450SLC Dragging rear brakes – part 2

A couple of weeks ago I started investigating the dragging brakes on my SLC.   I found both of my rear calipers had been overheated and were in poor condition.   I ordered a set of rear calipers, and decided to change the rotors too.   Mine were still in spec, but on the lower end.    The hoses I had purchased last time were also not right.  I needed hoses with two female ends but the other hoses were male/female.

450SLC brake calipers

The first thing I found was that it was quite hard to remove the old rotors.   Not only were the rotors rusted to the hubs, but the old rotors was catching on the handbrake shoes.   I was able to turn the wheel by hand, but I think it was dragging a little.   It took a couple of huge whacks to free the rust on the hubs, and a lot of pulling to get them over the shoes.


I used a wire wheel to clean off some of the rust on the surface.  After that I applied some copper grease to stop it rusting in place next time.     Putting on the new rotors was almost impossible.   The handbrake shoes fouled on it quite badly and I had to adjust the handbrake shoes quite a lot.  Not just a few teeth, but probably a full turn.   I wonder if this was also part of the dragging?     Before I had adjusted the handbrake, I could not turn the new rotor at all even with two lug bolts at a long pry bar.     After the cleaning the braking surfaces, I was able to fit the new rotor.

450SLC rear caliper

At this point I also bent and fitted the new hard line I had damaged in part 1.   The lines do not come pre-bent and I so purchased a bending tool.  It is important to do more than minor bends with the tool as you can kink the lines and impair brake function.

New brake line for 450SLC rear caliper

The new 450SLC rear caliper fitted quite well, but there was a problem.   The new caliper had a slightly different place for the brake line than the old one.   Other than that, it was almost identical.      I did some research and found the source of the problem.

For one reason or another, Mercedes-Benz decided not to equip North American 450SLCs with the anti-squat rear suspension.   I imagine the decisions was based on the lower power output of those engines.   It is a strange decision though, as while the power is lower, there is still plenty of torque that is the main cause of the squat on acceleration.    Not equipping the cars with this suspension also meant a different arrangement for the brakes.   On the rest of world SLCs, there is a brake hose that connects the hard line from the car to another hard line that brings it to the 450SLC rear caliper at the front of the rotor.   This is the system that my car is equipped with.    On the North American cars (and the 350SLC, 280SLC etc), there is the normal arrangement of a hose from the hard line right into the caliper.

This is why the brake hoses I purchased first time around had a male/female arrangement and these new calipers had a slightly different arrangement for the brake hose.   The brake calipers I have, are part number 1234200583 and 1234200683.   The new correct brake calipers for my car have a 126 part number.   These calipers are far more expensive than the 123 part number 450SLC rear caliper.

On the passengers side I was able to get the hard line to connect to the caliper.   I am a bit concerned that it is very close to the bump stop.   On the drivers side, I was not able to bend it the way I wanted and it rubs on the bump stop.   I don’t think this is very safe as a large bump could damage the line.

From looking at the caliper, I think a new (slightly longer) line could be fabricated that clears the bump stop and connects to the caliper.   I don’t really have the ability or tools to do this, so I will take the car to a brake specialist.  This should be the best way forward rather than getting a new set of calipers.   I was also unable to get the hose off the drivers side, so will have them do that at the same time.  What they found and the w9ork they did is covered in part 3.

I bled the brakes, first with my vacuum pump and then had a friend help me bleed the brakes further with the traditional method.   There must be a small amount of air left in the system as the pedal is a little spongy.  I didn’t re-bleed as when the new lines are fabricated they will need to bleed in any case.

I also tested the handbrake and it is able to stop the car and is not dragging.

My final task was to fit my new MBCNSW grille badge.   I put it on the opposite side as my Mercedes high mileage badge.   Looks pretty good.

MBCNSW grille badgeFor what should be a simple job, this one has taken a long time.   I’ve probably spent more than two full days on it.

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