W126 front window regulator

Back a few weeks ago I identified the problems with my power window was the W126 front window regulator.   In particular, the passengers side front.   The regulator was missing some teeth.  I had bought a new one some weeks ago, but the regulator was in the shipment that FedEx lost.    I went with a VDO regulator as I expected it to be higher quality than a Meyle unit.

Due to the lost parcel, I had been driving around with the door card removed for weeks.   I was rather pleased to see the box arrive yesterday.   The new regulator looked identical to the old one.

W126 front window regulator

I wasn’t looking forward to this job.  I expected it to be quite time consuming.   In the end, I was pleasantly surprised.   The workshop manual had a good step by step guide to removing the old regulator.   I had it out in a few minutes.   The most difficult part was removing the slide from the window channel.

Once I had removed the old W126 front window regulator, the next step was swapping the motor.   I carefully cleaned up the old hardened grease as best I could.   There is a metal plate that bolts on to hold the motor to the teeth and I gave this bit a good clean in brake cleaner.   I didn’t want to use that so close to the motor so I used rags for the motor and the window channel.

W126 front window regulator

The new regulator came with two plastic spacers that were not present on my old one.   I used them on the two bolts next to the teeth.   That seemed the most reasonable place, although they were not mentioned in the workshop manual.   I’m not sure if this is right.

I put plenty of new grease on the moving parts of the new regulator.   Getting it back in was also quite easy.   The instructions had the usual (and useless) comment that installation is the reverse of the removal.   I found that the easiest way to do it was to first put the slide on the window channel (with new grease), then the bolt to the other side of the window, then the regulator to the door, then the other slide to the door.   While I still had access to the inside of the door I sprayed it with fish oil.

The most tedious part of the job was getting the door card on properly without breaking all the tabs.   The moisture barrier on my car was completely shredded, so I made a new one of out builders film.   It worked reasonably well.  I first cut a rough shape and then taped it to the door.  I then used a sharpie to work out where I needed to trim and some adhesive to stick it to the door.

Builders filmGetting all the hooks into the door at the same time took me ages.   I hadn’t removed the upper window trim, so I found it easier to get the first tab on the left started away from the window trim then slide it across.   The bottom tab was also a pain.   The wiring for the light then needs to be pushed into a little hole which leads to the cavity where the light is.   I found the only way to do that was lying down under the door.   I also used a pick tool to get the door lock button through its little hole.

door card done

All this trim is now very brittle after 30+ years.  I managed not to break any of the door trim but the tab to hold in the lower light snapped off.   I’ll have to see if that light is still available.   After replacing the W126 front window regulator I now have a properly working front passengers window.   There is also a strip of glass I have never seen now it rises to the top.

Reinstalling W126 self-leveling rear suspension

The previous owner of my 560SEL had the self-leveling rear suspension removed.    He told me that he was having problems with it, and the suspension shop he took that car to (Pedders) advised him to remove it.   This was pretty bad advice, but he wasn’t to know that.   A 560SEL should have a supple ride, but my car rode like an old pickup truck.   The Pedders springs and shocks were overly firm and caused the rear to bounce around.   It may have been better with three heavy adults in the back but my children are six, four and four, so even with them in the car, the ride was no better.

Obviously a W126 can ride well without self-leveling suspension.   It was only standard on the 560 models and all models sold in Australia.    The models originally not equipped with self-leveling suspension had specific springs and spring pads to ensure a good ride.   In the workshop manual there is a rather complex table where you work out the number of points you car has based on the model and installed options and that determines the springs and spring pads that should be used.

Instead of reinstalling W126 self-leveling rear suspension, I could have procured the right springs for my car.   560SELs were never sold without SLS, but 500SELs were, so I could have extrapolated the number of points and used springs for a heavily optioned 500SEL.   The cost of this approach probably wouldn’t have been a great deal less than putting back in the correct suspension for my car.

The main reasons why I decided reinstalling W126 self-leveling rear suspension was the best approach was that I really like the way this suspension rides; It is the correct suspension for my car; and the system had been removed in a way that made reinstallation reasonably straightforward.   In a previous article I went over this and the parts I would need.  If the pump had been removed and blanked off, and leveling valve removed, this would have made things much harder.

I found a set of good used struts and springs from a local Mercedes dismantler.   They were not cheap.   I am still on the look out for another spare set.   At the time, I considered having them rebuilt but they were not leaking and seemed in good condition.

I had the work done about a year ago.   At the time I was quite busy with work and forgot to write up the article.   I also hadn’t been back under the car to take some photos.   I didn’t attempt this myself as I wasn’t comfortable compressing the springs, and reinstalling W126 self-leveling rear suspension is quite different from just simple component replacement.    Down the line, If I have a bad accumulator or leaking strut, I would probably do this myself.

reinstalling W126 self-leveling rear suspension

The photo above shows the re-installed strut and spring combination.    The spheres and hoses are all new parts, as are the rubber bushings.   I also needed a new control rod to set the height.   Used accumulator sphere are available, but I would advise against them. They are a wear item.

reinstalling W126 self-leveling rear suspension

After the system was installed, I took the car for a long drive.   What a difference.   It really is transformed.   It now drives like an S-Class should.   Even thought it ended up being expensive, I do not regret reinstalling W126 self-leveling rear suspension.   The main advice I would give anyone who has one of these cars is not to remove it.   Most of the time it is removed at significant expense, the issue can be traced back to worn out accumulator spheres.   They are not that expensive and easy to replace.   The struts can be rebuilt, pumps re-sealed, hoses repaired and so on.   I’ve now driven the car another 5,000km, and I really enjoy the ride in this car.

I’m still on the hunt for another set of struts.  I recently found a set for a very good price in the USA, but Fedex lost my package.  It also contained some workshop manuals I had been searching for a long time as well.

MBCNSW June Night Drive – Berowra Ferry

Today was the June MBCNSW night drive.   This month, we had planned to do the route originally planned for March.   Back then, Sydney had just experienced the worst storms in 60 years.  Our route was not going to be possible after all the storm damage.   We also had to postpone our planned route tonight.   We were supposed to drive over Berowra ferry, but as we got close to it there were signs indicating the ferry was closed for urgent repairs.

Instead of taking the Ferry, we headed up to Peats Ridge via the Old Pacific Highway.   We took the old highway back as far as Mooney Mooney and then the motorway to Thornleigh McDonalds.

June Night DriveWe’ll try and reschedule our original route for later in the year.   A few of us did the route as a dry run back in February and it was quite good.    Being Winter, the popularity of the night drives drops off.   Still, we had seven cars and despite the threat of rain, and COVID19, the drive was a big success.

I took my 560SEC and it ended up being the oldest car there.   That is somewhat amusing since it is the newest car I own.   There is normally a good variety of cars at the night drives.   As well as my SEC, there was a 420SEL.   It was also nice to see a W140 in the form of an S420.   It is quite rare to see W140s at club events.

June Night Drive

As well as the three older cars there was a good selection of late model Mercedes including an E400 Cabriolet, an AMG GT, CLA45S and C300.  Both of the AMGs are not garage queens – they are regularly used by their owners which is great.

Despite a second failed attempt at our route, the June night drive was still a lot of fun.

450SLC rear windscreen screen rust update

A couple of weeks ago I discovered rust around the rear windscreen in my 450SLC.   At the time, I was having the 450SLC rear windscreen changed for a unit in better condition than mine.    The rear screen seal was replaced back in 2006, but no sealant was used.   Even though the car has been garaged the whole time, water had gotten stuck between the seal and the metal.   While the cars were originally built without additional sealer, it is generally a good idea to use it.   It stops the water getting stuck behind the seal like it did on my car.

I took the car in to All Classic Car restorations who do all my body work.  They have now scraped back all the rust and it was even worse than it appeared.   As well as the two major rust areas, rust was starting all around the lower part of the seal.

450SLC rear windscreenAt some point, probably before I owned the car, a very rough hole was drilled for the heated rear window connection.   You can see there is a factory hole on the inside of the cabin of the car.  On my car, somebody had drilled a very rough hole for these wires.   Since this area of the car has to be welded, it will be fixed along with the rust holes.

450SLC rear windscreenIts amazing how many hacks and shortcuts you find when you own these old cars that have been left from previous repairs.   The two major holes are the ones that were already evident.   There was a lot of smaller surface rust that would have turned into additional holes if left untreated.

450SLC rear windscreenThis is a really common area for rust on these cars.   The 450SLC rear windscreen traps water under the seal and then rust invariably forms.   This then causes the rear window to delaminate.   A delaminating rear window was the reason why I was changing mine out.

Next week the paint should go on and then I can have the good used rear screen fitted.   With plenty of sealer of course.

560SEC performance exhaust

Last year I had the exhaust replaced on my 560SEL.   At the time the exhaust was rubbing on the drive shaft and had a few holes.   I had a custom stainless system built that I am really happy with.    This year I saved up to do the same thing on the 560SEC.   While the SEC’s exhaust wasn’t rubbing, it was starting to get a few rust holes.  It was also sometimes scraping on the ground even after replacing some hangers.  In addition, somebody had previously removed the back box and welded in an oval tip I didn’t think suited the car.   It’s been bugging me since I bought the car back in 2018.

As the SEC is the 10:1 compression ECE model, it has a different exhaust system as standard than my 560SEL.    The exhaust manifolds are two piece on each bank and go through longer headers. This is illustrated in the picture above that can be compared to picture in the 560SEL article.    This is often referred to as the ‘tri-y’ system.    Based on this, I was looking for a 560SEC performance exhaust.

As can be seen in the picture below, my new exhaust retains this feature. It is now in stainless steel 2″ pipe. I’ve saved the original pieces to remain with the car too.

560SEC performance exhaustThe system continues as dual 2″ pipes to a single centre muffler that replaces the factory kidney mufflers.    I’ve not seen stats, but the kidney mufflers seem very restrictive.    My straight through centre muffler should work much better.    The rear muffler is also much smaller than the factory rear box.   I was looking for something with a bit more presence, but without droning at speed or being obnoxious.

560SEC performance exhaustIn having this system built, the other thing I was basing this off was the contemporary AMG systems.   The main difference is the AMG systems came straight out the back.   I didn’t want to modify my rear bumper or have the exhaust hang low, so I used the factory cut out.    You can see the AMG system in the centre and the tips on the bottom left.

I had actually bought some AMG style tips, but due to the curvature required in the exhaust, I had these tips made up.   I think its a pretty good compromise to make sure the exhaust doesn’t impact any curbs.  My 560SEC performance exhaust sounds great and it should last a long time

560SEC performance exhaust

W126 B-Pillar trims

The W126 introduced a lot of new features for Mercedes-Benz.   A small convenience feature is the height adjustable seatbelt for the front seat passengers.   This feature brought with it a few problem.   The W126 B-pillar trims.   The MB-TEX on the B-pillar starts to separate from the pillar around the height adjuster.    Its an endemic problem and common to the W124 as well.     It was already occurring on my old 300E which was 15 years old at the time.

W126 B-Pillar trimsThe W126 B-Pillar trims are quite easily removed.   I didn’t attempt to fix this job myself.  I would have only made it worse.   Instead, I took the car to a professional trimmer.   Its not a hard job for a trimmer and the results will be a lot better.

A friend of mine with a 420SEL, also with grey interior, had the same problem so we did them together.   The trimmer was able to made one order for both jobs.   Interestingly, his car was an airbag equipped 1989 model.   The inside of the B-pillar was different – mine was two pieces riveted together and his was one cast piece.  Perhaps a simplification for SRS.

In any case this small fix has really transformed the interior.   The old ripped trim was quite obvious, especially compared to the rest of the interior which is in very good shape.

W126 B-Pillar trimsWhile the car was at the trimmers I had another common W126 issue fixed.    It was obvious there was a broken spring in the drivers seat.  I could hear it grinding and one side of the seat was lower than the other.   The W126 seat bases seem more susceptible to broken springs than the earlier cars.   At the same time I had the ‘taxi blocks’ installed.   These are factory foam inserts that fit into the front spring coils to strengthen the seat.   They are still available from Mercedes and have the part number 126 914 22 15.    They will already be present if you have option 561 – Reinforced front drivers seat.

spring blocksNow my drivers seat is much more comfortable, does not sag to one side, and doesn’t make noises.   These sort of repairs can make a really big difference to how the car drives.

250SE crash repair update – paint

Today I went by to check out how things were going on the 250SE crash repair.   Last week the panel work was nearly complete and the car was almost ready for pant.    The paint was just done yesterday so it was good timing to take a look at the car.    It’s looking really good!

250SE crash repairThe front chassis, wing and bonnet are now all painted and they look perfect.   The leading edge of the bonnet got a few scratches from the Kangaroo’s head.  the area of the wing just to the left of the grille took the brunt of the damage.   You certainly would not know now.

250SE crash repairThe front wing is quite an interesting shape with the headlight bucket and the front area next to the grille.   It doesn’t seem like something you could easily just ‘stamp’ out.

250SE crash repairThe bonnet is going to look really good with the repaired grille on it.   The 250SE is painted 180 Silver Grey.   You can see the difference of the colour when its parked next to a later silver like Astral Silver.

By early next week the panels should be back on the car and just waiting the grille and various bits to arrive.   The grille mesh is coming from Egypt, but it still hasn’t left there for some reason.   Possibly not as many flight options as before COVID.

I’m really looking forward to getting this car back on the road and behind the wheel again.     I’m really happy with how the 250SE crash repair is going.   They are doing a great job on the car.

Guest Article Update: Mrfrotop’s 1978 280CE

After purchasing my 280CE, I was keen to discover more about its history.   Through the history file, I was able to make contact with the 3rd owners of the 280CE, the lovely John & Jenny. They owned the CE from Jan 1995 to Oct 2011 during which it was cared for and meticulously maintained by an expert mechanic (Peter Klarenbeek, ACT).

In their care, the CE also underwent a full engine rebuild, which explains why it runs so well for a 445,000km car. I always felt that this little coupe was shown some love at some stage in its life, and now I know why.

I also learned that the first owner of the car was a dentist who picked the car up from the factory in Stuttgart.   From there, it went to a merchant seaman before being purchased by John and Jenny.

Today, I was able to finally meet John and Jenny and let them see the car they owned ten years ago is still going strong.   Thank you John and Jenny, it was a pleasure to meet you.

Author: John Tawadros.   John is a member of the Mercedes-Benz Club of NSW and the proud owner of a 1972 280SE 3.5 and now a 1978 280CE.   You can follow his adventures with both of these cars at his Instagram feed Mrfrotop

MBCNSW May 2021 night drive to Bilpin

Last night was the monthly MBCNSW May 2021 Night drive.   This month we did a repeat of our very successful November 2020 drive to Bilpin.    As with last time, we met in Windsor and then headed up to the Apple pie cottage for a late dessert.

MBCNSW May 2021 night drive

Unlike the warm summer weather of last year, it was a little colder last night.   Only one brave soul (our club president) did the drive with the top down, with temperatures ranging between 5-13C.    Probably due to the cooler weather, the turn out was a bit smaller, but we still have 11 people on the drive.

MBCNSW May 2021 night drive

This time instead of heading up through Richmond, we took a back road through Freemans Reach.   It was a much nicer drive and one I would do again.  The drive up to Bilpin is very pleasant at night with minimal trucks to get stuck behind and a lack of traffic in general.

MBCNSW May 2021 night driveThe only downside is that I am pretty sure I was nabbed by a hidden mobile speeed camera on the way back.   NSW has removed all warning signs from their mobile speed cameras in the last few months.   Revenues are up by an order of magnitude and of course road deaths are unchanged.   This particular camera was on a long straight stretch of road with no hazards to speak of, and at 1:30AM with no other cars.   I can’t think of a more blatant attempt at additional taxation.

450SLC Rear screen rust

A couple of years ago, MB Spares & Service closed their spare parts division to focus on their restoration and servicing business.  At that time, I was able to buy a very nice rear screen for a C107 SLC.   The car that it came out of was very rusty, but surprisingly not around the rear screen.   My screen is quite delaminated from previous rust around the screen area.    As you can see from the picture below, the new screen is really good.

450SLC rear screen

After having that screen sitting in the garage for the last couple of years, I figured it was time to have it fitted.    I purchased a new seal, and had a screen fitter who was recommended to me come to do the job.

I had previously (in 2006), had rust removed from around the rear screen and a new seal fitted.   Based on that repair, and with the car garged during this time, I figured it would be a simple swap job on the 450SLC rear screen.   I was wrong.

Once the fitter removed the old screen I was greeted by rust in a few places around the rear window aperture.   Unfortunately, when the rear screen was fitted, they hadn’t used any sealer between the body and the seal.

450SLC rear screenThe worst area is right in the middle, just to the right of the first aid kit box, but there are other smaller areas of rust around the 450SLC rear screen.  Obviously, at that point we had to stop.   It would have been really silly to fit the new screen back with this rust.    We left the screen out so I can arrange to repair the rust.   After that, we will get back to fitting it.   I’m hoping the rust can be fixed without disturbing the paint that is visible.

While I am at it, I can also move over the connection for the heated rear window as well.

450SLC rear screen