tyres fitted I noticed a very familiar car.   Back when I used to commute every day to the eastern suburbs between 1998-2001 I used to see this same car.  Even though I don’t know the owner, I recognized the number plate (starts with MSA).    I remember it because I had a very similar W123 230E at the time.    The fate of my 230E is unknown, so I am very happy to see this one still on the road.

I am going on a Mercedes Club drive this evening.   I was planning to drive the 250SE, but since rain is forecast, I will take the 560 and see how the new tyres perform.

New alloy wheels for the 450SLC

My 450SLC was originally sold with 14″ alloy wheels.   This style of wheel was the standard Mercedes alloy wheel from the late 60s to 1985.   It has a few nicknames such as Bundt Cake, Baroque, Fuchs etc.   On the V8s it is 6.5″ wide but narrower versions (5.5″ & 6″) were available.   The challenge with these wheels is that good tyres for a heavy car like an SLC are now hard to find.   They are also hard to keep clean and I find the 195/70 tyres too litle for a car like the SLC.

When I moved back from the USA, I brought the 16″ wheels I had bough for my 1988 560SEC with me.   They are ASA Type 8 wheels, a replica of a later wheel but with low offset for the earlier cars.   They are 16×7.5″ and the fit nicely on that car replacing the hideous chrome wheels it came with.    At the time I bought them (2009) I also purchased a set of Yokohama Avid V4S tyres.   After almost 30,000km on the 560SEC and over 20,000 on the SLC they are starting to get close to the end of their life.  These tyres were quiet, inexpensive and lasted better than any other tyres I’ve owned.

I put the 16″s on the 450SLC when I returned in 2011.   They worked reasonably well on the car but rubbed a little.    The car handled better with wider tyres than 195.   I still have the 14″ alloy wheels if I ever want to go back to original.

Yesterday I purchased a set of 15×7″ alloy wheels for the W126.  These wheels were the alloy wheel available for the W126 for the second generation 1986-1991.  They were also used on the R107 SLC from 1986-1989.    These same wheels were also produced in high offset form for the W124 and W201 (including a 14″ variant).   There was also a very similar wheel for the R129.   This style of alloy wheel is often known as the ‘manhole cover’.

These wheels have 205/65R15 tyres and should not rub on the 450SLC.   I therefore removed the replica wheels and replaced them with the refinished manhole covers.   Looks great.

450SLC new wheels

In contrast the replica 8 hole alloy wheels don’t look as good on the 107 chassis in my opinion.   They seem to work better on the W126.

 

 

ASA type 8The final contrast is the car with the original 14″ wheels.   This photo is from 2003 when I first purchased the 450SLC.   I find this style of wheel works better with the ultra rare 15″ edition of these wheels.

The alloy wheel swap also allowed me to do something about the spare in the 450SLC.  Originally the car would have been sold with 5 alloy wheels.   In the 80s, it was common for dealers to harvest these 5th wheels for adding alloy wheels to other cars they had for sale not originally equipped with them.    It is possible this is how my 300SE got alloy wheels as they were not originally specified.

The spare on the car was a steel wheel complete with a tyre that looked like it is from the 80s.   Certainly it did not seem to have a date code on it.   The 5th 15″ wheel fits into the spare wheel compartment with the cover sticking up 5mm.   In my mind an acceptable compromise for having a good spare and not needing to carry around a spare set of lug bolts.

As I replaced the wheels I saw where they had been rubbing.   I had some old rust protective paid that I used to paint over these areas.  It was quite old and I didn’t have a proper brush but it should hopefully stop rust from developing here.

450SLC wheel rubbing

These new wheels look better and should no longer rub on the car.