Author Topic: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2  (Read 10735 times)

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #210 on: 17 July 2019, 05:11 PM »
This is one of the exceptions where I didn't use genuine Mercedes parts. Mercedes wanted $760 for lower control arm bushings. I couldn't afford that. The only other brand that currently makes them is Meyle, and their price is $110. They are made in Thailand, even though the parts read "Meyle Germany" on them. I was warned that these bushings don't fit, but I figured that with the price difference, I didn't have a choice.


I started by installing the front bushing. They must be oriented a particular way so that they can flex up and down, but not from side to side. The factory service manual shows a special orientation tool which I don't have, so instead I used a level at the shock absorber mounting holes and supported the bottom of the control arm until it was level.


I then (without disturbing the control arm) turned the bushing so that the open spaces were exactly parallel with the level, making sure that the kidney-shaped air pocket was clocked at the 6:00 position.


I made use of a threaded rod, washers, a PVC pipe, and large sockets to install the bushings. Dish soap facilitated the installation.


Here is the bushing installed. It should be perfectly centered front to back in the eyelet, and angled so that the center of one of the sides points directly at the top of the torsion bar to which the nut is attached. Reading the factory service manual and viewing the picture of the tool they use gives a clearer idea of this.
« Last Edit: 17 July 2019, 05:20 PM by Squiggle Dog »
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 347,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #211 on: 17 July 2019, 05:19 PM »
I started having trouble when I installed the rear bushings. They have to be squeezed together for them to go into the eyelet (I used a small C-clamp), and the socket on the bushing end needs to fit tightly on it and against the metal lip of the outer shells. A note on these: they need to be clocked the same as the front bushings, with the seam from the shell halves being horizontal rather than vertical. Using a level on the shock absorber mounting surface and then clocking the bushings accordingly (as the front ones were done) will work.


It was a struggle to get the first one in, and it tore at the side and wouldn't seat all the way.


When I looked at the back side, it was apparent that the metal shells were overlapping by a measurement of 4mm and causing a poor fit.


There seemed to be too much rubber, especially after it squished inside the eyelet. It seemed that the bushings would stick out the sides too far.


Looking at the shells from the original bushing, it was apparent that the aftermarket shells were too long and also lacked the beveled edge which helps get them started.
« Last Edit: 17 July 2019, 05:25 PM by Squiggle Dog »
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 347,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #212 on: 17 July 2019, 05:29 PM »
Since the metal shells were 4mm too long, I cut 1mm (the thickness of a Dremel cutoff wheel) off of the end of each shell, which effectively removed a total of 4mm.


After I did this, the bushing went in much easier.


The edges of the shells butted up tightly against each other without overlapping.


I then inserted the other half until they squished together. I ended up putting RTV sealant at where the bushings contact the control arm to prevent moisture from getting inside.
« Last Edit: 17 July 2019, 10:40 PM by Squiggle Dog »
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 347,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #213 on: 17 July 2019, 05:50 PM »
I was happy with how well the front bushings fit, but my joy was dissuaded when I installed the end caps. I found that with a small threaded bolt, the caps tended to tilt and bind. So, I used the thickest bolt that I could fit into the hole. This helped. Then I tightened the caps together. I recommend marking the caps in relation to the control arm so if they rotate, it will be noticed and can be corrected so the clocking of the bushing is not altered.


The caps are supposed to keep moving inward to the control arm eyelet until they fit tightly against it. But, they were fitting loosely and I couldn't crank down the bolt much tighter as it was taking too much force. So, I loosened the nut and found that the bolt was stuck. Odd. I tried pulling it out and one of the caps fell off. Then I noticed that I could push the cap onto the end of the pipe in the bushing without much force. The end of the pipe curled in on itself and shrank so it was now too small for a mounting bolt to be inserted in it, and also too small for the cap to stay in place. So, I had to stop what I was doing and order another bushing kit.


The new bushing kit arrived and I tried installing it and had the same problem, only this time the pipe had shrank onto the bolt so tightly that it took knocking out the bushing and holding it in a PVC pipe so I could force the bolt out with a sledgehammer. Ugh. Fortunately, the end of the pipe in the bushing had mushroomed a little instead of just curling under, so one cap was still on it tightly all the way up to the stop, and the cap which had fallen off seemed like it would stay on. I determined that the pipe in the bushing was 1-2mm too long, so I cut off almost 2mm of material from the end and then beveled it.


I installed the bushing and pressed on the remaining cap with success this time because the pipe wasn't too long. Then I bored out the inside of the pipe so the mounting bolt would fit through it again. It's so much work to get aftermarket parts to fit sometimes! This is exactly why I avoid them when I'm able. I replaced the first rear bushing that ripped when I installed it and was able to get a refund for the first bushing kit I bought under warranty.
« Last Edit: 17 July 2019, 10:47 PM by Squiggle Dog »
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 347,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #214 on: 17 July 2019, 06:29 PM »
I cleaned and waxed under the front end. I found a few areas where the undercoating was peeling off and it was rusty underneath. I took care of those right away by peeling off the undercoating, wire brushing it, and coating it with Corroseal rust converter.


The new upper control arms. They didn't come with nuts, so I got some torque nuts at Ace Hardware. I also got new bushings and sleeves--all genuine Mercedes.


The old upper control arms. The bushings were deteriorated and the sleeves were a mess. The area where the bushings went was polished like chrome from years of wear.


I'm not sure if this is original? It appears there are two layers of steel riveted at where the steering idler arm stops.


There isn't one on the other side, but there is heavy wear from the steering Pitman arm hitting it. Maybe I should use one of the two pieces of metal on this side.
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 347,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #215 on: 17 July 2019, 06:51 PM »
I honed the inside of the pipe that houses the steering idler arm so it was clean and smooth.


I used the idler bolt to install the new genuine Mercedes idler arm bushing kit, starting with one side. I used dish soap as an installation aid, but it went in without much force. I did apply a little RTV sealant under the top bushing to keep out water.


Idler arm rebuild completed.


New Lemförder center link (made in Turkey) and tie rods (made in Germany). Even though the left and right are different part numbers, they seem identical and the W116 used to use the same part number for one side. So if one side ever becomes no longer available, I guess just order the other side and use it instead.


Steering linkages, steering damper, and spindles installed. But, this was a step too soon and I should have installed the lower control arms first, so the spindles had to come out.
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 347,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #216 on: 17 July 2019, 07:04 PM »
The lower control arm mounting brackets on the body needed to be spread for the control arms to fit with the new bushings. I used a bolt, nut, and washers for this purpose.


After using a sanding drum to get the holes nice and smooth that I enlarged for the spring compressor to fit, I painted the edges with POR-15 Hardnose Paint.

 
New genuine Mercedes front springs and pads. I made sure to match them according to the number of nubs on the pads (four).


Using the scary spring compressor again.


Supporting the lower control arm was a challenge because the jack kept wanting to slide out. Getting the spring seated in place was rather difficult. I put the spindle back on, starting with the lower ball joint because you can't get a socket on there if it's connected to the upper control arm.
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 347,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #217 on: 17 July 2019, 07:15 PM »
The upper control arms are installed. I think it's easiest to attach the sway bar before attaching the upper control arms to the body. The brake backing plates have been cleaned and treated with rust converter. None of the upper or lower control arm mounting bolts should be tightened until after the car has been resting on its tires for some time.


The rotors were put back on and the wheel bearings set using a Mercedes dial indicator.


The front brakes are installed.


I got new caps for the shock absorber nuts.


The engine compartment looks more complete.
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1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 347,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #218 on: 17 July 2019, 07:45 PM »
After the vehicle was resting on the ground, I tightened up the bolt going to the sway bar to 100 Nm.


Then I tightened the clamp bolt to 45 Nm. The upper control arm mounting bolts were tightened to 80 Nm, and the lower control arm mounting bolts were tightened close to 180 Nm (it was difficult to get a torque wrench under there with the vehicle resting on its tires, and planned to have an alignment done, anyway).


When I bought my car, it was missing the original air cleaner and had a cone filter attached to the turbo, which was partially melted from the turbo heat. I got the proper air cleaner and then bought a new U-shaped plastic tube (617-098-05-01), but it was the wrong length because it fits W123 and W126 cars, not W116s. So, this meant that the air cleaner rubber mounts were setting in the forwardmost holes of the mounting bracket, which allowed it to rattle on the battery box. Finding the proper part number for my car (617-098-02-01) was difficult as I needed one for a 1980 model year W116 300SD (which doesn't have connections for the vacuum pump). But, I got one really cheaply on eBay. You can see there is a slight difference in length between the two.


Installing one of the rubber rings is difficult. It's easiest to install it on the tube halfway and then push it onto the air cleaner.


Now, with the air cleaner being able to be mounted in the rearmost holes, there is clearance between it and the battery box. My unbreakable air cleaner rubber mount design seems to be holding up, but the heavy duty Meyle mounting bracket is cracked in a couple places and ready to break. Here we go again! I am getting really tired of the air cleaner housing coming detached from the engine and rattling around. I'm about ready to replace it with a cone filter again, but I don't want the engine breathing in hot air from the engine compartment.
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1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 347,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #219 on: 17 July 2019, 07:56 PM »
The entire front and rear suspension and steering are rebuilt! It was a lot of work, especially in this heat (as hot as 115F). Everything should be nice and clean so the Mercedes-Benz dealership doesn't get their white gloves dirty when they do the alignment.


The tie rod clamp bolts and nuts were painted over the plating, and the paint chipped off. I didn't like it, so I stripped off the paint from the bolts and nuts. They look much better now. I installed the tie rods so that when you are facing the pertinent side of the vehicle, rotating them clockwise shortens them, and counterclockwise lengthens them. When facing them both from the front of the vehicle and turning them in the same direction, one side will lengthen, and the other side will shorten (useful when adjusting to get the wheels pointing straight ahead when the steering wheel is centered).


My car is back together and driveable again! I have the eccentric bolts for the lower control arms in the mid range of adjustment, and adjusted the tie rods so the car goes straight down the road with the steering wheel centered, and the front wheels have 1/8" (3mm) of toe-in. It's not bad as-is, but I don't want my tires to wear out prematurely.
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 347,000+

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #220 on: 17 July 2019, 08:13 PM »
I called the local Mercedes-Benz dealership on the phone to set up an appointment for an alignment. I heard a groan when I told the service advisor the year of the vehicle (1980). Haha.

I understand the rear end isn't adjustable, but I still have to pay for a four-wheel alignment because the rear wheel camber has to be measured and the fronts set to match, correct?

I've been told that after new parts are installed, it will take about three or four alignments before it's right due to the parts settling. I asked the service advisor about this, and if there is a warranty so they can dial it in if the parts settle over time, and he said that since I installed the parts myself, I have to pay for another alignment when that happens. Darn.

I asked if the dealership has the spreader bar, and he said it's no longer 1980, and times have changed. He said he is sure their modern machine is equipped to handle it, so I hoped he was right.

I also asked if I needed to bring in the vehicle with a full tank of fuel and fully laden with weights on the front floor and possibly in the trunk, and he acted like I was crazy and said he never heard anything like that before, and all they are doing is setting the camber and toe.

I went in for the alignment today and brought the centering pin for the steering box with me. The service advisor met me and said he needed to have his technician look at the car first so they can decide if it's even worth working on, or if it's just a waste of money. He said that even if they decide to work on it, they'd have to shuttle me home because they wouldn't have it done until tomorrow because it's so old and likely to be a nightmare. I already called around to alignment shops before, and the only ones that will work on old Mercedes are way downtown.

An employee who was inside asked me why I have North American bumpers and Euro headlights on my car, and why I have screens in front of them. Well, you can actually see at night with Euro headlights, compared to the ridiculous 5" sealed beams that the USA lights had, which came with ugly plastic doors that break. I told him the screens came from Australia to protect the glass from getting stone chips, and the skid plate came from South Africa. He laughed and said, "So your car is pieced together out of multinational parts."

After a while, the service advisor came out and said that my car failed the test, so they won't work on it. He said the (relatively new) steering damper is leaking and it needs new spring pads. I told him that it has brand new spring pads. He said, "Then you need the correct ones. They make many different types, you know." I said, "I know, I installed the exact same ones the car calls for, AND they are the same part number that came out of it, with the same number of nubs." He said that's all well, but the car is setting too high up front, so they won't touch it. I said that the front bushings probably just need to be loosened so the car can drop down a little in front. Ugh. I went out of my way to replace EVERYTHING that hadn't already been replaced, using genuine Mercedes parts as much as I could, and they still found a reason to not work on it.

So, I guess I will loosen the bolts for the bushings, let the suspension settle for a few days, and try an alignment shop downtown, although they refused to align my roommate's Mercedes because of worn parts, so who knows if they will even touch mine.
« Last Edit: 17 July 2019, 08:19 PM by Squiggle Dog »
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 347,000+

TJ 450

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #221 on: 17 July 2019, 10:22 PM »
Yep, in other words they don't want to work on your car. A lot of dealerships are like this nowadays, they don't care about the older models unless maybe its a 300SL and even then they'd probably stuff it up.

I'd be looking for a tyre shop who has worked on old Benzes.

Tim
1976 450SEL 6.9 1432
1969 300SEL 6.3 1394
2003 ML500

Squiggle Dog

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #222 on: 24 July 2019, 03:05 PM »
Dealing with the suspension has been a struggle. The Mercedes-Benz dealership didn't want to do an alignment because the front of my car was setting up too high and the steering damper is leaking. I loosened the upper and lower control arm bushing nuts and bolts, lifted the rear of the car as high as I could get it with the factory jack for a few days, and then lowered it down nearly all the way before tightening the bushings.


I then drove the car over some speed bumps and to a level spot of a parking lot to check the stance. The front end had settled down so the front wasn't so high, but it still seemed a little too high.


I didn't understand it. I installed new springs and pads front and rear, and they were all genuine Mercedes and the correct part numbers. But, something wasn't right. It seemed the bushings and front springs weren't going to settle much more than they already were. I looked up some posts about this problem, and found this interesting thread: https://www.benzworld.org/forums/w126-s-se-sec-sel-sd/2366609-89-300se-new-oem-front-springs.html In short, someone else installed new front and rear springs and pads which were the correct part numbers, but they made the front of the car set too high. It turns out that there are several variations of springs within the same part number. So, springs which share the same part number may have different lengths and spring rates, and when you order new ones, you don't know what you'll get, so you have to compensate for it with different height spring pads. My 300SD uses the same part number front springs (116-321-32-04) as a 450SEL. But, not a 280S (116-321-33-04). The rear springs (116-324-08-04) seem to be the same throughout the W116 lineup (except the 6.9).

My original front springs have a yellow and I think two blue dots (I'm color blind). The new springs have four green dots. Hmmm... so, that must explain it; while the front springs I got were the correct part number, they are either a different length or have a different spring rate than the originals. Since you apparently can't choose what type of spring you get when you order them, apparently you have to just order them in and figure out what type of spring pad you need to order to compensate, according to a points system for which you add a point for each accessory your car has (sunroof, power windows, etc.) and then calculate your pad based upon the color code of the spring.

I didn't feel like trying to figure out what type of spring pad I needed to make the new front springs work, so I just removed them and put the old springs back in. It's very unfortunate because now I feel it was wasted money buying new front springs, which apparently last forever anyway. The new rear springs are the same part number as the old ones AND they have the same color coding (one yellow dot and one green dot), so they should be just fine and might actually bolster the rear end. Rear springs can sag with age, though I'm not sure mine were sagging at all.

When I got the new springs out, I put them up against the old springs and they seemed to be exactly the same length and wire thickness. Hmmm... maybe they hadn't fully decompressed yet. I dunno. The old front springs are back in, and I don't think I can use my spring compressor anymore because the threaded rod is starting to strip out even though I've greased it. One of the sway bar bushings at the upper control arm got deformed, so I had to push it back into place. Then I jacked up the rear of the vehicle again and let it set for a day.


The service advisor from the Mercedes dealership recommended an alignment shop in Glendale (closer to here than Phoenix) which works on vintage and custom cars, because he had them do his 1965 Chevy Nova. They only charge $40 for an alignment and they said they were currently working on a 1979 W116 300SD. So, that was encouraging. Unfortunately, the alignment feels worse than before I went in. Before I went in, the steering wheel was perfectly centered when going down the road, it didn't pull at all, and it would return to center on its own. Now the steering wheel is turned to the right when going straight, the car feels like it pulls on both sides, and is all over the road. Very disappointing.


I don't think they know how to align old Mercedes, and I'm pretty sure they didn't use a spreader bar or the centering pin. I told the guy I had the centering pin for the steering box, and he ignored me. I need someplace that will do it by the book, but right now I can't afford to put any more money into this car. At least putting the original front springs back in seemed to fix the ride stance. Assuming they got the camber and caster correct, I might adjust the tie rods so the car at least goes straight down the road and the steering wheel isn't crooked.

Here is how the car is currently riding. It seems like the front end is slightly lower than the rear now, but probably not much more than when the new front springs were in. I wouldn't mind going up a pad size in the rear from a 2-nub to a 3-nub to lift it up a little (5mm).
« Last Edit: 24 July 2019, 03:12 PM by Squiggle Dog »
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1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 347,000+

daantjie

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #223 on: 24 July 2019, 03:46 PM »
Man I feel for you on this one :'(  Most alignment shops will not have a clue on how to properly align one of these old gals, unfortunately it's just a fact.  If you are struggling there in the US of A, imagine how up the creek us Canadians are :o
Daniel
1977 450 SEL 6.9 - Astralsilber

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Re: My Custom 1980 300SD Project Part 2
« Reply #224 on: 24 July 2019, 07:57 PM »
UPDATE! I couldn't live with the awful alignment, so with the assumption that the caster and camber are reasonably correct, I adjusted the tie rods until the steering wheel was perfectly straight when going down the road and there was no pulling. It appears the wheels were toed out about 1/16"--not good considering the force of driving tends to push the wheels outward anyway. I toed them in to about 1/32"-1/16", measuring in a few places after rolling the car back and forth and wiggling the steering wheel to make sure I got average measurements.

The car drives SO MUCH better now! The alignment feels perfect now that I've tweaked it. I don't even have to have my hands on the steering wheel to go in a straight line--whereas I kept having the turn the steering wheel right and left to keep it straight on the road after I got it back from the shop. It's apparent they didn't center the steering box in relation to the front wheels, so the steering box was constantly trying to center itself because it was askew even though the wheels were pointing straight ahead. It's doubtful they used a spreader bar or even realized why it's important. It looked like the only special tools they used to do the alignment were similar to the SPC Fastrax tool that ykobayashi mentioned. They didn't seem to have any alignment machines or computers.

I think the next time I need an alignment I'm just going to buy the tools to do it myself. Like they say, if you want something done right, do it yourself. This is yet another strike against having shops work on my car.

As a side note, I noticed that my roommate's 350SDL has about 1/4" of toe-in. Then again, it has worn parts, so it might just be slop.
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Heated Seats, 347,000+