Mercedes Clubs National Rally 2022 – Day 2: Orbost to Torquay

Day two dawned on our trip to the Mercedes Clubs national rally with the situation that while the 280CE now had a full battery thanks to the trickle charger, it had no way of charging it while driving.   Unless we did something, the car was going to run out of electricity.   There has been a recent trend to electrify classic cars, particular in Europe.  I guess this is what it feels like to own one.   Nevertheless, we set off for our first stop, Stratford where we would have breakfast.   Today’s route was planned to take us to Torquay and about 550KM of driving.


We stopped for fuel not far outside Orbost, where I learned the 450SLC had done about 16l/100km. Not bad for 450, particularly with the ADR engine. Surprisingly, this petrol station didn’t just stock every brand of crisps on the planet, but actually sold useful stuff, like car batteries. We left with full tanks and a fully charged spare battery. It was still raining, but a lot less than the day before. Mostly light showers.

We reached Stratford without incident and had breakfast at a local cafe. Of course, after 90 minutes of driving it was time to check the battery on the 280CE. It read around 11 volts, which actually wasn’t too bad. Instead of using the new battery so early in the day, we decided to swap the battery out of the 280CE with a good alternator. This would allow the white car to charge the battery that had previously been in the green car.  After a while, we would swap them back.   We even used one of our jump packs to ensure the owner of the white car did not lose any of his radio settings during the change!

2022-04-07 08.27.15cBy then, it was late enough in the day to start making some calls.   turns out finding an alternator for a 1981 W123 is not so easy at short notice.   In the end, we found the only used alternator available in the state of Victoria, located in Dandenong (an outer suburb of Melbourne).   Dandenong was in the right direction for where we were going, although not on our planned route.     Our planned route had us basically hug the coast until we reached Sorrento.

We decided as a group that the best course of action would be to do directly to Dandenong and get the 280CE working again, so we could complete the rally.   Our itinerary for day 3 is planned to be pretty hectic, so today was the day to get everything ready.   Going directly would save an hour or two and put us on the motorway.

The first hour was on A roads until we hit the motorway.   Just before the motorway began, we stopped and swapped the batteries again.    Overall it took us about two and a quarter hours to get to the wrecker in Dandenong from Sorrento.     The owner of the 280CE did the alternator swap in the driveway of the wrecker, and it was quite odd seeing a shiny new part being removed and replaced with a dirty old one.  The old alternator was a real Bosch unit.   The one in the car was near new, and had been advertised as a Bosch, but looked to be some kind of clone.

2022-04-07 12.44.59The replacement alternator wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot better than the one we had removed.   It actually charged the car.     It struggled a bit when the auxiliary cooling fan and headlights were on though.     On the short drive to lunch, it was apparent that the auxiliary fan was on nearly all the time, and the temperature wasn’t dropping very fast on the motorway.   It actually looked like these two problems were somewhat related.   The car was struggling to cool itself, causing the auxiliary fan to come on all the time, putting more load on the charging system.

At the lunch stop we tried two more things.   Firstly, the new voltage installed yesterday was put on the used alternator, which did improve charging somewhat.    The thermostat was also gutted to try and provide more flow to the radiator, plus we stopped at Repco to buy a few supplies to rig up a manual switch for the auxiliary fan.

This wasn’t the only 280CE that had problems today though.   The white car was still having issues with ride height.   Even after another adjustment while the alternator was being fitted, it still rode too low.  It is better than before, and will probably be fine to complete the trip.   The height corrector valve is going to need a rebuild as the car sinks quickly after being parked.

From lunch, the plan was to try and take the ferry across the mouth of Port Philip bay as we had originally planned.   This was far preferable than batting rush hour traffic going across Melbourne.   However, after getting back on the road it was clear that these modifications were not enough.    The car would not keep cool enough top stop the auxiliary fan coming on.    This is where the group temporarily split up.   The owner of the green car went to get a new radiator and viscous fan coupling.  This meant doubling back to Dandenong.  The rest of the group went and took the 4PM ferry to Queenscliff and then on to Torquay.

IMG_6538cBy the time we got to the ferry the sun had actually came out and we were able to enjoy the views from the ride over to Queenscliff.  The ferry is quite a pleasant ride, although it is very expensive at $72 for a car and driver.  Its extra for any passengers!  It was better value than the $33 cigarette lighter to USB plug I had to buy at Repco as mine failed today.   Annoyingly, I have plenty of these at home.

After our now smaller group got to Queenscliff, we checked out a lookout and Royal Australian Navy memorial.   The memorial was extensive, including  a bit of a focus on World War two.  Coincidentally, There was a plaque dedicated to a ship that the father of one of the members of our groups served on during WW2.


The view from the lookout was great, and it was nice to experience the sunshine for a change. I even opened the sunroof for a while. I would have been drenched had I opened it even a few hours earlier.  The cars look much better in that photo than they do in reality, as they are filthy from all the grime of wet weather driving for two days and over 1,000KM.

From there we headed on some nice coast roads to our hotel in Torquay and found a good brew pub for dinner.   We were later joined by the owner of the other 280CE who came with a new radiator and viscous fan coupling.  He had managed to grab these minutes before the closing time of the vendor, and just make the 6pm ferry.    We have a very early start tomorrow, including almost 900km of driving.  Because of that, he made quick work of fitting all those parts in the dark.   The 280CE now has a used alternator, new voltage regulator, replaced viscous fan coupling, new radiator and a switch to control the auxiliary fan.    It is now hopefully ready for the big day tomorrow and our whole group is really keen to see everyone make it in the car they started in!

2022-04-07 20.54.27Our revised route today took us around 460KM,   I filled up the 450SLC just before we got to the hotel in Torquay and managed to get 14.5l/100KM, which is almost a record for my car.   It’s actually not too bad when on the open road.   Despite a few issues with the cars, the trip has been a lot of fun so far.  There has been the added challenge of trying to do what we can to make sure each car makes it.

3 comments to Mercedes Clubs National Rally 2022 – Day 2: Orbost to Torquay

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>