1 2 3 4
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
8/14/15 6:36 a.m.

Continuing on my time-based maintenance schedule, did another oil change on August 12th, 3 months after the last one (and the last post). $6 for a Wix filter and about $15 worth of oil. I have begun buying 15W-40 from Tractor Supply in 5 gallon buckets, which works out to about $10 per gallon for oil.

Oddly, for the first time that I can recall, diesel fuel is actually cheaper around me than 87 octane. I filled up Wednesday for $2.41 a gallon- the cheapest unleaded I can find is about $2.49. I ain't complaining.

Nothing else to report, really. 3 months of trouble-free (knock on wood), 25 mpg, slow motoring.

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
10/26/15 6:51 a.m.

After this minor setback with the 300TD, I ordered a new manual fuel pump/ primer doo-dad from Pelican Parts, along with a batch of filters and a new "cigar hose" fuel line. Finally had some time this weekend to work it. I also swapped over the front tires from the parts car , as the Goodyears I'd bought new for the KBW were already down to the steel belts after less than a year.

Unfortunately, since the odometer's broken, I can't really call Goodyear and ask for a warranty.

I had a set of front brake pads I'd bought back when I got the car, and decided just to put them on now while I had the front tires off anyway. The passenger side pads had about 1/2 like left in them, but the inside driver's pad was worn down almost to the warning pin. Then I found out why- the inner caliper piston (fixed calipers) was frozen. After several attempts to free it, I gave up and went back to the parts car...

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine needed a passenger side caliper for his W123 wagon, so I let him rob the one off my parts car. Luckily, the driver's side one was still there, and good, so I grabbed it and put it on the KBW.

Changed the cigar hose and the inline fuel filter (it had some crud knocking around in it), topped off the fluids, and went for a drive to bed in the new pads. The naturally-aspirated diesel runs better than ever, and the idle is noticeably smoother. The old cigar hose was cracking and hardened; its job is to smooth out fuel pulsations from the mechanical injector. Apparently it actually works, now.

Total cost for brake pads, cigar hose, new fuel pump primer, and filter was about $50. I have a set of wiper blades that need to go on before winter...and its almost time for another oil change, too! Wow. Time flies...

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
10/26/15 6:55 a.m.

My Sunday:

You can just barely see the parts car in the background. And the Town and Country, of course...but that's a whole separate story...

I love working outside on these cool, sunny fall days.

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
11/2/15 9:52 a.m.

Google mapped my most recent tank of fuel, 24.1 mpg. I'd also added 10 ounces of Diesel Kleen to the tank. I haven't been religiously following my fuel economy lately, but the the fuel seemed to last longer than usual.

Last night I checked the car over in advance of a trip I had planned for this week. Everything was fine...until I got to the passenger side rear tire:

IMG_20151101_113652 by mechimike, on Flickr

I took a few pictures; this one seems to show it best. The tread was bulging out, not at the sidewall, but the actual tread. And the tread itself wasn't parallel around the whole tire- it seemed to jog off to the side. Very strange. Near as I can tell it might have slipped a belt or something. Anyway, the other pair of Firestone 380's from the parts car were quickly swapped on, and I made the ~250 mile trip this morning without incident.

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
11/2/15 2:21 p.m.

Huh. 303 miles on 13 gallons = 23.3 mpg, and mostly highway driving. Seems weird- my last tank was better, and included a lot of city driving. All the tires were aired up to 44 psi last night, too. Odd.

RossD UltimaDork
11/2/15 4:11 p.m.

Is there a 'winter blend' for diesel too? That might make up for the drop in fuel economy.

bgkast UberDork
11/2/15 7:36 p.m.

That's about what I used to see with all of my 617 powered MBs (all 8 of them). The guys that claim 30+ mpg are flat out lying.

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
11/2/15 8:29 p.m.

In reply to RossD:

We do get winter blend here in MD, that could be part of it. I also tend to drive with my foot planted all the way to the floor. So it's not slow, you know?

In reply to bgkast:

Oh I know. I've had people tell me, "oh man, that car's awesome, it gets like insert number between 30 and 50 miles per gallon, right?" I had a 240D once, with a 4 speed, and on the highway, at a steady 60 mph, it would get 30 mpg. The 5 cylinders get mid 20's, and that's about it.

That said, they'll get mid-twenties for the remainder of time, so they do have that going for them.

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
11/2/15 8:38 p.m.

Also, finally, I...

...fixed the cigarette lighter.

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
11/3/15 12:03 p.m.

Looks like I will be headed back from NY tomorrow morning. I'm going to refill the tank before I leave and attempt to drive more conservatively to see if I can improve on the last tank. Stay tuned...

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
11/5/15 8:14 a.m.

On the way home, I did a bit better. 298 miles exactly (according to Google) on 12.1 gallons of diesel (which includes the 4 ounces of fuel treatment). So, 24.6 mpg. I kept the speed under 70.

When I started the car this morning, however, it made a horrible schreeching noise. The crank pully was turning, but the A/C pulley...was not. I think the clutch bearing seized so it wouldn't turn, even with the A/C off (I knew the compressor was seized). I had to act quickly- took out my multi-tool and sliced the belt off. Fixed that. I'm wondering though if that pulley was dragging due to imminent seizure, possibly dragging down my mileage.

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
11/16/15 7:10 a.m.

Time-based maintenance log: 3 month oil change, performed November 15th. Also (finally) changed the wiper blades- all three of them (2 front, one back). The fronts had "2010" date coded on them. The back wiper didn't have a date, but looked pretty crusty. Yep. Ready for winter ::thumbs up::

I wanted to replace the air filter, but the Hastings filter Rock Auto sent me was about 1" too tall. Grrr. Serves me right for trying to save a few bucks. Correct Mann Filter C30122 ordered, crappy Chinese Hastings returned.

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Dork
11/16/15 12:34 p.m.

Hastings is an Olde English word meaning "Pass me by."

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
1/5/16 7:29 a.m.

It was 13 degrees out this morning, and the wind had been howling all night, rattling the tin roof on our home. I woke up at 1:30AM to stoke the wood stove downstairs. A 100W bulb was placed in the chicken tractor, and a tarp put over it. I thought of my Benz as I drifted off to sleep...

5:20AM, the alarm goes off. After breakfast, I went out to start the 300TD in hopes of having some heat by the time I left for work. It was not happy. The starter would spin the engine for 2 or 3 seconds, and then make a crunching/screeching/grinding noise- prompting me to immediately release the key. After 4 or 5 tries the diesel finally woke up and seemed to idle steadily.

I'm going to plug the block heater in tonight. It's supposed to get down near single digits.

I'm thinking the starter solenoid may be weak. I've noticed this noise a few times before, to a lesser extent, usually when cold (although not this cold) and when attempting a hot restart in summer, the solenoid doesn't seem to want to engage the first time. It may just be a battery cable, too- I'll try changing that first. Probably at the next oil change (mid-February).

I did replace all the fuses last weekend. The ones in there were old, occasionally one would get corroded and blow, and some didn't have the brass end contacts. New (brass) fuses weren't terribly pricey, and the headlights do seem brighter now.


volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
1/8/16 7:28 a.m.

Scored a set of lightly used 4" Polks for the back of the KBW. The stock speakers were all rattly and fuzzy. I like running the stereo rear-biased; listening to the front speakers only is a bit like holding a big 1988 boombox up to your head.


The speakers sound great. Decent bass for what they are. Minor mods to the mounting bracket (2 new holes) and resoldering the wiring pigtail were required. Pretty easy. Although removing/ replacing that rear speaker trim piece in the wagon is a bit of a pain. The rear side glass weatherstripping helps hold it in place. WTF, Mercedes?

The battery has been going dead periodically. I've started carrying a spare battery and jumper cables with me, and putting a trickle charger on at night. The battery is about a year old, and tested OK, but the alternator tests "weak" (about 13.1 volts charging). I'm going to try replacing the battery cables and checking the engine ground, and if that doesn't help I'll probably upgrade to the Saab 115A alternator.

Mad_Ratel HalfDork
1/8/16 7:33 a.m.

My old 944 was the same. THe trim panel was a peace of leather held in place by a piece of cardboard backing and the rear (teeny) window trim. You just pry up the window trim and the leather falls down to get to the speaker.

EvanB UltimaDork
1/8/16 8:55 a.m.

My w123 wagon has been having charging issues as well. The alternator wasn't charging so I put a known good one on and still nothing. I haven't looked into it much but I will be waiting to see what fixes yours.

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
1/8/16 9:45 a.m.

In reply to EvanB:

I've heard there's a ground strap on the driver's side that can come loose. That, and the wiring MB provided from the alternator to the battery was...adequate...in the 1970's...for the stock 55 amp alternator.

EvanB UltimaDork
1/8/16 10:32 a.m.

Mine was home to mice for many years so I should really check over all the wiring...

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Dork
1/8/16 11:56 a.m.

The screeching noise in your starter is the starter drive spring. It's on its last legs. find a good rebuild shop near you (I'm in the LA area so there's one 1/2 mile from me). Have them rebuild your core. Good to have a nice fresh starter for the winter.

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
1/8/16 7:36 p.m.
Jerry From LA wrote: The screeching noise in your starter is the starter drive spring. It's on its last legs. find a good rebuild shop near you (I'm in the LA area so there's one 1/2 mile from me). Have them rebuild your core. Good to have a nice fresh starter for the winter.

Yep, I have a shop near me that does really good work; unfortunately they have like a 6 month lead time. It's one dude, working in his basement, with piles and piles of generators, alternators, and motors around him.

Well, I have a spare starter that came with my parts car. I tested it with jumper cables and a screwdriver, and it worked, so I decided to try swapping it tonight...

But first, I decided to check over the charging system to make sure nothing else could be causing the low voltage issues before dumping $$$ on a new alternator.

The alternator was marked "AL-80X, Remanufactured by Bosch" so it was an original type 55 amp unit, and had been replaced at some point. With the engine at idle, I got 14.1 volts at the alternator. Huh. That seems...perfectly fine. With the engine off, I checked resistance between the positive wires leading from the alternator to the battery- about two-tenths of an ohm. The connections on the alternator were clean. I checked the alternator belt tension, and it was a bit floppy- about 1/2" of slack when I pressed on it. So I tightened the belt. Then I checked the resistance on the negative side of the circuit and got...

15 ohms.

Huh? Yeah- double checked it, triple checked it, checked my meter, then checked again.

'15. Freaking. Ohms.

15 ohms is about 14 and half ohms too many, in my engineering judgement, for a negative return path. So, the cable from the battery to the carbody was removed, checked for resistance, cleaned, coated with a film of dielectric grease, and reinstalled. Ditto with the engine to carbody braided cable- which required jacking the driver's side to get to. I cleaned all the battery connections and made sure everything was tight, and then re-measured the resistance.

0.2 Ohms. Phew.

Next up- trying the presumably-good used starter. I had to jack up the other side of the car to get to that, and found that Mercedes, in good German fashion, had done a couple of things just a little different than every other automaker:

a) The starter was attached to the bellhousing with two bolts, but they were Allen-head bolts. The top-most one was inaccessible from the top of the engine and damn near inaccessible from the bottom. I had to get an Allen socket, put it through a same-sized Gear Wrench (ratcheting wrench), and use that to loosen the bolt. My ratchet would not fit.

b) In order to extricate the starter from the car, the car had to be jacked in the air (which it already was), and the front wheels cranked all the way to the right in order to get the idler arm and tie rod out of the way for the starter to pass between them , the crossmember, and the exhaust pipe. Barely. I'm sure this was "As Designed", and it probably tells you to do just this in the MB repair manual. And then drink several Warsteiners.

After a 15 minute diversion whereby a Craigslist guy came over to buy a 351 Cleveland engine from me, I got back to the reassembly of the Merc, which thankfully really was "The Reverse of Removal". The starter worked as it should, the alternator charged, and order (for now) seems to be restored to the Krautbeaterwagen Universe.

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
1/14/16 9:07 a.m.

...and then the muffler fell off.

Luckily, it was just the exhaust past the rear axle that self-liberated. And the car isn't noticeably louder than it was with the muffler in place. Whether this speaks to the irrelevance of the muffler or the crappy condition that this particular muffler was in, I'm not sure. But it's not annoyingly loud, so I'll probably just replace the muffler with a 2 foot section of pipe and a turndown, which will be about $50 cheaper than a new muffler. It will also be about 10 pounds lighter and, if if the internets are correct, give me at least another 30 horsepower and 12 mpg.

Adrian_Thompson UltimaDork
1/14/16 9:15 a.m.

HAve you actually rechecked the mileage since removing the seized AC from the equation?

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
1/14/16 10:21 a.m.
Adrian_Thompson wrote: HAve you actually rechecked the mileage since removing the seized AC from the equation?

Haven't yet. I just filled up this morning, so now that you've reminded me I'll keep track of my routes until the next fillup. I should probably check tire pressures tonight, too, since it's been colder.

The new-used starter is only slightly happier in cold temps than the old one. I'll be dropping the uninstalled starter off at my local shop tomorrow.

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
1/15/16 7:45 a.m.

What fell off, it turns out, was not the muffler but the resonator. Hence why the car didn't seem appreciably louder. I wiggled under the car last night to check it out- a clean break right after the rear axle. As chance would have it, I had about 18 inches of 2" exhaust pipe, a coupling, and a turndown rattling around in a box, so last night I quickly fabbed up the pipe to bring the diesel fumes out to under the bumper.

This morning, with traffic light and the engine purring, I took the turn from my street onto the main thoroughfare under a full head of steam, which attracted the attention of a local constable. Magnanimously, he let me off with a warning (too fast for conditions), no doubt amused by my statement that the car doesn't have a lot of power, and I needed a head of steam to get up the hill after the turn.

1 2 3 4
Our Preferred Partners