M272 Camshaft adjuster replacement

I really dislike the check engine light.    To me its an altogether silly concept given the digital dashboards cars are equipped with.    It can mean anything from a loose fuel cap to a destroyed engine, so consequently people just ignore it.    Modern cars know a whole lot more about what is wrong with them.  Instead of posting a reasonable error message on the dash read out, like they do for a blown bulb, you get the check engine light.     My wife’s E350 had the light come on a few weeks ago.    You could also tell that the engine wasn’t  as lively – it would bog down from time to time.

I got out my scan tool to work out what was wrong.    The main code that seemed relevant was P0016.   This was complaining about the correlation of the crankshaft and camshaft positions.    There was a more detailed one that indicated the right cylinder bank was too retarded.   The M272 camshaft adjuster is a known problem on these cars.   Apparently the part has been upgraded since the engines were new.   It is also the same system on the M273 V8 engine.

From what I read, the M272 and M273 engines use these magnetic camshaft adjusters to control the variable valve timing.   They obviously contribute to the good power these engines make for their size as I could notice the difference with three cylinder retarded.

Its not a big job to change these out, at least on the V6.    I would imagine the v8 is also pretty easy, just a bit less room.    FCP Euro sell a kit which includes the four genuine M272 camshaft adjuster units as well as some other parts to do the job.    All the instructions I found on the internet assume that the oil cooler and power steering reservoir must be removed to get at the adjusters on the left hand side of the car.     I also found a video that indicated that the oil cooler could be left in place if the job was done with an E8 Torx spanner rather than a socket.    As well as the kit, I also ordered a set of Torx spanners.

M272 Camshaft Adjuster

This spanner was a really good tip.  I used it quite a lot and found that I didn’t even need to remove the power steering reservoir.    This made the job a lot simpler.   I started on the harder left hand side.   The first thing to do is to disconnect all four M272 Camshaft adjuster units.   There is a grey locking tab that must be pushed up carefully with a flat heat screwdriver.   Then, to actually release the connector you need to push down around this locking tab.     I also found it easier to remove all four connectors to the camshaft position sensors.   Mine were quite brittle and the two that still had locking tabs don’t anymore.    Also, to get to the upper adjuster on the left hand side, I had to remove the corresponding position sensor.

M272 camshaft position sensor

Once you’ve done the hard side, the other side is really easy.   There is almost nothing in the way of these bolts.

Each of the M272 Camshaft adjuster units is held on with three E8 torx bolts.   I found the only a couple of them could easily be removed with a socket and the E8 spanner was really useful.   As I mentioned above, the spanner meant I didn’t need to remove the oil cooler or even the power steering reservoir.

The old sensors were quite dirty.   For an engine that has only 172,000km and has been maintained as per the factory service recommendations, there was more sludge on them than I would like.    I think perhaps the manufacturers have stretched out the oil change intervals too long.   This sounds good for buyers as it makes them appear to be cheaper to run, but the idea of a modern Mercedes being cheap to run is laughable.   A couple more oil filters and a bit more oil would be a drop in the ocean compared to the real cost of these cars.

M272 Camshaft position sensor

This job is quite simple and easy for home DIY.

W111 Battery

I had recently noticed that the battery on the 250SE was not in good health.   The battery disconnect switch I built a few years ago has a battery health indicator included.   Even when connected to the trickle charger it was showing orange.   I also noticed that the trickle charger would sometimes go into error mode.    My battery tester showed that it was well below where it should be.     I had only replaced the W111 battery in the 250SE about four years ago, which is a pretty short life.

I was never happy with the battery I put in the car four years ago.   It was a DIN53MF battery and it was quite a bit shorter than the frame allowed.   This small size gave me only 500CCA; 54Ah and a reserve capacity of 90 minutes.   In theory nothing wrong with these specs, but my experience tells me that a small battery on these old cars just doesn’t last very long.   Even if a trickle charger is used.   The W111 battery is under different strains than in a modern car.   These old starters can draw quite a lot of current and older cars require more cranking.   Additionally, the alternator, at 35A, is quite small.   At idle, it probably barely provides enough power if multiple accessories are being used.

This time, I was keen to find a much better battery for the car.   I wanted at least 650CCA.   The battery also needed to fit properly in the factory frame.   This wasn’t as easy as you might think.    As far as I can tell, there is not a global standard for battery sizes.   From what I can tell, the USA uses ‘group sizes’, the are DIN sizes and then there are another set of battery sizes.   I couldn’t even find a nice simple publication of available battery sizes and what they meant.

That meant I had to go to to the manufacturer websites and examine their product catalogs as compared to the measurements I made.   Once I was close I had to take the frame into the various shops and try the frame.   I even contacted somebody selling a W111 sedan to see what their Bosch battery was!

I started to narrow it down to a two candidates.   A Century 67MF and a SuperCharge MF78.   In the end I went with neither!   The other frustration I found was that most battery stores carry at most two brands.   This made it hard to go to once place and try out their batteries.   I found a shop in Tempe that stocked a number of brands, including Century and SuperCharge.

The proprietor of the shop was a bit perplexed as to what I wanted to do but seemed happy enough for me to start trying my frame on his batteries.   He didn’t have the MF78 in stock, but I ended up finding something better.    I went with a SuperCharge MF66H.   This W111 battery gave me a big boost in capacity.   I now had 750CCA, 80Ah and a reserve capacity of 154 minutes.   I had previously ruled this size out as the frame wouldn’t fit.   The SuperCharge is a bit different to the other brands in that the top moulding allowed the frame to just fit over.   The major difference was the vent ports did not stick out to be flush with the side of the battery.

W111 Battery

I did have to give the frame a few knocks with a rubber mallet to get it to go on, but overall it fit snugly.    To fit the battery I had to buy a battery terminal spreader as I had slightly damaged the terminal on the old battery installing it.

W111 Battery

The last thing I did was to give the new battery a quick test, which showed up as 810 CCA, well above the rated capacity. This is pretty typical as most batteries are better than their rated capacity when new and gradually degrade over time.  As can be seen in the pictures above, the battery is a perfect fit in the frame and gives me the capacity I was looking for.

Due to the weather, I have not taken the car on a proper drive yet, but when moving it to get the DS out, it started up very quickly.

Auto Brunch St Ives March 2021

I visited the St Ives Auto Brunch event again this month.   Like last time, the event was huge – probably slightly bigger this time.   Due to other commitments i didn’t even get to see all the cars yet I was there for over two hours.

I got there about 7;30AM and there were already queues to get in.    While there is a bit of chaos, I like they have not brought in over zealous security guards that would just spoil this event.   One thing that would be good would have been if they were to open a few more of the grassy areas to park cars.

This time I took the 560SEC.   I’ve not displayed that car at Auto Brunch before.   It was a Mercedes-Benz club official event, so I didn’t even need to fill in the log book.   There were also a fair few Mercedes-Benz’s on display, including a number of SL models, including 107, 113, 121 and 129.     It was also an official event for the Citroen Club, so this time there was a nice display of Classic Citroens including a DS, a CX, a GS and a couple of 2CVs.    It’s a shame I had already sold my Traction before I started coming to this event, as it would have been nice to display it there.

It must have also been an official event for the Jensen Club too.   There was a really nice selection of cars, obviously the Interceptor and FF, but also some of their earlier models.

Auto Brunch St Ives

There were also other highlights including an NSU Ro80, an amazing early Rolls Royce (Silver Ghost I think), a lot of nice Jags, a WO Bentley, and a really nice Maserati.    I had two of my kids with me and their highlight was being able to sit in a real racing car, which one owner kindly allowed them to do.

There is always something different to see at St Ives Auto Brunch, which is what keeps me coming back.   It is better to get there around 7:30AM before it gets really busy driving in.

Citroen DS air cleaner bracket

A couple of weeks ago, while a friend of mine was over helping me install a rebuilt hydraulic pump, we noticed the rattle from my engine was coming from the air cleaner. On further inspection, I found the bracket was broken.  I was luckily able to get a good used one.    A friend had one on hand.    It had some rubber grommets that were obviously missing from my previous bracket.   it also looks very slightly different, so I guess the Citroen DS air cleaner bracket was changed during production.

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The ‘new’ one on the left looks a bit sturdier too.    The stiffening piece in the middle is full length, instead of just around the mounting holes.   That isn’t how mine failed though.    Changing the Citroen DS air cleaner bracket was really easy.   I had already sprayed penetrating oil on the nuts, so they came right off.

UntitledThe easy part of the job was over.   Re-installing the air cleaner to the bracket is a major pain.   The first thing I noticed was that with the grommets, the air cleaner no longer fit on properly.    The air cleaner housing has three captive bolts that go through the holes on the Citroen DS air cleaner bracket.   There are also spacers on these bolts, that hold the air cleaner at the right height.   Probably, because the rubber grommets were missing on my old bracket, there were also some nuts after the spacers.   I removed those, so there was enough room to bolt the air cleaner to the bracket.

UntitledI used a washer with each nut on the underside of the Citroen DS air cleaner bracket.   This job is really fiddly.   You can only get about two fingers of each hand under the bracket.   A magnetic pick up tool is a must as it would be impossible to not drop the washer and nuts a few times.   I found a long spanner was the most useful for the drivers side front bracket, a socket on a thumbscrew for the drivers side rear, and a short spanner for the passengers side.    The whole job took about two hours which was about three times what I thought it should.

I think this was a pretty poor design on Citroen’s part.   If the captive bolts were in the bracket, and the nuts inside the air cleaner housing it would be a very simple job indeed.  I suspect this would have been more expensive to produce.

Starting the engine, I didn’t notice the rattle any more.   I wasn’t able to take the car for a test drive, as it was parked in by four other cars, but I will do so soon.     When I first heard that rattle, I thought it may be from the engine, so if this is the complete fix, that is excellent news.

Waterfall to Bulli night drive

Last night was the February 20201 MBCNSW Night Drive.   This month’s route was Waterfall to Bulli.   The rain all through the week in Sydney had been raining, but it finished just before the start of the drive and the weather was actually good the whole time.   It probably kept a few people away though.

As usual there was a good mix of cars  – the expected bad weather did skew it more towards moderns than normal.   I took my 300SE along for this drive.   It was the first lone drive in the car since the new oil pump was fitted.   The car performed well – the drive required extended high RPM running and the engine seemed to be running very sweetly.

Waterfall to Bulli

The route we took was a bit different from the usual Royal Nation Park run.   Instead of entering the park at Farnell avenue, we drove down the main highway until Waterfall.   We then took the tight windy sections of Lady Wakehurst drive before exiting the park and taking the old highway past the Sublime point lookout.   This was a nice change, and done partly because there had been recent reports of hoons running through the park at crazy speeds and the subsequent police crack downs.   We didn’t want to get involved in either of those things.

Waterfall to Bulli

We finished up at a McDonalds.   They are always good finishing spots for the night drives as many of them are open 24×7.   It is one of the few places to consistently do that.    The also generally have good, well lit parking lots.   The route worked well and those who attended enjoyed the drive from Waterfall to Bulli.

M103 Oil Pump catastrophic failure

My 1986 300SE is now back in business with good oil pressure.   Turns out the reason why the oil pressure was low was a catastrophic failure of the oil pump itself.  In the last part, I had narrowed the problem down to most likely being the pump.   I assumed that something was either blocking the screen or the pressure relief valve was stuck.    At this point it was time to take the car to a professional mechanic to have a look.

On the M103, the engine has to be raised to remove the one piece sump.   Once the sump and oil pump were removed, it was quickly apparent what the problem was.   The screen was fine – intact and no blockages.   The real issue was Oil pump catastrophic failure.

As can be seen in the picture below, there are big chunks out of the pump housing.   These have gone through the impeller gears and chewed them up badly.

M103 Oil Pump Catastrophic Failure

There is a second chunk out of the bottom of the housing too.   My theory is the first chunk broke off and it was debris from this chunk that then cause the second hole in the oil pump.     Along the way the impeller gears were badly scored and if you rub your finger on the housing you can feel where it was damaged too.

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While the sump was removed, it was carefully checked for any debris.  None was found.   I never saw any when I changed the oil, or when I took off the valve cover.   My assumption that the oil filter caught it.   I can no longer cut open that filter to check though.   In my opinion the cartridge style filters are much better than spin-on.  I always inspect the filter itself when removing it.   This is not easily done with the spin-on filter.

The pump was replaced with a new Febi unit.   I wouldn’t have normally used a Febi for something like this, but I remember on a video from the MMWA youtube channel that the M104 Febi pump is made in Germany.   This proved right as the new pump arrived marked as made in West Germany.

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The new pump is now installed and the car is running well.  I’ve done a few hundred kilometers on the car and I have not noticed any issues.    The failure of the original pump is interesting.   My mechanic, who is very experienced in these cars had not seen a failure like that before.   I had also not found anyone on forums mentioning such a failure either.    I made a video (below) to better show the failed oil pump.   You can see the carnage in more graphic detail than you can with the photos above.

2021 Shannons Summer Auction Preview

Today I went to the new Shannons Auction rooms to see some of the upcoming auction lots for the 2021 Shannons Summer Auction.   There have been a number of changes to how Shannons run their auctions since the COVID19 outbreak, and I think they are for the better.

Instead of separate Sydney and Melbourne auctions, they now run a combined online auction.   The cars are still available for viewing in both their Sydney and Melbourne auction rooms.   The Sydney location is much better than before – bigger, brighter and easier to see the cars.   I’m told this location will also be available for car club events too.

There are also some very interesting lots in Melbourne but I have not seen them, so I will only be covering the Sydney based cars here.

Lot 157:  1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SE Coupe

Regular readers of this site will know I am a huge fan of the two door W111 Mercedes-Benz rage.  This lot was an honest looking coupe, which seemed in very nice original condition.   I think white is not the best colour for these cars, but if you’re going to have one in white, the dark red interior is the best.   It is quite similar to the car I used to own, except this one is in much nicer shape.   The guiding price of $75-100k seems reasonable based on recent prices.   Certainly these cars have shot up a lot in the last 2-3 years as it wasn’t all that long ago that this was a $40k car.

The 280 benefits from a more powerful engine than the earlier cars, but looses out on some of the nicer interior touches such as the wooden instrument cluster binnacle.   This car does have the Behr air conditioning system vs the aftermarket unit that many have.

280SE

Lot 170: 1959 Mercedes-Benz 300d ‘Adenauer’

Another classic Mercedes-Benz – this time the fabled Adenauer.   In this case the 300d, which was improved from the previous 300 models.  These cars really do have beautiful lines and the pillarless construction makes the interior really airy.

This car looked in nice original shape, similar to the 280SE Coupe.   Black with a red interior is the best colour combination for these cars in my view.   My only real criticism is the modern radio in the dash.   Its great that the original radio has been preserved, but the modern one should have been hidden.

The guiding range is $70-90k

300Lot 172 – 1966 Mercedes Benz 300SE Coupe (with M100 transplant)

Lot 172 is not an original Mercedes-Benz model.  Rather, it is a tribute to a model that might have been.     The M100 engine was original created for the 600, however Mercedes-Benz did create the W109 300SEL 6.3 ‘hotrod’.   They never expected this car to be a big seller, so I imagine it wasn’t seen as viable to also create a saloon version.   Interestingly, the test mule for the car was a rejected 250SE Coupe body shell so there is precedent.

In doing the conversion, they obviously used an early 6.3 engine as the transmission has the park position at the bottom.   The condition of the car is really nice.  The colour stands out and the quality of the work in doing this car is evident.   Having said that, I have heard its not all that great to drive by somebody who has.   That was some years ago, so its possible any faults have been corrected.

I find it interesting they didn’t use the normal bumpers for a 1966 300SE.   Rather they have used later bumpers with rubber inserts.   Personally, I would have used the earlier ones had I been building the car.    Overall I really like the car.   I’m not normally one for modified cars, but this car looks like it has been done right.

The guiding price is $200-$240,000 which is about double what it sold for some years back.   Having said that, you couldn’t build one for less in this condition.    Not sure I would want to spend that sort of money for a non-original car.   You could have an original 300SE and an original 300SEL 6.3 for that money.

300SE

As well as these Mercedes-Benz models, there were also a number of classic Alfa-Romeos that caught my eye.  I really don’t know much about these cars, but they are very impressive and I would love to own an Alfa one day.    There was also a white 3.8 MK2 Jaguar that can be seen in the picture next to the 300SE.    Its the right spec, manual with overdrive but I find it hard to get excited about a white one.

The lot I really wanted to see was 166, but this car was in Melbourne.  It is the 4 1/4 Derby Bentley with coachwork by Barker.   That car has a guiding price of $90-$110k.   These cars do not come up often and this one looked quite nice.

The lot estimates on the W111 cars got me talking with the auction staff about insurance values for my cars.    Based on these, I will bring it back in for the Auction staff can take a look and suggest a proper insurance value.    I also asked them about what the prices were doing with some of the other cars I own.   Classic Mercedes are up, hence the values of the W111 coupes.   Even some cars in relatively poor shape have seen strong bidding.   This has extended to the 107, but not to later models.

I specifically asked about the W126, especially the SEC as I have seen the high asking prices of these cars.   According to the Shannons auction staff these prices do not reflect reality.    Things are also fairly stable with the E-Type (So many to choose from) and the Citroen DS.

Citroen DS Hydraulic Pump

The Citroen DS hydraulic pump is integral to many key systems on the car.   Suspension, brakes, steering, gearchange to name a few.   All of these system rely on hydraulic pressure to do their job.   Other than early ID models, the DS uses a seven plunger pump and then a pressure regulator to ensure the right hydraulic pressures are maintained.

The pump on my car had been leaking more and more over the last year or so.   This is not ideal not just from a mess point of view, but can cause a safety issue.  The DS has inboard front brakes, and the leaking pump allows hydraulic fluid to drip onto the right hand brake disc.   Obviously this is not ideal for stopping power.

The DS hydraulic pump runs as an accessory off the camshaft pully.   On most DS is is a fairly straightforward exercise to remove it.   On a BVH car (semi automatic gearbox), the Centrifugal regulator runs as a subsidiary accessory and makes the job a bit harder.   The photo below shows the new pump tucked in under the regulator.

My pump was sent away to be rebuilt.  It came back looking much nicer than it left, with a new coat of green paint.

Citroen DS hydraulic Pump

I had a friend help me change it out, who had done it many times before on his car.    We ended up having to do the job twice as we could not get the pump to prime the first time.   Normally leaving the bleed screw open, and pouring LHM down the hose will do the trick.  For some reason it wasn’t working for us.    Second time lucky, and the pump was able to build pressure, and without leaving a green puddle on the floor.

Before the pump was removed for rebuilt, I had started noticing a strange rattle from the engine.   At first I was a bit concerned about internal damage, but I realized that it wasn’t changing in line with revs.   Since the pump needed a rebuilt anyway, I figured it made sense to wait to see if the leaking pump was causing the rattle.    It wasn’t.

In the end, while testing the new pump we were able to find the cause of the rattle – the air cleaner.    Our assumption at the time was that the air cleaner was loose.   Today I removed it to check the various mounting screws.    I found that it wasn’t loose, the mounting bracket was broken.  The broken bracket was allowing vibrations to cause the air cleaner to rattle against the remaining bracket.

Air cleaner bracket

I’ll have to find a new bracket.  I’m sure used ones are available.   I guess it could be fixed but a used one seems a much easier option.

Auto Brunch St Ives February 2021

I attended the St Ives Auto Brunch February 2021 event today.   This was the first one I have been to since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak.   It was also the biggest one by far.   There were literally hundreds of cars, even overflowing into other parking areas of St Ives showground.

This was also the first time I got there at the starting time – 7:30AM and it was already quite busy.   This event is great as there is always so much variety there.   And while there are a few cars I see ever time, there are also a lot of cars I’ve seen for the very first time.

I took my 450SLC this time.   I got quite a good spot right in the middle of the show.   There were not a huge number of other Mercedes-Benz’s but there were a couple of nice SLs and a beautiful anthracite 220SEb coupe with a red interior.    I also followed in a pristine 250S W108 in brown.   It was a lovely example and looked very original.

There was also a good selection of Rolls Royces including a couple of pre-war models.   Keeping up the pre war theme was a Railton with a straight eight engine.   Very impressive.     There is always a good selection of Jaguar E-Types.   So much so I have never brought mine along as they are so common!   British cars make up a good selection of the show, obviously with MGBs being the most common.   This time there was a rare Jensen FF along with its more common Interceptor cousin.

Railton

For such a big event, there was only one Citroen – a CX that arrived just as I was leaving.   Normally you might see a DS or two, or perhaps a 2CV.      One car that attracted a lot of attention was an old Toyota Corona with the personal number plate ‘VIRUS’.   Survivors of this era of Toyota in such great condition are quite rare.

For an impromptu cars and coffee event, the St Ives Auto Brunch February 2021 event was bigger than some formal car shows I have been to.   For example, much bigger and better than last time I went to the Australia day car show at Parramatta.

W126 battery hold downs and Auxiliary fan resistor

When I restored the battery tray on my 560SEL, I noticed the W126 battery hold downs were missing.   While the battery on the W126 sits quite snugly between the inner and outer firewalls, the hold downs are still important.   On a serious bump the battery could short out against the bonnet for example.

These hold downs are the same as on the W123 and other models.   I ordered a new one, thinking that at least having one in place would start, and I would look for a cheaper used one later.   Turns out I needn’t’ have bothered as I found the original hold downs under the tool kit.   I imagine a lazy battery installer didn’t fit them.   Not sure why, as it takes all of two minutes.

W126 battery hold downsWhen installing the W126 battery hold downs, its easiest to move the washer fluid tank.   Its not held down and there is enough slack in the connections to get it out of the way.

Next job was fitting the fan resistor.   On the W126, the fan can run at low or high speed.   The resistor allows the low speed running.   Low speed running is triggered by refrigerant pressure, so is important for the good working of the A/C system.   While it is buried away on left hand drive cars, on RHD cars its easily accessible behind the left headlight.   Over time, these fail and and were broken on both my 560s.   It is easy to test using a multi-meter and checking for the correct resistance.

I had previously checked this when replacing the auxiliary fan, but it took a while for my new resistor to show up.

W126 fan resistorI haven’t had a chance to test it yet, as there is also the possibility of a bad relay too.   That is reasonably unlikely and I am pretty confident when I test the fan, it will now work on low speed.