560SEC outside temperature display

Last week I fixed the outside temperature LCD on my 300SE.   Today it was time to fix the 560SEC outside temperature display as well.   In my previous post I covered the details of where I purchased the replacement LCD panels.   This same repair should also work on W124 and W201 models of the same vintage.  I understand there are minor variances, and that the LCD changed slightly in later years.    Both types are available.

I found a few things to speed up the process while doing the second car.   Firstly, the instrument cluster does not need to be unplugged.   It is possible to remove the 560SEC outside temperature display unit by just sliding the instrument cluster out of its housing, but not disconnecting any of the cables (other than the temperature one).    You just need a stubby Phillips head to get in behind the cluster and remove the two screws that hold in the temperature display unit.

560SEC outside temperature displayThe photo above shows the 560SEC outside temperature display unit removed from the car and dismantled.   Interestingly the 1987 unit used small Phillips head screws to hold the front of the display on. The 1986 unit had flat head screws.   Other than that, they seemed identical.     The SEC unit was stamped 5/87 which seems correct.   I forgot to look on the 300SE.  As per last time, that small dot in the border of the LCD unit indicates the top.   You can also see the little blocks that conduct the signal to the LCD panel are still on the old display.

The picture is showing the old LCD still in the display unit.   Behind the LCD unit there is a small piece of a paper like material that sits on the inside of the LCD.   I left that with the old LCD screen when doing the 300SE.  As the 300SE’s screen was so bright with the headlights on, I transferred it over on the SEC.   I would recommend transferring this paper.   It makes sure the brightness level is appropriate. I have saved the paper from the 300SE, so I can add it back in next time I have to remove the instrument cluster.

560SEC outside temperature displayThe picture above shows the repaired 560SEC outside temperature display, along with the two dead units.   It also shows the piece of paper that should go in the 300SE unit.     To make sure I did the repair properly, I did a quick test before pushing the instrument cluster back into the dash.   I was rewarded with a perfectly working outside temperature.

560SEC outside temperature displayThe way these units are so easy to fix also means it is an easy job to have your car in Celsius or Fahrenheit.   A used display with a cloudy LCD would be quick cheap, and then it could be fixed and put into the car.   I would have converted to Celsius when I lived in the USA.  I could never really get my head around imperial measurements.

Finally, I tested with the lights on and the illumination was a little dimmer than on the 300SE, thanks to that paper.  As it was all working perfectly, I pushed the cluster back in place.    Last step was to replace the drivers side speaker, and the job was done.

Headlights on

60th Anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type

In March 1961, the Jaguar E-Type was unveiled to the world at the Geneva Auto Show.   Few other automotive launches have captivated the public as much as the E-Type did.   Enzo Ferrari even dubbed it the most beautiful car ever made.     The E-Type would stay in production until 1975 across three different series and three major body styles.   Sixty years later, the E-Type still turns heads and is a much in demand classic car.

The Jaguar Drivers club ran an event today to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type.  The goal was to get at least 60 E-Types for a photo shoot at Mt Panorama.   In the end we got really close with 58 cars on display.   At least one car didn’t make it up to Bathurst, sadly heading back to Sydney on a tow truck with a bad clutch.

It was a beautiful day for a drive up to Bathurst.   A lovely Autumn Sydney day.   We met up at the M4 services and then drove up in a loose convoy to Bathurst.   There was a photographer along the route somewhere, so there will possibly be some good photos of the convoy coming.      The meeting point was a vineyard on the Mt Panorama circuit.    It really was a lovely venue and the cars were all lined up in one of the fields.   There was a separate place to park for the other cars.

60th Anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type

As part of the event they had a drone doing photography, a club member interviewing people about their cars and some proper photos taken of the field.

Most of the club were staying up in Bathurst, but I did it as a day trip.    I managed to drive up and back on a single tank of fuel.   My car ran well, although the brake fluid light came on a few times on the way home.  I am not sure why as I checked and there was plenty of fluid in the reservoir.

All in all, it was a great way to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type.

W126 Outside temperature LCD screen repair

For the first time since I have owned the car, my 300SE has a working outside temperature display.   Not only is it a useful feature of the car, but these small fixes can make the difference between the car seeming nice or a bit of a jalopy.

The W126 Outside temperature LCD repair is really easy.   It should be on the radar of any W126 (or W124) owner who has a failing outside temperature display.   It only took 30 minutes and is very easy.   Even better, the LCD illumination works when the headlights are on, when I thought it was broken.    I guess the old LCD was so cloudy the light couldn’t get through.

W126 Outside temperature LCDThis is my second attempt to fix the W126 Outside temperature LCD.   The first time, I bought the wrong LCD panel and them mounted it upside down.    After seeing the preliminary results, I was confident enough to order two more displays in Celsius to fix the 300SE and 560SEC.   Last time I wasn’t sure which way up the LCD went.   On closer inspection, there is a small dot in the centre on one of the long sides.   I was able to reverse how it had it previously.    Considering the ease replacement and the impact it has on the car, the new LCD panel is very good value.

W126 Outside temperature LCD

The photo above shows the two new W126 outside temperature LCD panels and the broken old one.   As with my prior attempt, the little back contact blocks need to be re-used in the temperature display unit.   As long as you’re careful, it is very easy to mount the new LCD panel.     It was a nice day when I fitted the panel today, but I can remember the display on my old 560SEC in Michican reading -20F.

Now the fix is done for my 300SE, next is to remove the instrument cluster and also repair the 560SEC display.

Update – 27/4/21:  I have now completed the job on the 560SEC too.   See that article for more details, especially how to ensure the display is not too bright.

Impact with a Kangaroo

Earlier this week I took my 250SE on an extended drive.   I had wanted to try a route going north via the Putty road, across towards Mudgee and the back.     The roads were really good but ultimately this is really a two day drive and would be more enjoyable with some more stops.    You could make a really nice weekend road trip out of this route.

Along the way I also witnessed a procession of pre-war Rolls-Royce cars on the Putty road.    It is great to see these cars being driven and used on the road.     It is really nice to get out on the open road in such a great cruising car.    I hadn’t actually planned to take the 250SE on that drive, but the day was so nice it was perfect for it.   Sunny and low 20s.

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Unfortunately, I ran into another problem – literally.   As the route took longer than I expected, I ended up on some back roads at dusk.  I slowed down because wildlife is very active at this time.     That didn’t stop me impacting a Kangaroo in the 250SE, the car I would have least wanted to damage.

The W111 cars are pretty tough so despite the impact, the damage is fixable.   The drivers side headlight is pretty much destroyed, but spare headlights are easy to come by as they are shared with the sedans.   The bodywork around the headlight is damaged, but is fixable.    There is slight damage to the grille, and perhaps the bumper, although I am not sure at this stage.

For overseas readers, Kangaroos are a real menace on the roads here in Australia.   Their population numbers can swing rapidly in the flood/drought cycle.   They are also unpredictable – they can jump towards cars, and jump into their path.   As they jump rather than walk or run, it can be hard to gauge what direction they are going to turn.   The wheels I have my my 450SLC came off a car wrecked due to Kangaroo impact.

KangarooI have lodged my insurance claim, contacted my preferred repairer, and started checking on parts.   In the off chance they still sell them, I contacted the Classic Centre to see if grille shells are still available.  Mine is dented and has three small tears.    Not surprisingly, they are no longer available, so mine will need to be repaired.    The idea that Mercedes-Benz sell all the parts for their older models is a myth.   They are still better than most, but fewer and fewer parts are available as the cars age.     The grille shell is not shared with the sedan, so is extremely rare used.

I’m obviously pretty upset about the damage to my 250SE.   However, I would rather occasionally damage the cars through use than have them sit as garage queens.    The joy of owning these cars is the experiences you have with them, not possessing them.

The Mercedes-Benz club is having a Paul Bracq day in late May.   I was planning on taking this car.   I hope I can have it repaired by then.

Before I hit the Kangaroo, I was able to snap a nice sunset photo of the car.

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Cocomats for the 250SE Cabriolet

I’ve owned my 250SE almost ten years and always had a mind to replace the cheap rubber mats with Cocomats.    Today I fitted the Cocomats I bought as part of a group buy with a few friends.    I also purchased a set for my 560SEC and went into a bit more about the purchase there.

cocomats

For the 250SE, I went with #53 Black/Grey.  This was an easy choice for the 250SE as it works well with the black interior and silver exterior.     Like the 560SEC, I went with the four piece set.    I have a centre cushion on my 250SE, so there is no console, but if there was a console there, I would have considered a console mat too.

There was a fair amount of adjustment required to the template for the 250SE.    This isn’t really that surprising given how few W111 Cabriolets were made in right hand drive, particularly the 250SE model with only 26.

UntitledAs you can see I had to be careful to go around the washer button and also the steering column.    The process of adjusting the templates is great.   It is time consuming, but it results in a set of cocomats that fit well.   Given I will probably be using these mats for a long time, it was certainly worth it.

At least if anyone else with a RHD W111 cabriolet wants a set, there is a good starting point with my template.     I don’t think my car was sold new with the Cocomats as it was picked up from the factory, but it was a common period accessory on these cars and I am really happy with them on my car.     I would recommend them for any classic Mercedes.

Cocomats for the 560SEC

A couple of months ago some of friends of suggested a group order for Cocomats. This coincided with a 15% off sale and shared shipping.   Cocomats are a floor mat made from coconut fibre and were a period accessory during the 1950s and 60s.    They were quite popular with Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and other manufacturers.    I have wanted to replace the generic rubber mats in the 250SE for a long time.    As well as the 250SE mats, I also purchased a set for the 560SEC.

I thought long and hard about which car would be best for the second set.   In the end I chose the 560SEC.   It still had the original dealer fitted mats.   Over thirty years later, the drivers mat in particular had gone all lumpy and discolored.

The cocomats are a huge change for the better.   They look great, fit really well and seem very high quality.   They are also really heavy so they don’t move around when you drive.

Cocomats

I went with #04 Blue/Natural. The Blue goes well with the Nautical Blue exterior and the Natural goes well with the cream interior.    I also considered the Natural and the Natural/White.   I am really glad I went with the Blue/Natural though.

cocomatsFor the 560SEC, I went with the four piece set.   I also considered the boot mat, but it is quite expensive for something that you don’t really see.   You can also get a small piece to go into the centre console.   It can look quite good but my console carpet is still in nice shape.

cocomats

One of the things you really notice is what a good fit the mats are.   This is because they come from templates that are specific to the car.   Additionally, because the company don’t sell all that many RHD sets, they sent us the templates in paper form to check and make adjustments.

It take a couple of hours to get the templates right, but it is worth it once you see the result.   I found the best way was to use a sharpie to mark where I would cut paper from the template, and tape bits of paper on to extend.

cocomats

Bad W126 window regulator

Another long standing to-do list item on my 300SE was the passengers side window.   Over time, the window would slip down so there was half a centimeter gap at the top.   It would also make a clunking sound at the top of the window travel.

I had purchased a good used W126 window regulator a couple of years back.   Yesterday I decided to try and fit the regulator.   To get to the W126 window regulator, the door card must be removed.     To do so, there a few screws holding it in place.    Two holding the little chrome embellisher near the door striker,  one behind the plastic backing for the door pull and three for the arm-rest.     Once the screws are out, the door card lifts up and out.   Many of these are damaged when people attempt to just pull it outwards.

Behind the door card is a moisture barrier.   Mine was in a sorry state.

W126 window regulator

I will replace this after I get the window regulator working properly. Next step was to check why the regulator wasn’t working properly. A quick test confirmed the behavior I had seen.

When I took a closer look at the mechanism, it was pretty clear why the motor was jumping like that.   The regulator was missing multiple teeth.

W126 window regulatorI wasn’t able to replace the regulator as the used unit I had was quite different to what was installed in the car.   Doing further research, it turns out it is for a coupe.    This isn’t so bad as having a coupe spare is quite useful as they are now hard to come by.

Looking at the parts catalog there are two regulator types possible for my car.   The first type was made by Brose and has part number 126 720 13 46.   I have this type on my car.   The second was made by Reitter & Schefenacker and has part number 126 720 17 46.   I understand the main difference is the number of teeth on the motor.   Therefore the difference doesn’t matter if you’re going to swap the regulator and motor as a unit.

While I was doing this job I noticed another wiring harness in the door.   It even had the little Mercedes-Benz pin connectors, so it was unlikely to be aftermarket.   Most aftermarket radios and alarms I have found in these cars were quite sloppily installed with the wires just twisted together.

I started a thread on the ozBenz forum and it turns out that it is likely from option code 551, which was the anti-theft system.   An unusual option for a low spec 300SE like this one.

Anti-theftI’ll leave the door card off while I source the new regulator.   It sure makes a difference to road noise though.

300SE cowl drains

Last year, while I was fitting the monovalve elimination kit to my 560SEC, I cleaned the drains under the cowl covers.    I also fitted a new upper seal and new shaft seals for the windscreen wipers.   The condition of those seals was even worse on the 300SE, so today I finally got around to doing the same job on that car.

I was especially keen to do this on my 300SE as water would get into the passengers foot well in the rain.   This would only happen when the car was parked nose up on an incline.   My theory was that debris may have been preventing this area from draining properly.

This job can be done in about two hours, even assuming a lot of cleaning time.   It is certainly worth doing on any W126.     As covered previously, the first step is to remove the wiper arms.   The little plastic covers flip up and the 13mm nut is behind.   The arms will only come off if they are raised.

300SE cowl drains

The drain covers are next. At least on right hand drive cars, the cover is in two pieces. There is a plastic fastener that holds the two pieces together that is just pulled out. The top seal is available for purchase, and these are often in poor shape after 20 years. The picture below shows the edge of the seal on my 300SE. The middle wasn’t quite as bad.

The lower seal is generally in much better shape as its covered by the bonnet. I was not able to find a replacement for this, but could re-use both of my seals. Once the seals are off, there are metal clips that hold the cowl drain covers to the firewall. Once those clips are removed, the drain covers can be gently lifted up. The metal clips hold it to the outer firewall and the covers have molded edges to clip in under the windscreen. I found an old toothbrush to be useful to clean the mesh part of the covers.

Unlike the 560SEC, which had debris from leaves in the cowl area, the 300SE had fairly thick dirt. No rust had started that I could see. The drain holes were open, but the thick dirt may have prevented the water getting to the drains in all circumstances. I’m hoping this cleaning of the 300SE cowl drains will stop water getting into the cabin and prevent rust.

300SE cowl drains

I’m not sure what it is fore, but there was a wiring harness that looked factory coming through the firewall into the cowl drain area.   Instead of being plugged into anything, it had just been taped up.   Please post in the comments section if you know what this is for.

300SE cowl drains

I was actually expecting more debris and some blockages here, so I guess it is possible that something like the windscreen seal is also leaking.   It’s certainly a lot cleaner than it was.

300SE cowl drains

Once cleaned, its quite easy to replace the covers and the two seals. I used my new upper seal and the new wiper shaft seals.

UntitledThis is the sort of job that is good to do at home as it would be expensive to get a mechanical to properly clean out this area.   Removing these covers really is very simple and the whole job takes about two hours, taking your time.   Having owned this car four years, I really should have done it sooner.

M117 fan controller prototype

A couple of months ago I tried a modification on my 560SEL to trigger the auxiliary cooling fan earlier.   The primary reason for this was to provide adequate air flow over the A/C condenser in stop/go traffic.   The W126 A/C was designed for R12 refrigerant and is marginal at best with R134A.    I used a resistor to trick the fan into running at a lower temperature.   It worked, but the temperature kick in was a bit higher than I wanted and the wiring was messy.    I thought a better solution would be to build a proper M117 fan controller.

The heart of the controller would be a potentiometer.    I had previously used a 1.1k ohm resistor which wasn’t quite enough.   A 0-2k potentiometer should give me all the range I needed to fine tune the cut in point.   My plan was then to build the potentiometer into a housing and leverage Mercedes-Benz connectors so it snaps right into the factory wiring harness.    That way, removing my M117 fan controller would be a simple matter of unplugging it.

M117 fan controller

The only downside of this plan for me is that it requires soldering. I hate soldering and use crimped connections where possible. The wiring above shows the rough layout of the controller. This then sites inside a metal hobby box with the plastic Mercedes connectors.

M117 fan controller

Once completed, I tried my M117 fan controller prototype in my 560SEC. I had checked the resistance with a multi-meter so I was surprised when I couldn’t get the fan to kick in even with the resistance at zero. Turns out the relay had died. Swapping the high speed relay with the low speed relay had the fan whirring into life.

Overall I am very happy with the M117 fan controller prototype. I have already identified two changes I would make to it. First one would be fitting the wiring to the housing before I soldered the Mercedes terminals so I only needed one hole at each end of the housing. Secondly would be to make the wires a bit longer to allow the box to fit into a better location. I have noticed that the knob is quite sensitive so minute adjustments are required. This isn’t really a problem as I will probably mark where the normal adjustment point I like is.

M117 fan controller

I’ll probably run the prototype for a few weeks and then build two more units as the permanent solution for both 560s.

S211 Tail light bulbs

My wife’s E350 Wagon recently started throwing up error messages about burned out tail light bulbs in the dash.   Turns out, this is not nearly as easy a fix as you would expect.   First, I consulted the owners manual.    The manual tells you that these bulbs are not user serviceable and do take the car to your Mercedes-Benz dealership.   I wasn’t really interested in a visit there, so I started trying to work out how to change the S211 tail light bulbs myself.

In the end I purchased a whole new rear light assembly from the USA.   From the USA it ended up being about $200.    They are pretty easy to swap over and I had the job done in a few minutes.   The side trim pops off and there are four 8mm nuts to remove.

S211 tail light bulbs

The old light assembly was clearly original to the car judging by the date sticker. Once I had it off I had a closer look at it to see if the old bulbs could have been changed. It doesn’t seem like the bulbs an be changed, but there is a sub assembly that they are attached to. On the EPC its listed as a ‘Lamp carrier’ so I assumed it was some kind of mounting bracket. In retrospect I could have just replaced this at 1/4 of the price and had a working light.

If I had taken more time when replacing the cracked tail light on the other side a year or so back, I would have saved that bulb carrier and had a repair for free this time. I have of course kept the old light assembly in case the current one is damaged. In that case I could use the old assembly with the new bulb carrier.

The photo below shows the carrier removed from the light assembly. It looks like the S211 tail light bulbs should be replaceable, but from all I can see they are not.

S211 tail light bulbsWhile I was at it, I also replaced the parking light at the front.   This was a simple bulb, same type as used in many of the older cars so I had one in my bulb drawer.