Mercedes SL320 R129 - Part 2

Mercedes SL320 R129 - Part 2

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Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
I enjoy reading other peoples stories on this site and it has been instrumental in where I am now.

So here goes.

Been driving for 40 years and have had quite a variety of cars. Mostly cheap stuff. I have often run a second car mostly for fun. Best ones were a 79 E21 323i and an 88 Range Rover manual which I added an LPG kit to.

Car & Bike history

1 Ford Cortina Mk3 1600GT
2 Ford Escort Mk1 1300E
3 Ford Escort Mk2 1.3 GL
4 Ford Escort Mk1 1300XL 1600GTXLR
5 Ford Escort Mk2 1.3 Ghia
6 Ford Escort Mk2 RS2000 / Mexico
7 Opel Ascona 2.0 Berlina
8 VW Beetle
9 VW Jetta Mk1
10 Ford Escort Mk3 1.6 GL Estate
11 Ford Capri 1.6GL
12 VW Passat GL5
13 VW Jetta Mk2 TX
14 Ford Mondeo LX
15 Ford Fiesta 1300S
16 VW Golf Mk1 Driver
17 Land Rover Range Rover
18 BMW 525e
19 BMW 323i
20 VW Scirroco
21 Land Rover Series 3 SWB
22 Ford Escort Mk2 RS2000
23 Land Rover Range Rover EFi
24 Volvo V70 XT
25 Land Rover Discovery 300Tdi
26 Volvo 740 Turbo Intercooler
27 Mitsubishi Spacestar
28 Kia Sedona
29 Honda Jazz S
30 Yamaha YBR125
31 Honda Deauville 650 V4
32 Volvo V70 D5 Sport
33 Toyota Corolla T3
34 Toyota Avensis T4 Nav Tourer
35 BMW R1200RT-P
36 Toyota Auris
37 Mercedes SL320
38 Land Rover Discovery 4

I like the idea of an older practical classic and had never had a convertible. Three children and a couple of big dogs (see username) meant that they were never really an option.
Always liked Stags, but the rust is off putting unless you spend quite a lot of money.
MX5 was a definite possibility.
R129 seemed like a good blend of the two and there is a lot of love and encouragement for them on here.
I'm getting older and rarely in a hurry. MX5 might be a bit too sporty, SL seemed more suited.

In 2016 I looked at a 97 SL320 in green. P282 VNS (if you like looking at MoT histories .... what kind of sad person does that .... ;-)
It seemed a bit too tired for my liking and the roof was not working due to leaky cylinders in the windscreen header.
I think he was looking for around £4k.
The owner called me after he had it MoT'd and the roof sorted but I had already decided it was not for me and the time was not right.

I looked online at a lot of cars and owners threads on here.

In 2018 I looked at a 94 SL320 that a dealer had for £6,500 (Budget creep - Man Maths is the only kind of maths that I am "good" at)
It looked ok but had a fair bit of corrosion underneath. It wasn't for me.

I then looked at another mid 90's SL320 in silver with a lower mileage. Dealer selling for £10k.
It looked great having had recent bodywork and a respray.
But, there were sections of the wheel arches missing and a lot of corroded parts underneath. It wasn't for me.

I live in Scotland which does contribute to the rust under cars so I started to think that I might need to buy a car from down south.
I love looking at the Japanese import cars undersides - the lack of rust is very appealing.

I mentioned my search on the Mercedes thread on here and another user said he knew somebody who may sell his.
Contact was made and I went to view the car.
Handily, here was a car with a history on PH. It was a London car which the owner had brought to Scotland with him and was only a few miles from me.

Previous owners thread - https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&...

I took some comfort from the history and it's partly why I am continuing it here.

I am going to try and tell the story as it unfolded as I am now 6 months into ownership.

The car was in generally good condition, better underneath that the ones I had already looked at.
I think it had been off the road for about a year.
Some rust on the arches and some minor scrapes in the paint.
Left front arch had been bumped and paint scraped off so is a wee bit rusty.
Front of right wing has bubbles under the paint in the usual place.
Roof worked although the windows are a bit cloudy and some of the stitching had come undone.
Previous Mot's had highlighted some damage on the windscreen. I couldn't find it so asked the owner. While it was off the road he had a new windscreen fitted. I liked that. Surely a good sign when somebody fixes a car that they are not even using!
I didn't drive it but the owner took me for a run and all seemed fine.
The price was £7,500 which I justified based on the others that I had viewed.

The owner got it Mot'd for which it needed a new front spring (more on that to follow)

Nov 2018 - Money changed hands .... in the modern way where no actual money actually gets handled.

I collected it and as soon as I drove away I was thinking oh no! I'm not sure I like this!
It wandered quite a lot and was badly affected by camber and lines in the road.
There was a long travel on the brake pedal, it felt old.

The next day, I asked the owner if he was interested in buying it back but he is obviously a man of action and not one to hang about!
One of his reasons for selling was that he wanted a four seat convertible which the R129 is not despite having those curious little seats in the back.
The day I collected the car, he went to a car auction and bought a 124 Cabriolet. There are pictures of it in one of the threads on here somewhere...


So, I started looking at what I had.

Faults ....
It seems to lean to one side - more about that later
Aerial does not retract - more about that later
No bass from the left speaker - more about that later
Wandering steering - more about that later
Split stitching on the rear window - more about that later
RH Headlight does not adjust - ?
Bonnet catches don't work well - more about that later
Slightly sticky throttle pedal - more about that later
The little triangular trim on the inside at the door mirror squeaks - more about that later

And some pictures .....





bungz

1,053 posts

68 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
I like that a lot.

The interior is amazing.

That said my spidey senses are tingling that a fair bit of the mechanicals will need refreshing......

Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
I started to use the car and to get to know it better.
What I found was that every time I took it out I started off not liking it but after a few miles I would adjust to it.
The brakes are excellent and once I adjusted to the long pedal I liked them.
The steering was still wandery, particularly at low speeds, but actually weights up nicely on the move.
Originally, I felt it was feeling a bit vague and almost oversteery but now feel it is actually quite balanced. Perhaps too many front wheel drive cars in my recent past.

Every time I got into it I felt a bit overwhelmed by the brightness - The interior is Helios I think. It has taken me a while to get used to it.
Nearly all my cars have had black interiors.
Except for
69 Beetle with white vinyl
75 RS2000 with beige cloth - Fishnet Recaro's - Great seats
85 BMW 525e with beige cloth ..... dirty beige cloth

More pictures - I have a lot of them!

Dec 2018 - Glen Douglas





Not afraid to use it in the poor weather - Inveraray
940 included in the picture as I like Volvo estates



My kind of parking in Callander



Edited by Yogioes on Wednesday 29th May 16:18


Edited by Yogioes on Wednesday 29th May 16:20

Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
28th Dec - I travelled to the Northern Barge meet in Jedburgh (refer to the Barge thread in General Gassing if you are not already a regular)

Not much of a meet .......
Only one other turned up
And he had already left before I got there
Hey ho


Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
bungz said:
I like that a lot.

The interior is amazing.

That said my spidey senses are tingling that a fair bit of the mechanicals will need refreshing......
Thanks
Mechanicals I am ok with.
The car is quite a mixture. There are some electronics and I don't fancy messing with the engine or gearbox but the rest seems quite straight forward and pleasingly well made.

There seems to be little on this car that has been designed or built with economics in mind. Most of it seems over the top.

Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
Nov 2018
Time to look at some of the issues.

The bonnet catches did not work well so I spent ages trying to free up the cable with lots of assorted oils.
No success.
Fitted a new Febi cable for £16.60 and that works a treat.

The Aerial did not retract - More wasted oils to try and get that to work - Failed.
New Hirschmann mast fitted. £45.
It is a simple pleasure, but then I am a simple person.

No picture this time


tobinen

5,574 posts

93 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
Watching with interest

Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
Jan 2019

It leans to one side, being high on the side that had a new spring fitted at the MoT.

So I fitted new springs and decided to do the Anti Roll Bar bushes and Lemforder LCA Lower Control Arms while I was at it.

I found that the new spring was not seated correctly which I don't think would help the height problem.
You might be able to see it in the picture



I was surprised to find that the top of the ball joint had been ground away. I assume this was done by the "mechanic" that changed the spring.
I have been guilty of a few bodges over the years so I will say no more.




The cleverer ones among you will already be wondering how I managed to fit Lemforder LCA's to this car.
Well, I got the nearside one on but was concerned about the lack of clearance between the arm and the disc.
When I tried to fit the offside, there was no way I could re-attach the disc as it fouled on the casting around the LCA ball joint.

A quick search on the net and I now know that my car has brakes that need an LCA with less casting around the ball joint.

Here it is with the Lemforder arm on ...... just before I took it back off again.



And with the old arms back on and the ARB refitted with polybushes and stainless fittings



Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
Forgot - I had already bought a hardtop stand in November but the hard top is still on the car at this point as I will need the space in the garage for whats coming ......

Jan 2019
Bought some genuine MB wee hooks for removing the dash.
Replaced Dash bulbs - 4 off main dash bulbs, Outside temp gauge bulb & AC Control panel light

Fitted new reg plates with period correct font - will see what the MoT man says in November.

Fitted a new throttle cable - genuine MB. £36. It helped a bit with the sticky throttle cable but has not completely cured it.
The stickiness is very slight and is only noticeable when trying to add a tiny bit more accelarator. It is a mild irritant.
I use cruise control a lot which works very well.
The cable is an example of something that seems over complicated for what it is, especially as it only goes to rotate the Throttle Position Sensor mounted on the inner wing. It would have been more sensible to put the TPS at the pedal which I assume is what most cars have now.

Also, the automatic wiper was a surprise. It seems to work very well, better than my Discovery which seem to be a bit random.

Edited by Yogioes on Wednesday 29th May 17:26

Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
Feb 2019
Fitted TRW Lower Control Arms.
Cleaned and painted the diagonal support braces and fitted new genuine MB rubber bobbin thingy's as the bolts in those had detached.


Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
After changing both front springs the lean was still there, but a bit less .....?

Feb 2019
Previous MoT's had mentioned corroded brake pipes at the rear.....
So I decided to remove the rear subframe and replace the offending sections.
Quite a big job which only took me SIX weeks.

I was pleasantly surprised by the condition of the nuts and bolts. I only used the grinder on one bolt and with hindsight after removing the one on the other side, I could probably have got it with a socket.

I believe the exhaust is original and is a serious piece of metal.

Having disconnected everything I struggled to get the subframe to drop off the rear fixings.
The design allows dirt to collect in the cup around the steel of the body and alloy of the bush and they were stuck together.
I spent quite a bit of time trying to lever it off and even considered putting it back together and taking it to the local indy specialist in Port Glasgow.
I was also a bit concerned about what would happen when I did get the subframe off. Would I be able to get it back on?

I went to see them and found they had a 124 on the lift having just about completed the same job including what appeared to be a new subframe.
I wish I had looked more at that car. That was a lot of money to spend on what looked like an old 124 saloon.

The job was obviously done properly with new full brake pipes, fuel pipes, backing plates, handbrake cables etc.

The told me I was looking at 2 days or more plus parts at their hourly rate of £81.
I would love to have got them to do the job.
They said they would not use my Lemforder arm kit as they only fit genuine MB parts which is fair enough. I think I would say the same if I was in their position.

Too much money for me though, so I returned to my garage with a bit more resolve to try again.

My solution to get the rear subframe bushes off was to drill up the side of the alloy part of the bush and spread it slightly with a small chisel. Job done, easy when you know how.

I lowered it with two trolley jacks and assorted blocks of wood.



Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
Mar 2019
Some pictures of the underside with the subframe out of the way.
Minor surface rust apart from the towing eye. It looked OK, but was the usual problem where underseal had split and then rust festers underneath.



Above the back box -






Looking back, I wish I had cut off the bracket at the top of this picture rather than trying to clean and paint around it. I think it is for the anti roll bar that this car does not have.












Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
Welded repair of the towing eye.
My welding from above was quite good by my standards ...... the welding from below was as bad as usual, and I still have a mark on my shoulder from the bit of hot metal that burnt through everything, including me. I'll spare you that picture!










Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
I had sheared off two of the studs that hold on the plastic shield for the fuel pump and filter so I welded in new stainless ones.

I buffed, grinded and sanded all the loose rust and treated it with Hydrate 80 and painted it with Electrox.










In the forward edge of the boot, beside the spare wheel well, there is a large hole with three smaller holes.
It looks like it would be for a cable connector, perhaps for cars with active suspension.
On mine, the four holes had rubber bungs fitted. There was some light corrosion around the edges so I sanded it, treated it and made two triangular plates. The top one with stainless bolts welded to it and bolted it through the holes with the other plate underneath. Completely unnecessary but I liked it.




Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
Then, I treated the underside with Dynax UB. Messy stuff!






Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
I stripped the old arms and bushes off the subframe.
I quite enjoy finding solutions when I don't have the correct tools.
Here is my contraption for removing one of the rear subframe bushes.
In this picture you can also see the hole I drilled down the bush to release it from the car.





I then decided I could justify the purchase of this ....



Although I still found I had to make my own parts for some of the bushes.

Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
I got the various parts powder coated.
Subframe
Lower arms
Pipe retaining brackets
ABS cable brackets
Diagonal brace bars and washers
Exhaust tail pipe trim

Shiny !!


Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
I made new sections of brake pipe in Copper Nickel for the two overaxle rear pipes and joined them where they start the straight run under the floor.
I know it would be better to replace the whole pipe but I judged that to be unnecessary and too difficult! There are a lot of bends in those rear sections, especially the offside.

I also made a new section of fuel pipe in copper.

I bent the pipe to match the original and held it together with tie wraps as I worked along it.











The old pipes would probably have continued to be an advisory on the MoT or possibly a failure but on cutting the open I would suggest there was plenty of life left in them.






Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
Time to start the reassembly.

I should have mentioned earlier. I am terrible at remembering how things came apart and what goes back when so every step of the removal was noted down and I used that to work back through the reassembly.
That and some of the pictures.

The Lemforder arm kit ready for attaching





I have seen some discussion about who manufactures what parts for MB and was interested to see that the arms that are used for adjusting the toe setting had a portion ground off. Would that have been the MB Logo?




Subframe assembled with all the arms loosely connected. They were finally tightened once on the car with the car supported on the hubs.
Pretty awkward to do that in situ. I'd love to see the setup that MB used as I am sure they would have assembled and tightened all those joints off the car.




None of the bushes that I removed showed any real signs of failure. The outer hub knuckle bushes did rotate easily but I could not feel and actual movement.

This is the setup I put together to press in the outer hub knuckles.





The eagle eyed will have spotted that I have used poly bushes for the rear subframe bushes. MB dealer told me that they were no longer available from them.
The front bushes and the lower arm bushes, nuts and bolts were all genuine MB.


As I was preparing to refit the subframe I noticed that a small pipe that comes from the bottom of the fuel tank are was split. I think it is part of the vapour recovery system. I don't know why I hadn't noticed it earlier.
Merc only special pipe so I had to wait for the dealer to get that in.






With that sorted the subframe went back in....... with a bit of difficulty. I think it would have been easier with three trolley jacks to get the correct balance and adjust the front to rear heights as required, but I got there.








Brakes all connected up and took the opportunity to replace the brake fluid. Sooked out the contents of the master cylinder reservoir, refilled with new fluid and bled all four with the Eezibleed.

While doing the subframe job I also changed the Fuel Filter, Air Filters and Cabin Filter using Mann Filters.

The air filters were reasonably clean and had a little surprise hiding in there.
The cabin filter looked like it had done its job.







Yogioes

Original Poster:

100 posts

44 months

Thursday 30th May
quotequote all
That lot cost about £680

With the car mobile again, I changed the engine oil and filter.
MB filter and Petronas Syntium 3000 E Fully Synthetic 5w-40

Then it was off to Kenneth Brown Motor Engineers for a 4 wheel alignment.

Now it is more relaxing to drive as it goes where its pointed and does not keep wandering with the changes in the road surface.

All of that took about six weeks and I think about 90 hours in the garage although a good few of those hours were spent lying underneath it wondering what I was doing.

I suppose the job has been a bit of therapy and a distraction from some of the more serious events in life. I think it has helped.


So - what next .....
Well, I forgot to mention that as I was getting ready to put it in the garage to start the subframe job it developed a problem with the driver window.
When wound to the top it would make a bump bump noise and after that, the auto drop of the window when opening the door would not work.
I put it to the back of my mind and got on with the subframe. But, remember it because it will come into play later.
The experienced reader may already know where this is headed.


With the car back in use and the weather improving, it was time to remove the pano hardtop. I finally assembled my hardtop stand and waited for my son to get home from his work.
That thing is heavy!

Time for some open top motoring.

Off to Inveraray. It was a bit cold but a beautiful day.






When I was ready to head home I found that the roof would not go down. The header rail would not release.
After a few attempts I managed to release it manually and head home.

Lesson learned - It may be cold but the sun still burns the forehead!
So now I wear a baseball cap when the roof is down and the sun out.

At home I found that the roof would only go half up so I spent some time trying to figure out what was wrong with the roof.
All I could see was an impressively complicated mechanism and no leaks.

Off to the internet.
I would have been stuck without it.
Apparently, the roof controller needs to know where the windows are before it will bring the roof right over.
Obvious really.
On earlier cars there were limit switches for the windows up and down positions but on mine it counts the window motor revolutions.
When the mechanism slipped and went bump bump, the count would be wrong or it would not have met the reset position for fully up.

So, fix the window, fix the roof - Easy.

Off to the internet.
Again.
Handy guides on how to remove the door trim panel made that job a lot easier.


Winder mech removed and here's the problem.




Solution - Weld up the missing teeth and reform.
The welded part does not feel as hard as the original teeth so I will see how it lasts.






Refitted - Window now working - Roof now working - Happy days