W126 B-Pillar trims

The W126 introduced a lot of new features for Mercedes-Benz.   A small convenience feature is the height adjustable seatbelt for the front seat passengers.   This feature brought with it a few problem.   The W126 B-pillar trims.   The MB-TEX on the B-pillar starts to separate from the pillar around the height adjuster.    Its an endemic problem and common to the W124 as well.     It was already occurring on my old 300E which was 15 years old at the time.

W126 B-Pillar trimsThe W126 B-Pillar trims are quite easily removed.   I didn’t attempt to fix this job myself.  I would have only made it worse.   Instead, I took the car to a professional trimmer.   Its not a hard job for a trimmer and the results will be a lot better.

A friend of mine with a 420SEL, also with grey interior, had the same problem so we did them together.   The trimmer was able to made one order for both jobs.   Interestingly, his car was an airbag equipped 1989 model.   The inside of the B-pillar was different – mine was two pieces riveted together and his was one cast piece.  Perhaps a simplification for SRS.

In any case this small fix has really transformed the interior.   The old ripped trim was quite obvious, especially compared to the rest of the interior which is in very good shape.

W126 B-Pillar trimsWhile the car was at the trimmers I had another common W126 issue fixed.    It was obvious there was a broken spring in the drivers seat.  I could hear it grinding and one side of the seat was lower than the other.   The W126 seat bases seem more susceptible to broken springs than the earlier cars.   At the same time I had the ‘taxi blocks’ installed.   These are factory foam inserts that fit into the front spring coils to strengthen the seat.   They are still available from Mercedes and have the part number 126 914 22 15.    They will already be present if you have option 561 – Reinforced front drivers seat.

spring blocksNow my drivers seat is much more comfortable, does not sag to one side, and doesn’t make noises.   These sort of repairs can make a really big difference to how the car drives.

250SE crash repair update – paint

Today I went by to check out how things were going on the 250SE crash repair.   Last week the panel work was nearly complete and the car was almost ready for pant.    The paint was just done yesterday so it was good timing to take a look at the car.    It’s looking really good!

250SE crash repairThe front chassis, wing and bonnet are now all painted and they look perfect.   The leading edge of the bonnet got a few scratches from the Kangaroo’s head.  the area of the wing just to the left of the grille took the brunt of the damage.   You certainly would not know now.

250SE crash repairThe front wing is quite an interesting shape with the headlight bucket and the front area next to the grille.   It doesn’t seem like something you could easily just ‘stamp’ out.

250SE crash repairThe bonnet is going to look really good with the repaired grille on it.   The 250SE is painted 180 Silver Grey.   You can see the difference of the colour when its parked next to a later silver like Astral Silver.

By early next week the panels should be back on the car and just waiting the grille and various bits to arrive.   The grille mesh is coming from Egypt, but it still hasn’t left there for some reason.   Possibly not as many flight options as before COVID.

I’m really looking forward to getting this car back on the road and behind the wheel again.     I’m really happy with how the 250SE crash repair is going.   They are doing a great job on the car.

Guest Article Update: Mrfrotop’s 1978 280CE

After purchasing my 280CE, I was keen to discover more about its history.   Through the history file, I was able to make contact with the 3rd owners of the 280CE, the lovely John & Jenny. They owned the CE from Jan 1995 to Oct 2011 during which it was cared for and meticulously maintained by an expert mechanic (Peter Klarenbeek, ACT).

In their care, the CE also underwent a full engine rebuild, which explains why it runs so well for a 445,000km car. I always felt that this little coupe was shown some love at some stage in its life, and now I know why.

I also learned that the first owner of the car was a dentist who picked the car up from the factory in Stuttgart.   From there, it went to a merchant seaman before being purchased by John and Jenny.

Today, I was able to finally meet John and Jenny and let them see the car they owned ten years ago is still going strong.   Thank you John and Jenny, it was a pleasure to meet you.

Author: John Tawadros.   John is a member of the Mercedes-Benz Club of NSW and the proud owner of a 1972 280SE 3.5 and now a 1978 280CE.   You can follow his adventures with both of these cars at his Instagram feed Mrfrotop

MBCNSW May 2021 night drive to Bilpin

Last night was the monthly MBCNSW May 2021 Night drive.   This month we did a repeat of our very successful November 2020 drive to Bilpin.    As with last time, we met in Windsor and then headed up to the Apple pie cottage for a late dessert.

MBCNSW May 2021 night drive

Unlike the warm summer weather of last year, it was a little colder last night.   Only one brave soul (our club president) did the drive with the top down, with temperatures ranging between 5-13C.    Probably due to the cooler weather, the turn out was a bit smaller, but we still have 11 people on the drive.

MBCNSW May 2021 night drive

This time instead of heading up through Richmond, we took a back road through Freemans Reach.   It was a much nicer drive and one I would do again.  The drive up to Bilpin is very pleasant at night with minimal trucks to get stuck behind and a lack of traffic in general.

MBCNSW May 2021 night driveThe only downside is that I am pretty sure I was nabbed by a hidden mobile speeed camera on the way back.   NSW has removed all warning signs from their mobile speed cameras in the last few months.   Revenues are up by an order of magnitude and of course road deaths are unchanged.   This particular camera was on a long straight stretch of road with no hazards to speak of, and at 1:30AM with no other cars.   I can’t think of a more blatant attempt at additional taxation.

450SLC Rear screen rust

A couple of years ago, MB Spares & Service closed their spare parts division to focus on their restoration and servicing business.  At that time, I was able to buy a very nice rear screen for a C107 SLC.   The car that it came out of was very rusty, but surprisingly not around the rear screen.   My screen is quite delaminated from previous rust around the screen area.    As you can see from the picture below, the new screen is really good.

450SLC rear screen

After having that screen sitting in the garage for the last couple of years, I figured it was time to have it fitted.    I purchased a new seal, and had a screen fitter who was recommended to me come to do the job.

I had previously (in 2006), had rust removed from around the rear screen and a new seal fitted.   Based on that repair, and with the car garged during this time, I figured it would be a simple swap job on the 450SLC rear screen.   I was wrong.

Once the fitter removed the old screen I was greeted by rust in a few places around the rear window aperture.   Unfortunately, when the rear screen was fitted, they hadn’t used any sealer between the body and the seal.

450SLC rear screenThe worst area is right in the middle, just to the right of the first aid kit box, but there are other smaller areas of rust around the 450SLC rear screen.  Obviously, at that point we had to stop.   It would have been really silly to fit the new screen back with this rust.    We left the screen out so I can arrange to repair the rust.   After that, we will get back to fitting it.   I’m hoping the rust can be fixed without disturbing the paint that is visible.

While I am at it, I can also move over the connection for the heated rear window as well.

450SLC rear screen

W111 Kangaroo damage repairs

Back a couple of weeks ago, I hit a Kangaroo in my 250SE.   I’m Insured through Shannons who handled the claim well.  Surprisingly, impact with an animal does not impact my premium.   The car is now with All Classic Car restorations in Brookvale, and I’ve popped down to take a look at it a couple of times.   All Classic also did the repairs to my Citroen a couple of years ago.

As part of the process, I helped them track down some parts.   The grille shell will need to be repaired as they are no longer available.   The two door models are different from the sedans.   However, I was able to find a new old stock mesh in Egypt, and the classic centre still sell the grille strips.     We also found a very good condition used headlight and surround.

The repairs on the car are progressing well.   They are doing a really nice job and the car is going to be even better than before.

W111 Kangaroo damageThe main damage was on the drivers side between the headlight and the grille.   You can see from the picture above that this is now mostly fixed and the bumper support repaired as well.  There was actually a little previous collision damage in this area, not really a surprise for a car over 50 years old with nearly 300,000 miles.

W111 Kangaroo damageAs well as the damage to the front of the car, there was also damage to the passengers side wing.   The area around the headlight had been pushed in and the piece that joins onto the front was quite badly damaged.

W111 Kangaroo damageAfter a few final repairs, the next stage will be painting.   There is no rush as we are waiting for the repaired grille to come back as well as some of the parts to arrive from overseas.    I imagine I will be driving the car again in July.

National Motoring Heritage Day 2021

Today was National Motoring Heritage Day.   National Motoring Heritage Day is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of each May, with 2021 being the 15th year of this event.   The basic premise is multiple car related events all around the country to showcase our rich motoring heritage.      The Mercedes-Benz club combined this with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 107 chassis.

The 107 was released in 1971, first as the R107 SL, and then quickly followed my the C107 SLC.   The SLC carried on until 1981 when it was replaced by the W126 based SEC models.   The R107 continued until 1089 and was finally replaced by the R129.    On the drive today, we had at least 20 107 models in a convey which was an impressive sight.

The event consisted of a drive through the southern highlands and then joining the car show at Berry Showground.   There were over 800 cars in attendance at the Berry event, which was quite impressive.   The theme was Aussie assembled cars, but there was something for everyone there.      I’ve wanted to go to this show for a couple of years but I was never able to make it.

National Motoring Heritage Day

It was an easy choice to bring my 450SLC along on this event given the 107 theme.    The extended drive allowed me to verify that there was no more A/C condensate leaking onto the floor.  I still have a few more things to sort out on the car, but it was good to get it out on extended drive.   I managed to park my car next to a rare 300SL Roadster.   Probably the cylinder head alone is worth a lot more than my whole car.

I had my 4 year old Son with me, so I couldn’t spend too much time at the event without boring him senseless.   Still, I was able to browse the event field and see some of the interesting cars on offer.   There were some interesting Jags, two great looking Bentleys and much more.     I’m always impressed with how strong some of the regional clubs are in terms of the number of interesting cars on display.

450SLC Passengers floor surface rust

Back in March, I discovered how wet the passengers floor was in my 450SLC.   Over the time water was getting on the floor, it had started some surface rust.    It appears that at least some of it was coming from the A/C drains.   I still need to test a hose on the windscreen and cowl drains to make sure water is not getting in from there too.

floor surface rustObviously the most important thing is to fix the source of the water.   I also felt it was important to fix the surface rust on the floor.   It still wasn’t too bad, so I used a wire brush attachment on my drill to grind it down.  This removed all the loose rust and debris so I could treat it with rust guard paint.

floor surface rust

I applied the rust guard paint with a brush.   I didn’t want to use any spray products in the cabin for risk of overspray on carpets or the rest of the interior.   As the floors will not be visible once the sound deadening, carpets and floor mats are in place, it seemed a better way to go.

floor surface rustAs the floor had been body colour before I started grinding it down, I purchased a couple of pots of colour matched paint to do a top coat.   This isn’t strictly necessary.  As given I am doing it with a brush it was going to be obvious it wasn’t factory.  However, I thought it would also protect the paint and overall look like a better job.

top coatFor a home job I am reasonably satisfied.   I probably could have spent a bit more time on prep, but this is an area that will not be seen.   Given the 107s propensity to rust, I am hoping it will offer much more protection to the metal than before.

Now the floor is repainted I will put the seats back in and take the car on a test drive.  This will help me see if I have fixed the condensate leak.  It will be harder to test now the weather has cooled down.   I’ll also wash the car without the carpets in place to see if any water gets in around the windscreen or cowl area.     I may need a new windscreen seal as well.   It has not been done since I owned the car.

MBCNSW April 2021 Night Drive – Eastern Suburbs

A couple of days ago I went on the April 2021 night drive with the MBCNSW.   This month was a drive from Luna Park to Coogee via Vaucluse.   We had run a similar drive in December 2020, but the weather was a bit iffy on the day and quite a few people decided not to chance it.   This time there was no such issue with the weather.   As usual we had a nice turn out of cars on the day from the 70s onwards.

One car that was quite interesting was a W123 300D with a turbo conversion.   These were somewhat common in the 80s, but I had never actually seen on the flesh.   Unfortunately many of them didn’t survive very long as the factory turbodiesel engines were of a different construction internally.   I would guess that people tried to run too much boost.    Its good to see one that is still working on and on the road.

April 2021 Night DriveI took my 87 560SEL on this drive.  I had originally planned to take my 250SE Cabriolet, but the impact with the Kangaroo put and end to those plans.   This route is very convenient for a lot of club members due to the start and end location.   Its very hard to keep a convoy together through all the eastern suburbs traffic lights, stop sights and the like.

This time we had it even worse as there was a lot of construction along our route.   The whole left hand side of the harbour bridge was closed, so we had to go into the CBD and enter the cross city tunnel.   Unfortunately, we lost a lot of cars that way, with a few even heading over ANZAC bridge towards the inner west!   Luckily we had told everyone of the final destination.  While about half the group missed the planned drive, they at least made it to Coogee.     Next month we are going to Bilpin from Windsor, so it will be much easier to keep the group together.

On the drive, a also got to see the Cocomats on a couple of friends 280CE and 380SEC.   We all purchased our mats together, so it was good to see how well they lined up with the different interior colours.

Preparing the E-Type for the 60th Anniversary celebration

I was obviously very keen to attend the JDCA 60th Anniversary of the E-Type celebration.    My only problem was a few minor electrical issues with my car.   My rear tail lights were not working (but the brake lights did work), and my right headlight intermittently didn’t work on low beam.   For a day trip this wasn’t fatal, but I could have easily found myself driving at night on the way home.

I started to investigate the problem myself.   I noticed that the number plate lights were also not working, and that they shared a fuse with the tail lights.   That fuse was not blown.   When I removed the fuse to inspect it, the holder was very loose.    I figured this could be my problem.   If the fuse was not making good contact with the fuse box – no current would get through.   Additionally, when using a multi-meter on both sides of the fuse box, it seemed to confirm my problem.   The photo below illustrates although it is a little hard to see.  You can see where the fuse should go and one of the prongs is slack.

Fuse Box

Based on that investigation, I ordered a reproduction fuse box from SNG Barratt.   Reproduction parts are a minefield when it comes to quality, but these looked ok.  It was actually a pretty simple operation to replace the fuse box.   It is held in by a single flat-head screw.   I screwed in the new fuse box and then lined up the old one next to it.   From there, I transferred the wires one by one to make sure they all went into the right places.

Fuse BoxI felt pretty confident that this would fix the problem.   My confidence was misplaced.   Before installing the new fuse box, I had loaded it with new fuses of the correct rating.    As soon as I powered up the lights, my new fuse blew.    In case the fuse was defective, I replaced it with the one from the old fuse box.   This resulted in smoke from under the dash!    I also noticed that the tail light on the left hand side was working (dimly) as was the number plate light.   Nothing on the right hand side.

It was pretty obvious I had a short, so at this point with the 60th anniversary coming up and smoke from the dash, I figured it was time for the professionals.   I had a hunch it may have something to do with the left hand tail light, but that was all.  I dropped the car off at All Classic Car Restorations, who do all the work on the E-Type that I don’t attempt.

They were able to trace the short to that right hand tail light.   What they found was perplexing.   The ground wasn’t plugged in at all, and the live was plugged in where the ground should go.  From what I understand the light can work without the dedicated ground line (through the housing), but it is odd it even worked at all.    The new fuel pump was installed in this area a few months back, but I’m not aware of any of the light wiring being disturbed.

Next was to look at the intermittent front right headlight.    This was traced to the wiring in the bonnet which was old and frayed.   As my bonnet was originally from a 3.8, the original 3.8 horns were still in place, but stone guarded and painted silver blue!