MBCNSW Chrome Bumper day at Linnwood House

Like all car clubs, MBCNSW has a lot of interesting cars that rarely get out to club events.   The goal of the Chrome Bumper day was to try and entice a few of them out.    The thinking was that an informal event that was fairly centrally located may be attractive for somebody who rarely takes out their older car.

The event was held at Linnwood House, a historic house not far from Parramatta.  Linnwood house has four days per year where their open days have cars on display.   I’ve attended a few times as a spectator, mostly for British car shows like Rover and Rolls Royce.

One of the nice things about Linnwood house is the lovely shady grounds around the historic house.   They are quite large and there is a lot of room for the cars to park.    I like the relaxed nature of the day, where people can come and go as they please.  No overzealous security or mashalls here.

You can do tours of the historic house, although I’ve seen it before so didn’t.

Chrome Bumper day

As a nice day out, the event was a success.   We had a reasonable turn out of Mercedes-Benz models, and there were a number of interesting cars from the smaller American marques.   However, in meeting the original goal, the event probably wasn’t all that successful.   There were only two Mercedes-Benzs that I wasn’t familiar with on the day.    The first was a lovely 220SE coupe in two tone, with a beautiful red leather interior, factory Behr air conditioner and Becker Grand Prix.    The other one was a 2001 CL67 Brabus.  While I’m not normally interested in modern cars, the modifications and engineering in this car was quite interesting.   At the heart is a 6.7 liter V12.

From the American marques, my favourites were the Cord, which is an amazing art deco design, and the pre-war Packards.   Packards are such elegant cars and quite rare in Australia.

560SEL Odometer repair

Recently the odometer stopped working on my 1987 560SEL, just before the car hit 340,000km. This is a pretty common problem on the W126. I had to repair both my old 300SE and my 560SEC.  The issue is the small gears that turn the odometer.  They are made of a very soft plastic and after 30+ years, the teeth break off.   This repair is pretty straightforward for anybody reasonably handy on these cars.

The first step is to remove the cluster and have a look.  You can’t order the gears until you check what you have, as the various combinations of instrument cluster use gears with different numbers of teeth.   The factory tool to remove the cluster is not necessary.   The easiest way to get the cluster out is to remove the speaker and push it out from behind.

Once removed, the instrument cluster can be unplugged (there are a lot of plugs) and brought to a workbench.  The first thing that must be removed is the exterior temperature display.   It is held onto the bottom of the instrument cluster with two screws and simply slides out.   These two screws also hold in the speedometer.

Next, there are four more screws to remove the speedometer housing.    They are the gold ones with the hexagonal heads on the edges.

560SEL Odometer repair

Once those screws are removed, the entire assembly for the speedometer just lifts out, once the warning light that clips on is removed.    At the same time, the two smaller inner bulbs for the indicators, and larger outer bulbs for the illumination should be removed.

It is not possible to repair the odometer while the speedometer is still in its plastic housing.   The four inner screws must also be removed.   On my cluster they were the silver phillips head screws, but I’ve also seen gold flathead screws on other clusters.

The speedometer unit lifts out, and care should be taken to not lose the four rubber spacers that go on the plastic feet that stick through the circuit board.   There are also plastic baffles for the light bulbs that slide out.

560SEL Odometer repair

With the cluster removed, you can see the original vivid orange the speedometer needle was, as well as the the max speed markings and 50/60 hatching.  These should all match, so I elected not to repaint my speedometer needles, as I do not have a steady enough hand to repaint the sections on the speedometer face.   They look terrible when they don’t match, as well as looking terrible when painted red, not the factory orange.

The odometer gears are accessed to the right of the speedo.   There is a cover held on by two tiny philips head screws.   In the picture above, the cover has already been removed (top right) and the tiny screws are on the table.  The cover is a bit of a pain to get off, due to the black box.

U560SEL Odometer repairWith the cover off, it is easy to see the three gears that wear.   The small one, from the drive motor on the right, the top one, and the next one.  There are also two more gears that don’t seem to wear and do not need to be replaced.

The main thing to do here is to remove the two larger gears and count the teeth on the inner gear for each.  The outer teeth seem to always be 48, but the inner teeth vary.   I guess I’m going to need reading glasses soon, as I couldn’t count the inner teeth without the magnifying glass app on my phone.   When I last did this a few years ago, I didn’t need any assistance!

The picture below shows one of my gears, including the missing teeth.

magnified gearThe smaller gear always seems to have 12 teeth, so does not need to be counted.   There also seems to always be a 12/48 gear.   However, for my 560SEL with a 260KM/h speedometer and a 2.47 rear end, I needed a 14/48 gear.   My old 300SE needed a 13/48 and my 560SEC with an MPH speedometer needed an 18/48.   I purchased my gears from Garagistic.

By the time the gears arrived, plus I had a bit of work travel, it had been a few months since I removed the cluster.   It is a pretty simple matter to remove the two larger gears, but the original small gear is on a brass bushing, which is no longer needed.  The easiest way to remove it is to break it with a set of cutting pliers.

560SEL Odometer repairOnce that is off, the new small gear is just press fit on.  The two larger gears are much easier to put in.   At this point, I made a mistake.  I assumed that the white gear was the replacement for the light coloured gear, and the blue gear was a replacement for the black one.   I put everything together and tested in the car.   It didn’t work properly.   I then removed it all again, and looking at the photos of when I did my 300SE, I realized I had them backwards, and it was binding.   The blue one should have been the top one.

560SEL Odometer repair

I also used a small amount of rubber grease, as I found I could hear the gears on my 300SE with no lubrication.   As can be seen from one of the pictures up above, the original gears were lightly lubricated.

At this point, I also thought I would try replacing my broken clock with a different one.  I have a few spare W126 instrument clusters, so I removed the clock/tacho from the one that was in the best visual condition and swapped it over.

spare clustersThis was a pretty simple thing to do, but proved futile, as the replacement clock didn’t work either.   I put my old one back, as it was in much better visual condition than the other two spares.   Removing and the bulbs for the illumination a couple of times caused them to fail, so I ended up replacing both of them.  I keep bulbs like this on hand so it was easy to do.

560SEL Odometer repair

In doing this testing, I didn’t push the cluster back in properly which made it easy to take it in and out until I was happy with everything. Once I was, I pushed the cluster back in place and replaced the speaker.

The final test was to check the accuracy of the odometer with my GPS.  On a 2.8km course, the trip odometer recorded 2.8km, so I was happy with the result.    I’m glad my 560SEL odometer repair is finally done, as I don’t like to drive cars without a working odometer.

MBCNSW June 2024 night drive – Clovelly to Kurnell

The June MBCNSW night drive brought back a route that we last used in October 2021.    It was held one week later than normal since I was overseas last week.   That was probably good from a weather point of view, as it apparently poured all week.   Last night was somewhat better, with only scattered showers.

The more inner city night drives can be a bit tricky as it is hard to keep the group together.    Last time we had cars all over the Sutherland shire – this time we did better with the group mostly together.


We started at Clovelly and drove around to Kurnell, where we stopped to regroup and have a look at the view over Botany Bay.   Kurnell used to be the site of an oil refinery. However, the refinery was closed and now it only acts as a terminal to import already refined petroleum products. That Australia lacks local oil refining capacity seems to be a major policy blunder from our Governments.

Most of us then headed back to McDonalds at Taren point.   This McDonalds advertises being open 24 hours, but it is highly misleading.    Only the drive through is open, and what sort of savage eats in the car?    Won’t be using that McDonalds again.  McDonalds probably lost $100 from our group, but our bodies probably thanked us for it.

On the drive, we had four 124s (two 300Es, a 300TE and an E320 Cabriolet), my 123 240D, a 126 380SEC and a modern CLS500.   The owner of the CLS just purchased the car as a replacement for his W211 E500 that was sadly written off.  Looking at the interior, I would say the CLS is a step up in comfort and quality.    The white 300E was just back from a head gasket job and was running really well.


I had actually considered bringing my 124 on the drive, which would have made it five.   Since I planned to drive the 124 to Canberra the next day, I took the 240D.   I am continually impressed with how good the 240D is to drive.   It really isn’t slow around town and is nimble and easy to drive.   Could use new wiper blades though.

After being away for most of June, it was good to get back out for a night drive and in the old cars.  Certainly the W123 is a far better car to drive than the Chevy Malibu rental I had.

2024 Chevrolet Malibu Review

For the last couple of days I have been driving the Chevy Malibu as my rental car.   I last rented a Chevy Malibu back in 2018 and reviewed it.   The car hasn’t fundamentally changed since 2018, but has gone through a facelift and some minor updates.   It is scheduled to go out of production in November.    The Malibu in its various generations has been in production since 1964, and more than 10 million have been sold.    It will not be replaced.   The demise of the Malibu means that Corvette is the last car in the Chevrolet line up.

Despite its storied nameplate, the Malibu won’t be missed by many.   It’s not a very good car.

2024 Chevrolet Malibu ReviewThis trip has exposed its shortcomings far more than last time I rented one.    Last time, my driving was far more local.   This time I will have done around 500 miles by the time I hand the keys back.   This involved a lot of interstate driving.   In most states, Americans don’t really go for draconian enforcement of reasonable speeds, so the traffic flows much faster.    At 85mph (130km/h) this car is terrible.

The engine is willing enough, and even has more to give if required to get around another car.   The issue is NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness).   Generally newer cars do a decent job of this overall.   However this car does not.   I question if there is any sound deadening at all in the vehicle.   I’m travelling with two co-workers and it is hard to maintain a conversation at regular interstate speeds.    This isn’t so much wind noise as noise and vibration coming from the wheels & tyres up into the car.   The ride is also terrible and you feel every expansion joint and crack in the road.   The tires are from Firestone, so are not a brand I have not heard of.   They are not light truck tyres either.

The sound system is no help here.   I’ve driven cars with two tiny speakers that sound better.   There is just strange sound coming out of strange places in the car.    It felt so tinny and grating, that I could only listen to it by going into the settings and turning the treble down while boosting bass and mid range.   That didn’t make it sound good, but at least it was no longer grating.

On the plus side, the infotainment system is so simple that I was able to connect my phone in seconds and play music.   I’ve rented cars with the apple car play system and it just complains about Siri and never works.

Power and fuel economy are adequate, although the engine is coarse if pushed.   Apparently its equipped with a CVT, but its set up to feel more like a regular automatic transmission.   It mostly does, and while it goes not bogged down at low speeds like a lot of CVTs, its not inspiring either.    Comfort is also adequate, and the boot is quite large.   Turning circle is only average.

The 2024 model is equipped with a very strange collision warning system.   There is an alarm and light on the dashboard that goes off when the car wants to warn you of an impending collision.   However, it warns at the most inopportune time.   I was almost rear ended the first time it went off, and I stood on the brakes thinking there was a major issue.   This feature makes the car less safe.

I assume the main buyer of this car has been fleet buyers.  I can’t imagine anyone getting excited by it.   The drab colour of the one I rented is pretty appropriate.

Rating 2/5.

MBCNSW May 2024 Night Drive – Northern Beaches Loop

Last night was the MBCNSW May night drive.   This drive was a little different to what we normally do.   Instead of a longer drive on semi-rural twisty roads, this one was shorter and far closer to the city.

The genesis of this drive came from remembering how peaceful it was up at North Head in the evening.   The views back to the city and across the harbour are amazing.   I thought it would be a good place to go to take some photos of all the older cars lined up against the view.     The original idea was to start at Shelly Beach, drive up to North Head for the view, then across to Dobroyd Head for a second perspective, before taking Wakehurst Parkway into Brookvale.

MBCNSW May 2024 Night Drive

The issue came the month before, when I went up to North head myself.  Instead of being able to drive up there as usual, at some point the government had installed a locked gate.   I had seen some tyre marks up there before, so I assume that there were people going up there to do burnouts from time to time.

The gate closed at 6pm, way too early for the night drive.   The gate is such a knee jerk reaction to a problem.   It doesn’t stop the idiots doing the burnouts, it just moves them somewhere else.   What it does do is penalize the people who were enjoying the park when it was quiet and peaceful.   During the day there is a busy cafe up there.    The better response would have been some police patrols to actually penalize the people doing the wrong thing.   But the police are far too busy writing tickets to drivers doing 55km/h in a 50 zone.

MBCNSW May 2024 Night Drive

The idiotic gate presented a problem.  While taking a set of bolt cutters was a preferable solution, that was hardly ideal for a car club run.   Therefore I had to change the route.   I did a few drives around the area, but there was nowhere else that had great views and room for 10 or so cars.

In the end I changed the starting point to McKillop reserve near Harbord Diggers, and took a different route to Dobroyd Head.   Dobroyd Head became the main stopping point, and then the rest of the route via Wakehurst Parkway to Brookvale McDonalds was all the same.

MBCNSW May 2024 Night Drive

On the night it was a lovely autumn evening.   I took my 250SE and opened the roof for the drive.   We had a good turn out for the drive, with two W108s, three W124s, a W126 and an XJ6.  It was a perfect night for a drive and we all enjoyed the view from Dobroyd Head and the drive back to Brookvale.  Even having to give up North Head, it was still a good drive.

MBCNSW May 2024 Night Drive

Centennial Park cars and coffee May 2024

This morning I woke up early and so decided to head to a cars and coffee event.    I hadn’t been to one in a while, and it looked like a lovely Autumn day in Sydney.   The event on this weekend was the one in Centennial Park.   Last time I attended this one was back in mid 2022.   This event has moved around a bit as the eastern suburbs are not friendly to car events.

When I got there, I found the location had moved again.   It was still in the park, but it is now near the Spruce Goose Diner, not the Shakespeare statue.  A quick call to a friend who is a regular clued me into the new location.   I think the old location was better, but I suspect the organizers didn’t have a choice in this matter.    The new location is quite small and fills up very fast, with cars then overflowing onto the ring road and parking with the regular SUVs.

The mix of this event is quite different to the other ones I attend,  There are more exotics, especially 911s, and more modern performance cars.    However, despite a new McLaren, the car getting the most attention was the Ferrari Testarossa.   It looked great in dark blue, showing that Ferrari’s don’t have to be bright red.   There was also a nice Lamborghini Uracco and a Maserati Khamsin.

Centennial Park cars and coffee May 2024

I took my 1981 240D, not for any particular reason than it was in the garage at home.   Its a good car for driving into the crowded eastern suburbs.    The only other Mercedes was a 380SL.   I ended up [parking next to a Volvo 240, probably fitting given it has similar attribute to the W123.

The new location is a far more busy thoroughfare than the old one.   Generally most people were pretty easy going, but it was interesting to contrast the behaviour of the runners, pedestrians and the drivers with that of the cyclists.   I was only there for twenty minutes and I witnessed two cyclists getting quite hot under the collar for for being slightly delayed by people walking around looking at the cars.

While this isn’t my favourite of the Sydney cars and coffee events, it was a lovely morning to get out for a drive and look at a new nice cars.


240D motor mounts, engine shock and thermostat

I just got my 240D back from having the motor mounts changed.   When I purchased the 240D, the motor mounts were one of the few obvious things that needed attending to on the car.   They looked pretty bad and the engine was shaking at idle.

240D motor mounts

On a W123 or W126, normally I would go with the Lemforder motor mounts, which are excellent.    I couldn’t find any of those for sale.   Generally I avoid Meyle parts as I find their quality and longevity questionable.  However, I had read a couple of good reviews of their HD parts.    Given 240Ds have a reputation of being hard on motor mounts, I thought I would give them a try.

240D motor mounts

At the same time, I bought a new transmission mount, plus and engine shock and fitting kit.    Interestingly, while the 300D has a pair of engine shocks like a V8, the 240D has a single one.   When the Meyle mounts arrived, they looked quite substantial, and quite different form the regular Meyle mounts.  I didn’t inspect the transmission  mount, but it seemed to make sense to do them all at the same time.

240D motor mounts

Now I have the car back, my initial feeling is that these mounts are very hard, and probably a bit too hard.   I expect they will settle a little, which may make them a bit better.   They are an improvement on the original mounts, but are a little harsh, particularly when the engine is cold.

While the car was in, I also had the shift bushings and thermostat changed.    I would normally do the shift bushings myself, with the Kent Bergsma tool, but my hoist is currently broken.   The car had been running a bit hotter than I would like, so the thermostat seemed like an obvious thing to do.

The shift bushings made a big difference, and so far the thermostat seems to have helped somewhat.   The engine still gets quite warm going up a steep hill, but it now cools off a bit when not under load.    I’ll keep an eye on this.    I was able to verify that the oil cooler is working.   When I parked the car after driving today, the oil cooler was warm to the touch.

I’ve been really enjoying this car. The W123 sedan is such a great car, especially when compared to how cheap they are to buy.

107 under bonnet insulation

The under bonnet insulation was starting to reach the end of its use by date.   Bits of it in the air filter were a pretty good indicator of this.   I’m not sure how long it had been on, but it pre dated my ownership of the car.   Looking more carefully, I could see the main insulation mat, which was falling apart.   However, I could also see traces of where a smaller insulation mat had been behind the bracing section near the rear of the bonnet.   That one was mostly gone, but a few chunks remained.    It looked like it was not replaced when the main 107 under bonnet insulation was done last time.

All the main vendors listed the main insulation, but I guess everyone forgets the small thin one, as it didn’t show up on all the usual sites.   Looking up the part number (A107 880 00 97) I was able to order it as a genuine Mercedes-Benz part out of the USA.   For reference, the part number of the main under bonnet insulation is A107 682 03 26.

107 under bonnet insulation

I’ve now done this job on the 126 saloon and coupe, as well as the 123.   Those cars are quite easy.   The 107 is much more of a pain.   For starters, the bonnet doesn’t open nearly as much, and there is no service position.   The secondary insulation mat is really hard to see what you are doing with the bonnet attached.   It would be a doddle with the bonnet removed.    It is still possible to do with one person.

I used my normal method I’ve outlined a few times now.   First placing an old bedsheet over the engine and scraping off the old 107 under bonnet insulation.    This was quite easy as it had crumbled so much.    I had it off pretty quickly.     I focused on the main insulation mat first.

To glue the pad, I used the same product as previously.   Seallys quick grip vertical gel.   The main 107 under bonnet insulation required one tin.   This is because the 107 bonnet is quite narrow.   I forgot to take photos of this part, but its the same as the other articles linked above.

107 under bonnet insulation

The only mistake I made here was not cleaning off the bedsheet I was using sufficiently – bits of debris stuck to the bottom of the new mat, and I had to brush them all off.   It only took a few minutes, so it really wasn’t a big deal.

At that point, since I had used a whole can of the Seallys glue, I stopped and waited for the 123 under bonnet insulation to arrive.   I didn’t want to open a whole tin and just use a little for the smaller secondary insulation mat.   About a week or so later, I then moved to the 123 and completed that job, using one and a half tins of the Seally’s product.

107 under bonnet insulation

To do the secondary mat, I had to try and get the sheet right in behind the rear edge of the bonnet to scrape away the rest of the old mat.   I was mostly doing it my feel and later missed a little when applying the glue.   Before the secondary insulation can be attached, the windscreen washer jets must be disconnected.   The secondary mat has little holes for the connections to go.

107 under bonnet insulation

The process of applying the glue and pad to this area was the same as the others, just harder because its difficult to see.   I found that once I had it in place, closing the bonnet was the best way of pressing the secondary insulation pad to the bonnet.   The secondary insulation pad is an interesting design as it has a raised section that seems to seal against the top of the firewall.

107 under bonnet insulationThe new pad looks a lot better than previously.    I’m not sure how essential the secondary one is, but its obviously there for a reason.   In any case, I hope this lasts another 20 years.

W123 under bonnet insulation

The under bonnet insulation on my W123 240D had started to crumble on the edges.   While it had only just started happening, it also appeared that the car didn’t have a proper insulation mat.   I’m not sure if it was an older aftermarket option, or something cut to size but it looked like some thin light coloured foam.    Since I was doing this job on the 450SLC, I figure it was a good time to get both done at the same time.

This insulation is quite important.  Not only does it reduce noise, but it does protect the paint.   My old 230E crazing in the paint above the hot engine from driving a few years with no insulation.   The car wasn’t even that old back then.   The paint on this car is nice and original and I don’t want to damage it.

I used the same method I used back 5 years ago on my W126 300SE.   To start with, I used a plastic scraper to remove as much of the old one as I could.

W123 under bonnet insulationI found for the bigger lumps, it was easier to have the bonnet in the regular position.   Once I got most of it off, I then moved the bonnet into the service position and moved the sheet up.   This is the longest part of the job.  It doesn’t matter if all the old glue doesn’t come off, but its important there are not any loose bits.

Once I had the old one cleaned up, It was time to apply the adhesive.  As with last time, I used Seallys Kwik Grip Vertical Gel.  It has the right temperature rating and is still holding the insulation on my 560SEC and my old 300SE perfectly, five years later.

I find its easiest to apply it with my fingers using 7mm gloves.   The W123 requires a little more than a can and a half.  I took the opportunity to change gloves when I opened the second can.  It seems to eat into the gloves if you don’t.

W123 under bonnet insulationThe Seallys product suggests waiting 20-40 minutes before mating the two surfaces.  I prefer to do it sooner, as it gives me a bit more ability to move things if I don’t get it quite right first go.   For example, in this case, I didn’t have it aligned properly against the leading edge of the bonnet, so I was able to peel it back and re-apply.

I also use gloves to apply the W123 under bonnet insulation.   That way, if I get a bit of glue on my fingers, I change gloves and I don’t spread the glue around.   I think I must have used 5-6 pairs of gloves to get the job done.   When I got a bit of glue on the paint, the can suggested white spirit to remove it.   I didn’t have that, but hand sanitizer worked great.

As with earlier, I find it easier to start with the bonnet in the regular position.  Once the pad is generally in the right place, move to the service position to work on the lower edge.

W123 under bonnet insulationOnce that was done, I lowered it again to tuck in the leading edge.   The whole job takes 1-2 hours depending on how long is needed to remove the old insulation mat.   I find this job pretty easy to do myself, but that maybe because I am tall and can reach most of the bonnet.

Doing the job at the same time as the 450SLC resulted in three cans of the Seallys adhesive across both cars.    While I was there, I also replaced the two clips for the sun visors so they were not flopping around.   They are still available new from Mercedes-Benz.  They are the W126 part number that supports a light in the mirror.   Not as cheap as they used to be, but still available in the colour I needed.

S211 cheap antenna fix

Like a lot of modern cars, the S211 E350 my wife drives has a ‘shark fin’ antenna on the roof.   There are generally maintenance free, in contrast with telescopic power antennas.   However, in our case, when the antenna was broken after hitting a garage door, the fix was not obvious.

The proper fix would be to replace the antenna with a new Mercedes-Benz unit.   However, to do this, the headlining needs to come down to remove it.   Doing a bit of research on the forums, this looked like a big job.

S211 antennaI was concerned after driving around like this for a while, that either water would get into the cabin, or damage the antenna to a point it would no longer tune stations.    My wife asked our mechanic when she dropped off the car for a service, and he suggested a large shark fin cover that sticks on.   I thought this was a great idea, so ordered one from Ali-Express that was large enough to totally contain the remains of the S211 antenna inside it.   This cover was cheap, but took over three months to arrive.

Next I went to Autobarn and bought a rattle can of ‘Flint Grey’ and some plastic primer.   The plastic primer didn’t seem to want to adhere all that well to the ali-express antenna.  After a few light coats, my daughter and I had even coverage, although it wasn’t exactly smooth.

S211 antenna

We then applied the Flint Grey top coat to our new s211 Antenna.   It wasn’t the smoothest job, and for a better job I could have wet sanded it, and applied clear coat.   The paint on the S211 is only average, so I was just looking for something that didn’t look terrible or let water into the antenna.

The new antenna came with some double sided tape to install it.  While the front part seemed to adhere quite well, the sides and rear didn’t seem as good a fit.   I gave it 50/50 chance of staying on.  I was pessimistic, as a few weeks later its still there even after driving in storms and rain.

S211 antenna

This is more of a bodge than a proper fix.  Unlike the classics I keep long term, at some point my wife will want to upgrade to an S212 wagon, so this made sense.   The total cost was less than $100.  Now the car doesn’t look stupid with a circuit board flapping around in the wind.