Waterfall to Bulli night drive

Last night was the February 20201 MBCNSW Night Drive.   This month’s route was Waterfall to Bulli.   The rain all through the week in Sydney had been raining, but it finished just before the start of the drive and the weather was actually good the whole time.   It probably kept a few people away though.

As usual there was a good mix of cars  – the expected bad weather did skew it more towards moderns than normal.   I took my 300SE along for this drive.   It was the first lone drive in the car since the new oil pump was fitted.   The car performed well – the drive required extended high RPM running and the engine seemed to be running very sweetly.

Waterfall to Bulli

The route we took was a bit different from the usual Royal Nation Park run.   Instead of entering the park at Farnell avenue, we drove down the main highway until Waterfall.   We then took the tight windy sections of Lady Wakehurst drive before exiting the park and taking the old highway past the Sublime point lookout.   This was a nice change, and done partly because there had been recent reports of hoons running through the park at crazy speeds and the subsequent police crack downs.   We didn’t want to get involved in either of those things.

Waterfall to Bulli

We finished up at a McDonalds.   They are always good finishing spots for the night drives as many of them are open 24×7.   It is one of the few places to consistently do that.    The also generally have good, well lit parking lots.   The route worked well and those who attended enjoyed the drive from Waterfall to Bulli.

M103 Oil Pump catastrophic failure

My 1986 300SE is now back in business with good oil pressure.   Turns out the reason why the oil pressure was low was a catastrophic failure of the oil pump itself.  In the last part, I had narrowed the problem down to most likely being the pump.   I assumed that something was either blocking the screen or the pressure relief valve was stuck.    At this point it was time to take the car to a professional mechanic to have a look.

On the M103, the engine has to be raised to remove the one piece sump.   Once the sump and oil pump were removed, it was quickly apparent what the problem was.   The screen was fine – intact and no blockages.   The real issue was Oil pump catastrophic failure.

As can be seen in the picture below, there are big chunks out of the pump housing.   These have gone through the impeller gears and chewed them up badly.

M103 Oil Pump Catastrophic Failure

There is a second chunk out of the bottom of the housing too.   My theory is the first chunk broke off and it was debris from this chunk that then cause the second hole in the oil pump.     Along the way the impeller gears were badly scored and if you rub your finger on the housing you can feel where it was damaged too.


While the sump was removed, it was carefully checked for any debris.  None was found.   I never saw any when I changed the oil, or when I took off the valve cover.   My assumption that the oil filter caught it.   I can no longer cut open that filter to check though.   In my opinion the cartridge style filters are much better than spin-on.  I always inspect the filter itself when removing it.   This is not easily done with the spin-on filter.

The pump was replaced with a new Febi unit.   I wouldn’t have normally used a Febi for something like this, but I remember on a video from the MMWA youtube channel that the M104 Febi pump is made in Germany.   This proved right as the new pump arrived marked as made in West Germany.



The new pump is now installed and the car is running well.  I’ve done a few hundred kilometers on the car and I have not noticed any issues.    The failure of the original pump is interesting.   My mechanic, who is very experienced in these cars had not seen a failure like that before.   I had also not found anyone on forums mentioning such a failure either.    I made a video (below) to better show the failed oil pump.   You can see the carnage in more graphic detail than you can with the photos above.

2021 Shannons Summer Auction Preview

Today I went to the new Shannons Auction rooms to see some of the upcoming auction lots for the 2021 Shannons Summer Auction.   There have been a number of changes to how Shannons run their auctions since the COVID19 outbreak, and I think they are for the better.

Instead of separate Sydney and Melbourne auctions, they now run a combined online auction.   The cars are still available for viewing in both their Sydney and Melbourne auction rooms.   The Sydney location is much better than before – bigger, brighter and easier to see the cars.   I’m told this location will also be available for car club events too.

There are also some very interesting lots in Melbourne but I have not seen them, so I will only be covering the Sydney based cars here.

Lot 157:  1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SE Coupe

Regular readers of this site will know I am a huge fan of the two door W111 Mercedes-Benz rage.  This lot was an honest looking coupe, which seemed in very nice original condition.   I think white is not the best colour for these cars, but if you’re going to have one in white, the dark red interior is the best.   It is quite similar to the car I used to own, except this one is in much nicer shape.   The guiding price of $75-100k seems reasonable based on recent prices.   Certainly these cars have shot up a lot in the last 2-3 years as it wasn’t all that long ago that this was a $40k car.

The 280 benefits from a more powerful engine than the earlier cars, but looses out on some of the nicer interior touches such as the wooden instrument cluster binnacle.   This car does have the Behr air conditioning system vs the aftermarket unit that many have.


Lot 170: 1959 Mercedes-Benz 300d ‘Adenauer’

Another classic Mercedes-Benz – this time the fabled Adenauer.   In this case the 300d, which was improved from the previous 300 models.  These cars really do have beautiful lines and the pillarless construction makes the interior really airy.

This car looked in nice original shape, similar to the 280SE Coupe.   Black with a red interior is the best colour combination for these cars in my view.   My only real criticism is the modern radio in the dash.   Its great that the original radio has been preserved, but the modern one should have been hidden.

The guiding range is $70-90k

300Lot 172 – 1966 Mercedes Benz 300SE Coupe (with M100 transplant)

Lot 172 is not an original Mercedes-Benz model.  Rather, it is a tribute to a model that might have been.     The M100 engine was original created for the 600, however Mercedes-Benz did create the W109 300SEL 6.3 ‘hotrod’.   They never expected this car to be a big seller, so I imagine it wasn’t seen as viable to also create a saloon version.   Interestingly, the test mule for the car was a rejected 250SE Coupe body shell so there is precedent.

In doing the conversion, they obviously used an early 6.3 engine as the transmission has the park position at the bottom.   The condition of the car is really nice.  The colour stands out and the quality of the work in doing this car is evident.   Having said that, I have heard its not all that great to drive by somebody who has.   That was some years ago, so its possible any faults have been corrected.

I find it interesting they didn’t use the normal bumpers for a 1966 300SE.   Rather they have used later bumpers with rubber inserts.   Personally, I would have used the earlier ones had I been building the car.    Overall I really like the car.   I’m not normally one for modified cars, but this car looks like it has been done right.

The guiding price is $200-$240,000 which is about double what it sold for some years back.   Having said that, you couldn’t build one for less in this condition.    Not sure I would want to spend that sort of money for a non-original car.   You could have an original 300SE and an original 300SEL 6.3 for that money.


As well as these Mercedes-Benz models, there were also a number of classic Alfa-Romeos that caught my eye.  I really don’t know much about these cars, but they are very impressive and I would love to own an Alfa one day.    There was also a white 3.8 MK2 Jaguar that can be seen in the picture next to the 300SE.    Its the right spec, manual with overdrive but I find it hard to get excited about a white one.

The lot I really wanted to see was 166, but this car was in Melbourne.  It is the 4 1/4 Derby Bentley with coachwork by Barker.   That car has a guiding price of $90-$110k.   These cars do not come up often and this one looked quite nice.

The lot estimates on the W111 cars got me talking with the auction staff about insurance values for my cars.    Based on these, I will bring it back in for the Auction staff can take a look and suggest a proper insurance value.    I also asked them about what the prices were doing with some of the other cars I own.   Classic Mercedes are up, hence the values of the W111 coupes.   Even some cars in relatively poor shape have seen strong bidding.   This has extended to the 107, but not to later models.

I specifically asked about the W126, especially the SEC as I have seen the high asking prices of these cars.   According to the Shannons auction staff these prices do not reflect reality.    Things are also fairly stable with the E-Type (So many to choose from) and the Citroen DS.

Citroen DS Hydraulic Pump

The Citroen DS hydraulic pump is integral to many key systems on the car.   Suspension, brakes, steering, gearchange to name a few.   All of these system rely on hydraulic pressure to do their job.   Other than early ID models, the DS uses a seven plunger pump and then a pressure regulator to ensure the right hydraulic pressures are maintained.

The pump on my car had been leaking more and more over the last year or so.   This is not ideal not just from a mess point of view, but can cause a safety issue.  The DS has inboard front brakes, and the leaking pump allows hydraulic fluid to drip onto the right hand brake disc.   Obviously this is not ideal for stopping power.

The DS hydraulic pump runs as an accessory off the camshaft pully.   On most DS is is a fairly straightforward exercise to remove it.   On a BVH car (semi automatic gearbox), the Centrifugal regulator runs as a subsidiary accessory and makes the job a bit harder.   The photo below shows the new pump tucked in under the regulator.

My pump was sent away to be rebuilt.  It came back looking much nicer than it left, with a new coat of green paint.

Citroen DS hydraulic Pump

I had a friend help me change it out, who had done it many times before on his car.    We ended up having to do the job twice as we could not get the pump to prime the first time.   Normally leaving the bleed screw open, and pouring LHM down the hose will do the trick.  For some reason it wasn’t working for us.    Second time lucky, and the pump was able to build pressure, and without leaving a green puddle on the floor.

Before the pump was removed for rebuilt, I had started noticing a strange rattle from the engine.   At first I was a bit concerned about internal damage, but I realized that it wasn’t changing in line with revs.   Since the pump needed a rebuilt anyway, I figured it made sense to wait to see if the leaking pump was causing the rattle.    It wasn’t.

In the end, while testing the new pump we were able to find the cause of the rattle – the air cleaner.    Our assumption at the time was that the air cleaner was loose.   Today I removed it to check the various mounting screws.    I found that it wasn’t loose, the mounting bracket was broken.  The broken bracket was allowing vibrations to cause the air cleaner to rattle against the remaining bracket.

Air cleaner bracket

I’ll have to find a new bracket.  I’m sure used ones are available.   I guess it could be fixed but a used one seems a much easier option.

Auto Brunch St Ives February 2021

I attended the St Ives Auto Brunch February 2021 event today.   This was the first one I have been to since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak.   It was also the biggest one by far.   There were literally hundreds of cars, even overflowing into other parking areas of St Ives showground.

This was also the first time I got there at the starting time – 7:30AM and it was already quite busy.   This event is great as there is always so much variety there.   And while there are a few cars I see ever time, there are also a lot of cars I’ve seen for the very first time.

I took my 450SLC this time.   I got quite a good spot right in the middle of the show.   There were not a huge number of other Mercedes-Benz’s but there were a couple of nice SLs and a beautiful anthracite 220SEb coupe with a red interior.    I also followed in a pristine 250S W108 in brown.   It was a lovely example and looked very original.

There was also a good selection of Rolls Royces including a couple of pre-war models.   Keeping up the pre war theme was a Railton with a straight eight engine.   Very impressive.     There is always a good selection of Jaguar E-Types.   So much so I have never brought mine along as they are so common!   British cars make up a good selection of the show, obviously with MGBs being the most common.   This time there was a rare Jensen FF along with its more common Interceptor cousin.


For such a big event, there was only one Citroen – a CX that arrived just as I was leaving.   Normally you might see a DS or two, or perhaps a 2CV.      One car that attracted a lot of attention was an old Toyota Corona with the personal number plate ‘VIRUS’.   Survivors of this era of Toyota in such great condition are quite rare.

For an impromptu cars and coffee event, the St Ives Auto Brunch February 2021 event was bigger than some formal car shows I have been to.   For example, much bigger and better than last time I went to the Australia day car show at Parramatta.

W126 battery hold downs and Auxiliary fan resistor

When I restored the battery tray on my 560SEL, I noticed the W126 battery hold downs were missing.   While the battery on the W126 sits quite snugly between the inner and outer firewalls, the hold downs are still important.   On a serious bump the battery could short out against the bonnet for example.

These hold downs are the same as on the W123 and other models.   I ordered a new one, thinking that at least having one in place would start, and I would look for a cheaper used one later.   Turns out I needn’t’ have bothered as I found the original hold downs under the tool kit.   I imagine a lazy battery installer didn’t fit them.   Not sure why, as it takes all of two minutes.

W126 battery hold downsWhen installing the W126 battery hold downs, its easiest to move the washer fluid tank.   Its not held down and there is enough slack in the connections to get it out of the way.

Next job was fitting the fan resistor.   On the W126, the fan can run at low or high speed.   The resistor allows the low speed running.   Low speed running is triggered by refrigerant pressure, so is important for the good working of the A/C system.   While it is buried away on left hand drive cars, on RHD cars its easily accessible behind the left headlight.   Over time, these fail and and were broken on both my 560s.   It is easy to test using a multi-meter and checking for the correct resistance.

I had previously checked this when replacing the auxiliary fan, but it took a while for my new resistor to show up.

W126 fan resistorI haven’t had a chance to test it yet, as there is also the possibility of a bad relay too.   That is reasonably unlikely and I am pretty confident when I test the fan, it will now work on low speed.

MBCNSW Mystery Drive to Berry

Today I joined MBCNSW members for a drive through the Southern Highlands to Berry.   The drive was billed as a mystery drive, with the route only being revealed the night before.   The drive started at Pheasants Nest, a service station just south of Sydney.    The weather was quite rainy, so I bought my 560SEL.  Its my most modern car and I like having ABS brakes for drives in this sort of weather.   The W126 is very stable in the wet too.

MBCNSW Mystery Drive

Due to the weather, the cars on the drive tended more to the newer models, but a few classics braved the rain and fog.   A 560SEC, a 450SLC which is basically a clone of mine except for the blue interior, a 190E 2.6 and an A124.   I saw my first R129 on classic rego.   It makes sense, as the first three models years are now eligible, but I still think of this car as much newer!   There was a good selection of modern Mercedes including three W211s, AMG GT, SLK, new ML and more.

MBCNSW Mystery Drive

The route took us off the motorway at Bargo and we took the back roads down towards Kiama.   A big part of the drive was on tourist route 9, which has great scenery.    There are some good winding sectionds down towards Kiama too.    I would like to do this drive again in better weather as the road conditions make sure we had to take things very easily.  I experienced a bit of brake fade on the 560SEL near the bottom, so I want to check the hoses, fluid and also the brake pads currently installed.    I’m pretty sure they are low dust models and very hard.   I don’t think they have the stopping power of the OEM pads.

MBCNSW Mystery DriveWe stopped for a quick break at the Robertson pie shop and then for lunch at a pub in Berry.   The drive back up the A1/M1 was interesting.    There was really thick fog, reminiscent of another club drive I did a couple of years ago.    On the way back, we were obviously no longer in convoy as people left lunch as they finished.   Amazingly, none of the other cars on the road seemed to know how to operate their fog lights.    Many cars ran their hazards which is an alternative, but there were cars fitted with proper front and rear fog lights not using them.    A proper rear fog light is much brighter than the hazards.

Despite the bad weather, the MBCNSW Mystery drive was a really enjoyable drive, and one I would do again.

More M103 low oil pressure troubleshooting

As a recap, my 1986 300SE started showing low oil pressure.   I tried changing the oil and filter, replaced the sender and checked with a mechanical gauge.  Still low oil pressure.   I decided to do some final oil pressure troubleshooting before I took it into a mechanic to lift the engine and remove the sump.

I was advised on the ozBenz forum that another possible cause was the oiler tube for the camshaft coming loose.   The oiler tube is held down by a couple of bolts that if overtightened can strip the threads.    Since I don’t have a lot of history on the car, but the head was off 10,000km ago, it was a good test.

This last oil pressure troubleshooting was also something I could do at home.   Its a fairly simple matter to remove the cam cover on the M103.   Unlike on the M117, there are no fuel lines etc in the way.    Unfortunately my results were the same.   This oiler tube was in fine condition and so not my problem.

The photo below shows the engine with the cam cover removed.   The engine is actually running in this picture, and you can see the oil pooling at the bottom of the picture before it drains back into the sump.   I’ve never run one of these engines without the cam cover before, so I have no comparison, but I could see a steady stream of oil dripping over the cam lobes.

Oil pressure troubleshootingThe engine ran like absolute crap without the cover.   I assume due to vacuum leaks due to the disassembled state.   In any case I have gone as far as I can at home.   The car will go in to a mechanic in a couple of weeks.     I am hoping there is not major damage and an oil pump change will fix the problem.

Bathurst via Goulburn and Oberon

The Mercedes Club have been running regular ‘pop up’ drives mid week.  These are informal drives at a couple of days notice.   I’ve been able to get to a few over the last couple of months.    Today was a really big one.   We started early at our meeting point in Pheasants Nest, just south of Sydney.    The plan was to drive down to Goulburn and take the back roads up to Oberon.    I’ve done this drive a few times recently and am never tired of it.

While it was a Mercedes Club event, I took my Jaguar E-Type.   I would have driven my 560SEC, but I am still waiting on new brake hoses for it.   When I last drove the car, the pedal was quite soft and the hoses look quite old.   The E-Type is a great car for these fast B-Roads.     I don’t normally drive the E-Type during the day during summer as it gets quite hot, but I could not pass up this drive.

In a nod to the route, most of the other cars were high performance cars.   In fact, the E-Type may have been the slowest vehicle there.    There was an AMG GT, a C63 AMG, CLA45 AMG, CLA45S AMG, E400 Cabriolet and a C250.   Bit of a theme to those cars.

Bathurst via Goulburn and Oberon

The starting point was the service station at Pheasants Nest, south of Sydney.   From there, we proceeded in convoy down to Goulburn.   At Goulburn, we turned off the M31 and proceeded up towards Oberon.   The first part of the drive was a bit dull, as we were stuck behind a slow Mitsubishi crossover.   These top heavy vehicles struggle on these sorts of roads and it had to slow down quite a lot for each corner.   The second part of the drive was much better and we were able to open up the taps of the cars a little.

When we got to Oberon, it was only 11:30AM.    It was suggested that instead of returning, we continue on to Bathurst and do a lap of Mt Panorama.   One of the people on the drive knew the roads around this area quite well and found us an excellent set of roads to take us through to Bathurst.   This part of the drive was probably the highlight of the day.   Instead of going directly to Bathurst, we first drove back towards Oberon until Black Springs.   We then turned onto the road for Bathurst.     I’ve been on Google maps trying to work out the road we used so I an visit again, and I think it might be Dog Rocks Road.    Looking at the map, I am assuming we must have gone through Rockly and towards Bathurst.

Mt Panorama

Once in Bathurst, we then did a (slow) lap around Mt Panorama.  The circuit is just a regular road when there are not races.   It has a low speed limit and and is heavily policed.  I’ve previously taken my 560SEC around the circuit.  Once we finished our lap, we drove back via Lithgow for a fuel stop and then up via Bells Line of Road to Bilpin.

The only part of the drive that wasn’t particularly enjoyable was the drive through Sydney from Richmond.   By afternoon it was a really hot day.   Normally I enjoy the wood steering steering wheel in my E-Type, but it was so hot I found it hard to grip with my sweaty hands.   Despite the reputation of English cars, and E-Types in particular for overheating, the car never went over 90 degrees.    The only thing that did overheat was my iPhone, which shut itself off due to the heat.    I guess British cars are more reliable than Apple products.

Pop Up Drive

All in all, it was a really good day and great to take the E-Type out for a long drive on such good roads.   I’ll be back in Bathurst with the E-Type in April for the 60 years of the E-Type celebration.  I would recommend Bathurst via Goulburn and Oberon as a drive to anyone.   In the end, we covered more than 700km.   Some classics are not driven this much in an entire year!

Testing M103 Oil pressure with a mechanical oil pressure gauge

In my last update, I had ruled out the sender unit when it came to the low oil pressure readings on my 300SE.   My intention had been to take the car to a mechanic to test it on a mechanical oil pressure gauge.   Two things changed that.    Firstly, my area of Sydney went into lock down.   Secondly, most mechanics are on holidays until after the new year.   I therefore purchased my own mechanical oil pressure gauge off eBay.

Mechanical Oil pressure gaugeI hooked up the gauge and sadly the results were much the same as the dashboard gauge.   The mechanical oil pressure gauge I purchased has a number of fittings and one of them was correct for the M103.   It also had a quite useful elbow connector.

It is much easier to attach it with the oil filter removed.   Don’t make the same mistake I did, and not attach the filter properly!  You’ll end up with a lot of oil on the floor very quickly.

As can be seen by the readings below, they are not what they should be.    The first one is immediately after start up, and the second is after a couple of minutes of running.

Mechanical Oil pressure gauge

Mechanical Oil pressure gaugeAs can be seen from the next photo, there is oil at the top of the engine, so something is working properly.

Oil on the camI also made a short video about taking these readings.   Still not very good at this video thing, as the gauge itself is not readable, and when looking at the senders, they are out of picture, but plenty of room for improvement.

As I mentioned on the video, I will take the car down to my workshop and remove the cam cover.   From there, I should be able to inspect if the oiler tube has come loose.   This was suggested to me on a thread in the ozBenz forum.